PRIDE month kicks off in Alabama with plenty of LGBTQ+ events
Thursday, June 1st begins Pride month in Alabama and across the country. This is a time for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning people and allies to celebrate LGBTQ+ life, history and liberation.
There are multiple happenings planned in Birmingham throughout the Magic City’s eleven-day celebration. Josh Coleman is the President of the non-profit Central Alabama Pride. He says 2023 marks 45 years of Birmingham celebrating Pride.
“Pride started in 1978 here in Birmingham, and it's been going strong ever since,” he said. “And it's just a time for the community to celebrate each other, along with our allies and co-conspirators to celebrate the community and living authentically and being your authentic self.”
Things get rolling with a Pride kick-off event and award reception at Clubhouse on Highland starting at 6:00 p.m. Thursday night. The festivities wrap up next Sunday with Pridefest at Linn Park. Coleman said the planned events around the Magic City are important for those in the state’s LGBTQ+ community.
“Sometimes Pride is the first time that you may get to be around other folks that are like you,” he explained. “I know, coming from small, rural Alabama, that oftentimes the major cities who have Pride celebrations, such as us here in Birmingham, it's a beacon of hope to some folks, especially young people who may for the first time get to express themselves openly and freely for who they who they are, and see folks that they can look up to in the community.”
Coleman said that with a string of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation working through the state legislature, now is the time to support one another.
“The thing that we really want to drive home is to stay hopeful and stay true to yourself,” he explained. “And that's the whole reason that we do Pride and celebrate is because we want to create these spaces that are safe and affirming for our community. And it's also a great time to look to those who support our community because if we support those who support us, we can slowly start changing hearts and minds.”
A bus tour of historical locations across Birmingham relevant to the LGBTQ+ community is also planned for this weekend. The Big Gay History Bus tour is being presented by the Invisible Histories Project and will coincide with Central Alabama Pride’s two weeks of events.
The tour will be about two hours long and will feature 24 historical locations selected by the Invisible Histories Project. There will be four tours offered on Saturday, June 3rd. Each tour will begin and end at Cahaba Brewing and will be hosted by an IHP staff member and a local drag performer.
Josh Burford is the Director of Outreach and Lead Archivist for the Invisible Histories Project. He said all of the stops are significant to Birmingham’s queer history.
“Looking at where the first Pride March happened, or where the first LGBT Center was, or where the first African American gay bar is…Those are important things because it allows us to see that in our everyday commute to work, we're driving past moments of real historical significance,” he said. “And it matters that we know where those places are.”
Maigen Sullivan is the Director of Research and Development for the Invisible Histories Project. She said she hopes the stops on the tours inspire participants.
“It's not a comprehensive list of Birmingham's LGBT history, because that would be days long,” she explained. “But it's things that we think people will be nostalgic for that maybe older folks remember. Maybe younger folks have never heard of. Just to kind of talk about the variance, the diversity of sites in the city where people should be proud of the work that we've done.”
Other events this month include Skate Night, an interfaith service and the annual Pride parade through Seventh Avenue South.
Central Alabama Pride’s 2023 Pride Guide can be found here: https://www.centralalabamapride.org/pride-guide
More on upcoming events from the Invisible Histories Project on the flier below: