Corey Young and Rio Suave
Corey Young and Rio Suave had big plans for 2020. Corey and Rio are two of the leaders of Key City Pride, a new nonprofit aimed at supporting the LGTBQ+ community in Dubuque. Having participated in Dubuque’s previous Pride celebrations, Corey and Rio didn’t want just to have events once a year during Pride Month, but instead to celebrate and build community year-round. They believed that being more active would help build bridges in Dubuque and foster a larger sense of community. And so in October of 2019 they started Key City Pride, a nonprofit organization promoting a positive message about respect and understanding throughout the year.
Then the COVID-19 outbreak Dubuque, and
their plans radically changed. Key City Pride was forced to cancel months of events, including their Pride Month celebration that was meant to be the crowning point of the year. They also lost out on months of fundraising and struggled to keep the organization going, relying on their own funds to stay afloat. The pandemic was challenging for all of Dubuque’s nonprofits, but for a new organization like Key City Pride such a major crisis threatened to stop all of their momentum. But even more importantly, they saw the impact that COVID-19 was having on their communities. Corey and Rio are queer people of color, and both LGTBQ+ and Black communities are at greater risk from the coronavirus. Both groups are more likely to have preexisting health conditions and to have less access to medical care. Corey and Rio quickly found themselves reaching out to try to provide support for those who were struggling during the crisis.
Yet while Corey and Rio worked to keep Key City Pride afloat and to support their neighbors and friends, they could also see that this crisis was having a major impact on everyone in Dubuque. They saw how isolated Dubuquers felt, cut off from support, friends, and loved ones. This struck a chord for Corey and Rio because they, like many members of the LGTBQ+ community, had experienced isolation and separation in their own lives. And so they decided to launch an event aimed at bringing together all of Dubuque, no matter race or sexual orientation, in order to celebrate our shared community. The three day event is called Keychella, and will feature music, kids’ activities, food, a beer garden, and many opportunities to learn from and connect with other Dubuquers. To appeal to a wide section of Dubuque, Key City Pride is trying to be as inclusive as possible, including bringing in musical performers from a large variety of different genres. They are also working to make sure the event is as safe as possible, partnering with local health facilities in order to put in place procedures that will keep all of the attendees protected.
Corey and Rio believe that this kind of celebration is what Dubuque needs after such a difficult spring and summer. “Everybody has been feeling isolated right now,” Rio explains. “And that means it’s time to unify, time to talk about what the toll all of this has had on you, and time to open the door to not being so separated.” With Keychella, Corey and Rio are hopeful that people in Dubuque can start healing, and begin to build bridges so that we come out of this time a stronger and more connected community.