Chattanooga Pride is coming! Sunday, October 6th to be exact starting at 1pm Eastern time at Ross’s Landing Park. There’s still time to volunteer for support if you’re planning to go. Can’t make it? We have a way for you to support our sister city’s Queer community then. Chattanooga’s Moms for Social Justice activist group has designed special t-shirts and swag  just for Chattanooga Pride that you can pre-order online. Proceeds will go to Chattanooga Pride and MSJ’s efforts to support LGBTQ+ programs throughout the Tennessee Valley region.


“We wanted to find a way to give a sizable donation to Tennessee Valley (Chattanooga) Pride,” said Mari Smith with Moms for Social Justice. “Since (as moms) we know apparel sells well, we thought this would be a good way to reach our goal.”

MSJ is an activist social justice organization started by Chattanooga-area mothers in the wake of the last Presidential election and the 2016 incident in Charlottesville, according to Ms. Smith. Their mission is to engage other moms and help them to be activists and advocates for social change.

“We just could not look at our children’s faces after the election and especially after Charlottesville and not get involved,” Mari said. “We know that marginalized communities have been fighting this fight far longer than we have and we were late to the game, but we’re here now...and ready to smash the patriarchy.” 

The T-shirt was designed by Ms. Smith and MSJ to represent an ideal.

“We wanted it to be in the shape of Tennessee because most people do not typically associate the American South with inclusivity and progressive values,” she said. “The colors come from the original Pride flag and incorporates the colors of the Philadelphia Pride flag as well as the Transgender flag.”

So why are they going all out to support Chattanooga Pride? 

“Well, for starters, many of us in Moms for Social Justice identify as Queer,” said Mari. 

“We support Chattanooga Pride’s mission and believe that they are a core part of the activist community and the community at large. We feel as a group made up primarily of young mothers and parents that we have a duty to support those in our community who often do not have their biological family’s support anymore.”

Chattanooga Queer community activist and Pride volunteer Samantha Boucher welcomed the move by MSJ to support Chattanooga Pride.

“Fundraising is always a challenge for a Pride festival in a mid-sized city,” Ms. Boucher explained. “We're blessed with local sponsorship and some corporate involvement, but Moms for Social Justice has been an amazing help since their founding in a lot of different ways.”

“The biggest challenge is really the manpower it takes to organize and put on Pride every year,” Samantha continued. “Many of the same people - folks like Marcus Ellsworth and Myke Kelly - have been putting in the work to make Pride in Chattanooga happen for years. We need more people to step up, take on the mantle of leadership and volunteer roles, and inject new blood and fresh ideas into the mix.”

“LGBTQ+ organizations in this area are really important not just to Chattanooga, but to the surrounding communities, too. We regularly help homeless queer folks find housing resources, battle discrimination, provide education and countless other services. And we're doing that mostly on our own dime.”

So what can Nashville’s community do to help?

“First, just come to Pride,” replied Samantha. “Chattanooga may be small, but you'll find more rainbow flags hanging in windows in our downtown core throughout the year than you will anywhere in Nashville. It's a great community, and the festival is free and open to all. Second, donate! The more support we have, the better we can accomplish our missions not only during Pride, but throughout the year. And finally, volunteer. It takes muscle and brains to make the gears turn.”

“And buy the shirt!” chimed in Ms. Smith.

To purchase a shirt and more, just click this link. Deadline for purchase is September 16.


CLICK HERE for more Chattanooga coverage.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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