Last edited: April 18, 2004

Gay Pride Event Planned in Rhea County

Associated Press, April 13, 2004

DAYTON, Tenn.—A permit is pending for a gay pride event next month in the town best known as the site of the 1925 Scopes “monkey” trial and in the news recently for a county effort to outlaw homosexuality.

The event, originally scheduled to be held on the Rhea County Courthouse lawn with a parade through town, is expected to be moved to city-owned Point Park. The parade has been canceled because of space and security concerns.

“Everyone is welcome to come,” said Kristie Bacon, 26, organizer of the event. “It’s just a gathering to show Rhea County that we’re not bad people.”

In March, the Rhea County Commission voted to begin researching how to make homosexuality a “crime against nature” in the county. The action received national attention, and the commission rescinded the vote two days later.

Rhea County, about 30 miles north of Chattanooga, annually commemorates the 1925 trial at which John Scopes was convicted of teaching evolution at the public high school. The verdict was reversed on a technicality and the trial became the subject of the play and movie “Inherit the Wind.”

Bacon said she expected to have no trouble getting a permit for the gay pride event.

“They’ve been pretty cool about the whole thing,” she said. Dayton City Manager Frank Welch didn’t return repeated calls seeking comment Tuesday.

Rhea County Gay Day is expected to include contests, music, comedians, speakers, various booths and a volleyball tournament. Bacon said she hoped about 2,500 people would attend. She said Gary Goodin, a representative of GLBT, a gay, lesbian, bisexual transgender organization, is scheduled to attend the event.

Bacon, a production line worker at a factory of heaters and air conditioners, said some people have been hostile since she announced the event.

“A couple of people threw Coke bottles sat my car,” she said. “There’s been a little damage, but nothing big. Everyone has their opinions and if that’s the way they choose to live, well, that’s the way they choose to live.”

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