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A Preview of this Year’s Legislative Fight
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I want to wish a Happy New Year to our O&AN readers—particularly the Middle Tennessee LGBT community and its allies—and share a few thoughts as we embark on this new adventure, 2017. The year we have just concluded was a hard one. Much of the year was consumed by a political battle that involved swipes at our community and threats to the liberties and protections it has recently obtained. In Tennessee we narrowly held back the tide against a pernicious bathroom bill that threatened to make Tennessee a pariah state along the lines of North Carolina, while legislators forged ahead in eroding the rights of LGBT people and other minorities to access to mental health care. Much to the dismay of many of us, last year’s political battles culminated in a political victory for the right and, much more a matter of concern, the “Alt-Right” (a term used to whitewash an informal conglomeration of individuals and hate groups representing racists, fascists and neo-Nazis, misogynists, and xenophobes, among others). In 2016, we also saw not only our rights, but also our physical well-being, threatened. We saw hate crimes, including anti-LGBT assaults and murders across the country, even in urban bastions like San Francisco and Dallas. In Tennessee, acts of hate were on display, from the ripping of the LGBT flag and placement of a disgusting note at UTK’s Pride Center (see photos) to the pre-election burning of a Cookeville transgender veteran’s truck. The most visible attack on our community in 2016 was, of course, the tragic murder of forty-nine people in Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub—an event that rattled LGBT communities across the nation and around the world. This event touched us locally, as one of the young men killed had only recently been a resident of Middle Tennessee. Further, so many local performers had strong ties to the club. That tragedy, more than any other in the past year, reminded LGBT people how tenuous is our hold on the little security we have built for ourselves, and how bold is the target many people have placed on us. We are leaving 2016 behind—and in many ways, good riddance—but the new adventure that is 2017 appears set to rival it. Donald J. Trump will be president, and he is sweeping those same “AltRight” villains who got him elected into positions of power. He is installing the most anti-LGBT cabinet in recent memory. Anti-LGBT legislatures control the lawmaking apparatus of the nation and many of its states. And if 2016 is any guide, being vocally, visibly, openly anti-LGBT, racist, sexist, etc., will continue to be encouraged in those circles. Here we stand again. After the high of the last Obama administration, especially 2015, and the heady victories that made us think the march to equality had taken on a certain inevitability, we find our momentum suddenly, and violently, slowed. Perhaps halted. Perhaps reversed. We face the possibility of years of rearguard action after a decade of advance.
I asked Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, to share his “New Year’s Resolution” in the face of this new reality: The best way to learn how to bring change to Tennessee is to spend as much time as possible with Tennesseans. So I am resolved to spend even more time in communities throughout the state getting to know LGBT people, allies, the indifferent, and those who oppose us. I believe in pragmatism and experimentation in activism and we have only just begun to test what works here. I’m convinced the answers are in ourselves and our neighbors. 2017 holds a rough legislative session for our community, but it may hold opportunities for positive gains at the local level. We’re working with some new regional TEP committees that are fired up about making progress. We need to equip them to work effectively. Facing this brave new year, what will you do, what is your resolution? Where will you stand, and what will you stand for? Will you wait four—or eight years—and hope that things will change, or will you fight against the rising tide? The movement of 2017 will be ‘resistance’: Will you join it? This isn’t a rhetorical question—answer it in your lives, and let us know…
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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: WE NEED NEW ARMOR FOR THE ATTACKS TO COME CHRIS SANDERS
Book 18 of The Iliad contains the powerful story of Achilles learning of the death of his companion Patroclus, who was wearing Achilles’ armor into battle against the Trojans. Achilles lets out such a powerful, mournful cry that his mother, the goddess Thetis, hears him while she is in the depths of the sea. Achilles is beside himself about the loss of Patroclus and the prospect of going into battle again without his armor. But he knows he must. So Thetis rushes to the smith god Hephaestus, who makes Achilles a marvelous set of new armor to prepare him for the next of his storied battles. Tennessee’s LGBT community is in a similar position as we face the upcoming state legislative session. A key piece of our armor has disappeared. Under the Obama administration, there was the possibility that the federal Department of Education and the Department of Justice would construe some discriminatory state bills as violations of federal civil rights laws and threaten to withhold federal funding. It is hard to imagine that federal departments and agencies under the new administration will view the matter the same way. Instead we are likely to hear more about returning more issues to the states to handle. With a socially conservative state government in Tennessee, that’s not good news.
Like Achilles, we have let out our mournful cries, and we have lost some of our armor. But we have no Thetis to comfort us, and no Hephaestus to forge new armor as the legislative session approaches. What attacks are coming? The ink is barely dry on Senate Bill 1, an expanded counseling discrimination bill. The very first bill filed in the Senate not only preserves the ability of counselors to turn clients away, but it would attempt to allow them do so on the basis of “belief.” And it would forbid the state board that licenses counselors from making reference to national codes of ethics in their regulations. In other words, we basically have to start all over with standards for counseling ethics in Tennessee. What will be added, taken away, and retained will have an impact on the LGBT community and beyond. Other counseling discrimination bills may also be filed that would allow counselors employed by public entities like schools to turn clients away. In 2016 the University of Tennessee’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion was defunded for a year by state legislation. We may see efforts to defund it again. Vandalism has recently hit UT’s Pride Center, showing the need for enhanced diversity efforts. Also returning may be the anti-transgender student bathroom bill. With a low probability of federal intervention, the state is free to step up its attacks against transgender and
gender-nonconforming students. Religious Freedom Reformation Act (RFRA)/religious carve-out bills are also in the cards. The state may look at ways to allow businesses not to serve our community and to “protect” clergy and local officials from having to officiate same-sex weddings. Clergy are already protected, of course, but that may not be enough to stop a bill based on hate and fear. What is the armor that we need in this new but familiar time? To start with, in the absence of Greek gods, clergy allies will be welcome friends. We spent part of the fall reaching out to supportive clergy in Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga to prepare them to advocate for equality. Many clergy around the state have already publicly opposed Senate Bill 1. Their voices will help show that the religious Right does not have a monopoly on the moral voice in our state’s public policy. A stronger, sustained presence at Legislative Plaza will also be necessary to hold our own against attack bills. In 2016 we held one planned Advancing Equality Day on the Hill and spontaneously added another based on the need. We have three days on the Hill planned for 2017—February 7, March 7, and April 4. More days on the Hill give citizens more flexibility to work with their schedules. Three days spread out will also allow us to hit the flow of legislation better.
They will put citizen contact closest to the times when discriminatory bills are moving. Our voices in the media can provide an effective shield, too. Shaping the message in the media shapes the public’s perception of legislation. We know that Nashville media will cover these bills and that is a good start. But it is also important that media outlets in Murfreesboro, Franklin, Clarksville, Lebanon, Cookeville and other cities cover these bills. Nashville pressure is never enough to stop a bad piece of legislation. Legislators in all parts of the state need to know citizens are watching the process. So letters to the editors of papers around the state matter. You may not be able to come to Legislative Plaza or you may not feel comfortable writing a letter to your local paper. But almost everyone can call or email legislators. Calls are best, and we will give you many opportunities to contact legislators during the session. Phone calls can stop bad bills. They played a key role in 2014 in stopping the Turn the Gays Away bill in the Senate. Volume of calls is critical. We all long for real progress and there are arenas where we may achieve that. Our local governments are such arenas. But at the state and federal levels, we will be playing defense for the time being. I hope you will all join in the defense of our community and bring as many allies as you can to the effort.
“Our voices in the media can provide an effective shield, too. Shaping the message in the media shapes the public’s perception of legislation.”
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LGBT CHAMBER INITIATIVE ENCOURAGES CORPORATE ACTIVISM TENNESSEE BUSINESSES SUPPORT TENNESSEE THRIVES STAFF
The Nashville LGBT Chamber’s ‘Tennessee Thrives’ initiative is a coalition of approximately 300 businesses and business organizations that are committed to maintaining a thriving economy for a Tennessee that welcomes all hard working people. Tennessee has experienced real economic loss after HB1840 that passed in 2016, a bill that allows counselors to deny services to clients based on their principles. North Carolina has provided the best (or worst) example of how discriminatory legislation can hurt the economy. There are sources that estimate North Carolina’s loss at over $4 billion after passing HB2, a law that discriminates against transgender people. PayPal, NCAA competitions, the NBA AllStar game, and Deutsche Bank are just a few of the measurable losses for North Carolina in less than one year. One objective of Tennessee Thrives is to make legislators think twice before proposing or passing bills that put the state’s ability to attract talent, visitors, or corporate investment at risk. Since the launch of the Tennessee Thrives website, www. tennesseethrives.org, over 190 companies have signed the pledge.
