While living in the south, it can be challenging to find safe spaces where all individuals are free to express themselves in a genuine and unapologetic manner. Given that the city of Knoxville is so large and diverse, there’s many places that openly welcome members of different backgrounds, including those who identify as LGBTQ.
Here are five examples of places to consider visiting for those who identify as LBGTQ or want to support the greater community.
South Press Coffee
South Press is a local coffee shop located off Chapman Highway, making it a quick and easily accessible getaway.
What distinguishes South Press from other local coffee shops is its particularly unique environment that aims to make each customer feel like the space is just as much theirs as anyone else’s.
The mix of ‘50s and ’90s aesthetics makes South Press a beautifully unique space unlike any other. Openly displayed pride flags and inclusive signs characterize the space as one that is especially welcoming of LGBTQ individuals.
South Press serves a large variety of coffees, teas and pastries, but even for Knoxville community members who aren’t looking for a place to eat, South Press is a chill environment great for studying or hanging out.
Given the shop was opened by Joslynn Fish, a member of the LGBTQ community herself, the story of South Press is especially inspiring and one that everyone is encouraged to be a part of.
Yassin’s Falafel House
Yassin’s Falafel House was opened by Syrian refugee Yassin Terou with the intention to serve as a place that welcomes people of all identities and backgrounds. Yassin’s Falafel House has received critical acclaim from leading media organizations in the U.S. It even won the “Reader’s Digest” title of “Nicest Place in America” in 2018 and was featured on “Good Morning America” that same year.
Displayed on Yassin’s menu is a range of Mediterranean inspired dishes including sandwiches, salads and various sides. Customers can find the restaurant in Downtown Knoxville and the Cedar Bluff area.
Yassin’s entry sign perfectly captures the message the restaurant wishes to send to America, which is that it is a safe place that welcomes people of “all sizes, all colors, all ages, all sexes, all cultures, all religions and all beliefs.”
Knox Pride Center
Knox Pride is primarily known for hosting the city’s annual Pride Festival, although they develop a variety of other events as well. According to their website, these include a silent ArtOut auction, a fashion show and pride picnics.
As they recently signed a lease for a space off Chapman Highway, Knox Pride intends to open a physical outreach center this month. Opening the community and outreach center is the first step towards creating a brighter future where Knox Pride can provide services and resources for LGTBQ groups and individuals.
Knox Pride is not only a great place for LGBTQ members to gather and grow together, but it’s also a great organization to get involved with to give back to the community. To partner with Knox Pride, reach out to John Camp, president of the 2021 Executive Board. For more information, visit the Knox Pride webpage.
Knox Box Karaoke
Knox Box Karaoke is a nightlife destination open Tuesday through Sunday from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Those visiting Knox Box can take advantage of their food and drink menu and sing along to their extensive list of songs, but Knox Box also hosts other events.
For example, during Pride Month, Knox Box held a weekly Drag Show, and similar drag nights continue to be popular events hosted by Knox Box. Knox Box also hosts themed nights, and for more information regarding upcoming events, be sure to check out Knox Box’s social media pages and website.
Knox Box describes itself as a place where “everyone can sing,” so for Knoxville community members searching for an exciting nightlife experience, Knox Box Karaoke is a well-regarded, inclusive place worth looking into.
Broadway at the Tennessee Theatre features different genres of shows throughout the year, including many that feature LGBTQ stars. For instance, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is being put on, on Oct. 23 with tickets priced at $12.
In November, the theatre will host “A Drag Queen Christmas,” and in February of 2022, “Rent” will be performed in celebration of its 25th anniversary tour. The Bijou and the Clarence Brown Theater on campus are also great sources for LGBTQ-focused entertainment — for instance, the Knoxville Gay Men’s Choir has performed at both of these locations.
The theatre world is one that typically exists as a safe haven for LGBTQ groups across the nation, and Knoxville’s theatre community is no exception.
Whether members of Knoxville’s LGBTQ society have an interest in participating as performers or merely spectators, Knoxville’s theaters serve as great spaces with a diverse range of entertainment allowing LGBTQ culture to thrive.