New officers were elected to serve on Nashville Pride’s board of directors on August 15. This year’s Pride board members are as follows: Todd Grantham, President; Jeanna Emert, Vice President; John Wade, Chief Financial Officer; Brad Bennett, Secretary; Mac, Membership Coordinator; and Josh Baker, Bill Gain, Rachel Jordan, David Maddux, Eric Oliver, and Dan Sullivan, Members at Large.
Although several members of last year’s board were re-elected, this year Nashville Pride has a new President. Todd Grantham served as Pride’s Secretary for the past two years but is excited about taking on a new leadership role.
“Being a part of Nashville Pride allows me the opportunity to work with a diverse group of organizations and individuals in our community,” Grantham explains. “I’m really excited about continuing to build on those relationships and working on developing new relationships that can move our community forward.”
Dan Sullivan, elected as a Member at Large, is serving on the Pride Board for the first time. As a psychologist at the Vanderbilt University Counseling Center, Sullivan is interested in the way that an event like Pride Fest can promote the psychological health of the GLBT community.
“I wanted to be on the board this year because I think it is vital to members of this community to have at least one day of the year when they can feel proud of their sexual orientation,” Sullivan says. “Particularly since the public shaming in the 2004 elections, I have seen so many people hurt and retreat into shadows and it saddens me. I want to do what I can to help fight the shame and re-instill pride.”
Eric Oliver, also joining the Pride board for the first time, agrees with Sullivan about the importance of encouraging the feeling of pride: “I feel as though ‘pride,’ broadly conceived, still has a necessary part to play in fostering what I would like to perceive as a GLBT community both in Nashville and beyond. In order to assume this part, the organization needs the time, energy and gifts of volunteers… and hey, it’s one fun party.”
Josh Baker was co-chair of last year’s Pride pageant, but this is his first year serving as a board member. “I enjoy doing things for people and the community. It seems to show others that there is more to do than attend a club every weekend, or just sit at home by themselves.”
Baker found that there were plenty of rewards for giving his time: “I’ve met many wonderful people through Nashville Pride. If you’ve had your heart broken and you’re trying to get your mind off of things, or if you have a lot of great qualities to contribute to your community, then go to the Pride meetings, volunteer to help at various functions throughout the year… I found that giving my time and inventive qualities helped myself as well as the people around me.”
Not only can you learn more about yourself through volunteering, but as board member Bill Gain describes, you can also discover new things about the community of Nashville. “Pride opened my eyes to how the community in Nashville views the GLBT community. It is still a mixed bag of emotions, opinions, and misconceptions. As the co-chair last year for the Pride parade, I had to work with a variety of governmental offices, police officers, and many organizations. Everyone was very friendly, helpful and understanding. Yes, I heard negative opinions. During those conversations, each opinion was heard, understood, and peacefully discussed. In the end, we would agree that it was great to be in America where we had that freedom to discuss such issues and demonstrate our viewpoints.”
With Pride Fest 2005 only two months behind them, the new board members are already busy planning for next year.
“We’ve already begun planning for the 2006 Pride Festival,” Grantham says. “The planning of the festival is a continuous year long process with many volunteers giving of their time and talents to make it all come together.”
But Grantham also points out that the Pride Festival is not the only event that Nashville Pride puts on for the community. “We are working on a few events for this fall, along with continuing to plan for the annual Martinis and Jazz event in the spring and the P3 event held during Pride Week. We are always looking for volunteers to help us in the planning process of all our events.”
For more information about Nashville Pride or to get involved visit www.nashvillepride.org.