PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The LGBTQ Center of Bay County along with members of the local NAACP chapter, and many other supporters in the community came out to raise awareness of social injustice, police brutality, and prejudice at Sunday’s protest.
In total there were around 150 people standing together and fighting for change.
The event that has been going on locally for around six years now. Typically ‘Gay the Hathaway’ takes place to close out Pride Month, but this year members of the LGBTQ community said it was especially important to host this march to support the Black Lives Matter Movement as well.
“From the get go we’ve had a relationship with the black community, many of them were our early day leaders,” said Event Coordinator for the LGBTQ Center of Bay County, William Shurbutt.
“Our problems may be different, but our issues are the same. The issue is injustice to anyone. And so if we don’t put our personal problems aside to work on the issue, we will all be where we’ve been,” said Community Activist, Tony Bostick.
“I love how we’re out here fighting for equality for the black lives that have been lost, for the lgbtq lives that have been lost, it’s so amazing and so heartwarming to me,” said Protestor, Alex Cotton-Allen.
Locally, activists said there has been a need for change for quite some time in Bay County.
“Here with what’s going on with the black lives matter movement and the no justice no peace, the lgbtq community, everyone is starting to see that it does impact us here in bay county and then we all must work together in order to live together,” said Bostick.
“We stand for them and we are here protesting for their lives and they should’ve ended years ago. We just wanted to end, we are all human beings, we all bleed the same blood,” said Protestor, Lily Gauer.
Many protesters said they are here in support of those who do not yet have the courage to speak out.
“I never thought I’d make it to this point in life where I can be proud of who I am, and not a lot of people understand the fact that the struggle that we go through. I just want to say that you can be proud of who you are, don’t let anyone judge you,” said Protestor, Neely Marlow.
“I’m here to tell everyone that they can show off their pride, they shouldn’t be scared. Everyone is loved, and everyone is worth something and he will not bring us down,” said Protestor, Jasper Jankowski.
Event coordinator for the LGBTQ Center of Bay County, William Shurbutt, said the younger generation is helping to move the country towards change.
“The movement has always been here, it’s just that our visibility has become greater because more people have become empowered. If you look up and down this bridge it’s full of young people, and they are the next generation that’s going to take us to the next level of full equality,” said Shurbutt.
The goal of Sunday’s protest was to promote change and fight social injustice, and protesters hope the march did just that.