Events Include First-ever Pride Festival Intended to Make Lynchburg More "Gay-Friendly"
Press Release – October 8, 2002
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Hundreds of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and allied Soulforce supporters and friends from across the nation will gather October 25 – 27, 2002 in Lynchburg, VA, home of far right televangelist Jerry Falwell.
Plans for the weekend include the first-ever gay pride festival in Lynchburg history. The mini-festival with educational materials, entertainment, and speakers, will take place from 1 – 4 on Saturday, October 26, 2002 at Riverside Park on Rivermont Avenue in Lynchburg. Mayor Carl Hutcherson will kick off the event. Additional activities include workshops to educate people about a variety GLBT issues, vigils at Thomas Road Baptist Church, and a picnic in the park with residents of Lynchburg.
Rev. Mel White, co-founder of Soulforce, and his partner Gary Nixon leased a home across the street from Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church last month and have been attending services at the church. Rev. Falwell, who is known for his condemnation of gays and lesbians, Muslims, and others who he deems offensive, has thus far refused to meet with White and Nixon since they became neighbors.
Three years ago, 200 Soulforce volunteers met with 200 members of Thomas Road Baptist Church, but were denied a meal because fundamentalist leaders told Falwell that eating with gays and lesbians violated their religious doctrine. Additionally, Falwell promised to tone down his anti-gay rhetoric, but continues to make fear-based anti-gay statements to the media, from the pulpit, and through fundraising letters.
"OUT and ABOUT is intended to help make Lynchburg more friendly to GLBT people, despite Jerry Falwell’s rhetoric," said Rev. White. "In a city filled with fear, coming out poses great risks because GLBT people can lose their jobs and custody of their children. We are hoping GLBT people and allies will come out to be with us, and support equality for all people everywhere."
Participating organizations include Soulforce, Inc., National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, People For the American Way, Human Rights Campaign, Interfaith Working Group, Q-Spirit, Roanoke 7, New Beginnings Christian Church (Richmond), Virginians for Justice, Lynchburg Friends Meeting (Quakers), First Christian Church – Lynchburg, PFLAG – Roanoke, The Richmond Lesbian and Gay Pride Coalition, Al-Fatiha (GLBTQ Muslims), and Gay/Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
MEDIA – Members of the media are invited to join in the weekend at any time, which begins on Friday night, October 25 and runs through Sunday afternoon, October 27. Additional schedule details are available at:
The Pride Festival at Riverside Park from 1- 4 pm offers the opportunity for photos and extensive interviews with individuals from Lynchburg and across the United States who have come to "make Lynchburg gay-friendly."