GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Although the Pride Day event was canceled because of COVID concerns, supporters still have reason to dance.
“At least somebody did something,” said Sipps Bar employee Lexis Redd D’ville. “I’m very excited that we’re going to be the ones getting to do it and getting to hang out with everyone and celebrate pride and being who we are.”
Sipps Bar and The Gulf Coast Equality Council put on the parking lot party to support the Gulf Coast Association of Pride’s annual event, which helps provide that safe space so many in the LGBTQ community need.
“They throw this event, and we throw ours in October so that the younger community and the people who don’t go to bars have a feeling of community and get to enjoy themselves and celebrate,” said Kara Coley, Sipps bar manager and president of The Gulf Coast Equality Council. “It’s just very sad that we can’t do it in those volumes.”
The cancellation of the event has put a halt, at least temporarily, to all the effort spent.
“I mean, not only the gay community, the black community, all of the communities,” D’ville said. “We work very, very hard to be accepted, to have our voice recognized and to be able to celebrate those things that we hold near and dear to us.”
The attendance was far fewer than the 2,000-plus crowd that attended the Pride Day event at Point Cadet last year.
“Ten percent of what might have been out there,” Coley said. “But it’s OK.”
However, D’ville added that there won’t be a problem regaining the momentum that Pride Day has developed over the last four years.
“There are going to be so many people who are ready to be proud of who they are, that I feel like we’re going to surpass the numbers from years, from 3,000. Let’s talk about 5,000, maybe 7,000 people out there. I mean, granted, yes, we live in the rural South, but I feel like those people are ready and now is the time.”
A portion of the proceeds will go to support the Gulf Coast Association of Pride’s event next year.
At this point, the Gulf Coast Equality Festival is still scheduled for October, but no venue has been selected.