The arts, cultural and news magazine of Henry W. Grady High School in Atlanta, Georgia

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Gay Pride Festival Unites Atlanta

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Crowd moves through the paths of Piedmont park.

Crowd moves through the paths of Piedmont park.

Crowd moves through the paths of Piedmont park.

A flood of rainbow flags and flamboyantly dressed people surged through Piedmont Park on Oct. 14 and 15. Hundreds of people gather there to celebrate their sexuality, and others come to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community. The light-hearted atmosphere is accompanied by hip-hop and pop artists performing at the stage in “The Meadow” of Piedmont Park.

The festival takes place in Piedmont Park, directly across from Grady. Many Grady students can be found attending the festival. Grady, being a generally liberal school, has a larger openly LGBTQ community than other schools, and festivals like this one only help students feel loved and validated.

“I think it’s really cool that there are so many people who can express their identities out in the open, and that there are so many allies that go to the festival,” sophomore Amelia Kushner said.

Unfortunately, this beautiful display of pride and support is tainted with hateful groups of people protesting with signs and bullhorns, who are“anti-pride”.

One of the protest groups includes the notorious Westboro Baptist Church. The church has been present at gay pride marches, Women’s marches, and other anti-Trump protests all across the country. They are usually accompanied by large picket signs with phrases printed on them such as “God Hates Fags,” “Got Aids Yet,” “Women Belong in The Kitchen,” and “Gays Will Burn.” These protestors are usually protected by a line of police officers. Along with signs, a man with a bullhorn shouted homophobic comments about “homosexuals going to Hell.”

“That is just ignorance,” Kushner said. “Those people have not made an effort to learn about the LGBT community. They’re allowed to hold their own religious views, but they shouldn’t infringe on others people’s identities and views.”

Some attendees think that the things these groups are saying are funny, because it is simply so ridiculous to them.

“Honestly, it’s always funny to mess with them, because the things they believe are just so ridiculous,” senior Lena Denton said.

In efforts to distract from the hate, pride attendees held giant flower cutouts to block out the signs of the Westboro protesters. This group of people are known as “The Pansy Patrol”.

“Just walk away, go have fun,” said a member of The Pansy Patrol. “You don’t want to spend time on these idiots.”

Most of the festival goers ignored the Westboro protesters and went about their day in the park. Others stopped to laugh at the protesters, but some people did start yelling back at the Westboro members. Some of the Westboro protestors yelled back at the festival goers, trying hard to provoke them. As one woman yelled at a Westboro member, he pulled out a sign printed with “Women Belong in The Kitchen.” It was clear that this was for the sole purpose of provoking the woman.

“When you really start listening to them and you think about how impressionable their own children are and how they are being raised to believe these horrible things about the LGBTQ community, it is just sad,” Denton said.

People stop at various stands throughout the park.

Tents at the festival offer free HIV testing.

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The arts, cultural and news magazine of Henry W. Grady High School in Atlanta, Georgia