My First Pride
Read More: Babe's of Carytown, Barcode, Boka Truck, Crossroads Coffee & Ice Cream (VCU), Equality Virginia, Godfrey's, Human Rights Campaign, LGBT Democrats of Virginia, Nacho Mama's, Nations, PrideFest 2011
For me and I’m sure many others, Saturday was my first Pride experience in the state of Virginia.
I will admit, the number of rain clouds in the sky had me concerned. Would my first Pride be a flop merely because it would be rained out or at the very worst canceled? Fortunately, the rain held out and day’s events continued without any problems, weather or otherwise.
Personally, the amount of police officers at the festival gave me comfort. I appreciated knowing that if any anti-gay violence broke out there would be someone there to quickly end it. The officers present took a fly-on-the-wall approach and did not interfere with the festival.
Seriousness aside, spending the day with a few of my friends while visiting the booths and observing the culture was a really great experience.
Activist groups such the Human Rights Campaign and Equality Virginia, as well as others, were there to educate passers-by on the LGBT rights. These activism groups were seeking an addition to providing a number of petitions to be signed. Specifically, to remove the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and another to support the rights of children and immigrants, proving that the community also advocates for the rights of other minorities.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn how easy it was to sign a petition. Until my experience here at Virginia PrideFest I had always thought of it as being a bit of a painstaking process. I was proven wrong.
As for the entertainment portion, there were a number of drag performances from the local clubs like Godfrey’s, Babes of Carytown, and Nations. Another highlight of the day was the Mr. VA Pride Pageant, consisting of athletic-wear, Pride-wear events and a number of questions to gauge what they would do in office. The competition included Mr. Richmond Tenacious Image, Mr. Fairfax Brian Reach, and Mr. Arlington Chip Clapp. The winner of the pageant ended up being Mr. Fairfax, Brian Reach.
At the Fan Free Clinic’s booth, they were giving away copious amounts condoms and lubricants -I can appreciate the promotion of safe sex over only abstinence- as well as free HIV testing.
There were quite a few other booths that represented local businesses that helped to promote the LGBT community, like Nationwide Insurance and Wells Fargo. Another booth was the LGBT Democrats of Virginia.
Let’s not forget Malebox of Ghent where its employees paraded about in various undergarments. There were also several booths for food and drink including: Barcode, Nacho Mama’s, Crossroad’s Coffee, and the Boka Truck.
I had a great time, learned quite a bit, and really want to see what other Prides in Virginia have to offer.
Glenn Jodun is a current undergrad student at VCU, studying Photography and Film with a minor in Journalism. He is looking to further explore the culture, history, and community in Richmond.
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