For the LGBTQ community nationwide, a Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage could make this June one of the most important months in our history. Locally, spirits are high and hope is tangible — it’s not if, but when.
And this makes 2015’s Kentuckiana Pride Festival one of the most celebratory — not only is the decision on the minds of everyone, it also marks the 15th year the annual festival has been uniting the community and honoring diversity. The KPF starts Friday, June 19, with a parade down Main Street and continues through Saturday at the Belvedere.
KPF director Rodney Coffman is excited about the 15-year milestone because it shows society’s growth and acceptance.
“To think 15 years ago the LGBT community was viewed differently as a whole,” he tells Insider. “One example is that any day now, the Supreme Court will issue a decision on same-sex marriage that will effect millions of Americans. Today, 57 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage; just 15 years ago, the reverse was true. That’s growth!”
The first gay march in Louisville, called the March of Justice, was held on June 27, 1987. And it wasn’t until June 16, 2001, when the Kentuckiana Pride Foundation was formed and the first recognized pride fest was held.
Coffman began volunteering with the KPF in 2003, and as an older gay member of the community, he’s seen firsthand the city’s changes in attitude.
“Today I feel I am able to be me,” he says. “Louisville is a very diverse city that welcomes you.”
Coffman says he expects larger crowds both marching in and viewing the parade on Friday, and mentions the festival at the Belvedere has expanded to take over the upper portion of the venue, which hasn’t been used in the past.
“For the first time, we are using the entire Belvedere, which shows a sign of growth,” says Coffman. “I’m looking forward to seeing how it works out. Trying new things can be challenging, but we have to change to grow. Our community is changing, and we are, too!”
The parade begins at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 19, near The Connection. It will march down Main Street to the Belvedere, where the party will continue till midnight. The Grand Marshal is activist Shane Bitney Crone, whose story was featured in the documentary “Bridegroom: A Love Story, Unequaled.” Entertainment includes music by Betty Who, Taylor Lee and Josiah Carr, and comedy by hypnotist Jon Simon. Admission is $5.
On Saturday, June 20, the KPF runs from noon to midnight and includes entertainment by Fortune Feimster, Cazwell, Glenn Stewart, Bridge 19 and Antigone Rising, and comedy by Jon Simon. Admission is also $5.
For more information and a schedule, check out the KPF Facebook event page.
It’s also worth noting that Louisville will have a second pride fest this fall, which will take place in the Highlands on Sept. 19. The organizers are separate from the KPF and call themselves the Louisville Pride Festival. They’re currently looking for sponsors, volunteers, vendors and entertainment, so click the link above for more information.