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Sept./Oct. 2013




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Joey Amato Managing Editor Ben Rock Publisher

Estella Pan Book Reviewer Sebastian Fortino Business Editor A.J. Busé Business Correspondent Michael Burcham Business Writer Dan J. Groover Business Writer Lisa Howe Fitness Editor Mark Allyn Nimmo Food & Wine Editor John Winnett Life & Style Writer Kyle Kressin Music Editor Ron Slomowicz Political Editor Jim Schmidt Arts & Entertainment Editor

Letter from the editor There are a lot of ways you can fight the good fight for a city you love, and sometimes leaving is the best thing you can do. Yes, the rumors are true: I’m leaving Nashville. And moving to Seattle. The first question I’m asked is “What are you going to do with your house and pets?” The second is “Why Seattle?” The third is “Are leaving UNITE and everything you’ve set in motion?” The first answer is easy: the house sold the weekend I put it on the market, and the pets are coming with me. The second and third really have to be answered together. I need to be somewhere bigger, and having split my time between here and there during the past month, Seattle already feels like home. However, that doesn’t mean I’m abandoning Nashville, a city I love, or UNITE and the thing Joey and I have set in motion. I have always been a behind-the-scenes guy, the writer and producer who makes everything work and instigates change through words and creative organization, helping the other activists shine. Moving to a larger city will allow me more resources to make UNITE even bigger and better than the startup idea Joey and I came up with while we were cooking dinner one night. This will allow us a West Coast base that can bring even more attention to the Hal Catos, the Marisa Richmonds, and the Nashville in Harmonys who work to progress equality in the city and state. By the time you read this, I will have just moved in to my new home in Seattle’s Capitol Hill district and begun spreading the word about the great LOCAL STARS in Nashville and building for us to UNITE out west. Big love!

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Chamber Chat by Joey Amato

The Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce has undergone a dramatic overhaul in the past 12 months. Membership has tripled from 60 to 180 members and corporate sponsorship has doubled. Its role in the LGBT business community has shifted from a service organization to a proactive leader with its recent sponsorship of the Employee Resource Group forum held at Cracker

Barrel. Over 120 business leaders shared their knowledge and inspiration on how they created LGBT employee resource groups within their companies. The seminar included executives from Cracker Barrel, Hallmark, Nissan, Remar, Dell, Deloitte, and Skanska and was the first of its kind in Tennessee. “I think the forward movement in the Chamber could not have happened

without the dedication and leadership from our board of directors under the leadership of Jeremy Davis and Brad Pinson,” said Lisa Howe, the Chamber’s executive director. “We have a very active board, and each member brings something unique and valuable to the organization. There has been a progressive shift in focus from our LGBT

NGLBTCC board members Bruce Pittman and Scott Glasgow

photo by MyL of MPack Photography; cake by Dawn Joy Stoika of Gaylord Opryland Catering


business community. LGBT people understand the influence of their buying power, and with over $800 billion in expenditure cash projected in 2013, we see that we have not only a political and activist voice but also a voice in where we spend our dollars.” The Chamber is focused on supplier diversity and is in the process of fast-tracking any business that wants to become a certified LGBT business enterprise (LGBTBE). Certification is a marketing tool that sets a company apart from its competition and

provides access to awesome opportunities. When a business is certified as a diversity supplier, it has an edge when procuring business with other diversity supplier-supported businesses as well as access to government and military contracts. According to Howe, the Chamber’s primary mission is to ensure the LGBT community is not left out when it comes to the economic development of Nashville. Throughout the year, members are invited to participate in dozens of education workshops, speaker forums, and networking opportunities, in-

cluding its signature event “Tastefully Unpredictable” presented by Bridgestone, which will take place on October 27 at OZ. The “Unpredictable” brand began in 2006 as a fundraiser for the Chamber with a single mission: to create a social and business-networking event that raises funds for the Chamber’s operations. The format of the event has changed over the years keeping the unpredictable element in tack. There have been fashion shows, auctions, food tastings, magic acts, dances, and more. With each Unpredictable event there has to

be some element of surprise, so the Chamber can only tell you that it is excited to have an awesome event design team this year led by Bruce Pittman and Scott Glasgow. In addition, Harrison Perry has been hired as the event’s publicist. This year’s event, which is a part of Metro Arts Commission’s Artober, is sponsored by Curb Records, Bridgestone, Gaylord Opryland, PSAV, OSHi Flowers, the Nashville Scene, and Brady Mills Graphics. OZ will be transformed into a work of art with a promise of design, artistic, and perfor-

mance elements that Nashville has never experienced. To purchase tickets, visit www.nashvilleglbtchamber. org.

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Avoid Replacing Your Skin with Scar Tissue Start-Up Lessons from the Field for Entrepreneurs by Michael Burcham, PhD

Below are the top six lessons I’ve learned over the past 25 years of creating and running businesses. I tell people that most of my skin has been slowly replaced with scar tissue from learning the lessons of business creation and leadership of teams—the hard way. I hope you find these helpful and can learn from my mistakes to avoid creating your own scar tissue.

1. Start with the Idea.

Starting with the right idea matters—a lot. Empirically, you can only pivot so far. Many great ideas become successful businesses because they’ve been made possible by some social or technological change. Bringing innovation from another industry to your industry can be a great way to conceptualize a new idea. Just make sure the technology is there to make the product or service better enough so that it actually matters. Work on a problem that has an immediate, useful solution and has enormous potential for growth. If it doesn’t augment the human condition for a number of people in a meaningful way, it may not be worth doing.

2. Validate Your Market. The best products and ser-


vices don’t get built in a vacuum. They win because they serve a real market need or pain. They reach the top of a field over all other products and services designed to fill the same niche. Find your market space and be the best solution available. If there is no clear market space, something is wrong. If you find yourself trying to “educate your market” on why you’re relevant, recognize you’re in deep trouble. Educating a market that doesn’t want your product is a losing battle. Sure, you have to be true to your mission and vision, but you also have to open your eyes to see trends—you won’t likely change them.

3. Build the Team (Hiring & Firing). Pick the initial

unreliable, have no sense of urgency, or aren’t pragmatic. Do it quickly. Some friction is good. Too much friction is deadly. Fire people that cause too much friction.

6. Use Investor Advice Effectively. Most investor

advice is very good for opti4. Know the Role of the CEO. When in startup mode, mizing and scaling a working make as many decisions as you can by consensus but have a single chief executive officer whose decisions are final. Make that clear from day one. If you are the chief executive officer, never forget your authority is earned. You start with a zero baseline of credibility. It grows as you have victories and create success and dwindles if you don’t. Don’t try to use authority you have not yet earned.

team very carefully. Everyone 5. Build & Sustain Team you hire should be pleasant to Morale. Morale is very real work with most of the time, and self-perpetuating. As the have at least one great skill that is highly relevant to the business, and they should be extremely effective and pragmatic. Everyone should have a sense of urgency and a shared vision for the product and the company. Their work ethics and commitments should match yours. Fire people that are difficult, unproductive,

leader of the business, your job is to constantly calibrate the team’s morale. Even small wins matter, so take time to celebrate milestones with your team. If you work too long without some level of success—even small wins—your investors, employees, family, and you will lose faith. Work like hell not to ever let yourself get into this position. Break big goals into smaller milestones, or micro-stones, so that the team can see and feel the progress.

business. Listen to it carefully. Think about how it relates to your situation. Even if they don’t invest, a potential investor’s insight can have a big impact on your success. Most investor advice isn’t very good for building a magical product or service—that’s your job. Don’t be dismissive of investor criticism. Instead, use it to improve your product. Your most vocal critics will often turn into your biggest champions if you take their criticism seriously.

Read more lessons for entrepreneurs at

Michael Burcham, PhD, has been called the “Simon Cowell of startups.” As the founder and CEO of The Entrepreneur Center in Nashville, he screens dozens of new business ideas each week and has worked with everyone from a 10-yearold with a briefcase to a single mother with a dream, helping those with the best ideas achieve their goals while coaching others to further develop their aims.



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richard branson The Virgin Entrepreneur by Matt Madlock

Sir Richard Branson is arguably one of the most eccentric, gregarious, and successful entrepreneurs in the world. As founder and chair of the Virgin Group, Branson oversees an umbrella of over 400 companies, most notably Virgin Atlantic and Virgin America. His success began in the early 1970s with the creation of a mail-order record business, which rapidly grew into a chain of record stores and a record label that eventually launched the careers of the Sex Pistols and Culture Club. In the years that followed, Branson branched out into the airline business and added many high-profile ventures to his name, including Virgin Mobile, Virgin Galactic—a joint-venture with Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen—Virgin Racing, and Virgin Trains. At one point, he even owned a gay nightclub called Heaven. Branson will be the first to admit that not every venture he started has been successful, but he believes in giving each business one year to succeed. Branson is always striving to help budding entrepreneurs develop and grow their own businesses and describes a business as simply creating something that is going to make a difference in people’s lives and make their lives better. “That should be your purpose, because if you’re not going to make people’s lives better, then there is no point in creating a business,” he said. “The second thing is, having coming up with an idea

be willing to surround yourself with people who believe in your idea. However, in the end, the best advice I can give any entrepreneur is screw it and just do it!” Starting a business is never easy, and many businesses fail within the first year of creation. “If you are starting a business from scratch, there is only one word that really matters, and that is survival,” Branson explained. “There’s a very thin dividing line between success and failure, and it’s very easy to go on the wrong side of that line. So, you just have to fight to survive.” The Virgin empire currently employs 7,000 people worldwide, but there were times when Branson had to fight for the company’s survival. “One day, I sat my young children down and said that at the end of that particular week I might have to take them out of school and might have to sell the apartment,” he said, “but we managed to stay on the right side of that thin dividing line. So survival is pretty critical.” People help build a business and—ultimately—a brand, and as a result, Branson cannot emphasize enough the importance of appreciating people. “You’ve got to be a good motivator, be able to praise people and bring out their best,” he said. “Never criticize somebody. People know when they have done something wrong, so

they don’t need to be told. The more you can look at the best in people, the more they’ll give back.

“When I moved from the music business to the airline business, I knew the most important person was the person who headed up maintenance because if you have a crash, there’s no point in being in existence. So, I got the head of maintenance from my rival airline to come run Virgin.

