Pride Winston-Salem prepares for festival in historic year

Pride Winston-Salem prepares for festival in historic year
October 08
00:00 2015

By Todd Luck

The Chronicle

Pride Winston-Salem is holding events for the next couple weeks leading up to its parade and festival on Oct. 17.

On Sunday, Pride will hold a Drag Brunch at Mary’s Gourmet Diner, 723 Trade St., at 10 a.m, with a disco themed drag show and a specially themed menu. On Oct.16, there will be a ticketed kick off event at the Piedmont Club, 200 W. Second St., with hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and live performances from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Then on Saturday, Oct. 17, Pride Winston-Salem will take place with a parade at 11 a.m. on Fourth Street and a festival and food truck rodeo from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Trade Street in the Arts District.

“The theme this year is ‘We Are Family’ and we tried very hard to make it a family-friendly fun event,” said Brent Morin, president of Pride Winston-Salem.

The local pride event can trace its roots back to 1996, when NC Pride held a three day Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) pride event in Winston-Salem. To protest Pride, an anti-LGBT Family Values March was held several weeks later that attracted 12,000 marchers. One of the protest organizers, Berean Baptist Pastor Ron Baity, whose church hosted Republican Presidential Candidate Ben Caron last week, was quoted in the Greensboro News & Record at the time as saying “It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”

The country has changed significantly since then. Now 12,000 people are expected to attend Pride with only a few protestors holding signs along the parade route. Last year, the festival was held only days after gay marriage became legal in the state. Now it’s being held several months after the U.S. Supreme Court found that gay marriage was a constitutional right in all 50 states.

“We have a lot to celebrate, we have federal marriage equality,” said Morin. “We have come a long way. We have more and more people coming out every day and being proud of who they are and living their true authentic self. It’s more common to see a celebrity or politician come out these days and we’re happy to take them into the fold of family as well.”

Originally Pride intended to kick off its lead-in events with a Rainbow Run 5k on Saturday, Oct. 3, but it was postponed because of severe weather, and will be rescheduled after the Pride festivities.

The Rainbow Run, sponsored by the LGBT philanthropic group Adam Foundation, is meant to make the LGBT community more visible and healthier. Pride is conducting a yearlong healthy living campaign with Novant Health. This includes holding an event to promote the preventative HIV/AIDS drug PrEP, a health screening clinic, a mental health day and sponsoring a healthy living pavilion at Pride itself. Morin said Novant is sending a message that it’s open and affirming to the LGBT community.

“Coming out to your doctor is sometimes difficult if you don’t know where they stand on the issue of sexuality,” he said.

The Pride parade will feature several floats including one from Whole Foods and one with its grand marshals Angela Mazaris, Jack Amoureux and their three children. The couple has been involved with LGBT rights and Mazaris is the director of the LGBTQ Center at Wake Forest University. Many walking groups and dignitaries will participate. The parade, which is free for non-profits, is still taking applications for participants.

The Pride festival will feature many vendors and two stages with musical performances sponsored by Hanes Brands, Inc and Peace Out Vapes. Wells Fargo is sponsoring a Kids Zone.

Morin said while it is a celebration for the LGBT community, it is an event that people of all walks life attend and participate in annually.

“We would have not had the rapid expectance of marriage equality in the last three years without our straight allies,” he said. “Winston-Salem is no exception, with the amount of straight families that come to our event who really look forward to Pride.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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