The Queen City celebrates diversity on May 21

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by Robbie Bruns
Contributor

On May 21, Clarksville will be a little more colorful, as it becomes host to its first ever PRIDE celebration.

Thanks to the generosity of a few sponsors and the hard work and dedication of its board of director’s, Clarksville is getting its chance to show the world that diversity is alive even in a small town known predominantly for being a military town and a town that harbors memories of hate and murder.

“ Clarksville has no discernible GLBT community. PRIDE is designed to help build the community and address the scars of our past and look toward the future and how we can be a part of the community as a whole,” said David Shelton, chairman of Clarksville PRIDE. “This will be done by inviting people to be a part of – and participate in – the festival in whatever capacity they feel comfortable with. We encourage everyone to bring their friends and family, straight or gay. We will deal with the scars of our past by inviting speakers to talk about the things that have happened in our history and the people who have been taken from us prematurely, specifically Pfc. Barry Winchell and ‘P’knutts’ who were killed several years ago.”

Speakers include Michael Rowe, an author whose works have been seen in "The Advocate", Kevin Lawson from Nashville Cares and Jesse Owens from the Clarksville Human Relations Commission. In addition to the speakers, there will be entertainment, music, vendors, food, a children’s play area and an auction.

There will also be a drag performance between speakers, including Scarlett Redd, who is the official Emcee of Clarksville PRIDE; Mr. Sunshine State 2004 Gage Gatlyn, who is coming from Jacksonville, Fla.; Christie Blair, Dorian Daniels and Deidre Hall, to name a few. A live DJ will be playing all the music.

Clarksville PRIDE was blessed in the beginning stages of planning when it came to sponsorship. The first to jump on board was “Out & About Newspaper.” As always O&AN was ready and willing to help out the GLBT community in anyway it could. From there, other sponsors signed on, such as “Xenogeny”, ID Lube, Onoma Graphics and Advertising, Freedom Financial Advisor, Gay Fuel, “Church Street Freedom Press”, Café 541 and Kiermaier Bavarian Roasted Almonds & More. The event is hosted by the Christian Community Church of Clarksville.

Although they are grateful to have the corporate sponsors, Clarksville PRIDE has yet to meet its budget. They are still lacking about $3,000 to accomplish everything they want to do. If you would like to make a donation or be a sponsor, you can do so by logging on to their Web site at www.clarksvillepride.com and by clicking on ‘sponsor’.

The event, which is to take place at the Fairgrounds, will be from 11 to 5 p.m , and directions can be obtained from the Web site as well.