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Kentuckiana Pride returned to Waterfront Park’s Great Lawn after a year off due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the virus still being a concern, officials put measures into effect to keep the event safe. 

Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test from no more than three days prior to the start of the festival on October 8 was required for entry.

Friday’s festivities featured the Pride Parade. 

Saturday was a full day of live events.

Vendor booths, food and entertainment were all available to attendees with the cost of admission.

While some big names like Todrick Hall and Neon Trees performed later in the day, Louisville-based organizations like Louisville Gay Men’s Chorus and Voices of Kentuckiana started earlier.

“It’s just such an inclusive group and feels so good after COVID to be singing in public again,” said Alyson Wise, a member of VOICES of Kentuckiana.

Wise’s friends came out to see her perform and enjoy the energy of Pride. 

The environment Wise described with VOICES of Kentuckiana is the overall environment Kentuckiana Pride organizers hope to create. 

“I’m hoping people walk away with more of a self-worth because people struggle sometimes with living in their truth,” Rodney Coffman, the president of the Kentuckiana Pride Foundation said. “We just want them to be able to be themselves, be truthful and do what’s best for them.”

Other organizations like Fresh Fire Church, an LGBTQIA+ friendly congregation, and Luminary Comedy are attempting to create similar welcoming spaces in their own work.Breya Jones | wfpl.org

“We’re here just wanting to be visible and show that we’re an extension of the community; we’re also a safe space,” said Kawanis Hopson, whose husband is the pastor at Fresh Fire.

While speaking, Hopson noted a man who was standing on the Big Four Bridge, shouting bible verses and condemning messages to Pride attendees. Hopson said the presence of supportive religious organizations was all the more important to counter that messaging.  

Despite the presence of religious protestors, the goal of creating a safe space was achieved for some.

Carly McCallister brought her children to Pride. When asked why she was there, she immediately began to tear up.

She pointed to her kids and explained that while she is cisgender and straight, she has always brought her children to Pride so they could be exposed to different types of people and learn to accept them.

This year, she said, is particularly special.

“My 6-year-old just came out as transgender, so this is her Pride out,” McCallister said.

When asked, her daughter said she was having a great time.

Breya Jones is the Breaking News Reporter for WFPL.