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In 1988, around 250 people marched from Fannie Mae Dees Park to Centennial Park in Nashville, marking Music City’s first-ever Pride Parade.  

34 years later, thousands marched down Broadway then made their way to Bicentennial Mall for the 2022 Nashville Pride Festival and Parade. Embedded in those thousands on Saturday morning were Nashville SC staff, supporters and our mascot Tempo the Coyote.  

Nashville Pride President Mac Huffington said that level of support from a major league sports team is extremely important.  

“In the early 1980s, LGBT people didn’t get that support,” Huffington said. “To have a well-known and well-established organization like Nashville Soccer Club partnering with us, hosting events like Pride Night, those are things that you never would have dreamed of back then. To know that we have allies, people are willing to support us and love us for who we are and willing to understand us, it’s everything.”

The Pride Parade was a culmination of a month of celebrations for the LGBTQ+ community. Nashville SC hosted Pride Night at its June 11 match at GEODIS Park, hosting community groups like the Nashville LGBT Chamber and Nashville LAUNCHPAD at the match. Nashville SC’s limited edition Pride Patch raised funds for Nashville LAUNCHPAD, a nonprofit providing street-free sleep to displaced youth with a focus on being affirming and welcoming to LGBTQIA+ youth. 

Huffington said events like Pride Night represent more than just a celebration of the community.  

“It means we’re not alone,” she said. “It means we have love and support. It’s also a safe place. It means that no matter who we are, we can go out and enjoy sports like soccer. It’s safety, knowing we’ve been embraced as a part of your community as well. We can enjoy this sport as well as other sports here in Tennessee and be welcomed and protected.”

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That feeling of community is what Pride, and the Nashville Pride Festival and Parade, are all about. As Pride Month comes to a close, Huffington reflected on the meaning of the celebrations, and how far the community has come.  

“Pride means everything,” she said. “When I first moved here from Chicago, I wasn’t out. To be in a place where people love and accept you, it just means my whole heart and soul. It also means I’m not alone. That’s probably the most wonderful part: that you’re not alone.” 

To get involved in Nashville Pride’s work year-round, visit NashvillePride.org.

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