“If it’s not in your natural instinct to do that, you have to teach yourself to do it,” he continued, “and you’ll soon realize it’s like a flower, if they “From that point, I knew our aren’t watered, they die. airline was going to be properly If people aren’t praised, they run, and it’s going to be a safe shrivel up. To genuinely be praised will always bring out the airline,” he said. “Make sure the thing that matters most about best in people. Make sure you create a really happy atmosphere your company is that your key for people to work in and make person is really solid.” sure you look after the cleaning Branson has been a supporter of lady as much as your deputy LGBT rights since the late 1960s managing director.” and has, most recently, taped an Out4Marriage campaign video Forming your initial team can in which he states, “Getting always be a challenge and may married myself and giving my require thinking outside the daughter away were two of the box. “People asked, ‘How can proudest days of my life. somebody in the record Everybody should be business end up runable to experience ning an airline?’ If those moments if you can run one they wish to do business well so, regardless and you find of their sexthe right uality.” people to run it, you can run any business,’” Branson said.

12 | UNITE MAGAZINE photo courtesy of Virgin Group

We believe that diversity should’t mean _____, but rather the _______ that moves (division)


(right angle)




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Differences don’t make us _____ or (less than)

______ to one another, instead they (not equal)

promote creativity, new ideas and push innovation through the changing _____. (times)








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reaching a _____ or ______ to make ______, (number)



it’s a pursuit __________ the bottom line. (greater than)

______ (equality)



it just makes good sense { Fifth Third Bank. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.


colleges, potential employers, and nonprofits.

Hal Cato

Nashville's Entrepreneur by Dan J. Groover

A special feature within the Zeumo infrastructure is Chime In, a portal that gives every student a voice and vote on issues and topics ranging from school climate and culture to events and products that affect and influence their fellow students. Recently, Cato was able to secure $1 million worth of funding which allowed him to bring his brainchild to Metro Nashville Public Schools. Zeumo will also be introduced into public school systems in Chattanooga, Louisville, and Houston this fall. However, Cato’s success did not come overnight. He even admits to experiencing many obstacles and failures along the way. “I’ve learned the importance of collaboration, surrounding yourself with coaches who believe in you, and most importantly, the importance of a well-articulated vision,” he said.

photo courtesy of Hal Cato

There’s a saying that the best entrepreneurs understand a problem because they lived the problem. This is exactly what motivated Hal Cato to start social media company Zeumo in 2012. The company is designed to address the communication needs of teenagers in the education system. Zeumo creates closed social networks for schools designed to improve communication, connections, and student engagement. It offers schools and their community-based partners a mobile and social alternative to


public address systems, posters, emails, and other one-size-fitsall communication strategies that have little to do with how students actually communicate today. During his tenure as chief executive officer of the Oasis Center, Cato realized that students were very connected to one another but not to the resources essential to supporting and promoting their futures. He created Zeumo to be the “better inbox” for students to directly access prospective

Cato also advises entrepreneurs to understand the difference between a compelling business model and a compelling mission while emphasizing the importance of communication with potential customers at every stage of development. He also encourages the use of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, which he identifies as “one of the best in the country.” Cato is certainly no stranger to the business world. Out of college he founded Hands On Nashville, an organization that “connects community needs with volunteers ready to help meet those needs.” Since its inception, Hands On Nashville

has grown from 16 members to over 400,000. As one of the premier youth advocates in the community, Cato helped found the Nashville Youth Alliance, Alignment Nashville, the Nashville After Zone Alliance, and the Mayor’s Child and Youth Master Plan. He has also been integral in the development of the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children and the Youth Opportunity Center. Under Cato’s direction the Oasis Center received the 2011 Best in Business award for nonprofit organizations by the Nashville Business Journal and the national Agency of the Year by the National Network for Youth. In 2010, the editors of the Nashville Scene named Cato Nashvillian of the Year. If that wasn’t enough, the Human Rights Campaign presented him with the Community Leader Award at its annual Nashville Equality Dinner in 2013. Cato has a passion for serving the youth in his community. Before leaving the Oasis Center, he helped Pam Sheffer launch Just Us, a comprehensive program for LGBT youth that is continually growing here in Nashville. Cato has received some prestigious awards over the years, but what he finds most rewarding is when he runs into a young person out in the community that is now thriving because of the small role Cato was able to play in the youth’s life years ago. “I get lots of nice Father’s Day messages every year,” he said, “and I save every last one of them.” For more information on Zeumo, visit

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Marisa Richmond Getting Tennessee Organized for Change by Caitlin Mitchell Marisa Richmond is a busy woman. Whether she’s lobbying in DC for the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition or leading the Davidson County Democratic Women, she has a lot on her plate.

still lobbies for the organization. The week before the Supreme Court’s rulings on DOMA, Richmond traveled to Washington as a member of a four-person team to lobby Tennessee congressional offices.

As the first trans woman elected to office in Tennessee, Richmond has always been a strong advocate for Tennessee’s trans community. She has worked hard over the years to support trans people in the state, from co-founding the Tennessee Vals support group in 1992 to becoming the first black trans woman from any state elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Currently, she’s also on the board of directors for both the National Center for Transgender Equality and the Trans People of Color Coalition.

Her efforts were directed toward more than DOMA, however. “We were on Capitol Hill talking primarily about the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) and comprehensive immigration reform. We've been pushing for ENDA as long as I can remember,” she said.

However, much of her energy for trans activism goes toward the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition. The TTPC was formed ten years ago in May 2003. “We’re a statewide group advocating for equal rights for all LGBT people, specifically with a trans focus,” she said. “We give a voice to the trans community and focus on those issues that have a direct impact on the day-to-day lives of transgender people.” This past January, Richmond stepped down from her position as president of TTPC, but she


ENDA is important because, if passed, job discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people would be illegal. Richmond is happy that the Supreme Court repealed DOMA, but she says that legal protection in the workplace is also necessary. For this reason, Richmond was very upset by the Supreme Court’s ruling on affirmative action two days before DOMA’s repeal. Trans activists have had many major gains recently under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but the Supreme Court’s decision undermined this portion of the law. “The law says that sex discrimination is banned, and we’ve gotten some rulings from both the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission saying that the law covers trans people,” she explained.

“Then, the Supreme Court said that discrimination and harassment can only come from the person who directly hires and fires. Your immediate supervisor cannot discriminate against you unless they have the direct hiring or firing power. It’s narrowed the definition of harassment and discrimination.” Amidst all the celebration surrounding DOMA’s repeal, this has been a huge blow. “It has almost been overlooked, but trans people are up in arms about this right now. They targeted Title VII, and that’s the section we’re starting to use successfully. At the very moment we’re starting to make gains from it, the Supreme Court narrowed the option, and that’s why we’re so upset.” As for DOMA, Richmond says that it will be a while before we know the full effects of the Supreme Court’s ruling—for both trans people and the entire LGBT community. The Supreme Court only ruled that couples in states that already have same-sex marriage can get full federal benefits. That leaves out states like Tennessee, but Richmond is still hopeful. Trans rights activists across the country have recently achieved many gains through new policies and court orders. Social Security decided to lift the surgical requirement for gender changes and records, and trans people have had court successes in several states.

photo by Joey Amato

“The gains that are being made around the country and the increased visibility of the community are having a spillover effect. We’re seeing the polls even in Tennessee improving, but they’re still not where they need to be,” said Richmond. To create more change in Tennessee, Richmond encourages residents of the state to organize. “Elections have consequences. School boards, city councils, and state legislators affect you on a daily basis. They have more of a day-to-day impact than Congress does. Two of the justices who voted in favor of equality in the DOMA ruling were not on the board in 2008: Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. If John McCain had won that election, he would have appointed another Samuel Alito or Antonin Scalia. Instead Obama won, and those two votes turned out to be critical because we only won by one. That’s the mentality we have to get to our community. If we have people on the benches making decisions, I want to make sure they’re the next Sonia Sotomayor, not the next Scalia.”


and the Nashville Symphony September 21




2002 and launched a national Christmas tour. They had such an overwhelming response to their tour that they began recording more albums together and have since released six CDs and several singles. Their music video for “This is Love” was named LOGO’s 2006 Video of the Year. SAFE is their most recent album release, and Jason & deMarco will be performing many of the tracks from the album during the Celebrating Diversity tour. They will also perform new arrangements to well-known songs that they have yet to record. The duo have performed throughout the world, including Naples, Venice, Barcelona, and Thailand. In 2005, they were banned from Singapore for being an openly gay couple; however, a year later, they were invited back to Singapore to perform a sold-out event with photos courtesy of RJN Music

Jason and deMarco spread joy to nashville by Jeremy Lyons Pop singing duo and real-life partners Jason & deMarco are hitting the road once again this fall, spreading their unique brand of inspiring music. Their Joy in the Journey: Celebrating Diversity tour begins in Nashville on Friday, September 27, and continues for 30 days with over 20 East Coast performances. The couple will travel on an RV tour bus along with Jason’s parents and the duo’s two-year-old twin sons, Mason and Noah. “We invite everyone to come together for a great concert celebrating our differences,”

Jason said. “Straight, gay, male, female, black, or white, our diversity is what makes us a unique and powerful nation,” deMarco added. “Many of us want the same thing: someone to love, who will love us in return, and perhaps even build a family with that person. We hope that our tour will inspire people and remind all that, in spite of our differences, when we respect one another’s hopes and dreams, everyone wins.” Jason & deMarco first recorded a Christmas album together in


over 1,000 in attendance. A government official even attended and publicly apologized for the ban from the stage. The Joy in the Journey: Celebrating Diversity tour commemorates Jason & deMarco’s ten-year anniversary as a singing duo. _____________________ Jason and deMarco’s Joy in the Journey: Celebrating Diversity concert takes place Friday, September 27, at Puckett’s at Lieper’s Fork, Saturday, September 28, at Holy Trinity Community Church in Nashville, and Sunday, September 29, at Convenant of the Cross in Nashville. Suggested donation $20. A portion of the evening’s proceeds benefit S.A.F.E., Jason & deMarco’s nonprofit charity for LGBTQ foster and homeless youth. Visit www.jasonanddemarco. com for more information.


