AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)- Augusta Pride Weekend 2017 has arrived.
This is the eighth annual pride celebration in Augusta, and this year, organizers are hoping between 12,000 and 15,000 people attend the weekend of celebration.
Alyssa Fredericks of Thomson came to Beats on Broad, the Friday night celebration at the common, with her girlfriend, and she says she feels the CSRA is a pretty welcoming place for the LGBTQ community.
“It’s good to be out here with everybody,” Fredericks said. “It’s like a community as one.”
Even though it’s a party, some groups are taking advantage of the celebration to offer important health services, including free HIV testing.
We caught up with a volunteer from the Equality Clinic of Augusta, which is a free student-run clinic for uninsured and underinsured people.
“A lot of our patients are from the LGBTQ population,” said Matthew Luo, who is treasurer of the Equality Clinic of Augusta.
Luo says about 70 percent of their patients are transgender people seeking hormone replacement therapy. He says they are one of the only clinics in the region that provides that service to those in need.
“We have people coming from Charleston, from Mississippi from like Kentucky…all over the Southeast to come,” he said. “They drive hours and hours to come to our clinic because we’re one of the only people that offers this service.”
It’s a reflection of what Augusta pride is trying to do…offering people in the CSRA and beyond a chance to be themselves.
“It’s about love, respect, tolerance, being able to live your most authentic life,” said Augusta Pride President Lonzo Smith.
The pride parade kicks off on Broad Street at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. After that the pride festival will be at the Augusta Common till 5 p.m.