A sea of rainbow flags symbolizing hope, pride and unity permeated the heart of the city of Greensboro as thousands of individuals gathered downtown to celebrate and embrace diversity.
The 12th Pride event organized by the Greensboro Pride Committee and the Alternative Resources of the Triad welcomed thousands of individuals from all ages on Saturday, Sept. 16. Nonprofit organization booths, street vendors and volunteers began to set up along South Elm Street as early as 9:30 a.m., and were ready to begin scheduled performances by 11:00 a.m.
Multicultural Education Department staff, including Deja Fitzgerald, represented Guilford College during Greensboro Pride.
“We take a lot of pride in how we push for equality, so we are doing our best to show up and back up our words,” said Fitzgerald. “This (event) is important because it shows the presence of the queer community, and as a member of the queer community, it is important that we all show up and show our support.”
Greensboro Pride also allowed local college students to build community and experience the empowering event. Jose Aguirre, first-year pre-nursing student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, attended Greensboro Pride for the first time.
“I wanted to feel freely gay and be surrounded by people that accept me,” said Aguirre. ”I feel like a lot of people learned and benefitted from Pride. Events like these help increase inclusivity of all ways of life.”
The event opened its doors to local student organizations that support the LGBTQIA movement. Denisse Salazar, third year student at UNCG, tabled for a new student organization that works on projects related to sexual health education and reproductive rights.
“I am here with Planned Parenthood and a student group called Advocates Taking Action,” said Salazar. “The (LGBTQIA) community is bigger than people realize, and to have representation in a day is great. I think every city should do it.”
Early College students from the Health Occupations Students of America club, a student organization that promotes career opportunities in the healthcare industry, hosted a booth with informational pamphlets about mental, sexual and physical health in the LGBTQIA community. Fenway Donegan, an Early College sophomore, explained why he was present at Pride.
“In the past, Greensboro has been at the spearhead of a lot of progressive movements. We are really close to Woolworth’s cafe and that was an important moment in the Civil Rights story,” said Donegan. “It’s important for us as a city to maintain our image and make sure that we are championing movements like supporting the (LGBTQIA) community.”
Information booths were not the only thing present at Greensboro Pride. Elm Street was encompassed by the numerous drag shows, a cappella performances and spontaneous dances that were happening simultaneously across downtown.
Livia Zuleta ’16, Guilford College alumna, attended Greensboro Pride in order to surround herself with positive energy from fellow LGBTQIA members and heterosexual allies.
“Being part of the (LGBTQIA) community and living in Greensboro can make you feel a bit alone,” said Zuleta. “Realizing that there are so many other people in the area like me makes me feel less alone.
“It shows us that Greensboro wants us to feel welcomed, loved and for us to feel free to be who we are.”