Knox area pride events grow as GLBT community matures

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Heritage Night spotlights local justice concerns

Heritage Night kicked off the 2005 Pride celebration in Knoxville . More than 100 people gathered at the Candy Factory on the World’s Fair site to hear a discussion about the issue of GLBT justice.

A panel discussion moderated by Ina Hughs of the Knoxville News-Sentinel focused on questions surrounding criminal justice and family law relevant to the GLBT community. The panel consisted of Tom Barr, Coordinator of the Domestic Violence Unit for the Knoxville Police Department; Attorney William Mynatt Jr.; Kath Anderson of the Knox County Attorney General’s office; Sharon Stevens, Victim/Witness Coordinator also with the Knox County Attorney General’s office; John Gill, Jr., Special Prosecutor with that same office; and Annette Beebe from the GLBTQ Task Force Against Domestic Violence.

Questions to the panel ranged from concerns regarding same-sex domestic violence, same-sex marriage and drug use in the GLBT community, especially with regard to usage of crystal meth, to the safe schools program and specific criminal cases as well as their disposition within the Knox County Criminal Courts.

A reception catered by Terry Korom, former owner of the Crescent Moon Café, followed the panel discussion.

Guests were treated to a poster display depicting the history of Knoxville ’s GLBT nightlife over the last four decades. The posters were offered courtesy of Brian Hingerty.

LGBT Pride Forum examines issues

A forum focusing on “marriage, justice, and LGBT liberation” and featuring Ruby Sales, civil rights activist and founder of Spirit House in Washington , D.C. , took place on Saturday, June 25 at the Metropolitan Community Church of Knoxville.

Offering workshops on a wide variety of topics, the day-long intensive provided participants with information from a panel of experienced activists. Mandy Carter of Southerners on New Ground, Shelley Wascom of Community Shares, Suzanne Pharr who is a noted author and previous Director of the Highlander Research and Education Center, Jackie Kittrell of the Community Mediation Center, Beth Maples-Bays of the Tennessee Equality Project, and Bob Galloway, Senior Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Knoxville.

Sales, the featured panelist, is a committed social activist and educator, spending most of her adult life working to improve social justice for African-Americans, women of color and the lesbian and gay community. Look for a feature article about her in the next issue of Out and About Newspaper.

Hosted by ICM Consultants and organized by Jacqueline Jones, Metropolitan Community Church Pastoral Assistant, approximately 60 participants were treated to luncheon and given an opportunity to network informally between morning and afternoon sessions.

20th Annual Pride Picnic held at MCC-Knoxville

Knoxville ’s GLBT community came together to celebrate pride on the grounds of The Metropolitan Community Church of Knoxville. The 20th 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.”

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 sinful sweets.

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, hopefully, will always be part of our Knoxville ’s annual Pride celebration.