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.”
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.
Nightlife, community and entertainment events in Atlanta tonight
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."