South Carolina has burgeoning gay scenes in several communities, notably in Charleston and its surrounding towns. In 2010, the region held its first gay pride parade and rally, and now the Charleston Pride Festival takes place in the city's downtown with a series of events held over eight days.
The 2017 celebration kicks off on September 16 with a three-hour Pride on the Harbor cruise, featuring hors d'oeuvres, an open bar, and DJ beats aboard a three-level boat with an open-air top deck. The 2017 Pride Festival culminates with the Charleston Gay Pride Parade on September 23.
Events Throughout the Week
The week leading up to the Charleston Gay Pride Parade on the last day of the festival sees events that range from drag shows to religious services to comedy shows and more. Here are a few of the highlights.
- Sunday, September 17: Tabbuli Grill hosts a drag show that includes brunch buffet, house DJ beats, and mimosas.
- Sunday, September 17: Pride Interfaith Service open to Charlestonians of all faiths and philosophies will celebrate diversity.
- Monday, September 18: An evening with Sarah McBride, transgender activist and national press secretary for Human Rights Campaign. The program includes a discussion with local activists.
- Tuesday, September 19: OUT SPOKEN is an evening of poetry and the spoken word with members of the LGBTQ community.
- Wednesday, September 20: Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFFA) with South Carolina Senator Marlon Kimpson who will discuss matters of interest from the SC State House.
- Thursday, September 21: LGBTLOL: A Night of Comedy at the Charleston Music Hall featuring nationally known stand-up comics who are members of the LGBTQ community, including Sampson McCormick, Jenn Snyder, El Sanchez, Ian Aber, and Mimi Benfield.
- Thursday, September 21: Patti O'Furniture, known as the camp queen of the Carolinas, appears at Dudley's on Ann at 11 p.m.
- Friday, September 22: Takeover Charleston party at Taco Boy with drinks, food, and music.
Gay Pride Parade Day
Last, but definitely not least, Charleston Pride 2017 culminates with a parade that runs right through downtown Charleston on Saturday, September 23 beginning at 9 a.m. The 1.8-mile parade route begins at Wragg Mall on the corners of Ann and Meeting Streets. It continues south down King Street past Marion Square, turns right on Broad Street, and continues to Colonial Lake.
Brittlebank Park by the Ashley River is the scene of the Charleston Pride Festival from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There'll be food trucks, drinks, entertainment, and speakers. The event is hosted by Patti O'Furniture, with headliners Big Freedia and David Hernandez.
Charleston Pride 2017 concludes with the Prism Party, a celebration at the Music Farm from 9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Special guests include Ginger Minj, Raven, Coti Collins, and Jiggly Caliente. Beats by DJ Citizen Jane. Buy tickets online or at the Music Farm Box Office Tuesdays through Thursdays from 2 to 6 p.m.