Originally published: June 9, 2009, 8:54 a.m.
Updated: June 12, 2009, 11:33 a.m.
SPARTANBURG, S.C. — The Upstate of South Carolina is set to have its first ever regional LGBT Pride festival and parade next weekend, June 20. But anti-gay protesters seem bent on making a usually happy and celebratory event into one of strife and discord.
According to a Facebook.com message sent out to supporters by Upstate Pride organizer Joey Geier, the group has been forced to hire extra security as a result of several planned protests the same day.
“Upstate Pride’s inaugural march and festival is in 10 days and will take place rain or shine (but let’s hope for shine),” Geier wrote on June 8. “This will be a joyous, festive, family-friendly occasion, and we are hoping for a fantastic turnout. I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised, though, that some folks in the area are not supportive of this ground-breaking event.”
According to the message, the group was notified that protest permits were issued for four areas along the group’s parade route. The protests will be likely positioned at 351 E. Henry St., Hudson L. Barksdale and E. Henry St., S. Converse and E. Henry Sts., and 210 E. Henry Pl.
Geier said that protesters will be required to stay on the sidewalk as parade participants march in the street. He also said organizers will be planning for extra security.
“Upstate Pride has hired police officers to cover the march (a routine requirement of the permit issued by the City), and Public Safety will be dispatching additional patrols to the area,” he wrote. “In addition, we have hired police officers to patrol the church grounds during the festival. It is our intent to have a fun, safe event, but we want you to be aware that protesters will be exercising their right to, well, protest.”
Organizers have asked Upstate Pride participants to ignore the protesters. They’ll position Pride staff at protest points to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Upstate Pride isn’t the first such event held in the area. In 1997, the statewide South Carolina Pride was held in Greenville. This year’s activities will mark the area’s first ever regional Pride.
CORRECTION: This is the first one ever in Spartanburg. The first one in the Upstate was in Greenville in 1997.
That is correct, South Carolina Pride 1997 was held in Greenville as a response to anti-gay comments made by certain elected officials in the upstate. Unlike the one-time events organized by representatives of then South Carolina (Gay & Lesbian) Pride Movement, Upstate Pride is a newly formed organization seeking to create a regular annual event in the Upstate. The current board of the South Carolina Pride Movement commends their efforts to organize locally and are proud to be a sponsor of this year’s activities. The more pride events in South Carolina, the better our chances of increasing LGBT visibility in the media as we start to have conversations about being gay with our neighbors, coworkers, and family. Happy Pride Ya’ll!
Hello — this is not a comment, it is a request for information. The SC National Office of the ACLU would like to send information from our national LGBT project (www.aclu.org)for the march on Saturday, June 20. Is there an address or even a local Charleston person who could take our information on LGBT rights? We have a very small local staff (3) and cannot send a representative to this event ): Thank you, Jan Landry
c/o P.K. Weiss
368 Carleton Circle
Spartanburg, SC 29301
I hope this event will be fun and educational.. hopefully the protestors won’t be to bad…. woohoo… here’s to pride :)
This is such a great opportunity to educate so many otherwise closed-minded individuals. Just because the area is slow to change doesn’t mean it can’t change. It is exciting to have the opportunity to stand for, or march for, what I believe in!
Tomorrow is the big day. I’m so excited and very proud to see such an event. I will be there with bells on!
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