We believe that equal treatment of all Tennesseans and visitors is essential to maintaining Tennessee’s strong brand as a growing and exciting home for business innovation, economic development, a best-in-class workforce, and dynamic entertainment, travel and tourism industries. In order for Tennessee businesses to compete for top talent, we believe our workplaces and communities must be diverse and welcoming for all people, regardless of race, sex, national origin, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. As signers of the Tennessee Thrives pledge, we are committed to promoting an attractive, prosperous, and economically vibrant Tennessee. A united Tennessee is a thriving Tennessee. Tennessee Thrives has been in the works for about a year. It is based on models in other states like Georgia (Georgia Prospers) and Texas (Texas Competes). Executive Director of the Nashville LGBT Chamber, Lisa Howe, came back from the 2015 Out & Equal Conference with the idea for a business coalition in Tennessee to help combat anti-LGBT legislation and other
discriminatory legislation proposed in our state. “IhadbeenresearchingGeorgiaProspers during the 2016 legislative session,” Howe said. “I brought the idea to our members in May as soon as some of them were making official statements against the Bathroom Bill and the Counseling Discrimination Bill. It was clear that if we were to take this project on, alone, that the LGBT Chamber programs and events would suffer. We were happy when strategic partners stepped up and put forward the resources to make Tennessee Thrives become a reality.” Howe added that Tennessee Thrives is a tol that can be used to combat legislation that may be discriminatory and directed at, not only the LGBT community, but also the immigrant or Muslim community or any other minority community. “I would not say that Tennessee Thrives belongs to any one person, organization, or city.” adds Howe. “It truly is meant to be owned by and representative of our diverse business community all across this great state.” LGBT Chamber members and partners are encouraged to go to the website and add their support to Tennessee Thrives.
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EEOC SUES CENTURION STONE FOR SAME-SEX SEXUAL HARASSMENT
ALLEGES NASHVILLE COMPANY IGNORED PATTERN OF BEHAVIOR STAFF
Nashville-based manufacturer Centurion Products, Inc., also known as Centurion Stone, is an industry-leading manufacturer of stone veneers that has been in business since 1969. That makes the company one of the oldest in its industry. Its products are distributed all across North America. Now the company is under fire for ignoring complaints about same-sex sexual harassment. According to a new lawsuit, Centurion Stone violated federal law by allowing its male supervisory staff to subject several male employees to sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced. According to EEOC’s suit, a male floor supervisor made sexually charged insults and innuendos on a near-daily basis and also engaged in unwelcome grabbing, groping and humping the victims, attempting penetration of male employees’ buttocks with a broomstick, and kissing. Although members of management
allegedly received numerous complaints from the employees about the harassment, Centurion failed to take action to stop the harassment. According to filings, such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC filed its suit (EEOC v. Centurion Products, Inc., Civil Action No. 3:16-cv-02616) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Division. Before filing the suit, the EEOC had
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first sought to reach a settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC seeks injunctive relief prohibiting Centurion from tolerating sexual harassment in the future, as well as compensatory and punitive damages for the harassment victims. “Management officials have a responsibility to address the complaints of its employees involving sexual harassment,” said Katharine W. Kores, district director of EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee and
portions of Mississippi. “In June 2016, the Commission issued a Report on Workplace Harassment. One of the key findings in the report is that effective harassment prevention efforts, and workplace culture in which harassment is not tolerated, must start with and involve the highest level of management.” The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.
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FAIRCHILD RELEASES BUFFALO ERIC PATTON
Local singer-songwriter Shelly Fairchild, a longtime favorite of the LGBT community, has just released a new album. Her long awaited new album, Buffalo, is the songstress’s third full length album. It was about two years ago when Fairchild announced this new venture. She started a campaign with Pledge Music to fund her new work, but the process was a long one. Fairchild explained: “It took so long to make. I launched the pledge campaign two years ago, and normally a pledge campaign usually lasts six months or a year at the most. I was so fortunate to have patient fans. I really wanted to get it right. I wasn’t happy with what I had in the beginning. I thought I was, but I recorded it and it was just not right. And I couldn’t put out something that wasn’t 100% what I wanted to say. It was like the story wasn’t finished being told yet, after the six-month mark or the year mark. The full scope of where I was hadn’t come out at that time. Everyone was so patient.” Sometimes, a singer becomes attached to a song, especially when it’s one that fans respond to so well. “Ready to Fall,” a song she has played at every show I’ve seen and still can’t get enough of, has been re-recorded, re-produced, and re-vitalized for the new album. Written by Lisa Carver and originally on her first album with Sony, Fairchild still feels this song needs to be heard. “I just love it so much. I always pull it out when I am playing my shows… I went into the studio, originally with Martina McBride, who has been super supportive of me. We were listening to songs, and she went to the studio with me to kind of help me navigate through the layers and find out what I wanted. John McBride was the one that engineered that song. I also had some incredible players on there too. David LaBruyere played bass, and he played for John Mayer for years. Derek Phillips was on drums. I had Leroy Powell, and he’s just incredible. He used to play with Shooter Jennings for a long time and now he does his own thing. Then I had a guy named Mike Hicks on keys, and he’s just super awesome.” When asked if that was going to be the first single, she said she had other plans. “We’re actually shooting for Mississippi Turnpike to be the first single. Which, I didn’t write that one either. There are only three or four songs on the
record that I didn’t write, but it turns out it’s just hitting a chord with everyone. It has that more Bonnie Raitt feel. It’s something people miss hearing. I know I did. When I first heard it, I had just gone through a tough time in my personal life. I was headed home to Mississippi to get a re-charge with my family. And my producer Carey, who’s one of the writers on the song sent it to me. Because it’s about going back home.” As she was talking, you could hear her voice crack, as if she were about to cry. “It was almost like I wrote it myself literally. I called him back and told him we had to cut it. And we did and everybody loves it. It just feels like the right song to put out first. We’re testing it out, letting people hear it and getting feedback.” Hearing the hurt, I was curious to see what she wasn’t telling me. I asked her if she felt comfortable going into detail a bit more. “I went through a breakup. It was a tough breakup, which if you care about somebody and love somebody they’re always going to be tough. I was with her for about four years, so it was tough. There was a lot tied into it too. When you have that much in the relationship, but you feel like you have to make a decision for yourself, that you think is a healthy decision for your own mind and heart and soul, you know? You’re walking away from someone you care about and you don’t want to destroy completely because they’re a significant part of your life and a significant part of your journey. And I’ve unfortunately had a few of those that broke my heart.” “But somehow, I’ve managed to kind of come back around and be friendly with my exes, so I’m hoping that’s what the future holds here, even though that’s tough to do sometimes,” she added. “I feel like everyone should just love each other and be kind to each other in whatever capacity that is. Even when it’s difficult, it’s like, in the end, what else matters?” Asked what she wanted her life to be like after this loss, she replied, “Right now, I’m just married to my career and this music right now. It’s the first time in a long time that I’m able to just focus solely on that…” She added that in the industry it can be difficult to have relationships because of the focus required to make a living in music. “And not just partnerships. It’s tough on your family, it’s tough on your friendships,
because sometimes people take a back seat to the music, and the career, and the travel and everything. There is a balance somewhere, but it’s just a constant struggle to find it.” That focus on her career has been taking her places, though. “I’ve always just wanted to be on the road. That’s how I want to make my living. I want to play my music for the people in different towns. I want to be a gypsy... I want to travel and I want to sing. So, Martina McBride asked me to open some shows for her, because she is so supportive of this record. She just wants me to have the best shot that I can to be in front of people … and I’m hoping we can build on that. I’ve got new management, so we’re just going to see where we can take it.”
“and he’s invited me back. I’m friends with Storme Warren, and we’re talking to him about doing some stuff with The Highway (Sirius-XM station). We’re in conversation with Spotify about some things, and there are some cool things possibly happening. And I keep putting it out there, every day I just speak that into the world. ‘I want to be on the radio, I want to be on tour,’ ya know? I see myself doing these things, and doing it in a bigger way than I’ve ever done it before. Just because of my level of commitment to it.” Fairchild knows, however, that in this age of digital connections, word-ofmouth remains key for artists looking to build their reach. “One of the main things I’m interested in figuring out is my reach. I don’t know how people find my music.
Fairchild is also aiming to see her songs back on the air, perhaps in a transition to Americana. “I don’t know exactly where it will fit, because I feel like it’s probably more Americana than just country. But that’s honestly perfect for me... I know there’s some rock in there, some blues, soul, and there’s country, like singer songwriter stuff. I just feel like the genre of Americana is very wide. Most of the artists I love and listen to are considered Americana artists, and I’d love to join that crew, if possible.” “I did an interview with Bill Cody (from 650 WSM-AM),” she added,
If somebody likes my music, I just hope they share it. Because that’s how I find music that I listen to. So I’m hoping the more I talk about it, the more people hear it, the more people know that it exists. I want my music to be part of what people care about and what they like. I’d love for that to be what this record does.” Stampede over to your favorite music downloading site to purchase Fairchild’s new album Buffalo. And if you like it as much as I do, be sure to share it. You can also find her website, which includes her touring schedule, at www.shellyfairchild.com.
