Soul Sessions Podcast: Kim Lewis for 'Coming Home With Pride'

On today's show, Kim Lewis is the destination development manager for Visit Jackson and a board member of Mississippi Capital City Pride.

Kim's worlds collide the last weekend of the month when Capital City Pride hosts it's second annual pride weekend this year, dubbed Coming Home With Pride, a Jackson Bicentennial celebration.

Kim Lewis
Lewis

Kim talk withs Soul Sessions host Paul Wolf in today's episode.

IN THIS EPISODE:

Coming Home With Pride events | MSCapitalCityPride.org

Listen to Lewis on Soul Sessions

Transcript:

Note: Soul Sessions is produced as a podcast first and designed to be listened to. If you are able, we strongly encourage you to listen to the audio, which includes the emotion and inflection meant to be conveyed by human voice. Our transcripts are created using human transcribers, but may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting.

Paul: This is Soul Sessions, conversations on culture from Jackson, Mississippi. I'm your host, Paul Wolf, bringing you a look at the people, the places, and the events that make us the City With Soul. On today's show, Kim Lewis is the destination development manager for Visit Jackson and a board member of Mississippi Capital City Pride. Kim's worlds collide the last weekend of the month when Capital City Pride hosts it's second annual pride weekend this year, dubbed Coming Home With Pride, a Jackson Bicentennial celebration.

Music:
{We're the City With Soul.}

Paul:
Hey Kim, thanks for being a part of Soul Sessions.

Kim:
Hey Paul, thanks for having me today.

Paul:
Kim is my coworker at Visit Jackson and she is our destination development manager, among many other things. Part of what she's doing is she helps organizations in the community to connect them with each other and to connect them with people who will donate and be a part and volunteer. One of those organizations is Mississippi Capital City Pride. Kim, how did you get involved with Capital City Pride?

Kim:
Well, last year, their executive director and their board came to our office, like many organizations do asking for help on choosing a venue for their event. It grew from there. It was amazing to be able to work with them on something that was so community focused. This is their second year and they're back again and they're great supporters of Visit Jackson, and they're happy to tell everybody all of the great things that we do to help these events take place in our city.

Paul:
Well, and that's from the Visit Jackson side, your role there is very helpful to them. But later on in the program, we're going to talk a little more about how you've taken this to a little more personal level. But first, you mentioned a big event their second year, tell us about Pride Weekend. It's coming up really soon.

Kim:
It is, it is. We hold the Pride event typically the first weekend of October, which surprises a lot of people with June being Pride month, as they say, it's too hot here in the south to do a big outdoor event in June. We kick it off the first weekend of October, and the theme is Coming Home With Pride. We stuck with the Bicentennial theme, kind of followed suit with a lot of other events this year, the St. Patrick's day parade did the same kind of take on our bicentennial. We just created four days of activities that really range from advocacy to entertainment, to family, fun to movies, just really try to create a space for the LGBT community and their allies so that everybody gets to enjoy the company of each other.

Paul:
The cast of the film "Sordid Lives" or at least some of the cast and directors, a homecoming dance party, a festival, a Pride march, the list goes on and on, but the big headliner closing on Sunday is none other than-

Kim:
Big Freedia. Everyone is very, very excited about it. Big Freedia will be the headliner on Sunday at the Two Mississippi Museums. That's a free show. A lot of these events are free, because we don't want money to be in the way of stopping somebody from having a great time, connecting with people, getting information that they may need. The Saturday and Sunday events are free and open to the public. If you were able to attend Maker's Fest, they are set up the same way. They did a great job at the museums and we are implementing the exact same thing for the Pride festival. There are ticketed events, if you want to do meet and greets or VIP, that type of thing, but yeah, Big Freedia will be there on Sunday. We are really, really excited to get her. Another great headliner that we're really proud of on Saturday is we have Jackson native Rita Brent will be there on Saturday as one of our headliners. It's just amazing to see such a community come together and support everybody. It's pretty great.

Paul:
The New Orleans Queen of Bounce, Big Freedia, and of course, Jackson's own Rita Brent, can't forget her. The Rainbow Run 5k that starts from the Eudora Welty Library near the Two Museums campus, just so much going on that weekend. We don't even have time to discuss all the individual events. I'll have you head to visitjackson.com and search "Coming Home With Pride" to learn more. Kim ,as a special part of this weekend, I know that the Two Museums will have free admission and that's courtesy of a special exhibition that is coming in. Can you tell me more about the National AIDS Memorial Quilt?

Kim:
Yes. The National AIDS Memorial Quilt is an event put on by the National AIDS Memorial, and this quilt travels the United States. It's never been in Jackson before. There are panel making sessions, where people create panels for a larger quilt, and they are in remembrance of somebody that may be living with HIV or may have passed due to HIV or AIDS. This quilt specifically focuses on people of color, because this is not something that's going away. I think a lot of times we feel like it's controlled and it's not an issue anymore, but it truly is. This quilt is to give people a chance to grieve and educate at the same time. That organization has bought out the Two Mississippi Museums so that anybody can come and enjoy the entire museums, in addition to just the quilt exhibit. There'll be some other location throughout the city that will have some of those panels put on as well. They will be doing additional workshops the weekend of inside the museums, if anybody wants to come in and help or be part of that too.

Paul:
One of the things that I've read about this National AIDS Memorial Quilt is that if you stretch out all the panels end to end, it would be about 56 miles. This is a huge project and it disproportionately represents Black and Brown people. Part of coming to Jackson and doing these workshops, having local panels made, is to be more representative. Now these panels will travel with this quilt for feature generations to see.

Kim:
What an amazing place to have it right there at our Two Mississippi Museums, just the strength and resilience that those Two Museums represent to have something like this on display there is pretty powerful.

Paul:
Kim, I mentioned earlier that this is a very personal mission for you. You got involved as an employee of Visit Jackson, just doing your job, trying to be helpful to Mississippi Capital City Pride, but this has taken on a whole different meaning. Why is supporting Capital City Pride and supporting the LGBTQ+ community here in Jackson, so important to you?

Kim:
Well, when I originally was brought on to help with the event, I took it as the position of not only my job, but also as a citizen, as an ally, as someone who could potentially help. I'm also a mom to a house full of boys and to lead by example and to teach them to be a part of communities that you wouldn't necessarily be in. That the voice of an ally or the help of an ally is a really strong thing. I've enjoyed it very much so. Actually, I was voted to be on the board earlier this year, and then I was made chair elect. I must be doing something correctly because they keep putting me to work, that's for sure.

Paul:
Well, I know between your Visit Jackson duties and your Capital City Pride duties, Pride weekend, the last weekend of September into the first weekend of October, there it's going to be a busy weekend for you.

Kim:
It definitely will. It's going to be a lot of fun. Lot of memories, a lot of hugs, just a lot of pride, honestly. That's what it comes down to proud of our Capital City and the fact that it can embrace such an amazing event.

Paul:
We'll put links to Mississippi Capital City Pride's Coming Home With Pride weekend full of activities in our show notes. Visit Jackson and Capital City Pride's Kim Lewis. Kim, thanks so much for being here today.

Kim:
Thank you, Paul.

Paul:
Soul Sessions is a production of Visit Jackson. Our executive producers are Jonathan Pettus and Dr. Rickey Thigpen. To learn more about our organization and mission, head to visit jackson.com. I'm Paul Wolf, and you've been listening to Soul Sessions.

Music:
{My City, my my My City}

Paul Wolf

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