Arts & Flowers

photos by Andrea Wall



A Conversation with Congressman Mark Pocan by Jim Schmidt

The year 2012 was a milestone for LGBT electoral politics. While Tennessee still has only two openly LGBT elected officials, across the country LGBT candidates won big, especially at the congressional level. Not only did Wisconsin make history by electing lesbian Tammy Baldwin to the US Senate, but the LGBT community doubled its representation in the House of Representatives from three to six members. One of those victories was the election of Democrat Mark Pocan to Wisconsin’s 2nd District, which Tammy Baldwin represented before running for Senate. The district is made up of mostly the state capitol, Madison, where Pocan was a state representative before winning his congressional seat. Congressman Pocan will visit Nashville on September 29 as the featured speaker at the Victory Fund’s Nashville Champagne Brunch at the Hutton Hotel and took some time beforehand to talk about how members of the LGBT community can get involved in politics and how the impact of their elections make huge advances for the fight for LGBT rights. Jim Schmidt: First off, welcome to Nashville and the South. Is this your first time visiting this part of the country?


Mark Pocan: Have to say I’ve been down south before but never Nashville. Unfortunately, it’ll be a short trip, but hopefully, I’ll get to do some future planning for another trip down there. Your election in 2012 was part of big year of federal election wins for the LGBT community. You joined Congresspersons Mark Takano of California, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, David Cicilline of Rhode Island, and Jared Polis of Colorado to make up the largest LGBT caucus ever in the US House. How do you think that’s affected the continued policy battles for LGBT rights? Having a caucus this large, we’ve actually been able to hire a staff member for the Congressional Equaity Caucus, so it’s been easier to reach out to even more members of Congress to grow the group to help support LGBT causes. It’s also been great since we have so many LGBT members who have different

photo courtesy of Mark Pocan

backgrounds and come from different parts of the country now. We’ve got almost 100 members now, LGBT and straight. What issues have you focused on since your election to Congress? I’ve been working on an amendment to the Constitution to assure the right to vote for Americans, which, given some of the activities in many states to make it harder to vote, is needed. Congressman Jim Cooper actually had a similar bill, and he’s been very gracious to work with. I’ve been working on a bill to fully close the door on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” so those that were dishonorably discharged under that policy would be able to change that designation. I’m also working on a bill that would allow students to refinance their student loans, which is really important since I represent a big university area. You come from a state that some people would be surprised to know has some pretty conservative areas, not unlike Tennessee. You also have a Republican governor and Republican legislature like Tennessee. Any advice for advancing LGBT rights in a political environment that’s not necessarily friendly to those issues? What’s interesting is that often the people in those states are more progressive and open minded than the legislators that may be elected in those states. I think if you keep getting the message out to the people directly, you’ll find that people support things like nondiscrimination in employment

t and housing, and eventually, he legislative leaders in that state have to listen to the people. You just have to keep working to get that message out. One of my favorite photos from the post-election last year was you being sworn in by Speaker John Boehner with your husband standing by your side. How surreal was it to be sworn in by a man that fights against marriage equality and how has Phil, your husband, been treated around the capitol since the election? Barney Frank and his husband have been really great helping us guide through D.C. One of the interesting things is I think I’m the only married member of our LGBT caucus, and so Phil is the only spouse and he was the first person to get a spouse ID. We had to push to get it and had to have Leader Pelosi’s help in doing that. I think it’s pretty significant that it represents that LGBT spouses will be treated the same way as other spouses of congressmen. Okay, I have to ask it, but who’s your favorite country artist? Are you a Dolly, Reba, or Faith guy? I hate to pick the wrong one, but I have to admit...who doesn’t love Dolly? She’s an institution. Congressman Mark Pocan is the featured speaker at the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund’s Nashville Champagne Brunch on Sunday, September 29, at the Hutton Hotel. Tickets can be purchased at www.victoryfund. org/nashville.

Advocating for Same Sex Partners Financial and Legal Issues • Estate Protection • Personal Protection • Income Protection • Tax Protection • Investment Protection An industry leader in educating clients, peers, and adult learners in estate planning and wealth transfer, Frank C. Weightman, PH.D., CEP, is a strong advocate for the Nashville LGBT community. His office is located at 341 Cool Springs Blvd., Suite 210, Franklin, TN 37067, 615.261.4632. Securities and advisory services offered through FSC Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC. Radian Partners is not affiliated with FSC or registered as a broker-dealer or investment advisor.


Artober a great time to be in

NASHVILLE by Rebecca Berrios

We’ve all been privy to recent national media hype about Nashville from the likes of GQ, Travel + Leisure, the New York Times, Bon Appétit, Southern Living, and dozens more newspapers, magazines, and publications. “Nowville,” or the “IT” city, has even been named one of America’s top ten culturally cultivated cities by and was the only US city to be nominated as a Traveler’s Choice Destination at the NewNowNext Awards last year.


It’s no surprise to Nashvillians why we are in the spotlight—through music, design, the arts, film, fashion, and cuisine, our city is experiencing a creative renaissance, and Artober Nashville is the perfect way for locals and tourists alike to experience for themselves all the reasons we are receiving such high accolades. Artober Nashville is an initiative of the Metro Nashville Arts Commission (Metro

Arts). In partnership with and sponsored by Fifth Third Bank, Nashville Scene, and Country Life Blog, Artober Nashville is the largest arts and culture celebration in the South, and this year marks its third anniversary. For the entire month of October (and the weeks leading up to it), artists, businesses, organizations, and art lovers and patrons will come together with one goal in mind: to celebrate and experience the richness and diversity that makes Nashville a cultural Mecca. Last year over 350,000 Nashvillians participated in the festivities that included nearly 1,000 arts and cultural events of every kind like festivals, orchestral performances, fine art exhibits, music shows, and poetry readings to name a few. Befitting of National Arts and Humanities Month as designated by Americans for the Arts and

the National Endowment for the Arts, Artober Nashville allows the creative sector to prove itself lively, engaging, and fruitful. This year’s festivities will prove to be just as engaging, and a great way to get in on the action is through the Artober Nashville VIP Pass. Valued at over $300, the pass entitles the holder to receive special offers and discounts from participating organizations and venues throughout the month, such as the Belcourt Theatre, Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art, the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, Dance Theatre of Tennessee, Fort Houston, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, the Nashville Ballet, Nashville Children’s Theatre, the Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce, the Nashville Symphony, Picture This Creative Framing & Gallery, and Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC). Passes cost

$10 and proceeds will benefit arts education efforts in the Nashville community. This year the party is even getting started a little early. There are many great events happening in late September to whet your appetite and help usher in Artober Nashville like festivals, craft fairs, and free performances from some of our highly esteemed and award-winning cultural entities. September 20 is a big night in Nashville as Dance Theatre of Tennessee’s season will commence with its second annual Ballet in the Park series. A brand new staging of the classical ballet Giselle will be presented outdoors at Centennial Park. September 27–29, the Tennessee Association of Craft Artists will take over the lawn in front of Nashville’s famed Parthenon with its 35th Annual TACA Fall Craft Fair. Along with the array of high quality craft, visitors will enjoy food vendors, family-friendly activities, and demonstrations from artisans. The first weekend of October is already programmed with Artober Nashville events like Celebrate Nashville Cultural Festival, Watkins’ Handmade & Bound, Vol. 3 Book Arts Festival, the Hermitage Fall Fest, and art crawls on 5th Avenue of the Arts and in the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood. Visit the Frist Center for the Visual Arts between October 11 and 13 to catch the

exhibition of local photographer Jack Spencer in the upper galleries before it closes and to view two new exhibitions opening in the lower galleries with 30 Americans (a showcase of works by many of the most important African American artists of the last three decades such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kara Walker, Nick Cave, Wangechi Mutu, and Robert Colescott) and Ana Maria Tavares: Deviating Utopias. Some other highlights of Artober Nashville events happening are The Pearl Fishers by the Nashville Opera October 10–12 and Peter Pan by the Nashville Ballet October 18–20. The Downtown Nashville Partnership and the Metro Nashville Arts Commission will be celebrating Artober Nashville all month long at “Picnic in the Park.” Weather permitting, tables and chairs will be set up every Thursday during lunchtime in Church Street Park. Local food trucks will be positioned around the park selling food and special entertainment will be provided free of charge. To wrap up the month’s festivities Metro Arts will join Artober Nashville sponsors Fifth Third Bank and the Nashville Scene to host a free one-day creativity summit on October 30 with Nash-Up: Remixing Nashville’s Arts, Culture, and Creative Future. Visit www.artobernashville. com for more info.









• Walking distance to Vanderbilt, Music Row & restaurants • Delicious on-site catering & reserved dining facilities • Complimentary parking 615.340.7500 • RESERVATIONS@SCARRITTBENNETT.ORG • 1008 19TH AVE S • SCARRITTBENNETT.ORG Scarritt-Bennett is a non-profit education, retreat and conference center with a strong commitment to promoting racial equality, cross-cultural understanding, the empowerment of women and spiritual renewal. Your support through the rental of our historic facilities and donations helps us to offer programs that continue this mission.


Stacey Irvin Capturing the Authentic Moments by Liz Riggs

Several years ago, in China’s Guangxi province, Stacey Irvin was walking along a mountain road watching the rushing river 100 feet below when she stumbled upon a fresh landslide. Wondering whether or not to cross the loose soil, she was soon greeted by an older Chinese man with a bag of rice slung over his shoulder. “We crossed, and half an hour later, we were touring his mountainside home in the forest,” she said. “He went into the kitchen to start a fire for tea. I followed, and he allowed me to photograph him. I loved the color and energy of the fire and the subtle light on his face and hands. It was a great moment. I was humbled by his hospitality and his willingness to be photographed. It was the first of many incredible experiences like this to come.” An East Nashville resident, Irvin has dozens dozens of stories like this one. As a humanitarian photographer,


she has seen sides of this world most people can only dream of. She’s laughed with vendors at vegetable markets in Xinjiang, she’s been in a delivery room in Kenya while a mother gave birth in silence, she’s climbed 30 stories up a crane to take a picture of a skyline. “I do feel there is a magic in moments when people open up to me and share parts of their lives, offer incredible hospitality, or generous opportunities. I’ve found that when I allow myself to be fully present and open to the people around me, these moments come naturally,” she says about her experiences and her approach to photography. Irvin started taking pictures when she was only 14 years old, traveling around the country with her family, wanting to collect the images as she went. “I would stare for hours out our minivan window, captivated by the light as it danced and changed across the landphotos courtesy of Stacey Irvin

scape. I loved watching the details of cities, towns, and communities as we passed through. I wanted to capture what I saw,” she explained. Irvin spent the rest of her teen years taking pictures, attending photography workshops, and eventually working in a home darkroom that her parents put into their house. She made her way to Vanderbilt, where she continued to pursue photography and met her friend and mentor, art professor Don Evans. Evans was the one who encouraged Irvin to compete for the Margaret Stonewall Wooldridge Hamblet Award, which supports young photographers monetarily for travel and independent art activity.

