Chattanooga citizens wave a rainbow flag against adversity

Mon. October 30, 2023 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

October is LGBTQ+ history month, so warm climate areas such as Chattanooga, Tennessee and Atlanta, Georgia celebrate Pride in October instead of June. The reason June 28 is a widely used date to hold Pride parades is to commemorate the Stonewall Uprising in New York City.

The Stonewall Inn was raided by the police in Greenwich Village in 1969 and five days of rioting ensued because of it.

Kicking off on October 8, 2023, at 11:30 a.m., Chattanooga returned to these roots and marched as a force filled with rainbows on a beautiful, sunny Saturday. It was more important than ever that the LGBTQ+ community and their supporters be present and represent the population that day.

Tennessee currently has the largest number of anti-LGBTQ+ policies in the United States and has more than 200,00 LGBTQ+ identifying people living there.

Managed by the non-profit organization Tennessee Valley Pride, plans were set for a week of festivities and activities in addition to the parade. Drag shows, themed brunches and a sunset paddle board adventure were all part of the queer-focused programming that happened in 2023.

The night before the parade a drag event was held at the Chattanooga Convention Center titled the Rainbow Review with over 40 performers including season 15 RuPaul Drag Race Miss Congeniality winner Malaysia Babydoll Foxx as one of them.

Tennessee became the first state to attempt at outlawing drag but it was overturned by a federal judge. Describing the art form as cabaret muddied the unconstitutional idea even further and some counties in Tennessee are still trying to enforce the confusing law without much success.

The organizers of Pride met with adversity as a group in Franklin, Tennessee attempted to stop the events planned and the City Council voted against that. The route of the parade in 2023 had to adapt against protesters who were anything but peaceful. A previous bomb scare and gun threats forced the festival segment to be moved indoors with security checks in place.

The parade began on 4th Street and turned right at Market Street then left on Aquarium Way. The route would have normally ended with a festival in the open field of Ross's Landing, but this year participants moved to the Chattanooga Convention Center instead.

From 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., 85 vendors created a market that included live music and a special kids zone sponsored by the Creative Discovery Museum.

Businesses and organizations showed up in support of the parade and festival that day. Representation ranged from the Tennessee Aquarium to Unum Insurance.

Plans are already being made to change the Pride parade route closer to the convention center if those who attend are forced indoors again next year. There were no major incidents reported in 2023 surrounding the Pride parties and remembrance of the past.

Chattanooga made a good place to reflect on that history while mobilizing its next move forward as a community. With the citizens of Tennessee marching and fighting for their lives, this is the time for all of us to band together and help them in any way we can.

Visit to plan for next year's festivities. There's a sign-up opportunity to be a volunteer and show your true colors!