Tennessee Valley Pride
By Brianna Canning
Tennessee Valley Pride is a 501(c)(3) organization based in Chattanooga Tennessee. They put on local events such as the Same Love Valentines Day Dance and Drag Benefit Shows. On October 4th, 2015, Tennessee Valley Pride held a Pride Parade and Festival at Ross’s Landing in Downtown Chattanooga.
The day started off with a parade at noon; this year was the first time Chattanooga has had a Pride Parade in over twenty years. The parade featured local businesses, dancers, and supporters. There were rainbow flags, colorful clothes, and decorated cars. Everyone was so cheerful and happy, and there were people of all ages. From newborns to the elderly, everyone was supportive and festive.
The event was hosted by host Wendy Tippens, a beautiful delight with rainbow hair and silly songs. When asked for an inspirational message to share, she proudly said, “The Love Van is all about Interactive Art and bringing love, peace and tolerance to all people, everywhere.” She is an inspiration and role model to the LGBT community in Chattanooga. Her aura and passion radiates to people around her, and she accepts everyone as if they are her blood family.
As the parade rolled on, The Scarlett Love Conspiracy, a local band, played live music. The crowd sang along as they played Sweet Transvestite, a song from Rocky Horror Picture Show, a popular movie in the LGBT community.
One float carried Mr. and Mrs. Tennessee Valley Pride down Riverfront Parkway to the festival. After the parade, supporters and members of the LGBT community joined together to learn about presidential candidates, buy LGBT merchandise, and eat some delicious food from the vendors. While all of this was going on, there were plenty of live bands to fill time.
From a man and a ukulele to belly dancers, there was a wide range of talent that Chattanooga had to offer. A crowd favorite was when The Scarlett Love Conspiracy played The Time Warp. Before you knew it, there was a crowd in front of the stage of people jumping to the left, bringing there knees in tight, and pelvis thrusting to the beat. When the band finished the song, they announced that they will be playing the songs during a Rocky Horror Picture Show Shadow-cast on October 30th at The Revelry Room.
Bailey Ogle is a Chattanooga State freshman who identifies as queer and has been to Chattanooga Pride for three years in a row. Ogle said, “In the past, it wasn’t on the riverfront, and it was a lot smaller. There were protesters, but everyone was still really accepting. It was great, but it’s been really fun watching it grow. Every year, I feel more and more at home. I wish I could be surrounded by such wonderful, accepting people on a consistent basis.” Thankfully for Bailey and other LGBT community members, that’s the goal of Tennessee Valley Pride.
Bailey was there with a group of friends, including Victoria Little. Victoria is also a Chattanooga State student, and she identifies as pansexual. 2015 was her first year at pride, and to her, it also felt like home. Little stated, “I felt welcomed by everyone, and it made me cry multiple times.”
After plenty of live entertainment, there was a drag show. The ladies were in full glam, and they looked fabulous. Song choices ranged from Fergie to Adam Lambert and the lip syncing was perfect. The costumes were gorgeous, and makeup was flawless. Everyone loved the show, and it was a blast to watch.
Zane Brown, a transgendered teen from Sequoyah High, said the drag show was his favorite part. It was his second year at pride, but his first drag show. Brown said, “Pride was really amazing. I have never felt more at home or loved than I did at the festival. I loved this year so much more, because it was so different.”
Chattanooga Pride 2015 was a major success. There were so many people, and everyone felt truly loved and at home. Everyone was supportive and caring towards each other. People in homemade rainbow tutus, taking pictures with furries, and dancing with friends are only some of the wonderful things you will see if you ever attend a pride festival.
“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.