“The Hamblet made my lifelong dreams of travel come true and gave me the experience and confidence to continue my travel pursuits,” Irvin said. Even though she is known for her powerfully sharp humanitarian photography, Irvin relishes in each of the moments her photography allows her to experience. “Photography is secondary to my pursuit of authentic moments,” she explained— an approach that has actually changed over time. “My primary goal is to make a connection with my subject, to truly experience the moment. Hopefully, this connection results in a photograph that accurately represents my experience.”

Stacey Irvin and kids

While Irvin isn’t a full-time photographer anymore (she does freelance print and web design as well), she is passionate about her work as a film photographer and a digital photographer— both create a fervent curiosity in her and open her eyes to the marvels of the world. Whether it’s through photography or design or an upcoming exhibit, she’s

interested in capturing the world as it happens around us. “These are experiences that affirm and inspire my sense of wonder and my faith in humanity,” she said. “These moments motivate me as a photographer and as a human being.”


Steve Grand More Than a Country Artist by Joey Amato

When Chicago musician Steve Grand posted his “All-American Boy” video to Facebook, he got a little more than he bargained for. Not only was it shared by throngs of fans from around the globe, but the video was viewed over 1.5 million times in a matter of days, something Grand never expected. “I’m still trying to soak it all in,” Grand said. “I really didn’t do anything. All I did was upload a video and press share. My fans did the rest.” Grand invested $7,000 of his own hard-earned money into the recording and production of “All-American Boy” and admits the process was quite terrifying. “It was all I had to give. There was no going back. I was obsessed with my vision coming to life and the video being as true as possible to my own life story.” He said he had wanted to finish and release the video before the Fourth of July and admitted to driving everyone around him crazy as they rushed to meet his self-imposed deadline. While the video may have become an overnight hit, this wasn’t the first time the humble singer-songwriter and former Belmont University student had dabbled in songwriting. “I

began writing songs when I was 11 years old as a way to cope with what I was feeling at the moment,” he said. “I was kind of a strange, eclectic kid.” Grand’s eccentricities were made evident during his freshman year of high school when he would wear the same Paul McCartney concert T-shirt every day, washing it every afternoon. “It was my signature look,” he said. “People thought I was crazy, but I didn’t care. I was just being myself.” Freshman year was also when his family discovered his sexuality and forced him to attend conversion therapy. “It was a rough time in my life, but my family is so supportive now. I couldn’t have gotten this far without them,” he said, turning to look at them seated near the stage. When the “All-American Boy” video went viral, Grand was instantly labeled a “Gay Country Star”; however, that was not his original intention. “Releasing ‘All-American Boy’ as my first single and video is why I think a lot of people began calling me a country artist,” he said. “I’m okay with it, but I don’t like being labeled. Songwriting is all about expression and to put a photos by Joem C. Bayawa


label on something or put something inside of a box never has a good result.” Although he doesn’t necessary call himself a country artist, Grand’s first experience at a gay bar took place at Nashville, Tennessee’s Play Dance Bar. He was attending Belmont University at the time and had been out for years prior, but the former DNA Magazine cover model had never visited a gay bar until then. “I was 18-


years-old and petrified. I had never been to a place exclusively for gay men,” he said. “It was so intimidating but fun at the same time. I wasn’t used to so many guys looking at me.” A few years later, all eyes were on him again as he stepped onto the stage at The Joynt, a popular jazz club in Chicago, where he turned a once noisy and uninterested audience full of “bachelorettes” into a crowd of music enthusiasts.

His set consists of mostly cover songs from some of his inspirations, notably Elton John and The Beatles, but he manages to throw in a few contemporary hits and two original songs. The crooner seamlessly interacts with the standing-room only crowd and is quite comfortable on stage, a true testament to his professionalism and experience as a musician. From “Sweet Home Alabama” to “Sweet Caroline,” Grand engages the crowd consisting of family,

friends, and fans in joyous sing-alongs. After a shot of Jack Daniels—straight from the bottle—he launches into a beautiful version of “Faithfully” by Journey followed by an unbelievable version of “Bennie & the Jets” in which he shows off his chops on the piano. “I’ve always been obsessed with the piano,” he said after his performance. “Since I was six [years old] and saw Schroeder playing the piano on Charlie Brown, I became infatuat-

ed with the esthetic of the piano. I used to make little pianos out of anything I could get my hands on.” Since the release of “All-American Boy,” the outpour of support has been overwhelming. Grand has received hundreds of emails from fans expressing how much the song means to them and how proud they are of him and his success. Stan Wozniak, owner of The Joynt couldn’t be happier for Grand. “That kid worked really hard for this,” he said. “We wish him the best of luck, and we are going to miss him dearly. He was a great addition to our team.” Now that he has hit the big time, Grand would like to remain an independent artist and stay true to himself and to his Catholic upbringing. He plans to work on an EP to be released later this year. “I didn’t make all of these sacrifices to be a flash in the pan. I’ve been writing songs for so long, I can’t wait to share my music with the world.”





photos by Joey Amato


dining FEATURE

Husk by John D. Winnett

Nashville has slowly been gaining a reputation as the capital of upscale Southern and farm-totable cuisine. Music City has seen many of the country’s best new restaurants popping up like savory soufflés in a warm oven. For those of you searching for a culinary experience like no other, look no further than Husk. Tucked away in the heart of Rutledge Hill in the new SoBro district, Husk opened its second location under the direction and creativity of James Beard Award-winning chef Sean Brock. Husk offers patrons a traditional southern atmosphere with hints of contemporary influence and cosmopolitan flair. The restaurant’s ambiance is simply elegant and breathtaking with lively conversations heard around every turn. After we were seated and took a moment to enjoy the beautiful historic architecture, our server arrived dressed in a long-sleeved, white oxford accented with a traditional, leather butcher’s apron. One thing is for sure, Brock paid close attention to every detail, down to the handmade pottery and hollow tree rings as plates. Husk offers guests a culinary experience, not just a meal. Each meal offers complimentary fresh-baked rolls sprinkled with coarse salt flakes that are perfectly crusty on the outside yet warm and springy on the inside. With a slight smear of butter, they are truly a simple delight.

Chicken Skins


If you are looking for a creative and fun way to start off your southern culinary adventure, make sure to start with the crispy pig ears tossed in a soy pepper glaze with Bibb lettuce, cucumber, lime, and sweet onion. From the crispy crunch on the pig ears to the sweet and savory soy pepper glaze that

balances of the acidity from the lime, this appetizer is almost perfect. Another choice is the fried chicken skins tossed in honey, thyme, and a homemade hot sauce. You will not be disappointed. I took my first bite expecting it to taste like a traditional, out of the bag pork rind but was overwhelmed with a pleasant surprise in texture and buttery flavor. The skins have a soft internal texture with a great crispy outside and a deep, soulful bliss of flavor. For the adventurous appetizer connoisseur, try the bone marrow served over burning hot embers in a cast iron skillet and paired with a parsley biscuit and spring onion preserves. This dish is cooked perfectly, leaving a warm, silky, buttery coating on your tongue after every bite. The rich, savory profile is balanced perfectly with the sweet onion preserves and biscuit’s earthy tones. We took our waiter’s top recommendations when deciding on our entrees. I decided on the Mississippi catfish with Anson Mills farro, mustard greens in a tomato gravy. I was a bit nervous about tomato gravy, but after the first bite, the hesitation was laid to rest. The catfish was perfectly cooked with a flaky texture and delightful hint of smoke from the embers. The mustard greens were tender, and the tomato gravy helped round out the deep rich flavors with a hint of acidity soothing the palate after each bite. My friend decided on the Wedge Oak Farms chicken with lovage dumplings and butter beans in a lemon balm. The chicken was delightful with a crispy outer skin and a very moist, succulent interior. If you were looking for hearty southern

dumplings, you will be disappointed as the lovage dumplings are handmade in a gnocchi style. Don’t expect to be stuffed like you were as a child eating dumplings from grandmother’s kitchen, the servings were smaller than the typically large Nashville dinner portions yet filling and absolutely delightful.

Husk is a remarkable restaurant, both in ambiance and food, and there is no doubt that it will be around for years to come. It has now topped the list as my favorite restaurant in Nashville, hands down, and I will be visiting often with out-of-town guests as well as local friends and family.

There were a few desserts I wanted to try, but those reviews will have to wait. We opted for a liquid bourbon “dessert course” instead, and there was no shortage of options.

Husk is located at 37 Rutledge Street. Call (615) 256-6565 for reservations.

photos courtesy of Husk

Pig Ear Lettuce Wrap


Key Lime Mojito

Lime, Mint, Prichard’s Key Lime Rum, Sprite, Sugar

High Ball (Water) Glass; Rocks with Garnish (Build) 6–8 Mint Leaves. Ripped 2 Lime Wedges, Muddled 4 oz Ice 2.5 oz Prichard’s Key Lime Rum 2.5 oz Sprite Sugared Line Wedge Garnish available at Tribe Nashville



antics, multimedia lecture, live music, and food experimentation. Be prepared. Ponchos will be involved. The show will offer an interactive component in which audience members will have the opportunity to serve as Brown’s trusted assistants on stage. For those hoping to sip at the pure source of Brownian wit and wisdom, this is a must-see extravaganza for the whole family.

photo courtesy of Alton Brown

Iron Chef

Host Comes to

Nashville by Joey Amato

Alton Brown, Iron Chef host and renowned television personality is taking his brand of quirky humor and culinary science on the road with Alton Brown Live! The Edible Inevitable Tour. Brown brings the tour to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s 36 | UNITE MAGAZINE

Andrew Jackson Hall on Thursday, November 7, at 8 p.m. Recently named Best Food TV Personality at The Munchies, Brown’s tour promises to be an eventful evening of stand-up comedy, talk-show

“I’ve been cultivating material for this show for about a decade, so it’ll feel pretty darned good to finally get it out of my head and onto a stage,” Brown said. “I feel we’ve come up with some pretty amazing food demos, and the multimedia segments are solid—but I do have to say I’m a bit nervous about the singing parts.” Although Alton Brown spent plenty of time in his mom’s kitchen growing up, his real interest in food sparked in college when he discovered that girls who said “no” to dates sometimes said “yes” if he offered to cook for them. His social life never ignited, but the food spark did. After spending a decade behind the camera in the commercial industry, he headed to culinary school in hopes of one day creating a new kind of cooking show.

