Image: Batesville PRIDE’s Facebook page
Over 800 people attended the first-ever Batesville Pride Celebration Saturday afternoon in Main Street’s Pocket Park.
The park was decorated in festive colors representing the spectra of the LGBTQ community. The gathering featured music, entertainment, games, food, art, health and safety groups, and more. The Independence County Democratic Party Central Committee was the lead sponsor.
Organizer Shannon Hix said Pride month is the one time of the year when members come together surrounded by the family they choose. “Because our bodies and our identities are still policed by the government, religious groups, and even the people we love, we reserve Pride as the opportunity to express in a way that is most authentic to our community,” said Hix.
Hix said he expected 100-200 people to attend and the 800-plus turnout was overwhelming, noting when he considers the planning for the event only started about a month ago, the number of attendees was even more amazing. He said some of the cities represented included Batesville, Mountain Home, Searcy, Mountain View, Jonesboro, Memphis, and Little Rock.
Mayor Rick Elumbaugh was one of the speakers invited by the group. He noted that the City of Batesville is recognized as one of the top 25 places to live and raise a family. He said the city prides itself in being inclusive, and one which celebrates diversity.
There were around 10 evangelical protesters who came and yelled at the group, according to organizers, but they soon dispersed.
Two local churches, St. Paul’s Episcopal and First United Methodist Church were among the Pride supporters at the rally.
Hix said planning for a 2020 Batesville Pride Celebration is already underway, and many people have already offered support and assistance in the effort.
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