Augusta Pride festival brings community together

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Wayne Boddie drove an hour and a half to be in Augusta for this weekend’s Augusta Pride festival.

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Petty Officer 3rd Class John Jordan (center) waves flags with other members of OutServe, the association of actively serving LGBT military personnel, during the Augusta Pride parade on Broad Street.  JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
Petty Officer 3rd Class John Jordan (center) waves flags with other members of OutServe, the association of actively serving LGBT military personnel, during the Augusta Pride parade on Broad Street.

The Greenville, S.C., resident said he tries to come every year.

“It gets bigger and better every year,” he said.

He said he spends the weekend in Augusta and looks forward to seeing friends at the festival.

“It’s a good way to bring the community together,” he said.

Saturday’s events began with a parade down Broad Street. Members of the Univer­salist Unitarian Church of Augusta marched carrying signs that read “Don’t hate celebrate” and “Gay rights are civil rights.”

A throng of motorcyclists rode with rainbow flags adorning their bikes. Several dance groups entertained the crowds, while Georgia Regents University buses, Richmond County fire trucks and a WBBQ van lent their support to the event.

After the parade, guests filed into Augusta Common, where the festival continued with vendors, dancers, and live music.

The Rev. Lisa Heilig, the interim pastor for the Metro­pol­itan Community Church of Our Redeemer, offered a few words of encouragement before Augusta band Mama Says took the stage.

“We are going to celebrate that we are part of the diversity of creation just like we are made,” Heilig said. “We’re going to commemorate, we’re going to celebrate, but we’re also going to get motivated because, my friends, we know that none of us is free until all of us are free.”

The freedom to be herself is what Tarah Dillingham values most about the annual event. She walked through the festival sipping a daiquiri and holding hands with her girlfriend, Lisa Harshman.

“This is the only time that we can walk around and do the same things that other people do and not get looked at funny,” she said. “I can’t walk down the street with her and hold her hand if it’s not this.”

Harshman said she only came to the festival because Dillingham wanted to go. While she supports gay rights, being open about it makes her feel like a target. She said she remained very conscious about the world outside of the boundaries of Augusta Common.

“The reality is, we’re in Augusta. We’re in the South. Redneckville,” Harshman said. “We don’t have a support group down here..”

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corgimom
31086
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corgimom 06/22/13 - 05:00 pm
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4
Somebody help me out

Somebody help me out here...how many millions in tourism does the CVB say this festival brings?

Pops
7709
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Pops 06/22/13 - 05:34 pm
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Why oh why did you come?

“The reality is, we’re in Augusta. We’re in the South. Redneckville,” Harshman said. “We don’t have a support group down here..”

Jake
32320
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Jake 06/22/13 - 05:35 pm
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7
Hmmm.....

.....I didn't see any promotion for this on the AC. I guess I should have looked harder because it must have been someplace.
Anyway, best wishes for the participants and have fun in the sun. Not everyone in the area deplores what you are doing.

allhans
23523
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allhans 06/22/13 - 05:53 pm
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It was promoted, Jake. WE

It was promoted, Jake. WE were all aware.

Jake
32320
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Jake 06/22/13 - 06:08 pm
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Gotcha...

....I guess there were announcements, posters, etc. It might have been in the "Upcoming Events" side-bar but I rarely look at those since I do not live in the area.

Brad Owens
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Brad Owens 06/22/13 - 06:54 pm
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Redneckville?

Augusta is majority African-American right? Are there AA Rednecks?

