Community members cruise in support of the LGBTQ+ and Black communities

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JOHNSON CITY, (Tenn.) — The novel coronavirus has caused hundreds of event cancellations, including the annual Tri-Pride parade, so event organizers banded together for a pandemic-friendly caravan in support of the LGBTQ+ and Black communities.

The event organizer, Kavita MacDonald-Strong, who’s a board member of PFLAG Tri-Cities and member of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said that the event also aimed to show support for the Black community.

“The first Pride was a riot against police brutality,” MacDonald-Strong said. “So, quite honestly, the intersectionality between Black and BIPOC people and queer people has always been there, and the more of a minority you are, the more targeted you are.

“So, we are just here to make it known that we are aware of the issues happening; we are affected also, and we want to make sure that our community stays strong together.”

Both the LGBTQ+ community and Black community continue to face discrimination in society, according to MacDonald-Strong, and this, she said, is the reason Pride events and the Black Lives Matter movement persist.

“I mean, just this month, we got the right to not be fired for being gay — or LGBTQ+, I should say,” MacDonald-Strong said. “So, we are still fighting for equal rights. It’s still legal for me to be refused housing, be refused services, really anything because of my sexuality, and a lot of people face so many issues because of their gender as well.”

MacDonald-Strong went on to say that this weekend represents an important date for both the LGBTQ+ and Black communities; on June 28, 1969, members of the LGBTQ+ community rioted at the Stonewall Inn in response to police raids and police brutality.

This Pride Caravan will specifically focus on Black LGBTQ+ activists, such as Marsha P. Johnson, who was the black transgender woman that threw the first brick at Stonewall in the very early hours of June 28th, 1969, in response to yet another act of police brutality. We wish to use this platform to raise up the voices of BIPOC in both our local community and the greater LGBTQ+ community.

News release via Kavita MacDonald-Strong

Dozens of vehicles decked out in Pride decor filed out of the pavilion parking lot at 5:30 p.m., with many cars blaring music from a playlist created by organizers and passengers waving the Pride flag from their windows.

Other vehicles focused on the Black Lives Movement with names of those who have died in police custody painted on windows in remembrance.

Organizations that co-hosted Saturday evening’s Pride caravan include the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, TriPride, PFLAG Tri-Cities, Tri-Cities Transgender, and the Pride Community Center.

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