SALISBURY, N.C.--There won't be an official Gay Pride Day in Salisbury this year, but the day of celebrations will go on.
Salisbury Mayor, Paul Woodson, declined a request by Salisbury Pride organizers to proclaim the day of festivities as Gay Pride Day.
The day was proclaimed at Salisbury's first Pride celebration last summer, but city leaders now say the proclamation would divide the community.
"It's very disappointing," said Brandon Major, Chairman of Salisbury Pride, who organizes the annual festivities. "To not have the proclamation which definitely aligns with the other two aspects they're helping us with is very disappointing and also confusing."
Mayor Woodson was unavailable for comment Friday, but City Manager Doug Paris sais Woodson feels granting the proclamation would be divisive.
“He felt as the mayor of the city that he would not consider proclamations that were controversial in nature or political, or that he felt would be divisive to the community,” said Paris.
Woodson established a new policy for proclamations when he took office last year, that state “Proclamations regarding matters of controversy, taking sides in political debate or addressing personal convictions will not be issued.”
"There is a division among the city officials, not necessarily among the residents of Salisbury," said Major.
Last year’s inaugural event brought more than 2,000 people in support, with then Mayor, Susan Kluttz proclaiming gay pride day.
Protestors were far outnumbered and only one citation was given.
This year with the help of city officials and police the event will be held in a private lot.
“[Police] Chief Collins and I worked with the group to find a location that would be acceptable in terms of safety,” said Paris.
Something Major says he's grateful for, but still feels denying a proclamation isn't in line with the city's core values of inclusion and diversity.
Paris said holding the day of celebration does just that.
"The event was allowed to continue and will continue and we wish the event to be very successful," said Paris.
Major said he’s anticipating even bigger crowds this year and his sights are already set on an official Gay Pride Day next year.
City officials said Salisbury Pride organizers are still eligible to request a proclamation again next year.
Celebrations kickoff in Downtown Salisbury June 23rd.
For more information about the event you can visit: