CR Pride's mission is to create opportunities for awareness, inclusivity and visibility of LGBTQIA+ individuals within our community.
In 1992 a group of 30 dedicated Cedar Rapids citizens formed the GLRC of Cedar Rapids. Their mission was to gather books, movies and information about GLB people and make it available to the public. The group maintained a free space for GLB people to meet, socialize and have access to resources. The group offered the local population and visitors to the area a listing of GLB friendly businesses and non-profits.
The locations varied from year to year and were rented as available from local organizations. The group members and community volunteers took turns maintaining the space and making it available almost daily for gatherings and walk in traffic. The group held fundraisers, including an annual picnic and flag football tournament to raise money for purchasing resources and renting the space. The center also maintained an open phone line, shared in cycles by the members, to field calls and answer questions. A newsletter was published and mailed on a quarterly basis and distributed to local establishments. It included a calendar of events and articles of local and national interest. It also contained advertising from local businesses and organizations.
In response to national pride days becoming popular and the community enjoying the social outings, the first Gay Pride Day in Cedar Rapids was held in June 1995. The event was held in conjunction with other Gay Pride Celebrations in the United States. The GLRC’s mission expanded from running the center to sponsoring and organizing Cedar Rapid’s annual gay pride celebration. In the early 2000’s it was becoming difficult for the group to maintain a brick and mortar space due to high rent costs and a steady decline of active volunteers. The onset of the internet also made the need for a single resource center obsolete.
With the center closed, all its resources were stored with members or at Hamburger Mary’s, a local restaurant which became a meeting place for LGBT youth and adults. By 2007 the original members of the GLRC of Cedar Rapids had moved on and the group had faded out. Cedar Rapids Gay Pride was in jeopardy with no one at the helm of the board. A Cedar Valley Pride volunteer moved to Cedar Rapids, called for a new board and recruited new members. It was under this board that the sole mission of the GLRC became Gay Pride Day and the name was briefly changed to CR UNITY. In 2010 Hamburger Mary’s closed and all remaining resources gathered by the original members were dispersed or lost. The name was changed back to GLRC of Cedar Rapids DBA as CR Pride.
The 501c3 was reinstated in 2014 and planning for Pride Day celebrations continued. The traditional space for Pride Day had been Green Square Park in downtown Cedar Rapids. However, in 2014, the park began undergoing a renovation, leading the current board to find another venue. The owner of Belle’s Basix stepped up and offered the bar parking lot, in 2014, 2015 and 2016. This allowed CR Pride time to utilize its newly reissued 501c3, to raise funds, find a new venue and expand visibility in the community.
In 2017 the board elected a new venue and date which continues to this day. In 2019, an estimated 9,000 people attend CR Pride. Due to COVID 19 no event was held in 2020 or 2021 but the board worked to bring virtual events to the community to celebrate Pride. CR Pride held their festival in 2022 and had an estimated attendance of 14,000. CR Pride festival is held the first week of July at NewBo City Market through 2025 in downtown Cedar Rapids.