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'We get to celebrate who we are' | Hundreds gather for Blount Pride Festival at Maryville College

The event took place after a federal judge blocked Blount County District Attorney from enforcing Tennessee's anti-drag law.

MARYVILLE, Tenn. — Many people from the community gathered at the Blount Pride Festival on Saturday. This was just after a federal judge blocked Blount County officials from interfering with Blount Pride. One of the artists, Flamy Grant, shared her story.

"I grew up in western North Carolina in Asheville. I grew up really fundamentalist, very conservative, evangelical," Grant said. "I went to college, and then got out of college, I became a worship leader for a conservative church." 

This was all she knew. In 2006, she started a church in San Diego while she was struggling with her identity. 

"I was struggling and wrestling with my queerness, coming out, that whole process while I was helping start this church. I finally came out after about five years," she said.

One of the people who filed a lawsuit against Blount County's District Attorney, Representative Zooey Zephyr, dropped by to show her support.

"The First Amendment rights of individuals wins at the end. We saw that with the drag law in Montana and we saw it here in Tennessee much before the letter this week when someone said, 'The law doesn't apply to me,'" Zephyr said. "And of course, when the judge came back said, 'Yeah, it applies to you too.' We get to have our events. Our First Amendment rights are protected, and we get to celebrate who we are with one another." 

However, protestors saw the festival differently. 

"It says in the Bible, that homosexuality in Romans 1, also in Leviticus, it says that is a sin. So God points that out as a sin," Rachel Venavle said. "It's not just us who says this is sin, but God says it's a sin."

But Flamy grew up reading the Bible.

"It's one very narrow interpretation of the Bible, among, literally, tens of thousands," she said. "There are 40,000 protestant denominations in the world, which is the right one?"

Flamy saw one thing was clear: loving yourself and loving your neighbors. 

"I think the Bible has made some really clear statements about what matters most. And I think what matters most is loving ourselves and loving our neighbors," she said. "I think that is exceptionally clear across the Bible. I think another thing, my favorite verse in the Bible comes from Micah 6:8, where [it talks] about doing justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with God. To me that represents my faith."

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