Pride comes to Georgetown!

Pride has come to the city of Georgetown. On October 8, Georgetown Fairness held Georgetown's first Pride Festival.

An estimated 300 attendees from Georgetown and the surrounding area turned out at Royal Spring Park for live music, hot dogs and potluck dishes, and picnic games. Pride made the front page of the Sunday Georgetown News-Graphic and was also featured prominently in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

In June 2015, Scott County KFTC members formed Georgetown Fairness (a chapter of Kentucky Fairness) and began work on a local fairness ordinance. In Kentucky, it is legal in all but eight cities to fire someone, evict them from their housing, or refuse them service based on their sexual orientation or gender identity; a fairness ordinance gives legal recourse to victims of this type of discrimination.

One year later, and following the Orlando shooting, Georgetown Fairness decided that the time had come to become more vocal. We marched in the Kentuckiana Pride Parade in Louisville, then set to work planning Pride.

Five speakers raised awareness of the needs of local LGBTQ people by sharing their diverse stories of life in Georgetown as LGBTQs, allies and people of faith. In addition, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift of the neighboring city Midway – the most recent city in Kentucky to achieve a fairness ordinance – gave words of encouragement to GF, Scott County KFTC and attendees seeking legal protection for LGBTQs living and working in Georgetown.

Two hundred people signed a petition to Georgetown Mayor Tom Prather and Georgetown City Council to voice their support for such an ordinance. Mayor Prather attended Pride, but has not yet given his opinion on the legal issue. Candidates Nancy Jo Kemper (U.S House of Representatives) and Kevin Napier (Kentucky House of Representatives) were present as well, and Napier did substantial volunteer work for Pride over the course of several months.

Other highlights of the event included a participatory art project in the form of a paper quilt in the Japanese tradition; live music from FFOYA and Jordan Reynolds thanks to FFOYA House and Toby Fatzinger of Southern Kentucky KFTC; a giant rainbow Jenga game; and a four-sided chalkboard where attendees wrote their thoughts on fairness, love and actions they could take to improve life for all in Georgetown.

Approximately 15 nonprofits allied with Georgetown Fairness and set up information tables, including PFLAG of Central Kentucky (Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays), TransParent, SAFY (Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth), Bluegrass Black Pride, Scott County NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), and many others.

A personal reflection: KFTC isn't kidding around when we say we make a point to develop young leaders. When we started planning Pride and I became the chair, I was still a month shy of 26 years old. Two "real" adults thought I had a good idea, showed up to meeting number one on July 3, and stepped into supporting roles as if they didn't question my ability to organize at a level that I didn't yet realize we'd reached. They asked what I needed, trusted my judgment, and provided constructive criticism. Other organizers and volunteers poured in at a clip and accepted my leadership, too. I only have 26 years to draw from, but Georgetown Pride is the most important thing I've done in my life so far. Without the faith of my KFTC chapter, Pride might not have come to Georgetown for years yet, and I might never have gotten the opportunity to participate as an organizer at all. Could I possibly love KFTC any more?

And on top of all this, I am overjoyed to write here that, to our knowledge, not a single person expressed a single negative sentiment about Pride. Not at the festival. Not on the street. Not on our fliers. Not on social media. I listened to my best friend and my sister speak about their experiences as a gay man and a bisexual women, and I knew that no one in my hometown had the desire or the guts to say one bad word to them, if only for that one day. To every member, to everyone who has made KFTC what we are today: thank you.

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For more information and to sign the petition online, find Georgetown Fairness and Scott County KFTC on Facebook. The signature goal is 1,000 by February 2017. A Georgetown Fairness website and a phone number are in the works as well!

To learn more about starting your own Fairness chapter, contact Chris Hartman at Chris@Fairness.org.