‘Right now, I” m just married to my career and this music...It”s the first time in a long time that I”m able to just focus solely on that.’
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FIGHTING THE RISING HIV EPIDEMIC IN THE SOUTH
A RETROSPECTIVE ON WORLD AIDS DAY 2016 VICTORIA NEWTON
With World AIDS Day 2016 now a recent memory we can celebrate the fact that HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence in much of the world, and we are starting to see a decrease in HIV rates across a large part of the country. The glaring exception to that is the southern United States, an area with about one-third of the population of the United States, but with nearly half of all HIV cases in the nation. According to a 2014 U.S. Census Department report on the rate of new HIV infections 18 of the top 25 cities were in the South with Memphis ranking in at number 7 and the Nashville Metropolitan area ranking 22nd. The situation is so extreme that living in the South has now been added as a risk factor for contracting HIV along side more common risk factors, such as being a gay and bisexual male, being an African American regardless of gender, a young gay and bisexual man, and being a transgendered woman. While HIV is still disproportionately effecting all of these groups, African American communities are among the hardest hit especially among gay and bisexual African American men, African American women, and African American transwomen. The causes of the HIV epidemic in the South are multifaceted, encompassing social, religious, and cultural issues, and while many of those are similar throughout the region, that does not mean that there is a one size fits all solution. Part of the issue, though, seems to arise from the messaging surrounding the epidemic, as well as stigma For many people, the horrors of the AIDS epidemic of the 80’s are still fresh in their mind, and they can tell you stories of watching friends pass on a weekly basis. For a younger generation, born since the late 1980s, HIV/AIDS has always existed, and with that so have messages about the dangers of the virus. These messages, specifically targeted at populations that have historically been the hardest hit by the virus, especially among gay and bisexual men, has led to an increase in AIDS Fatigue in those communities. These communities have become desensitized to the messages around the virus, because they cannot remember a time before people were infected
and when there were not lifesaving medications. They also don’t remember when people were dying of related diseases that were once uncommon or non life threatening. This is a generation that is no longer living with the specter of death that haunted the gay bars, as friends and acquaintances stopped showing up. Besides AIDS fatigue, messaging around the virus has also had other unintended consequences. Prevention methods have, for the longest time, focused primarily on condoms in an effort to decrease the spread of the virus. With condoms being shoved into their hands, pockets, and faces, gay men are starting to revolt against this constant force to try and influence one of the most intimate parts of their lives. Because of this, there is a growing amount of ‘condom fatigue’ among gay and bisexual men, who are choosing to have raw sex. These are not men who believe that they are immune to STDs or HIV, and they are not unaware of the risk involved in having sex without condoms. Instead they are often men who are choosing when and how they have sex and who, in many ways, are rebelling against an aggressive campaign to try and stop a natural urge that most people have. Another facet of this growing HIV epidemic in the South is the stigma that is attached to HIV, which continues to persist to this day. The stigma in the South is similar in many ways to the stigma faced in many parts of the country, stemming from a fear of being discovered as having HIV, as well as a fear of being tested or even associated with places that serve those with HIV. But the stigma in the South is also felt on deeper level, being intimately tied to the South’s Bible Belt culture. In an area where sex is often a taboo subject, vital discussions of sex often do not happen to the detriment of the community. The role that the churched plays in the life of many southerners, and the impact of church ideology on the shape of discussions about sex, leaves many without vital information and this is putting communities at an increased risk for the virus. Stigma also presents itself in the form of making many unable or afraid to admit that they are gay or bisexual, and because of this they are participating in
risker sex behaviors, while also having sex with a female partner. This stigma means that these men and their partners not getting tested until they have become very sick, and because of this the HIV epidemic in the south is also becoming an AIDS epidemic, with Atlanta having the AIDS rate of a third world nation. But, while the HIV rate in the south is eclipsing the rest of the nation, hope is not lost that things can be changed. Prevention efforts can now include newer messaging, including information about
PrEP and its effectiveness in helping prevent HIV. Stigma can be addressed in a variety of ways, such as reaching out to community members, including churches, and having an open dialogue about the reality of living with HIV. And organizations tasked with fighting the epidemic need to understand that testing may have to occur in nontraditional settings. AIDS is an epidemic that can come to an end, and there is an ambitious movement to end the transmission of HIV. While the South has a long journey ahead of it, in terms of its efforts to combat and defeat this epidemic, there is still hope that, by adapting to the new realities we face in the fight, we can still prevail over the trends.
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NASHVILLE BAR ASSOCIATION RECOGNIZES RUBENFELD & HARBISON MARRIAGE EQUALITY ATTORNEYS RECEIVE PUBLIC SERVICE AWARD STAFF
The Nashville Bar Association (NBA) held its annual meeting and banquet on December 8, 2016, when it installed officers and board members for the coming year and also presented awards to local members who have distinguished themselves in their service. The John C. Tune Public Service Award recognizes members who make outstanding contributions to the greater Nashville area community while distinguishing themselves as practicing attorneys. The award is the highest award presented at the NBA Annual Banquet. Due to the nature of the award, it is not necessarily given annually, but only when there is someone deserving of the award. The 2016 Tune Award was presented to both Abby Rubenfeld and Bill Harbison recognizing their outstanding contributions to the community. Most recently and most notably, the pair distinguished themselves by representing the Tennessee plaintiffs in the marriage equality fight. In response to the award, Metro Nashville Councilmember-at-Large Bob Mendes made the following statement: On December 8, 2016, Abby Rubenfeld and Bill Harbison received the John C. Tune Public Service Award. The Tune Award is the highest honor given by the Nashville Bar Association. It is given annually to a Nashville lawyer who has shown the highest degree of dedication to the lawyer’s work and to making our community a better place. Rubenfeld and Harbison received the Tune Award for their work fighting for marriage equality. In 2013, they filed a lawsuit asking the State of Tennessee to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who had married legally in other States. Two years later, they were before the Supreme Court of the United States and, on June 26, 2015, in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court decided that the right to marriage by same-sex couples is protected by the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Nashville has had a role in national civil rights cases before, and the Supreme Court’s landmark Obergefell decision is as important as any of them. Rubenfeld and Harbison both have built successful legal careers while being actively engaged in our Nashville community. Their work together for marriage equality is in the finest tradition of the Nashville bar –
excellent legal work coupled with a passion for making our community a better place. The Nashville Bar Association is proud to have Rubenfeld and Harbison as our 2016 Tune Award winners. Additionally, the NBA recognized several other members: The CLE Excellence Award was given to Judge Philip Smith and Judge Phillip Robinson in recognition of exceptional service to the NBA’s Continuing Legal Education Program. It recognizes NBA members who have demonstrated dedication and commitment to the NBA’s mission to provide cutting edge, quality continuing legal education to improve the knowledge and practice skills of lawyers. The Nashville Bar Journal Award for Contributor of the Year went to Kimberly Faye and Caroline Hudson, recognizing them as NBA Editorial Committee members who continually make the Nashville Bar Journal a source of pride for the NBA. The Author of the Year award was presented to Jim Thomas for his excellent write-up on the 2016 Law Day theme, Reflections on Miranda’s 50th Anniversary. The YLD President’s Award was given to Kelly Donley and Lauren Spahn, whose dedication and efforts for the NBA Young Lawyer’s Division have raised the overall profile of the Nashville Bar Association. The YLD Enterprise Award was presented to Mollie Gass and Peter Malanchuk who have both advanced the charitable purposes of the NBA Young Lawyer’s Division through a new initiative, program, or activity. The Emeritus Award—recognizing those who have reached 50 years of law practice and of honored service as a member of the Bar—was presented to eight members: Hon. Robert S. Brandt, David M. Bullock, Hon. Ben H. Cantrell, H. Fred Ford, Sr., Hon. Bill E. Higgins, David Young Parker, Earl J. Porter, Jr., and Hon. J. Randall Wyatt. The NBA President’s Awards were given to the following members for their outstanding contributions to the NBA: Andrea Perry, Hon. Joe Binkley, Edward D. Lanquist, Jr., Tom Lawless, and the 14 Producers of the Blanton CLE Program. Finally, The Legal Aid Society recognized James A. Beaks with their Pro Bono Volunteer Award and Waller, LLP with the Pro Bono Leadership Award.
