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South Georgia Pride brings awareness to Valdosta

Raynae Williams and South Georgia Pride will host the third annual South Georgia Pride Festival featuring a bevy of speakers, bands and other entertainers Saturday at John W. Saunders Park from noon until 7 p.m.

 According to their website, the organization strives to create a safe and accepting environment for those who live an alternative lifestyle through education and awareness.

The festival is the only festival not supported by new Valdosta mayor John Gayle. In an interview with the Valdosta Daily Times, Gayle turned down a request by the organization for a mayoral proclamation because of his stance against homosexuality.

But this year that will not stop Williams, the assistant executive director and the guest of the event.

“This year’s event will be big,” Williams said. “We will have over 50 venders and a lot more churches are participating.”

Williams also notes that the Valdosta NAACP will be supporting the event along with others.

Speakers this year include rights activist Elkie Kennedy and Evelyn Thomas.
Kennedy, who is attending for the second year in a row, is a well-known speaker and activist for equal rights. She started the website www.seanslastwish.org after her son died in a hate crime attack on the morning of May 16, 2007.

Evelyn Thomas, a member of the California group, the Sanctuary Project is famously known for both handcuffing herself to the White House gate on the front lawn while protesting against “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and also for being at the signing of the repeal of the controversial military rule.

Thomas served in the U.S Marine Corps and was ousted after being turned in for being a lesbian.

This year’s opening ceremony for the event will honor openly gay and lesbian men and women in the military.

They will march in with the American flag and be honored on stage for their service to our country.

Performances include Young Kaii, a Rhode Island hip hop artist, Marilyn and Her Monsters and a drag show by local group, Ladies of Glo.

Fans can win a date to the after party with Young Kaii during an auction after her performance.

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