Since 1988, Hampton Roads Pride in Virginia have been holding summertime festivals to bring awareness and celebrate the LGBT community. What has now become known as PrideFest always held a significance in my home of Virginia, but with the recent events in Orlando, this year was extremely special. As always, PrideFest had many local vendors, food trucks, and of course the liquor on deck (shoutout to Absolut!). There were increased security, as many other national PrideFest events did, and hundreds of people who came out to show support to their LGBT brothers and sisters. Yet, for me, the vibe felt different.
At one moment while watching the performances, I was brought to tears to see so many beautiful humans celebrating life and knowing that we are still here. It could have been any one of us in that club, dancing and singing with friends, and then the next moment life is over. In that instance, I vowed to appreciate every hour, minute, and second I have here because it is always a blessing.
With emotions high, local act Mercedes Douglas was our Grand Marshall as she pumped up the crowd with renditions of Jess Glynne’s Hold My Hand and Jennifer Lopez’ Ain’t Your Momma, which ended with a touching tribute to Orlando.
Country star Billy Gilman then opened up the Pride stage with his ballad Say You Will. He then did amazing covers of songs from Adele and Reba McEntire, showing his versatility and vocal range, even in the face of scorching southern weather.
After Gilman, our PrideFest headliner Betty Who gave life to the stage. Even though her luggage was shipped off to Vegas (they tried it), Who and her band were able to give an electrifying performance. Like Gilman, I had never heard of her music before PrideFest but I was ecstatic to find that this Australian beauty had voice and rhythm like a southern chick sitting on the porch eating collards green and cornbread.
On top of that, she was very personable with her fans. Who came out and touched the audience’s hands (even mine girl) and even took a fan’s phone and recorded herself performing.
^^^ Look how close she is! Her personality carried over to the audience who wanted more of her.
Thanks to PrideFest, both Gilman and Who gained fans and the memory of those people who died at the Pulse were kept alive not only this past weekend, but for the PrideFest events to come!
If you have attended a Pride event near you, let me know how it was!