This year will mark the 22nd year of celebration for Nashville Pride and the eighth consecutive year for Nashville Black Pride. A few people may ask why there are two pride celebrations in Nashville. Even more may ask why there is a pride at all.
The simple answer for both questions is that gay-pride celebrations have served an important role in bringing together the GLBT community, through a variety of activities such as parades, festivals, workshops and, of course, the parties. Throughout these festivities participants usually possess an internal pride that then begins to be highlighted and expressed externally. The celebration of pride can take place any day, but when it happens in a city, during a set time frame, the events are larger, grander and quite frankly more fun.
Despite there being two prides that occur in Nashville, both Nashville Pride and Nashville Black Pride have worked together over the years to make each pride inclusive and welcoming to the entire GLBT community. There is no sense of competition in Nashville, which can usually exist in other pride cities. Timing may have a large part to do with it: Nashville Pride has traditionally occurred in June and Nashville Black Pride takes place the last full weekend of October.
“The Brothers and Sisters United (BASU) organization has always worked with Nashville PRIDE. In 1997 we began hosting a G’MAWOCS (Gay Men and Women of Color Social) event during the then-weeklong celebration at various locations like Nashville CARES, The Chute, The Gaslight and the Connection,” said Dwayne Jenkins, president and founder of Nashville Black Pride. “We would easily pull in more than 100 people and noticed that many of these same individuals, for one reason or another, wouldn’t come out to the actual festival in the park. With this in mind, we assembled a group of volunteers that included members of Nashville Pride to address some of the reasons why some events weren’t as diverse as we knew that they should be. Later in 2002 we were approached by the International Federation of Black Prides organization to charter an event in Nashville, and our first official Black Pride celebration occurred in 2003.”
“I’ve attended both Pride events in Nashville. I can honestly say that they are two different events. Nashville Pride is more of a festival because it’s outdoors and since it’s during the summer the weather is hotter,” said Jullian Leggs, pride-goer. “Nashville Black Pride is more enclosed because the events are indoors at the host hotel, and the weather is a little cooler. Overall, both events are definitely worth going to.”
“I feel that the Nashville Pride and Black Pride organizations have done a great job of reaching out to the GLBT community over the years of hosting our individual celebrations in June and October,” Jenkins said. “It is our hope to increase the number of collaborative efforts between the groups in the future which, in my opinion, will help improve everyone’s relationship in general.”
“My first pride event was last year and I had a blast at Riverfront,” said Marc James, another pride-goer. “I’ve never experienced anything like it. I am looking forward to it again this year.”
When asked about Nashville Black Pride James said that he did not know about it, but is willing to attend this year to see what it is about.
“A few years ago, I came up with a slogan that each of the Pride organizations seems to like, ‘One City, TWO Prides.’ Even though we’ve only used it over the past few years as an official tagline in our Pride Guides, the current boards and planning teams are looking to build on the concept and produce something that we hope will catch everyone’s attention,” Jenkins said. “As we continue to support one another’s events and put our heads together, I think that Nashville can make a major impact in terms of how people work together for the common good, as well as setting a positive example for other cities.”
Nashville Black Pride’s theme this year is “The Gr8 Escape.” The number eight represents the organizations eighth year of hosting the event. This year’s pride event takes place Halloween weekend (Oct. 29-31). These events include the “HipJazSoulFunkShon” (showcase of live GLBT music), Literary Café, Black LGBT Film Fest, the annual benefit party and much more. Special guest artists are expected to come from across the country and perform live over the weekend. Last year’s guest included gay rapper Last Offence from New York City and Hip-Hop duo The Qure from Houston.
The weekend also includes the BASU Legacy Award for individuals and organizations that have worked with the non-profit group for at least 10 years. (Spoiler alert: Nashville Pride will be receiving this year’s BASU Legacy Award for community organization.) So grab your mask and break out your costumes and start planning for this year’s Nashville Black Pride. For more information about Nashville Black Pride, visit myspace.com/nashvilleblackpride.