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OFFICIAL 2018 NASHVILLE PRIDE GUIDE JUNE 2018 / VOLUME 17 / ISSUE 6 FIRST ISSUE FREE - ADD’L COPIES 50¢ EACH


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FAX 615-246-2787 | PHONE 615-596-6210 OUTANDABOUTNASHVILLE.COM

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Out & About Nashville strives to be a credible community news organization by engaging and educating our readers. All content of Out & About Nashville is copyrighted 2017 by Out & About Nashville, Inc. and is protected by federal copyright law and shall not be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. All photography is licensed stock imagery or has been supplied unless otherwise credited to a photographer and may not be reproduced without permission. The sexual orientation of advertisers, photographers, writers and cartoonists published herein is neither inferred nor implied. The appearance of names or pictorial representations does not necessarily indicate the sexual orientation of the person or persons. Out & About Nashville accepts unsolicited material but cannot take responsibility for its return. The editor reserves the right to accept, reject or edit submissions. All rights revert to authors upon publication. The editorial positions of Out & About Nashville are expressed in editorials and in the editor’s notes as determined by the editor. Other opinions are those of writers and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Out & About Nashville or its staff. Letters to the editor are encouraged but may be edited for clarity and length. There is no guarantee that letters will be published. Out & About Nashville only accepts adult advertising within set guidelines and on a case-by-case basis.

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TOGETHER, SMALL STEPS BECOME GREAT STRIDES. When was the last time your budget gave you butterflies? Or a paycheck made your heart skip a beat? At the end of the day, it’s our relationships that matter most. That’s why Regions takes pride in supporting the LGBTQ community and all those committed to building a better future together.

For financial tips, tools and personalized banking solutions, drop by a branch or visit regions.com/LGBT.

© 2018 Regions Bank. Regions and the Regions logo are registered trademarks of Regions Bank. The LifeGreen color is a trademark of Regions Bank. @OUTANDABOUTNASH

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06.18

CONTENTS 10

HRC LOCAL STEERING COMMITTEE RECOGNIZED NATIONALLY

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LGBT CHAMBER EXCELLENCE IN BUSINESS AWARDS

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MARTINIS & JAZZ: PRIDE’S BIGGEST FUNDRAISER

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A LOOK BACK AT PRIDE WITH RON SANFORD

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STEVE GRAND’S FIRST NASHVILLE PRIDE PERFORMANCE

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COUNTRY MUSIC’S CHELY WRIGHT IS OUT & PROUD

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30 YEARS OF NASHVILLE PRIDE IN PICTURES

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LETTER FROM THE

MAYOR June 2018 Greetings Nashville Pride Festival Attendees, As the new Mayor, it gives me great pleasure to welcome countless residents and visitors to the steps of the Historic Metro Courthouse at Public Square Park fro the 2018 Nashville Pride Festival. This year’s Festival commemorates a very special occasion for the local LGBTQ+ community as they celebrate Nashville Pride’s 30th Anniversary of promoting basic human rights, dignity and respect for all. Challenges still exist, but so much positive progress has taken place since those early days of the Pride movement. Thirty years ago it was a much different time for the gay and lesbian individuals who marched with the goal of seeking equality and inclusion. Today we come together to celebrate and support parents, families and friends of the LGBTQ+ community with laughter and love - individuals who are open, honest, and proud of who they are and who they love. I hope that you enjoy this weekend’s Pride festivities and that you have the opportunity to experience all the wonderful sights, sounds, tastes and, of course, music that we have to offer. On behalf of the citizens of Nashville and Davidson County, best wishes for a memorable 2018 Nashville Pride Festival. Happy Pride Nashville! Sincerely,

David Briley Mayor

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of S R NE T R PA SS E R G P RO

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In the shared spirit of progress, Nissan proudly supports the LGBTQ community on the road to equality.

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THE PROMISE OF THINGS TO COME FOR HRC NASHVILLE LOCAL STEERING COMMITTEE RECOGNIZED NATIONALLY

STAFF

All organizations—especially volunteer-based community organizations—have their ups and downs. HRC Nashville is no different, but under the leadership of the Nashville Steering Committee, the organization has become a model of how an organization can meet those challenges and come out stronger on the other side. The 2018 Nashville HRC Equality Dinner is indicative of the current successes of the steering committee, becoming the most successful dinner in the HRC chapter’s history. More than 700 attendees, which included representatives from businesses all over the state, came together for a night of camaraderie, support, and fundraising. The LGBT Chamber of Commerce received the Community Award and Grammy nominated singer Ty Herndon was awarded the HRC Visibility Award; Ty also performed a special song at the close of the dinner. The Nashville Steering Committee was recognized by HRC during the annual HRC Equality Convention in Washington, DC, with 15 total awards for their accomplishments throughout Middle Tennessee. Nashville also brought home the highest honor of the night, Dinner of the Year, which is a first for the steering O Ucommittee. T A N D A B O U T N A S H V I L L E .CO M JUNE 2018 10

