REGIONAL — In recent years, a proliferation of local Pride festivals have popped up across the Carolinas. From Wilmington to Boone, Raleigh/Durham to Columbia, LGBT folks will have plenty of activities to choose from throughout the 2008 Pride season.

The first event of the year will be the Triad Pride festival in Greensboro. Spanning five days in the second week of May, Triad Pride will feature LGBT-affirming worship services, a kick-off party on May 8, a May 9 Winston-Salem OUT at the Movies showing of “For the Bible Tells Me So,” a day-long May 10 festival in Greensboro’s Festival Park and a May 11 Pride Picnic.

Other planned events include a pageant, a softball game and Saturday night Pride parties at Greensboro’s Warehouse 29 and Winston-Salem’s Club Odyssey.

Wilmington and Boone both have their Pride festivities slated for June. Small but inviting, the coastal and mountain cities will roll out their gay days June 7-14 and June 13-15, respectively. Wilmington’s eight-day series of events will feature a picnic, drag show, an ’80s roller skating party, wine-tasting and more.

Pride Charlotte, slated for July 26, is anticipated to draw more than 8,000 attendees, making it one of the largest Pride festivals between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. The day-long festival will again be held at uptown Charlotte’s Gateway Village. An extended festival grounds will include Trade St., next to Johnson and Wales University, and a second stage is being added this year for community speakers and performances.

The Carolinas statewide Pride festivals are both planned for late September.

The SC Pride 2008 festival will be held Sept. 20 in Columbia’s Finlay Park — the same location as last year. The SC Pride Committee is currently seeking sponsors and vendors for the event and has opened registration for groups planning to march in the parade through downtown.

“A New Day Dawns” is the theme for this year’s SC Pride. On Mar. 16, the board of the S.C. Pride Movement voted to approve the theme and new logo submitted by Bryan Sipes and Ryan Wilson.

Last year, SC Pride 2007 had an estimated 4,500-5,000 attendees with 45 entries in the parade and 72 vendors in the park. Jacob and Joshua Miller of Nemesis Rising were the featured entertainment along with performances by local performers.

This year, SC Pride Movement celebrates its 18th year and will mark the 15th anniversary of the Harriet Hancock Community Center with a special celebration on Sept. 19. The event will serve as the kick-off to the SC Pride weekend of festivities.

The main entertainer for SC Pride has not been confirmed at press time, but the committee hopes to book a transgender entertainer, a gay singer, and a lesbian group to take the stage throughout the day to represent the diverse talents within our community.

Wilson told Q-Notes, “The theme hails a new era for South Carolina as we hope for a brighter future of equality for all GLBT South Carolinians.”

He added that the organization recently changed its name. The S.C. Pride Movement dropped “Gay and Lesbian” from its official name in an effort to be more inclusive of the entire LGBT community.

On Sept. 27, NC Pride Fest will once again be held on the campus of Duke University in Durham. The parade and festival regularly attracts between 6,000-7,000 attendees. Last year, the event saw its largest participation ever.

The last Carolinas Pride event takes over Asheville on National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11. Plans are still in the works but organizers told Q-Notes they are hoping for expanded festival times and more performers than last year.

Prides at a glance

Triad Pride
May 7-11
OutWilmington Pride Week
June 7-15
Boone Pride
June 13-15
Pride Charlotte
July 26
SC Pride
Sept. 19-20
NC Pride Fest
Sept. 27
Asheville Pride
Oct. 11

Ryan Wilson contributed to this report.

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