Columbus' 19th Annual Pride Festival draws larger crowd than previous years
Photo By Toni Stauffer
Held on Saturday, Sept. 23, at Flat Rock park, the 19th annual Columbus LGBT Pride Festival’s crowd tripled in size compared to last year’s event. Attendees used rainbow-colored paper hand fans and bottles of cold water to stave off the humid heat as they enjoyed the lively performances. A lot of families were in attendance; some parents and children relaxed in the shade or painted rocks indoors with Columbus Rocks.
The newly-crowned Queen of Columbus Pride, Ravion Starr, hosted the event, which was organized by Candy O’Hara. Entertainers Monica Starr, Gia Diamond, and Lillé, the “New Faces of Columbus,” performed to the delight of the crowd. Informational tables in Friendship Hall were set up by LGBT friendly organizations, and a raffle was held for a gift basket from Starship Enterprises.
After the disappointing closure of the Chattahoochee Valley Pride Center last year, the Columbus LGBT community has bounced back stronger than ever with more membership as a result of more outreach to young adults. “They’re too young to get into the bars and they are too gay to be in a bowling league,” said O’Hara. Monica Starr just turned 21 and Lillé, 17, is the youngest of the volunteers.
According to O’Hara, the new core of volunteers has given Columbus Pride a much needed shot in the arm. “At a certain point, familiarity breeds contempt,” said O’Hara. “It’s nice to have those bright eyes again, the ones that to them it’s all new.”
The “After Party” was held at the Sound Factory Nightclub & Bar on Veteran’s Parkway. Next year will mark the festival’s 20th anniversary, which will be held at Flat Rock park again. O’Hara said that the theme will be “Twenty Years of Columbus Pride Rocks” combined with “The Lion King.”
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