Rainbows Invade Charlottesville at Pride 2014


Olivia Gallmeyer, Staff Writer

Charlottesville may have been named the happiest city in the country by the National Bureau of Economic Research, but on Saturday, September 13 the town was celebrating a more modern meaning of the word “gay” at Charlottesville Pride Festival. The third annual LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning) pride festival in town made its downtown setting of Lee Park into a sea of rainbow.

Attorney General Mark Herring, whose support for marriage equality has made national news, opened the festival. Over 70 organizations and businesses participated as vendors, including Starbucks, Animal Connection, and Blue Ridge Pizza, as well as local branches of organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign and PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.) The festival was designed not as a strict political rally, but a family-friendly event, providing food and entertainment as well as support and awareness. Free wristbands were provided for discounts at several local businesses, and Live Arts coordinated entertainment throughout the day that included music, theatre, poetry, and drag performances.

Many Western Albemarle students were sprinkled among the attending crowd, including members of the WAHS Gay-Straight Alliance. Some students were even spotted volunteering at various booths and vendors; junior Alex Kingsley, for example, helped man the booth for the Washington, DC branch of the HRC, and senior Tim Dodson showed his support by volunteering at the campaign booth for Libertarian senatorial candidate Robert Sarvis.

Downtown Charlottesville being his second home, Liam Gallmeyer is a veteran of Pride who has been attending since its inception in 2012. “I stumbled upon it by accident that first year,” he explained, “But ever since I’ve been coming back.” Gallmeyer came out as transgender prior to the start of this school year on Facebook to an overwhelmingly positive response. “Since I’ve started living as male, I’m a lot more comfortable, and things just seem right.” Gallmeyer attended pride with a group of friends from various schools, and was also present at the after-party held at Main Street Arena.

Another particularly enthusiastic attendee was freshman Erin Nelson, who was ecstatic to show her spirit with a rainbow wig. “Going to Pride meant finally getting to express myself for who I am and what I believe in. Plus, free Starbucks and seeing drag queens didn’t hurt!”