A Tennessee mayor touched on the controversy surrounding the state's now-axed "Don't Say Gay" bill during an appearance at her city's gay pride celebration.
Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero re-affirmed her commitment to the local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in a poignant speech, Towleroad and other media outlets have reported.
"We are building a culture of respect for each other, a culture of openness, a culture of participation, a culture of inclusion and, most importantly, a culture of confidence in who were are and optimism in what we can be," Rogero, who noted the nondiscrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, told the crowd. "In our city hall, it's OK to say gay."
Rogero's appearance was significant in many ways, as she is now reportedly the first Knoxville Mayor to walk Gay Street, where the city's PrideFest Parade took place, with gay rights advocates, according to WBIR.com. This year's festival drew an estimated 10,000 people -- reportedly twice the 2011 figure.
Rogero's speech was particularly relevant given the national outcry over the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which was authored by Republican lawmaker Stacey Campfield and would have restricted references to homosexuality in schools.
In January, Campfield defended the legislative proposal in a heated interview with HuffPost Gay Voices Editor-at-Large Michelangelo Signorile. "There are sexually confused children who could be pushed into a lifestyle that I don’t think is appropriate with them and it's not for the norm for society, and they don't know how they can get back from that," he said. "I think a lot of times these young teens and young children, they find it very hard on themselves and unfortunately some of them commit suicide."