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Annual Murray Pride festival returns this weekend

Matt Markgraf

Murray Pride is hosting a three-day festival this weekend celebrating inclusion, acceptance and community in far western Kentucky.

Though the federally designated LGBTQIA+ Pride Month is celebrated in June, Murray Pride hosts an autumn event so that it can include members of the Murray State University community who may not be in town during the summer. Murray Pride president Madison Leach – who was guest speaker during a previous Murray Pride celebration – said she's enjoyed watching the event grow since its inception in 2019.

“Every year we've built upon that,” she said. “Now we have an organizational setting. Murray Pride has a board of directors and officers, and we just keep growing and getting bigger.”

Festivities start on Friday evening with a Family Art Night at the Murray Art Guild. Families and Pride supporters can gather to create posters, buttons and friendship bracelets, uniting in celebration of the LGBTQ+ community members in Murray and Calloway County.

A Pride march is planned for 10 a.m. Saturday in downtown Murray. Interested participants are encouraged to assemble at the intersection of Olive and 15th Streets. The march will then proceed to the Central Park amphitheater where Murray Pride will have scheduled guest speakers and local musical performances, as well as artist booths and vendors. Leach hopes these events foster unity and show support to members of a community that often confronts discrimination and injustice.

“At its heart, pride is a protest – a protest against the forced hetero-cis normative narrative,” she said. “This last year, the LGBTQ community across this country have seenlegislation springing up all around. And we've had to push back against that, for the good of the [LGBTQIA+] community.”Murray Pride will close out the weekend with a community spiritual service on Sunday at 6 p.m. in the Doran Family Arboretum. This service, entitled "Love Casts Out Fear," is organized in collaboration with the First Presbyterian Church and St. John's Episcopal Church of Murray. Leach said the weekend’s themes of service and communal solidarity will be echoed at this concluding event.

“It's important because many of us – including myself – the shame that we felt for being who we were and the closets that were built, some of it [is] due to religious trauma,” Leach said. “[This service is] really a time to break down some of those walls and break down some of those closets that we've built in our minds and know that God loves you – no exceptions.”

Zacharie Lamb is a music major at Murray State University and is a Graves County native.
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