Annual Lexington Pride Festival takes place outside Fayette County Courthouse

Natalia Smith, 16, and Aniaya Timberlake, 16, dance in the crowd surrounding the stage during Lexington’s Pride Festival on Saturday, June 30, 2018, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

McKenna Horsley

Members of the LGBTQ* community and their allies gathered in front of the Fayette County Courthouse for the Lexington Pride Festival on Saturday.

According to chairman of the festival Paul Brown, the Lexington Pride Festival has been going on for 11 years. He estimated 30,000 people attended the event.

“That’s quite a bit different from the very first year,” Brown said.

Brown said the festival was first talked about by those who attended a Lexington Pride Picnic at a farm in Winchester. He said that the group started to pursue a festival because pride is about “being out in the public eye.” The first festival was held at the old courthouse.

At the 2018 festival, over 220 vendors had booths at the courthouse. Brown said that this year’s festival was the largest in size. He said the festival has been growing financially and in size almost every year.

“We wanted to share pride, show people that they are valued, they are worthy,” Brown said. “They have a seat at the table and they can come here and be who they are and be proud of who they are and celebrate that in front of the world. We change lives here.”

Alice Edwards, a 21-year-old Lexington native, said that she has been going to Pride since she was in high school. She said the event has brought her closer to the Lexington LGBTQ* community and helped her explore her own gender and sexual orientation identities. Pride has allowed her to better understand herself, she said.

“It is a place where I feel accepted and welcome,” Edwards said. “It lets me be a part of the community. It feels a little like home.”

Edwards said that Pride has been successful because in Lexington because the city has a large LGBTQ* community and it feels safe to be open about the topic. To Edwards, Pride means “loving yourself at the purest,” and being confident in one’s self.

Rayne Parker, the assistant director of UK’s Office of LBGTQResources, said that the office has had a booth at Pride for about three years, or since the office’s creation. Parker and other representatives, including the alumni group Pride Cats and Wellness Health and You, gave out information about what the office does on and off campus and the office’s transform health clinic, which is a LBGTQ health clinic.

“UK and the Office of LBGTQ* are here to support [that demographic],” they said.