One thing I love about Nashville, it's that people mind their own business. You spot Jack White at Fido, you leave him to drink his Americano in peace. You see Hayden gargling wine at at Arrington Vineyards, you resist the urge to Instagram it (even though she is #TotesPret). If you live in Hillsboro Village, you play in Hillsboro Village and leave the East Side to the Eastsiders, no questions asked. And all of that is dandy.
But if there's one time a year to venture out of your comfort bubble, I dare say it's the weekend of Nashville Pride Fest, coming up June 13-14 at Public Square Park — a truly gay ol' time.
Allow me to peel back the curtain on the festival, now in its 26th year, so the uninitiated may feel brave enough to attend one of the city's most entertaining events — and perhaps gain a bit of perspective about one of its most vibrant communities.
1) Let's get this straight. Yes, it's a festival produced for the LGBT community intended to highlight the importance of equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Yes, straight people are extremely welcome. It's tricky, but it's not a trick.
2) It's a total drag. You need to understand and appreciate that this city's drag queens are some of the country's fiercest. Yes. The entire country. They're so good, in fact, you've probably danced with one at Tootsie's and never even realized it was a dude. (It's a small town. And they wear really excellent wigs.) So stuff your pocket with some singles and stop by the festival stage on the courthouse steps (overlooking Third Avenue North between Charlotte Avenue and Deaderick Street), where you can see super-drag all day long on the Tribe & Play Entertainment Stage. We also have some Grade A gay bars in this town. (See "Out on the Town," June 14, 2012.)
3) Speaking of stages ... Nashville Pride Fest will bring some stellar acts to Music City. On Friday, June 13, Pride weekend kicks off with Pride in Concert presented by Coors Light. The concert will feature a DJ set from QDP, followed by Mary Lambert and an energetic set from Swedish EDM-pop trio NONONO before finishing up with gender outlaw, activist and DJ JD Samson. This year's Bridgestone Main Stage will be rocked by local and nationally acclaimed recording artists including Ponychase, Steff Mahan, The Harmaleighs, Kylie Rothfield, Lisa Loeb and Betty Who, as well as sets from DJ Ron, DJ Remedy and DJ Lady B.
4) Meet good people. Meeting new friendly faces is as easy as asking someone to be in your selfie. Or hell, just grab a stranger and head toward one of nine — yes, nine -— photo booths and tag that beautiful pic on FB. If anything, the festival should appeal to your narcissistic side -— so don't be surprised if you get tagged in photos that you don't remember, or get compliments on your shoes, accessories and biceps throughout the day. (Hint: Tank tops are preferred.) The event is also family-friendly too, with an inflatable playground area specifically for kids.
5) Celebrity sightings. It was at Nashville Pride Fest 2010 that songbird Vanessa Carlton unexpectedly came out as bi. Jake Shears, of The Scissor Sisters, made a surprise appearance sans pomp and circumstance and rubbed elbows with the huddled masses, just because. This year *spoiler alert* you have the chance to meet Michael Jackson ... er, the best female Michael Jackson impersonator you'll ever meet, in one Rasean Montrese. It should make for almost as good a story. The VIP Tent is the place to be for the bird's-eye view.