Eric Patton and Meredith Bazzell Fortney were also named Dinner Co-Chairs of the Year for their dynamic partnership making the dinner come alive. Eric Patton was also recognized as a Volunteer Rising Star, while Jenny Ford received special acknowledgement for Individual Achievement in Support of State or Local Legislation. Fundraising is a necessary part of HRC’s work, but it’s all in service of fighting for and conserving the rights of the LGBT community. In Tennessee, HRC has played a major role in support of state legislative action. Teaming up with Tennessee Equality Project (TEP), the state’s largest LGBT organization, HRC had boots on the ground during the last three legislative sessions. Over the years Tennessee has faced some of the largest waves of anti-LGBT legislation in the US. In 2017 alone, nineteen bills were filed that, if passed, would have set the state back decades. Working with TEP, HRC assisted by providing legal research, talking points, phone calls and on-site support. Though the controversial “Counselor Bill” passed, the team work paid off, diminishing what could have been a disastrous legislative session. And in 2018, every anti-LGBT bill was stopped. This was the first time in over a decade that all such legislation was defeated.


STATEMENTS FROM HRC NASHVILLE STEERING COMMITTEE MEMBERS:

MEREDITH BAZZELL FORTNEY

“I joined HRC Nashville to be a part of something that has both national and local roots and where I can see the impact immediately. I have met the most incredible people since joining HRC and getting to experience life and affect change with people of such diverse backgrounds and life experiences has had a significant impact on the way I see the world, the people around me, and myself. HRC has helped me become my true, authentic self and now I strive to pass that sense of purpose and passion on to others in my community.”

TYLER LOVEDAY

“I believe the success and extraordinary improvements of the HRC Nashville Steering Committee over the past year or so lies in the intentional efforts of the Board of Governors seeking out talented and capable individuals to run the subcommittees. We have a fantastic group of people. Their drive and passion are refreshing, inspiring and have led directly to the success of HRC’s presence in Tennessee as a whole. They are our greatest strength. ‘The Pride Season’ as we like to call it, is one of our most critical times of year. It’s the time when we bring in the most members. The more members we have, the further our message goes. Each year HRC Nashville continues to add more cities to its Pride agenda and exceed its membership goals. It’s the most fun time to be a part of the work with HRC. People are really genuinely happy to see you and tell you their story and that’s very special to me. I can’t wait to see everyone’s smiling faces this year.”

ERIC PATTON

“HRC not only effects change locally, the money we raise goes to fight all across the nation. When bad bills pop up, like we’ve seen in Oklahoma and Kansas with an anti-adoption bill, HRC is actively fighting those bills. When our neighbors to the east in North Carolina had the anti-trans bathroom bill, HRC was on the ground and threw the governor out of office. Doug Jones beating Roy Moore in Alabama? That was done with HRC support. And the nine antigay bills here in Tennessee that were defeated this year in the legislature? That was also with the help of HRC. A nationally united message with millions of members backing it? That makes legislators pay attention. My time with the incredible HRC Nashville team is genuinely the best ‘chosen family’ I’ve ever been a part of. I am welcomed, supported, and loved by this amazing team of volunteers. We spend holidays together, we go on trips together, we go to each others houses for dinner... This is my tribe.

JENNY FORD

“I am blessed to have the opportunity to work with HRC as both a governor and to lead on legislative @OUTANDABOUTNASH 1 5 Y E A R S O F LG B T N E W S strategy as TEP’s lobbyist.” 11


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NASHVILLE’ S LGBT COMMUNITY TOGETHER UNDER ONE ROOF? WOOLLEY ORGANIZING NEW COMMUNITY CENTER JAMES GRADY

Joe Woolley took the helm of the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce’s board as president in 2016, and during his term he focused on stimulating significant growth in the organization’s membership. Along the way, he discovered his next passion project, a new, shared-services model LGBT community center for Nashville and Middle Tennessee. Woolley isn’t looking to recreate OutCentral’s working model, or programming—though OutCentral’s departure does add a degree of urgency to the need for a center—but to create something new that would foster the work of existing organizations, as well as attract new services and funding opportunities for the community. This summer he is publicly launching the Middle Tennessee Pride Community Center, a shared-services modeled organization, which will ultimately provide physical space for our many organizations to work together and to work more efficiently to serve the needs of the community. In May, was awarded the LGBT Chamber 2018 Community Service Award, in large part for his quiet groundwork on this very project. As we enter Pride Month and with Woolley beginning to mobilize for the first big public push in this project, he provided some insight into how this project was conceived and why he believes it’s so important.

