KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE)- It’s Pride Month and there are a ton of events going on to celebrate. Those who identify with the LGBTQ+ community say they hope these events help people find places to feel welcome year-round.

Colleen Darraugh moved to Tennessee just a few years ago from Texas. She’s now a member of one of the oldest LGBTQ+ communities here in Knoxville.

“Pride is about coming out boldly authentically and saying I won’t live in the shadows anymore,” Darraugh said. “When I came out, I felt like a coming to myself and a total understanding of who I was.”

Colleen Darraugh grew up in church, but it wasn’t until she left the community that she said she felt like she could be herself,

“For LGBTQ people there’s been so many of us who’ve been told that they’re not welcome, who were told that they were an abomination, who were told we were not worthy, and we’ve been excluded from faith communities.”

Years later, it was actually the church that gave her a sense of community once again.

“Metropolitan Community Church is a church that practices the radically inclusive love of God, and we welcome all people,” she said.

The LGBT-affirming Protestant Christian denomination was established in 1968.

“This congregation has been in Knoxville for 45 years,” she explained.

They have about 50 members in Knoxville and Rev. Colleen Darraugh is proud to lead them.

“Judgment is God’s and I have to live my life with my understanding of God’s word, and I’ll stand before God for judgment. We don’t need those judgments here.”

Which is why they welcome all.

“It’s important that there are safe spaces and there are other congregations in Knoxville that welcome LGBTQ people,” Darraugh said. 

It’s a community for others to come out of the shadows and find their light through faith.

Darraugh said she met her wife through the church too. They’ve now been together for 23 years.

Metropolitan Community Church of Knoxville has services every Sunday at 11 a.m.

They have a list of events coming up. You can find their Event Calendar here.