Upstate SC is with you Orlando!

By Cody H. Owens

Our hearts ache deeply for the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting. Our thoughts are with the victims, their loved ones, the officers who heroically diffused the situation, the bystanders, and all of the people involved. When a travesty like this happens within the LGBT community anywhere, we feel it everywhere. It hits close to home, especially for members of our community who have ever felt prejudiced and discriminated against for their gender identity and/or sexual orientation.

Achieving marriage equality for all was a huge step in LGBT rights and history, but this massacre is a reminder that it was only one step of many more to come towards justice. The tragedy in Orlando is heartbreaking proof that our work in promoting acceptance and inclusion has a long road ahead still. 

On Sunday June 12th, In reaction to the Orlando shooting, Upstate Pride SC and Gender Benders organized a candlelight vigil at the entrance of Reedy Park in Greenville, SC. See a short video of the event by Chasing Capri and Gender Benders also held a press conference

By several estimates, there were more than 400 people total in attendance throughout the vigil. The Upstate's outpouring of support and love keeps our organization pushing harder and harder, and many people were able to heal from the togetherness you created. The Upstate Pride SC community is nothing short of amazing. Thank you all.

Prepare to be Entertained

by David Poteat

My name is David Poteat, and I am proud be the Entertainment Coordinator for the 2016 Upstate Pride March & Festival.

I have attended Upstate Pride every year since it's inception in 2009. I have held a position on the board of directors for just over a year.

To me, Pride is an event that I look forward to with great excitement. This year, we are proud to welcome back Patti O'Furniture as our hostess and emcee. Patti has long been a champion for equality in the state of South Carolina.

We are pleased to welcome Joiè back to our stage as one of the featured musical acts in this year's lineup. Many will remember Joiè from previous festivals.

We are excited to have our Mr. & Ms. Upstate Pride 2016 -- Big Poppah Cherry and Princess Mocha -- joining us on stage this year to delight attendees with their incredible artform of male and female impersonation.

2016 has delighted us with the unexpected pleasure of welcoming Synergy to our stage, too! Synergy is made up of identical twins Jeff and Stephen Neil. They have entertained crowds around the world with their amazing covers of today's most popular music played on dual electric violins.

We will also have some of the Upstate's most talented local performers gracing our stage to provide you with what promises to be a delightful and memorable experience for the entire family.

I know that I can't wait until September 10th and look forward to seeing you all at this year's festival.

Help us Stop South Carolina S.1203

by Cody H. Owens

We have teamed up with PFLAG Spartanburg to petition Senator Lee Bright and Governor Nikki Haley to put an end to the highly discriminatory and economically dangerous S.1203, which mirrors North Carolina's recently passed HB2.

This proposal would restrict local governments from making non-discrimination ordinances, prohibit trans people from using the correct restroom, and keep local schools from allowing students to use the restroom that matches their gender identity.

S.1203 has already been read on the floor and passed to the general committee. It must stop.

Please consider reading our full petition and signing your name here.

2016 Vendor and Sponsor Registration Now Open!

By Keith Keppley

Having been in charge of the vendors and sponsors for the last 3 years, it's always exciting to welcome new and returning organizations to be a part the Upstate Pride SC March and Festival. The participation of these organizations along with the community have made it possible for us to provide 7 years of successful events for the Upstate's diverse community. 

I'm happy to announce that the pride guide ad, sponsorship, t-shirt, and vendor registration is now open for the 2016 March and Festival on September 10, 2016 at Barnet Park in Spartanburg, SC.

Our new website has a web store to handle registrations. Just like Amazon or another shopping website, once you've added "items" to the cart, you just need to go through checkout.

We're also offering a 10% discount on registrations received before July 1, 2016! Just use promo code - EARLYBIRD16 during checkout.

I thank our community for all your support, and we look forward to another great year!