Louganis to keynote gala

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — The Grand Strand Pride Business Expo and Gala will be held on Aug. 25 at the Marina Inn at Grand Dunes, 8121 Amalfi Pl.

Held between 3-6 p.m., the annual event features an Expo showcasing members of the Coastal Business Guild. It is free and open to the public. Directly afterward, a gala beginning at 6 p.m. will feature as its keynote speaker, four-time Olympic medalist Greg Louganis who is being brought in through the VIP presenting sponsorship of Careteam+. Considered one of the greatest American divers, Louganis now spends his time as a gay rights activist, as well as an HIV awareness advocate. The gala includes dinner, dancing and entertainment. Advanced tickets are required for the gala and are available for purchase online. A cash bar will be open for both events.

In 1988 Louganis tested positive for HIV. Coming out as a gay athlete in a time when it simply was not done, his 1995 inspirational autobiography spent five weeks at number one on the New York Times bestseller list.

Tickets for the gala are $60 and are available online.

Sponsorships are currently being sought. For those who participate, a one-year membership in the Guild is included. The deadline is July 13 for inclusion in the printed program.

The Marina Inn will serve as the host hotel. Rooms start at $199 per night plus fees and taxes. Call 843-913-1333 and ask for the Grand Strand Pride group rate. The rate ends on July 26 or sooner if the hotel sells out.

info: grandstrandpride.com/pride.html.

Org hosts comedians

COLUMBIA, S.C. — SC Equality will present a live performance by Sandy and Richard Riccardi on June 23, 6:30 p.m., at The Big Apple, 1000 Hampton St.

The Riccardis bring their wit to the stage in what is considered “a musical version of ‘Saturday Night Live’” employing modern, progressive, political and socio-relevant lyrics and jazz piano/vocal arrangements. The show is filled with lampoons, jabs and jibes on a host of topical subjects to mostly original songs. Some tunes are borrowed with re-written parodies. And all take sharp aim at, among other items, the current administration, politicians, TV evangelists, Broadway musical wannabes, sexual orientation and the Twitter explosion.

General admission tickets are sold out, but VIP premium seating is available for $75 online at bit.ly/2xfmuqw.

info: scequality.org.

Gay theatre group formed

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — The Proud Mary Theatre Company has been formed and it is South Carolina’s first and only theatre group exclusively devoted to LGBTQ stories and voice, GoUpstate.com reported.

The award-winning troupe kicked off their inaugural season with “I Am My Own Wife” in the fall of 2017. It received awards at the Southeastern Theatre Conference, held in Mobile, Ala., for Best Production, Best Actor (Dave LaPage) and best Director (Robert Fuson). For an upstart company, that is a major accomplishment.

Earlier this year, Proud Mary’s “5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche” opened to box office raves.

And, its “Movement: A Gay Pride Fantasia” is currently onstage through June 3 at the University of South Carolina Upstate BlackBox Theater in the Humanities and Performing Arts Center, 800 University Way.

The production pays homage to Havey Milk circuitously and is an “original devised theatre piece that re-imagines and re-examines the myths, heroes and struggles of the gay rights movement throughout history and pop culture,” GoUpstate reported. It stars Proud Mary founder and artistic director Sandy Staggs and five other actors. Audiences will also be able to view the university playwright and professor Barry Whitfield’s “The Kiss,” a one-act play focused on male intimacy.

Tickets are $10/general and $5/student and are available at bit.ly/2L0UGsh.

The theatre group will hold its Lavender Cabaret and Season Two Reveal on June 23, 7:30 p.m., at Aug Smith on Main, 174 E. Main St. The event will include music from gay-themed Broadway musicals, wine sipping, light hors d’oeuvres, silent auction and raffle prizes. Tickets are $15 and are available at bit.ly/2GVDC4c.

In early August, Proud Mary will present Del Shores’ “Southern Baptist Sissies” in Spartanburg from Aug. 2-5 and Greenville from Aug. 9-12. Tickets will go on sale soon and will be available for purchase online.

info: proudmarytheatre.com.

Have news or other information? Send your press releases and updates for inclusion in our News Notes: editor@qnotescarolinas.com.

Share your news with us

Does your organization or special interest group have events or great information to share with our readers? If so, be sure to send in your information to specialassignments@qnotescarolinas.com. In the upcoming months, we’ll feature one of you in our news notes section in each issue. Are you a part of a Meetup, Yahoo or Google group and do you do something that’s really newsworthy? Do you provide a service for the community or hold fundraisers for worthy causes? Do you educate the public about LGBTQ issues or concerns? Of course, this is only a sampling of things we are interested in. It’s the aim of these pieces to inform, enlighten and educate our readers about what we’re doing here in the Carolinas to champion LGBTQ rights, as well as offer resources for those who may be interested in what your group is doing.

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.