When same-sex marriage was legalized South Carolina on November 20, 2014, the seemingly impossible became real. Beaming at the photos of Charleston couples celebrating with their marriage certificates at the courthouse doors, I thought this huge win for the LGBT community would usher in a new era for civil rights in this state. If that sounds naive, it was.

This year, no sooner had the N.C. Senate passed House Bill 2 — a batshit crazy law that ensures no one can use a potty if the sign on the restroom door doesn’t correspond to the sex on their birth certificate, a.k.a. all transgender people — than S.C. Sen. Lee Bright proposed his own copycat bathroom bill. The news reports on Bright and his discriminatory legislation read like clippings from The Onion.

Surely, I thought, this absurd level of prejudice wasn’t still kicking in our state? Oh, but it was, dear reader. Which is all the more reason why this year’s Charleston Pride Festival is just as important, maybe more so, than years past. While progress continues to be made in accepting members of the LGBT community in this state, attacks on equal rights continue. Fortunately, as staff writer Dustin Waters learned, the LGBT members we interviewed for this issue are made of stronger stuff. —Kinsey Gidick