From activists to athletes, Nashville Pride will honor several respected members of the Middle Tennessee community at its second annual awards reception and Pride Rocks! Pre-Party presented by Curb Records at the Hard Rock Café.

Nashville Predator’s captain Shae Weber and restaurateur Arnold Myint are among the list of honorees chosen by Nashville Pride’s Board of Directors as standouts in the local and national GLBT community.

This year’s honorees are

  • Mark Manasco Community Service Award: Chris Sanders
  • Mark Middleton/Bianca Paige Pride Volunteer Award: Pam Wheeler
  • Ally Award: Shea Weber
  • Philanthropy in Business: Arnold Myint
  • Rising Stars: Anne Golightly, Jennifer Beita and Heather Hauser

“There are so many people doing work behind the scenes in our community, and we are happy to be able to shine some light on this particular group’s selflessness and generosity,” said Pride President Randall Roop.

The board began presenting awards in 2011 to honor two leaders in Nashville’s GLBT community as well as the two late GLBT icons for which the Middleton and Manasco awards are named. Newly added to this year’s award list is the Philanthropy in Business award, celebrating an entrepreneur who has generously donated goods and/or services to Pride and other non-profit community groups to help raise funds on multiple occasions during the year, traits present in all of Myint’s endeavors.

The Ally Award honors a straight friend of the GLBT community who has taken a stance for equality. "I am humbled and honored to be recognized with the 2012 Ally Award," Weber said. "It was an easy decision when I was asked to participate in the You Can Play project. I'm lucky to be in a position to help in any way I can and I am grateful to Nashville Pride and the many other community groups who work toward [GLBT] equality all year long."

Pam Wheeler is this year’s recipient of the The Mark Middleton/Bianca Paige Pride Volunteer Award. Wheeler embodies Middleton's passion for and commitment to the GLBT community and Nashville’s annual Pride Festival. A former board member and Nashville Pride organizer, Wheeler is a long-time volunteer and currently hosts Out & About Today on NewsChannel 5.

The Mark Manasco Community Service award will be presented to Tennessee Equality Project’s Christopher Sanders. Sanders led the campaigns supporting Nashville’s non-discrimination ordinances, those opposing the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and more. Frequently quoted in the media, Sanders shapes the message of equality in Tennessee.

The award winners will be honored at the Nashville Pride Pre-Party at Hard Rock Cafe on Thursday, June 14, and during the 2012 Nashville Pride Festival at Riverfront Park on Saturday, June 16.

Get to know the Rising Stars

The Rising Star award is presented to new Pride volunteers who show promise in helping Nashville Pride continue to grow in the future.

Anne Golightly, self-proclaimed “anthropology major, gay rights activist, cupcake enthusiast, vegan, and wild thing

What can we expect from you in the coming year?

“This coming year for me is all about social service and giving back to my community. I will continue volunteering for and dedicating time to Nashville Pride, as well as continuing research and advocacy for GLBTQI equality. I look forward to all the fun times ahead with my favorite community organization!”

Jennifer Beita, Middle Tennessee Coordinator for SNAP of Tennessee

What do you most look forward to at this year's Pride Festival?

“The thing I love about Pride is we are all just celebrating each other. To me it's not about gay, straight, bi, transgender, its about all of us just coming together and being proud of who we are. So for me my favorite part is just looking around and seeing everyone proudly being themselves, and I get the biggest smile when I see someone who has brought their kid, because I know that one day that child will grow up and have been raised to accept and love themselves for who they are. So what I look forward to the most is seeing everyone around me being loved and accepted just as they are.”

Heather Hauser, Assistant Art Director at Her Nashville

How does it feel to a Rising Star?

“As a straight supporter of equality, I am very honored to be receiving an award from the Nashville Pride organization. I feel it is important for the straight community to be involved and show support and acceptance for the GLBT community.” 

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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