AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – After being on hiatus due to the pandemic, hundreds of people gathered at the Augusta Common for Augusta Pride’s Beats on Broad.
“If people can hate you for no reason, then I can love you for no reason,” said former Augusta Pride President Lonzo Smith.
There is a whole lot of love in downtown Augusta this weekend as the LGBTQ community and many others celebrate who they are.
“It’s a time where we can come and be ourselves and to really celebrate life. And to just live and have fun and to love who you want to love openly and publicly. And I think that’s really the most important thing about pride,” said volunteer and veteran Joseph Wallace.
Augusta Pride President James Mintz says in the past the weekend of events has brought in more than a million dollars to the city.
He said, “We’re expecting a smaller attendance than two years ago. We’re hoping to surprise. Hopefully, more and more people will show up and show out and prove that their voice wants to be heard.”
Volunteers with Augusta Pride only had about seven weeks to get their events organized according to their former president.
Smith said, “I don’t know what to anticipate this time because it’s the snapback. People are wanting to do something and wanting to get out so it could be a record-setting year,” said Smith.
There is no parade this year but the 11th Annual Augusta Pride festival will continue Saturday.
“I wasn’t able to be who I am today 15 years ago and I’ve just seen the changes over time. And I think every year we’re pushing further and further down the road so everyone can be who they are,” said Wallace.
As this year’s pride celebrations move forward, people are also remembering those who were lost.
Mintz added, “Two members of our transgender and non-conforming gender community were murdered last year. We lost a lot of people to violence and to COVID. This year we named our stage after Richard Justice because he was so involved in and integral in our festival success over the past decade. And while he’s missed, he’s looking down on us. I’m just happy we can go out with a bang, in our return back to the Augusta Common.”
Below is Augusta Pride’s schedule for Saturday’s events.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 2021 Pride Festival hosted by Augusta Pride. Main stage at the Augusta Commons in Downtown Augusta, GA.
@ 10 a.m. – Welcome w/ MC Jay Jefferies
Music w/ DJ JT Razor
@ 10:30 a.m. – Senator Harold Jones
Mr. and Miss Augusta Pride
Commissioner Jordan Johnson
Commissioner Francine Scott
@ 11:05 a.m. – Qween Farrazz
Chanel Haley & DeMarcus Beckham – Georgia Equality
@ 11:55 a.m. – Kim Richardson-Smith & Sol Baird
Jeff March – SC Pride
@ 12:35 p.m. – Augusta Pride Cabaret, hosted by Carla Cox & Antonio White
@ 1:20 p.m. – OneUp Duo
Music with DJ JT Razor