The motto for Knoxville’s annual PrideFest is a poignant reminder for anyone with a sense of decency and humanity: “It’s not a gay thing, or a straight thing. It’s a HUMAN thing!” No doubt there are those in the community who wish to silence anyone who speaks out about sexual equality, but every year, those voices get smaller and smaller, and one hopes that eventually they’ll fade into so much background noise that they cease to matter.
What does matter is the celebration of not just equal rights, but basic, fundamental recognition of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people as no different from the rest of us, and that’s what PrideFest hopes to accomplish. It’s been going on for a couple of weeks now, and it culminates this weekend in a great festival.
First up, starting at 6 p.m. Friday, June 26, is a benefit concert at The Catalyst, 125 E. Jackson Ave. in Knoxville’s Old City. The cover is $6; performers on the bill include Leslie Woods, Kamuy, Madeline Ava, Senryu, The Moon Her Majesty, Rumblytums and spoken word by Black Atticus, Shonna Cole and Kari Hoffman. It marks the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, “a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. They are frequently cited as the first instance in American history when gays and lesbians fought back against a government-sponsored system that persecuted homosexuals, and they have become the defining event that marked the start of the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world,” according to Wikipedia. Proceeds from the concert benefit the Tennessee Equality Project.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, June 27, a Gay Pride Parade will depart from the State Street Parking Garage on State Street in downtown Knoxville, winding through downtown and ending on Market Square, where PrideFest 2009 takes place from 3-10 p.m. Performers include:
- Karen E. Reynolds at 3:10 p.m.;
- Kate Oliver at 3:40 p.m.;
- Damewood at 4:15 p.m.;
- Garrett Manry at 4:45 p.m.;
- A drag show by Kurt’s Karaoke at 5:10 p.m.;
- Heiskell at 6:10 p.m.;
- Heather and the Dreadful Hillbillies at 7:10 p.m.;
- Chico Fellini at 8:15 p.m.; and
- Oona Love at 9:20 p.m.
For more information, visit www.knoxvillepridefest.com.