Dixieman
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Dixieman 06/22/13 - 07:49 pm
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Four things

1. If I were gay I would be packed and on the way to San Francisco or Greenwich Village in an hour. Would not live in Augusta.
2. Why would gay or other people come here if they think it's "Redneckville"?
3. Whatever Augusta gains in tourism from these folks, it loses far, far more from families like mine that stay away from downtown on these days. Not bringing my kids to this stuff.
4. Where are the quotes from responsible opponents of the gay lifestyle? And, no, they don't hate gays. They just oppose their conduct, some for religious reasons, some for moral reasons, some for public health reasons. It is possible to love the sinner and hate the sin. It is also possible to oppose what people say and do without hating them.

corgimom
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corgimom 06/22/13 - 08:12 pm
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1. Why shouldn't they live in

1. Why shouldn't they live in Augusta? Isn't it a free country, where they can live wherever they want?

2. For the same reason anybody comes to Augusta or any other place- family, jobs, school. Some are born here. What other reasons are there? Why would you think that so strange?

3. No, gay people like to spend money, especially on travel and restaurant meals. That's what any festival is all about, and by all accounts, it's a successful festival. If it weren't, people would say so.

4. People can oppose it all they want. That's their right. But they are becoming in the minority. Most people understand that adults are free to do as they wish with other adults, as long as they don't break any laws. And isn't it really silly to worry about the personal lives of adult strangers? Do you think "opposition" is going to convert them to heterosexuality? What do they do in that festival that you find offensive? They walk down the middle of the street, holding a banner? Holding signs? What would you "oppose"?

Is it against the law to hold somebody's hand, while walking down the street?

You'd better not ever come to Charlotte, we see gay couples all the time, holding hands, hugging, kissing, etc, just like you see heterosexual couples do. You pretty much see that now in any major city.

But tell me how "opposition" ever stopped any adult against having sex with another adult. Adultery has been a sin for over 5,000 years, there's even a commandment against it, you see how well THAT opposition has worked- on religous grounds, on moral grounds, on public health grounds. And there are way more people that commit adultery than are gay.

So why would anybody waste their time "opposing" gays? What purpose does it serve?

Telling adults who they can love, who they can marry, who they can live with, who they should be with, pretty much doesn't work, does it?

cpjones
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cpjones 06/22/13 - 08:16 pm
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4th Pride was great

I hope all of those that attended Pride, including the last interviewee enjoyed it and possibly realized that Augusta does have a support group in the South. While some seem to think "the gays" should all just ship off to San Francisco, Pride festivals across the country (and world) prove to each community that LGTB people are everywhere and will celebrate our community with straight allies. Pride is held typically during June to celebrate the anniversary of Stonewall, when gay men and women revolted against arrest from outdated morality laws. I'm happy to have been a part of celebrating Augusta's Pride and honoring our history along with thousands of those that showed up over the past few days.

Dixieman
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Dixieman 06/22/13 - 08:36 pm
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Wrong attack

Of course gays can live anywhere they want. I never said I thought they should be forced to move. I said if I were gay, I would move to a place where I felt more comfortable -- my personal preference, nothing more. I marvel that anybody would want to live in a place where they do not feel comfortable. (One reason I moved to Augusta is there are lots of veterans here and we are not sneered at).

And saying opposition doesn't stop homosexuality is like saying laws against murder don't stop murder so they are useless. No human remedy is perfect.

Better slow down and read more carefully, folks, before you reply.

Now I think I will organize a Polygamy Pride Day next year. And don't tell me you are bigoted against any number greater than 2 in a marriage -- polygamy has been around a lot longer than gay marriage by thousands of years and is more widely practiced in the world today than gay marriage. If society accepts that same sex marriages between two people must be allowed, must we not also allow polygamous marriages? Unitarians already accept polyamory for their members. So what say you, fans and non-fans of Dixieman?

corgimom
31086
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corgimom 06/22/13 - 09:39 pm
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It's not about taking a human

It's not about taking a human being's life, it's about relationships. It's about love. It's about the innate need in people to have intimacy.

Comparing it to murder- which is a crime, I might add, a felony- isn't comparable in any way. Is homosexuality a crime? Not any more, it's not.

I read carefully, you are the one who doesn't understand. You cannot regulate adult relationships, ever. You can't tell adults that they cannot love another adult. Both parties consent.

