Photo Courtesy of Nashville Pride
As Middle Tennessee prepares for the Nashville Pride Festival this weekend, many are excitedly making their festival plans. The event is set to feature musical entertainment, drag shows and an equality march, all of which will celebrate the LGBTQ community. But what does Pride look like in Tennessee, a state that ran red for Donald Trump in the 2016 election? And what does that mean for individuals who live here?
Nashville officials seem to be welcoming this year’s event in unprecedented ways. The Metro Council approved a resolution that officially made June “Nashville Pride Month.” The resolution was adopted in order to “(celebrate) the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities and their enormous contributions to the quality of life in Nashville and Davidson County.” Nashville Mayor Megan Barry also penned an open letter welcoming Pride attendees to the city.
Although Metro has made great strides toward equality and inclusion, political circumstances on state and federal levels are increasingly uncertain. President Donald Trump has not issued a proclamation distinguishing June as Pride Month. State lawmakers have consistently introduced legislation in the house and senate that LGBTQ activist groups call discriminatory.
With the conflicting political climates in mind, Nashville Pride President Phil Cobucci said, “While there are some really great things happening in our little blue circle in Davidson County, there are people in our suburbs just outside of Nashville that still don’t feel comfortable to come out and be in their own skin.”
“Pride is that one time a year that they can come out, walk into our festival gates and feel completely free,” he said.
Cobucci moved to Nashville from New York City nearly nine years ago. He said that he came out as a gay man to his family many times throughout his adolescence. Now 34, he says they are still not supportive.
When he moved to Nashville, Cobucci said he got involved with the LGBTQ community, mostly as a sponsor. As the owner of BAM! Social Business, LLC, he was able to contribute financially and lend his marketing talents to Nashville Pride beginning five years ago.
Now as the organization’s president, Cobucci said that Pride has a lot of meaning to him, especially thinking back to forefathers of the movement rioting at Stonewall and up to today.
“Pride is a remembrance of the 13—this year—trans people of color who have been violently murdered,” Cobucci said. “It’s the 13-year-old boy who is coming to Pride with his supportive family, who has never experienced a place where he can feel welcome in his own skin.”
Cobucci said that Pride isn’t just about LGBTQ issues. He said that Pride is about embracing one’s own identity in its entirety, not just focusing on one part.
“Our movement, the LGBTQ movement, is one of intersectionality,” Cobucci said. “Not only are we focused on LGBT issues, but we’re also focused on issues related to Black Lives Matter or women’s rights or refugee rights or general human rights.”
Cobucci expressed optimism for the progress the United States has demonstrated in recent years, but he said that the movement can’t use that opportunity to slow down.
“There is still so much that needs to be done in terms of equality, in terms of understanding,” he said. “Change is coming, and it’s coming rapidly, but that doesn’t mean that we can sit back.”
Cobucci described Pride as a celebration, but given the current political climate, it is not without opponents. Cobucci cited a president that does not acknowledge the LGBTQ community.
“In times of success we need to move forward and we need to come together, but in times of hardship… we need to come together now more than ever,” Cobucci said.
Thousands will walk this Saturday in downtown Nashville for that cause. Cobucci described what he gets out of the Equality Walk.
“What’s beautiful is that in every person that I walk past at Pride, I see value, and I see beauty, and I see love and I see peace, and I see grace in them,” Cobucci said.
Nashville Pride will take place Saturday and Sunday at Public Square Park. The Equality Walk will be Saturday at the intersection of 2nd Avenue and Union Street at 10 a.m. For more information about Nashville Pride go to http://www.nashvillepride.org/.
To contact News Editor Andrew Wigdor, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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