Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Celebrating Pride MKY-style

MURRAY – Murray Pridefest 2023 kicks off Friday night. Organizers with Murray KY Pride have planned an eclectic mix of events throughout the weekend that give people of all ages and persuasions an opportunity to celebrate Pride. 

Pride began as a celebration in commemoration of a series of gay rights protests that took place in New York City during the summer of 1969 known as the Stonewall uprising, which is cited as the beginning of the LGBT civil rights movement. 

“We’re all just showing our pride in who we are,” Murray KY Pride President Madison Leach said. “Sometimes, being an LGBTQ person, it can come with a lot of shame and bullying that happens and ostracization, so it’s a showing of our pride and who we are and that it’s OK to love ourselves and it’s okay to be who we are.” 

While June is known as LGBTQ+ Pride month, Murray Pridefest is held in September so that Murray State University students can participate.

“This is my first year as president, but I’ve been involved every year that we’ve had Pride in Murray. It’s grown every year, bigger and bigger,” Leach added. “I am so proud of everybody who has worked on it. We work on this for a whole year, this festival. A month after this event, we’ll start planning the next one.” 

The festival kicks off Friday evening with Family Art Night at the Murray Art Guild. The family-friendly event is from 5-7 p.m. and features arts and crafts activities, including making posters for the March to Pride Saturday morning. Participants can start gathering in front of the MSU gates at the corner of 15th and Olive Streets at 9 a.m. The march to Central Park begins at 10 a.m. 

The Murray Police Department (MPD) will escort the marchers to the park and provide traffic control along the route to ensure all participants are safe. 

“We have people who are out looking for anything suspicious or anybody with guns. All of the board members have direct contact with the Murray Police, and we can divert the route if we need to at any time,” Leach said. While last year’s march proceeded as planned, two years ago, the route was diverted to avoid an individual armed with an assault weapon standing along 12th Street.

Pridefest organizers worked with MPD Captain Andrew Wiggins to develop the route along with alternate routes and contingencies should they be needed. 

“They’re working to keep us safe for the event,” Leach said. “They’ve been really helpful; they were last year, too. We’re glad to work with them, and we’re thankful for their support in having this event. I think it shows where we’ve come. You know, pride started as a protest against police brutality in New York City in gay bars, and Kentucky is not absent from that history as well. It wasn’t too long ago that Lexington gay bars were raided by law enforcement and people were arrested for not dressing in the gender they were born in.

“Even if you don’t agree with transitioning or cross-dressing or any of those things, I like living in a country where we get to decide how we live. I love the fact that we honor pride and honor where we came from and our ancestors and their struggle, but at the same time, we’re thankful that we don’t have that anymore. We are, for the most part, I believe that law enforcement is supportive of our movement or they’re at least supportive of the idea that this is America and people get to live their lives the way they want to.” 

Pride in the Park runs from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs and/or blankets. A shuttle will be available to transport people from the event in the park back to 15th and Olive. 

The event will feature speakers, including Chris Hartman from the Fairness Campaign, and music from the Murray State Music Ensemble, Keisha and Melanie Davis. At least 37 vendors are expected. In addition to those selling products, several organizations will be represented to share information about resources in the community. HIV/AIDS testing will also be available on site. 

“It’s so important that people know their status,” Leach said. “That will be there for the general public. You don’t have to be part of the LGBTQ community to be tested, and really you should be tested if you’ve been sexually active. They’ll also be giving away condoms and lube for free and dental dams for free and other safe sex products for people.”

There is also a raffle for a bundle of gift cards – a $200 card from Gallery X Art Collective; $50 cards from Buff City Soap Company and Shogun; $25 cards from Big Apple Grill and Bar, Corvette Lanes, Starbucks and Cracker Barrel; and a $20 card from Dunkin’. Tickets are $5 each and can be purchased at Pride in the Park and at the Drag Extravaganza. The winner will be drawn during the drag show Saturday night. 

The Drag Extravaganza is limited to those 18 and older. It starts at 8 p.m. at The Grove. Tickets are $20. Sunshine Cabs is offering discounted rates on rides within city limits to anyone going to or coming from The Grove Saturday night.

The headliners are Dida Ritz, who competed on season four of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, and Coco Sho-nell. They will be joined by several local drag queens: Leimomi, Diana Tunnel, Gemma Devil, Ken Sucky, Leiyana Santana, Cierra Devil, Alexandra LeBlanc Leight and Anhedonia Delight. 

Pridefest culminates Sunday evening with a spiritual service, “Love Casts Out Fear.” The service starts at 6 p.m. at the Arborteum and represents a collaborative effort between First Presbyterian Church, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Q Faith and Murray Pride. 

“I just hope everybody comes out and has a good time, and they celebrate who they are,” Leach said. “I’ve heard people say, ‘When are we going to have a straight pride?’ Come one down, we’ll celebrate you, too. We’re going to celebrate everybody for who they are. We welcome allies. We welcome straight, cis people; we welcome gay, lesbian, transgender, intersex, asexual people; all of those people are welcome at Pride because we should all take pride in who we are.” 

Sentinel Staff

Jessica Paine
I’m Jessica Paine, founder of The Murray Sentinel. You may know me from my time as a citizen journalist, running the Calloway Covid-19 Count page on Facebook, or you may be familiar with my more recent work for another local news outlet. Being that I’m “from here,” you may have known me since I was “knee-high to a grasshopper,” although you knew me as Jessica Jones. But whether you know me or not, I’m glad you found your way here.


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