Huntington Pride offers ‘rainbow’ of community events


Sarah Ingram | Campus Editor

Rainbows could be seen across town after community members showed their support of the LGBTQ community at the city of Huntington’s third annual Pride Picnic.

While events like the picnic, Herd Glow 5K and Drag Me to Brunch having already passed, the month will come to a close this week with Coming Out Monologues, Drag Me to Bingo, the Miss Huntington Pride Pageant and the Pride Festival.

Though it was the third time the Pride Picnic took place in Huntington, it is the inaugural year for the other events. Ally Layman, president of the board of Huntington Pride, said Pride Week and month is a time for the Huntington community to see the positive aspects of the LGBTQ community.

“The events can bring positivity, change,” Layman said. “There can be a new light shined on the LGBTQ community that hasn’t been before. We want to change minds toward the good instead of everything being focused on the negativity.”

Layman also said the events during the week are aimed toward attracting people with specific interests, but the Pride Festival at the end of the week is for everyone. 

The picnic included a variety of vendors in support of the LGBTQ community. From local clay makers to religious organizations, attendees were able to see what the community has to offer as well as seeing just a few of the organizations in the city that are accepting of the Pride community.

Layman and Justin Murdock, vice president of the Huntington Pride board, said several businesses in the city have shown support by creating and selling custom Pride attire.

“Huntington has brought it,” Murdock said. “We’ve been amazed. We have so many vendors, so many sponsors, so many of our allies that are jumping in and saying ‘what can we do?’”

Layman said the support in the area has been amazing.

“We also have the support of the city and the support of the mayor,” Layman said. “Now is the time, the perfect opportunity to be visible.”

Individuals also showed their support at booths that provided ‘free mom hugs’ and conversations for those who may not have been accepted by their families, Layman said. She said the Pride Festival will include some of the same participants.

“We have over 70 moms and dads and family members to give hugs for members of the LGBTQ community whose families may not support them,” Layman said.

Murdock said Huntington Pride has been working to provide a variety of events in order to attract the varying personalities of the community. 

“The big goal is to bring the community together,” Murdock said. “That’s why we have so many different events, so that as many different types of folks as there are in the LGBTQ community and our allies can all have something that they want to go to.” 

Speakers at the event included Mayor Steve Williams and Marshall University President Jerry Gilbert. 

“We are an ‘Open to All’ community,” Gilbert said. “We want people to feel welcome at Marshall and to bring whatever their experiences are to this campus and not feel like they have to cover up anything.” 

Layman said out of all the events, she is most excited for the festival because it will be the time that everyone can come together while remembering where they have come from and where they hope to go.

“This is a day to look back at people who paved the way for us to do Pride. We want to honor our past and celebrate our future,” Layman said. “[The festival] is like the cherry on top of the sundae. Huntington has never seen anything like it, and it’s our allies and our communities coming together to celebrate that.”

Sarah Ingram can be contacted at [email protected]