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Third annual South Ga. Pride a success

Rainbow flags were everywhere—on the stage, where performers danced or sang; on the painted faces of visitors; in the ponytails of passersby.

The sight was the epitome of festivity. And that is what the South Georgia Pride event sought to encompass – a sense of joy and excitement for all attendees.

The third annual South Georgia Pride festival was held at the John W. Saunders Park on Saturday in an effort to bring awareness to issues effecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning people.

“It is my hope that someone who is questioning their sexuality would come to the event and realize, ‘It’s OK to be me’,” Raynae Williams, Assistant Director of South Georgia Pride said.

One of the highlights of the day was an inspiring call to action by Elke Kennedy, a mother who lost her son, Sean Kennedy, to a hate crime in May 2007.

“I am happy to get his story out here,” she said.

Kennedy was the last appearance on the stage before the closing ceremonies, which hit a soft spot with the crowd as many stood to applaud her with tear filled eyes.

Williams estimates that 600 people visited the festival, where attendees were greeted with four food vendors and over 30 products and services vendors.

“There was so much activity,” Williams said. “It felt like a family reunion.”

The number of families present accentuated the feel of a family reunion, as the infectious laughter of children at play added to the chorus of singing, dancing and speeches on the stage.

The festival also included their first annual pet show, which awarded pets and their owners in five categories. This event was a hit with kids and adults alike.

Some of the vendor representatives at the Pride festival included service organizations that offer assistance the LGBTQ community such as the Georgia Benefits Counsel, which offers assistance in formulating Wills, Advance Directives for Health Care and Financial Powers of Attorney; PFLAG-Valdosta (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender), which helps to support families, educate the public and advocate for equality; Georgia Equality, an advocacy group for the state of Georgia on gay rights issues; as well as a host of other service providers for the LGBTQ community.

“I am especially grateful to our volunteers and to Brandon Bush, our Director at Large from Atlanta,” Williams said, “for all their support and hard work.”

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