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WE ARE OUR OWN CANVAS JAMES GRADY
TATTOOS ARE AN ANCIENT FORM OF HUMAN EXPRESSION, DATING BACK THOUSANDS OF YEARS. MUMMIFIED HUMAN REMAINS FROM OVER FIVE THOUSAND YEARS AGO PROVE THAT THE ART IS AS ANCIENT AS CIVILIZATION. IT ALSO TRANSCENDS CULTURE: ARCHEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE SHOWS THAT TATTOOING WAS PRACTICED IN LOCATIONS AS DIVERSE AS GREENLAND AND THE PHILIPPINES, THE SUDAN AND THE ANDES. THROUGHOUT HUMAN HISTORY, AND PROBABLY HUMAN PREHISTORY, WE AS A SPECIES HAVE INVENTED WAYS OF PERMANENTLY ALTERING OUR OUTER SELVES, OF MARKING OUR BODIES FOR OUR OWN PURPOSES. WE HAVE DONE THIS AS A SIGN TO OTHERS, AND AS A REMINDER TO OURSELVES, OF IMPORTANT BELIEFS, IMPORTANT MOMENTS, AND IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN OUR LIVES. WE HAVE ALSO DONE IT SIMPLY FOR PLEASURE: TO PERMANENTLY IMPRESS A PLEASING IMAGE ON OUR BODIES, OR BECAUSE WE ENJOY THE ACTUAL EXPERIENCE AND RESULT OF THE PROCESS. WITHIN THE LGBT COMMUNITY, THE REASONS FOR GETTING TATTOOS ARE NO DIFFERENT THAN FOR ANY OTHER GROUP—IT’S JUST SOMETIMES OUR TATTOOS REFLECT OUR STRUGGLES WITH SEXUAL IDENTITY, OR THOSE IMPORTANT MILESTONES IN COMING TO TERMS OR COMING OUT. OFTEN THEY MAY INCORPORATE SUBTLE ELEMENTS OF “WE’RE HERE, WE’RE QUEER.” BUT OFTEN ENOUGH THEY DON’T. WE ARE LGBT, AND WE ARE MORE THAN LGBT, AND WE INSCRIBE ALL OF THAT ONTO OUR BODIES IN OUR EFFORT TO EXPRESS WHO WE ARE IN INK. 18
Photos: JayBee Photography
This month’s cover model, TJ McCormick, is a true canvas, and he has shared some of his story with us this month. For TJ, as many of the others we spoke to, the interest in tattoos started young, and in his case it was a family affair. “My dad always had a lot of tattoos. He actually took my when I was 17 to go get some tattoos. That’s when it started for me,” he explained. He got tattoo fever and has never looked back. “Between 18 and 20, I just kept getting meaningful tattoos that meant a lot to me. I got a matching tattoo with my best friend—things like that.” All that was while TJ was still in California, but soon life would change. “I was working three jobs and going to school full time. I didn’t really have a major. I was kind of floating around… I’d work and then go to the beach and hang out with my boyfriend at the time. Then after all that fell apart, I may or may not have joined the army to get away from all that.” The Army brought this California boy to Middle Tennessee. “I will be very honest, when I found out my station was Kentucky, I was just like, ‘Kentucky? Why would I get stationed in Kentucky?’ It just blew my mind: I had friends who were getting stationed in Korea and I thought that sounded awesome. But it turns out that coming to Fort Campbell is probably the best thing that could have ever happened to me.” Once he settled in to his new station, the Army culture encouraged his love of tattoos. “In the army, tattoo culture is kind of everywhere. It’s almost synonymous:
If you’re in the army, you have tattoos. I started getting more and more while I was at Fort Campbell. It kind of just became a bonding experience because I would go with other friends. They’d get tattoos, and I’d get tattoos. While many of his tattoos reflect his interests, such as his Pokémon menagerie, some run deeper. “The tattoo on my chest reads, “I am myself even if the whole world should change.” I was at a weird point in my life where everything was changing. I had just joined the army and everything about my old life was just fading into the background... I got it as a reminder to myself: don’t lose who you are just because the world is changing around you.” The only tattoo that has specifically LGBT significance is the one he got with his ex-fiance, and that significance derives not from the image but from the setting in which it was produced. “Honestly most of my tattoos are more like video gaming and anime culture which is popular amongst our crowd. How do you describe this? I liked my tattoos to be more conversational: if someone asks me about them or wants to talk about them, then at least I can have a conversation on that topic.” In addition to his love for expressing himself through his tattoos, TJ loves the art more generally. “I love body art. I love different styles. Different techniques. I love seeing other people’s tattoos. I can spend all day in a room full of people with all kinds of different tattoos, and I’d be perfectly happy.” While his tattoos are all admittedly colorful, TJ says that one of his favorite styles of tattoos to see on others is traditional black
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MARKING THE COURSE OF OUR LIVES
“I LOVE BODY ART. I LOVE DIFFERENT STYLES. DIFFERENT TECHNIQUES. I LOVE SEEING OTHER PEOPLE’S TATTOOS. I CAN SPEND ALL DAY IN A ROOM FULL OF PEOPLE WITH ALL KINDS OF DIFFERENT TATTOOS, AND I’D BE PERFECTLY HAPPY.” and white. “I’ve got a couple friends who have done it really, really well for their body. Color works for my skin. Traditional black and white, when it’s shaded beautifully, is great. While stationed in Fort Campbell, TJ prepared to get back into school and also took advantage of unique opportunities, both in the Army and in the surrounding areas. His station and his schedule gave him the chance to work in Nashville at Play and to connect with the LGBT community here. He was actually on active duty while working at the bar on weekends. When he was working at Play, his tattoos definitely proved, as he hoped, to be good conversation starters. “It definitely caught a lot of people’s attention... It was the year of Pokémon Go and I have Pokémon plastered across my arm. So I had people grabbing at my arm, and trying to talk to me about my tattoos and stuff. It’s cool, and I enjoyed being able to show off all the different kinds of tattoos and where I have them.” He also got pushback over his tattoos,
Benjamin Crabtree’s tattoos each mark an important time in his life, lessons learned and experience gathered. He shared a little about their origins: The Hebrew on my deltoid reads “Benjamin.” I went through a horrible time in life where I had completely lost myself. That is the origin of my name, my root. The verse below it is Ephesians 6:13 “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” My mother always quoted this verse when I was going through hard times.
but he took it in stride. “I get occasional people asking, ‘Why would you get that on your body? You know that’s permanent right?’ It’s permanent, but again, it’s my life. You get one life to express yourself, so why would you want to have a perfectly preserved, blank canvas? It’s not going to matter when you’re old: I just want to enjoy the fact that I have beautiful pieces that I got with my friends, who I got to have this experience with. Every single tattoo I have means something to me. Each, in its own different way, reflects a different phase of my life, regardless of whether it’s if it’s anime related or video game related. Whether it’s personal or nonsensical, it’s on my body for a reason.” About a month ago, TJ embarked on a new phase in his life, moving to New York to attend the Culinary Institute of America, where he’s working toward earning the prestigious institutions Bachelor’s degree in Baking and Pastry and becoming a pastry chef. And we are certain that, on his off time, TJ will be exploring the opportunities New York’s vibrant body art scene will provide.
The Eleanor Roosevelt quote, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”, found a permanent place on my forearm after a rough relationship. It serves as a constant reminder of something I never want to feel again. The newest addition is the first tattoo of mine born out of love. It’s a Trinity (Mind-Body-Spirit). I picked up a certification in Traumatic Massage in September. The practice helps people unlock trauma held in the body. In order to target and release the trauma, the therapist facilitates a conversation between the person and all three aspects of the person’s “self.” We are 3. From this training, I’ve come to love, understand, and nourish myself.
LESBIAN TATTOOER WINS TOP HONORS IN 2016
Faves &Raves Winner Alchemy´s Tai Orten Talks Tattoos JAMES GRADY
In 2016, Out & About Nashville readers chose a new tattoo shop, Alchemy Nashville, as the best place to get a tattoo. In addition to being new on the scene, Alchemy also has the distinction of being owned and operated by an LGBT artist, Tai Orten. Tai has been tattooing for ten years, but she only established Alchemy in East Nashville between December 2015 and February of 2016. Before that she had worked at four or five different studios— most recently Electric Hand—honing her craft. Her own studio is a one-woman shop, open by appointment only. And that’s working for her: through word-of-mouth and referrals alone, she’s booked out four or five months in advance. Tai was gracious enough to chat with us about how she got started in tattoos, what it was like developing as a lesbian and female artist in a male-dominated field, and to give some pointers to newbies. James: How did you first get into tattoos and tattooing? Tai: I was introduced to it when I was about sixteen. I ended up doing a tattoo kind of as a bribe from my mom. She absolutely hated piercings, and I wanted one, so she’s like, “I’ll take you to get your first tattoo if you do not get this awful tongue ring.” I was like, “Okay. That’s totally done.” She took me for that when I was 16 at a local shop in Murray, Kentucky. It was owned by this guy named Jerry Riegger, who was an old time tattoer, and I was just lucky enough to have access to him. Over that course of time, probably about a year, I would drop by and kind of bug him and ask him about tattooing and stuff. At that point I had pretty much had a fire under my a**, and I knew I wanted to get involved in some way because I had always been drawing. I guess I finally bugged him enough because he definitely didn’t take me seriously when I first came in there. He ended up giving me an apprenticeship when I was around 17. That’s how initially I got my foot in the door was through him and through that small town that I lived in.
