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Members of Catawba Valley Pride Inc. say it's time for a gay pride event in Catawba County, but the first-ever event is something residents remain hesitant to discuss.
The three-day event starts Friday at the Lenoir-Rhyne University and continues throughout the weekend at various locations in Catawba County.
During a survey of Catawba County residents, several people declined to comment about the event, citing its sensitive nature.
"I just don't want to comment about it," one woman said.
One man, who asked not to be identified, said he fears for the safety of the men and women participating in the event.
"There's a lot of people that are against it," he said, "but I'm hoping it goes good."
Organizers for the gay pride event hired off-duty police officers to ensure the event remains safe and family friendly, said Catawba Valley Pride President Christy Austin.
The man also said he is skeptical about the event's turnout, especially since it is the first gay pride event held in Catawba County.
"I just want to see how it goes this year," he said.
The people who are excited about the event, however, can't stop talking about it.
Sabastian Ready and his partner Michael Duncan own Sabastian's Boutique in downtown Newton. The boutique is a corporate sponsor for this weekend's gay pride event.
"I think it'll be an eye-opening experience for the county," Ready said.
"It's a great opportunity," Duncan said. "A lot of people get caught up in the negativity."
Duncan said exposure to new things and people, like the gay pride event, often helps people come face-to-face with their fears and prejudices.
Ready has been in business in Newton for seven years, and he said he never had a problem with discrimination or bias against him or his partner.
Hickory resident Bobby Jones said he has no problem with the upcoming event.
"It doesn't make a difference to me either way," he said. "I don't judge them or go against them. We've got to each do our own thing."
Ginger Bricker, of Hickory, said she never thought about a gay pride event coming to Catawba County, but she isn't opposed to the idea.
She said she doesn't think the event will cause any problems in the area.
"If it does (cause problems), it's because people are ignorant," she said.