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We are family: Tybee Equality Fest celebrates all weekend long
'It's for everyone that's shining their light and being the best person they can be. We want everyone to come together.'

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THREE YEARS IN, the Tybee Equality Fest is stronger than ever, partly because it has to be.

"This year, I’ve gotten more trolls than ever before about doing this event," admits Angie Celeste, organizer of the Tybee Equality Fest. "Honestly, I think that’s just representation of what we’re here to do. The more that comes to the surface that isn’t kind, the more we need to be kind."

Tybee Mayor Jason Buelterman, Angie Celeste, Renee LaSalle, Ashley Borders, Mary Contrary, Maria Pahno Burns and friends are all part of the effort
Tybee Mayor Jason Buelterman, Angie Celeste, Renee LaSalle, Ashley Borders, Mary Contrary, Maria Pahno Burns and friends are all part of the effort - photo by Geoff L. Johnson

That’s just what the Tybee Equality Fest seeks to do. Taking place over four days on Savannah’s beach, the festival provides an inclusive environment to celebrate diversity, and Celeste is the natural leader.

"It can really get under your skin, so you do have to take a minute and breathe and realize that what you’re here to do is show up and be love and be kind."

The festival celebrates the LGBTQ family and everyone that supports them.

"I want to make it clear that it’s not just a LGBTQ festival—it’s also for allies," says Celeste. "It’s for everyone that’s shining their light and being the best person they can be. We want everyone to come together."

The festival’s increasing popularity means that more people get to enjoy our area.

"We’re bringing a lot of people to this area, too," she says. "Not only are we providing community for Savannah and Tybee, we’re doing that for all kinds of places around here and the South in general—the South is where it’s needed the most."

Part of the magic of the Tybee Equality Fest is that community it builds. So often, LGBTQ people form their own chosen family,

Angie Celeste
Angie Celeste - photo by Geoff L. Johnson

"Some of the people that come here, their family doesn’t want anything to do with them because of who they are," says Celeste. "The LGBTQ family is really good at creating our own family, and events like this give them an opportunity to do that."

Thursday night, the fun begins with a White Party at Fannie’s on the Beach. The Christy Alan Band and DJ Amy will keep you dancing all night.

Start Friday off with yoga on the beach, then participate in a beach sweep cleanup. Mingle with new festival friends through the day in front of The Deck. Coco’s hosts a Happiest of Hours, and Huc-a-Poos hosts a rainbow drag show that night.

Saturday begins with yoga on the beach and brunch at Beachview Java and Juice. Then, catch the parade, a first for the festival benefitting the Savannah LGBT Center.

After the parade is another first for the festival: a music festival and fashion show at Fort Screven. The music festival features Sonia from Disappear Fear and the Christy Snow Band, as well as local favorite Nickel Bag of Funk.

"Every entertainer we have this year is doing something for equality every single day," says Celeste. "They’re standing up by being authentic, by being vulnerable, by being someone in the community that people look to. If we’re giving people someone to look up to or someone that they haven’t heard of before and they’re able to see them here at the festival, I think it’s good that they’re looking up to people who are really shifting things in the world and making the world a better place."

The Body Beautiful Fashion Show features fashion designer Bertice Berry.

"We want to make sure everybody knows that every body is beautiful," explains Celeste. "It doesn’t matter what size, what color—anything that you are, you’re beautiful the way you are."

The fashion show benefits Savannah Youth City, Inc., a local nonprofit that supports at-risk children.

"They have programs for at-risk children in Savannah, and that was something I really felt was important and doesn’t get enough notice for the people that do it," Celeste says. "You’re dedicating your life to saving children, and that heals generation after generation when you’re starting with children."

Close out Saturday with the VIP after party at The Deck with the Dirty Dolls Burlesque and drag star Taylor Alxndr.

Sunday, begin your day with the Drag Your Ass to Brunch Drag Show at Fannie’s on the Beach. There will be a Pro-Equality Vendor Village set up at All Saints Episcopal, complete with food trucks, vendors and games. Don your leis and coconut bras for a luau at Salt Island, and close out the weekend with a dance party at Fannie’s with Christy Alan and DJ Amy.

As always, Celeste is so proud to support equality in our community with fun, inclusive events. She hopes that attending inclusive events like this will inspire action, or just support.

"The amount of change that one person can bring to the world is a lot," she says. "How can you support your family members or people in your community that are creating things? Sometimes, it’s buying the ticket or going to some events. That’s how you can make a difference: supporting people who are."