For one week out of the year, the city of Charleston is filled with colorful festivities complete with rainbows, unicorns and yes, LGBT madness. It is the Charleston Pride Festival, a week of celebration of the LGBT community through educational events, parties, networking opportunities and everyone’s favorite the Pride parade and rally. Throughout the year, Charleston Pride holds their Color Parties, but on Pride week, all walks of life come out to support each other in the festivities.
You’ve probably heard of Charleston Harbor Cruises before. Well, September 16th, Charleston Pride took over the cruise and sailed along the beautiful Charleston harbor to kick off the pride week. This kickoff party was bigger, better and longer than ever before! The evening featured hors d’oeuvres, an open bar courtesy of BreakThru Beverage, and DJ K spinning the beats harbor cruise style. After the booze pride cruise, the following Sunday, Pride upheld the southern tradition of Sunday Brunch, with a gay twist of course! Tabbuli Grill Mediterranean & hookah bar, a Charleston Pride Sponsor, held their annual Sunday Day Club Drag Brunch. Performers included Ava Clear, Kymmya Star, VictoriaVixen, Venus Alexander, Mercy Madison, and the empress of Charleston Bridgette Pharaohs. Later that Sunday, Pride goers were invited to the Unitarian Church in Charleston to the Charleston’s Interfaith Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Pride Service witch was open to Charlestonians of every faith and philosophy. People were welcomed by all different faiths. The peaceful service celebrated diversity and commitment to work for equal dignity and justice for all.
The typical Monday blues were not in affect during Pride Week because the Human Rights Campaign were in town! Nationally known transgender activist, National Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and the first openly transgender speaker at a major political party convention (at the Democratic National Convention in 2016), Sarah McBride shared her story,
reflected on the current state of the LGBTQ movement and our path forward at the College of Charleston. She met with the youth of We Are Family, a local organization that provides support and development for youth who have been marginalized on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, in a private room to talk about issues LGBT Youths are facing in schools here in the lowcountry and what they can do to help. Afterwards, she held a panel with local activist to share what is currently happening in the LGBTQ movement in Charleston.
Tuesday was a night of speaking out. This open mic event was a new event by Pride that was filled with an evening of poetry and spoken word. Members of the LGBTQ community took the stage to share their wisdom, wit and humor in the first ever OUT SPOKEN. The event took place at the Purple Buffalo, and left with standing room only! “My heart, my love, my PRIDE… this OUTspoken night” One of the poets said as this event has truly won the hearts of Charleston. “OUT SPOKEN will be a constant in the years to come,” said a Pride Board Memeber.
The following day, an evening with Senator Marlon Kimpson took place. Presented by Alliance For Full Acceptance (AFFA), Senator Marlon, shared what will be coming out of the SC State House this year. Many came with questions such as, “What will happen to the bathroom rule?” and “what are way the SC house is working for the LGBT Community?” These hard questions came with an answer as Marlon Kimpson assured everyone that he is an LGBT advocate for the community and state.
As the week went on, Charleston Pride did not slow down. Thursday was PACKED with events. First, yours truly, held a BEAU Magazine event! Our annual BEAU Happy Hour Toast To Pride took place at the Cocktail Club and was filled with Charleston’s OUT Crowd. Over 100 people tasted and sampled the special cocktails that make the Cocktail Club one of a kind. Later that night, pride goers walked to the Charleston Music Hall for LGBTLOL. The packed house “LOL”ing all night as LGBT comedians shared the stage to fill the room with laughter. Right after the show, The Patti O’Furniture Show began at Dudley’s giving people a taste of what was to come that Saturday.
Takeover Charleston invited the city to the hang out at the popular taco spot, Taco Boy for a Friday Takeover Pride. DJ Trevor D was spinning tunes all night long as guest were surprised with a Drag show featuring Jaisee Alexander, Desiree Valentino, Venus Alexander, Victoria Vixen. This years attendance was bigger than Cinco De Mayo! The party went on until the next day… the main pride event, Pride Parade and Festival 2017!
While half of the Pride goers were hungover, tired, sleepy, the spirit of pride did not dwindle as the City of Charleston was taken over by rainbows as The Charleston Pride Parade marched down from Ann street to Brittlebank park were the festival took place. From kids, to teen, to couples, the elders, and ALL walks of life gather to celebrate love.
The cool fall breeze must have brought in a crowd because thousands of people gathered in the park for the Pride rally. Around the park were booths of supporting business and organizations promoting their services to the LGBT community. However, the cool breeze ended shortly because the American idol hottie, David Hernandez came on the stage and rocked the house! David, an LGBT community member, wrote a song, “Beautiful” (which is now on itunes) for Charleston Pride and stole the hearts of many, even mine! The rally got even hotter as the “Queen of bounce,” Big Freda came onto the stage and brought everyone together for her unforgettable performance. People were dancing on stage, beside the stage, front of the stage….some even say they saw the mayor of Charleston dancing in the VIP side of the stage!
Before the week came to a close we had to top it off Pride style! The annual Prism Party, sponsored by Dudley’s packed the Music Farm with close to 1,000 guests! People connected with one another and brought the spirit of pride together one last time before we all went our separate ways… until next year. RuPaul Drag Race Queens, Phi Phi O’Hra, Coti Collins, Jiggly Caliente And Raven showed up to celebrated the week with beats by DJ Citizen Jane.
Overall the festival had seen new faces and old ones. Some were veterans of the Pride festivals and others their first Gay Pride festival, but now what is next? Do we wait until next year to bring the LGBT community together again? Or do we connect with one another and keep fighting to build our community stronger. Until then, Charleston Pride is stronger than ever! With sources telling us that Charleston Pride 2018 is sure to be even BIGGER, and BETTER! Can’t WAIT!!!
Words by Jonatan Guerrero Ramirez