Come as you are Friday to Machinery Row for a pro-LGBT Halloween costume bash
Earlier this year Machinery Row saw one of the largest crowds ever to come to an event there.
Now the same people who put on that popular event, the Open Definition: Great Falls LGBTQ + Allies group, returns with a Halloween bash featuring seven musical acts, and a costume contest with winners receiving gift certificates from local businesses and a $100 bar tab from Machinery Row.
The party starts Friday at 8 p.m. Admission is $5 for people 21 and up and $7 for those under 21.
Performing will be Britta Lee, and Ryan Johnson and the Dreams from Great Falls, Sunraiser and BOYS from Missoula, Sioux Falls from Portland, and Couches from San Francisco. DJ Dregan performs between sets and at the end of the night, as well.
Tyson and Sara Habein, co-organizers of the event along with Jonny Ravenscroft, said they expect the bar to be at full capacity throughout the evening.
Tyson said the event gives the LGBT community another opportunity to increase its visibility in Great Falls after making a big splash with the drag show.
“One of my major goals coming into this group, Open Definitions, is to make the city feel more complete and help make people feel like they are more connected,” he said. “Because when you look at it, Great Falls as a whole is not so big where we can segregate ourselves into separate Burroughs. It’s not New York City so we have to behave as if this is Great Falls not New York or Seattle.
We all have to come together as a community in the city of Great Falls isn’t going to feel complete if only 10,000 of its residents are actually coming up and enjoying each others’ company, we have to make sure everyone is on board and welcome, whether they come to an event like this or live their lives as they would otherwise, they have to know the community is welcoming and share that kind of mentality that we all share a city so we can’t pretend we can put walls around ourselves.”
And while the first two events from the LGBT group were costume-related, the Habeins said by looking at what’s planned for the near future, they feel there need not be concern that the only way to get Great Fallsians to an LGBT event is by making it a costumed affair.
“I can see where someone might have that concern, but if you look at our long term goals, it becomes apparent that that’s not the case,” Tyson said. “In November we have a family game night planned at Bowser Brewery so there’s nothing big and flamboyantly costume faced about that, and then post that we are starting to work on a holiday ball in December which will be more formal with suits and ball gowns sort of deal, so those things are in the works as well. It’s far from being an exclusively “camp” event crew.”
Connected to those events are the fundraising element which the group has made the decision to focus on educational charities that may or may not be LGBT related.
“The other thing to keep in mind is with the first event we had, a large portion o the money went to the Great Falls Gay Straight Alliance at Great Falls High for their homecoming float so they could actually have a float this year,” Tyson said. “I think the group has a consensus that we’re going to aim to give a part of the money for charitable things that are education based. That’s important because they are things that make the whole community healthier, not just the LGBT portion.”
Tyson added that already they’ve heard from others and seen themselves that there has been more acceptance of people who identify as LGBT, but added it’s still a work in progress.
“Everyone in our community is just another group of tax-paying citizens … but part of the larger group I think at the best times in Great Falls and Montana history as a whole has been ignored and at the worst of times has been maligned, so a big part of the group’s goals is to increase its visibility which is the first step in that progress because we have to know that a certain need exists before we can fill it.”
Sara said while the progress of acceptance has been somewhat slow in Great Falls, she said the more the LGBT community does to put itself out there, the more accepting people will become.
“The more things we do, the more it will help, and I don’t just mean we as Tyson and I, the more events that the whole LGBT community puts on, the more people will see what we really are about.”
Tyson said he equates the local LGBT collective’s potential growth along the same lines of the growth the arts scene has seen here in the last five years.
“Five years ago, the arts and culture community here was not as motivated and active but then a few people started throwing shows, and then a few more started throwing shows and music and art came together and now it’s a regular occurrence to see people painting at an event with multiple bands on stage or DJs of all different genres. The growth we’ve seen in the arts and culture community here in the last five years, I fully expect to see the LGBT community have that same kind of growth in the next five years and beyond that.”
Sara said while the two aren’t quite the same, as there’s a “social justice” aspect to what people in the LGBT community are seeking, she agrees with Tyson that she fully expects it to grow as fast as the cultural scene here has.
“Plenty of people are just trying to fight for the right to live their lives, which is not the same as ‘I want to do a painting at a show,’ But as far as the growth and visibility I would not be surprised if in five years we had a very active and encouraging LGBT community, as well.”
In the meantime, the group seeking equality for everyone no matter their age, gender or sexual orientation, likely will have another successful event this weekend featuring quality music, art and lots of intriguing costumes.