​​Grand Strand Celebrates Its PRIDE

Myrtle Beach, SC.  Saturday, August 25th was celebrated as Grand Strand PRIDE day, as declared by the City of Myrtle Beach and Horry County.  Grand Strand PRIDE held two highly successful events at the Marina Inn at Grande Dunes, the host hotel of 2018 PRIDE.  Guests were greeted with PRIDE flags flying as soon as they arrived on the property.

The Grand Strand PRIDE Business Expo was held from 3 to 6 pm and was free and open to the public.  The Business Expo featured members of Coastal Business Guild, a program of Grand Strand PRIDE which supports gay-owned, gay-managed, and gay-friendly businesses.  The Expo was busy with steady traffic all afternoon.  Four-time Olympic Gold Medal Diver Greg Louganis was on hand to sign books and take pictures with his fans.

The Grand Strand PRIDE Gala was held immediately afterwards, with a record sold out crowd of 306.  Terry Livingston, Co-Founder of Grand Strand PRIDE welcomed everyone to the event and spoke about how the organization believes all businesses should be open to everyone on the same terms.  All participants were declared Champions of PRIDE and presented with a Grand Strand PRIDE medal to wear during the night.  Rob Donehue, Pastor of St. Anne’s Episcopal Church gave the invocation.  Guests were next treated to a fabulous 4 course meal, which included PRIDE cake.

After dinner, Angie Morris, with TD Bank introduced this year’s Grand Strand PRIDE dance troupe, Norman and Shannon Howard, Sarah Zalewski, Anastasiia, and Salem Sherrill.  This contemporary hip-hop dance was dedicated to Greg Louganis and all those who were not afraid to show their true colors.  Each dancer represented one of the colors of the Olympic Rings.

Aaron Jophlin, Board Chair of Careteam+ introduced the guest of honor and keynote speaker Greg Louganis.  Louganis’s address captured the hearts of everyone in attendance and was especially touching when he read a letter he wrote to his sixteen year old self from his current self.  The overall theme of his letter was that even though he had faced many difficult problems as a child, life does get better and better.  He also stated that the tiniest gesture of kindness may be all it takes to change a life. 

After the keynote address, Nate Rohler of United Community Bank acknowledged and thanked many special champions of PRIDE attending in the audience, including veterans, active duty service members and first responders.  Also in attendance were City of Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune, City of Myrtle Beach Council Member Mary Jeffcoat, and Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus as well as State Representative Alan Clemmons. 

After the recognition of all of the night’s many sponsors, everyone was treated to the lights and musical talent of The Extraordinaires from Hickory, North Carolina.  Their pure live sound kept the dance floor filled for the remainder of the event.

Pictures of the day’s festivities are already up on Grand Strand PRIDE’s facebook page with more on the way.   To view the official 2018 Grand Strand PRIDE program booklet, visit our website at

Interested in joining the Coastal Business Guild or want to see a listing of our members whose business is Open to All?  Visit our website at CoastalBusinessGuild.com.  The Guild is extending its $99 special membership offer until September 30th.  Contact Craig McGee at craig@coastalbusinessguild.com or Angie Morris at angie@coastalbusinessguild.com for more information.