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|Savannah’s historic Queer Power March and Pride fest attract hundreds|
|Written by Dyana Bagby|
|Friday, 17 September 2010 00:00|
Savannah’s first Queer Power March made history with hundreds of people marching down the streets in the city’s historic district, chanting and holding signs seeking marriage equality, the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and domestic partner benefits for Savannah city employees.
Organized by Jesse Morgan, who was a volunteer for Atlanta’s MondoHomo annual fest, and Laura Cahill, the march on Sept. 10 attracted a diverse crowd of people — there were a couple on motorcycles, many people on bicycles, and most walking down the streets as tourists took photos and employees of shops along the route stood outside and cheered. There were young children, elderly men, and several families as well.
The march began in Johnson Square, the city’s oldest, most historic square, and ended at Ellis Square where a rally with several speakers was held.
Former military service members spoke about the need for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”; Derrick Martin, the gay Cochran, Ga., teen who fought to take his boyfriend to his senior prom and made national headlines, spoke about his new project, LifeVest, for LGBT youth who need help; and organizers Morgan and Cahill addressed the crowd after the march, saying “great things don’t come to those who wait, they come to those who agitate.”
At the Queer Jamz after party at the Mirage, Morgan and Cahill said they could not be more pleased with the success of the march.
“It was amazing!” they said at the same time.
“We got so many more people than we thought,” Cahill said. They estimated the crowd at some 400 people.
“Especially since it’s the first ever gay civil rights march in Savannah,” she added.
The march and the large participation means Savannah is “ready,” Morgan said.
“It’s ready to start the queer revolution, the queer movement,” Cahill jumped in to finish his sentence.
“When you saw Broughton covered [with people marching], there was this power you felt,” Morgan added.
Bobby Jeffery, who founded Savannah Pride 11 years ago, participated in the city’s first Queer Power March and said he was excited to see new, young people stepping up in the fight for LGBT equality in Savannah.
Cahill said the march proved that young people in Savannah are ready to be engaged in political activism.
They both said another march will be held next year, likely in September and right before Savannah Pride.
“We were able to put a little political conscience going into Pride,” Morgan said.
Savannah Pride shines despite rain
With Savannah Pride falling on Sept. 11 this year, organizers and participants made sure to acknowledge the anniversary of 2001 terrorist attacks by recognizing the military and service members. Savannah Pride also happened to fall just days after a federal district court in California ruled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was unconstitutional and some veterans spoke of the need to ensure the anti-gay policy is repealed.
But the overall theme of Savannah Pride was fun. A heavy downpour cleared out Forsyth Park for a few hours in the afternoon, but people filed back in after the rain cleared to enjoy entertainment by drag queens and kings as well as headliners Jason & deMarco and God-des and She.
Cindy Ussery, 40, of Milledgeville, was holding her sleeping grandson, Jackson, age 20 months, while watching some of the live music.
“This is his first Pride,” she said. Ussery was there with her partner, Stacie McCant, 38. Jackson’s tiny t-shirt read, “I love my nanas.”
“We’ve never been to Savannah Pride. We’ve been to Atlanta Pride and thought we’d check it out this year,” McCant said.
Although they were soaked in the heavy rain that fell mid-afternoon, they said they wanted to stay for the full fest.
Monte Arrington and David Towne, a couple for nearly 20 years, were on vacation from Vancouver, Canada, traveling the South. They attended Southern Decadence in New Orleans and decided to take a tour of more of the South when they found out about Savannah Pride.
“We’re having a blast, enjoying the Southern hospitality,” Towne said.
Heather Byars, executive director of Savannah Pride, said she felt the fest provided a safe space for a diverse community.
“The rain was a deterrent, but a lot of people stayed through the rain and lightening and stuck through it with us,” she said.
“We have a diverse crowd and that’s what this is all about — this is for the community.”
Top photo: Photos from Savannah Pride and Queer Power March (by Dyana Bagby)
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