LGBTQ Organizations and Businesses say Pride Month is about Celebrating Progress While Staying Safe
(NASHVILLE, TN, June 2, 2021) Celebrating Pride month has always been about personal empowerment. But for many organization leaders and owners of LGBTQ businesses in Middle Tennessee, personal empowerment must include a conversation about personal safety and how members of the community can safely engage and interact with others online and in person.
“We often hear stories about gays in other cities becoming victims of cybercrimes, assault, theft or worse after talking with and meeting someone online,” says Christa Suppan, co-owner of The Lipstick Lounge. “We have to remind ourselves that online bullying, harassment, and even violence can happen and does happen right here in Nashville. We want all of our customers to stay safe and we believe this messaging is important,” Suppan said.
The Lipstick Lounge is joined by all other LGBTQ bars in Nashville, including Canvas Lounge, Pecker’s Bar and Grill, Play, Tribe and Trax in uniting behind a message about online safety to the LGBTQ community. Other organizations including the Music City PrEP Clinic, LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Nashville Pride Board and the Tennessee Equality Project have recently participated in the making of a short public service a
nnouncement on ways community members can safely use online dating apps such as Grindr, Scruff, and Tinder.
“The Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce is proud to stand with other organizations and businesses in educating our community on the importance of staying safe online. While we have come so far as a community, we cannot ignore the fact that there are still people even in Nashville that do not approve of our lifestyle and who would cause us harm,” said LGBT Chamber CEO Joe Woolley.
Woolley, who appears in the public service announcement that is soon to be released, is joined by other prominent individuals in the LGBTQ community, including Davidson County Assistant District Attorney Sunny Eaton.
“District Attorney General Glenn Funk has made it clear that hate or discrimination of any kind against our community will not be tolerated,” Eaton said. “If you have been victimized in any manner, whether through cyberbullying or acts of violence, please know that you have members of the LGBTQ community that work in this office and your voices will be heard and your rights will be protected,” Eaton added.
The Nashville Police Department and General Sessions Judge Ana Escobar also participated in the public service announcement video. Judge Escobar, who is the first Latina elected to the bench in Nashville, is one of three judges in the Davidson County General Sessions Courts that handle and oversee criminal charges of domestic violence as well as a civil order of protection docket.
“Domestic and sexual violence in the LGBTQ community is about power, fear and control,” Judge Escobar said. “The only way for the cycle of fear and control to end is for people to know that they matter and for victims to be empowered to take back the dignity that has been robbed from them. That starts with educating yourself on how to be safe when you are dating or meeting someone for the first time and also familiarizing yourself with what resources we have within our judicial system and police department to help you if you are a victim,” Judge Escobar said.
Anyone who has been a victim of domestic or sexual violence, cyberbullying or harassment of any kind is encouraged to contact the Nashville police department. Victims can also contact the Metro Office of Family Safety for more information on Orders of Protection.
The Public Service Announcement that is sponsored by the participating organizations and businesses is set to debut by June 1stin connection with Pride month and will likely be posted on the social media pages of the participating organizations and businesses.
An initial launch of ‘SafePride365’ also occurred with the release of the video. This initiative provides a hotline and will provide resources for Middle Tennessee residents of the LGBTQ community that have experienced any type of online harassment and would like to report what occurred to them so that they may be connected with other resources and help.
To reach the SafePride365 hotline, please call 1-615-502-4459 or visit the website of http://www.safepride365.com