Last week was Pride Winston-Salem, and the streets were packed with thousands celebrating love and identity in its many forms. All of the Triad Pride festivals this year have been special because 2019 marked 50 years since the Stonewall Uprising in New York City, an event that changed the course of history for the LGBTQIA community.
At Greensboro Pride, the streets were packed with diverse smiling faces. At Pride Winston-Salem, it seemed like everyone celebrating was happy to be in each other’s company. And personally, I didn’t see one counter-protestor. With Greensboro Pride in September, Pride Winston-Salem in October, there is still one city in the Triad that hasn’t celebrated its own Pride festival—until now. High Point will finally have its own Pride on Nov. 2 at COHAB.SPACE from 4 to 10 p.m.
Contrary to Pride Winston-Salem and Greensboro Pride, the person organizing the festival is not affiliated with a nonprofit. She is a 19-year-old pansexual woman who decided to take matters into her own hands. Co-organizer and High Point citizen Paula Spring said she has been to Pride festivals across the state since she was 14 years old.
“I thought High Point needed one. I can’t believe it has gone this long without having one here,” Paula said. “It is just volunteer-organized, and a lot of the LGBT people are included and of course, COHAB. SPACE has helped do a little bit of planning.”
COHAB.SPACE is a furniture showroom and artist collective that is tucked alongside downtown High Point.
Paula noted that her sister, Nicole, and her long-time friend and artist Jonae Connell had helped her as well as Dairy, an artist and COHAB’s social media and marketing coordinator.
“Meeting COHAB was such a huge coincidence,” Paula said. “I talked with my siblings, and my brother was like, ‘well, there is a place called COHAB.SPACE and they’re based around artist and community.’”
Nicole said she and Paula had gone to COHAB and “spilled our ideas of wanting to do something with the community” in High Point, and said that COHAB was instrumental in helping them put together Pride.
“How do we bring people together? How do we make High Point like a fun place to be, we live down the street and didn’t even know [COHAB] existed,” Nicole said. “More people should know about this place.”
Dairy said that COHAB.SPACE has a strong community and various support groups.
“Even though it was only two months to plan the event, you can get it done really quickly around here,” he said. “The stage was built in less than 24 hours because we have so many people on the premises that are willing to do literally anything we ask.”
“Something needs to happen in High Point,” Dairy continued. “Everything is always in Greensboro or Winston-Salem, like everything. I live in High Point and I leave every single weekend. I wanted to do something in High Point. Lo and behold, Paula and Nicole showed up and were wanting to help.”
Connell expressed similar sentiment because she is constantly going out of town to comic-cons, zinefests and other art conventions that are either in Raleigh, Durham or Greensboro.
“It is always out of High Point; I was just so upset there was nothing here for the artist community,” she said. “I think it is important to show our own community that there are people like them, and people willing to support them and a place to support them.”
Paula said there would be food trucks, such as Que! Viva Latin Street Food, and the entertainment would consist of folks from either High Point or the Triad. There would be live music performances by “up-and-coming rap artist” Austin Stevens, and the Greensboro-based band Jaded, a drag show with Faiza Zahra, and circus performers/flow artists the Dizzy Duo (composed of the Springs’ brother and his wife). Paula said there would also be a live podcast recording of Honey Dip Radio, Paula’s podcasting friends from high school.
“Since I know it is not going to be anywhere near the numbers of Charlotte’s Pride, I do want to create something a little more personal, interactive and intimate to High Point,” Paula said.
She wants High Point Pride to be “an event all about community,” and she wants the profits from the event to go right back into the community.
COHAB.SPACE owner John Muldoon was thrilled to hear about the plans for Pride and said that many of his friends and COHAB vendors are a part of the LGBTQIA community.
“What we are trying to do is make a place that everyone feels welcome and just try to do things to connect with not only the locals artist and communities, but also that it is something that attracts outside artists anywhere in the world, to come to High Point to create or show their craft,” Muldoon said. “We are just trying to make something that is a little bit more open to everybody, not just market-goers, something that is year-round, family-friendly, where people feel it as home.”
Connell said she is excited and proud of her best friend for taking on this initiative.
“Especially in this small town,” Connell said. “With this event, I hope that other people are going to start seeing that there is more in this community than just this small town with nothing in it.”
Dairy agreed with Connell and said he thinks the Triad is just “one big city and that everyone is welcome “
“That is what I want out of this Pride as well,” he continued. “To show that the three cities are still together, and we are one big community.”
Paula said she intends for High Point Pride to be an annual event. She said the decision to have the festival in November was because of Furniture Market, but it might be a different date next year. However, it would not compete with the other pride festivals.
“This place is a huge blessing, it is really hard to find any opportunities for a young person [here], and there are not much opportunities for artists,” Paula said of COHAB. “I took advantage of it; I wanted to create something here, but if I move away one day, it is something that the community can have.”
Katie Murawski is the editor of YES! Weekly. She is from Mooresville, North Carolina and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in film studies from Appalachian State University in 2017.
High Point Pride takes place on Saturday, Nov. 2, from 4 to 10 p.m. at COHAB.SPACE, located at 1547 W English Rd. in High Point. Check the Facebook event page or High Point Pride Instagram account for more information and details. Coming up at COHAB on Nov. 8 is a fundraiser for D-Up, a nonprofit high school afterschool program.