Arts & Entertainment Editor
For many, celebration comes in the form of birthday parties and holiday gifts, but for the LGBT+ community, celebration means Gay Pride. On Saturday, Winston-Salem Pride united people from the city’s surrounding regions, but more importantly, it gathered people across the spectrums of sexuality and gender.
With a parade, entertainment, local vendors and an after-event party, the day was chock-full of life, people and love.
“I think [Gay Pride] it’s an important thing for everyone to do and celebrate altogether,” said Pride-goer Melina Leon, who was dressed in a rainbow skirt and matching sparkles. “We have all kinds of holidays. I feel like Gay Pride is like a statement for us gay people, lesbian, transgender, you know everybody comes in together.”
Like Leon, people showed their solidarity through their attire, consisting of bright tutus, glitter makeup and various sizes of the internationally recognized Gay Pride flag tied around their necks and waists.
However, entertainment was also found in the costuming of dozens of dogs. Many small and large breeds attracted passersby to pet those wearing rainbow bandanas, while one specific dog’s tail was dyed to look like the Gay Pride flag.
In between the crowds of people were two stages on either side of the event. The first stage entertained its guests with drag shows and music played by DJs, while the last stage used a makeshift dance platform for drag, dance and more.
A few performers danced and lip-sang to current pop songs, with Lady Gaga’s opportune song, “Born This Way,” finding itself in the mix. Local LGBT+ community members and performers took to the dance platform, lip-singing exactly and proportionately while dancing and interacting with their audience. Children were encouraged to dance and join the person on stage.
One performer, Bella Nicole J., from Charlotte, North Carolina, donned a lavish emerald velveteen and bejeweled gown slit up the front, with a matching pair of silver heels and choker necklace. Jay took on a dramatic role, as she lip-sang and sauntered across the stage, thanking people for the money they handed her during the show.
However, one of the more unique shows was performed by Hooper Troopers, a women-duo of hula-hoop acrobatics. The pair danced to changing pop songs, while rolling their hula-hoops across their chests and swinging them around their upper bodies. Others joined the two, waving a large Gay Pride flag and fans with sheer rainbow material attached to the ends.
Besides the spontaneous flag-swinging entertainment from Pride-goers, the event supplied room for vendors to share their LGBT-inspired memorabilia, while others sold costume jewelry, hand-knit items and art. Wake Baptist Health and other health facilities were present, with one testing people for HIV.
Churches in support of the LGBT+ community set up tents next to vendors.
“Pride is important because the majority of us LGBTQ, queer and fabulous people have had negative messages our entire life,” said pastor Liam Hooper from the Parkway United Church of Christ, who was also the founder of Ministries Beyond Welcome. “We have been told we’re worthless, we’re freaks, or that we choose the way that we are.”
Hooper continued by saying, “To have at least one moment out of the year we can say to one another you are perfect, beautiful and fine just the way you are, it’s not only necessary, but it’s a gift we can give each other; it kind of counter balances all that hate speech.”
Though not everyone in the crowd was at Winston-Salem Pride to show solidarity; there were many protesting, holding signs that read “homos are full of demons” and “your party will end in flames.”
“Just turn to Jesus, that’s the answer,” one anonymous protester said, while holding a sign that read, “ye must be born again.”
However, though there were a few against the celebration, many ignored or sang over the protestors – fighting nonviolence with nonviolence.
Love and support was at the forefront of the Winston-Salem Pride event.
“I feel like it’s a very important thing for the community to all come together, because at the end of the day we are all human and we all are happy,” Leon said. “We are all like one big happy family.”
Winston-Salem Pride reminded event-goers that celebration is not just in things or days, but in the people, we cherish.