Thousands celebrate Augusta's gay community during Pride Weekend

Saturday, June 28, 2014 6:16 PM
Last updated Sunday, June 29, 2014 1:32 AM
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For Matt Rivera, the fifth annual Augusta Pride festival was his way of keeping true to a promise of being open and honest. He came out as gay last December.

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Spectators dance and wave from the crowd as Miss Augusta Pride Vonnajae Couture performs.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Spectators dance and wave from the crowd as Miss Augusta Pride Vonnajae Couture performs.

“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.”

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Dixieman
14387
Points
Dixieman 06/29/14 - 10:17 pm
22
12
OK, everyone get the memo about covering this story?

1. Reporting of the event should only interview and report only one side of the story. No opponents of this event should be interviewed and their points of view should not be reported, despite being based on thousands of years of human experience, scientific principles, honored traditions, and sincere religious beliefs held by a large majority of the American people.
2. If you observe any negative behavior by, or hear any negative speech from, the LGBT people at this event, leave it out of the story!
3. Write in a calm, supportive tone about those participating. Write nothing to suggest there is anything abnormal about their "lifestyle".
4. People opposed to this event may not be said to "disagree" or just "oppose" what it stands for out of sincere principles or beliefs. They must be said to "hate" or "fear" homosexuals and be "bigots".
5. Christians who say they "love the sinner but hate the sin" are not to be listened to or quoted. (We have not come up with a good rebuttal to this line yet, so the temporary guidance is to just ignore it until we come up with a witty, sarcastic response.)
6. Photos may show people hugging or smiling but not actually kissing or groping. This is to make the medicine go down smoother among the ignorant CSRA population. Be patient. Couple more years and we can run the tonguing photos after the less-enlightened peasants have been warmed up.
7. Oh, yeah -- dogs. We need LOTS of photos of dogs at the Gay Pride events with their gay owners. Subliminal message: "Hey, we're just nice people with dogs, kind of like you!"
8. Remember, tolerance is the key virtue in our coverage and any comments posted here. Therefore, in order to promote tolerance we will NOT tolerate anyone who disagrees with these guidelines!
9. Replies to my comments above which are posted here must follow the same guidelines.
Remember -- there is only ONE SIDE to this story!

corgimom
31226
Points
corgimom 06/28/14 - 06:55 pm
11
25
Dixieman, do they interview

Dixieman, do they interview people that are against the St. Patrick parade?

What negative behavior was observed, and why isn't negative behavior reported about the St. Patrick's Day parade?

What is abnormal about gay people?

I object to a parade celebrating a day that is all about drinking and getting puking drunk. I'm opposed to it because of my principles and beliefs. So what? It's legal, and if I don't like it, I can not attend.

If Augusta can tolerate drunks on St. Patrick's Day, why can't they tolerate gay people? How many gay people do you know that kill people behind the wheel of a car, just because they are gay?

corgimom
31226
Points
corgimom 06/28/14 - 06:57 pm
12
14
But Dixieman, let's talk

But Dixieman, let's talk turkey.

The AC was totally against this when it first happened. Then, when TEN THOUSAND PEOPLE showed up, MANY OF WHOM STAY AT THE MARRIOTT, then it's ok.

You will not hear the AC make another peep about this. Because those 10,000 bring major $$$$ to Broad St and to the Marriott.

Dixieman
14387
Points
Dixieman 06/28/14 - 07:18 pm
13
0
Corgimom --

I hate to say it, but I think you may well be right about the economic motivation behind the coverage.

Stunned 2
3947
Points
Stunned 2 06/28/14 - 07:59 pm
16
8
The parade is about people's sexual practices. Ok, so why are

children in attendance? I'm going to say it again. They don't want to fit in with society. They want special attention. More research needs to be done on homosexuality in today's society. Are most of the people that characterize themselves as homosexuals, the victims of child molestation? Current studies have pointed that way. I'm not 'supporting' any obnoxious behavior on public streets celebrating anyone's sexual practices.

countyman
19719
Points
countyman 06/28/14 - 10:31 pm
11
24
Progressive

The creative class, artsy people, visionaries, and others need to see this image of Augusta... Augusta is becoming more gay friendly and it will only help attract new businesses and residents..

The small town mentality and non progressive way of thinking continues to decrease.. Let's please get rid of the 1960's/1970's mentality holding the metro/CSRA back..

There's no reason why Olde Town or Midtown can't become the first gayborhood in metro Augusta.. It's time for the local business community to step up and begin sponsoring the event..

The festival attracting people from all different races proves the media coverage of racial problems is clearly overblown.. The media loves to portray that many of the problems in government are racial, but many of them are due to politics(republican vs democrat).. They never concentrate on the racial harmony among the local public which the event clearly showed exist..

oldredneckman96
5054
Points
oldredneckman96 06/28/14 - 08:54 pm
1
1
Pride
Unpublished

And just what have these folks done to be proud of? If, as they say, they are born this way, then they have had nothing to do with their condition. If on the other hand, rather than being obnoxious to the majority of people, they did something we could all proud of, maybe there would not be so much hate against them. The more you try to force on people the more they will automatically resist. Quit working so hard to look stupid and draw attention. You can earn the praise of others, you will never get it by demanding it. Some groups have learned this, other have not.

