Now that the glitter has settled from the 2022 Nashville Pride Festival, I’m left with a very different feeling than I experienced post-Nashville Pride last year. If I had to sum it up in a few words, You are not alone probably best expresses it. But more on that in a bit.
For the second year in a row, Gresham Smith was a Nashville Pride sponsor—this time around a VIP sponsor, proudly co-sponsoring the VIP area with a global asset management firm. In addition to offering VIP guests full meals, drinks, a private bar and more, Gresham Smith’s Friends of Pride lounge within the VIP area had a birds-eye view of the main stage at Bicentennial Park—an added bonus for this huge Walk the Moon fan! #Icaughtadrumstick!
And just as our sponsorship has grown, so has our LGBTQ+ Alliance Employee Resource Network (ERN)—in leaps and bounds in fact, with a membership increase of 136% since last year’s Pride festival. This is a staggering metric when I think back to last September’s event when there was only a small, core group of us, around eight to 10 multitaskers, helping with everything—from planning and purchasing to booth setup and breakdown. That same small group also braved the relentless rain and soggy streets to march in the Pride Parade. Nonetheless, we were all thrilled to be there making Gresham Smith’s first Nashville Pride happen.
All dressed up for Pride! Brandon Salas’ decorated jeep makes its way past Broadway’s famous honky-tonks followed by the rest of the 2022 Nashville Pride Parade.
What a difference nine months can make! At this year’s Nashville Pride we had 21 volunteers lend a helping hand, and 28 members of our ERN, including family members and allies, took part in the Pride Parade under clear, blue skies. OK, it was insanely hot, but at least it didn’t rain! I was truly bowled over by the support, and it made me realize there’s such power in numbers. It felt like a greater force walking down Broadway this year.
Our LGBTQ+ Alliance ERN has also been building momentum in other ways. To coincide with Pride Month this year we held Community Conversations—a virtual LGBTQ+ event in which 279 members of the firm joined in the conversation about allyship and the intersectionality that takes place within all our ERNs during Pride. We also exceeded our fundraising goal for The Trevor Project, which provides 24/7 crisis support and intervention to LGBTQ+ youth, with 100% of the proceeds—including the sale of our Gresham Smith Pride T-shirts—going directly to the organization.
“There’s such power in numbers. It felt like a greater force walking down Broadway this year.”
We were also proud to support nine different LGBTQ+ vendors and businesses for 2022 Nashville Pride, including Kreaton Junkie—a Black, LGBTQ-owned business that custom made our super-soft Nashville Pride tees. That contact came through NaKeeta Batson, chair of our IMAGE (Inclusive Multiculturalism for Advancement, Growth and Equity) ERN, a testimony to how Gresham Smith’s ERNs support each other when it comes to sharing resources.
Left to right: LGBTQ+ Alliance ERN members James Amos and Allison Hampton sport their Nashville Pride custom T-shirts featuring all the colors of the LGBTQ+ rainbow within Gresham Smith’s logo.
Gresham Smith’s Brandi Amos takes her turn championing the booth. Our swag was even more popular at this year’s festival!
You’re framed! Left to right: Gresham Smith’s Allison Hampton, Amber Henson and Alicia Fligg pose for a photo opp.
Brandon Salas (right), chair of Gresham Smith’s LGBTQ+ Alliance ERN, enjoys the festival with his fiance Quentin (center) and Quentin’s brother Kameron.
Being Our Authentic Selves
By all accounts, the 2022 Nashville Pride Festival and Parade was a huge hit, with Good Neighbor Festivals reporting an attendance of over 90,000 for the weekend, and more than 40,000 people either marching in or cheering on the parade. There were moments during the course of the weekend when it hit me just how far our LGBTQ+ Alliance ERN had come in such a short time. And we did it by banding together.
As Walk the Moon performed their hit single “Portugal” before the crowd, the lyrics: Take me with you/‘cause even on your own/you are not alone struck an emotional chord like never before. We truly weren’t alone. Even on our own as individuals, our group was part of a collective whole celebrating the incredible diversity that makes up the LGBTQ+ community.
Anyone who’s walked the walk knows that getting to the place of “out and proud” can take time, which made it all the more meaningful that we were able to bring our authentic selves to Pride with the support of our families, our allies, and our company. A true win-win-win. We hope to see you at Nashville Pride in 2023!
Gresham Smith waves back to an enthusiastic crowd gathered on Broadway. Photo courtesy of Good Neighbor Festivals.