Photographer: Ben Siegel
Athens Commnuity members listen to speakers following the city's first PRIDE PARADE. The parade is part of Athens Pride Fest, a week long celebration of solidarity, diversity, unity, and activism.
Ohio University’s LGBT Center is proud to once again partner with the Southeastern Ohio Rainbow Alliance (SEORA) and OhioHealth for the third-annual Athens Pride Fest from Wednesday, June 5, through Sunday, June 9. OHIO is grateful to SEORA for its work and partnership as lead organizer for this year’s event.
As an institution of higher learning, OHIO aims to create an environment where difference in all forms is welcomed and celebrated. This fun, week-long celebration, which promotes camaraderie, love and acceptance in the Athens area, is one of many efforts OHIO supports to help advance this strategic priority.
Created in 2017 as a statement against oppression, Athens Pride Fest is an opportunity to unite and celebrate one another. Event organizers encourage community members from all backgrounds to share in the spirit of solidarity against oppression.
"Rain or shine, it's important for us to cherish moments of community solidarity and prideful respect for diverse walks of life,” said Interim Director of OHIO’s LGBT Center Micah McCarey.
“I'm very glad that the LGBT Center at Ohio University can support SEROA's development as a regional resource for LGBTQ+ needs and that we'll have Pride Fest to enjoy together, as one community, again this year," he added.
Athens Pride Fest 2019 will host several events throughout the week, including a pride parade and rally. All events are open to the public and all community members are encouraged to attend.
Rhonda Dixon, member-at-large at SEORA and an OhioHealth employee, said the healthcare organization is “very proud” to support Athens Pride again this year.
“Our cardinal value is to respect the dignity and worth of every individual and support a culture that treats everyone equally, regardless of race, religion, age, ethnicity, gender identification or sexual orientation,” Dixon added. “This week-long event allows us to join our community in showing our shared commitment for inclusion and diversity in our city and region."
delfin bautista, communications director for SEORA, said it’s “exciting to witness how Pride Fest has grown and evolved.”
“It started as a simple picnic on the green outside Walter Hall to the month-long series of events it is today. Pride is a celebration and is an act of political and social revolution,” they said. “… The first prides in the United States were the riots at the Compton Cafe and Stonewall Inn. To tweak Laverne Cox's words, our existence as LGBTQ people is an act of revolutionary pride especially in a society that tells us we should not exist.”
The schedule of events is as follows:
Wednesday, June 5
Cheers & Queers socializing with refreshments at ones own cost from 6 to 8 p.m. at Athens Uncorked
Thursday, June 6
Art opening produced by PRISM Youth Art Program and Country Queers from 5:30 until 8:30 p.m. at ArtsWest.
Friday, June 7
Drag show featuring RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Stacy Layne Matthews from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m. at Eclipse Company Store.
Saturday, June 8:
Parade and Rally: Parade line-up will take place outside the fourth floor of Baker University Center and the parade will begin at 11 a.m.; the rally will begin around noon by Howard Park, across the street from Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium.
LGBT Community Dinner at 7 p.m. at Lulu’s El Camino Mexican Restaurant, featuring a free nacho bar with beverages and other food options at ones own cost.
Sunday, June 9:
Rainbow Alliance Swim & Picnic from 1 until 6 p.m. at the Athens Pool. The event is for all ages and free to attend.
“Pride Fest is a celebration to continue the work locally, nationally, and internationally of ensuring that all are equal truly mean all are equal,” bautista noted. “Simply put, Pride Fest celebrates that we are here, we are queer, and we refuse to live in silence, shame, and fear.”
*Editor’s Note: delfin prefers the lowercase form of their name and gender-neutral pronouns.