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Sold-out 2024 Kentuckiana Pride could be a record in the festival’s history

Kentuckiana Pride organizers said this year's parade was the largest ever, with 10,000 marchers.
Breya Jones
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LPM
Kentuckiana Pride organizers say this year's parade and sold-out festival could be the largest in its history.

At a time of rising anti-LGBTQ+ laws and rhetoric across the country, the 2024 Kentuckiana Pride festival expects to see a record turnout this Saturday.

Twenty years ago, the Kentuckiana Pride parade was just a city block long.

Rodney Coffman, the festival’s director, said volunteering at his first Pride festival was liberating.

He grew up in Dayton, Ohio and didn’t even know Pride existed until he moved to Louisville. He’s grateful for the experience of putting together the Kentuckiana Pride festival.

“It's allowed me to grow as an individual, and I'm very thankful for it because people who have to suppress themselves, they struggle so much internally with different things, and no one should have to do that,” he said.

Coffman said it was a struggle to get sponsorships during the festival’s early years. They raised money from door-knocking, spaghetti dinners and car washes.

This Saturday’s festival stands in stark contrast.

The 2024 Kentuckiana Pride at the Big Four Lawn in Waterfront Park marks a record number of participants – over 35,000 people are expected to attend the parade and festival combined, and 200 vendors signed up to participate.

Swedish group Icona Pop, and musician and breakout pop star Chappell Roan will be co-headliners. More details on the lineup here.

Coffman anticipates 12,000 people at the parade, and close to 25,000 people are expected at the festival.

The parade will be led by three grand marshals: Lisa Gunterman, who works with U of L's LGBT Center, performer Robbi Lynn, and Dawn Wilson.

Wilson is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, who is transgender. She’s chair of the education committee at the Louisville Metro Human Rights Commission and a renowned fencing coach.

Dawn Wilson at the first Kentuckiana Pride parade in 2004 with two other activists.
Courtesy
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Dawn Wilson
Dawn Wilson (center) at the first Kentuckiana Pride parade in 2004 with two other activists.

Wilson was part of the first Pride festival at Waterfront Park 20 years ago. She was also key in the Fairness Campaign’s fight to pass Louisville’s Fairness Ordinance. Wilson said it feels great to be a grand marshal at a Pride with record support.

“A lot of kids and adults are coming out and expressing who they are and putting an end to the negativity and lies that are told about the community,” she said.

Security concerns and staying safe

Last month, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued a PSA on international terrorist organizations possibly targeting Pride parades and LGBTQIA+ events during Pride Month in the U.S., particularly in light of the upcoming eighth anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub Orlando shooting where a gunman shot and killed 49 people.

Lawmakers in many Republican-controlled states, including Kentucky, have introduced and passed a slew of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, and have ramped up anti-trans rhetoric in recent years.

Chris Hartman, Executive Director of the Fairness Campaign, says threats and attacks have always been an unfortunate reality for LGBTQ+ people. He was also concerned about threats and attacks from domestic terrorist groups.

“I feel much more danger in the halls of our state Capitols, like Frankfort, than I do at a Pride festival celebration where our community is gathered in loving celebration of one another,” he said.

Rodney Coffman, director of the festival, said there will be a heightened security presence at the festival and parade. Coffman said the Louisville Metro Police Department and other security agencies with experience working parades will be present. Volunteers will also be on site to aid festival goers.

Tips to stay safe:

  • Arrive in groups.
  • Parking will be difficult, Coffman recommends carpooling to the parade and festival or having friends who can drop you off.
  • Use the buddy system. 
  • Reach out to volunteers if you see something suspicious or potentially dangerous.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Tickets sold out last weekend, and Hartman said people who could not get tickets can still attend one of many Pride events happening across the state through the year.
Here’s a list of Pride events happening across the state.

Augusta Pride in the Park
Saturday, June 15, 12 p.m. ET, River Park (Boat Dock)

Corbin Pride
Saturday, June 22, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. ET, Nibroc Park

Owensboro Pride Picnic
Sunday, June 23, 12 p.m. CT, Unity Fellowship

Latinx Pride, Louisville
Saturday, June 29, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. ET, La Casita Center

Harlan County Pride March
Saturday, June 29, 10 a.m. ET, Harlan County Courthouse

Lexington Pride Festival
Saturday, June 29, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. ET, Central Bank Center

Ashland Pride Picnic
Saturday, July 13, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. ET, Riverfront Park

KY Black Pride Festival, Lexington
Saturday, Sept. 14, 12 p.m. – 7 p.m. ET, Woodland Park

Louisville Pride Festival
Saturday, Sept. 14, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. ET, Bardstown Rd

Boone County Pride
Saturday, Oct. 5, TBA

Capital Pride Festival, Frankfort
Saturday, Oct. 12, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET, Downtown

Pikeville Pride
Saturday, Oct. 12, 12 p.m. ET, Appalachian Wireless Arena

Bowling Green Pride Festival
Saturday, Oct. 26, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. CT, Circus Square Park

Chill Out & Proud Somerset
Saturday, Oct. 26, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m., Somerset College Festival Field

Details yet to be announced:

Berea Pride, Berea

Heartland Pride, Elizabethtown

Murray Pride Parade & Picnic, Murray

Divya is LPM's Race & Equity Reporter. Email Divya at dkarthikeyan@lpm.org.

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