How to Celebrate Pride in Greenville, SC

Upon first glance, Greenville, SC does not appear to be the most gay-friendly environment. In 1996, Greenville County Council passed a resolution stating that homosexuality is not compatible with community standards. Not cool, Greenville County. Seriously not cool. More recently, Greenville, SC and the Upstate have made slow progress toward becoming more inclusive. In 2004, the community's Vision 2025 outlined a Greenville that is "open and welcoming to all, regardless of...who you love." It may take looking a bit deeper to find ways to connect with the LGBT community, but it's there, and it's proud. Help build a stronger, more all-embracing community by celebrating pride in Greenville this summer. And have a good ol' time while you're at it.

March in Pride
The Upstate Pride SC's March & Festival is like one, huge end-of-summer bash. Held on September 10, 2016 in Spartanburg's Barnet Park, the festival is an all-day event full of fun and entertainment with an added bonus of increasing visibility and providing education and networking opportunities. Check out the performers, including drag, magicians, and dancers, on the Zimmerli Amphitheatre stage, but not before snapping a photo at the photo booth and stuffing your face at one of the local food vendors. Also, the happening kids area features hands-on activities in a family-friendly environment. The local flair and support continues as dozens of businesses and vendors line the walkways to show their backing. The day culminates in a peaceful walk through downtown Spartanburg to share in unity, community, and pride.

Shop 'til You Drop
Before you head to the festival, stock up on all your shopping needs at Out of Bounds. Proudly don your kilts, "out and proud" stickers, leather, t-shirts, and jewelry. The only GLBT store in the state, the shop is a recognized Friendly Business, meaning it's "open to patrons of all sexes, genders, and orientations," and customers are treated equally. For literature buffs, meet fellow book enthusiasts and join in on the Gay Book Club that meets on the second Monday of each month at 7pm. Participation is free, and coffee and teas are provided. Can't beat that.

Play Hard
Order up a White Russian and dust off your ball, the Freedom Bowling League is the perfect place to strike up some conversation and meet new friends. Everyone is welcome for some friendly competition at 7pm on Tuesdays at AMF Star Lanes Bowling Center. If you're a little rusty and want to practice, show up early, because there is prize money to be won and no time to spare.

Sit Back and Relax
After all the fun you've had parading, shopping, and playing, it's time to relax. Find your bliss and totally veg out at Pure on Main, another recognized Friendly Business. If your idea of celebrating involves massage and aromatherapy, this is your place. There are also some unique therapies to try, such as Colon Hydrotherapy (to relieve toxins) and something called Total Body Vibrations (to promote weight loss). For general loveliness, head to Pure on Main, take a load off and treat yo' self. You totally deserve it.

At the heart of it, most folks in Greenville care about one another and their community. Despite the glimpse of progress toward building an inclusive community in Upstate, SC, there is still work to be done to create a community that not only tolerates differences, but celebrates them. Step one: get out and have some fun this summer. Step two: get rid of that resolution.

Jannan Poppen is a travel writer based in Greenville, SC. She's an explorer at heart and will try just about anything once.