Knoxville activist says 'It's OK to Say Gay'

Knoxville resident Gary Elgin recently began a photo campaign on his Facebook page, asking all of his friends and their friends to post photos of themselves with the message "It’s OK 2 Say Gay!" across their mouths.

It's just the latest in his series of endeavors designed to improve the lives of numerous LGBT individuals in the state. Elgin has been a fixture in Knoxville’s creative and LGBT communities since 1992. He has served as Director of Knoxville Pride on two separate occasions (1993-96, 2004) and also engineered a large citywide celebration for National Coming Out Day in 2005.

With over 2,600 fans on his Facebook page, Elgin has accumulated a forum who shares his enthusiasm for the cause. As an activist and respected member of his community, he feels a sense of responsibility to assist others who are less fortunate.

"I am very fortunate that I am able to live my life with very few restrictions on my personal liberties," Elgin says. "To be honest, it has been a conscious decision on my part to not allow it. For others, it is has and continues to be, not so easy a struggle. It is because I have it so relatively easy, that I believe it is my duty to assist others with their fight for identity and freedom. As an artist and activist, I feel I have a duty to those around me."

More than ever, Elgin expresses dedication to changing hearts and minds through his community service. His disappointment with the current political landscape is a prime motivator.

"Today our legislators local and state have a responsibility to listen and learn from those around them," Elgin says. "It is not a matter of 'special rights.' I hear constantly that we are included under existing laws and protective orders. It is painfully obvious to most everyone that this is not the case."

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