Experience Equality

2011 knoxville pridefestThe theme for this year’s Knoxville PrideFest 2011 is “Experience Equality”. It may sound a bit corny, but I doubt many people will pause to reflect on what that statement means. It is a very powerful directive.

All we ever seem to hear from LGBT groups and leaders is how we are not equal, but that isn’t the truth. We are all equal. Every man, woman and child in this country is equal. Our Declaration of Independence made this abundantly clear; our Constitution’s 14th Amendment reaffirms this belief by guaranteeing “equal protection of the laws”. We are all equal. The problem in this country is that we aren’t treated as such.

This fight for equal treatment often reminds me of family members fighting over an inheritance. Mom or Dad may have left behind a fortune to be equally divided among their children, but sometimes one of them feels they deserve more than the others. I can’t imagine that the men and women that founded this country would have envisioned a world where the “American Dream” was only available to some, less to others, and none to the rest. If this was the case, then our country was founded on a lie, and I have to believe our ancestors were greater than that.

Most people will never know the effort, long hours, and personal financial costs that are required to bring each year’s Knoxville PrideFest to life. A chain of events that include Spring Fling, maybe a movie night, maybe a Pride Night at a Tennessee Smokies game, the Art Auction, the Next to Nothing fashion show, Eat Out With Pride nights at your favorite supportive restaurant, and Celebrity Bar Tending, all culminate into a weekend parade and fete. As quickly as it’s over, plans start forming for next year and how we can make it better and reach even more people.

I’m no fool and I know that in your day-to-day lives many of you suffer physically, mentally, and economically because of your gender identity or sexual orientation. You were given a gift – a birthright – by your creator that made you equal to every other human being, but our government refuses to allow you to enjoy the rights and responsibilities that come with that gift.

That’s what our Knoxville PrideFest is for. Anyone that wants to participate is welcome, as long it is done in the spirit of acceptance and kindness. For a brief period of time on June 25, 2011 from 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm you will be able to descend on Market Square in downtown Knoxville and “Experience Equality”. You can hold the hand of the person that you love without intimidation, you can embrace a friend without being jeered or assaulted, you can feel safe and comfortable knowing that all those around you accept you for who you are and pass no judgement upon you.

Know that for a short time, that sensation you felt is what most Americans get to feel everyday while you have to wait another year – to experience equality.