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Waves of rainbow flags and fans covered Brittlebank Park Saturday as people from all walks of life — young, old, gay and straight — celebrated Charleston gay pride

A parade and rally took place in downtown Charleston for the first time after a three-year run in North Charleston.

The parade started on Ann Street, traveled down King Street and finished at Colonial Lake. This was a very symbolic route, said S.C. Equality board member Jen Bennett, because it showed the city’s acceptance and support of gay pride.

“It’s important for everyone to see all these folks working together. It’s really inspiring to see yourself as a small piece of a big puzzle,” Bennett said.

Local businesses such as Morris Nissan showed support by being a sponsor, taking part in the parade and having a booth at the rally.

“We’re a family-owned business that embraces the community,” said Rick Baker of Morris Nissan.

Gay Pride board member and parade director Chase Glenn said that the celebrations aren’t just for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Glenn said Pride is about celebrating the “right to love.” He estimates that 8,000 to 10,000 people came out to Pride events this week.

Following the parade was a rally at Brittlebank Park where master of ceremonies drag queen Patti O’Furniture and Charleston Pride Festival Chairman Rob Lewis greeted the crowd.

Charleston County Democratic Party chairman Richard Hrickik reminded the crowd that they have a lot to celebrate this year with the Supreme Court decision to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and several states legalizing gay marriage. He said his own sister, a lesbian who lives in California, was able to “marry the woman she loves.”

Dennis Doiron, of Charleston, brought a cross to the event painted with “No Greater Love” across the top that many rally-goes posed for photos with. He said he felt called to go to the rally by God and wanted to share with everyone that not all Christians preach a message of hatred toward homosexuals.

“Jesus didn’t come here to condemn us. God doesn’t hate people,” Doiron said. “We’re all equal because we have all sinned.”

Reach Jade McDuffie at 937-5560 or

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