NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — There was a different feeling this year at Nashville Pride. There was certainly no shortage of celebration, but many also felt called to attend to send a message after the landmark ruling by the Supreme Court to overturn the constitutional right to an abortion.
"It’s incredibly important to be out here celebrating today," said Mary Kathryn Wells. "The next thing on the chopping block could be gay rights, gay marriage; we really want to make sure — especially trans — kids growing up in the world right now feel affirmed, feel validated."
Jariel Jimenez-Lopez drove up from Clarksville with his mom and aunt, with two missions in mind: show their pride and lift up their voices.
"It’s really important to promote our individual rights as human beings," he said.
"We’re going to have fun," added Jariel's Aunt Myra.
Two hours after the parade, Jariel and his family participated in a pro-choice march up to the Tennessee State Capitol. After a series of chants, the crowd was asked to jot down a series of words directed at Tennessee Governor Bill Lee in hopes of convincing him to halt the banning of abortions in the state.
"Governor Lee. Stop targeting your sister and my family. This is an official demand. Thank you, David Dark," wrote one of the protesters.
Jariel only took a few moments before the words poured onto his paper.
"Your laws and politics make Tennessee the worst place to live. I love my home here; please don’t make me leave," wrote Jimenez-Lopez.
Those are words he's worried he'll have to follow through on.
"I came out at 18, so I haven’t had much time thinking about all of this, but it’s difficult. It’s difficult to accept that, growing up, that people see you differently and you shouldn’t have certain rights because of who you are," said Jimenez-Lopez.
There was one lone voice on the other side of the street — a counter-protester that drove up Saturday morning from Harvest, Alabama.
"I believe an unborn child is a child; it’s a human," said the young man, who declined to give NewsChannel 5 his name. "I came out to say 'no, we must not tolerate evil. I stand against it.'"
But in the grand scheme of things for Jariel, while the weekend may have felt different, nothing could dampen his pride.
"The important thing is to be ourselves and be prideful of who we are as individuals, whether you’re straight, gay or something else," he said.
For the full schedule of Nashville Pride events, you can visit their website.