Bismarck — Pride of Dakota officials found themselves a bit confused after sponsoring an LGBTQ Pride Festival at the State Capitol.
The North Dakota Department of Agriculture incorrectly assumed the event, titled Capital Pride, was a Pride of Dakota showcase. Instead, the Pride Festival, hosted by Dakota OutRight, was a celebration and awareness event for the LGBTQ community during Pride Month.
North Dakota’s Pride of Dakota “has promoted and enhanced the marketing of North Dakota businesses, products and services” since 1985 according to its website.
When officials learned about Capital Pride, the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, who administers Pride of Dakota, signed up to sponsor the event.
“It was an honest mistake,” says ND Department of Agricultural Pride Spokesman Dick Hayromper. “We were asked if we wanted to sponsor a Pride event at the Capitol featuring ‘fabulous North Dakota originals’, so of course we jumped at the opportunity. We figured it’d be a great opportunity to showcase Dots Pretzels and other unique products. We had no idea that the actual event was an LGBTQ festival. We just assumed Pride Month was related to the great businesses and products North Dakota has to offer, which is why we’ve been Tweeting about Pride Month at the Department of Ag. I guess that explains why everyone keeps asking us if we’re on Grindr.”
The North Dakota Department of Agriculture sponsored Capital Pride at the highest tier, a $1,000 “Level 4: Capital Pride Presenter.” The sponsorship included a speaking opportunity at the Belle Mehus Auditorium in Bismarck during the Dakota Diva’s Drag Show.
“Unfortunately at the time of sponsoring the event, we at the Department of Agriculture were unaware that the event was an LGBTQ event and not a Pride of Dakota product showcase. And by the time we learned the speaking engagement was at a drag show and not a trade show, it was too late. North Dakota Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring was already in route with his cellphone turned off. We had no away of warning him,” says Hayromper.
Backstage, Goehring looked confused according to eyewitness accounts as he was met by Dakota Divas contestants.
“I just assumed he was a rookie,” said Dakota Divas drag queen contestant Spanky Wheatshaft. “I felt sorry for him because I remembered my first time on stage too. I questioned his performance attire (a tweed jacket and cowboy hat) but a few of us divas loaned him some feathers and lipstick and pushed him out on stage. He just stood there, motionless but the crowd roared with excitement. Something must have worked, maybe it was beginners luck, because he took home first prize in the contest!”
Despite winning his first drag queen contest, North Dakota Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring has no further intentions on entering future drag queen contests.
“The Department of Agriculture considers this an isolated incident. The Ag Commissioner has no future plans on participating in future drag queen contests, despite taking home first prize. The incident was an honest mistake and after careful consideration and prayer, Commissioner Doug Goehring is hanging up his diva heels and feathers while he’s still on top,” says Hayromper.
Representative Joshua Boschee says it was nice to see at least one high-profile state official acknowledge North Dakota’s LGBTQ community.
“Our state doesn’t have the best track record of supporting the LGBTQ community in North Dakota, so this was certainly a step in the right direction, even if it was by accident,” said Boschee. “I hope to see more sectors of our state government participating in future pride events, perhaps even a few more of our elected leaders participating in Dakota Divas. Governor Burgum would make one heck of a drag queen. He’s got the legs for it!”
No word on if the North Dakota Department of Agriculture will sponsor future LGBTQ Pride Events.
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