Tennesseans to be thankful for

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“Freedom from Want” is part of a series of four Norman Rockwell paintings. These paintings were inspired by Four Freedoms, the powerful State of the Union address FDR delivered to Congress a mere 12 months before the United States declared war on Japan. 

The painting captures a careful reflection of family in 1943; it defines the tricky word tradition. But the world is changing. 1943 is not 2013. We were going to war in 1943. We are at war in 2013. And if you’ve seen the news lately as New Jersey became the 14th state supporting marriage equality (and Hawaii possibly the 15th as you read this), we’re winning. Our victories are outshining our losses. Family and tradition are ever evolving.

For some, like Suzy Wong, their family is right by their side as they place in the top ten of Miss Gay America 2014 in St Louis. They help celebrate your victories and are there when things don’t quite go your way.

For others, like Jonathan Allen, the Tennessee native whose America’s Got Talent audition video and accompanying story went viral this summer, their family ends up not accepting their children’s sexuality.

No matter where you fall on the spectrum of family, we all build support systems, whether they are a blood, forged friendships or a combination of both, that help us navigate our varying identities. It’s these extended families that have helped propel the Tennessee LGBT community.

Every day there are hundreds of volunteers and activists advancing equality in Tennessee. They start internet petitions to help stand up for bullied kids. They field phone calls and emails investigating work-related discrimination. They work tirelessly to help fund HIV services for more than 24,300 LGBT individuals in Middle Tennessee. They lobby locally and nationally to advance trans*rights. They build relationships with other organizations and allies.  They demand equality. And not just marriage equality, because we know there are many more denied rights that harm the Tennessee LGBT community.

For those efforts, and the many more by those individuals, tirelessly giving themselves to educating, fostering and laying the building blocks of equality, O&AN is thankful. We celebrate those advancing equality and advocating for our many communities.

It’s been 70 years since Rockwell unveiled “Freedom from Want.” But the notion remains the same. Be thankful for those around you. For the family we build. And love those who don’t love us yet. One day we will know freedom from want.

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American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell, featuring over 40 paintings and a selection of drawings, tear-sheets, and other related works, including original Saturday Evening Post covers, opens at The Frist Center for Visual Arts on November 1. The exhibit traces the evolution of Rockwell’s art and iconography throughout his career—from carefully choreographed reflections on childhood innocence to consciousness-raising images documenting the traumatic realities of desegregation in the South.

Artwork Credit: Diane Burrows/Art Excellentz