Good Eats, the show that Brown would go on to write, produce, and host, ran for 13 straight years on Food Network before making the jump to Cooking Channel where it airs to this day. Combining food science, pop culture, skit humor, innovative cooking, and the occasional belching puppet, Good Eats has millions of fans and has garnered a Peabody Award for broadcast excellence. Brown has also served as the culinary commentator of Iron Chef America for 11 seasons and hosted Next Iron Chef for five. In 2012, he joined the cast of Food Network Star as a mentor. Brown took home the James Beard Award for top food show host in 2011 and has written seven books, the last three of which made the New York Times Best Sellers List. Brown’s newest venture is his touring stage show, which combines many of the elements that made his television shows so unique with some new tricks, such as live music, highly unorthodox culinary demonstrations, multimedia presentations, and lots of audience participation. For ticket information, visit


falling in love with Fall Fashion by Kyle Kressin

With a brisk breeze in the air and the color of changing leaves, fall is here again, and we asked some of Nashville’s most well-known fashionistas what they thought the hottest trends are. When it comes to hair, Joseph McLean Gregory, celebrity stylist, is noticing more young and professional women on the go. “Ladies want their color to be as natural as possible for the fall. If highlights are important, the rule is less is more by placing a few lighter pieces around the face or through the part line.” Gregory mentions the grow out is less noticeable and keeps someone from being locked into having highlights done on an ongoing basis throughout the winter. “Spend your money on good, quality shampoos, conditioners, and styling products that will benefit you in the long run,” he says. “Bobbed hairstyles are all the craze from long to short versions; some all one length and others with the activated texture and movement of the ’70s. For the third time in history women are seeing that a bob fits their lives perfectly.”

Milton Brown


Gregory also has a couple favorite boutiques and bargain bins he frequents when styling some of his celebrity clients, visiting Studio 615 on West End, POSH in Hillsboro Village, and Smack on Elliston Place quite often. When it comes to bargain shopping he says Designer Renaissance is the place to go. “Get ready to walk out with vintage bags and perfectly nice consignment accessories.” He advises men to visit FLIP Men’s Consignment on 8th Avenue. Milton White of the Fashion Office als weighed in on the fall fashion trends. White was quick to determine that grey was the color of the season for both men and women as he has seen it worn on runways in New York, London, and Paris. “Green, navy, and ecru are also very popular this season,” he says. White recommends boutiques, such as Jamie, The Trunk, Levy’s, Gus Mayer, Kocktails & Kouture, The Label, and Local Honey, as the best places to find the hottest trends. “What I think we’re seeing this fall is very 1940s blocking, camouflage, capes, croc, and exotic

Joseph McLean Gregory

fur. Some of the accessories are feline sunglasses, boas and stoles with lots of braids, plats, and English-influenced herringbone knots.” For footwear, White, who is also the author of the blog The Good, The Bad & The Glamorous, sees over-the-knee boots, boyfriend influences, and femme fatale details for women. “For men, it’s all

Betsy Briggs Cathcart

about hiking boots, sleek sneakers, and luxurious slippers, with a lot of color, patterns, and texture.” Betsy Briggs Cathcart, owner and stylist of the Music Row salon Studio BBC, follows the trends as she and her team of stylists collaborate with designers on the direction of hair and makeup for fashion shoots and runway shows. “A stronger change has been seen in

the season’s makeup with fall bringing a harder edge,” she says. “Many muted greys and blacks with a strong line and lots of patterns headed toward classic punk grunge. We are seeing much darker lips and eyes. Last fall just carried over from spring—this fall defines itself.” Local designer Amanda Valentine is already plan-

ning out her Spring 2014 collection but is quick to point out what she loves most about this year’s fall season. “Black and white leather are definitely in style as is the rise of the fashion sweatshirt, wide leg wool pants, and as much as I hate to admit it, Nouveau Grunge. Don’t forget your black leather motorcycle jacket, this fall and every fall!” UNITE MAGAZINE | 39

toyos clinic Bringing Eye Couture to Nashville by Joey Amato

Toyos Clinic, a medical and surgical eye care provider, was established in Tennessee in 1998. In a short time, it garnered national presence by winning Inc. Magazine’s coveted Fast 500, which is awarded to the 500 fastest growing companies in the nation. Toyos attributes its success to its ability to bring new and innovative technology with high patient satisfaction to the market. Not only does the clinic have a well-established track record that has won it distinction as a center of excellence, but its research department has developed several technologies and treatments that are used by highly ranked institutions like the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins. Few were surprised when Toyos decided to introduce a couture line of eyewear to Nashville. Rolando Toyos, MD, the founder of Toyos Clinic, consulted with eyewear fashion professionals that he knew from his days providing Lasik Surgery to

the stars in Beverly Hills. Dr. Toyos and his colleagues decided on several exclusive names and styles to bring to the Nashville market that include brands such as Tom Ford, Roberto Cavalli, Mont Blanc, and Lafont to name a few. The goal was not to have eyewear but eye couture. To bring it all together, Toyos Clinic hired veteran optician Leona Couture. To announce the new venture, Toyos Clinic shied away from conventional marketing material released by the companies showing famous movie stars in their glasses. Instead the organization recruited Mrs. Tennessee United States, Amanda Uggla, to model the new line. Toyos Clinic will hold an Eye Couture and More Trunk Show at its newly remodeled clinic at 1800 State Street on September 19 at 6 p.m.



SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2013 | 11AM - 2PM Hutton Hotel | 1808 West End Avenue | Nashville, TN with special guests,


U.S. House of Representatives – WI


Missouri State Senate


Chattanooga City Council

PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS TODAY AT For sponsorship opportunities, email or call 202.567.3314 SILVER SPONSORS Eddie Mannis HOSTS Bob Collie & Brandon Murphy Marco Fernandez & Stan Schklar Jon Grayson HCA Cpt. Cory Heitmeier & Jonathan Frick Paul Hoffmann & Peter Martino Out & About Nashville Travis Parman Van Pond Architect , PLLC Salas Law Group PLLC

HOSTS Jim Schmidt & Joe Woolley Tribe & Play TABLE CAPTAINS Steve Altum Suzanne Bradford & Judith Lojek Zak Kelley Jon Glassmeyer & Scott Ridgway Tommy Odle Maria Salas David Taylor & Michael Ward Joseph Woodson Jeff Yarbro as of 7/10/13

Paid by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, Contributions or gifts to the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund are not tax-deductible.


Social Change,” and it grew.

“For nine years, Nashville in Harmony has worked very hard, both in song and in deed, to reach out to and embrace marginalized communities,” says Don Schlosser, artistic director of NiH. “In addition to the LGBT community, we also focused on the homeless, at risk teens, by Jim Johnson and the forgotten elderly as well as the importance of valuing and protecting our environment. And it’s important to note Within the chorus, they that along with a strong Nashville in Harmony (NiH) is about to embark would model within the commitment to the mission, NiH also has a on an amazing milestone chorus the ideals they wished to see in society, strong commitment to year. To really appreciate how far NiH has come, it that everyone is not only musical excellence.” is helpful to look back to accepted but embraced With a home in Music and valued for exactly the beginning. City and Nashville in who they are. FUUCN provided a grant to found its name, NiH definiteThe group began ten ly feels a need to have the chorus and support years ago as a dream of it for the first year before a sound as beautiful as the music committee of gently pushing it out of its message. These dual the First Unitarian Unistrengths have resonatversalist Church of Nash- the nest as a fledgling 501(c)3 nonprofit there- ed not only with ever ville (FUUCN) to build enlarging audiences bridges of understanding after. but also with potential between the LGBT community and the Nashville Fledging it was as the first singers. Nashville in Harmony has continued major concert was percommunity at large. The formed in the FUUNC to grow. idea was to intentionally sanctuary by less than form a chorus in which LGBT people could stand 20 singers. However, the As it begins its tenth then-fledgling chorus ful- year, NiH feels a strong side by side with their ly embraced its mission, sense of accomplishment straight allies and raise and have planned a year “Using Music to Build their voices in songs of Community and Create full of special events to unity, love, and support.

reflections of



celebrate the successes and milestones that they have reached. Now 140 voices strong, the chorus will experience a series of firsts, including headlining both the historic Ryman Auditorium and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, commissioning the creation of a musical work, and hosting an invitational choral festival. As Schlosser puts it, “Our tenth year is going to be so sensational that it can only be called ‘TENsational!’” To kick off this excitement-packed year, NiH will present TENsational: Bravo! Broadway on September 28 in the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s Polk Theater. “In response to a common request from NiH fans for the chorus to sing more Broadway music, this show will be an all-Broadway musical with some of the most recognizable, iconic, and loved showstoppers of all time,” says Schlosser, “and NiH is excited to welcome, directly from NYC, special guest artist Blake Whyte, whose vast experience includes featured roles in Broadway companies of Wicked and Mamma Mia, and Nash-

photo courtesy of Nashville In Harmony

ville musical-theatre favorite, the award-winning Martha Wilkinson. This show promises to bring a little bit of New York City to Music City.” The next musical gift NiH will present is a holiday “greatest hits.” Titled TENsational: Sugar Plums, the show will be December 5 at the Ryman Auditorium. NiH has culled through all the holiday music it has performed over the last nine years and selected the most-requested songs to be performed at this amazing show. The chorus will be joined by featured guest vocalist and star of the hit ABC drama, Nashville, J. Karen Thomas as well as internationally renowned special guest instrumentalists Julie Adams (cello) and Richard Smith (guitar). Nashville in Harmony will return to the Ryman stage on March 4, 2014, for TENsational: Choral Blast! “This event is especially exciting because it will bring together four of Nashville’s best choruses to join NiH using the universal

language of music to unite our community, break down barriers, and celebrate our diversity,” Schlosser explains. Each chorus will perform alone, and then all the choruses will join their voices under the direction of renowned guest conductor and composer Greg Gilpin. This show promises to live up to its tagline: “the rousing sound of a diverse community!” The grand finale of this historic year will be TENsational: Premiere Gala on June 1, 2014, at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. This elegant dinner concert will be a celebration of Nashville in Harmony’s first 10 years and an inspirational look at its vision for the future. The highlight of the evening will be the premiere of a musical piece commissioned by Nashville in Harmony and written by award-winning composer Jason Shelton.

