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Pride returns to East Campus Sept. 29 after last year's Yom Kippur controversy

Pomp, performers and parades. All that will enliven East Campus Sept. 29 as students and Durham residents gather for the annual Pride march.

This year’s Pride events almost did not happen. NC Pride, the group that had organized the event since the 1980s, canceled its permit this June. The LGBTQ Center of Durham took over planning and, in less than three months, revived the festival—complete with stage music, drag performances and a DJ from New York.

With changes in leadership come several changes to the event’s bureaucracy. NC Pride came under fire last year for scheduling the event on Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement. The Center is disclosing all festival expenses to the public to clear any air of suspicion.

This Pride festival aims to promote diversity, accessibility and inclusion, according to its organizers.

In the early planning stages, the LGBTQ Center conducted a public survey and decided to “center the experience around people of color, of varying gender identity, of varying ability, of varying racial backgrounds,” said Justin Clapp, the local drag performer who is leading the planning efforts.

The event is aimed at increasing inclusivity in many forms, he added. People across the state, not just from Durham, are welcome. Furthermore, Clapp explained that the LGBTQ Center has focused extensively on an accessibility plan for people with elders, disabilities or with mobility needs by organizing accessible parking areas.

Clapp added that the organizers behind Durham’s Pride march hope to inspire neighboring events to focus on “the most marginal and vulnerable people” and “encourage people to be inclusive and welcoming.” 

“We know that this event started as a protest and a march, and we don’t want to lose the activism that was centering this experience,” Clapp said. “But activists need a place to recover and feel safe and be loved... We want to be that place.”