Somerset celebrates diversity and inclusion during 1st LGBTQ pride event

Posted at 12:12 AM, Oct 06, 2019

PULASKI COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Somerset held its first ever LGBTQ pride event "Chill out and Proud" Saturday, which drew many protesters.

The organization's objective is to bring together not only people from the diverse LGBTQ community in the region, but the community as a whole to build a strong all-inclusive city.

Hundreds of people gathered on Main Street to show that Somerset supports all of its residents regardless of their sexual preference, but not everyone who attended felt that way.

A LEX 18 news crew captured footage of protesters who came with signs targeting members of the LGBTQ community.

Joe Booth, who attended the protests, suggested he did not agree with most of the tactics employed by the protesters.

"I think there were some street preachers who I think were a little bit more aggressive," said Booth. "I don't agree with what they were doing, but I think our group who stayed in the grass were very peaceful."

Despite the animosity between the two groups, activists viewed the event as a success.

"The importance of today outweighed the hatred of the people that tried to get us to leave," Catharne West, a LGBTQ activist, said.

Others told LEX 18 that they felt threatened by the protesters.

"This is kind of what bullying looks like when adults do it," said Lori Herring, who came out to enjoy the festival. "It might start out with children but this what it looks like when people grow up and become bullies."

Many of those in attendance added they felt the protests clouded the spirit of the event.

"Seeing as many protesters down there, and there were some people dressed up like Jesus, it was just really sad," said Matthew Queener, who is a worship pastor for the Outreach for Jesus. "I wasn't scared. I was more or less hurt by everything."

Police officers monitored the event to ensure that the protesters would not get out of hand, but there were no reports of violence.

Despite the protests, many said the turnout at "Chill Out and Proud" gives them hope that the city is becoming more inclusive.

The event featured musical and visual artists who resonated with people of all backgrounds and identities.