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Gay pride parade held in Mississippi city that initially denied permit

by Vanessa Chesnut /
After receiving national attention over the difficulty of obtaining a parade permit, Starkville, Miss., was flooded with close to 2,500 LGBTQ and equal rights supporters for their first ever Pride Parade on Saturday, March 24, 2018.Luisa Porter / AP

Thousands of people marched peacefully in the first-ever gay pride parade in a Mississippi city where officials had tried to block the event.

It happened Saturday in Starkville, weeks after the city council initially denied a parade permit. The council later reversed its decision.

Approximately 2,500 people marched in the event, without incident, according to the town's mayor, Lynn Spruill.

A video report from local NBC affiliate WTVA-TV showed many cheerful attendees waving LGBTQ pride flags and dancing to music as they marched into the heart of downtown Starkville.

"I am so excited that so many people have turned out to be here in support," Kelli Nelson, a parade participant told WTVA-TV.

However, not everyone was celebrating. Along with parade participants, several protesters showed up as well.

"The word of God says its an abomination, and that it is the judgment of God whenever sodomy is in a nation," protestor Kolby Blood told the local station.

Starkville is home to Mississippi State University, a land-grant school where fans ring cowbells at athletic events. A photo on the mayor’s Twitter account showed a cowbell covered in tape forming a rainbow pattern.

Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, said the parade is "a testament to the strength and courage of the Starkville LGBTQ community."

"They wouldn't take no for an answer and then went on to organize the largest parade ever in Starkville," she told NBC News. "The reality is that LGBTQ people live in every town across Mississippi, and we will keep fighting until they are fully equal and free from discriminatory treatment."

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