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Pride festival returns with special guests

Music and food. Games and raffles. Rainbow flags and drag queens.

All of this and more could be found at the South Georgia Pride festival held Saturday at John W. Saunders Memorial Park.

South Georgia Pride, which began in 2008 as a venture of VSU’s Gay-Straight Alliance, has since branched out to become a non-profit corporation that brings safety, awareness and equality to the Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transsexual Queer community (LGBTQ).

From noon to 7 p.m., vendors such as House of Joy, Smokin’ Aces, SAMS Club and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), a national non-profit organization, filled the park, handing out prizes and free merchandise.

“We actually have a total of 50 vendors this year,” Raynae’ Williams, assistant director of South Georgia Pride, said. “Even the Forsaken Hollow of Amtgard is here, dressed in their medieval garb and doing sword fights.”

While people browsed booths and participated in events, entertainers such as Julie Schurr, a folk-rock musician from Missouri, local drag king, Tricky Ricky, and drag queen Spikey Van Dykey, from Orlando, took turns performing.

Young Kaii, a hip-hop artist from Rhode Island, not only performed, but also participated in a raffle in which guests played for a chance to take Kaii to the festival’s after-party.

Williams was excited about all of the day’s performers, especially the Sudden Impact cloggers.

“They are different from any cloggers you’ve ever seen,” Williams said. “These are not your grandma’s cloggers. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen cloggers at a gay pride festival—very interesting.”

This year’s festival was given the theme, “Serving with Pride” in honor of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Evelyn Thomas, the founder and executive director of The Sanctuary Project, a nondenominational ministry that provides services to those in the LGBT community serving under or affected by Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, was one of the speaker’s for the weekend.

The opening ceremony honored LGBT veterans and those currently serving.

Thomas was also one of the original protestors of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, twice handcuffing herself to the fence of the White House in order to have to the policy repealed.

“This is my first time at the festival,” Thomas said. “I met Raynae’ when my wife and I participated in Savannah Pride and she immediately asked us to participate here.”

Another speaker, Elke Kennedy, founder of the Sean’s Last Wish foundation, returned for her third year with the festival. Kennedy started the foundation after her son, Sean, was bullied and eventually murdered for being openly gay.

Local drag queens, the Ladies of Glo, ended the festival.

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