Gay Knoxville: Smoky Mountain Marvelous

Located on the banks of the Tennessee River, Knoxville is a small town that feels like a neighborhood of a big city. Home of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is rather liberal for its southern location and is currently experiencing a revitalized downtown district full of art, dining and cultural experiences. The moderate weather and the nearby Smoky Mountains lend a picturesque background for the bustling activity of this college town.

Knoxville is home to authors Alex Haley and Cormac McCarthy and filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, and is the place where Dolly Parton got her start. Around town, you'll find statues and remnants of the Civil War, and neighborhoods full of charming Victorian homes, some of which are said to be haunted.

For a city that has a main drag named "Gay Street," and a neighborhood called Bearden, you'd think that Knoxville would have a more visible gay community. The truth is, the Knoxville community has been hard hit by hate crimes in the past ten years. Though you might have to look hard, you'll find that Knoxville actually has a fairly large and active gay and trans community, with women being slightly more visible than men.

The adversity that Knoxville's community has faced has really brought out unity, and there are a lot of social meet ups for lesbians, LGBT families and trans people. There are several churches that are gay-affirming and an active Pride group that does more than just plan the June celebration.

Knoxville has a fun nightlife scene with a few gay clubs that have been around for quite a while. Bearden has a suburban feel and a couple of bars. Downtown is friendly and welcoming--with lots of dining and shopping options. Just north of Old City, near downtown, is a residential neighborhood that many gay and lesbian families call home. The UT campus, in the Fort Sanders neighborhood actually boasts its own gay bar.

Restaurants to check out

Upcoming Events in Knoxville