MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Blount Pride held their annual pride festival Saturday following the Blount County District Attorney sending a letter warning of prosecution if the organization violated the Adult Entertainment Act (AEA), or what’s known as Tennessee’s anti-drag law.

After the letter was sent, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against DA Ryan Desmond. A federal judge then blocked Desmond from enforcing the AEA at the festival.

The law was ruled unconstitutional in June by a federal judge after a lawsuit was filed in Memphis. However, Desmond stated in his letter that it was his understanding that ruling only stood in the 30th Judicial District.

Jenni Cate Rhodes, vice president of the Pride Club at Maryville College said some students were hesitant to come to the event following the letter. However, the attendance more than doubled from last year, according to Blount Pride officials.

Aside from watching performances and shopping at different vendors, those at the festival also heard from queer public figures, like Montana State Representative Zooey Zephyr.

“When you come to an event like this, you don’t see people who are going back in the closet and hiding. You don’t see people who are scared to be themselves,” Zephyr said. “You come to these events and you say, ‘You can do many things in the law, but you will not make me deny who I am and you will not make me afraid. I will stand here tall and I will celebrate my existence with my community,’ and that’s what we’re seeing here today and what I’ve been blessed to see around the country.”

Protesters held signs outside the campus arguing in favor of the anti-drag law, but Maryville College Student Body President Kelton Bloxham said he’s openly gay and the backlash surrounding the event has only made their community stronger.

“Our queer students, we’ve grown up used to this, we’ve grown up going to pride events doing that kind of thing and expecting some type of push back some type of protesters but I think it’s brought them closer and brought the allies closer as well, where it’s not just the queer students who are worried about it now,” Bloxham said. “It’s also the allies who are worried, and that kind of gives them an understanding of what queer students have been going through for our entire lives.”

One of those allies is student body vice president, Josh Cornell.

“A lot of my close friends fall into this community and I feel like it’s a little bit of me getting out of my comfort zone and getting to learn new things that I really don’t know and I feel like it’s a great way for me to express my gratitude to them,” Cornell said.

Students from Maryville College said they plan to host similar events in the future. All parties involved in the lawsuit have been ordered to appear at the federal courthouse in Greeneville for a preliminary injunction hearing on Friday, Sept. 8 at 10 a.m.