GRADY: So, tell me a little about the genesis of this project! WOOLLEY: So, for four years I was on the Chamber, as a board member, then VP, and then president. And we’d always been looking for office space, knowing that we needed office space soon. At that time I was also thinking, “Oh, I’d love to house multiple offices with LGBT resources all in one spot. OutCentral...” For the Chamber’s purposes, OutCentral had so many logistical issues that we didn’t feel comfortable putting our office there... The parking issue was just a nightmare, for one. But it really wasn’t until right after the election that it came together in my head. We were having the Chamber event with Renata Soto of Conexion Americas at Casa Azafran. What Casa has done for the Hispanic Latino community is groundbreaking! She showed us all incredible resources that the center has brought together, and I told her it was incredible what this place has done for the community. She looked at me and asked, “How is it that the LGBT community doesn’t have something like this?” I told her about OutCentral, but that it had been run by volunteers, unlike Casa, which is run and organized by Conexion Americas, which provides the overarching organization and houses other organizations providing services under its umbrella. When she asked why I didn’t do something like this, I explained that the Chamber was my priority at that time, but that’s what put the spark in my head about what we could possibly have here. Ever since that point I went into conversations with the Chamber or with community activism around what we needed with these thoughts in mind.

GRADY: What ignited the spark? WOOLLEY: Well, a friend of mine went through some troubles at Lentz Public Health, and it just highlighted what gay men seeking sexual health assistance were going through. And I got involved with just trying to make a few policy changes, like getting rapid tests brought back and not having to wait three hours to see a nurse. And again that showed me the need for a community center with a clinic that we could be comfortable going into... Then I started talking to other groups, like TEP or others, who need places to meet and rally. Parking is so bad near OutCentral, when groups would host rallies it limited who could show up. I think we as “community leaders” saw that after Pulse. We had a mayor that welcomed us down to Public Square to mourn and grieve together. But if we wouldn’t have had that where would we have gone? We just need a place for us all to come together for us to call home. And that’s how it started. GRADY: So has it been an easy sell? WOOLLEY: Once we started talking, it was interesting hearing the needs for a community center among the marginalized... A lot of the people I know and run around with were like, “Why do we need that? Aren’t we past the days of that?” It has been an educational process that has been interesting to work through... GRADY: So tell me a little about the model of the organization as you see it developing. WOOLLEY: We envision a model similar to the Youth Opportunity Center and what some centers across the country do, which utilizes shared services under one roof and avoids recreating existing services by supporting them

all under the center’s roof. You basically build a building and then invite those services and those nonprofits that are doing those services into your raft, and take the burden of having property off their hands and let them focus on their mission. And, by being under one roof, you start the synergy and you all start to work together more effectively. A lot of times our advocacy organizations don’t know what the others are working on, or event what each others’ primary advocacy points are. For too long, as a community, this has been the case, or our groups fight with each other over turf. We’ve got to drop it. We’ve come so far, but we’ve got so much further to go... I think the key is if work face to face, you work together better and working together leads to better outcomes. You know you put us all in one place that we call ours. And I think that can happen! We have something like 16 full-on community groups that are doing some type of work. Every one of them will have a home. They’re going to do their work and collaborate with the other groups, paying only for shared services, not rent. The community center will fund itself through a number of routes. GRADY: What can people do to help? WOOLLEY: Right now, a lot of high-level issues are in the air, but as we launch more publicly and get our website running, there’ll be opportunities for people to join our lists and sign up to help. We’ll need a lot of help once we get further along, and there’s a lot of interest already, people asking “What can I DO NOW?” So look for our website coming soon, and stay tuned!

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‘ABELIEVE IN SERVICE’ ? BETTER RELIGION & POLITICS IN TENNESSEE LAWYER & A RABBI (HIS WIFE) MIGHT SHOW US HOW DAVID BRASHER

