Why this local dad marches at Greenbrier Pride Parade

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV

On Saturday, June 29, Greenbrier Valley Pride will host their fourth annual pride parade. It was held in Lewisburg for two years and then moved to Ronceverte in 2023.

In response to experiencing the event for the first time last year, several Ronceverte residents took to social media to ask why people feel the need to march in a pride parade? So this year, RealWV reached out to a local father and daughter who marched to let them provide an answer for themselves.

Carl & Kara Bostic

Carl Bostic is a lifelong resident of Ronceverte, WV. A sign on his front porch, gifted to him by neighbors, lists his informal title as “Mayor” of Horseshoe Bend (the road on which he lives in Ronceverte).

His daughter, Kara, was born and raised in Greenbrier County and now lives in Charleston, WV. She “came out” to her dad a few years ago before the first pride parade in Lewisburg.

“She told me she thought I’d disown her,” Carl remembers. “I told her no way. I may not understand, but I love my kids.”

“Dad coming with me to the first parade was really nice,” Kara says with emotion in her voice. “Because I wasn’t alone.” She also credit her older brother, Chris, with paving the way for her. He came out to his family and publicly in 2000, which she says made her journey easier.

“It was a big thing (attending that first parade), but because it was my dad it was just like we were going to an event together,” she shares. “It was also nice to share my dad with other people. He showed that there are people who are supportive.”

Carl knows how important a simple show of support can be. “Some kids from around here had such a rough time they moved away. I coached some of them. I know a boy whos been disowned by his family. That’s what hurts.”

And that’s why Carl marches. “To support the kids. My kids and other kids around here. A lot of these kids don’t have support.”

He knows people are watching, and he hopes his actions speak louder than words. “I’m hoping somebody might see me and think about why I’m doing it and change their mind to support these kids.”

Carl knows some locals question the morality of non-heterosexual identities, but he says that’s not for him to judge. “Whether they’re wrong or right is not for me to say. I want to be there to show them I love them no matter what.”

This year, Kara is working on the day of the pride parade and cannot attend. But Carl still plans to march.

“Dad electing to do it without me is monumental,” she says. “I’m very blessed. I’m really happy my dad is going to go out and support us without me being there. Maybe it will help show other parents who are unsure if they should go.”

‘Free dad hugs’

That first year Carl went to march in Lewisburg, he wore a shirt his son, Chris, got for him. It said, “Proud dad.”

“That first year when I got to end of the parade, there was this little feller standing there,” Carl remembers. “He ran over to me and just held onto me and balled like a baby.”

“He must’ve been having a hard time in his family,” Carl thinks. “It’s hard enough dealing with everything these kids go through. I don’t know if it’s right or wrong being gay, bu what’s up to me is to decide if I’m gonna love people or not.”

So the next year, Cara made Carl another t-shirt. This one said, as shown above, “Free Dad Hugs.”

Mayor’s reaction

“It is so important to recognize the LGBTQIA+ community in our area,” says Ronceverte Mayor Deena Pack. “We acknowledge that our similarities as humans greatly outweigh our differences.”

She realizes not everyone is pleased about the parade happening in town, but she believes, “This is how we grow and ensure everyone is treated as an invaluable and necessary member of the community.”

The Greenbrier Valley Pride Parade is scheduled for July 29 beginning with lineup at 1230pm by the library. The parade begins at 1pm and ends at the Island Park. Additional activities are planned. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

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