More than 10,000 people gathered at Market Square and Krutch Park in downtown Knoxville Saturday to celebrate Pridefest 2012.
It was a festivals of firsts in many ways. The recent repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell allowed military service members to participate in the parade. More than 20 couples came together for the festival's first ever commitment ceremony. And, Mayor Madeline Rogero became the first ever Knoxville Mayor to walk Gay Street, where the PrideFest Parade took place, with gay rights advocates.
"They are our teachers, our business people, our wait staff and restaurants, our military, our veterans that we see here today," she said. "So why should we not acknowledge and celebrate the diversity of our city?"
According to organizer Todd Cramer, of the East Tennessee Equality Council, the number of attendees for this year's PrideFest was double the amount of last year. He said it is important for the LGBT community to show the rest of East Tennessee what it has to offer.
"We go to churches, we play in softball leagues, we work regular jobs, but we happen to love somebody of the same sex and that's okay," he said.
Singer Taylor Dayne headlined this year's festival, which attracted considerable corporate support.
PrideFest Participant Gary Elgin said it is nice to see more people accept the LGBT community.
"A lot of people have worked tirelessly and for decades to make it what it is today," he said.