“We want to tear down this wall”: 7 Rivers LGBTQ Connection staff preview Pride Picnic | Local News


For Jo and Deb Basset, the key to hosting an event is making sure there’s plenty of great food.

“Who can sit there and eat a hot dog and not be able to talk to someone?” said Jo Basset.

The couple puts that philosophy into action as they prepare for the Pride Family Picnic on Saturday to celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month. Hosted by 7 Rivers LGBTQ Connection: The Center, where Deb and Jo Basset both work, the picnic will feature activities for people of all ages and identities and, most importantly, food in abundance.

A rainbow colored cake is displayed during a Pride Month celebration in La Crosse. The 7 Centers LGBTQ Connection Center hosts Pride events in June and September to accommodate students who may not be in the area over the summer.

Contributed by Deb Basset

“We want to break down this wall that unfortunately exists between the LGBTQ community and the general public and say that we are like you and that we put our shoes on the same footing,” said Jo Basset.

Celebrated every June, Pride Month celebrates the LGBTQ community and its allies. This recognition began following the Stonewall uprising in June 1969.

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Here at La Crosse, the picnic is changing location to expand the activities available to attendees. Rather than taking place at Copeland Park, the picnic will take place at Black River Beach from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Organizers said they expect around 100 attendees throughout the event.

“We hadn’t expected as much excitement as we’re hearing in the community for this picnic,” said Jo Basset. “So it looks like it will be bigger than expected, which is a very good thing.”

La Crosse Pride Celebration

An LGBT Pride Flag hangs in Cameron Park, where the 7 Rivers LGBT Center held its Family Pride Celebration in September 2014.

Rory O’Driscoll, La Crosse Tribune

While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the offerings available through the Center, Deb Basset believes the pandemic has also encouraged more people to support the LGBTQ community.

The picnic is an opportunity for Center volunteers and staff to engage with people who might be exploring their own identity or who are generally interested in getting involved in the community.

“The picnic makes it a much more doable situation,” Jo Basset said. “It’s a good first step to get in and see what it’s all about.”

As much as the picnic is about fostering bonds between individuals indoors, it’s also about giving back to outdoor supporters and allies, organizers said.

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“We love reaching out to the community, because we don’t want there to be walls between us,” Deb Basset said. “We’ve been lucky so far I think in terms of the support from people in the community. The bridge goes both ways, we also want to reach them.

The center will also celebrate Pride in September with its Pride in the Park event to include area college students. For more information on offers and events available through 7 Rivers LGBTQ Connection, please visit their facebook page.


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