South Carolina Pride lit up Main Street as part of their 28th annual parade and celebration on Oct. 21. Floats were on display in support of the LGBTQ community living in South Carolina, and thousands of people showed up to watch the parade and promote togetherness for everyone involved.
Pride represents many things to different kinds of people, but regardless of what it means, it always portrays a positive outlook for people who identify as part of the LGBTQ community.
“I came out, like, in junior year in high school and my family wasn’t for it, but they accepted it, so that’s good and to have all these people here even though some of them really aren't in the LGBTQ community, but they support it, it means a lot for all of us,” said Hailey Monts, who attended the parade with friends.
Like previous years, the celebration served as a way for the LGBTQ community in South Carolina to go out and express themselves without judgement. Traditionally, SC Pride has been hosted throughout the day on Saturday, but this year, the parade was Friday night while the festival remained on Saturday.
This change was meant to cater this year's pride towards adults during the parade on Friday while creating a family-friendly environment for Saturday’s festival. Second-year sociology student Mark Pierce was unsure about the change.
“I was worried about the timing just because I didn’t know if people were going to make it out here, but it turned out to be really crowded, so it works out,” Pierce said.
Many people who were in attendance on Friday night had not been to a Pride event before, but were ready to be a part of something special.
Third-year journalism student Ashlyn Morris said, “As my first Pride, I’m really excited. I’m excited to see what it has to offer.”
Others like USC alumni Valerie Henderson and Bethany Fralick are veterans of Columbia’s annual celebration. But still, this year took on a special meaning for the pair because it was also their wedding day.
“We can show who we are,” Henderson said. “Especially in the South it’s hard, but it’s just easy to come out and have people to relate to.”
The pair noticed a shift in the tone of the event with the move to nighttime, but they still enjoyed themselves.
“It’s a lot more lively,” Fralick said. “We’re able to show our colors a little more.”
From concerts to drag shows to speakers, Pride offered many events for people to be a part of all through the weekend.
When the parade was over, the events continued with a rousing “Street Dance” concert party where rapper Lil’ Kim performed and a “Get Lit After Party” at Capital Club in The Vista to cap off the night.
Throughout Saturday, the festival remained packed. Pride hosted another series of drag concerts, shows and speakers, stretching along Main Street from Lady Street to Taylor Street. The space was filled with a series of vendors, promoters and festival stars.
This years entertainment featured Betty Who, Jody Watley, Alissah Brooks, Debby Holiday and Paris Lefaris, along with the stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Also featured were speakers from across the state talking on points such as black pride, upstate pride and much more.
Among all the celebration and events, the overall meaning of the events was not lost on attendees.
“Pride means being yourself, it means being who you love and doing what you love for all the people around you and connecting with other people around you,” Morris said.