Johnson City, TN

Johnson City Pride Community Center Set to Celebrate Pride Month with Rainbow Festival and Drag Shows

John M. Dabbs
Photo bycourtesy of Pride Community Center of Johnson City

Johnson City, Tenn. - Johnson City, a small town in the mountainous region of Eastern Tennessee, is known for its down-home charm and southern hospitality. The Pride Community Center is a beacon of inclusivity and diversity in this traditional setting.

The Pride Community Center isn’t just an organization; it’s a family that has created a safe haven for the LGBTQ+ community in Johnson City. Its roots go deep, with its foundation built on years of tireless effort and passionate dedication to providing a platform for voices often unheard and unacknowledged.

One such voice is John Baker, the Pride Community Center’s co-founder and president. As a local resident of Johnson City, Baker’s journey was challenging. He faced adversity with a steadfast resolve and an unyielding belief in a future where acceptance and understanding could thrive. It’s this spirit that gave birth to the Rainbow Festival.

The Rainbow Festival is more than just a celebration—it manifests Baker’s vision. It was created as an event where love and acceptance could be freely expressed and celebrated. An event where drag performers like the Gypsy Queens could be appreciated for their art and not restricted by laws that sought to limit their expression.

In the face of the state law that sought to limit the scope of public drag performances, Baker refused to back down. Instead, he raised his voice in protest, making it clear that his faith in the Constitution was unshaken. Baker’s belief was vindicated when a federal judge in Memphis declared the law unconstitutional, marking a significant victory for the LGBTQ+ community.

Though the ruling’s reach extends only to Shelby County, Baker sees this as a step in the right direction. The Tennessee Attorney General’s impending appeal of the verdict is a stark reminder that the fight for equal rights is far from over. It’s a fight that Baker and the Pride Community Center are ready for.

The Farmer’s Market Pavilion, a popular destination in downtown Johnson City, will again play host to the Rainbow Festival. Known for its vibrant atmosphere and community spirit, it provides a fitting backdrop for the event. Vendors will sell various goods, while local musical talents will entertain the crowd.

And, of course, there will be drag performances. After last year’s success, Baker decided to include drag performances in the festival lineup once again. The Gypsy Queens will perform and serve as emcees for the event, adding their unique flair to the proceedings.

The event is designed to be accessible to everyone. A ticket costs just $1, ensuring that anyone who wants to participate in this celebration of love and acceptance can do so. Children are also welcome in a move that further emphasizes the inclusive nature of the event. Baker shared last year that many kids were in attendance and loved the drag shows. He firmly believes that the festival offers a safe, responsible environment for children to be introduced to diverse forms of entertainment and expression.

The Rainbow Festival is a testament to the Pride Community Center’s unwavering dedication to acceptance and equality. Despite the political climate surrounding LGBTQ+ issues, the festival promises to celebrate love, diversity, and the spirit of Pride.

As the festival draws near, it’s clearly more than just a one-day event—it’s a symbol. A symbol of resilience in the face of adversity. A sign of unity in a world often divided. And most importantly, a symbol of love and acceptance.

This Pride Month, the Rainbow Festival will send a powerful message—that despite the challenges, the spirit of Pride cannot be silenced. And in Johnson City, thanks to the efforts of John Baker and the Pride Community Center, that spirit shines brightly for all to see.

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John is An outdoor enthusiast passionate about travel and adventure, a consultant, author, and journalist.

Bristol, TN

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