Downtown Macon became a kaleidoscope of colors Oct.1 for the third annual Pride in the Park event hosted by Macon Pride. The event lasted 2-9 p.m. on Third Street.
The Pride in the Park event consisted of over 40 vendors, such as booths by Best Friends Doggie Daycare, Georgia Women (And Those Who Stand With Us) and High Street Church Unitarian Universalist, as listed on maconpride.org. In addition to the booths, there were other services offered such as HIV testing and food trucks.
The Pride in the Park event hosted a free drag show during the event with performances by local drag performers and a special performance from the winner of the Mx. Macon Pride, Mr. Elle Aye.
The goal of Macon Pride in the Park was to promote community and acceptance, Macon Pride Vice President Charlotte Storey said.
“The community events allow us to improve the quality of life for local members of the LGBTQ+ community and its allies," Storey said. "We wish to promote a positive image of the community highlighting the service work, contributions, and connections members have to Macon and Bibb County."
In addition to reaching the community of Macon, Pride in the Park also had an impact on Mercer students.
A 2019 school climate for LGBTQ students in Georgia survey by GLSEN showed that out of the LGBTQ community, 71% of students received verbal harassment for their sexual orientation, 61% received verbal harassment for gender expression and 65% received verbal harassment for gender.
With homophobia being linked to mental issues such as anxiety, depression and suicide, it is important to create a community that is welcoming to all, both in Macon and at Mercer University.
“I never really had people who understood me and so having friends and people who understand the frustrations of coming to terms with your sexuality and things like that makes it feel really comforting,” Makayla Mack ‘25 said.
Many students, such as Maddy Jakubowski '25, are originally from areas that are not accepting of the LGBTQ community. Macon and Mercer provide many students with an environment for expression.
“I'm not from an area that really celebrates that, if that makes sense. This is the most liberal and accepting place I've ever been in,” Jakubowski said. “So it's just, really cool to go to Pride, I always wanted to, and now I've had the chance to go.”
Jakubowski believes Mercer does a good job with Pride.
“No one really judges you for who you are and whatnot, and you're allowed to be yourself," Jakubowski said.
Aside from Macon Pride Week, both the Macon Pride organization and groups at Mercer University continue to support the LGBTQ community. QuadWorks is hosting an event for National Coming Out Day Oct. 11 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Connell Student Center Lobby.
Maura Rutledge ‘25 is a Journalism student at Mercer University. She has previously worked for The Cluster as an Arts and Culture and News reporter, and currently works as the Managing Editor. She enjoys thrifting, fashion, reading and writing in her spare time.