Center announces local Pride

South Carolina News Notes

MYRTLE BEACH — After 10 years in absence, a local Pride festival is returning to the Grand Strand.
The Center Project, which opened at 307 Highway 15 in June 2006, has announced it will hold a local Pride festival.

The all-day, outdoor event will take place 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat., July 12 at the Historic Train Depot, 851 Broadway. The festival will feature free, live entertainment, karaoke and drag performances.
Non-profit and business vendors will also be set up.

A Pride dance party will be held that evening, with an admission charge of $10. The day festival is free.

For more information, visit www.thecenterproject.com.

Gala honors community leaders
COLUMBIA — The 15th anniversary of the South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Business Guild was celebrated May 16 at an awards gala dinner.

Over 200 dinner attendees packed a dining room at the Embassy Suites hotel for a night of celebration, entertainment and recognition. The crowd was treated to music during dinner, after which awards were presented. A special performance by openly gay comedian ANT rounded out the evening.

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Those receiving awards included the Columbia City Council (Community Partner of the Year), Larry Hembree, of the Nickelodeon Theatre (Corporate Partner of the Year), Ryan Wilson (Youth Ambassador Award), Jerry Kelly and Robert Barnes (Trailblazer Award) and Pat Patterson (Volunteer of the Year).

Dignitaries in attendance included Columbia Mayor Bob Coble, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, former South Carolina Treasurer Grady L. Patterson, Jr. and City Council members Anne M. Sinclair, Sam Davis and Tameika Isaac Devine.

Gala sponsors included American Airlines/American Eagle, Asset Realty, Inc., Cap’n Al’s Hawaiian Sunglass Hut, Embassy Suites Hotel, FASTCO Threaded Products, The LOGO Channel/Time Warner Cable, Q-Notes, Robin Ridgell and Marla Wood and Roof Basket Works.

Sean’s Last Wish holds one-year anniversary vigil
GREENVILLE — On May 16, hundreds of LGBT and straight ally community members turned out at Main Street Plaza for a candlelight vigil to remember the life of openly gay college student Sean Kennedy, who died from injuries sustained in an alleged anti-gay hate crime exactly one year earlier.

“What will it take for all of us to get involved?” Kennedy’s mother, Elke Kennedy, asked the crowd during a speech, according to GayGreenville.net. Afterward, the crowd marched to Liberty Bridge, where participants dropped flowers into Reedy River.

Last year, 19-year-old Stephen Moller punched Sean Kennedy in the face as he exited a nightclub. Kennedy fell backward and hit his head on the curb, resulting in fatal brain damage. Moller was first charged with murder but has since had his charges reduced to involuntary manslaughter.
“It simply can no longer be tolerated that people can attack and even kill others with the possibility of walking away with no jail time,” Elke Kennedy said.

The candlelight vigil was covered by GayGreenville.net, WYFF 4, WSPA Channel 7 and FOX Carolina. Supporters of the South Carolina Progressive Network also recorded the event. Video is available online at www.scpronet.com.

“I miss Sean every day, but I see what an impact he has made on so many people and we have started to educate people about what happened to him and the need for change, in our laws, in our mind sets and in peoples attitude and hearts,” said Elke Kennedy in a statement.

Another vigil for Sean Kennedy was held the same day in West Hollywood, Calif.

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SC Pride begins vendor application process
COLUMBIA — The SC Pride Movement, formerly SCGLPM, has opened its application process for festival vendors and is currently looking for sponsors and Pride guide advertisers.

The event will take place Sept. 20, 2008, in Finlay Park.

According to organizers, the SC Pride March and Festival attract 7,000-8,000 South Carolinians. The organization prints and distributes 5,000 Pride guides each year.

Gay club owner at center of smoking ban controversy
COLUMBIA — As originally reported by The State, gay Club Fusion owner and Harriet Hancock Community Center Committee member Tony Snell is at the center of the city’s debate over a smoking ban in bars.

City Council member E. W. Cromartie recently announced he was reconsidering his vote on last year’s smoking ban, which stopped smoking in restaurants. A compromise in that bill continued to allow smoking in bars and clubs. With the reconsideration of just one Council member’s vote, the ban could be applied to all public establishments, including Snell’s Club Fusion.

Snell opposes the smoking ban for bars and clubs and has met with Cromartie. He also hopes to force Mayor Bob Coble to recuse himself from the vote on the matter. According to The State, Coble’s law firm Nexsen Pruett represents tobacco companies.

“If the mayor recuses himself, it becomes a split vote and it is defeated,” Snell told the paper.

MCC pastor resigns
DUNCAN — On April 25, 2008, the Rev. Donna Stroud resigned from her position as pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of the Upstate. Details were not available by press time. Updates to this story will posted at Q-Notes Online and in future print editions.

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