If you thought that you missed Memphis’s annual Mid South Pride Parade and Festival this past June, never fear. You didn’t miss it; pride organizers opted for the cooler month of October. The Mid South Pride Parade and Festival will be held on Saturday October 16, 2010 at Peabody Park at the corner of South Copper Avenue and Higbee in Midtown Memphis and admission is free and open to the public.
The festival starts at 10 am on Saturday morning with an array of vendors and organizations throughout the park selling food, crafts, and bringing awareness of different organizations and GLBT and GLBT-friendly businesses. The parade lineup begins at 3pm at First Congregational Church at South Cooper and Walker, and will begin at 4pm, and will march down South Cooper ending back at the Festival site.
This year’s Grand Marshall’s feature three students who stood up to their schools on the issues of GLBT rights in their respective states. Contance Mcmillan gained national recognition when her high school refused to let her bring her girlfriend to her high school prom. The teen from Fulton, Mississippi was also denied the right to wear a tuxedo to the event. The Itawamba County School District instead cancelled the prom, and parents of other students sponsored a new prom for the students. After a successful lawsuit against the school district, Constance received a $35,000 settlement, and the district agreed to adopt a policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Constance and her girlfriend were invited to several proms around the country, including the Prom for All hosted in June by the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center. Eleven year old Will Phillips made headlines last fall when he refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance because it contained the phrase, “with liberty and justice for all.” Phillips contended that the phrase is untrue because GLBT people are not equal under the law. Finally, Ceara Sturgis is fighting her Wesson, Mississippi school because they refused to publish her senior yearbook photo in which she wore a tuxedo. Additionally, her name was left out of the yearbook completely. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on her behalf.
The Festival’s featured speaker this year is Robin McGehee of Jackson, Mississippi, who is the co-founder and director of Get Equal, the carriage sponsor for Will Phillips. McGehee helped organize Meet in the Middle for Equality in Fresno, California, a statewide reaction to the passage of Prop 8. She has since co-directed the largely successful National Equality March in October 2008 in Washington, D.C. Other speakers and entertainers include Marisa Richmond, PhD, who is the president of the Transgender Political Coalition. She also serves on the board of directors of the National center for Transgender Equality and on the Sexual Violence Prevention Planning Committee of the Tennessee Department of Health. The Adams Avenue Camerata is an all male chorus in Memphis, TN founded in 2009. The Camerata has thirteen members who volunteer more than 500 annually to rehearsals and community service projects throughout Memphis. Summer Osborne comes to Mid South Pride from Vandalla, Illinois with her musical blend of acoustic, folk, piano pop, blue-eyed soul, and rock. Carol Plunk, a hometown favorite, will be playing at the festival this year, bringing her many years of musical talents to the stage. The Holy Trinity Choir hail from the all inclusive church Holy Trinity located at 685 S. Highland in Memphis, TN. Special guests will also be featured from “George’s Reunion,” a reunion celebration being held October 23rd in memory of a legendary establishment that brought Memphis’ GLBT community out of the closet in a major way.
For more information on events, entertainment, speakers, and business and corporate organizations being featured at Mid South Pride, please visit www.midsouthpride.org/festival.