An Athens Pride attendee carrying a Pride flag poses for a portrait on September 9, 2018. Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Ryan Cameron rac86114@uga.edu)

In just two short weeks, it will be time for PRIDE in Athens, with rainbow flags waving in the air and support for the LGBT community all over downtown from Pulaski to Lumpkin Street. 

The mission of this year’s PRIDE is to include a series of events providing social opportunities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and straight allies. While also promoting self-affirmation, increased visibility and build community among diverse individuals, according to its website.

Beginning on Sept. 19 and ending on the day of the festival on Sept. 29, Athens PRIDE will host a variety of events for PRIDE Week, including Rainbow Yoga, Athens Pride Newbie Hour, a book reading, Pride City Variety Show, a cocktail and trivia hour and Mx. Athens Pride Pageant

On the day of the festival, Athens PRIDE will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall uprising, in which police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in New York City, which caused a riot to spark. Stonewall serves as a major catalyst for the gay rights movement in the U.S. according to History.comLocal artist Linqua Franqa and Miami-based musician George The Infinite will perform in the evening. 

Starting at 2 p.m. and ending at 9 p.m., the festival will include food trucks and vendors that will line up on Washington Street between Pulaski and Lumpkin streets. 

Vendors range from the Athens Area Humane Society to Damsel in Defense, a company that markets defense mechanisms and products like stun guns and pepper spray to women and families. 

“I think everybody needs something to protect themselves,” said Christy Dove, director of Damsel in Defense. 

Dove said at PRIDE, the company will have a table where attendees can learn about defense mechanisms and participate in a virtual reality scenario of self-defense. 

“We have a training video that we do first with virtual reality goggles, so that'll be something that people could put on,” Dove said. 

Other vendors include face painter and artist Brooke Ussery of Brooke Creates, local business Allegro which offers music classes for children, and Crimson Art Henna

“Body art can allow everyone to put on their body what they feel like inside,” Ussery said. 

Local businesses are also able to support the efforts of Athens Pride through financial contributions and sponsorships. This year, participating Athens bars and restaurants will compete for the best “Rainbow Ruckus" cocktail. The month-long competition runs from Sept. 1 to Sept. 28th. 

Consumers can then vote for their favorite cocktail online or in-person at any PRIDE Week event. Participating businesses include Dona Chang’s, Hi-Lo Bar and Lounge, Little Kings Shuffle Club, Hotel Indigo, Sister Louisa’s Churchhome.made, Wonder Bar  and The National

“We're running a drink called a Granny Stagliano, which is kind of like a spritz-y version of a Negroni,” Donna Chang’s co-owner Ryan Sims said. “This drink has no gin and replaces it with Prosecco served over ice.” 

Sims said the restaurant contributes the cocktail’s profits during the month of September to Athens PRIDE.  

“Depending on what kind of numbers we're looking at, we usually round up significantly or mash it and send that to Athens PRIDE as a kind of a financial contribution,” Sims said. 

On Sept. 28, there will also be a Rainbow Ruckus Bar Crawl and Dance Party as a PRIDE week event. 

The PRIDE festival may only be once a year, but Athens PRIDE, Inc. hosts events throughout the year aimed to promote support and educational outreach for the LGBTQ community, according to its website.

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