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LGBTQ+ communities in western Ky., northwestern Tenn. plan June Pride celebrations

RawPixel.com

People across western Kentucky and northwestern Tennessee are coming together to support the LGBTQ+ community with a month of pride events.

From Paducah, Kentucky to Clarksville, Tennessee, allies and members of the LGTBQ+ communities are planning inclusive celebrations during June, the federally recognized Pride Month.

June is a historically important month in LGBTQ+ history. The Stonewall Uprising – a series of events between police and LGBTQ+ protesters – began in New York City in June 1969. What’s considered to be the first June pride parade took place a year after Stonewall, marking its June anniversary. The federal government’s recognition of the month as a time for remembrance for the community happened in phases. In 1999, President Bill Clinton announced June as “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.” In 2009, President Barack Obama renamed the month to “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans Pride Month.” Finally, in 2021, President Joe Biden gave the month its current designation: “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer (LGBTQ+) Pride Month”.

Pride festivals in both Paducah and Clarksville have scored a list of drag performers, live musicians and vendors to provide entertainment and merchandise for festival goers.

Paducah Pride: United Together is the organizing body of this year’s pride activities in the far western Kentucky city.

In March of this year, it was announced that previous pride plans had been canceled due to lack of funding for Paducah PrideFest. That’s when the community stepped up to ensure that their city would still celebrate pride and acceptance for their local LGBTQ+ community.

Rafiel Banks-Nailing is the chair of the Paducah Pride: United Together and said past woes will not keep his city from participating in Pride Month.

“After a potential dismantlement and cancellation of Pride, we are structuring to make sure that our community and our regional area knows that we are united together no matter what we go through,” Banks-Nailing said. “No matter what type of problem situations we may face, we still love one another and treat one another with respect.”

Paducah Pride: United Together plans to hold a two-day celebration, starting with a Pride Block Party taking place at 3rd and 4th Street on Broadway in Paducah this Friday. The event will run from 5 to 9 p.m. with a $5 dollar admission fee. Afterwards, the Hotel 1857 will host a 21-and-up after party from 8 p.m. to midnight with an additional $5 dollar entry fee. The weekend’s events will wrap up with a Pride Ball hosted by O & A Piano Bar on Saturday evening. Tickets for the June 1 event are available online.

Banks-Nailing said he considers himself a member of the LGBTQ+ community and believes events like Paducah Pride are essential to fostering love and acceptance in the next generation.

“Pride events like this are so important for our community to feel inclusiveness, to feel like the members and citizens of the area have a voice and they can be who they want to be,” Banks-Nailing said. “It's very important for the children and teenagers … to know that they have a community that backs them up and loves them no matter what they are and who they are.”

The group is also collaborating with the Paducah Film Society and Maiden Alley Cinema to put on a screening of “To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar” – a 90s camp classic film that follows a trio of drag queens on a roadtrip across America. Attendees of the June 11 screening are encouraged to dress in drag and “come as you are,” Banks-Nailing said. Tickets to the screening are available on Maiden Alley Cinema’s website.

Unrelated to Paducah Pride United Together’s June festivities, Paducah Beer Werks is hosting an independently organized Pride At PBW event featuring local and regional drag performers on Saturday, June 8. Doors for the all ages event open at 7:30 p.m. with the show set to start at 9 p.m. There is a $10 cover charge.

Later in June, around two hours southeast of Paducah, Clarksville is putting on its own Pride festival.

C-Pride, the organizing group for Clarksville’s Pride activities, is planning a full day of activities at the Wilma Rudolph Event Center on June 29 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The less-than-a-year-old nonprofit organization is hosting its first Pride in the northwestern Tennessee city, including drag performances, live music and vendors. According to Clarksville Now, the city’s first documented Pride festival took place in 2005.

Other pride events throughout the state of Kentucky can be found on the Fairness Campaignwebsite.

WKMS is a sponsor of Paducah Pride United Together’s planned June events.

Zacharie Lamb is a music major at Murray State University and is a Graves County native.
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