Pride goes on: Memphis celebrates Pride with MTV reality star

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Heavy downpours couldn’t stop Memphians from coming out to show the strength of their GLBT spirit in the city’s 11th annual Black Pride celebration, affectionately themed “Jewels of the Earth.”

Mid-South Pride, Memphis Black Pride’s sister celebration, was held the previous weekend in Peabody Park, and included a parade and special guest performances. A myriad of activities were planned for the June 15 to June 18 weekend of Black Pride, including a free beer bust with exotic dancers for the adults, a meet and greet gala, and a pool party. These smaller events culminated to the blowout in Overton Park on Sunday June 18, which had been scheduled to include free grilled food, a kiddie land, the famous J-Setters competition that is synonymous with many Black Pride celebrations, volleyball, baseball, and sack racing. The latter three were axed for fear of a muddy melee.

Nike, Inc. made its presence known at Mid-South Pride by handing out gear, it’s also a sponsor of the annual Memphis Gaymes; hosting the closing ceremony at its local distribution facility. Fed Ex, the areas major employer, had representatives from their target marketing department on-hand at Black Pride giving out goodie bags. Sophia Pasquis, originally of MTV’s Road Rules Season 10, and subsequently featured on a spin-off series, was a guest speaker. Though not a Memphis native, she came to talk to locals about her experiences on the show and about coming out. The hilarious Sophia Buttercup of Club Metro ( Jackson , Tenn. ) and the legendary heavy diva Otis Mack ( Chicago ) hosted the jaw dropping J-Setters competition. High kicks, toe touches, splits, tumbling, and elements of contemporary, jazz, theatrical, and even ballroom dancing were weapons used to obliterate the competition in this fiery battle for dance superiority. A tie resulted in a showdown between two teams, and brought out the big guns. Onlookers were treated to dance compilations that paid homage to Michael Jackson’s Thriller video and the movie Dirty Dancing. The winning team received a substantial cash prize, awarded to them by Terryl Buckner, founder of Memphis Black Pride, and owner of Club Allusions Entertainment Complex ( Memphis , Tenn. ) and Club Metro (Jackson, Miss.). Buckner says that next year’s events will be even more impressive, and will offer more educational seminars. Plans to open a nightclub in Nashville are in the works, with a grand opening scheduled for New Year’s 2007.