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Thousands take pride in Lexington festival, with a few protesters

Photo Slideshow : 2018 Lexington Pride Festival

A photo slideshow from the 2018 Lexington Pride Festival at Courthouse Plaza in Lexington
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A photo slideshow from the 2018 Lexington Pride Festival at Courthouse Plaza in Lexington

Married couple Jim Fryman and Roger Wright found a spot under a shady tree near the stage Saturday to watch activities of Lexington's 11th annual Pride Festival that attracted 25,000 to 30,000 people.

"The community has come a long way but still has a way to go," said Fryman.

Fryman, 72, and Wright, 75, both of Lexington, have been together 43 years and raised two of Fryman's children from a previous marriage.

They got married in Indiana a month before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 26, 2015, that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples.

"We didn't choose who we are or why we are but we are proud of who we are and pleased that more and more in society are accepting us," said Fryman.

Lexington residents and visitors gathered for the 11th pride festival in the city.

On the corner of Main and Limestone streets, a few young men protested the event.

Under the watchful eye of several Lexington police officers, they used a loud speaker to say such comments as "Homo sex is sin" and "You need to get right with God."

"We're here today to tell people that God can save these people from their sins and give them a new heart," Zachary Humphrey said in a brief interview.

Matthew Walters of Lexington stood near the protesters and waved a rainbow flag, a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer social movements.

"This is typical. These hate groups show up all the time. The good thing is both of us have a right to be here and we are proud," Walters said.

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Thousands of attendees passed by pride balloons during Lexington Pride Festival 2018 Saturday at the courthouse plaza in Lexington. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

Shannon Wampler-Collins, co-chair of entertainment events for the festival for the second year, said the festival is "to celebrate diversity and to tell people who can't come out for religious or family reasons that many people have."

Entertainment at the festival, with hours from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and various sponsors, ranged from live bands, drag shows, a theater troupe and DJ battles.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who publicly announced in 2005 that he is gay, read a proclamation to loud applause "in celebration of our progress, our leaders and our bright future," declaring June 30, 2018, as "Lex Pride Day in Lexington."

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