James: Were you out back then? Tai: Selectively. I didn’t make it known where I lived or at my high school. It was in Murray, Kentucky—it’s very small, pretty Bible Belt, very conservative
overall. I’m sure there wer a few people that would have been okay with it, but I just wasn’t wanting to put that out there to where it might backfire and stuff. I was selectively out as far as friends and with Jerry I was as well. That was actually probably one of the cool things about being a gay female: at that point it wasn’t as prevalent. So I think I was kind of was able to avoid some of the things that sometimes women have to deal with in the male dominated industry by simply just being gay. I was different.
James: I was going to ask what it was like developing a career as a woman, because I do know it’s kind of a ‘macho’ industry sometimes. Tai: Yeah. I would say it definitely draws a certain crowd. Even more so as you go back, and then back even further: it was slimmer and slimmer in terms of the women that were involved in it. Now it’s a much more open environment and I think it embraces women a little bit more.
James: How would you advise someone on how to find an artist who meshes with the style that they’re looking for? Tai: I would say just research, look online. This goes for tattooers looking at other tattooers for learning purposes and for inspiration… Everything is on social media now. You can really get to see a body of work from any artist from any town that you want to and that you’re interested in. The big thing that I look for is whether the work that they currently have is within the realm of what you could consider getting and that the line work is consistently clean, the images are clear, the application is solid. James: Do your own personal tattoos revolve around themes or events, or do they have any LGBT significance? Tai: I would say all of my tattoos kind of revolve around a general concept: I would say all of them in some way or other have a theme of life, death, decay, and growth... My right side is my life, abundance, and growth side. My left side is more death, change, decay, that kind of concept… But nothing in terms of struggle as far as coming out or anything like that. That’s always been something I kind of work out mentally more so than on the skin. @O U T A N D A B O U T N A S H
James: Among your clients, you must have a lot of LGBT people. Do you see themes in what they’re looking for? Do they often want LGBT-themed tattoos? Tai: Sure. Yeah you do run across that from time to time. I definitely work with a huge segment of the LGBT community, everything from ... a fifty-fifty split of men and women and everything within the gender spectrum, trans community, that kind of deal. Some of them do choose to have things that are just very specifically focused on some kind of struggle or some change. But generally I find that most people, LGBT or not, will start projects and want to get a tattoo around times of change. It can be something as simple as a breakup or something that shifted in their day to day life. It’s almost like a fresh start in a way. James: Do you think LGBT people are more comfortable with an LGBT artist. Tai: Sometimes. Sometimes they are reluctant to share details of their lives when they don’t know how the tattooer will respond. When I have people from the LGBT community come in, sometimes they know that I am, and sometimes it naturally just works itself into the conversation, like “Oh, my girlfriend…” You know? And they’re like, “Oh, okay.” Then you sometimes see them relax a bit. Some people have told me of bad experiences and that they wanted to come to an LGBT artist so they could feel comfortable. It’s something that I’ve come across from time to time. To feel comfortable you need to know what you’re walking into. You don’t know how the audience is going to be. You don’t know if people are going to receive you well or have something nasty to say to make you feel. I think it is getting better overall, I think that that somebody who is a tattooer … it would not behoove them to embrace that negativity. James: Do you see much pushback on tattoos or hear about it? I know most of the people you work with regularly are on board, but… Tai: Oh yeah. It’s weird for me to step outside into that, actually. Tattoos are my day-to-day life, so I forget sometimes until I walk into a grocery store and somebody pulls their kid back like I’m going to abduct them. You still see that, and you’re like, “I’m not going to take your kid because I’m a tattoo person.” I think that definitely is going to take a lot of time to fade out, but more and more I get to see doctors, lawyers, and folks that would typically not be thought of as having tattoos, get tattoos. Sometimes they’ll still be selective about placement and that will hide them: I might know about them and their significant others will, but the vast majority of people won’t get to see that. Same things with teachers and things like that. I’ll feel like I’m winning a secret victory when I tattoo a teacher. You don’t usually get to see them as people, like a regular person, when you’re a kid… James: What do you consider your specialties? Are there kinds of tattoos that you will refer clients to other artists to get? Tai: Portraiture would be the main thing, because I can do it and that’s something that not everybody is always comfortable with. However, I really do cover a wide variety of styles. The only thing that I wouldn’t advertise myself for would probably be New School. I enjoy it, and I
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think it looks really great, but it’s not my jam … James: Do you have some tips about preparing for getting a tattoo, or some things people ought to know about getting a tattoo before they get one? Tai: Look for somebody versatile with clean, solid, consistent work who can accommodate your style that you’re wanting. In terms of preparing yourself for the day, be well rested and have limited time constraints. Be prepared to empty your mind. Be aware that after the tattoo you are going to have to avoid water, besides a shower, for a few weeks at least. Try to be able to rest for a few days after, and also remember that tattoo placement can be extra uncomfortable depending on profession: I had somebody get a hand tattoo, and he was a landscaping person, and ended up working with manure literally the next day. That’s not a good idea. JANUARY 2017
James: How do people make an appointment with you, since you don’t have open hours? Tai: I’ve kind of set up a system where I do everything through email. And so, when somebody is interested in getting work, I just tell them to go to my website (tattoosbt. com) and fill out a contact form. It asks specific questions on what they want, what their budget is for the project. It asks them to select photos that might be references that will point me in a direction. And then from there, if it’s something that I think I can do for them, I’ll send them the link to my calendar, and then they select a consult time. From there we hammer out a timeline. The consultation also allows us to make sure we’re on the same wavelength. Check out more of Tai’s work on Instagram at @alchemynashville and, again, visit tattoosbt.com for more information or to schedule a consultation.
TATTOOS TELLING OUR STORIES Sexual Identity 12South Franklin DWTN Nashville at Grimey’s Too
Sabrina Torres’ fascination with tattoos began early. “I was probably fifteen or sixteen the first time I knew I wanted to get one eventually,” she said. “This is something I had wanted to since, pretty much I understood that it was a thing.” “Originally, I think I saw some older girls who had them, and I thought they were really cool, and that their tattoos were really cool,” she added. “Also in my head they were always to mark something important. When I was younger, I used to do Irish step dancing, and I always said if I went to World Championships, I’d get a tattoo… That never actually happened.” When she did finally get her first tattoo, though, it was in response to something important. “I have two tattoos,” she explained. “The first one is on my arm—the phrase ‘I am significant.’ I got that one the same month that I publicly came out. I was very afraid of all the decisions I was making. I was getting divorced. I was coming out of the closet. There was a lot going on, and it was in part so that I didn’t turn back.” Explaining the tattoo a little further, she added, “I hadn’t known for a very long time that what I wanted mattered. I didn’t think that what I wanted was as important of living up to what my family wanted, what my religion taught me. I thought all those things came first. It was the first time in my life that I was doing something that was just for me to be happy. A part of me was very afraid that I would take an easy route at some point when it got too hard, and I wanted the actual reminder on my skin that what I wanted mattered.” The second tattoo builds on that. “I knew that I wanted one when my divorce actually came through… The tattoo itself is a bird cage with the bird sitting on top of it. It has lily of the valley in its beak. That flower represents a return to happiness. The whole idea behind it was that I was the bird, and I was free for the first time—not just from a bad marriage but from all these ideas that kept me from being who I wanted to be.”