Radwaste
400
Points
Radwaste 06/28/14 - 08:55 pm
2
4
dichotomy
32070
Points
dichotomy 06/28/14 - 09:06 pm
15
5
"What is abnormal about gay

"What is abnormal about gay people?"

I can't believe she said that. THEY ARE NOT WITHIN THE NORM...I.E. ABNORMAL

blakkone
72
Points
blakkone 06/28/14 - 09:32 pm
16
5
Yup

Lol, Dichotomy! "What is abnormal about gay people?"

YOu got a guy on stage dressed in women's clothes and make-up and that aint abnormal??

deestafford
26328
Points
deestafford 06/28/14 - 09:37 pm
18
9
I looked at the slide shows and am glad these folks are...

I looked at the slide shows and am glad these folks are gay because not one of them looked as if it would benefit the human race for their genes to be passed to another generation.
Deviate behavior should not be celebrated and encouraged.

itsanotherday1
41997
Points
itsanotherday1 06/28/14 - 09:51 pm
12
9
By the scientific explanation

By the scientific explanation of "normal", gays are certainly NOT. However, people born with IQ's above 140 and below 80 are not normal either. Nor are men 6'6", etc. either. We don't condemn others who are born with traits outside of the norm, so why condemn gays? Nothing about their downtown parade interested me so I didn't go. Others should do the same; as long as their "doings" don't directly affect you, don't worry about it. Live and let live as they say.

Gage Creed
16725
Points
Gage Creed 06/28/14 - 09:56 pm
4
3
Factss

Once again... some comments are clearly overblow... (sic)

"The festival attracting people from all different races proves the media coverage of racial problems is clearly overblow.. "

burninater
9396
Points
burninater 06/28/14 - 10:12 pm
4
9
"The festival attracting

"The festival attracting people from all different races proves the media coverage of racial problems is clearly overblown.. "
-----
It's largely generational, countyman.

America's younger folks seem far less likely to decide that contempt is the appropriate response to human difference.

You should research the age demographic of the primary audiences of the traditional, race-baiting, media. It's an interesting phenomenon. I'll give you a hint: they're legally out to pasture.

burninater
9396
Points
burninater 06/28/14 - 10:40 pm
4
9
"I can't believe she said

"I can't believe she said that. THEY ARE NOT WITHIN THE NORM...I.E. ABNORMAL"
-----
Well heck, by that definition, supporters of the tea party are "abnormal".

But they aren't, really, because, like iad1 pointed out, the "norm" is a statistical construct. Nobody consistently applies the "norm" as the determiner of what is moral. Trying to use it in this specific case is just lazy thinking.

amarie525
1920
Points
amarie525 06/29/14 - 12:07 am
13
2
blah blah blah

I don't care how a person swings. I don't care if people of the same sex get married. It annoys me a teeny tiny bit that there is this whole pride thing. Why define yourself by your sexuality? It doesn't define me. I don't know, just think it's more important what you do in this life than who you like to get jiggy with...just saying

specsta
6367
Points
specsta 06/29/14 - 02:25 am
8
13
Human Sexuality

Conservative people are so obsessed about the sexual behavior of others. OBSESSED! Women's nipples, porn, strip clubs, prostitution, LGBT folks, etc. strike FEAR into the heart of those who want to dictate their idea of morality to others.

Here's a thought - if human sexuality in our society bothers you - tough. Don't think that you a right to force your narrow mindset upon other human beings. We are all sexual beings and we all have the right to be free in our expression of our sexuality, without judgement.

I personally abhor violence and violent people. Guess what? I don't pay money to see violent sports or watch blood-spattered movies or or watch violent online videos or have relationships with violent, angry people. I stay away. That is my choice. I don't try to ram my beliefs into someone's brain simply because it is my belief that violence is an abhorrent thing. If somebody likes watching folks impaled and ripped apart in movies or beaten to a bloody pulp in a ring, then that's their choice. I think it's a horrible choice but that's how some folks want to live their lives.

That's American culture - embrace violence and condemn sexuality. Gay people marrying is a bigger issue than folks being gunned down in the streets. Who gives a flip about who someone chooses to marry? But I do care about being able to enjoy a stroll down the street without having a bullet headed my way.

Let gay folks or any folks marry someone they love. Let women have the same right as men to go bare-chested. Legalize prostitution in every state so that safeguards to protect women and patrons are in place. Teach students about human sexuality to avoid pregnancy and disease and eradicate this "abstinence-only" flawed approach.

We are sexual beings - let's stop acting like we aren't.

geecheeriverman
2030
Points
geecheeriverman 06/29/14 - 05:43 am
10
8
Sad Day

Lets rename the gay pride parade the, Sad Day Parade. This type of behavior is SICK, SICK. Do what you want, but do not throw it in my face.

seenitB4
85392
Points
seenitB4 06/29/14 - 06:28 am
11
9
ctyman said

get rid of the 1960's/1970's mentality holding the metro/CSRA back..