And why would you think that they would be "uncomfortable"? I know plenty of gays in Augusta, they lead perfectly normal lives. Your viewpoint is no longer the majority, I think it's more that you are uncomfortable with them, than they are with you.

Gays laugh at people like you, Dixieman. They don't concern themselves for one minute what you think. I still don't understand what "opposition" that you think would be effective. Um, telling other adults what to do and how to live their lives? How does that work?

And I never accused you of saying that they should be forced to move. I don't know where you got that from, because I never said it. They move to Augusta for the same reasons that everybody else does, that's a no-brainer.

my.voice
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my.voice 06/22/13 - 09:45 pm
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"Brings the community

"Brings the community together"

So gay pride is now some sort of rallying cry? All I see is the gay pride causing division and hate towards those of us who choose to see it differently. Redefining marriage, making sexual CHOICE a civil right? That's divisive, I'm sorry, but it is.

So what's OFF THE TABLE? Plural marriage? Child sex? Animal sex? I mean, where does it stop and how do YOU draw that line?

Go ahead you thumb-down-button-pushers, prove my point.

countyman
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countyman 06/22/13 - 10:52 pm
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Great time downtown

I didn't see any major advertising from the local media for the festival either. I'm glad to hear thousands of people enjoyed the downtown atmosphere. Augusta needs more festivals, events, attractions, etc who can bring in new money. Instead of relying on the local events who mainly attract the population of the CSRA.

taytay519
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taytay519 06/22/13 - 11:13 pm
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Sex with animals...

It is people like you (my.voice) that make the world come to a screeching halt. How on EARTH do you go from two consenting adults having sex to using that as a segue to justify having sex with an ANIMAL which cannot consent, or a CHILD who cannot consent and newsflash a lot of states already allow plural marriages. And you cannot blame the "thumb-down pushers" for your ignorance. It doesn't prove anything if people simply DO NOT agree with your back-woods way of thinking. Are you gay? Is that your big problem with the whole issue? Did you get raised in the church where you were taught all those feelings deep inside of you were wrong and you would burn in hell if you allowed yourself to act on them? Cause believe me, I did and guess what, I'm gay anyway. And this whole "by choice" crap!? Really!? Why on EARTH would anyone CHOOSE to be looked down upon, beaten up, teased, ridiculed, scorned and spit on by the very people they called friends and family? church family or complete strangers like YOU for that matter! Church, that lovely place where you are supposed to hate the sin and not the sinner. That place where liars and fornicators and adulterers and thieves and all manner of sinners go to hell too? So I can promise you if I am going to hell because of who I LOVE, then I promise I will see you there. I'll be the one in the rainbow bow tie so look for me.

augusta citizen
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augusta citizen 06/22/13 - 11:24 pm
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My points

Dixieman, I hereby bequeath you all my points!!

thauch12
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thauch12 06/22/13 - 11:37 pm
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voice of the youth

1. At least in my experience as an educated, right-leaning moderate, male in his 20s, most of the people in my generation quite frankly do not care about homosexuality and whether it is right or wrong. That is an argument that noone is going to win and there are more important things to worry about. Live and let live.

2. Dixieman's example of polygamy is actually really interesting (whether or not he himself quite grasps what he is talking about).

While he has a point in that the practice is found in nearly every society, there are a couple of pitfalls in using that as an argument against homosexuality. For starters, it's blatant cultural relativism to assume that polygamy is "wrong" using our modern, American standards (or more aptly, the lack thereof) for marriage. From the lens of other cultures, eating certain cuts of meat, exchanging gifts at Christmastime, and even marrying someone of a different tribe are considered "wrong." Among the Christian traditions, there is still debate about whether or not divorce technically exists, much less its morality. Who's right? Noone knows for sure.

