Pride Promenade: A festive celebration to kickoff Small Town Pride month 

Scene with a pair of beagles and Pride colors, June, 3 on Franklin Street. Photo by Pamir Kiciman.


By Pamir Kiciman

CHAPEL HILL — The Chapel Hill Pride Promenade took place on a warm and sunny Saturday last week. It was the starter event to the month long Small Town Pride celebration, a joint project between Chapel Hill and Carrboro coinciding with June’s national LGBTQ+ Pride Month.

Early arrivals waiting for Pride festivities to begin. Photos and photo collage by Pamir Kiciman.

The day began at Peace and Justice Plaza on the corner of Franklin and Henderson Streets. Musical entertainment was provided by the Triangle Pride Jazz Band. As the crowd arrived, the mood was joyful, lighthearted and peaceful. Rainbow-colored fans were popular as were performers from Imagine Circus.

Bottom left, closeup of the popular “rainbow’ fans. All others, Imagine Circus performers. Photos and photo collage by Pamir Kiciman.

As everyone waited for Mayor Pro Tem Karen Stegman to make comments, groups of people started dancing together and hugging each other.

Bottom left, Stegman promising to keep comments to two minutes. All others, Pride celebrants enjoying themselves at Peace and Justice Plaza. Photos and photo collage by Pamir Kiciman.

After Stegman’s brief LGBTQ-affirming remarks, celebrants donned in an array of attractive colors marched west behind a police cruiser on Franklin Street.

Pride marchers of all ages on Franklin Street smiling and posing for the camera. Photos and photo collage by Pamir Kiciman.

140 West Plaza on the corner of Franklin and Church streets was home to an easygoing and merry block party for the rest of the afternoon. Durham artist Julia Gartrell’s installation, “The Queeramid,” which anchors the plaza was instantly the favorite spot to take pictures.

Celebrants filling into 140 West Plaza at the end of the march on Franklin Street. Photos and photo collage by Pamir Kiciman.

In an email to The Local Reporter, Gartrell wrote that her 13-foot-high “The Queeramid” took about a month to complete from design to installation.

“I applied to a call for artists that specified wanting a member of the LGBTQ+ community to create a public piece for Pride,” wrote Gartrell.

Each side of the piece makes a specific point.

The First Pride was a Riot” references the beginning of the gay rights movement at a national level — according to Gartrell’s well-written and informative Instagram posts — after a 1969 police raid on gay bar The Stonewall Inn resulted in violent protests, with patrons demanding to live queer lives openly. “Say Gay!” in response to Florida’s recent “Don’t Say Gay” bill, speaks to the danger of “restricting conversations for young kids around concepts of gender and sexuality. “Black Trans Lives Matter” points out that, “Black Trans people are among the most at-risk members of the LGBTQIA+ community.” 

Top: Making memories with “The Queeramid” as a backdrop. Bottom right: Gartrell’s installation making its presence felt during the festivities. Bottom left: An obliging attendee. Photos and photo collage by Pamir Kiciman.

The crowd continuing the party by Chapel Hill Public Library’s Circulator featuring books for all ages, reflecting and celebrating LGBTQIA+ lives and storylines. Photos and photo collage by Pamir Kiciman.

Top left, top right and bottom right: Young children to teens and parents enjoying the community mural led by artist Freddy Bell. Bottom left: Dance performer moving to the sounds of a DJ.

Small Town Pride’s June events are put together with help from Chapel Hill’s LGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Group. Learn more about how this group acts as a liaison with the town manager and police.

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