Don't worry ctyman ....when you get rid of them the city will implode....they are the guys paying the taxes & not sucking the freebies...they are leaving though....soon you will have your so called paradise..

You kinda remind me of Oprah....saying the racists will die out eventually....Hah........These are the guys who fought for YOUR freedoms..the very reason you aren't speaking GERMAN today..
GEEZ

seenitB4
85392
Points
seenitB4 06/29/14 - 06:30 am
13
5
We are sexual beings

Yes we are spec...we just don't need a parade to prove it!

corgimom
31226
Points
corgimom 06/29/14 - 06:59 am
4
16
So dickworth, what will you

So dickworth, what will you do when the gay Christians show up for the Christian Day parade?

(And they will.)

corgimom
31226
Points
corgimom 06/29/14 - 07:01 am
4
12
Dichotomy, I think that girls

Dichotomy, I think that girls marrying at 14 is abnormal. I think that people that marry people that are 30 and 40 years younger is abnormal.

But it's legal, and they don't bother anybody. Same with gays.

corgimom
31226
Points
corgimom 06/29/14 - 07:04 am
7
12
Dickworth, it is attitudes

Dickworth, it is attitudes like yours that cause gay kids to commit suicides. It IS ok to be gay. As long as somebody isn't doing illegal things, people are free to do what they wish.

Divorces do more to harm kids than gay people do, and divorce is rampant. You know, from the heterosexuals.

corgimom
31226
Points
corgimom 06/29/14 - 07:08 am
7
13
Blakkone, so what if a man

Blakkone, so what if a man wants to dress up in women's clothing? Who does he hurt?

I'd rather see that then what some of the women wear, that you can see everything and anything.

But what really gets me is then so many of you want to talk about how "our freedoms are being eroded". Doesn't that man have the right to wear women's clothing if he desires?

Years ago there was a transvestite man that loved to go to K-Mart in North Augusta. He had a beard and a mustache, and always wore a woman's dress. Everybody knew about him, and nobody bothered him. If that made him happy, why not?

corgimom
31226
Points
corgimom 06/29/14 - 07:14 am
2
12
But if any of you want to see

But if any of you want to see somebody that's really wild, check out Nuclia Waste. He has his own web site and was on Jay Leno. I met him a few years back. He's a great guy, and he walks around with a little stuffed alligator on a leash- that's his GAY-tor.

For some of you, your head would start spinning if you saw him, but he's a hoot and a lot of fun.

Even my husband, who is as straight as they come, and is the ultimate Southern Baptist boy, thought he was great.

IBeDogGone
2982
Points
IBeDogGone 06/29/14 - 07:27 am
6
6
Normal

Normal is a setting on a dryer! What is acceptable to certain groups will always be against what other groups believe. As long as everyone conducts themselves in a law abiding manner no matter what the celebration no one should judge others. As Americans we have the right what events to attend and to not attend.

harley_52
22989
Points
harley_52 06/29/14 - 08:09 am
11
2
"We don't condemn others...

......who are born with traits outside of the norm, so why condemn gays?"

There is a difference between "condemn(ing) others" and condemning their actions.

Tell me, what "traits" are gays "born with" that are outside the norm? Be specific. And please support your claim with some evidence, not just claims. I looked for some, but couldn't find it. Are people who pick their noses in public born with those traits too? People who are drive recklessly? People who are mean to their spouses?

Until proven otherwise, I remain convinced is NOT genetic, but rather a behavioral flaw. And I see absolutely no reason society should encourage, celebrate, or in any other way support such behavior.

InChristLove
22459
Points
InChristLove 06/29/14 - 08:25 am
7
3
Harley just said it

Harley just said it all.

"There is a difference between "condemn(ing) others" and condemning their actions."

itsanotherday1
41997
Points
itsanotherday1 06/29/14 - 08:27 am
2
9
Me either: "And I see

Me either: "And I see absolutely no reason society should encourage, celebrate, or in any other way support such behavior."

That is called live and let live.

Answer one question Harley. When did you "decide" to be straight? Was it a decision or natural inclination (trait).

harley_52
22989
Points
harley_52 06/29/14 - 09:15 am
6
6
"Answer one question Harley....

....When did you "decide" to be straight? Was it a decision or natural inclination (trait)."

You chose not to answer my question about evidence of this genetic "trait" you claimed, but don't worry....I was pretty sure you couldn't because no such evidence has EVER been found.

As to when I "decide(d)" to be straight....

I guess it was the first time someone explained to me what a homosexual was and what homosexuals did to/with one another. I was shocked. I was mortified. I knew I wanted no part of it. I was pretty happy with girls and was sickened by the thought of homosexuality. My natural instincts were strengthened when I learned some history about homosexuality, what the bible said about it, and how it was viewed by most other societies on earth.

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