FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN)– The City of Franklin will have a Pride festival this year after Mayor Ken Moore broke a 4-4 tie to grant Franklin Pride its permit.
“If you violate the trust we are placing in you right now that I will work as hard as I work every single day to make sure that event never happens in Franklin again,” the mayor said.
Franklin Pride has been held in a public park since it began two years ago. However, the event faced backlash after last year’s festival featured drag performances and was considered indecent by some residents and city leaders.
“There’s just not a filter there of appropriate versus not appropriate,” said Alderman Gabrielle Hanson.
Other city leaders took issue with people wearing shirts that say “Free Mom Hugs,” said they wouldn’t bring their own kids to the festival and criticized Franklin Pride because of claims they denied a Christian LGBT group from being involved in the event.
Some aldermen also said they received threatening emails from people over this vote and repeated that figuring out which way to vote was not as easy of a decision in particular because of a potential lawsuit if they deny Franklin Pride the permit.
“There is no win-win in this at all. There’s not,” said Alderman Matt Brown.
However, for the more than 100 people who showed up to voice their opinion, it was a clear decision.
“I’m sure you don’t want to see me in a bondage gear outfit,” said one person who was against the festival.
According to city leaders, last year, the event’s permit was approved 8-0 and the city has never denied a permit.
“I don’t want to see a guy twerking in front of me. I am 60 years old,” said one speaker.
“Find a private venue or a safe space that you say you desire,” said another person against the Franklin Pride getting a permit.
“God’s word is clear that homosexuality is a sin,” said another.
While they were in the minority Tuesday night, those who wanted the event to take place believed denying the permit would infringe on their free speech, and send a harmful message to the LGBT community, and people who don’t want to attend are not forced to do so.
“If you’ve ever had a child who has wanted to kill themselves because they don’t fit and because there are haters out here just please show us some love,” said one supporter of the event.
“I hear folks talk about being forced to accept things that go against their beliefs, nobody is forcing you to accept anything,” said another.
Franklin Pride President Clayton Klutts said while their city may be conservative, having this event means a lot to LGBT residents and their allies.
“It means everything. There are a lot of LGBT people who live here,” Klutts said. “We just want to get together with our community members in a free, accepting, open environment and celebrate ourselves.”
He said the group tried to avoid controversy by not having drag performers at this year’s event, but people were still passionately against it from happening.
“It is a different environment now. It was really a surprise to us,” he said.
Klutts said that the feelings toward Franklin Pride were familiar to people who were attending and organizing the nation’s first Pride events.
“The issue that somehow gay people are dangerous to children, they are predators, it’s a false narrative that shouldn’t be perpetuated,” he said.
He added that a lot of the people who were speaking out against the event never attended the roughly 5,000-person event and that their fears are based on what they have seen at Pride festivals in other cities.
Klutts said after all the debate and rhetoric, the city made the right decision.