More than 1,000 people showed their pride for the LGBTQ community during the Capital Pride Kentucky Festival on the lawn of the Old Capitol Saturday.

Rainbow-clad people strolled the lawn looking at the 105 vendors, which were selling crafts, jewelry and more. Free mom hugs were even being given away at the freemomhugs.org Kentucky Chapter booth.  

Executive Director of Capital Pride Jesse Ruble said he was expecting about 1,800 people from across the state, and even some from neighboring states, to attend.

“Things are going well,” Ruble said. “The turnout is great. I see a lot of people with happy faces. It’s a safe space to be.”

Among the crowd were a few protestors from the Reformation Church of Shelbyville. They took turns preaching against homosexuality while standing on a box. They handed out pamphlets titled “Jesus Never Talked About Homosexuality: 10 Arguments Used Against Judgmental Christians.”

“This is our first year for being protested,” Ruble said. “We’ve been told that when you’re being protested that means your event is big enough to get attention.”

LGBTQ supporter Jerry Bennett, of Lawrenceburg, stopped to counter argue with one of the protestors, who was standing on his box across from the Old Capitol on the corner of Broadway and St. Clair streets.

“I told him that he gives all Christians a bad name,” Bennett said. “His preaching is a form of condemnation. I have been a pastor and I do not appreciate Christians that preach hate and condemn those that think different than them.”

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Jerry Bennett, of Lawrenceburg, argues with protestors from the Reformation Church of Shelbyville during the Capital Pride Kentucky Pride Festival on the lawn of the Old Capitol Saturday. (Hannah Brown | State Journal)

The sound of the protestors was drowned out by the sounds of the festivities across the street.

The pride festival’s entertainment lineup included a young comedian, drag queens, a Hispanic dance group, performances by students from local dance studios and workshops on subjects like drag show etiquette and the importance of Pride. Several local food vendors lined Broadway Street.

Ruble said the drag shows were by far the most popular event for the day.

“The drag shows are our biggest entertainment,” Ruble said. “Drag is misunderstood by some people. They think people dress in drag because they like to dress like women, but it’s purely for entertainment reasons.”

Along with the Old Capitol lawn being filled with colorful rainbow flags and decorations, Karen Hatter, the chair of the community engagement committee for Capital Pride, said that more than 80 Pride flags were on display in Frankfort in honor of Capital Pride. She said that support from the business community was "tremendous."

Ruble said that he hoped people felt safe and had a good time at the festival Saturday.

“I hope they left feeling loved and proud about who they are.”

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