FARGO — Multiple people blew out a single birthday candle together at their group party on Friday, June 28.

“It’s the funnest day of the year,” said Anjali Karna, executive director of Parachigo and a member of The Forum’s Reader’s Board.

This is Parachigo’s second annual birthday bash, Karna said. Parachigo is a “queer-collective” that creates space for marginalized communities and promotes local art.

While no one in the room was technically celebrating the day of their birth, the “If you are trans this is your birthday party” event sought to celebrate people who are transgender and offer a place for them to gather together in community.

“This (party) is just an idea me and some friends had,” Karna said.

Having these types of celebrations is especially important in North Dakota, Karna added, because it shows LGBTQ+ people that they are accepted.

“It’s so important for them to know that they are welcome,” Karna said, “Even though we all kind of have to hide in the shadows all the time.”

Too often, the only parts of the trans experience that is showcased in the media are the sad parts, Karna said.

“There are very few avenues where queer people can get together en masse and just sort of celebrate trans joy,” Karna said. “I think the joy is important.”

Like any good party, participants had cake, danced along to the DJ’s tunes and played games throughout the evening.

Ellie Voyyd is a regular at Parachigo and does everything from volunteering there to creating art and music.

“I’m just trying to do my part to make the world nicer,” she said. “I’m just so glad that we have such a vibrant LGBTQ+ community here in Fargo.”

The event also marked the grand-reopening of Parachigo’s free clothing exchange for people who are trans to help them find gender-affirming clothing.

Fargo resident Shelly Reilly was waiting for her cousin outside of the party; her cousin was driving all the way from Valley City to attend the event.

This isn’t just any old birthday party, she laughed, because it was being held on the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising.

The Stonewall Uprising occurred in New York on June 28, 1969, outside the historic Stonewall Inn. It is seen as a pivotal movement in LGBTQ+ history.

Led by trans women of color, the patrons of the popular LGBTQ+ establishment spent six explosive days protesting brutality, harassment and entrapment from the city’s police department against their community, according to the Library of Congress.

Events like that remind Reilly how important “safe community places” like Parachigo are for LGBTQ+ people.

One of the birthday girls, Christine Bullick, recently moved to West Fargo from a small Minnesota town and was happy to join in on Friday’s festivities.

“I’m just very excited to be here,” she said. “Queer events are important.”

For her, finding community and acceptance in the metro has been amazing. She came out as transgender last year.

“Trans people are not your enemy,” Bullick said. “We’re just here to celebrate our birthday.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Melissa Van Der Stad at mvanderstad@forumcomm.com.