Winston-Salem hosted its annual Pride parade and festival downtown on Oct. 13, and as always, it was quite the event. From parades to food trucks to drag performances, Winston showed up to put on a good time for the LGBTQ+ community.
For many at Salem College, Pride is an event to look forward to each year. MK Thompson, a sophomore, says that they had been to Charlotte’s Pride before, but Winston’s is far more intimate. “The crowds are less stressful out here,” they say. “A smaller city means fewer protestors to fight with, too. Aside from the protestors, everybody at Winston-Salem Pride is so sweet and ready to give out love.”
Thompson also got to experience something new this year; leading the parade and carrying the Pride banner with their fellow Salem student, first-year Maggie Ryals. “It was all luck that I ended up carrying that thing,” Thompson says. “Some official came up to the group of students walking with Open Up and asked if anybody wanted to carry the banner and lead the parade. My hand immediately shot up, I hollered ‘ME! I DO!’ and I shoved my way through. Then I pointed to Maggie and beckoned her over to join me in my fifteen minutes of fame.”
For others, their first Winston Pride is something they’ll remember for a long time. First-year Salem student Kristin Draper says that while Winston’s Pride wasn’t her first Pride event, it was the first one she had felt safe at. “The Prides [sic] I had been to before were pretty bad in terms of protestors,” she says. “But at Winston’s, I didn’t feel [unsafe] at all. There was less protesting and there was so much support from the community that it didn’t really feel like a big deal.”
Draper also went on to say that it was nice to see so much of her Salem community show up to Pride alongside her. “It was just super fun to have that experience with a ton of my friends from Salem,” she says. “It made me feel truly accepted.”
During such a tumultuous political climate, it can be difficult to be optimistic about the future of LGBTQ+ rights and freedom, but events like Pride remind individuals that pockets of joy can still be found even in a pretty dark landscape (with that being said, this writer and editor wants to remind the reader to VOTE on November 6).
Once again, the event was a hit. Hopefully, Winston-Salem’s Pride continues for many years to come; after all, every community deserves its moment for empowerment, visibility, and acceptance.