EXHIBIT NOW OPEN Entertainer. Actress. Mother. Designer. Explore all of the different facets of this dynamic woman.

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The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is operated by the Country Music Foundation, Inc., a Section 501(c)(3) non-profit education organization chartered by the state of Tennessee in 1964.


DESTINATION by Hollis Hollywood

With an affordable cost-ofliving, reasonably priced urban housing, and a thriving gay nightlife and drag scene, Philadelphia hit the dart I threw when I was ready to move somewhere new and start writing and making art. Now that I’m settled, my friends in the Nashville nightlife community have wasted no time in announcing they were coming for a visit. (Side note: Y’all can’t all stay in my one-bedroom apartment; you know I hate vacuuming up your glitter for weeks.) With at least 10 flights a day from Nashville to Philly,



you can find plenty to do whether you arrive early in the morning or late at night. My biggest piece of travel advice is don’t drive. Cars are an expensive nuisance in Center City, where everything on our list is a walkable destination. Even getting to the outer neighborhoods is simple with the SEPTA bus and subway system, but in a weekend, you can cover plenty of ground in and around the Gayborhood on foot. Since you are not invited to sleep on my couch, I recommend checking The Independent Hotel at 13th and Locust for rates. It has a

cool two-bedroom suite that can sleep two couples and a couch dweller, and the other rooms are cute, clean, and charming enough to make you feel like you are on vacation. There is also a Holiday Inn Express nearby, and several other four- and five-star hotels in and around Center City that put you within a walk or $6 cab ride to all the necessary destinations. A mid-afternoon arrival gets to you to Philadelphia in time for happy hour in the Gayborhood, starting at 4 or 5 p.m. at most places. Washington Square is literally your oyster at Pennsylvania 8 on

12th between Walnut and Chestnut, with its chic clientele and champagne, beer, and bivalve specials every weekday. Farther south on 12th, Trio offers a fabulous daily cheese plate along with two wines and a beer for $5 each. Watching people trek through the trendy block is also fun outside at Knock at 12th and Locust, though the friendly happy-hour crowd is worth getting to know. Philadelphians are far chattier and outgoing with strangers than their NYC counterparts, so don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a local. Getting back to your hotel

for a catnap is essential, because Philadelphia is a city that is mostly open all night. Depending on the night of the week, there are dance parties, drag shows, theater productions, film events, and music to hear in too many places to name all the good ones. Check out Philadelphia Gay News, EDGE Philadelphia, and Philadelphia Magazine for current events. Philly is a decidedly foodie city, and options from cheap to fine dining abound. Paesano’s at the Italian Market on South 9th Street won a Throwdown! with Bobby Flay with its amazing brisket sandwiches, but its roast pork and broccoli rabe should not be ignored. Late night’s Gay Pizza, formerly known as 13th Street Gourmet, is the go-to for cheap greasy slices and cute employees patiently dealing with a mostly drunk clientele spilling out of Woody’s on their ways home or down the alley to Voyeur for after-hours fun. Vedge on Locust Street has received much national praise for its creative take on vegan cuisine that is beloved by meat eaters alike. When looking for a fun spot to dine, stop by local restaurant impresario Stephen Starr’s popular El Vez at the corner of 13th and Walnut for crab guacamole and blood orange margaritas; try to grab an outside table to people-watch if the weather is nice. Philadelphia is a shopping town from the five-star Boyd’s department store to

the knockoff handbag and costume jewelry stores on South Street, where I take my drag queen visitors. In the Gayborhood, home décor, soap and stationery boutiques, and kitchen and gourmet food stores abound. The longest existing brick and mortar gay and feminist bookstore, Giovanni’s Books, is at 12th and Pine and is a fun place to spend an hour browsing while through the well-curated, two-story space. The staff is always helpful, and Giovanni’s also hosts a wide variety of LGBTthemed talks, readings and gatherings throughout the week. Pine Street in the Gayborhood is also known as Antiques Row and has outdoor markets some weekends and an assortment of arts and antiques shops along its charming sidewalks. Heading back north just a block or two outside the Gayborhood is where the Walnut and Chestnut streets shopping district begins and becomes increasingly chic as you walk west toward Rittenhouse Square. East of the Gayborhood lies Old City, where you can get your Betsy Ross on and see the Liberty Bell and where Ben Franklin invented the toothbrush or something like that. While I don’t find throngs of bored school kids as relaxing as a Cosmo at iCandy, the more touristy stuff is accessible on foot, and a quick trip through our colonial history would burn off that extra scoop of gelato you undoubtedly want to eat.



lux chicago

Radisson Blu

When visiting the Windy City, LGBT travelers have dozens of hotel options to choose from. Whether you like small, boutique properties or opulent mega-hotels, there is something in Chicago for every taste and budget. There are also many interesting neighborhoods in the city. However, on this trip, we decided to highlight three luxurious properties situated in “The Loop,” the heart of downtown Chicago. Near the border of Lake Michigan, Radisson Blu is an 86-story, architectural masterpiece designed by Jeanne Gang and features luxurious guest rooms with


unobstructed views of either the city or Millennium Park along with a conference space and an 8,000 squarefoot fitness center as well as Felini, an Italian-inspired restaurant and bar boasting a selection of over 100 wines. Guests can also experience the hotel’s beautifully landscaped lifestyle garden complete with a dedicated yoga space and fire pits as well as indoor and outdoor lap pool. More at Designed by renowned Chicago architect Harry Weese, Swissôtel is a four-diamond, all-glass triangular property. The hotel’s 661 rooms offer

fabulous wrap-around views, and the building is just steps away from the Magnificent Mile, a shoppers paradise. Guests can enjoy a daily breakfast buffet in Geneva, savor a delectable lunch or dinner at The Palm, or relish in a selection of small plates and cocktails in Amuse. If you wind up regretting your meal choices, head up to Swissôtel’s new Penthouse Fitness Centre and pool, which boasts panoramic 42nd-floor views. More at chicago. W Hotel City Center is located near Chicago’s financial and theatre districts.

The rooms at W City Center are appointed with elegant furnishings, luxurious linens, and flat screen televisions. Guests can sip signature cocktails in the lobby’s Living Room, a space flanked with turquoise-splashed liquid table tops and black stoic chairs. Executive Chef Trevor Hoyte also prepares a delicious sharable menu, which includes a variety of enticing selections like Truffle Parmesan Fries, Cod Fish Fritters, and mussels with chorizo, saffron, and sun-dried tomatoes. More at www.wchicagocitycenter. com.




1800 State Street, Nashville, TN 37203


Amanda Uggla



6-pack attack 5 non-crunch moves to sculpt that chiseled 6 pack by Mark Allyn Nimmo

Now that summer has ended, what is the one body part you want to sculpt to perfection before next summer roles around? I am going to make an educated guess and say your six-pack! There are very few people out there who wouldn’t want to decrease body fat, shrink their waistlines, and develop mind-blowing, rock-hard six packs.

The Workout Do each exercise 15 times one after another with no rest. Then, rest for 60–90 seconds and repeat the circuit twice (3 times total). For exercises that favor one side, you must complete 15 reps per side/per circuit.

While building eye-popping abdominals is not the hardest fitness goal to achieve it is definitely not the easiest either. Getting a six pack requires just two things: low body fat and a well-developed core musculature. Just like any muscle group, the abdominals require four things to make them stand out: 1. A high-intensity weight-training program (yes, your abs can lift weights too) 2. Overload 3. Consistency 4. A healthy surplus of calories Combining both cardio vascular work to shed the excess pounds and abdominal specific exercises that include weights will be your golden ticket. Cardio work can range from running, swimming, or cycling to participating in a HIT (high-intensity training) group fitness class. The goal of cardio is not to break you down but rather to increase the work of the heart and lungs while helping you create a caloric deficit. As far as specific exercises, remember that your abdominals are like a giant waist band going from one side to the other as well as top to bottom. This is important to remember when planning your workout. It’s not just about one exercise multiple times for the whole area, but rather multiple exercises that will target every corner of the entire muscle group. Try adding this six-pack circuit into your daily workout.

Reverse Wood Chop Hold a medicine ball in both hands to your right hip and bend your knees slightly. Raise the ball up and across your body (on the diagonal) until you are fully standing and the ball is above your left shoulder. Reverse that, lowering the ball back to the starting position. photos courtesy of Krank


Rock ‘n’ Roll

Medicine Ball Leg Drops

Starting in low plank and feet only 3 inches apart, keep your hands in place and, using your feet as a pivot, twist your lower body to the left as far as possible and then to the right.

Lying on your back face and legs straight up (making a 90-degree angle with your body). Place a light medicine ball between your ankles and allow your legs to fall without touching the floor then return them to the start position quickly.

Weighted Russian Twists

Hanging Leg Raise Grab hold of a chin-up bar with an underhand grip, your hands should be slightly wider than your shoulder width. Slowly pull knees to chest, hold for 3 seconds then release back to starting position. Once you have mastered this you can move on to raising your legs straight out to make a 90-degree angle with your body, hold for 3 seconds, then release back to the starting position.

Lie back with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Elevate your upper body to a 45-degree angle with your arms fully extended holding a medicine ball. Twist your torso from side to side, tapping the ball on the ground on every rotation.

Side Note:

Standard crunches are not bad; however doing them repetitively puts a lot of strain on the neck and spine. USE CAUTION! Be nice to your body, and it will return the favor.



when he left his Athens home on scholarship to attend the prestigious Rudra Béjart dance school in Switzerland. The same year Toumbakaris entered high school, he signed a lease on his own studio apartment.


“It was a bit scary,” Toumbakaris said. “I was a boy living in a very grown-up world.”

