MANSFIELD -- Mansfield will be painted with all the colors of the rainbow on Aug. 3.
The fifth-annual Mansfield Gay Pride Festival and Parade will take place in downtown Mansfield, starting with a parade at 11 a.m.
The new route for the parade will begin on Marion Avenue at the five-point intersection and head east on Park Avenue West, ending at Central Park downtown.
The march will be led by Deena Pfahler, of Love on a Mission, an organization dedicated to helping Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender youth feel accepted.
The Pride Festival will follow the parade, in Central Park from noon to 7 p.m. The event will feature a beer garden, kidzone, story hour with a drag queen, a variety of entertainment, food trucks and other vendors.
"This event is important because it allows those of us in the LGBT community and our allies a place to come together to celebrate our diversity," said Todd Rice, president of the Mansfield Gay Pride Association.
"We believe that when you have a diverse and inclusive community, you will have a prosperous community. The Pride Festival is a testament to how much progress we have made in Mansfield and the surrounding area.
"While we have made good progress in the past five years, we still have a way go. Look at the Mansfield Rising plan, they have included Diversity and Inclusion as one of their points in how Mansfield can improve its downtown community and the community overall," Rice said.
Rice said the festival will add a new educational area as a a kick-off for programs to be introduced throughout the year.
"We want to educate the community on what it means to be an ally if someone wants to be," Rice said.
Topics at this program will be differences between gender and sexuality, pronoun usages, the questions to be asked when coming into contact with the LGBT community, etc.
Last year, the Gay Pride Association started a Luncheon with the Pastors event, with Pastor James Robinson from the United Church Christ in Shelby. The June 8 noon luncheon will take place at Fast Eddy's in Bellville, as a precursor for the Pride Festival.
"I think there is a need to bridge this divide between the LGBTQ Community and the religious community," he said. "For many people, the religious community has turned its back on the gay community and has cause some considerable damages.
"Because of that hurt the gay community has, they feel they have a void. We do have many religious LGBT members and they need to know there are places/churches out there that support their orientation at the same time as fulfilling their spiritual needs. Our luncheon does that, it brings the two groups together for good conversation and hopefully some healing on both sides," Rice said.