COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina LGBT Pride Movement (SC Pride) has been named for the fourth year in a row “Best Activist Group or Effort” by the readers of The Free-Times, a local alternative news-weekly.

In announcing the superlative, Free-Times staffers wrote, “Between SC Pride’s annual festival and the gay-friendly policies the group has helped bring about at the City of Columbia, it’s nice to know that at least one little corner of the state is getting more inclusive rather than less.”

SC Pride President Tamera Tedder says receiving the readers’ pick is a sign that Columbia continues to progress toward more inclusion and equality for LGBT people.

“We at SC Pride believe that the recognition we receive each year from the readers of The Free Times shows that there are many individuals in Columbia and the surrounding midlands area who value diversity and support our efforts in the struggle for full and equal rights for the LGBT community,” she said in an email to qnotes.

South Carolina, known largely to the nation as a hotbed of conservative politics, has a relatively progressive and LGBT-inclusive state capital. The City of Columbia has employment non-discrimination and public accommodations ordinances that include both sexual orientation and gender-identity. SC Pride has regularly run into opposition from various so-called “family values” groups including the Palmetto Family Council, though many say the anti-gay group’s influence even in statewide politics is waning.

Tedder says progress in other parts of the state is happening. “While it is a slow process, we think that introducing individuals to the needs and concerns of LGBT folks as well as dispelling stereotypes and negative statements about them helps a larger audience recognize the inequality and injustice that many LGBT individuals face. It also encourages people to be part of a positive change,” she said.

SC Pride will host its statewide festival on Sept. 3. For more, visit Read The Free-Times‘ Best of Columbia here.

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.