MARTINSVILLE, Va. – LGBT pride will be on full display in Martinsville during the weekend.
Local restaurant Shindig will host Martinsville's first Pride festival Saturday morning. The event is a long time coming for Shindig general manager Laurence Vanderwoods, a gay Martinsville native who moved back to the city five years ago.
“Lately, I feel like I’m the only one," Vanderwoods said. "Anywhere I've lived before, it didn't matter. You weren't looked at that way. It wasn't so taboo and so forbidden. Here, it’s a lot of growing pains. Do I think it’s getting better? Yes. It gets better every day.”
Vanderwoods helped develop the idea to host a pride festival at Shindig shortly after the restaurant opened last year. He says this will be a big step to help the LGBT residents of Martinsville feel accepted in their own skin.
"The LGBT community is here," Vanderwoods said. "This is just one day where they can come in without fear of the persecution, without fear of the glances, where they can just be themselves. We’re not passing out pamphlets saying ‘become gay.’ It’s all about celebrating equality and being who you are.”
Shindig's owner has detailed some backlash against the event in a social media post, but Vanderwoods says they are not afraid to keep the event going.
“No matter if there are repercussions from anyone, you have to be the movement," Vanderwoods said. "If you expect change, you have to create the change yourself.”