Augusta, GA (WJBF)- The 11th annual Augusta Pride week continues this weekend with several scheduled events.
The much anticipated annual Beats on Broad Blue Party begins at 6 p.m. at the Augusta Common. It features American Idol contestant Ada Vox and music by DJ Visionz.
The Pride Festival will take place Saturday at the Augusta Common beginning at 10 a.m. They will be offering free COVID-19 vaccines and free HIV testing provided by sponsors Project Impact and Medical Associates Plus.
James Mintz, president of Augusta Pride, said the stage at Pride has been named for the late Richard Justice and will be dedicated at Beats on Broad.
“Richard Justice had a big impact on our festival throughout the years and I’m a little upset he’s not going to be joining us on the stage, but his name is right up there. We want everyone to not go to bed tonight worried that their loved ones don’t love them. And Richard was a big proponent of being out and proud.”
Pride celebrations date back to the 1970’s. The first Pride Marches took place in 1970 in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles and were somber events. They were to mark the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, when police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York. The police became violent and patrons fought back.
Since then Pride marches have evolved into parades and festivals celebrating how far the LGBTQ+ community has come through the years.
Mintz said that while they celebrate during Pride, they also remember those lost to hate and violence.
“50 years ago, before the Stonewall Riots, you could easily be arrested for just dancing with your friends and your partner. You could easily be arrest for just trying to find a partner,” Mintz explained. “And things like this became very important where visibility really mattered and you were able to come out of the closet and prove that you are amongst your community and that you have political and economic impact to your community.”
This will be his last Pride Festival as president of Augusta Pride, though his said he will continue to be involved in some other capacity for a long time to come.