Nashville Pride announces 'Equality Awards' recipients

Each year Nashville Pride honors community leaders and LGBT trailblazers with the Curb Records Equality Awards as a part of the annual Pride season.  This year the award presentation will take place on the main stage during the 30th annual Nashville Pride Festival on Saturday, June 23rd. 

This year's Trailblazer Award is being given to singer/songwriter Chely Wright and author Greg Howard.

Chely Wright burst onto the country music scene in 1994 and was named top new female vocalist in 1995 by the Academy of Country Music.  Burdened by the knowledge of being one of the first country music artists to publicly come out, Wright determined to make her emergence as an openly gay Nashville artist as public as possible. Her announcement was accompanied by the release of a new album, Lifted Off the Ground, an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show and publication of a memoir, Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer in 2010. Chely Wright will also be performing on the Nissan Main Stage at the Nashville Pride Festival on Saturday, June 23. 

See alsoPride brings Chely Wright to town for a rare Nashville performance

The second Trailblazer Award recipient is author Greg Howard.  Greg grew up in Georgetown, South Carolina (also known as the “Ghost Capital of the South”), which was always a great source of material for his overactive imagination. Greg is the author of the recently released book, Social Intercourse published by Simon & Schuster.  His debut young adult novel features the story of Beckett Gaines, a gay teen living in South Carolina, who has his world turned upside-down by a jock in a laugh-out-loud story for young readers. Publisher's Weekly recently reviewed the book sharing that it is “A funny and satisfying love story while challenging simplistic preconceptions that people are either gay or straight or that the Bible Belt plus football equals a homophobic community.”  Howard will also release his debut middle grade book, The Whispers in the Spring of 2019. He will also be appearing at the Nashville Pride Festival and host a book signing following his appearance at the festival. 

See also:Pride is the perfect time for 'Social Intercourse'

See also:First time author reflects on a year of milestones

This year’s Ally Award is being given posthumously to Margaret Ellis.  Margaret Ellis, best known as a jewelry designer whose bold, handcrafted work made its greatest impact in the world of fashion, passed away in January of this year in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, after a two-year illness.  Her love for the LGBT community had its roots in the early days of Nashville’s gay nightlife establishments in the 1970’s, where at a low point in her life she discovered a group of people with whom she identified, and who accepted and embraced her.  Margaret spent the next 30 years advocating and giving a voice to the LGBT community in Nashville.  

See also:Go behind the art of Margaret Ellis and Hollis Hollywood

The Mark Manasco Community Service Award is being given to two members of the LGBTQ community in Nashville who have tirelessly supported the community with various programs and events. The year Nashville Pride will honor Kesley Page and the board of directors from the former LGBTQ community center, OutCentral and T.K. Hampton from the You Shall LHiVproject.  Kesley Page was the most recent president of OutCentral, founder of Tennessee Transgender Support and owner of Heal 615. Kesley has been an out Trans man in Nashville since 2009. He has served the community as an advocate, activist, volunteer and mentor.  T.K Hampton wrote, produced, and directed You Shall LHiV 2: ZERO, a theatrical production that gives voice to the most vulnerable within the LGBTQ community through song, dance, and monologues. ZERO educates and empowers LGBTQ individuals and their allies with the knowledge of biomedical advancements that help stop the spread of HIV regardless of race, sex, or socio-economic status. ZERO has been performed in Nashville, Memphis, Rochester, Boston, Orlando, and Washington, DC. for over 15,000 people.

See also:Why did OutCentral close so abruptly?

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Joseph Woodson, a former Nashville Pride President in 2013 and 2014 will receive the Bianca Page Pride Volunteer Award.  As a dedicated volunteer of Nashville Pride, Joseph Woodson served the organization in various capacities for eight years.  Through his leadership, Nashville Pride was able to build a solid foundation for the organization to ensure continued growth and success in the years following his involvement.  Joseph has also served in other community organizations including Nashville Cares, The Victory Fund, The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, the American Society for Public Administration among many others.  Joseph Woodson currently serves in Metro Nashville government at the liaison to Metro Council for Mayor David Briley.  In his spare time, Joseph enjoys live shows, camping, history, comics and science fiction. Joseph has become known by his friends and co-workers as someone who delivers witty punch lines, and for his photographic memory to recall important information.

See also: Nashville Pride announces new board members

The Nashville Pride Philanthropic Business Award will be presented to Slim & Husky's for their consistent support of the community through their ongoing growth.  Founded by founded by childhood friends and Tennessee State University grads Clinton Gray, Derrick Moore and Emanuel Reed, Slim & Husky's has been a catalyst to rebuilding a historic part of Buchanan Street in North Nashville.  Slim & Husky's sister restaurant, The Rollout opened in early 2018 and the trio will be opening restaurants in Antioch and Atlanta, Georgia before the end of this year.  Their business model has been built on the idea of serving underserved communities and giving back to each community that they serve.  Slim & Husky's has been a sponsor of the Nashville Pride Festival for the last two years.  The owners of Slim & Husky's were also awarded a 40 under 40 honor by the Nashville Business Journal this year and have received various accolades for their active community involvement in their two years of business. 

The 2018 Nashville Pride Festival presented by Bridgestone will take place on Saturday, June 23 and Sunday, June 24 at Public Square Park in Downtown Nashville. The awards will be presented from the Nissan Main Stage at 2pm following remarks from Mayor David Briley and members of the Nashville Metro Council. The 30th annual Nashville Pride Festival kicks off on Saturday, June 23 with the sixth annual Equality Walk at 10:00 am. 

Tickets and festival information — including the ability to create a custom schedule — are available through the Nashville Pride app, available for iOS and Android, or by visiting  Daily passes are $5.00 for the general public and available at the event day of.  Weekend and VIP passes are on sale now at


The 2018 Nashville Pride Festival is presented by Bridgestone and supported by Nissan, Genesco, Journeys, Vanderbilt Health, Jack Daniels, Dollar General, Tribe, Bud Light, Play Dance Bar, Curb Records, el Jimador, AARP, Absolut Vodka, Opry Mills, Ron Sanford Productions, Vanderbilt University, First Tennessee Bank, Barefoot Wine, Cummins, Dell, TFS, Village Real Estate, Charleston Mix, Lyft, Baker Donelson, The Mockingbird, U.S. Bank, Frothy Monkey, Schaffer Law Firm, Dahlia, Out & About Nashville, Nashville Scene, The East Nashvillian, DO 615, and Focus Magazine.






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