Sabrina thinks that many people in the LGBT community get tattoos for reasons like hers, or to mark important milestones in the development of their identity, and she feels like there’s more openness to tattoos in our community because we value self-expression and are used to being other than ‘the norm.’ “We are already a bit different, and so maybe we are a little more open to having a visual display on us that might be setting us apart.” At least on a personal level, too, she reflected, “My tattoos are very much tied to my identity as a lesbian. I don’t know that I would say that that’s the case for everybody, but I think that individuality is a big part of tattoo culture and gay culture. Those things just match up well.” @O U T A N D A B O U T N A S H
TATTOOING IS AN ART THAT SHOULD ALSO BE FUN
WE DON’T ALL START EARLY
An Interview With Lone Wolf Artist Teddy Butler CODY TRACEY
Tattoo artist Teddy Butler is a well-known tattoo artist in Nashville, now Franklin, and he’s served many LGBT clients over the years, myself included. Teddy started tattooing for money back in September 2010, but his interest started much earlier than that. As a teenager, he met a tattoo artist who got him interested in working in the industry: he was “frequently sneaking into tattoo shops, and annoying artists and piercers before I was 18.” Teddy has done other things, but tattooing was what he loved. “I worked some regular jobs: restaurants were more fun, factory jobs paid better, but neither kept my interest. I knew I wanted to work hands on and with people. Academics did not interest me: I couldn’t find the romance in any college career. I knew I would never love those types of jobs.” What other jobs lacked was the creative outlet he sought. “I always knew I was creative, and I had drawn since I was a young man. Everyone told me as an adolescent, if I wanted to make good money, to go to college, but I didn’t care about making a lot of money. I wanted to have fun.” In tattooing he found something different, something that could keep his interest and offered a creative outlet. “Tattoo shops were fun. It was creative; it was a whole different kind of work place. It was a place for the freaks and geeks, at the time, and that was definitely me.” Now, twelve years after delving into the scene, Teddy is the senior artist at Lone Wolf in Franklin, Tennessee. “Keeping my eyes on the prize really paid off for me,” he said. “One of my mentors once said, ‘A good tattooer, can do any tattoo.’ Now, that does not mean that he could do every single possible style but, instead, is versatile enough, to satisfy any custom request with
one of the styles that he can do. I do solid tattoos, that are built to last.” “As an artist, I do not get to choose who I am,” Teddy added. “I do what I do, I like what I like, and my influences are my influences. I have my own opinions and biases about art that make me who I am. I can work to better myself and learn new techniques over time, but we don’t have much choice in who we are as an artist. It can be hard for some people to understand.” Probably one of the most common misconceptions among clients, Teddy explained, arises from not understanding this, from thinking that you can get whatever tattoo you want from whatever artists you can get. “I feel that the most common misconception is that you can walk into any shop with a picture and get it done by anybody available. It couldn’t be further from the truth. You can try, but results may vary.” So how should you go about finding the artist best for you? Understand the styles of various artists, and find one suited to your vision. “I wouldn’t go to an old school guy for new school, and vice versa,” Teddy explained. “So you should hunt for the tattooer whose style best suits what you are looking for. Once you have found the artist you like, it is best to let them do their thing. Just look at portfolios in shops or online, and, when you find the artist, ask for them by name. I never try to convince people that I am their guy, I tell them what I can do and ask them to look at my work. If they like what I do, then I can do it for them too.” In his time as an artist, Teddy has worked extensively with members of the LGBT community, which he says makes up about 20% of his business. “Many are repeat customers, and some of them book some of the larger and more involved projects have done. I have gotten to do some of my favorite
designs on LGBT persons, and I get lots of referrals from my clients in the community. I have made a lot of money, and a lot of friends, as a result.” A good example of some traditional-yetdifferent work Teddy has done for an LGBT client involved a riff on the classic pin-up concept: the client wanted pin-up tattoos, but with a twist: “I did a pair of realistic, practically nude soldiers on a guy.” This openness to the combination of classic style and modern realities is part of what LGBT clients love about working with Teddy. But then there are the strange ones. Sexuality, LGBT or otherwise, and edgy concepts have brought Teddy some of his more challenging—or at least taste challenging—designs. While as an artist he identifies himself with more typical designs, like flowers or animals, he has done some crazy stuff. “I was once requested to do ‘five cents a ride’ for a young lady, but she settled for the word ‘smash’ in script above her lady parts. It seemed classier. I have done a piñata wearing a leather fetish gimp suit, holding a crop in its mouth, with a speech bubble that said ‘Hit me.’ I did a saltine cracker on a guy, because that was his rap name. I did a satanic Kool-Aid guy the other day. I did Bob Marley with ‘the flying spaghetti monster’ as his hair.” “For some reason, the sexually deviant or completely random stuff sticks out,” Teddy said, reflecting on his most memorable designs. “I could go on with a list like that: every day could be completely ridiculous. We have no clue what crazy idea or person is about to walk in. I get a kick out of it, tattoos should be fun, they don’t have to be so serious all the time.” If you think Teddy is the right artist for you, you can check out his work on Instagram (@teddymonstar1) or stop by the Lone Wolf Franklin shop!
Teddy Butler’s customer and member of the LGBT community Frank Moore— aka Sister Pursefonee Ophelia Bitz—shares the story of his tattoo journey: “I got my first tattoo in my mid 40’s. I hit a point in my life where I stopped caring what other people thought and started doing what was right for me. I now have four tattoos: the first three are symbols of resilience and perseverance. The first tattoo is a phoenix, and the second is a dragon. I had them done in vibrant colors so they stood out as more than just lines on my skin. “The third tattoo is of a koi and lotus. They are the first of a larger piece representing the Chinese tale of the Koi and the waterfall, but progressing forward with a large work is always dependent on having extra funds. “My last tattoo is a vintage style naval design with ‘MOM’ in the center. I got this a few months after my mother’s passing. “There were two important realizations when I decided to get my first tattoo. The first was that my body art is mine and mine alone. I don’t owe anyone explanations about ‘Why?’ or ‘What does it mean?’ If I want a tattoo of a piece of toast on my a** cheek, it can be deeply significant to me or it can mean nothing at all. The second realization was that a tattoo is a commission of art on your body, so choose well who does it.”
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WRESTLING WITH WHAT’S YOURS AND WHAT’S MINE QUEER ARTIST MADISON LAWRENCE ON HER NEW EP ERIC PATTON
Pop isn’t the genre that Nashville is known for, however our contributions to it are many—most notably Katy Perry, Kesha, and Meghan Trainor. But there is an underground of pop singers here in Nashville that set a high bar for musical talent. Nashville pop recording artist Madison Lawrence, who just released her new EP, Yours, is part of that group. Her project has been a long time coming, as Lawrence has built her online following, garnering over 20,000 followers on Twitter and over 8,000 YouTube subscribers. As an internet star, Lawrence has done well. “I’m finding a lot of success, luckily. I bought a house with my own money, which is great. You have to know how to work with it. I’ve been on the internet, just as an internet personality for three or four years, and I’d also been on YouTube before that. I’ve learned a lot about analytics and how to utilize certain posting times. But ultimately, you need to know your audience. And I’m lucky enough to have a supportive base of people who feel like they can relate to me…” Her new EP is a story in four songs. Lawrence takes her listeners down the path of a relationship, from the height of the sexuality, to the realization that it isn’t working, to the ugly break up, to the healing of self. The EP’s origins were in Lawrence’s personal experience. “I got broken up with, which is pretty typical, I guess. We were together for two years, but had a terrible weekend that sparked everything… I wanted to tell the entire story, because a lot of the people who knew me and my boyfriend at the time didn’t know what happened between us… So, I found this as a way to tell my side of the story without being a huge b*** about it. It was just cathartic for me. Healing is definitely one of the words I would use to describe the EP.” The EP includes the first song she had written around sex. “I think what I love most about this song,” she said, “is that it was written so obviously about sex, which is something I’m not usually known for…. But it was just pouring out of me that night. As a woman, it can be hard to write about sex so blatantly. But if we have it, we should write about it….”
“That was the only song that was written for the EP that wasn’t about the break up,” she added. “The narrative of the song fit so well with what I was wanting to do for the order of the album. It inspired the idea to make the EP into a story. It made it a narrative, and it’s better that way, I feel.” The title track, “Yours,” is about the “moment of realization and clarity in that relationship where I realized I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore,” Lawrence explained, “which scared me… We’d been on a trip to New York, and on the way home, it was just obvious that we weren’t working. So I got back home and wrote the song in about ten minutes.”
