On March 16, 2021, the Nashville Metro Council approved officially changing the name of Carney Street to Bianca Paige Way. Bianca Paige Way is one of the first, if not the first, streets named after a drag queen in the country. Nashville has been celebrating Bianca Paige in June for a decade, and so for organizers it seemed only right to celebrate the momentous occasion during Pride Month. To celebrate the honor, the Bianca Paige Awareness Network, in partnership with Music City Prep Clinic, is hosting a two-day celebration on June 26 and 27, 2021.
With all the growth and development in Nashville, many members of the LGBTQ+ community here may or may not have even heard the name Bianca Paige! But for longtime residents, she is a drag icon and HIV/AIDS activist-hero.
Mark Middleton—known on stage as Bianca Paige, the Pantomime Rage—became a prolific female impersonator in the 1980s and continued to perform until his death in 2010.
“Bianca [Mark] was always a very involved activist. However, after being diagnosed with HIV, he decided to come out on stage to his fans and community in a time when most were hiding in the wings,” said Ron Sanford. He even left the biggest club at the time, where he was the star, because they asked him not to talk about HIV/AIDS or even testing on stage. His dedication to pushing awareness on the people he performed for—and the countless money he raised one Drag Dollar at a time—is truly extraordinary. Our community has given him every award you can receive. Most of our organizations have awards named after him! Now even ten years after his death he is still being celebrated!”
Mark’s work led to the formation of BPAN. Since Mark's death, the BPAN works to continue his mission. Each year, Nashville’s mayor and the Metro Council has declared a Bianca Paige Day.
“Bianca Paige still matters after all these years because his courageous and endless support of our community touched so many people while he was on this earth,” Sanford added.
BPAN recognized the Metro Council's renaming of Bianca Paige Way as a major step in honoring the contributions made by Bianca, and Nashville's LGBTQ+ community at large, and extended their thanks to community members Ron Sanford, Steven Kiss, John Paris, and Michael Dolly Wilson, as well as political leaders like Mayor John Cooper, John Lasiter, Colby Sledge, Brett Withers, the LGBT Caucus, and the Metro Council, for facilitating the honor.
To celebrate the honor, the BPAN, in partnership with Music City Prep Clinic, is hosting a two-day celebration on June 26 and 27, 2021. On Saturday, June 26, local LGBTQ organizations, businesses, and the community will come together for the street dedication and a celebration. The Day begins at 3pm with some of Nashville most important dignitaries, including Mayor John Cooper and U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, coming together for the ribbon cutting. The ceremony will also feature performances by stars Ty Herndon, Chris Housman, Brody Ray, Shelly Fairchild and more.
Information about other performances and events on Sunday can be found on the event page. Tickets to the dedication are complimentary, however, RSVPs are required.