Chill Out and Proud Festival was about love, acceptance




That's what yesterday's Chill Out and Proud Festival was all about.

It wasn't about "forcing a lifestyle choice" onto others.

It was about people wanting to be accepted for who they are.

And that's not a bad thing.

I think everyone looks for love and acceptance from their friends and family. And they would like to have it from their neighbors as well.

Somerset took a big step forward this weekend in showing love and acceptance toward its LGBTQ community.

Yes, there were a few protesters. Most of them didn't seem to try to interfere with the festival.

A lot of people have tried to divide us along religious lines. Yes, some people did protest in the name of God. But there were also plenty of Christians from several local churches on hand to support the festival.

There were a handful of white supremacist types who were getting a little nasty. But like gnats at a picnic, they were merely a little annoying. Thanks to festival-goers ignoring their antics -- and a solid presence from the Somerset Police Department and the Kentucky State Police -- they were held in check.

And the festival went off without a hitch.

There were wonderful artists and musicians on hand. I've known Boone Williams since he was a baby and I finally got to hear him perform live with his renowned band "Tiny Tiny." He was fantastic.

There were plenty of activities for the kids as well. Children got to paint and interact with the artists and left the event with cool bracelets and stickers.

I had heard a few of my friends voice some concerns about children being at the festival.

"They just don't understand ....," is the concern I heard the most.

Then I saw a post from my friend Courtney Riberio on Facebook, who chronicled a conversation with her daughters prior to the festival. She was kind enough to allow me to use it in this column:

Courtney: Okay girls we are going to a Pride Festival.

Ariel: What's that?

Courtney: It's a festival to celebrate acceptance for the LGBTQ community.

Nylah: What's that?

Courtney: You know what gay means?

Nylah: Yeah.

Courtney: it's their community. You see, some people don't like gay people, and others that are in that community. To be honest, they hate them.

Ariel: That's not nice.

Courtney: I agree, and some people might be here that are being mean....but just like every day, we don't let negativity ruin our positivity do we?

Both girls: NO!!!!!!

Courtney: Great ! Let's go have fun and give out some hugs and love!

Beautiful. And a perfect summation to an historic day in our little town.

Love. Pride. Acceptance. And Positivity. They always seem to defeat hatred and bigotry.

They certainly did yesterday.

JEFF NEAL is the Editor of the Commonwealth Journal. Reach him at Follow him on Twitter at @jnealCJ.

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