moment in my life.” “If” describes all the negative feelings experienced after a particularly bad break up. “It’s very bittersweet. It’s not necessarily as sad as some people think. It was approached from more of a ‘Yeah, this sucks, but…’ place. We had a two-year relationship. I know things about him that nobody knows and he can say the same. We were incredibly close and deeply in love, so I must take that at face value. I can be angry at him for what he did to me, and I can be upset at how it turned out. But at the same time, it was a relationship and I needed to reconcile that and decide to be somehow ok with moving on. And we ended up having a conversation about it, and this
“...you need to know your audience. And I’m lucky enough to have a supportive base of people who feel like they can relate to me.” The song “talks about being someone else’s and how you relate that to yourself and figure out that push and pull between whether or not I wanted to give my entire self to this person or do I want to own some of myself still. It got to the point where I was giving all of myself to him and he was giving nothing back to me. At that point, I said ‘I don’t want to be yours, I don’t want to be your thing. Because that’s what I am. I’m some thing, not someone that you care about…’ That’s why I chose it as the title track, because it was a pivotal
song was the culmination of that talk…” “Take Care” is upbeat, in-yourface number that reminds you that you are the brightest star in your universe, and that self-care is a top priority. After the breakup, things got ugly, Lawrence explained: “We were both in situations where we both were still angry and still not feeling great. We took it out on each other, so that, obviously, was a miserable situation. Things got ugly on social media where he was talking to my friends and stuff…” This lead her to reflect on the end
of their relationship more generally. “I realized that for the last year we were together, I hadn’t been taking care of myself. And I still wasn’t taking care of myself. I was still giving all of myself to this person and still letting him control my feelings… I realized that I have to take care of myself. I have to take care of me. I needed to learn how to love myself again without the support of somebody else’s love.” “So I realized I had to get back in the saddle, so to speak,” she added, “and then I just wrote this bop, as the kids would say [chuckles]. I wrote it because I needed to hear it. As I wrote it, I was internalizing it … saying to myself, ‘The only person you need to love right now is you. That’s all you need to do.’” Along the way, Lawrence has become more open about herself. She identifies as ‘queer,’ and while the term is controversial for some, she finds it works well for her. “I identified as bisexual for a while, but it was too limiting for me, and I am not a huge label person, so I wanted something that was more of an umbrella term, which, now, queer has become. We have reclaimed it as a community, which is wonderful. Part of me feels like it’s a bit of an homage to standing in solidarity with all of this.” She also recognizes that the term is problematic for some. “I think that, in the South, a lot of people still don’t get queer, which I completely understand. I think that online and on social media, it’s easy to be validated in that kind of thing, because there’s such a huge audience and market of people who are queer and identify that way… But I’ve been around gay people, I’ve been around lesbians who have said they don’t appreciate me using the word queer to identify myself. And I completely understand that as well.” “I feel like it fit me better than say, bisexual,” she added, “or pansexual because that’s a little too broad for me… I would never want to tell someone what term they want to use to identify themselves… Queer lets me leave that door open.” When asked if her sexuality is translating in her music, Lawrence gave an enthusiastic response. “When my girlfriend and I got together, it
absolutely did. I wrote her a song for her birthday. It was the first song I’d ever written about a girl. Before that, I was too scared… I didn’t come out young like most people do now. I knew from when I was young, but I didn’t think that I ever wanted a relationship… So I didn’t want to write a song about a girl.” Openness about her sexual identity has translated itself into her music in other ways. “Now my sexuality is starting to show up in my music more. ‘Take Me Down’ was about a boy, but I decided to make it gender neutral because I know a lot of my followers are also queer and identify other than straight. I wanted to be relatable to other people and not have them feel like they would have to change the words.” “If the song is about a boy, and you’re writing it to a boy, that’s completely fine,” she explained. “I’m not saying anyone should do every single song that way, but with songs like ‘Take Care’ or ‘Take Me Down,’ I think it’s good to leave that option open… It’s
so important to be conscious of your audience and aware that some of them aren’t straight. So if someone can relate to my songs because they’re gender neutral, that’s something I want to give my followers.” Building off of her success as an internet personality, as well has her new project, Lawrence is looking for new opportunities. “I’m starting to transition into live performance, because it’s easy to get stuck in a niche, especially if it works for you, revenue wise especially. But I need to be performing. And I need to know that when I go on tour, I have a base that’s going to come out for it. And especially here, I want to play out here and get more known around the live scene, which is vastly different from the online scene.” With her talent, we’re sure she’ll go far. Check her out on social media, including Twitter (@ madisonlawrence) and YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/user/ xMaddsx). @O U T A N D A B O U T N A S H
VICTORY FUND FUNDRAISER HELD AT GEORGE JONES MUSEUM BUBBLES AND BISCUITS RECEPTION SUPPORTS LGBT CANDIDATES STAFF
it has helped elect thousands of LGBT people to public office through offering training and support for candidates and developing potential candidates for political office. This—as everything in politics—takes resources, not the least of which being money. Each year, across the country, local supporters of the Victory Fund across the country host champagne receptions to raise money for the cause. This year’s Nashville event, “Bubbles and Biscuits,” was originally scheduled for November, but was postponed until December 4 out of respect for the legacy of Betty Nixon and her memorial service, which conflicted with the original date. This also lead to a change of venue, with the event being held at the George Jones Museum.
Photos: Christopher Todd
The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund is an LGBT advocacy group dedicated to working to elect LGBT leaders to public office. It is the group’s main premise that by electing members of our community to every level of office, we can change the political landscape to work for positive change. According to their mission, “Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender office holders are our clearest and most convincing champions for true equality. As leaders in government, they become the face and voice of a community. They challenge the lies of extremists and speak authentically about themselves, their families and their community.” The group has been working toward that mission since its inception in 1991, and
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NO SURRENDER JULIE CHASE
Soulmate and I are holed up in the tastefully furnished large house that is her parents’ abode. Plentifully supplied with food and holiday cheer, the home boasts a warm fire that somewhat compensates for the unwelcome necessity of our disguise. For here, I am still a guy. Soulmate is my opposite-sex wife, and nothing has changed. The elders are in denial—my late parents would have been also—and I am a nice person. This sucks. So kids, you thought you missed all the excitement of the Stonewall era? Now’s your chance. It’s likely going to be even more “exciting” than what my generation had to deal with in the 1980’s. Back then, we dealt with relatively sane people who merely thought we all had AIDS. Today, we deal with more than a few who have swallowed neoreactionary philosophies without question and consider us the bacillus of all unwelcome social and economic change. This sucks more. It’s damn scary too and we’re just getting started. It’s a good thing that you really cannot choose your sexual or gender orientation. I imagine our fabled recruiting skills would be taking a sharp nose-dive otherwise. We should take pride in being labeled as troublesome changemakers however. This puts us in good company. There are synagogues and African-American churches full of such radicals who have scared the pants off traditional America in generations past. I guess it’s our turn now. Here’s the good news: more of us are at peace with who we are and know that we are on the right side of the history to be written by future generations. It’s small compensation, perhaps, for The Tribe having to DEFCON 2, but good news is hard to find at present. There was a reason why the Brits threw a huge celebration after Dunkirk...because there wasn’t much else to celebrate. They were still alive and kicking and raised a few pints to acknowledge the
fact. I guess it’s our turn to do that also. Responsibly, of course. Coming out and standing up to be counted has always been a courageous thing, even in the good times. A new generation, unfortunately, may soon be discovering that pride or political courage sometimes carries a steep price. Many of us have outed ourselves permanently on the Internet or social media by now, and it’s awfully hard to run into the woods for cover when all the trees have been cut down for a better view. This is where those of my generation and earlier may be of assistance. We need to pass along a simple message to our younger siblings: “Stand and fight! We have seen much of this before and there are no more closets to hide in.” The Rainbow Army has always been the commando of American progressive culture. We are the first to fight in its defense, and we never willingly leave the field of battle. This is because our freedoms, and often our very lives, depend upon the victories of this side. We will need to continue subordinating our personal politics in favor of this progressive stance for the foreseeable future as we further align our movement with the greater game. This “Solidarity” movement of like-minded Americans from diverse backgrounds will go far to check most of what our adversaries may desire. All we have fought for, and the freedom we have gained, in recent years is now under direct threat. Socalled traditionalist Americans who support official policies to hinder, arrest or expel people of different faiths or backgrounds from themselves have managed to grab power for at least two years. We now know that the Alt-Right backers of the Republican Party campaign were planning their angle of attack for three years before the election, probably cribbing ideas from the Joseph Goebbels playbook of hate, amongst many others. The acolytes of the Dark Enlightenment obviously did their homework...for the November
Illustration: Melissa Gay
Winter, Somewhere in Trump Country
scoreboard does not lie. Theirs was the Nixon “southern strategy” of our time, with our community as its main enemy. As Ms. Sulam correctly pointed out in her column last month, you have to grudgingly admire their willingness to openly stand behind their views for all to see…even if we prefer the views openly proffered by Justice Jackson at Nuremberg instead, wondering if a certain courtroom could be made available for future use. I came across a Facebook post in the days following the election that many of you may have seen. Her identity is being withheld here for privacy reasons, but she did fly the transgender flag as her icon. It read:
