LGBTQ Pride never left Columbia, but the pandemic did force the cancellation of many related events in 2020. However, as City Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine put it Saturday, “This year we're back with a vengeance.”

The capital city welcomed Pride Month Saturday with Outfest, a block party on Park St. in the Vista, organized by Famously Hot South Carolina Pride.

The event is a showcase of Columbia’s LGBTQ community, including performers and other artists as well as LGBTQ-owned businesses and others who stand alongside the community as allies.

Saturday’s event featured music from DJ*EZ which kept the crowd dancing. Utica Queen from RuPaul's Drag Race Season 13 was the headline performer. Popular locals including Oliver Clothessoff, Don Javi, Leslie Lain, Fendi Moore and Cierra Nichole also took the stage.

Columbia mayoral candidate Sam Johnson spoke to the crowd, as did Devine (who is also running for mayor) and city council candidate Aditi Bussells.

“I'm born and raised right here in Columbia, and I'll tell you some of the things I've learned about this community and this city. We are one Columbia,” Johnson said. “It's about making sure that we have an opportunity, all of us, every single one of us, to love each other, to enjoy each other, to be able to fellowship and have fun together, to watch our babies play in the street and dance together.”

Devine thanked the crowd for coming out to one of the first large events since Columbia’s pandemic restrictions were eased.

“I'm so happy to be here as part of Outfest,” she said. “I'm promoting inclusive growth in our city. I'll tell you our city's strength is our diversity. Love is love, and love is our strength here in the city of Columbia.”

Famously Hot South Carolina Pride will host other events leading up to the SC Pride Parade and Festival October 22 and 23. Information is available at scpride.org.

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