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Augusta Pride hits new attendance record

2012 Augusta Pride Parade

With voice shaking, Holly Garner dropped to one knee on the stage at Augusta Pride to ask Brittaney Pulliam a life-changing question: Will you marry me?

“Since we got together, I knew she was the one for me,” said Garner, 27, who arranged the public proposal as a surprise to Pulliam, 21.

“We already have the wedding planned, she just never officially asked me to marry her,” added Pulliam, describing their planned ceremony in Savannah. “I am very shocked that she actually did it. She is normally a shy person.”

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Augusta Pride returns with expanded events

Augusta Pride

Augusta Pride organizers expect the third annual celebration to set attendance records with an expanded schedule that features several new events in addition to the hallmark parade and festival.

Travis Jenkins, who serves as the Augusta Pride president, has been with the group since its inception and was nominated to lead the 2012 event after working his way up from being the Pride vendor coordinator. A grant from the Augusta Convention and Vistors Bureau has allowed Augusta Pride to do more advertising, including placing banners throughout the city, and beef up the number of days involved.

The long weekend of Pride kicks off Thursday, June 21, with the VIP party/President’s Soiree at the Landmark Marion Hatcher House. Friday, June 22, is the kickoff party, with a Pride cabaret featuring drag performers at Club Argos and Augusta’s lesbian band She N She performing at The Filling Station bar.

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Augusta Pride draws thousands to second annual fest

Kristine W. performs at Augusta Pride

Last night's victory for gay marriage in New York was on the minds of many who packed the Augusta Commons today for the second annual Augusta Pride festival. But amid the repeated calls for marriage equality here in Georgia, it was the personal stories of love and commitment that sent the loudest message.

Under sweltering early afternoon sun, more than two dozen gay and lesbian couples filled the Augusta Pride stage for the festival's first public commitment ceremony. Many were in tears as they said their vows, declaring that "love not law has the final authority."

"This year our theme is 'Love Wins,' and with our particular relationship, love has been exactly what's won," said Dan Leonard, who serves on the Augusta Pride board and wed his partner of five years, Terry Ledford, during the ceremony.

"I found out three weeks after we met that I was [HIV] positive and Terry stood by me through it all," said Ledford, as both men broke down in tears. "I found out six months after that that I had renal cancer. He's been there through that. And just recently I've fought my way through anal cancer, and he's been there through that."

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Marietta Rainbow Festival returns June 25

Atlanta Pride doesn't take place until October, but at least three Georgia cities will host gay pride celebrations on the traditional last weekend in June. The Marietta Rainbow Festival is set for June 24-25, while Augusta Pride and East Side Pride take place June 25.

The Marietta festival is again hosted by the North Georgia Rainbow Coalition and takes place indoors at the New LeBuzz, Marietta's sole gay bar. The club has a new, larger home at 585 Franklin Road SE in Marietta, and the festival will be held there and at Enigma, next door.

Hours are 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Friday, June 24, and 1 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Saturday, June 25. Daytime events are family-friendly and open to everyone; events after 10 p.m. are aimed at adults ages 18 and over, according to Johnathon Murphy, a festival organizer and leader of LeBuzz.

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‘Love Wins’ as Augusta Pride hosts second festival

Augusta Pride parade

Last year, activists in Augusta threw their first-ever Pride celebration, hoping a few dozen people would come. Instead, almost 4,000 flocked to the Augusta Commons for a sweltering day filled with entertainment and empowerment.

The second annual Augusta Pride, set for June 25, hopes to build on that success and reach an even larger audience with the theme “Love Wins.”

“It’s very important for the community, and that is what motivates me,” said Chris Bannochie, Augusta Pride public relations director. “It is time for not just Atlanta to be the only place dealing with these issues. Last year was a huge success — we were wanting to have 100 people, and we had thousands.”

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Augusta Pride

Augusta Pride parade

Augusta hosts second annual Pride festival this weekend

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New issue on stands today

What do  ‘filth elder’ John Waters, playwright Shay Youngblood and out Christian singer Jennifer Knapp have in common?

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Augusta Pride draws thousands for historic festival

Grammy winner Thelma Houston closed out the stage for Augusta Pride this evening, but there was one more inspiring moment awaiting the hundreds who withstood the withering heat to be there for the festival's finale.