A few pieces of paper work — that’s all that stands between Mikey Fuller and Tri Cities Pride, Inc., becoming an official non-profit organization.
Based in Petersburg, Tri-Cities Pride looks to empower the local LGBTQ community while proudly educating the city on what it means to be LGBTQ.
This weekend, Fuller, the president of the organization, is helping to continue that mission with the third Petersburg Out and Proud Festival. The fundraiser kicks off Friday at DJ’s Rajun Cajun & Steakhouse before the all-day Saturday event including live music, drag shows, food and drink specials and free HIV testing on Nationz’s mobile unit.
The grand finale takes place on Monday in Hopewell with a MonGays pop-up movie screening of “The Gospel According to Andre” at Guncotton Coffee and Gallery.
Proceeds will be donated to Tri-Cities Pride and go toward aiding LGBTQ kids who’ve been kicked out of their house and establishing a network to help LGBTQ discrimination in schools.
The organization started three years ago with a conversation among friends sitting around, complaining about how little understanding there was in Petersburg communities about LGBTQ people. They wanted to make their voices heard.
But for Fuller, the journey began years before, when he was fired from being a church organist in 2009 in Colonial Heights for being gay.
“I’ve basically been on the podium for saying how wrong that decision was,” Fuller says. “We started the Petersburg Out and Proud Festival as means of community education to show, ‘Hey, we’re here.'"
The Petersburg group has since expanded to almost 40 members who get together frequently. Fuller emphasizes that this wouldn’t be possible without the organization’s nine-person board, a little elbow grease, the pride committee and community support.
“I hope it shows that Richmond isn’t the only place you can be proud,” Fuller says. “You can come to Petersburg and be out and proud. You can go over to our MonGay’s celebration on Monday night in Hopewell and be proud.”
Out and Proud 2019 takes place on Saturday, Sept. 14 from noon to 1 a.m. at 309 N. Sycamore St. in Petersburg. For more information on events, sponsors or how to volunteer, visit tricitiespride.org or the Tri Cities Pride Facebook page.