New organization hopes to revive gay pride in Knoxville

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Former Knoxville Pride director (’93-’96) Gary Elgin, today unveiled a new organization that is designed to take up where Knoxville Pride left off. Previous groups, such as Knoxville’s 10%, back in the 1980’s) and Knoxville Pride traditionally oversaw Knoxville’s Gay Pride Week events in the past. Unfortunately, recently, because of mismanagement and bankruptcy, Knoxville was left with no parent organization to plan and coordinate a week’s worth of events. Elgin, who had just returned to Knoxville, after a five-year absence (caring for his terminally ill father, in AZ) is glad to be back and ready to dig in.

The new group, The Rainbow Awareness Project of Knoxville , is not just a party planning organization. “It will concentrate on improving the lives and future of Knoxville’s GLBT population”, Elgin states. “The first item on the agenda will of course be this year’s Pride Week, and although we will not be able to launch a full week’s worth of activities for this year in such short a time, we will get the community prepared for bigger and better things”. Metropolitan Community Church and Knoxville Cares have already planned a Pride Picnic to be held at MCC-K on June 26 th at 1:30pm, but there had been little else planned. “MCC-K has been hosting the picnic literally for decades and nobody does it better”, Elgin proclaimed.

On June 22 nd 7-9pm at the Candy Factory Community Room , RCAP and Knoxville Cares will co-host a Pride Week Heritage Night. The theme of the evening will be “Rainbow Justice” . Speakers from KPD, the D.A.’s office as well as a representative from the East TN Victim’s Rights Task Force will address legal issues faced by Knoxville’s Gay, Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender citizens. There will also be an opportunity for attendees to get specific questions answered by the panel.

“Not only are we dealing with issues such as adoption, employment and housing discrimination, but there are also terrible crimes that have been perpetrated upon members of our community”. The murder of Joseph Camber in 2002 was a galvanizing force behind Gary Elgin forming RCAP. “Joe was a friend and fellow organizer. His murder and lack of punishment in that case angered me a great deal. I believe it is better to be part of the solution. One of my favorite slogans is: “Don’t criticize, organize!”

Other planned programs in the next year will include a “Coming Out in East Tennessee” workshop and a “Queer Spirituality” presentation. We’re also planning a “Queer Arts Festival” in the spring. For those interested in helping the Rainbow Community Awareness Project of Knoxville, or wish more information, you may call (865) 803-7063 or e-mail: rainbowawareness@yahoo.com.