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West Alabama pride festival looks to build a more inclusive community

Druid City Pride Facebook

Druid City Pride is creating a more inclusive community within West Alabama though the 8th Annual Druid City Pride Festival. This year’s event will be held on Sunday, October 1, and includes performances from artist such as Chris Housman, a country music singer and entertainment from hostesses Jawakatema Davenport and Genesis.


Since the first festival in 2016, Druid City Pride has incorporated a theme for each event. This year, the organization announced the 2023 festival theme is “Y’all means All.” Huey Rudder, the vice president for Druid City Pride, said this theme comes after what activists call an attack on LGBQTIA+ rights in the South.


Legislation signed into law this year bans transgender university students in Alabama from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity. Other legislation suggested gender-affirming care bans and heavy restrictions on drag queen performance.


“We thought that it was a very kind of poignant thing this year with all of the legislation that has gone around surrounding trans people and drag performances in the South,” said Rudder. “So, it was important for us to have that thing that shows an amount of unity but also connecting it with Southern culture. The South is really a place where queer people do live and exist.”


To help embody this theme, the festival will include performances from a Nashville country music singer, Chris Housman, who incorporates his own pride into his work. Some songs include “Drag Queen” and “Blueneck” by the artist.


The Druid City Pride Festival will be giving out a number of awards on the day of the event. The Clark West & Elliot Mitchell Service Award will be given to an individual or couple who have been an outstanding leader with dedicated service to the LQBQT+ community. The festival will also give an Outstanding Ally award to an individual who does not identify as LGBQT+ but has supported the community.


“We can't do this alone,” said Rudder. “So, we rely a lot on assistance from people within the community to get everything squared away.”


With pride festivals usually being held during Pride Month in June, Druid City Pride Event wanted to give students who live in Tuscaloosa during the fall and spring a chance to celebrate in a much cooler part of the year in Alabama.


“June is absolutely hot. There's also so many activities, so many pride activities going on in June that your head spins around,” said Rudder. “We also are in a special place here in Tuscaloosa where we have so many students. It's important for us to make sure that the students [who] are coming from all over the country, all over the world even, can find that experience and that community and that visibility of LGBQT+ community here in Tuscaloosa. Having it in October really provides us with that opportunity.”


Druid City Pride will be held on the Government Plaza in Tuscaloosa on Sunday, October 1, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.


For more information on this event and to see what kind of resources that are available for the community, visit the Druid City Pride website.

Hannah Holcombe is a student intern at the Alabama Public Radio newsroom. She is a Sophomore at the University of Alabama and is studying news media. She has a love for plants, dogs and writing. She hopes to pursue a career as a reporter.
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