By Tiffany Closson, Contributing Writer —
Chattanooga decked out its streets in brightly colored flags of the LGTBQ+ community to celebrate October’s Pride History Month. This month is especially important because of what historically takes place on October 11th, also known as, National Coming Out Day.
This event is put on annually by Tennessee Valley Pride, which is a local Non-Profit Organization that strives to provide resources, education, and awareness to create a safe environment for the LGBTQ+ community in our local area.
The Pride Festival took place at Ross’s Landing and created and an atmosphere of excitement and acceptance. Streets were lined with organization booths and food trucks as local acts took to the stage.
One of the organizations present was The Human Rights Campaign. They came to Chattanooga for the festival for a tenth year to share their mission.
A member of the National Board of Governors Nashville Steering Committee, Meredith Bazzell Fortney, has worked with the Human Rights Campaign to help mobilize volunteers and members to grow membership and raise funds.
Bazzell said that she has seen Prides across Tennessee change from small and quiet events because people have always been cautious about if they were welcome in the community.
“In today’s environment with the whole being able to speak out, be yourself, be more empowered. They’ve grown, and people are unabashedly afraid to be themselves,” Bazzell said.
For many, this Festival was their first time experiencing this type of community. Brent Damer, who currently lives in Tullahoma, TN, said he has been out for three years now and it has been an amazing experience to meet and get to know so many others in the Chattanooga LGBT community.
Damer’s aunt, Amanda Prosser, was the one to bring him to his first event.
“Everyone has just been free and kind. He’s definitely found an annual activity for life,” Prosser said.
Chattanooga Pride has continued to grow each year moving Millar Park to Ross’s Landing. The events created an atmosphere of acceptance starting from the parade leading up to the events later that night.