With the New Year underway, the community needs to take a moment to remember a leader who recently passed away: Gene Floyd.

She founded the Nashville chapter of PFLAG in the 1980's along with other supportive members of the area, her many accomplishments from that point stand as a testament to her character. She will be remembered as one who stood up to bigotry by bringing diversity to the region.

“If you never had the pleasure of meeting Gene, I’m very sorry,” said Chris Sanders, Tennessee Equality Project president, at the Rally for Equality. “She is responsible for really setting the ground work for creating a very hospitable climate in our city.”

One of the people that knew her well and helped co-chair PFLAG with her is Wayne Rosing who recalled how Floyd approached one situation. “Once on a talk show on Channel 5 which occurred shortly after our first billboard, ‘Someone You Know and Love is Gay!’ was defaced in 1998,” he said. “Larry Britton, Nick Beres, Gene and a Nashville minister participated. Now mind you, the Nashville minister was not from any mainstream denomination, he had started his own church. A number of hateful things were said during that talk show, nothing hateful from Gene of course. She spoke calmly yet forcefully on behalf of the GLBT community.”

Rosing said at PFLAG meetings, Floyd often said to judgmental parents who used the “choice” word, that regardless of why her son was gay, she had no intention of losing her relationship with him. She also suggested she knew he was gay before he did. “She was pro LGBT before it was cool,” Sanders said.

“Gene participated in interviews, talk shows, fundraisers (at Illusions and The Connection), workshops for teachers on teaching tolerance, pre-Thanksgiving dinners for GLBT students at MTSU. She manned a PFLAG booth annually at Pride festivals even passing out due to the heat one year at a festival held at Bicentennial Mall,” Rosing said. “She was there in the heat in her 70 plus years. Again, I really cannot think of a GLBT person who has given more to the GLBT community for a longer period of time (three decades) than Gene did.”

Rosing was sadden by the low turn out of the community to support this amazing woman. “While Gene gave tirelessly of her time and talent for about three decades, the GLBTs she served did not show up for her memorial,” he said. “I can only speculate about how many more GLBTs would have shown up for the memorial of a drag queen. What does that say about ‘our’ community?”

According to PFLAG Nashville’s Facebook page, Floyd will also be remembered at their January meeting. People are invited to come by and share their stories of her. Meetings are the third Tuesday of each month from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Oasis Center Commons Room.

 

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