There are no reliable statistics on the prevalence of LGBT adults in Knoxville. Still, most anyone who is will tell you the numbers are far higher than the people seen marching in the PrideFest parade. The reality for some, maybe most, is that Knoxville is just not a comfortable environment in which to be openly gay—or open in all aspects of their lives. Why not? Here, in their own words, LGBT Knoxvillians who wished to remain anonymous give just a few of the possible reasons. Some people spoke more than once:
"I am not out because that is information people would try to use to minimalize me or dehumanize me."
"I'm a social worker. A few at work know, but with the judge, foster care parents, and others, I can't be open. It would be detrimental to my career."
"I entered the Unitarian Church behind the gunman that killed my friend, Greg McKendry. That incident reinforced the fact to me that there are people when and where you least expect it who have great contempt for you and will even feel justified harming you. My heart still aches because his life was taken because of people like me."
"The rest of my family knows, but I would never tell my grandpa because he would literally disown me and cut me off from the rest of my family. And he helps me pay for my college; I'd be screwed without that."
"One reason I don't out myself often is because I love children and do some volunteer work with foster children. There are just so many misconceptions that transgender people are pedophiles or that it isn't healthy for children to be around us."
"It is more difficult to be open about being gay because it is more difficult to find health-care providers, insurance is also more difficult to find."
"I'm afraid telling will destroy the relationships I have with people I like."