'Progress' as crowds flock to Out Raleigh festivities

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Big crowds came downtown for Out Raleigh on Saturday.

Big crowds filled Fayetteville Street for Out Raleigh 2018 on Saturday.

"You have everybody out here," said Ken Dayton of the Triangle Gay Men's Chorus. "You see people from the young to the older generation. You're seeing something that we haven't seen in a community like this in a very long time."

Couples and families with children strolled, sampled food and spent money as well as time with artists and other vendors. Some people remember the days when most same-sex couples avoided events such as this because they had safety concerns.

"So it's great to see this progress but we still have a long ways to go in a lot of places," said Stan Kimer, standing about half a block away from a very vocal group of protesters.



Holding signs that displayed several slurs and insults aimed at the LGBT community, that group stood behind a man with a microphone and bullhorn. He referenced religion several times while walking up to onlookers. Most laughed or ignored the man, but a few stood and argued with him as Raleigh police officers kept the peace.

'They're allowed to have free speech," said Kelly Taylor of Out Raleigh. "I do think they need to have a better understanding of community."

"You are welcome here, at the LGBT Center of Raleigh and Raleigh in general. Because y'all means all, and love doesn't have borders," said Katie Kennedy of Out Raleigh.

Corporate supporters, including Bayer and BASF, promoted diversity and inclusion with booths set up along Fayetteville Street. Many of the people attending Out Raleigh know that Amazon's looking for a city that makes all workers feel welcome as it considers Raleigh as a possible location for expansion.

"I still think there's questions up in the air about HB2 and how Amazon is looking at things, and how the area's looking at things," said Ken Dayton. "But I think we're getting closer to a closer proximity and a settlement of what is going to work for everybody."

Organizers say the annual celebration is not the end of their advocacy for all marginalized people.

"It's about more than the LGBTQ community. It's about everyone. We're recognizing immigrants and refugees this year with our theme, Love Without Borders," said Out Raleigh's Kelly Taylor.
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