June is Pride Month, and the rainbow symbol of the LGBTQ community was on display all over WECO Bottle and Biergarten Friday evening.

The new business, owned by Phillip Blair, who also owns The Whig in Columbia, hosted Pride in the City featuring drinks, music and fun, with a portion of the proceeds going to SC Pride to provide quality events and programming for the LGBTQ community.

“We have been partnering with Phil Blair for years now. They've been a big supporter of the Pride movement,” said SC Pride Secretary Hunter Harley. “He's opened this new venue here in West Columbia, and now that places can open back up and this is an outside venue, we saw an opportunity to invite people for Pride Month.”

The event was arranged with social distancing rules in mind to minimize the risk of COVID-19.

With this year’s Pride Month coming not only in the midst of that pandemic but also during the protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd, Hayes said the focus has shifted a bit, but Pride is still Pride.

“It comes back to intersectionality. At this time we're putting a special focus on black lives, and that has to include black trans lives and black queer lives. We're really focusing on those individuals who are part of the LBGT community while at the same time part of the black community,” he said. “We want to be sure to not drown out anything else going on in the world, but add to it, and allow people to socialize and be who they are.”

Hayes said the annual SC Pride Festival on Columbia’s Main Street is in limbo at the moment because of COVID-19. Organizers will make a decision as the tentative date of Oct. 17 draws nearer. Hayes said he expects that decision to come in the next couple of months.

More information on SC Pride events is available at scpride.org.

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