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For Some, The Columbus Pride Festival Is A Place For Celebration and Strength

Olivia Miltner
Kendal Holzman speaks with two visitors while others help set up The Change Project's tent.

Columbus’ 35th Pride Festival and Parade kicks off this evening, and participants are excited to celebrate the LGBT community. This year, though, the festival will be tinted by the impact of Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando.


Some Pride participants hope this weekend will be an opportunity for LGBT people to support each other after the shooting and remember the challenges that have faced the community.


Nicolas McGrady is one such person. He owns a booth called Simply Stainless, which sells “everything rainbow,” such as stickers, flags and jewelry.


“As far as this year with everything that’s going on in the world, I think it’s especially important now that we get out and that we show our solidarity and our unity and unite and stand behind each other,” McGrady said.


Others see the shooting in Orlando, which killed 49 people in a gay nightclub, as a reminder of the LGBT community’s history.


Kendra Holzman helps run The Change Project’s tent at the Columbus Pride Festival. The Change Project sells shirts to support programs that advocate for the LGBT community, and Holzman said Sunday’s events were a reminder of the Stonewall riots, a major turning point in LGBT rights activism.


“I think that a lot of the time we forget what Pride is about,” Holzman said. “Especially what’s happening with Orlando, I think it kind of brings us back to the history of Pride and what happened in 1969 and the people that died and fought for our rights that we are still actively trying to get right now.”


Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs said in a press conference that the festival will have increased uniform and undercover presence, and organizers are expecting to host 450,000 people. The festival will run through Saturday at 8 p.m.


“The spirit of resiliency is so strong right now,” Pride volunteer Vic Tovar said. “Regardless of how much the world doesn’t want us to be here, we’re still going to be here, and we always have been, and it’s only going to get stronger and more amazing."