Carrollton hosted its very first LGBTQ Pride Festival at the AMP in Adamson Square on Friday, Oct 11, in honor of National Coming Out Day. The event was presented by the University of West Georgia Center for Diversity and Inclusion and The Queer Student Alliance from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The festival focused on celebration, community, resources and entertainment.
When the festival first began, guests were seen mingling and speaking to the different organizations and resources in which the celebration was sponsored by. Other than the UWG Center for Diversity and Inclusion and The Queer Student Alliance, other resources and organizations included: the LGBTQ Oral History Project, Invisible Histories Project, UWG Counseling and businesses in Carrollton that were supportive of the LGBTQ community such as Rooted Chiropractic and St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church.
There was also a booth set up that allowed anyone in attendance to write down memories regarding their coming out stories or anything that is related to their sexual orientation and a booth in which people were given “free mom hugs” which represented supportive parents for those who may not have such thing.
After the community got the chance to meet and greet with one another, the 30-minute documentary film, “OUTSPOKEN” was shown on screen. The film was produced after Parkersburg City Council in West Virginia defeated a nondiscrimination ordinance in 2017. “OUTSPOKEN” focused on local LGBTQ residents and their experiences in a small and often described, “small-minded” town. It is a film that brings light to individuals who are underrepresented, and it emphasizes the capacity that LGBTQ people in small towns obtain to make a difference.
Following the film, guests at the festival shared their thoughts on the film and even compared it to the city of Carrollton regarding how residents in such a small city react to the LGBTQ community. People shared their thoughts, opinions and suggestions on how Carrollton could better support the LGBTQ community or at least make the community feel safer in public spaces.
Individuals continued on to share their stories and experiences as it relates to coming out to their parents, how they are treated in public and by people they know who disagree with their lifestyle and how they are supported, even the slightest ways. The LGBTQ festival ended with a “Queer dance party” and many people in attendance were seen dancing with one another to very upbeat music under colorful strobe lights, in representation of the colors on the pride flag.
Although it was the very first Pride Festival hosted in Carrollton, the outcome was very effective, and it made members of the LGBTQ feel safe and supported in a place where many people look down upon the lifestyle.