LGBTQ+ to show ‘Power and Pride’ on Halloween

Lavette Williams, Editor-in-Chief

Three members of the Shoals community are coming together to host the “Power and Pride” celebration on Oct. 31 at Florence Post Office from 1-4 p.m.

“We chose [the name] “Power and Pride” because we wanted to keep the theme and traction of [Black Lives Matter] rallies, but we also wanted to have a formal pride event,” said Meg Britnell, a junior at the University of North Alabama and co-host of the event.

Britnell reflects on moments in her life where she felt lost. She still remembers her period of questioning her sexuality, her unsupportive parents, her first interest in a girl and her ex-boyfriend outing her.

“My ‘coming out’ was definitely not the route I wanted to take and I’m still a bit angry about that, but I’m also so happy with how things are right now,” Britnell said.

Britnell said her background and coming up has made me want to advocate for the LGBTQ+ community so strongly.

“I’m so passionate about [LGBTQ+ community],” Britnell said. “[A lot] of us look forward to Pride Month. A lot of our LGBTQ+ allies have really shown out at our Black Lives Matter rallies and events.”

Britnell said they wanted to have an event where they could be strong as a black community, but also give thanks and recognition to their LGBTQ+ allies.

“There would be no Pride without strong, black LGBTQ+ activists,” Britnell said.

Britnell is not only a member of the LGBTQ+ community, but she is also an activist for the Black Lives Movement (BLM).

“I think BLM and LGBTQ+ work so well together because they are both two diverse minority groups that often intersect,” Britnell said. “They both have a lot of similarities and differences, but they’re both causes that a lot of us can say we are very passionate about.”

While June was the beginning of Pride Month, a month which recognizes the impact LGBTQ+ members have had in the world, this year has looked a bit different than most.

Usually, Pride month gives people the opportunity to peacefully protest and raise political awareness of current issues facing the community. There are parades, street parties and educational sessions. There are public speakers, live music and poetry.

But most flagrantly, there, waving in the wind, demanding attention, is the rainbow flag.

However, due to recent events and protest, the Shoals community did not have a chance to put on a formal Pride celebration because they had taken to the streets to protest and champion the BLM movement. In the midst of the movement, there was also an outbreak of COVID-19, spreading worldwide. This caused many of their events to be postponed or cancelled.

“This year has been rough,” Britnell said.

Despite how rough things may get, the Pride community still manages to prevail.

“Since COVID cancelled Pride, Meg posted [on Facebook] one day asking if there were any local pride events and I commented, ‘let’s host one ourselves,’” said Macy James, a student at Northeast Alabama Community College and another co-host of the event.

James, who identifies as bisexual, said thinks it is important to advocate for the LGBTQ+ community because within the last few years has the community received better rights and protection, and rightfully deserved attention.

“We’ve always existed and been staples of every community everywhere and it’s only right to celebrate the battles we’ve won and to show our pride,” James said. “It’s still a battle, because we face discrimination often but we are not discouraged in the slightest.”

James said that Pride events serve as a safe place for these individuals to be among others like them and be as loudly proud as possible.

“We originally wanted to host [‘Power and Pride’] in August,” James said. “It wasn’t Pride Month, but pride isn’t specific to one month. [During this time] the numbers of COVID were ridiculously high and we had trouble getting things put together so we postponed it to Halloween.”

The two could not have picked a better month to reschedule their event.

October is not only “Spooky Season.” On top of being the month in which Halloween is celebrated, October is also LGBTQ+ History Month, a month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of gay rights. The event will be a combination of both.

“[Because] who doesn’t love Halloween?” James asked.

Since the event is being held on Halloween, there will be activities like apple bobbing, corn hole and other kid-friendly games. There will, of course, be live-music, snacks, refreshments and door prizes. Because there is still a pandemic, they will be providing disposable masks and hand sanitizers and social distancing will be required.

Although they may not have everything quite figured out, they have high expectations.

The “Power and Pride” Facebook has 35 people who have responded that they were “Going” and 82 who responded “Interested.” They do not have a definite head count yet but they are expecting 60 to 100 people to show up.

“This will be my first pride event,” James said. “The fact that I am co-hosting it is incredible. To say I’m excited is an understatement. I expect this event to serve as a statement and a reminder to everyone that the LGBTQ+ community is strong and loved. That we are here and we are, as the name suggests, powerful and proud.”