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      South Carolina gay community celebrates SC Pride 2010

      South Carolina's gay community participates in SC Pride Day parade

      COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Thousands of folks celebrated SC Pride 2010 in Columbia Saturday afternoon. The event, held by the South Carolina Pride Movement, featured a parade that traveled down Main Street to Gervais Street in the heart of the Vista, to Gadsden Street, ending at Finlay Park, the location for the festival. Many of the state's gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender citizens came out to celebrate gay pride in the state.

      Past-president of the organization, Ryan Wilson says every year Pride Day seems to get bigger. "The energy! It's about who you are no matter who you are; gay, straight, black, white, rich, poor; we're all just people," said Wilson.

      The event even received a lot of support from Columbia's straight community. Wilson pointed out that although some vendors who participated in the festival are not gay, they wanted to show their support. "We just keep promoting tolerance and acceptance and more and more people are enjoying that message," Wilson said.

      Wilson said he celebrates Columbia becoming more of a progressive city. Kevin Drake, originally from Columbia, said he finds the support from the community intriguing and interesting. "As a kid growing up here, we didn't really have all this to participate in," Drake said.

      Drake left Columbia twenty years ago because of the city's lack of acceptance toward gay people. "It was kind of hard for me as an individual to live the kind of life I wanted to live," Drake said. Now that he's back in his hometown, he says he's noticed a change. "I leave, come back, and I'm like what's going on,you know," he said. In his opinion, South Carolinians are beginning to accept his lifestyle.

      According to Wilson, the gay community in South Carolina isn't going anywhere. "We are going to continue to show our strength to the State House and make an impact on the local economy here in Columbia."

      Their goal is a celebration of diversity and acceptance for all mankind.