Also, polygamy, from a biological perspective at least (assuming of course that you believe in science), makes sense in certain situations. In parts of Africa and Asia where the practice is commonplace, the problem is quite simple...due to disease, war, occupational injuries, etc, there are not enough people, especially males. The only way for society to survive (I'm know better than to even broach the subject of natural selection), is by males having multiple partners because the offspring suffer such a high mortality rate. Whether or not this is "morally" right or wrong is secondary to the fact that this is quite simply what these people have to do to ensure they leave behind at least SOME viable progeny.

3. This event brought people and revenue to downtown Augusta. What more could you ask for?

myfather15
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myfather15 06/23/13 - 05:33 am
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@Corgimom

Can you not understand that Dixieman was NOT comparing the act of homosexuality to murder? He was comparing the fact that opposition of both doesn't work. You need some reading comprehension, because he also NEVER said anything about making anyone leave; as he made clear in his follow up comment.

myfather15
54158
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myfather15 06/23/13 - 05:55 am
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"Pride festivals across the

"Pride festivals across the country (and world) prove to each community that LGTB people are everywhere and will celebrate our community with straight allies."

Yes, don't you just love the unity!! Celebrating with their "straight allies" all while calling them a bunch of ignorant rednecks. Yes, can't you just feel that warm feeling of unity inside your body!!

Bodhisattva
5976
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Bodhisattva 06/23/13 - 06:01 am
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Notice it's always the folks

Notice it's always the folks that are against gay marriage that delve into the ideas of polygamy, child sex, and bestiality? It makes you wonder why these topics are always on their minds and what other creepy ideas may be floating around in there. Some people have such strange obsessions.

myfather15
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myfather15 06/23/13 - 06:06 am
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5
“This is the only time that

“This is the only time that we can walk around and do the same things that other people do and not get looked at funny,”

Really? This is the ONLY time you ever get to walk around and not get a funny look? I'm thinking this is a exaggeration.

“I can’t walk down the street with her and hold her hand if it’s not this.”

Really? So now us evil straight people have prevented you from even holding your lovers hand!! How dare us!! This is absolutely the ONLY venue in which you are allowed to hold her hand in public!! Ooooh, the humanity!! Straightism must end, immediately!! It's the only way to ever stop "those looks".

Have you ever once considered that maybe it isn't straight people "supressing" your ability for public display's of affection, but YOUR OWN conscious? You don't like those stares, so YOU subconsciously decide not to hold hands in public?

Have you also ever thought about how RARE it is to actually see straight people holding hands in public? Usually it's a new (puppy love) couple, or an overly affectionate couple that are holding hands in public. You VERY RARELY see men and women holding hands in public. Absolutely nothing wrong with it; both hetro and homo couples are perfectly fine to hold each others hands, who cares. But why make an issue about it because [YOU] feel you can't do it because of your choice.

myfather15
54158
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myfather15 06/23/13 - 06:11 am
5
6
Can someone please tell me

Can someone please tell me when the next "Straight Pride" event is being held? I want to make plans to attend but I haven't heard anyone mention the date of the event.

Oooh wait; they don't hold them!! Ok, so straights don't make a big issue of their sexuality!! Hhhhmmm, wonder why the other side has to broadcast and announce their "Pride"?

myfather15
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myfather15 06/23/13 - 06:24 am
1
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Basically, the "Gay rights"

Basically, the "Gay rights" issue is completely built upon LIES to begin with!! Admitted so by several gay rights activists themselves, including Masha Gessen.

They claim to be a minority who is frequently suppressed and oppressed; which is bunk!! Their opinion of "oppressed and surpressed" is simply standing againt gay marriage. If you're not for them, you're against them and a bigot, homophobe and sexist!! For a Country of 320 million people, we have relatively few incidents of hate crime violence towards homosexuals. Yes, there are some and ALWAYS will be in a Country this size.

