Eastman to sponsor LGBTQ Pride Festival

Valerie Lick • Aug 6, 2018 at 7:45 PM

KINGSPORT — Local LGBTQ organization TriPrideTN announced Monday that Eastman Chemical Co. will be a major sponsor of the first-ever TriPride Festival.

TriPrideTN has found a wealth of sponsors throughout the Tri-Cities. This includes major event sponsors like Eastman, Citi and Fidelity, as well as many small local restaurants and other businesses. Organizers are surprised and pleased by the support they have received.

“This all happened very quickly,” TriPrideTN’s Marketing Director James Michalski told the Times News. “Eastman, Citi, Fidelity … they all stepped up very quickly.”

Eastman is very active in sponsoring regional events, and company officials are pleased at the opportunity to support an inclusive local environment.

“As a global company, we recognize the importance of promoting inclusion and authenticity within the company’s culture, and we appreciate the thought and approach TriPride leadership has taken to plan the festival. We look forward to being a part of the day’s activities,” Eastman’s Director of Global Public and Community Affairs CeeGee McCord said in TriPrideTN’s Monday press release.

The festival is an ambitious event to plan, and TriPrideTN is very grateful for sponsors’ help.

“Alongside many other companies from across the Tri-Cities region and beyond, TriPride is very grateful for the support we’ve received from individuals, businesses and industry,” TriPrideTN President Kenn Lyon said. “Having Eastman as one of our major supporters for the 2018 festival is a demonstration of their leadership in our region.”

Pride parades and festivals are common across America. September’s event, however, will be the first of its kind in the Tri-Cities. Small Pride events have occurred in Johnson City, Kingsport and Bristol throughout the years but never on this scale.

Michalski, who attended his first-ever Pride celebration earlier this summer, believes that Pride events foster a sense of unity and welcome.

“People can know that this community is welcoming,” he told the Times News. “I think there’s a sense of trust there.”

Eastman officials like McCord agree.

“Diversity is much more than what meets the eye,” McCord said. “Through embracing diversity of thought, ideas and perspectives, we have the opportunity to continue to grow a thriving economy in a region where collaboration and creativity are valued.”

She also believes that the parade will stimulate the region by showing potential residents, business leaders and other visitors a welcoming place to live.

“We believe this will help open doors, not only today but also for future generations in our region.”

The festival, which includes a parade, food, music, kids’ events and an art competition, will take place on Sept. 15. This year’s parade and festival will be held in Johnson City, but TriPrideTN hopes to rotate the location yearly to each of the Tri-Cities. TriPrideTN’s members have been working tirelessly to create the celebration since August 2017, and they are thrilled at how far the region and the organization have come.

“I’ve been here for 20 years now, and there’s been so many changes,” said Michalski of the community he has found in the Tri-Cities. “I think this is another step.”

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