With so much turmoil in our country over the last few months, the fact that hundreds of Gainesville residents will gather in a sea of rainbow to celebrate LGBTQ+ equality Saturday on Bo Diddley Community Plaza showcases the community’s efforts to combat hatred.

Jessica Terkovich, a 20-year-old criminology sophomore, said she attended Gainesville’s Pride Festival last year but wanted to go again to show support for the LGBTQ+ community, especially now when many basic rights are in jeopardy.

“In the world that we’re currently living in, pride is even more important because it shows that the LGBTQ+ community will always come together to celebrate themselves and that no matter what the government or hate groups do, we are not going away,” said Terkovich.

Due to high demand, the Pride Community Center made a Facebook post stating they will be closing all four lanes of University Avenue for the parade, which will allow for increased participation and safety for all. The post was quickly met with comments of approval.

Terkovich stresses how important pride festivals are for those within the LGBTQ+ community, especially for those who are not out yet, to feel less alone. She also urges straight allies to come to show support, as listening to the struggles of the LGBTQ+ can make a positive impact overall.

“You should use any position of privilege that you have to uplift the voices of others and not speak for them,” Terkovich said. “It’s also important to remember that every LGBTQ+ person’s experiences are different, so people should ask their LGBTQ+ friends what they could do to help them specifically, but listening and learning are definitely the first few steps.”

Mark Davis, a 20-year-old computer engineering junior, stressed that although he feels he’s not qualified to represent the LGBTQ+ community, he intends to attend as an ally.

“I think especially with the bleak legislative situation and scary comments recently made by our president that it’s important to show that locally we stand up for values of inclusion,” Davis said. “It’s especially important to me, having lots of gay family, but I want a world where everyone feels represented and safe in their own community.”

The free Pride Festival will occur directly after the Pride Parade, which will take place from noon to 1 p.m. Residents can enjoy the afternoon by dancing to dozens of musical acts and visiting more than 100 vendors.

Terkovich said she marched in the parade last year, and she looks forward to watching and cheering from the side with her group of friends while wearing an assortment of pride shirts and rainbow beads this year. She said due to recent horrific events, this year’s Pride Festival is incredibly important.

“I’m excited to see the Gainesville LGBTQ+ community come together, especially right after Richard Spencer’s hate-filled rally on Thursday, which I’m sure will include a condemnation of the LGBTQ+ community,” Terkovich said. “Pride will show that so many of us are not afraid and that there is nothing they can do to silence our voices.”

The Gainesville Pride Festival, co-sponsored by the City of Gainesville Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, will be from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will include a “Kids Space.”