GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Greensboro Pride Week is officially underway with events every evening leading up to the Greensboro Pride Festival on Sunday.

National Pride Month is in June, but Greensboro’s pride organization likes to wait until this week to give college students a chance to participate.

Organizers expect Pride Fest to draw the largest crowd ever in its 17 years, and they’re hoping to celebrate as well as share some education about the community.

Pride Week in Greensboro kicked off with a few drinks and a lot of smiles at Southend Brewing Company downtown.

“We are very excited to bring a week’s worth of festivities to celebrate the rainbow and all those people who are on that spectrum,” said Brian Coleman, chair of Greensboro Pride.

The LGBTQIA2+ community in 2023 is still faced with unique challenges.

“We take that word seriously and what that means. it’s … pride in oneself, pride in one’s community, and it’s the pride to be able to venture out into the world and be oneself whatever one determines that to be,” Coleman said.

Coleman says pride is not about acceptance, and they aren’t asking for it.

“This is about people who have been put down, people who have been made … to live in the shadow, to deny themselves the basic thing of happiness because it displeases someone’s religion or the way they live,” Coleman said.

Greensboro’s Pride Festival is intentionally planned as a family-friendly event.

“You’re not going to see floats and parades of half-naked people because that doesn’t represent our entire community. What that represents is a segment of our community,” Coleman said.

He says the LGBTIQIA+ community is still fighting to protect some of the rights they’ve earned in recent years that were denied due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“The majority of our community fought for the right and privilege to marry, to give blood, to adopt children,” Coleman said.

For those who attend this week’s pride events and have questions, Coleman says many are willing to answer them.

As chair of Greensboro Pride, he asks people to please be respectful and kind.

“If you approach with some sort of negative energy, you will get that negative energy back because on this side of the rainbow, we’ve always been on the defensive,” Coleman said.

Several pride events will feature people in drag like Greensboro pride queen Tia Chanella.

“You don’t have to agree. You don’t have to accept. Respect is all that’s ever asked for,” Coleman said.

Organizers expect 40,000 to 50,000 people downtown for Pride Fest on Sunday.

Tuesday’s pride event is from 6 to 9 p.m. at Hidden Gate Brewing where they’ll celebrate Taco Tuesday with a food truck.

On Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the festivities will be at Crafted Taco on South Elm Street.

Thursday is twisted trivia at Twisted Lounge starting at 7 p.m., and trivia teams can have up to six members.

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Friday is the big kickoff at Boxcar Bar + Arcade downtown starting at 8 p.m., and that’s 21 and over only.

On Saturday, there’s a bar crawl from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. downtown that will cover 10 local bars.

Then on Sunday, Pride Fest is from 11 p.m. to 6 p.m. on South Elm Street and covers four blocks with food, vendors and activities all day.