By Michael Wilhoit
KNOXVILLE – Knoxville’s GLBT community came together to celebrate pride on the grounds of The Metropolitan Community Church of Knoxville. The 20 th annual Pride Picnic drew a lively crowd.
“We calculated approximately 150 people visited the MCCK picnic today,” expressed Rick Sawyer, local gay leader and facilitator of the Monday Night Gay Men’s Group.
A wide array of community organizations were represented including Gyrl Groove, Samaritan Ministries, Tennessee Transgender Political Action Committee, Out and About Newspaper, Knoxville Cares, GenderYOUTH, Lambda Student Union, Rainbow Awareness Project, Human Rights Campaign (HRC,) and the Tennessee Equality Project.
Jonesborough novelist, Jeanne G’Fellers was on hand offering signed copies of her book, “No Sister of Mine.”
Out and About Newspaper East Bureau’s Beth Maples-Bays and Michael Wilhoit drew names for six muscle shirts, and HRC Meetup’s Nikki Walles offered an HRC equality hat courtesy of Meetup member, Dr. Wai Tung “Hal” Lee.
Although participants were asked to bring something for the grill, several guests brought more than their share of food. Everything from grilled hotdogs, chicken, and hamburgers could be found among the long stretch of delightful pasta and vegetable bowls. Desserts included a very tasty pecan pie, and Kristin Ehrens’ rainbow cookies capped off the food with sinful sweets.
One picnicker was overheard asking MCC secretary, Polly, “Why is it that wherever you are, we always find the best food?” Polly is a long-standing, beloved member of Knoxville’s GLBT community and one of the few octogenarians active locally.
The event ended with a bit of help from Mother Nature in the form of an abrupt downpour.
The longest surviving Pride event in Knoxville has been around for 20 years. Founded in 1985 by MCC-K, this event began before any other organized Pride activities and will hopefully always be part of our Knoxville’s annual Pride celebration.