Human Rights Emerges As Focus of SC’s Biggest LGBT Festival

COLUMBIA, SC — A turning point of positivity arrived on Main Street on Saturday, September 3rd, amidst the storms of Friday from Hurricane Hermine as the annual Famously Hot South Carolina Pride Festival commenced during the Labor Day weekend. What seemed to almost be a canceled event turned out to be a record breaking moment for the organization as they brought in over 55,000 attendees to the event. This makes the festival the biggest Pride event and the largest one day event of the entire state.

SC Pride Parade & Festival, Sept 3, 2016

A diverse crowd of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, South Carolinians gather with straight allies, parents and friends to celebrate diversity during the 27th Annual South Carolina Pride Parade and Festival in Columbia on Sept. 3, 2016. Here, the parade makes a turn onto Blanding Street. (The State/Rob Thompson)

Thousands of attendees from all over the United States (and even Canada) flocked the streets as vendors from all walks of life sold their merchandise and promoted themselves as businesses who accepted the diversity within our society and the inclusiveness of the LGBT community within their organizations.

Speakers from all over brought their messages to the crowd as the continuous message of progression carried through each of their speeches. One special guest who spoke to the crowd and has been a growing figure within the political campaign over the past few months is Arik Bjorn (D-SC), who is currently running for U.S. Congress this election year.

Arik Bjorn

Photo of Arik Bjorn, the progressive Democratic candidate running for U.S. Congress in 2016. (Photo/John A. Carlos II)

Bjorn, a librarian from Columbia who narrowly defeated politician Phil Black in the primary to become the Democratic candidate to run against Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) in the election for U.S. Congress this year, gave quite a powerful speech at the festival. Within his speech, he declared that he would stand tall for human rights, advocating for the progression of minority and LGBT rights across the state and continuing the trend to build South Carolina as one of the most inclusive states in the nation.

Donning a rainbow scarf around his neck and humbly shaking the hands of attendees throughout the crowd throughout the day, Bjorn possesses the genuine persona it takes to really connect with the people. However, will it take him to the U.S. Congress in the fall?

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C. is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009, as President Barack Obama delivered a speech on healthcare to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) 

Congressman Joe Wilson was out on the campaign trail as well, attending the Labor Day Festival held in Chapin, South Carolina, this past weekend. To those that are not familiar with Wilson, he was the politician who infamously yelled “You lie” during Obama’s speech in 2009. He has worked hard to maintain the conservative vote throughout his campaign, but is Bjorn’s progressiveness too much to the point where it changes the power of the public to lean left?

Both men share strong stances on various social issues across the spectrum of politics and government, but it is up to the people to decide who they want to represent them.  As the longtime strong red state has slowly changed its stance in politics over the past year with the Presidential election drawing near, one can say that change is inevitable, especially with the state of the festival this past Saturday showing no signs of protestors throughout the event – the first time ever in history.

To check out more about Wilson, head to his campaign website at To check out more about Bjorn, head to his website at

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