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Augusta Pride Festival puts love on display

Among the rainbow colors and various pride flags, the Augusta Commons was filled with joy for the 13th annual Augusta Pride celebration.

The celebration featured a parade and an outdoor festival with speakers, local small businesses and music as the LGBTQ+ community and its allies took to the streets to celebrate love. Earlier in the week, Beats on Broad, a president’s soiree and other events took place in the CSRA.

“We obviously are one community and it keeps getting larger every single year. When we expected 500 the first festival into somewhat over 14,000 now,” Augusta Pride President Michael Barnard Jenkins said. “Seeing the community come together and find the resources they need, meet a friend, make a friend, figure out who you are if you are questioning yourself, to me that is the biggest thing.”

Some attendees, like LGBTQ+ authors Yolanda Wallace and Ashley Moore, felt the pride celebration highlights the progress made in America by showcasing accessibility to queer resources and stories.

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”It’s great to bring (LGBTQ+ books) to people who don’t know about it and show them that again, they can have happy endings,” Moore of Charleston said.

“We just love seeing everyone out and proud…,” Wallace, of Sardis, Georgia, said. “It just restores your heart a little bit.”

“We still have work to do. Equality for everyone matters,” Jenkins said. “It doesn’t matter their sexual orientation or their background, pride still matters. This is why we do what we do. Stonewall started with a riot, and we are still stonewalling to this day.”

Augusta Mayor-elect Garnett Johnson, who will take office in January 2023, made an appearance during the parade and festival supporting Augustans.

“This warms my heart that Augusta is a city of diversity and inclusion for everybody,” Johnson said. "That means a lot. As your mayor, we are going to continue that, just know that I am always here and that I appreciate you.”

To learn more about Augusta Pride and its other events in the CSRA, visit prideaugusta.org.

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Samantha Winn covers the city of North Augusta, with a focus on government and community oriented business. Follow her on Twitter: @samanthamwinn and on Facebook and Instagram: @swinnnews