Francis Toumbakaris Crafts His Own Stage by Mark Dawson

HGTV’s newest renovation stud, Francis Toumbakaris, is as comfortable in a pair of tights and slippers as he is in boots and overalls. Having trained in classical ballet since he was 12 years old, Toumbakaris has high kicked his way onto the national tours of Fosse and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and on Broadway in the revival of Fiddler on the Roof, starring Alfred Molina and later Harvey Fierstein and Rosie O’Donnell. Toumakaris’s other theatrical career highlights include the award-winning Susan Stroman dance musical Contact and Candid at the New York City Opera. “Drama is in my blood,” he said. “I am Greek, after all. Drama was born in my country.” His animation shines in


Brother Vs. Brother, HGTV’s latest competition show where home renovators are split into two teams—Team Drew and Team Jonathan— to compete for a $50,000 cash prize. “I’m out and loud,” he continued. “I’m not afraid to get dirty, and I thrive on making decisions on the fly. “I want to think I am a likable character, but it’s a show where, even within our own teams, we are pitted against one another. The show is filled with conflict.” Conflict is nothing new to Toumbakaris. “My whole professional career has been an uphill battle.” He has been financially independentsince he was 15,

To make the tiny studio a home away from home, he painted, decorated and, with the help of his stepfather, constructed customized furniture for it. “I designed a dual-purpose kitchen island that would allow me extra counter space and storage. What 15-year-old thinks of that?” he asked, laughing. “But, I loved it. I felt the same thrill handling tools as I did pointing my toes and trying to leap higher than anyone else in my ballet class.” In 2000, on a tourist visa, he set out for New York City, where he landed the occasional theater and film job. He had only $2000 in his pocket, money he had saved from being a backup dancer for a pop singer in Greece, but he was young, driven, and ambitious. Along with his stage work, Toumbakaris appeared on the big screen with speaking parts in two major motion pictures: We Own the Night with Joaquin Phoenix and Noise with Tim Robbins. Still, he needed another job to see him through the lean months in-between showbiz gigs. After returning from

touring with Scoundrels, he placed an ad on the Internet looking for small painting projects, repair work, and other odd jobs. “I would ride around the city on my bicycle and a backpack full of tools,” he explained with a laugh. Toumbakaris was surprised when his survival job began to take on a life of its own. One satisfied client referred another, which led to another and so on. Within a year, he went from completing simple jobs to doing fullscale renovations in Manhattan apartments. He hired an assistant, filed for insurance, and established his contracting and design company, Greek&Handy, in 2007. Toumbakaris believes his years as a dancer helped prepare him for design. The stage taught him to be fearless, to perform under tremendous stress, and to make the job work even when all appears to be going wrong. It taught him to trust his gut instinct, and dance, most importantly, taught him about the art of space. “Dancers learn to appreciate how bodies and objects flow through space. I bring that philosophy into my renovations, striving to find the perfect balance in a room through smart design and efficient layout.” According to Toumbakaris, good design is not simply about pretty colors, fabrics, and accessories. It is an art that requires precise and intricate problem solving.

“I am constantly calculating new ways to improve my clients’ work and living environments.” Toumbakaris describes his style as comfortable luxury with a classic urban feel. “I like to think of myself as the orchestra conductor,” he said. “Although I may not play all the instruments, I direct all the moving pieces to create one beautiful harmony.” His theatrical training even helped him to land Brother Vs. Brother. “I auditioned three times for the network, hoping to compete on season four of HGTV’s Design Star,” he said. However, producers felt his background in home construction was better suited for Drew and Jonathan Scott’s new show. Toumbakaris is excited that Brother Vs. Brother is giving him the opportunity to combine his love of show biz with his passion for renovation. “I never thought wearing a tool belt would give me the chance to perform on a new stage,” he said. “But, why not? I’m an artist. I’m always looking to create something new.”

photos courtesy of Francis Toumbakaris

His ambition extends beyond the show. A Greek&Handy line of tools, paints, and home goods is in the works. Toumbakaris also aims to find a husband and build a family. Yes, the dancer-turned-handyman-turned-interior renovator admits he is anxious for his next big role, that of “Daddy.”



Let's Explore Diabetes

with Owls

in Europe, dine in China, and even visit the dentist in France. Of course, he again recounts interactions with his father, a highlight of his work. He weaves tales somewhere between fiction and memoir, between the “movie version” and “real life.” It’s not because he embellishes; it’s because of how clearly he shares his vision. It’s not that someone could recall their widowed grandmother this way...

“Bringing her to the [country] club would have depressed people. The mournful black dresses, the long gray hair pinned into an Old Country bun, she was the human equivalent of a storm cloud.”’s because he does that makes him such a delight to read! It’s also a vaguely political book, because we see a lot of his ethics and his beliefs related to society and the world at large. Sedaris,

by David Sedaris by Sebastian Fortino

The last book published in 2010 by David Sedaris was a whimsical collection of modern-day fables titled Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk. This was quite a departure from his usual short stories, essays, and commentary about his life; a fairly ordinary life beautifully elevated through his keen wit. The title of the latest book, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, is a little misleading as it’s a return to his standard method—no more fables. His wit, worldview, and philosophy about the types of people he 52 | UNITE MAGAZINE

likes to know, meet, and thus write about can be summed up in one quote: “Someone who lives in a mansion spun of golden floss, forget it, but someone who lives in an old refrigerator beside a drainage ditch—by all means, call me! Collect, even.” In this collection, we see Sedaris interact with his father, invent a Tea Party supporter totally tricked by a closeted gay son, dreamily reflect upon his Southern childhood, visit a London shop specializing in antique taxidermy, experience the 2008 elec tion of President Obama

photos courtesy of David Sedaris

is openly gay, but rather private about it, candidly discusses his support of gay marriage, the intricacies of getting residency in the United Kingdom, his self-aggrandized relationship with an African-American classmate in high school, and the delightfully twisted holiday gifts he exchanges with his partner, Hugh. He also richly discusses his experiences traveling throughout the globe on his many book tours and speaking appearances. In this collection of verse—with one chapter of prose, about dogs— the author easily returned to his traditional form. This is not a bad thing, instead it’s a return to something we all have come to love about his writing. It is a delightful collection that is meant to be read aloud, either back to yourself or to loved ones who might not know Sedaris but will want to after a few candid readings. Now, fans of Sedaris only have to do one thing: wait another two or three years for the next installment or be lucky enough to get tickets to his celebrated appearances.



more love at

cheekwood by Estella Pan

In preparation for its thought-provoking exhibition More Love: Art, Politics, and Sharing since the 1990s, Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art announces the first open call for participants in one of several interactive works in the show. The exhibition opens September 20 and will feature 45 works by contemporary artists that actively engage with love and the many

ways it can be expressed in the twenty-first century. As part of More Love, artist Lee Walton is creating This Saturday from Noon to One, a Family Will View the Exhibition, an orchestrated, exhibition-specific piece piece that blurs the boundaries between real life and performance. Through an open call for participants, Walton will choose 14 families to

photo courtesy of Cheekwood


simply view the exhibition as naturally as possible each Saturday precisely from noon to 1 p.m. throughout the run of the exhibition. A new “family” will view the exhibition each week of the show; there is no performance or acting required. Each participating family will be documented with a portrait at the museum. The portraits will serve as a record of the exhibition and will not be displayed at Cheekwood. This Saturday from Noon to One, a Family Will View the Exhibition frames everyday, shared experiences as art, celebrating these moments as actions and gestures of love. This project also commemorates a broad range of what a family can be by asking the simple question “Who is your family?” While the performance is a formalized, anticipated, and constructed action, it also provides an “actual” art experience for each participating family as they experience the More Love exhibition. In this way, This Saturday from Noon to One, a Family Will View the Exhibition combines life and performance while engaging museum viewers by elevating the quotidian into spectacle. This new

piece is an extension of Father and Daughter View the Exhibition, an earlier work created at the Ackland Art Museum during More Love’s original run. “These performances are just like real, everyday life. No acting is involved. I justwant the families to just be themselves,” said Walton. “Often, my family and I will visit a museum together, and it is always an unforgettable and unpredictable event. The experience is the art.” “This piece is wonderful because it’s art about experiencing other art, and more specifically, experiencing it together,” said consulting curator Claire Schneider. “Shared moments of the everyday are at the heart of many of the works in More Love; these moments become things of simple beauty and are an important way we experience love. In addition, there is a long tradition in art where the viewer is invited in to become a collaborator in making the work, so that the work is not complete until they participate. Walton’s work highlights this important development in art and in general contemporary culture.”


Embracing the Mystery of Travel How Taking a Trip Can Become a Sacred Journey by Dr. Brian Hooper somewhere. Likewise, a trip to the market for daily groceries can provide opportunity to notice our own inner life. Are we in a state of anxiety? Do we notice the beauty in the ordinary? Do we have a sense of gratitude for daily food? Are we open to chance and not-so-chance encounters along the way?

photo courtesy of Brian Hooper

On the cusp of high school, I experienced my first adventure abroad. The Ambassador’s Chorale was bound for two weeks of singing our way across Switzerland. Singers ranged in age from those, like me, who had just finished middle school to those about to complete high school. Besides taking me to a foreign country, this trip was to be the beginning of my journey of self-discovery, because among those teenaged singers was a bass whom I fell for—hard! Although I had a passport to enter a foreign country friendly to visitors, the territory of my own inner experience seemed dangerous. It’s been a long journey from those youthful days when I was hardly at home in my own body until today. Now I can feel at home no matter where I am, and that sense of inner hospitality empowered me to pick up my


roots in San Diego and venture to Nashville in 2011. As the journey inward can prepare us to pick up and go to a new location, travel can invite us to find our way to new vistas within. Here are some thoughts for your travels—around the neighborhood and world, in and around your own heart. Be mindful of the journey as well as the destination. In the days when religions encouraged pilgrimages to holy sites, not everyone could afford the necessary travel. Instead they could fulfill the quest by slowly and mindfully traversing a labyrinth, the maze-like design on the floors of many cathedrals, while contemplating their own lives in view of the light that shone from a distant shrine. This experience underscored the idea that what takes place along the way is as important as arriving

Maps are a good investment, but they are not the journey. And they most certainly are not the territory. We all have maps by which to navigate new territory; we plan our lives in many ways. Although such maps are helpful, each of us has an inner compass that also must be respected. When the needle of that compass quivers with intuitive warning that we are going in the wrong direction or about to heed the advice of those whose certainty may simply be self-serving, do we pause and reflect? We all know that even MapQuest and Siri are not always to be believed. At times, we have to call on our inner compass to verify or challenge the directions on our maps. Before we pass judgment on new places, it’s best to be present with respectful non-judgment, open to developing understanding of others. This reflection often leads to deeper understanding of self. Sightseeing can be fun, but seeing with the mind and heart can be insightful. While visiting a friend who lives in the ex-pat village of Ajijic, Mexico, I let the amateur anthropologist and sociologist in me do the looking and asking. I was fortunate to learn the backstories of some of

the locals—native-born peoples and resident guests. The whole scene took on new and deeper meaning than what would have met the eye alone. Alone, my eyes would have projected my interpretation onto the scene, but new understanding came with these backstories. Enlightening my appreciation for the people provided an opportunity to learn about myself. Accepting mystery enriches life’s experiences. Successful people are agenda-led people; they plan their work and work their plan. True, we all need to be clear about where we are going or at least where we clearly intend to be going, but mystery has a way of stepping into our well-ordered plans, diverting us from our course. Taken as frustration to our itinerary, mystery leaves us in the dark; however, when we invite the true meaning of mystery into the experience (from the Greek mysterion, a secret being revealed), we have an opportunity to get back into our bodies and inner lives. We are not, after all, human doings but human beings. The ability to truly “be” with oneself is the most necessary preparation for the adventure with others along the way. So, here’s to the trails, paths, flights, cruises, adventures, trips, and sojourns before us. May they thrill, inspire, educate, renew, and refresh us. Most of all, may they lead us to know more fully the territory of our own souls and of those we encounter along the way.

