Lake Charles Pride celebrates 4th Annual Pride Fest - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Lake Charles Pride celebrates 4th Annual Pride Fest

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

The Southwest Louisiana gay community celebrated their pride on Saturday at the 4th annual Lake Charles Pride Festival.

"Whenever I was growing up here, there wasn't a lot of like, equal rights and everything, and I didn't come out until I was 18," Lake Charles native Ashley Kwiatkowski said. "So, to see the town that I lived in and everything like, to see it come out like this, it's awesome."

DeRidder resident Logan Lewis said the Pride Fest gives people a place to feel accepted in an environment where others won't judge. 

"There are lots of people that are discriminated in school, out of school, and this gives them a chance to actually bring themselves to a place where they can be themselves," Lewis said.

Lake Charles resident Heather Browning agrees.

"To me, it lets people know that it's ok to be gay. It's not wrong, and it lets the kids who are out there getting bullied everyday be like, 'Hey look, they're doing fine,' " she said.

President of Lake Charles Pride, Megan Norris, said she is pleased with this year's turnout. In previous years, the Pride Fest was held along the lakefront but due to construction near Millennium Park, the festival was held at the L'auberge Casino Resort.

"It's very important that people come out and just show their pride," Norris said.

Norris said they've come a long way in their fight for acceptance, but said there is still a lot of work to be done.

"It's for anyone who has a gay family member, who knows a gay friend, who is gay, who lives in Lake Charles and thinks people deserve equal rights," she said.

It's a message they believe in and won't give up any time soon.

"Honestly, everybody has equal rights and I mean, straight people have equal rights, everybody has equal rights, so why not support everybody's rights and just come together eventually?," Kwiatkowski said.

Lake Charles Pride Festival took on the theme "Building Bridges," hoping to bring equality for all. 

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