Columbia, Mo.– Every September in Columbia, the witches gather, as do the wiccans, the druids, the magpies and more. They all come together for Pagan Pride Day, a Mid-Missouri tradition since 2000. This year’s celebration was held Sunday, September 17 in Peace Park. Hearthfires Spiritual Alliance, has been putting it on since the beginning.
Alex Gonzalez is one of the organizers of Mid-Missouri Pagan Pride and her spouse is the lead coordinator. She’s been a member of Hearthfires for years.
“It’s a group for people of all spiritual paths and everyone is welcome,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve been meeting every month for years. A while back the group decided that it would be really great to be able to have a Pride Day right here in Columbia.”
Both Kansas City and St. Louis already had their own Pagan Pride Day. Columbia was the perfect meeting point for everyone in between, partly because of it’s already diverse atmosphere.
Dee Sanfilippo has been coming to Pagan Pride Day for years. She’s a founding member of the band Elvendrums and provided the music for this year’s festivities. She likes Pagan Pride Day for it’s open and inclusive atmosphere.
“One member of my band is trans, and that’s my ex-husband,” Sanfilippo said. “When I first got divorced it was really rough. This group has always been accepting and that’s why I like them. It doesn’t matter what you look like, who you are or even if you change who you are. You’re always welcome.”
Sanfilippo’s 15-year-old daughter is also a member of Elvendrums. This past Sunday was one of her first times performing with the group live. Sanfilippo was raised in a Jewish-Christian household and was taught to be open-minded from a young age. She tries to raise her own daughter the same.
“I want my child to grow up around people who make her comfortable being completely herself. Around this group of people, she does,” Sanfilippo said.
“Really the purpose of having a Pagan Pride Day is so people of all walks of faith can come together as a community, and understand that we actually have a lot in common,” Gonzalez said. “Pagan’s aren’t scary, we’re just people.”