Rachel Polan is the marketing director for Sioux Falls Pride and has lived in Sioux Falls since 2015. They chatted with Sioux Falls Simplified about activities going on this month, ways to support LGBTQ+ people and the joy of picnics in the park.
Answers are edited for length and clarity.
Before we get smart about pride month let’s get smart about you. Tell us a little bit about your background and what ultimately led you to work with Sioux Falls Pride.
I'm a board member and the marketing director for Sioux Falls Pride.
- I actually came to Sioux Falls Pride through a journalism internship at Augustana back in 2018. I decided to stay in Sioux Falls after graduation because of how connected I felt to the work I was (and still am) doing at SFP!
I'm also a member of the queer community, which is what drew me to their internship in the first place.
We are all about simplicity here. Can you summarize what pride month means to you in 10 words or less?
Pride is all about community. We're here to create safe spaces for everyone who needs them.
What’s something that’s most often misunderstood about the LGBTQ+ community in Sioux Falls? And is there anything you’d like to say to help correct that misunderstanding?
People tend to think that when someone comes out at gay or trans or any flavor of the queer community, their entire life revolves around that fact.
- It really doesn't, queer people are just trying to live their lives the same as anyone else.
We're not trying to turn anyone gay, or change anyone else's gender. We're just trying to live a life that's fulfilling without getting attacked for something we can't change about ourselves.
What are some ways that people can participate in pride month locally?
Sioux Falls Pride is hosting many events throughout the month, including a Canaries baseball game, drag shows, a family friendly festival and drag celebration, and more! You can see all the events at siouxfallspride.org/pages/events.
What’s your advice for people who don’t consider themselves a part of the LGBTQ+ community but want to be a better ally?
Stand up for queer people when they aren't around. If you hear coworkers or customers saying inappropriate or rude things about someone due to their sexuality or gender identity, call them out on it.
If you could snap your fingers and magically add one event to the Pride Month calendar, what would it be and why?
I'd add a picnic in the park. People miss the Terrace Park celebration we used to have, and bringing people back to a green space to just hang out and share food and community sounds like a great time to me.
Anything else you want the people of Sioux Falls to know about you, Pride Month, or the local LGBTQ+ community?
We're here, we're queer, and we're not going anywhere.