黑料天堂

黑料天堂

Outfest pride festival attendees concerned by wave of legislation impacting transgender people

<p>Supporters with a pride flags wrapped around their bodies during the drag competition at Outfest on June 1, 2024. Outfest celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community's fortitude and spirit, featuring local talent and businesses during Pride Month.</p>
Supporters with a pride flags wrapped around their bodies during the drag competition at Outfest on June 1, 2024. Outfest celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community's fortitude and spirit, featuring local talent and businesses during Pride Month.

On the first day of Pride Month, around 10,000 LGBTQIA+ South Carolinians and allies gathered in the Vista to highlight joy and resilience, throw a pageant competition and shop from local vendors at Outfest, a pride festival put on by the South Carolina Pride Movement. 

Organizers emphasized the importance of pride celebrations in the face of legislation passed in February that prevents minors in the state of South Carolina from accessing gender-affirming procedures, such as hormone therapy and surgery. The bill also requires school staff to disclose information about students鈥 gender identities to their parents. 

鈥淚t's important to bring the community together and show queer joy and queer resilience and show that we do belong and that there's people in your corner, but also pride is a protest, right?鈥 South Carolina Pride Movement President Dylan Gunnels said. 鈥淲hat started pride was a brick through a window in protest against police brutality and us getting fair rights. We're under attack right now, and so it is about us maintaining our rights and fighting for us to continue to bu颈濒诲.鈥 

Koko Dove, an advocate of the queer community and transgender South Carolinians, won the title of Miss Trans South Carolina in January. She hosted the pageant to crown Ms. Outfest, Mx. Outfest, and Mr. Outfest for 2024. Mx. is a gender-neutral honorific similar to Ms. or Mr., pronounced 鈥渕颈虫鈥.&苍产蝉辫;

Dove said pride events are especially important not just in South Carolina, but in the Southeast as a whole because of legislative efforts to restrict the rights of LGBTQ+ people in traditionally conservative states across America

鈥淧ride is very important because it's a time for us to be out loud and proud in the streets, in a place where we're told we're not allowed to be out loud and proud,鈥 Dove said. 

Outfest 2024_Eva Flowe_23.jpg

KoKo Dove, Miss Trans South Carolina, hosting the drag competition at Outfest on June 1, 2024. Outfest celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community's strength and spirit, featuring local talent and businesses during Pride Month.

This year, Jersey O鈥橫ari Lavish won Mr. Outfest, Colbi J. won Ms. Outfest and Hellen Heels won Mx. Outfest.

鈥淪outh Carolina Pride is so important to me this year due to recent legislation against our LGBTQ youth,鈥 Hellen Heels said. 鈥淚t鈥檚 very important now more than ever that we come out here and gain support, rally and vot别.鈥&苍产蝉辫;

Josie Saint, a transgender woman and musician who attended Outfest, said it is crucial for transgender people in South Carolina to have spaces where they can meet up and build community in the face of obstacles. 

鈥淚t's amazing to see the solidarity from allies being willing to stand up for us, but it (the legislation) was also a big kick to push us as a community to be more connected and have that solidarity,鈥 Saint said. 

Allison Kimsey, a vendor selling crochet items, including animal plushies the colors of various pride flags, said that there can be unique challenges for people growing up LGBTQ+ in the South, which makes pride especially important here. 

鈥淲e're in the Bible Belt. It's not really as accepted here," Kimsey said. "You kind of think of more Northern culture when you think of queer culture being normalized, but queer people exist everywhere." 

Dylan Rish, the director of Brave the Rainbow, an initiative of South Carolina Pride that connects LGBTQIA+-owned and allied businesses, said that people need to know how much the legislation affects all trans people, children and adults.

鈥淚f you know somebody who's trans, they're struggling. Give them a hug, tell them that you love them. Because, you know, tomorrow is not promised. Call, write, email your senators.鈥 Rish said. 鈥淣ot many people know this, but it doesn't take much to introduce a bill into office. They just passed this horrible anti-trans bill, but other people can potentially write one to combat th补迟.鈥 

The bill was amended before passage to allow mental health professionals to not only discuss banned treatments but potentially direct patients to states where they are accessible. Gunnels is concerned that vitriol and barriers to care for transgender children could force some LGBTQIA+ out of South Carolina.

鈥淢y friends, especially my friends who are people of color, who are in the trans community, they've told me, we don't even know if we're gonna be here much longer. Because if you don't feel like you belong and you don't have access, why would you stay?鈥 Gunnels said. 


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