Former pride director to host Heritage Night

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KNOXVILLE – Former Pride Director Gary Elgin hopes to jumpstart the community and is beginning by shouldering the responsibility for Heritage Night 2005. The veteran organizer, who directed Pride activities in the Knoxville area from 1993-1996, plans to rev-up the motors this year and organize for the future.

The event, planned for June 22, will spotlight GLBT Justice and will feature a panel of area experts in the field of criminal justice and law. The keynote speaker for the evening will be Jeanne Dotts-Brykalski, a well-known local victim’s rights advocate who is active in the East Tennessee Victims’ Rights Task Force. In addition, other speakers from the Knoxville Police Department, the Knox County Attorney General’s office, the Knoxville News-Sentinel as well as others will speak to the various issues concerning the Knoxville GLBT community.

There will be a special program following the panel discussion to memorialize Joe Camber, Knoxville gay activist who was killed in April 2002. His death continues to impact the local community and emphasizes the need for understanding and communication between the GLBT community and the various agencies, both governmental and private, that deal with crime victims in our area.

Elgin , who has moved back to Knoxville from Arizona , is eager to get Pride up and running again. His new organization, the Rainbow Awareness Project, hopes to reenergize the community with regard to Pride Week activities.

“Knoxville Pride, for the most part, served us extremely well over the years,” Elgin said. “But, due to recent mismanagement, overspending and lack of oversight, became a blemish on the GLBT community. If you mention Pride to folks here now, all they do is grimace.”

As a first act, he will coordinate Heritage Night 2005 slated for June 22 at the Candy Factory in the Community Room on the sixth floor. By bringing the community together and working through the various organizations, Elgin hopes to build on the events of the last year with an eye toward future development of a full-fledged Pride Week in 2006.

Terri Korom, former owner of the Crescent Moon Café, will cater the event.

Elgin further hopes to incorporate both Heritage Night and the Potluck Picnic for Pride, sponsored by Knoxville Cares, Metropolitan Community Church of Knoxville and Out and About Newspaper, into a full-fledged week-long event in the near future. His newly christened Rainbow Awareness Project hopes to take up the banner and forge new paths for Pride in the Knoxville area in 2006.

The Pride Picnic will be held on the grounds of the Metropolitan Community Church in Knoxville and is scheduled for Sunday, June 26. (See the display ad in this issue.)

Email Gary for further information about Heritage Night 2005 at volunteerjustice@yahoo.com. To get involved in organizing Pride for the future, email him at rainbowawareness@yahoo.com.