Originally organized as a student event on the campus of Valdosta State University, South Georgia Pride is gearing up for its first year as a stand-alone festival.  Organizers are working on securing official non-profit status for the group, and have announced the date and location for this year’s festival: Sept. 18 at Valdosta’s Saunders Park.

GA Spotlight: South Georgia Pride, Inc.

The planning committee is made up of about 10 people, according to Richard Willis, South Georgia Pride executive director. The organization’s vibrant Facebook group has 103 members, who post on issues ranging from local events to political causes.

South Georgia Pride is also building on the success of previous events held at VSU.

“There were approximately 300 people at last year’s Pride,” Willis says. “While that may seem small, with this having taken place in rural south Georgia, not as publicized as we’d like, and held on one of the hottest days in south Georgia, we were lucky to have that number.”

Building an LGBT organization in a region of the state not known for gay acceptance isn’t easy, Willis says, noting that while local LGBT people “like the idea of the group trying to work for their rights,” some people “are still afraid of how it could affect them and their lives if they are to get involved.”

Still, Willis and other Pride organizers believe South Georgia is ready for its own Pride festival.

“This is the first year as an actual organization not supported by the university itself,” Willis says. “It gives us a chance to grow and be more than just a student event on campus.”

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