On June 17, 2017, while in Knoxville, TN to perform at Knoxville Pride as part of their Southern Equality Tour, GMCW encountered a group of anti-LGBTQ protesters outside the Knoxville Coliseum where the Knoxville Pride events were taking place. GMCW had finished performing and were on the tour buses about to head back to the hotel. Artistic Director Thea Kano and Executive Director Justin Fyala made a split-second decision. They stopped the buses, got the members to cross four lanes of traffic and then did what they do best: they raised their voiced in song, effectively drowning out the protesters.
The footage from the protest has been viewed over 5 million times on various news outlets and social media platforms, and the story has been picked up all over the US and even overseas with both UK and Ireland news outlets writing about the story. The story has also been tweeted by celebrities like Cher, Audra McDonald and Debra Messing.
“GMCW never backs down when an opportunity to share our mission of equality and justice for all presents itself,” he said. “In my mind, we had no choice… We also did it to empower the people attending Knoxville Pride to raise their voices and as a way of thanking them for the powerful work they are doing on the front lines,” says Justin.
Below is a sample of media postings and articles about the Knoxville protest:
Pink News (UK)
The Irish Times (Dublin)
The Guardian (Australia)
To view the video of GMCW singing and surrounding the protesters, click HERE.