MOREHEAD – In an area that is considered as part of the bible belt and known for the conservative religious beliefs, Morehead held its first Pride Festival on Saturday, August 27.
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis first brought the media spotlight to town when she gained national attention in 2015 by defying a U.S. federal court order to issue marriage license to same-sex couples, following the June 26, 2015, U.S. Supreme Court decision to allow gay marriages licenses in every state.
Morehead Pride is a festival celebrating the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning community and its allies in Eastern Kentucky. Morehead Pride is a nonprofit organization that seeks to educate those who may not understand what it means to be an individual who identifies with one of these groups as well as offer support to those in Eastern Kentucky who are living the life as an individual who identifies with one of these groups or may be struggling with personal conflictions about the life or may be considering living in this lifestyle. The event’s organizer, David Moore, and his partner also named David, were among the first couples to apply for a marriage license after Kentucky’s governor ordered the state’s clerks to comply with the Supreme Court ruling.
“We wanted to do something to show individuals who may be part of the LGBT community they do have support in Eastern Kentucky,” said David Moore, Executive Director of Morehead Pride. “When I was growing up in Letcher County, there resources were limited. Individuals have the misconception they have to move out of Eastern Kentucky to be open about who they are and how they live. That may have been the case, many years ago, but if we are ever going to change the view of the LGBT community we have to be open, honest, and create an open dialog between those who are a part of the community and those who may not understand it,”
Moore, who works in the marketing department at Morehead State University, eventually married his partner and the idea of Morehead Pride was the result of his planning a way to show his pride and excitement of finally being awarded the same rights so many have fought for.
The festival hosted live music, a drag show, vendors, food, a kid’s zone and activities downtown at the Moonlight Stage on First Street. The event was far removed from the huge floats, corporate sponsorships, and political campaign that is often seen in pride events held in larger cities. The emcee of the event was drag entertainer Cadillac Seville. Guest speakers included Aaron Jackson (Planting Peace, Equality House), Chris Hartman, Mark Ebenhoch, Tom Morgan, Mateesa Corn, Dylan Scott, Trey Hayden, marriage equality plaintiffs Tim Love and Larry Ysunza-Love and Joseph Vitale and Rob Talmas. Live music was provided by The Woodsheep, Debora Greathouse and the TransKentucky Orchestra. Drag entertainment was provided by Miss Lexington Pride 2016 Serena D. Van Daren, Bobbi Pins, Ophelia Coxx, Tomika Taylor and special guest Mr. Lexington Pride 2016 Adonis.
A highlight of the event was awarding Morehead Pride’s first scholarship to the Rowan County High School SAFE (Sexual Alliance for Everyone) club. Dylan Scott, a 16-year-old transgender student at the high school, read original poetry he had written at the event. Accompanied on stage by a straight friend was an example of the support, tolerance and acceptance that the event hopes to foster and encourage.
Andrea Saddler is a reporter for the Floyd County Times. She can be reached at (606) 886-8506.