KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Concerns about safety and self-expression are coming up Knox Pridefest approaches this weekend.
This event promotes inclusion and equality for LGBTQ+ residents in the community.
Rules and regulations went out this week to parade participants, but they were met with many questions.
“We’ve got these couple of things to tie down and we’ll be good to go,” said Knox Pride President Jennifer Green.
Green says one concern participants have shared with organizers is about law enforcement.
“I just want to emphasize that we have been working for years with KPD and the city and the mayor’s office establishing this relationship and law enforcement is there to protect citizens,” she said.
The Knoxville Police Department will be managing security, traffic and crowd control along the parade route down Gay Street, as well as being present at the festival at the Knoxville Coliseum.
“Anybody that’s in the parade without a wristband will be removed. That’ll help us identify people who should not be there. As far as getting into the festival, we will have multiple entrances, a bag check line and a non-bag check line. And to help speed things up, we’ll have metal detectors this year,” added Green.
Organizers say that those marching in the parade will only be removed if they get into a physical altercation with a protester.
“We ask that people don’t engage the protesters because that’s what they want. They want us to feed into them, it makes them feel empowered. Show them that love a couple years ago when the Gay Men’s Choir circled the protestors, and they were louder than them and showed them that we will not be downtrodden by your actions,” said Green.
When it comes to freedom of creativity, organizers say use your best judgement with costumes and make sure signs are free of obscenity or graphic images.
“It is about self-expression. It’s about being able to come out and be yourself, being able to celebrate with your community and be proud of who you are,” said Green.
The Knox Pride parade starts on Gay Street Saturday morning at 10:30. From there, Knox Pridefest will happen from noon to 8 p.m. at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum.
East Tennessee Equality Council announcing on Thursday the official resignation of long-time board member, Mark Janes. After 11 years as the Pride Festival Parade Coordinator, Janes shared on his Facebook account that an email went out to participants explaining rules for the Knox Pride parade.
Janes said that his email didn’t explain things well. In a statement on Janes’ Facebook account he says, “It was not an attempt to silence anyone or to control your conduct. It was set up to protect you and Knox Pride.”