In most major cities and now for the first time in Lafayette, June is recognized as Pride month. This Saturday many businesses will come together to celebrate in downtown.
On social media, nearly a thousand people have expressed interest in the event, and organizers say this comes as a pleasant surprise.
"I'm just beyond words at this point at how excited I am that this is happening," says Ted Richard, a former president of Pride Acadiana. Ted was also a founder of the area's first Pride Festival back in 2014. He looks back on years of the event wishing it had received more attention and involvement.
"There were gay people that I knew that would not go to the festival because they didn't want people who they knew to see them at this festival," says Richard.
This year a surge of interest in a downtown pride celebration has the LGBTQ+ community feeling hopeful.
"Early in June when I realized there wasn't going to be a pride event here we started talking about it, thought it would be a fun thing to do, a couple of my friends, 20 other people, whatever, and just asked around and people seemed to be really supportive," says Wendy Dorfman, co-owner of Sugarwolf Outdoor Exchange and the mind behind this year's big event.
"I have a feeling that it's going to be a lot more people than we expect," adds Alexis Lemoine, the general manager at BeauSoleil Books. Her's is one of several businesses that jumped on board to host speakers and offer a safe space.
"The whole idea of the pride day is to celebrate and to have a good time but to continue to do what we do here at Beau Soleil books and educate," says Lemoine.
Down Jefferson at the ACA, speakers will offer resources on finding a mental health specialist or recovering from past traumas. All day in between, special crafts, food and drinks will set the tone for a day of celebration and acceptance.
"I hope this event speaks to the queer community where people can be with people just like them and not feel overlooked or ashamed or anything because Pride. We're here. This is us, and we deserve everything y'all deserve," says Dorfman.
Members of the LGBTQ+ community say the work does not end at this weekend's event.
"I think that as a community we still have a lot of room to grow," says Richard.
That being said, hopes are high for the impact of Pride downtown.
"I think it's something really big and the start of a welcoming community for all and I really hope that that's the case because that's what we're going for," says Dorfman.
A list of speakers, crafts, attractions and specials for Pride on Saturday can be found here.