Valdosta celebrates LGBT Pride today, mayor issues proclamation

South Georgia Pride

With South Georgia Pride around the corner, the organizers of the event have a nice welcome from the top city elected official — a proclamation naming Sept. 17 as “South Georgia Pride Day.”

Valdosta Mayor John J. Fretti issued the proclamation to the South Georgia Pride Committee and for all attendees of the fest to recognize the contributions “gay and transgender citizens contribute to the fabric of our community.” View the full proclamation below.

Richard Willis, an organizer for the Pride celebration on Sept. 17 in Valdosta, said he and the South Georgia Pride Committee are excited to be recognized in this way for the first time.

“I’ve been working on Pride since it started on the VSU [Valdosta State Campus] back in 2008 and I couldn’t be happier that it has come this far,” Willis said.

Last year’s estimates of those coming to South Georgia Pride is roughly 300 to 400 people, Willis said.

“Of course, we hope for 500-plus [this year] so that next year we have to relocate to a larger area. As long as people come, we will be happy to have provided this service,” Willis said.

South Georgia Pride began in 2008 as Valdosta Diversity Pride as part of the VSU gay-straight alliance and became an official nonprofit named South Georgia Pride in 2009.

The theme for this year’s Pride in Valdosta, located nearly four hours south of Atlanta, is “Education + Empowerment = Equality.”

“That phrases our entire purpose,” Willis said.

“Everyone else involved always gets excited about Pride because they are making a difference. Every so often we have people message us and thank us for what we do and it makes all the stress worthwhile,” Willis added.

South Georgia Pride will be at John W. Saunders Park from noon to 6 p.m.

On tap for the day includes a basketball shootout and a Pride Pet Show. Live entertainment includes performances by Samantha Fox, Bethany Brooks and Mercury Heat.

Special guest speaker Elke Kennedy takes the stage at 5 p.m. to talk about her son, Sean, who was killed in South Carolina. Read more about her story and more about the fest from the Valdosta Daily Times here.

City of Valdosta, Georgia Gay Pride Proclamation