Milwaukee PrideFest Attendees Can Breathe A Little Easier
May 15, 2018
Milwaukee PrideFest is an opportunity for the LGBTQ+ community and our allies to come together in celebration of our incredible diversity and the advances we have made. A big part of PrideFest is about commemorating living our most authentic lives and selves. While PrideFest has long maintained a commitment to the health and well-being of the LGBTQ community, for too long this promise been stained by the inclusion of tobacco companies, like Newport, who have unfortunately maintained a presence at Milwaukee’s PrideFest through financially supporting the event.
Smoking is a practice that has been proven highly damaging to users’ health, yet gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Wisconsin youth are still twice as likely to smoke compared to their heterosexual and non-trans counterparts, and not by accident. Tobacco companies target LGBTQ+ youth with messages of freedom, acceptance, and pleasure to advertise their products. Many LGBTQ youth start smoking to deal with stress related to being LGBTQ, like family rejection, bullying, and harassment. In recent years, Newport’s booth at PrideFest has sold packs for as little as $1, in hopes of attracting new customers, and getting them addicted. Menthol cigarettes in particular have been found to be even harder to quit, and are often marketed to both the LGBTQ, and African-American communities.
This year’s PrideFest already promises to be a pivotal turning point for the popular festival. In addition to once again hosting a Health and Wellness area, this year’s PrideFest Board has agreed to no longer accept funding from tobacco companies or allow them on PrideFest grounds, thanks to the advocacy of The City of Milwaukee’s Tobacco-Free Alliance’s LGBT Workgroup. The LGBT workgroup is made up of a partnership of several Milwaukee-based organizations, including FORGE and others. The decision to discontinue accepting money from tobacco companies came after the workgroup sent a joint letter to the PrideFest board from 20 area LGBT & healthcare partners including, The American Lung Association, The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Pathfinders, Milwaukee’s LGBT Community Center, Diverse & Resilient, and more. The move signals PrideFest’s continued commitment to providing not only an environment for celebrating our community but ensuring our health and well-being too.