“First they came for the Muslims and we said ‘not this time motherf***ers!” Nailed it. Now get ready. The real fight is just beginning and it will be for all the marbles going forward. Paraphrasing Mr. Churchill: We now have the honour of being the Alt-Right’s main and foremost enemy. We should not disappoint them. Julie Chase is the pen name for a local 40-something trans woman. A graduate of The University of the South at Sewanee, she loves butterflies, strong women and the Austrian School of Economics. @O U T A N D A B O U T N A S H
A KIKI WITH PAIGE TURNER | @PaigeTurner01
It time to get untucked! This month should be a good read as I had a kiki with none other than Ivy St. James! So you know I asked her to pill the T about her and Vanity. We have grown to know and love this little lady for some time now, so why not get to know her better? She is a great performer and an even better friend to many. She loves her fans and loves her drag, so sit back and hold on to your wigs, cuz it’s about to get serious! When did you first decide to do drag? Early 2012, I was at Club Mai for their first ever LGBT night. My college friends and I knew the guy in charge of the events, so we went to support. At that point in life if there was a good dance floor I was there. I did a few guest light shows. So from that moment ‘til April of that year, I practiced, and went and did Open Stage at Forbidden in Cookeville and the rest is history! What or who sparked your interests in drag? In all honesty, Randall Jackson (my drag mom Ryeleigh St. James) was the first drag queen I got to know on a personal level. So after that night at Mai, I contacted him, and he agreed to help out. He helped plant the seed... Having a degree in theatre, drag just pulled me in. The art of portraying a character, a character you got to be the playwright of, and placing it on stage to show the world and be a voice for those finding theirs is what hooked me and why I continue to do what I do. How would you describe your style and persona? Ever changing. Ivy started as a reflection of who I wanted Josh to be as a person. Someone who didn’t let others opinions get to him, someone who felt confident and attractive, someone who could stand their ground. A person who could also stand up for others that needed a hand, a smile, and someone on their side. Those things haven’t changed, but the look of my persona has
elevated. I used to be more of this tumbling rave queen that only did the techno songs no one knew. Now I’m a cosplaying mermaid who still likes to do songs that no one knows! What is the hardest part of being a drag performer? Not letting the crowd affect you. If the crowd doesn’t enjoy what you put your heart and soul into, it’s defeating, if you let it be, or if people want to do nothing but praise you, it can do the opposite. Sometimes it’s all about the interest of the crowd or the energy they give off. I enjoy what songs I do, but if the crowd’s energy isn’t there, it can affect my performance, and if they are living, it can enhance it. The things we can’t control can be the hardest to overcome. Who is the biggest influence to you that is a drag performer and why? Everyone influences me in different ways, but I would have to say when it comes to the last year my fellow Glam Squad members Tyrah Hunter and Vanity. These are the two girls I work with closest, and they share the same drive I have to be better while creating the greatest show we can. They are entirely different drag entertainers, and I love them both for it. Tyrah and Vanity always try to bring a new things to the table each show, and the looks they bring help me to always want to look my best. Both have taught me so much and helped open my mind to the new ways to achieve greatness. Everyone knows you are in a relationship with a fellow performer: do you ever feel over shadowed by her? I don’t now, I see us as equals, because we are two different types of entertainers with two different careers. When we met, we weren’t anywhere near as beautiful as we are today. We both had a lot to learn when it came to drag, but me more so than him because has wanted this as his career since he was younger. So he had worked a little more at it than I at the time. So for the first two years of our relationship, of course, he
always looked better than me, but it didn’t mean our performances were less than one another, so I never felt overshadowed. It was more of a drive, it pushed me to learn more and be better. If he was gonna have this as a career, I knew I had to look good on his arm. Do you girls every fight over clothes, hair, shoes or anything like that? Not really fight, more like pick on each other. Every time I make new wigs for myself, he loves to be like, “Thank you for my new hair girrrrlll!” But that’s him paying me a compliment while really wanting to wear it. We ask each other for pieces to help enhance our looks from time to time or make suggestions of something we have that could help. What we try to do though is be respectful enough in two ways. One, we ask to wear something of the other’s versus expecting to be able to; and two, each of us wears it in a different way than the other. For example, we found this amazing dress at a thrift store, and we both wear it randomly: I wear it with the low cut in the front, and he wears it the proper way with the deep cut in the back. That’s how we treat our castmates, though, so it’s really not even being in a relationship, it’s more about helping a fellow queen go out there and be sickening.
Who is your favorite drag performer, living or deceased? Raven. She always looks so put together from head to toe—painting for the back row—and everything has purpose. The best is the energy she gives: her performance onstage is mesmerizing. I had the honor of being with her backstage when she came to Nashville and she was so humble and so willing to give advice, yet so playful and humble. Out of the queens in Nashville which one do you think give us the most iconic looks? Nashville is full of such great talent, with so many queens that give different looks that could just be as iconic as the one before. So this will be based more off of what I enjoy doing on stage, and I would have to choose the Princess and Aurora Sexton. Both impersonate iconic celebrities and movie/ TV characters. They put a lot of attention to detail in their characters, from hair lines and shoe styles to doing a complete make up change during a show. Ivy performs at Play Dance Bar on Sundays as a member of the Glam Squad, as well as in the 9:30 Monday Night show at Tribe. You can follow this queen on Facebook as Ivy St. James and Instagram as @jivy85!
Timberfell Lodge and Campground
December 30 – January 1
New Year’s Celebration Weekend Food, champagne, noise makers, and MEN! What a way to start 2017! You don’t want to miss the party. Be safe…stay with us and walk back to your room! The Tavern will be open on Saturday 12pm-5pm for pool, beer, snacks and movies.
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SNARKOLOGY: ALL BUTT HURT DISCLAIMER: Amy Sulam is a comic, and not everyone thinks she’s as funny as she does. We condone nothing she says, particularly not if you decide to take the following seriously. It should not be taken as such.
AMY SULAM | @Amysulam
Look, I don’t understand anal. I know I have gay male readers who more than do and will likely be like WTF?! I know some women like it—even some straight women claim to (I’ll never believe you). I just don’t get it. I also find it a bit terrifying. I know that men have a prostate, and that the b-hole is the prime location to massage it. I just don’t get it. I’ve watched gay porn extensively for research purposes, and the size of some of the meat trucks gear jamming those back doors is concerning. I honestly thought at any moment I might witness someone’s rectum being yanked out on a foreskin. I don’t see how it’s pleasuring. In all fairness, though, I’m afraid to have really firm bowel movements. I’m like, “This is gonna end with me on an episode of Weird Stories from the ER, I can feel it…” I once dated a bi guy who HAD to have something up his poop shoot during all intimate goings on. I drew the line at him asking me to wear a HUGE strap on and give him anal. I was seriously worried I was gonna rip his butthole inside out or something. I have made half-a**ed attempts at anal, but the idea always horrifies me. I saw an episode of 1000 Ways to Die that showed a guy dying from lifting something so heavy he got rectal prolapse. I’ve also seen TV shows where people go to the ER from having plain anal or something getting stuck up there. I’ve had two kids so when it comes to the strength on my vagina, I’m pretty confident. My butthole, I don’t trust as much. My other concern is pain. Gay men, doesn’t it hurt? In my head it’s gotta hurt every time. If feels so great, then what’s the deal with no one wanting to be known as
a bottom? I’m just not buying it. There’s not enough lube in the world to make it tempting for me. Every time I see anal in porn, man or woman there’s always wincing. It makes it hard for me to believe this is actually pleasurable for the recipient. Oral sex, I get: blowing and being blown are both pleasurable. Giving anal, I understand:
I understand how live bacteria in the rectum works, and I’m certain I don’t wanna put my mouth there. I barely wanna put my hand there to wipe myself. I also have this whole neurotic thing (shocking for a Jewish person, I know). I’ve heard horror stories about giving butt oral, and I’m pretty confident my luck is bad enough that I’d get whatever mouth
the giver has everything to gain in this equation. But I’m not sold in the experience being great for the catcher. In all fairness I did write column this year about sex being weird, so maybe there’s a lot I don’t get. Continuing that theme, I don’t get salad tossing either. Maybe I have butthole aversion in general. I just don’t find anything appealing about eating out someone’s butt, because, well honestly you #2 out of there.
disease lands you in the third world country ICU for six months, leading to certain death from butthole-to-mouth disease. Receiving doesn’t appeal to me either because again, I #2 out of there. I imagine I would feel very uncomfortable the whole time. And God forbid I did relax and enjoy it: I’m worried I’d immediately fart in the givers mouth, leading to mortification so severe I’d have to leave the planet. And what about ATM?! What if they wanna kiss
me after? How do I sensitively say, “You just had your mouth on my butthole and I’m not kissing you now or ever again” Hell, I’m even nervous about someone doing me from behind or 69-ing because, like, what if I missed spot wiping? Or I have skid marks or dingle berries? I secretly have doggie-style anxiety. Also, what’s the deal with people who sneak fingers in your brown eye? If I told you I’m not into butt stuff, 1) you’re not gonna sneak that past me— it doesn’t go unnoticed, and 2) your finger isn’t gonna be the game changer. There won’t be scenario where I finger goes in, then I hear a choir of angels and think, “I’m converted! Butt stuff is all I thought it could never be!” Then fireworks and junk happen. I’m not into butt stuff, keep your fingers out of there! And don’t even get me started on people who try to go a**-to-vag. Really?! Guys aren’t off the hook: going a**-towiener can be bad news too. Our buttholes are full of live bacteria. I can’t get away from that… I can’t tell you how much that makes my skin crawl. You don’t need a condom down there; you need a hazmat suit. I know some of you really think you like butt stuff—I think you’re all liars— there’s just no convincing me. I’m a real tight ass that way. I’m just not convinced by the new pop culture excitement with butthole things. We’ve peaked this year with electing a giant butthole who’s going to butt shag the country. Side note, ladies: if you take it in the butt but not the vag, you are not a virgin. Sorry whores. You’re not a virgin, but you are moron for thinking one hole doesn’t count. Also, I think I broke both a personal and publication record for most use of the word butthole in a column. I’m recordbreakingly adamant about not liking butt stuff. Unless it’s butt or fart jokes.
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