Using an inventive array of materials and hundreds of miles of glowing optic fiber, Munro has transformed Cheekwood’s beautiful gardens into an iridescent landscape.

Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays until 11pm May 24 – November 10

E X H I B I T I O N P R E S E N T E D B Y:

E X H I B I T I O N S P O N S O R E D B Y:

Barbara and Jack Bovender


Friday evenings will be especially magical this summer as musical acts throughout Cheekwood supply an eclectic soundtrack to LIGHT: Bruce Munro at Cheekwood. Celebrate with specialty cocktails at several bar locations, and join us for an incredible experience of music, art, food and fun under the stars.




ROB KUSSEROW wants you to vamoose by A.J. Busé

What happens when a charismatic guy who isn’t a fan of being stuck on a large ship for five days is reluctantly talked into going on a vacation cruise to the Caribbean with his partner’s family? In the case of Rob Kusserow, he fell in love with the idea of cruising so much he started his own travel agency and has now cruised several times all over the world. A native South Dakotan, Kusserow moved to Los Angeles at age 18 “as soon as I could get out of Dodge,” he says, jokingly. While there, he earned a degree in Television Production and even had a six-month stint as an actor on General Hospital. After 15 years in LA, he was ready for another change. Noticing that Nashville was a growing and vibrant city, he decided to try Music City. That 58 | UNITE MAGAZINE

decision has paid off in a number of ways, especially in earning his MBA and meeting his partner, Patrick Bauer. Bauer is the one who coerced Kusserow into going on that first cruise a few years ago. Their mutual love of traveling gave Kusserow the idea to start a travel agency. This would allow him not only to have unique travel opportunities afforded to travel agents but would also give him the chance to arrange travel for others and provide exceptional customer service for people who enjoy cruises as much as he does. Kusserow and his mother—a retired flight attendant now living in Phoenix—had been talking about going into business together and this was the perfect way to make that happen. After some research, they bought a fran-

chise of CruisePlanners and named their business Let’s Vamoose, LLC. With all the online travel sites currently available, it might seem kind of silly and expensive to go through a travel agent to book a vacation; however, Kusserow says that is not so. “Cruise lines have set fees and those fares can’t be discounted more than that, no matter where the tickets are purchased,” he says, adding that travel agents get perks for booking travel and typically pass those extras on to clients: special dinners, gift packages, unique excursions, and the like. An agent is also privy to great package deals that others cannot get on their own or online. “I have my cell phone on all the time and can be reached 24/7 while a client is on a cruise to answer any questions or

help with any issues at all.” Another service Kusserow can offer his clients is personal advice. He has traveled extensively and knows lots of tips from his own experience that can make a vacation even better, including not-to-bemissed places to eat or certain locations to avoid. Kusserow and Bauer have now been on several cruises together in the Caribbean, South America, Asia, the Pacific, and Europe. While Kusserow acknowledges that there are a number of LGBT cruises available—Atlantis/RSVP, R Family, and Olivia, for example—he points out that most cruise lines are generally gay friendly. He gives his clients specific advice according to their needs: destination weddings, honeymoons, family vacations, private getaways, group trips, adventure cruises, fun trips,

you name it.

cruise experience.

If someone is leery of spending a week at sea, there are now river cruises in Europe and the United States that include guided excursions and all the amenities. Another thing growing in popularity is traveling by sailboat, some large enough to carry up to 180 passengers.

CruisePlanners Let’s Vamoose is also a member of the International Association of Travel Agents, the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, and the Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce while being “A”-rated by the Better Business Bureau and holding Specialist Certification with several cruise lines.

Kusserow tends to push himself. Not satisfied with being simply a travel agent, he has received certification as an Accredited Cruise Counselor by the Cruise Line Industry Association, a designation that requires hours of coursework, multiple ship inspections, and personal

Even with all the excitement of cruising the globe, Kusserow says one of his favorite things to do is be home with Bauer and their four-legged roommates Chicklett, Scooter, and Lucy.

photos courtesy of Rob Kusserow




for modern earth by Dalton Price

In today’s modern society, people are more obsessed with their sporadic tendencies than finding the one person that gives their lives more meaning over the material things that they surround themselves with. A soulmate is a person that one has a natural affinity for, whether it be compatibility, love, sex, spirituality, or trust. The fantasy of having one person forever, that one is meant to be with for all eternity has been dominant throughout modern and primitive society. In ancient Greece, Plato stated that the gods split the humans that they created in half, thus creating double the humans in Greece to give praise to the gods. The humans split became depressed and began to yearn for their other halves. The god Apollo sewed the humans back together to end their pain, leaving only the belly button to serve as the reminder of what had happened. Humanity was forever changed at that point, with now each human only having one set of genitals. After that point each human longed for the other half of his or her soul forever; when it was found, an unspoken bond of love was created and the two would never lose each other again. Modern society does not exactly allow for such folklore to exist; the people of our planet have no problem watching fantasy but believing in it exhausts an entirely different proposition on


the human psyche. Today, a soulmate typically means a romantic partner, such as a wife or a husband. Psychologists believe that submitting oneself to the belief that a soulmate exists is setting the human mind up for depressive states and suicidal tendencies if that “soulmate” is not found. How many people can say that they have found a soulmate? Love is ever present in media, art, and reality. However, the emotion seems more devoted to the production of a story than the actuality of a human experience. Humanity is in an uproar of futurism and at an age where emotion is trumped by anything that can accomplish power. Oscar Wilde said, “Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.” If the fantasy of a soulmate dies, then is humanity nothing more than the sunless garden of Earth? Will emotion all together be replaced by the steel heart of a machine? The flowers of the human soul protect the world, blossoming all over the planet and bumping into petal after petal until the right petals make a flower again. The future is eminent and technology is a normality in this day and age. Still humanity mustn’t forget that at the end of our short lives if love fails to prevail, then no love existed at all. photo courtesy of Christa Polkinhorn



Cheekwood Botanical Garden 1200 Forrest Park Drive (615) 356-8000 Frist Center for the Visual Arts 919 Broadway (615) 244-3340

OSHi Flowers 150 Third Avenue South (615) 259-0444 217 A. Sixth Avenue North (615) 254-6744

The Renaissance Center (615) 740-5600

Rubenfeld Law Office, PC Abby Rubenfeld 2409 Hillsboro Road, Suite 200 (615) 386-9077

Ryman Auditorium 116 5th Avenue North (615) 889-3060 Schermerhorn Symphony Center 1 Symphony Place (615) 687-6400

BOOK RETAILERS Barnes & Noble 2501 West End Avenue (615) 343-2665 Hope Diamond Collection, Inc.

CREATIVE SERVICES b-kreative, llc (615) 975-0129

EVENT PLANNERS Amos Events (615) 481-7900

EVENT SPACES Scarritt-Bennett Center 1008 19th Avenue South (615) 340-7500

FINANCIAL SERVICES Capital Financial Chris Robinette 8 Cadillac Drive (615) 309-6468 Edward Jones Jeremy Garner (615) 665-4474 Fifth Third Bank Fifth Third Center 424 Church Street, Suite 700 (615) 687-3115 Radian Partners 341 Cool Springs Boulevard (615) 261-4632


MEDICAL SERVICES Toyos Clinic (Eye Care) 600A Frazier Drive, Suite #110, Franklin (615) 764-1999 1800 State Street, Nashville (615) 327-4015 Dr. Bradley Bullock (General Care) 1607 Westgate Circle, Suite 200, Brentwood (615) 376-8195 Dr. Brian Hooper (Psychotherapy) (615) 485-5923


RESTAURANTS Batter’d & Fried 1008-A Woodland Street (615) 226-9283 Beyond the Edge 112 South 11th Street (615) 226-3343 East Side Drifters 1008-B Woodland Street (615) 262-2776 Watanabe 1400 McGavock Pike (615) 226-1112

RETAIL The Label 2222 12th Avenue South (615) 915-0722

SALONS/SPAS Elan Hair & Skin 3756 Hillsboro Pike (615) 269-0222

Play 1519 Church Street (615) 322-9627

Studio BBC 1219 17th Avenue South (615) 473-6954

Tribe 1517 Church Street (615) 329-2912

Studio Gaven 100 International Drive, Franklin (615) 503-9788

NON-PROFIT The Community Foundation 3833 Cleghorn Avenue, Suite 400 (615) 321-4939 Prime Timers (615) 269-3263

TRAVEL Cruise Planners (615) 953-9516 Tropicana Evansville (800) 342-5386

REAL ESTATE Realty Trust Residential Laurie Sheinkopf (615) 497-4012 BancorpSouth Mortgage Steve Gaunt (615) 419-7566 United American Mortgage Kimber White (954) 306-3553 Village Real Estate Lon Hurst (615) 946-3177

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the change project

The Change Project is a photography and social media-based nonprofit that uses individuals as living canvases for messages of inclusion. By raising awareness of how language and the use of labeling affect an individual’s identity, The Change Project hopes to decrease the social stigmatization of these identities so that all people feel they belong. photos by Steven Romeo


Ben Rock for UNITE Nashville, September/October 2013  

Managing editor. Creative direction. Brand development. Content strategy.