Three LGBT Pride banners were stolen and destroyed over the weekend. Despite the act of intolerance, 406 Pride, organizer of Billings Pride, is resolved to celebrate.
The first banner went missing over Labor Day weekend. Shauna Goubeaux, president of 406 Pride, thought it was an isolated incident.
“Didn’t think much about it. We went around yesterday and made sure the other two were fine and then sometime between yesterday afternoon and this morning someone decided to slash the other two with knives,” Goubeaux says.
The banners hanging outside Billings West High School, Lewis and Clark Middle School and Senior High promoted LBGT pride events scheduled for this Saturday.
Billings Pride will proceed as planned. The celebration includes a pride parade down Second Avenue and a family friendly festival at North Park with over 50 vendors, five food trucks and live music.
Country musician Chely Wright will perform after the festival at an open-to-the public concert. The day will end with a drag show featuring local drag performers and Jaymes Mansfield of Rupaul’s Drag Race, along with dance parties at the Red Lion Ballroom and the LOFT.
406 Pride spent its entire $400 marketing budget on the three banners. Purple Snow Promotional will replace the banners, free of charge, by Wednesday.
“And we intend to hang them right back up, because like I said, we’re not going to back down, we’re not going to be intimidated. We’re going to keep marching forward for equality,” Goubeaux says.
The vandalism hit especially hard because of the message it might send to LBGT students.
“We put those signs there with the intent of giving them the message that it’s okay to come out and it’s going to be safe and then this happens so that kind of breaks my heart,” Goubeaux adds.
Lieutenant Brandon Wooley with the Billings Police Department said they are investigating the incident.
“These hateful activities have no place in our community,” Wooley said. He noted other banners displayed in the same area as 406 Pride’s were not vandalized.
“I hope that Billings will show up and show those people that Billings is better,” Shauna Goubeaux with 406 Pride said.