**This photo essay won two awards from the 2014 Golden Press Club Awards. The photo of Rachel responding to protesters won an Award of Excellence and the entire photo essay won an Award of Merit. Congratulations, Buck Kahler!**
Photos by: Buck Kahler
I had never been in a parade before so I enjoyed a new experience. I loved the colors that were all over the place in clothing, banners, balloons, flags. There was one place on Gay where there was a swell of noise and applause. I got goosebumps.
It’s so exciting to see how Knoxville’s Pride Festival has just exploded the last couple of years. I remember in the early 90s when people would sort of whisper about it, and the early 2000s when a few hundred people would come out. Now its a huge festival with an estimated 20,000 in attendance, with participation by city leaders, college groups, churches etc.
Team Knoxzine was woefully attired for Pridefest. Next year we will have more flair and maybe a few dance steps. Many kind thanks to the Gay Men’s Discussion Group for giving us some shiny ribbons.
After attending for the past few years, I couldn’t help but notice the mainstream appearance of the participants, which tells me that minds and attitudes are changing for the better.
The roar of the crowd brought tears to my eyes. Just seeing all these people who took time out of their day to support this event was very moving.
My favorite moments were: seeing the different churches who supported and marched along with the group; the woman selling baked goods from her 3 wheel bike made me smile; children whose parents brought them along to march with the crowd. These kids will not become prejudiced as they become adults.
This was the first year the City cleared most of the streets for the parade. In the past, you couldn’t see anything for all of the parked cars. The Knoxville Police Department did an outstanding job.
Glad the supporters outweighed overwhelmingly the small number of dissenters. Thought it was strange that one guy covered his face.
What impressed and moved me the most was the sheer numbers and diversity of the people lined up on Gay Street to show support for the LGBT community. I saw kids with two dads, kids with two moms, kids with a mom and a dad. I saw businessmen and teenagers, students in outlandish costumes and grandmothers like me. “The times they are a changin’, ”as Bob Dylan would say, even in Tennessee.
Observing the Pride Parade, I couldn’t have been prouder of my city.