On Saturday we attended the first ever Rock Hill Pride celebration! It was a street-fair type event, no parade.
Overall I’m happy we went, though there were a lot of problems with accessibility. This is going to sound bad for a while below, but that’s just because I want to detail the accessibility issues. I promise there’s fun stuff after that!
When we arrived, the only place to park was a grass lot. There was no accessible parking in the lot at all! This is a big problem for people with vans with ramps!!! We pulled in kinda sideways and put out cones next to our van, hoping no one would park there and block our ramp.
Then we had to traverse this really bumpy grassy field with two wheelchairs! Brad has a power wheelchair, so it’s easier for him since his wheels are much bigger. Scarlet was in a manual chair, and the small front casters get stuck in the divots and nearly tip them out! So we had to go backwards to get them across the bumpy grass.
Then we tried to cross the street, and while there were areas where we could’ve crossed with curb cuts, they were taken up by food trucks!!! So unlike others, we had to walk all the way up the street to find a crossing where there was a curb cut that wasn’t being used by a vehicle.
It was really fun to see so many people at Pride! There were people of all ages there, all races, and several people with disabilities! We saw three other wheelchair users there! We got to talk with one of them, she was very cool and had rainbow fishnet tights on!
Unfortunately one side of the first area was set up in a way so that there were railroad ties about 3 feet away from the ends of the tables that people had set up. This meant that there was only space for one wheelchair and one wheelchair alone to pass by these tight spaces. We kept having to wait and/or ask people to move to let us by, ugh.
Pride is all about love and is open to everyone, but in these parts it seems to attract a few haters. We walked down the street to the second area of booths, and passed two street-preacher people who were holding Bibles and protesting Pride, telling us we were all going to hell. One of them had a camera person with them, trying to capture people getting mad. Both street-preachers at different corners of Pride had loudspeakers. But there were other Pride people with signs saying things like “free mom hugs” standing near these people, so the hate/harassment was counteracted with love.
Unfortunately along the sidewalk area there were lots of loudspeakers and the music was VERY loud. It was hard for someone like me with sensory sensitivities!
When we got to the second area, more people started to show up, including dogs. One poor dog was terrified to enter this big noisy crowd, and the owners just dragged the poor dog in. It was so stressed and I felt horribly for it! Most of the other dogs were totally overstimulated and unable to handle it, too. I used to not understand why dogs weren’t allowed at other street fairs, but now I do! It was just so sad for those poor dogs!
Also, some people bring totally inappropriate dogs to Pride! This one guy had a huge white pit bull that when it saw Hestia it REALLY WANTED to come investigate in a not nice way. I scooped Hestia up in my arms and had to dart through the crowd to put distance between us. The man (who was a strong-looking man!) holding the leash was being dragged through the crowd after us by his dog! It was very scary!!!
At one point I wanted to get some egg rolls from a food truck, but there was a lady sitting in a camp chair knitting next to the truck. She had a big pit on a 6 foot leash BEHIND her and wasn’t watching her dog the least bit. It was wandering all over behind her, and could reach both the order and pick up areas for this food truck.
So I had to leave Hestia on Brad’s lap while I went to order by myself. I got through the ordering part OK, but then I had to go to the pickup area. This guy with a bunch of kids came and all his kids surrounded me and I couldn’t escape! I started to panic! Eventually I was able to squeeze through the kids and others in the pickup area and stand behind the truck. Luckily when my food was ready, another patron who saw my distress alerted me and I was able to get my food and get out of there. If I had had Hestia with me, I would have been able to handle it. Just shows how much I need her! And how selfish people are who bring their pet dogs and let them just do whatever so people with service dogs can’t have basic access!
There was a third area of pride tables set up, but to get to it you either had to go down stairs or go through a store (or go way around the building, but we didn’t know because there were no accessibility signs). We went through the store, and the aisles were too cluttered to get through with wheelchairs!!! Luckily some customers helped us move things so wheelchairs could get past, but it was really frustrating!
Oh and when we went into that store, there was a ramp. Scarlet was navigating themself down the ramp when some lady just stepped right in front of them and stopped! Scarlet said excuse me several times and the lady was just talking to her friend and not caring at all that there is a person in a wheelchair halfway down an incline trying to get past them! Finally I touched the lady on the arm and asked her to move. Sheesh!
But we did have fun despite the accessibility challenges. It was great to crowd watch, and we saw lots of fun booths with interesting merchandise and giveaways! I got a temporary tattoo and several buttons! But as it got later, the crowds got louder and there was no place to get away that didn’t have stairs. Plus it got hotter. So we headed back to the car and headed home.
It was great to have a local Pride, but Brad, Scarlet, and I will be contacting them about the lack of accessibility—they should really have a disabled person on their committee and commit to accessibility, reaching out to local disability groups for help. I really think they have the chance to have a better Pride than others, and I think next year can be even better!
We have interesting face paint on in the pictures! Brad is a power wheelchair user wearing a teal shirt and tie with hearts, a red and white striped blazer, with a turquoise hat. He has turquoise lipstick on, eyeliner, one side of his face has teardrops that are trans pink, white and turquoise and black and brown, and the other side has an active wheelchair logo with rainbow wheels.
Veronica has on a colorful dress with a bright green mermaid tail patterned top, and pink, blue, and purple bottom. She has a turquoise-silver-white gradient butterfly next to one eye and half a figure 8 rainbow around her face. There are trans and black and brown freckle dots in different spots on her face, plus some white stars. She has brown and pink Yorkie ears on her head (they look like cat ears!)
Hestia is a small white and black dog with a smushed face wearing a turquoise cooling vest and a rainbow bandana. Scarlet is a wheelchair user wearing tie-die overalls and a Walking Dead hat.
Some pictures of note are close ups of Veronica and Brad’s face paint. In one picture of Veronica’s face, Brad put a rainbow in behind her! There are some pictures of Veronica twirling in a bubble shower. There are some great ones of Veronica and Scarlet, and then Veronica and Brad in front of a tie-dye rainbow swirl backdrop. Several pictures show the inaccessibility of the event. And there are many shots of the crowd.