If there was to be evidence that Knoxville is trying its best to become a more open and inclusive city that celebrates everyone, this was probably it. For the second night in a row (Friday night with Kuumba), I was startled to find a big celebration happening on Market Square. And for the second day in a row I missed the parade – and I bet this one was great. It was the Knoxville Pridefest, which is an annual LGBT event. There were booths and a very relaxed, happy crowd. It isn’t unusual to see gay couples strolling hand-in-hand downtown these days, but it was very different to see so many smiling couples greeting each other and having a good time. My favorite shirt said, “Out is In.” You don’t see that everyday in east Tennessee.
There were booths set up with serious purposes, like the booth for HIV testing and the Democratic Party (no Republicans?), as well as the usual vendors and booths selling passes for the VIP room provided by Cocoa Moon. It wasn’t so many years ago there was a move afoot to change the name of Gay Street. This felt much better. Of course there had to be a drag contest.
Interestingly, I found no coverage of this in any of the traditional media outlets in town. There was some coverage of the Gay Pride event in San Francisco and sadly the comment boards were nasty. Maybe it’s good that there was no local coverage, just to avoid that nonsense. Maybe it isn’t newsworthy, which could be good. It certainly felt celebratory on the Square. I only got a few pictures because I was hurrying to the Emmylou Harris concert, but you can find more here.