Ignorant individuals will ALWAYS exist; and be present in this Country. Gay's aren't special; there are still small factions of people who hate based upon race. There are people who hate based upon religion, ethnicity, choice of clothing, choice of vehicle driven, hair color, eye color, freckles, moles, and the list could go on. Some people just hate EVERYBODY, because that's how they wake up......MAD!!!

But you will NOT convince me this is happening on a LARGE scale, relative to the size of this Country. Don't let these people fool you into believing it either. It's one of their main weapons is to convince people to blindly believe whatever they say.

myfather15
54158
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myfather15 06/23/13 - 06:27 am
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3
In Christianity, there is a debate where divorce exists?

The confusion comes from MAN, not God!! Read Deuteronomy 24 and see how plain it is whether divorce exists in Christianity.

http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Deuteronomy-Chapter-24/

Dixieman
14359
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Dixieman 06/23/13 - 07:37 am
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5
Hey there

Thauch12 and Bodhisattva - You misunderstand. I am not championing polygamy and I said nothing about animals or children. My point is this: ALL the arguments for gay marriage apply equally to polygamous marriage -- it's a civil right, whatever consenting adults do should be legal, etc. etc. If gay marriage is made the law of the land, polygamy will inevitably follow very rapidly. Or perhaps you're just biased against numbers greater than 2??
And polygamy is not some rogue modern biological imperative. It goes back thousands of years in China, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Islam (it is mentioned and approved in the Quran), etc., etc. Y'all need to do some research and I know more about cultural relativism than you are displaying here. (And Bodhisattva, as someone who is evidently intrigued by Buddhism you might want to look up what the Dalai Lama has to say about homosexuality - he has said prostitution is better).
Countryman - are you really saying this is okay because these folks spend money in Augusta? If so, let's organize the Waffen SS reunion festival for next year, to be held right after PimpFest '14.

jbenny2010
253
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jbenny2010 06/23/13 - 09:15 am
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6
The issue I have with

gay people is that they are so arrogant and in your face. They want everyone to accept them and all of their behavior, but they are some of the most close minded people in regards to the rights of others. It was a beautiful day yesterday and I would have loved to go walking on the River Walk, but I refused to go downtown and have to see all the PDA between men and men and women and women. The universe is made of opposites: day/night, up/down, right/left, wet/dry, hot/cold, peace/chaos, etc. Even magnets resist attraction between the same polarity. Just something to think about.

itsanotherday1
41937
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itsanotherday1 06/23/13 - 10:13 am
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0
Bravo taytay519!

Your comment about "choice" is the same drum as I've been beating for years. Take the religious emotion out of the debate and you see that "choice" is illogical, patently illogical.

itsanotherday1
41937
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itsanotherday1 06/23/13 - 10:17 am
3
1
Oh, and for the naysayers

Oh, and for the naysayers about the festival.... Guess what, it wasn't **something I was interested in witnessing, so I didn't go downtown. Pretty simple solution to avoid something I didn't want to see, eh?

** Regardless of my other positions, I still find the PDA's and flamboyance of some to be distasteful. I don't want to see it, so I don't go around it.

itsanotherday1
41937
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itsanotherday1 06/23/13 - 10:20 am
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jbenny

There are 51 other weekends to go downtown. I don't think anyone else was deprived of having a pleasant day on the river because of this one event.

OJP
6410
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OJP 06/23/13 - 10:46 am
6
2
Based on the difference between the community's reaction

to the festival from the first year to this year (from individuals to media), I'd say Augusta Pride has succeeded in unifying the area behind equality.

Well done, Augusta Pride and the CSRA!

Cadence
219
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Cadence 06/23/13 - 11:49 am
3
3
A Pride Festival

A festival based on how some people like to have sex. What an odd thing. If this wasn't a family paper I would discuss that further. Redneckville? Ouch. Paint us all with the same broad brush why don't you. You don't know me, madam, and your paranoia is showing. Oh well, welcome to Augusta. Please spend a lot of money while you are here in Redneckville. Us ignorant hicks are happy to take it from you.

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