“It’s like a fresh start,” the Georgia Regents University freshman said. “My hometown wasn’t very open. So when I moved to Augusta last year, I made a promise to be more open and to be more accepting of myself. Coming to the festival is a special way to keep that promise.”
About 10,000 people crowded the downtown area Saturday for the city’s annual festival focusing on gay rights issues.
James Mintz, the director of development for Augusta Pride, said attendance has topped 10,000 for the past two years.
This year’s festivities included an outdoor dance party on Broad Street and musical performances at the Augusta Common by Latrice Royale from RuPaul’s Drag Race, Synergy and Taylor Dayne.
“I am very impressed with the community’s support,” Mintz said “There are more people coming out and it just matters that they are here.”
This year’s theme was “Everyone Loves.” Rivera said the festival was an opportunity to reach out to others who face the same challenges.
“It’s a good way to meet people in the area,” he said.
The festival also celebrated the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City, one of the most influential events in the modern gay rights movement.
Augusta native Summer Bennett said this year’s celebration served as an indicator of the city’s growing support.
“This is my fourth time (attending Augusta Pride),” she said. “I grew up in Augusta, so the festival means a lot to me.”