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|Savannah Pride, historic queer march seek to unify|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|September 03, 2010 00:00|
Savannah is set to make history on Sept. 10 when it holds its first Queer Power March, an event gay organizer Jesse Morgan calls “queerlicious.”
“Savannah has never seen anything like this before,” he said. “It’s time for Savannah to have a march. We want to show Savannah we are a large force.”
While Savannah will hold its 11th annual Pride festival the day after the march, on Sept. 11, the city has never had an LGBT march through the streets, Morgan said. Morgan helped organize Savannah’s largest LGBT equal rights rally that attracted some 400 people in May to coincide with the late gay activist Harvey Milk’s birthday.
“I’m hoping for 500 people to the march, but if just 100 people come, that’s great — just as long as we have dedicated people show up,” he said. “We want to empower citizens to become fierce advocates.”
The march begins at 6 p.m. in Johnson Square, travels down Broughton Street and ends in Ellis Square.
Johnson Square is the first of the city’s squares and is still the largest square in Savannah. Ellis Square, which had extensive renovations completed in February, represents a “new” direction for the city, Morgan said.
“We’re marching from the old to the new. It’s kind of a metaphor for the movement,” he said.
After the march, several speakers will address the crowd, including Cochran, Ga., teen Derrick Martin, who fought for the right to take his boyfriend to his senior prom. Other speakers include Cpl. Evelyn Thomas, a Marine who was honorably discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” She was arrested with Lt. Dan Choi and several other LGBT military service members in April after they handcuffed themselves to the North Lawn of the White House fence.
It’s important for queer people in cities such as Savannah to gather together, Morgan said.
“This is where it counts, this is where we need awareness — in our communities,” he said. “And we want to inspire our youth; that’s the main mission.”
Following the march and rally, a “Queer Jamz” after-party is planned at Mirage. The party is free to everyone and will include such entertainers as Athens Boys Choir, Vagina Jenkins, Katastrophe, Jeremy Gloff and Giant Tiny Moments.
Savannah Pride celebrates ‘Freedom, Unity, Equality’
The day after the Queer Power March, on Sept. 11, Savannah Pride kicks off in Forsyth Square from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. A pre-Pride party will be on Sept. 10 beginning at 8 p.m. at Bryson Hall. This year’s theme is “Freedom, Unity, Equality.”
While the march and Pride are separate events, organizers from both are working together, said Heather Byars, executive director.
God-des and She and Jason & deMarco are headlining this year’s fest.
A military salute to recognize LGBT veterans will be part of this year’s Pride to bring awareness to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” There will also be a moment of silence to recognize those lost on Sept. 11 when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Other speakers include Mayor Otis Johnson as and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender leaders. For the first time this year there will be a choir.
“It will be open to anyone in the community and is one way we thought we could bring some spirituality involved in Pride,” Byars said.
Last year’s Pride attracted some 7,000 people and this year more people are expected to attend.
“The average increase has been about 1,000 to 2,000 people every year,” she said.
Byars has been volunteering with Savannah Pride for five years and has only been executive director for four months.
“This is a really great organization and I love being part of and giving back to the community,” she said. “This is something I feel very passionately about.”
Top photo: Derrick Martin, the teen who gained national headlines for taking his boyfriend to his prom in rural Georgia, will speak at Savannah’s first Queer Power March on Sept. 10. (by Offhand Photography)
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