Sept. 29, 2018 is a big day for the LGBTQ community in North Carolina with three Pride events all taking place on the same day. From the Eastern part of the state to the mountains, rainbow colors will abound on floats, cars, tents, people and pets with demonstration’s of Pride in our community. Some new events are rolling out and some that have been around for years. Some have been marked with controversy. And all packed with plans for fun, flair and Pride.
Pack Square Park, Downtown Asheville
11 a.m.-7 p.m.
The Blue Ridge Pride Festival celebrates the LGBTQ community — with two stages that will feature regional musicians and other entertainers like The Asheville Gay Men’s Chorus, Wild Bodema, Rhoda Weaver and the Soul Mates, The Gypsy Swingers and many more. There will also be about 150 vendors booths and organizations set up to educate festival goers about their services and sell their products. Food will be available from 20 food vendors, and a kids’ area, with a mobile art lab and bounce house, will provide entertainment for the little ones.The festival expects some 10,000 attendees.
New for Blue Ridge Pride 2018 is a Pride Procession which will start around 10:30 a.m. on Grove St., near the intersection of Patton Ave., and will go through the heart of downtown to Pack Square Park. Posted on the event’s website is the reason for the Procession. “Our purpose is to celebrate the multitude of organizations and businesses who envision Western North Carolina as a rich and welcoming community. The theme of the Procession is Welcoming WNC: Diversity + Inclusion = Success. We want to give voice to the many organizations that strive to create spaces that welcome all to work, shop, and congregate as their authentic selves, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, sex, disability, class, or religion.”
This years festival is sponsored by Western North Carolina Community Health Services, J. CREW, SunTrust, Wells Fargo, Budweiser, TD Bank, Mission Health, Avita Pharmacy, Amy Mandel & Katina Rodis Fund, Harrahs Cherokee and First bank.
Duke University’s East Campus, Durham
11 a.m. ‘til…
This new festival and parade came about in part due to the downfall of the old NC Pride that has been held on the Duke Campus for many years. When it became evident that there was a real struggle getting a Pride event put together this year, the LGBTQ Center of Durham stepped up to take on the project. The event will take place in the same location on the Duke East Campus and, yes, there will be a parade as there has been in years past. “By welcoming every corner of the LGBTQ communities, Pride: Durham, NC seeks to provide a place for family and community to replenish and nourish their souls and hearts” said Jason R. Nelson in a press release sent out on Sept. 17.
The event will feature vendors pedaling their wears, organizations promoting their services, the parade starting at 12:30 p.m., and live entertainment starting at 2 p.m.
This statement from the Pride Durham’s website gives some insight about how this all volunteer organization feels about this new festival.
“In its first year, Pride: Durham, NC hopes to bring love and activism back to the forefront of Pride as a way to drive stronger connections and further growth and success in a tumultuous political climate. All people with love in their hearts and progress fueling them are welcome at Pride: Durham, NC.”
The festival and parade are sponsored by Altered Image Hair Designes, Center for Sexual & Gender Diversity Duke University, Pyrite Society, Rho, Citrix, Gilead, Cisco, Biogen, Anthony F. Armento, CPA, PC, Quitline NC, Wells Fargo and Mig Murphy Sistrom, CPA.
Hargett and Harrington Sts.
4 p.m.-10 p.m.
Organizers of NC Pride at Night hope to celebrate the future and honor the past at this new event in the N.C. Capital City. Raleigh’s first Gay Pride celebration was held on Saturday, June 25, 1988. Some 2,000 people started at the N.C. State’s Memorial Bell Tower on Hillsborough St. and marched to the Capitol.
The festival this year will kick off with a speech from the acclaimed North Carolina-based LGBTQ rights activist Mandy Carter. As the organizer of the march 30 years ago, Carter will highlight where the community was at the first Raleigh Gay Pride and where it is today.
Carter has been on the front lines fighting for LGBTQ and social justice issues for some 50 years. She is like the Energizer Bunny of activism. She keeps on going and rarely stops. She is the founder of Southerners On New Ground, which supports LGBTQ individuals in the South, and the National Black Justice Coalition, a civil rights group that advocates for the needs of the African-American LGBTQ community.
Matt Cozzi, the president of NC Pride at Night, said when asked what the response has been from the LGBTQ community, Durham LGBT Center has decided to pick up some remnants of NC Pride and is hosting Durham Pride. This has created confusion for the community as there was a lack of coordination between NC Pride at Night and the LGBTQ Center of Durham. Talks between the two organizations have resulted in plans to coordinate events better in the future.
Cozzi also said that the City of Raleigh Special Events and Emergency Management Department and the Raleigh Police Department have been “great supporters” in helping ease the planning process of this event. And, the event garnered support from Visit Raleigh who provided “great” input.
Proceeds from the event will go to support the work of the Crape Myrtle Festival (crapemyrtlefest.org), a non-profit that supports those with HIV and AIDS.
Sponsors of this years event are; Citrix, VisitRaleigh, Cintas, Legends and Flex.