More than 100 people filled Nashville’s Tribe for Thursday's Slay Hate rally, which was organized by the Human Rights Campaign and served as a call to action in the wake of recently passed anti-LGBTQ legislation in Tennessee.

The event featured remarks from Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson, Tennessee Equality Project Executive Director Chris Sanders, American Civil Liberties Union Tennessee Executive Director Kathy Sinback, HRC's Nik Harris, and National Women’s Law Center's Leila Abolfazli.

Security was heightened for the event, with multiple Metro Nashville Police Department squad cars stationed around the club. Despite the expressed threat felt from the state, the mood was largely positive and supportive among attendees, with speakers calling on attendees to “build a movement.”

“They want to control us and shove us into their gender stereotypes and their gender norms that we reject,” Abolfazli said, adding, “This fight is long and hard." Sinback's vows to win the legal battles ahead were met with cheers from the crowd.

“We are fighting for our lives, and they are fighting for a lie that is even entrapping some of their own members,” Sanders said of the state legislature’s Republican supermajority. “We must abolish the closet and we must fight anti-Blackness in this country, because in doing that, though they don’t know it, we will liberate not only ourselves but we will liberate them too.”

“They don’t know what they have ignited,” Robinson said. “This is the kind of energy that we’re going to bring to Gov. Lee’s doorstep, this is the kind of energy we brought to the statehouse, this is the kind of energy we’re going to bring to the United States House of Representatives too.”

“These drag bans, they’ve never been about drag,” Robinson said. “These are the same people who are coming for medically necessary gender-affirming care, these are the same people trying to kick our kids out of sports, these are the same people trying to reject HIV funding for the state, these are the people trying to reject our ability to educate ourselves about us.” 

“This is racism, this white supremacy playing out and we are not going to stand for it, are we?” said Robinson, who was met with a screaming response of, “No!"

The rally also featured performances by singer-songwriter and transgender rights activist Shea Diamond and drag artists Perplexity and Vanity. See photos from the event above.

Like what you read?

Click here to make a contribution to the Scene and support local journalism!