Press

Greenville, S.C. Ushers In 1997 Gay Pride Season

Date: 
April 16, 1997

The 1997 Pride season begins this year in Greenville, South Carolina where anti-gay sentiment currently runs high. April 18 marks the kickoff of the weekend-long celebration in Greenville, but celebrants don't expect the city to greet the more than 5,000 expected marchers with old-fashioned southern hospitality.

The South Carolina Gay Pride March is normally held in the state capitol of Columbia. This year organizers moved the festivities to Greenville. The move was in response to the County Council's adoption of a resolution declaring in part, "that homosexuality is incompatible with the standards of this community."

Called Created Equal , a reference to the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution, the Pride weekend will have performances, an AIDS vigil and a march and pride rally. Rally speakers include Kerry Lobel, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, (NGLTF), Mandy Carter, Field Director for the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum and David Mixner, friend and advisor to President Clinton.

"The South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Pride Movement (GLPM) is doing exactly what we'd like to see activists do everywhere there's anti-gay legislation" said Lobel. "They're standing up, right in their own backyards, and saying you can't attempt to deny my right to exist and expect me not to challenge you," she said.

Opponents of the pride celebration will have their day to speak out one week later when the Citizens for Traditional Family Values holds a rally on April 26.

"The pride march is an attempt to educate the general public that we are not the stereotypes that our opponents would have them believe," stated Roger Bell, a pride organizer.

According to the Greenville County resolution, gays and lesbians have been making "increasing assaults on those community standards" of health, welfare and public safety, and as the elected representatives of the citizens, the County Council "is selected to articulate and protect those community standards."

"Who protects the members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community from those who would prefer that we didn't exist?," asked Lobel in her speech to the crowd. "In all this talk about protection, somebody forgot that it was the rights and freedoms of gay and lesbian people that are being attacked and violated by small-minded prejudice," she told the rally.

For more information, visit GLPM's Pride Weekend Website at http://www.carol.net/gaypride.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.