Politics and religion have long been the rivals of the LGBT community. The two have even been known to team up against the community, but thanks to people like James and Shana Mackler, some political and religious realms are working alongside those fighting for LGBT rights. The Macklers have both been fighting for equality for quite some time now. Both grew up being taught important principles such as service, justice, and compassion, which bled over into their professional lives. A graduate of Duke University, James earned a law degree from the University of Washington. But he closed his successful law practice after September 11 to enlist in the Army, spending three years as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot with the 101st Airborne Division, including a deployment in Iraq. Upon his return from Iraq, James transferred to the Judge Advocate General Corps, where he prosecuted murderers and rapists. In civilian practice, he continues to work finding ways to apply the law to improve the lives of others, serving as a member of the Federal Public Defender panel. In 2017, James resigned from his job and ran for U.S. Senate because he saw politics in Washington hurting Tennesseans, with no one willing to challenge a longtime incumbent, Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who was not representing the values James believed in. But, in December of 2017, Mackler stepped aside to support Governor Phil Bredesen for senator because he sees Bredesen as being someone who has “an incredible history of successful problem solving in this state.” James’ wife, Rabbi Shana Goldstein Mackler, has been serving as a Rabbi at The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, in Nashville, since her ordination at the Hebrew Union College (HUC) in Cincinnati in June 2004. In 2016, Rabbi Mackler was named one of America’s 32 Most Inspiring Rabbis by Forward Magazine. Together the Macklers are a power couple, if you will, at the convergence of religion and politics, working to help Tennessee, and the LGBT community, reach a better state. Since withdrawing from the race, James has returned to practicing law, but he has also founded a political action committee (PAC) known as Believe in Service, an appropriate name for someone who believes in raising the issue of national service. James describes the PAC simply as a way to support political candidates—senate candidates in particular— who will protect and defend national service. One such candidate is Governor Bredesen. According to James, “Governor Bredesen has an incredible history of successful problem solving in this state, and he has a track record showing that he can work and get things done. He is a very successful two-term mayor. He balanced the budget. He helped create infrastructure. When he was governor, he worked with the people that he needed to tackle hard problems in Tennessee.” Supporting the right political candidate is important now more than ever. James recalled, “Just a few days ago, Jeff Sessions said anyone who comes across the border (illegally) is going to be arrested, and if they have children, we are going to separate them from their children. That’s not what this country is about and those aren’t the values I joined the army to fight for. It can get discouraging, but for me it’s motivation. If not now, then when?”

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“You have to be able to find where you are going to come down on that balance, but you must recognize someone’s humanity. You may not understand it, and you may not accept it as a personal pathway, but it doesn’t give you the right to legislate hate against another human being.”


No matter who you are, or where you are on your journey of faith… you are welcome HERE!

Holy Trinity Community Church 6727 Charlotte Pike, Nashville 37209 “The friendliest church in Nashville” (Don’t believe it? Google us and see!)

www.htccnashville.com

Drop by our booth at PRIDE to spin the wheel of “God’s Blessings” and enter to win other prizes!

Kids in foster care, especially LGBTQ youth, need loving, trauma-informed foster families. You can make a difference.

FOSTER FAMILIES NEEDED Therapeutic Interventions, Inc. (TII) partners with socially progressive organizations and churches like Holy Trinity Community Church to find foster homes for abused and neglected children, many of whom identify as LGBTQ. Join us for regular orientation sessions to learn more about how you can provide a home for a child in need. Visit our booth at PRIDE for more information, contact us at 833-LUV-KIDS (588-5437) or visit our website at www.tiicares.com.

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It’s not often a salon will tell you to show your true colors.

Shine On. 12South 2900 12st Ave s Nashville, TN 37204 615 297 6878

greenpeasalon.com

West Nashville 4105 Charlotte Ave Nashville, TN 37209 615 292 8648

BE A PART OF OUR CELEBRATION 20TH ANNIVERSARY PARTY | THURSDAY, JUNE 21 | 5:30PM

Come celebrate our history and get acquainted with our future. Visit www.nashvillelgbtchamber.org to register

LET’S PLAY PRIDE BINGO Stop by our booth at Nashville Pride Festival on June 23-24 to pick up your card and for a chance to win prizes.

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And while James is working to get “the right people” in office, Shana is busy spreading a message of God’s love and showing Nashville what it means to accept all people. Shana has been marrying same-sex couples for years, long before it was legal in Tennessee. “The first couple to get married at the Temple was before The Supreme Court ruling, so it was an illegal wedding. I sent them to a friend up north to get married legally, and then they came back and had a ceremony here, so we could celebrate them,” she explained. The issue of gay marriage is something that really hits home for Shana. When she was in college, her father came out to her. “I gave him permission to tell me, and I had to encourage him to tell me. I was in college, I think the summer after my freshman year, and I think he was probably a little reticent to tell me,” she recalled. “I was doing everything I could to give him signals that it was okay. I tried to subliminally tell him. He knew that we were not going to judge him, but I don’t know how ready he was. I think he knew it would make it real when he told us.” Years later, when gay marriage was legalized, the Macklers would get to see Shana’s father marry the man he had been with for 25 years. And Shana would be the one to perform the ceremony. “Yeah an interesting story about that,” James said, laughing at the memory. “Shana performed the ceremony for her dad, and his long-time partner. We have two girls—Hanah, 8, and Sylvie, 7—and at that time they were five and six. They were the flower girls in the wedding. When we came back and the girls went back to school, I got a letter from the teacher, and it said one of the boys had challenged Hanah and said two boys can’t get married. And Hannah said, ‘Yes they can; the Supreme Court changed that law.’ Hanah was already arguing legal cases.” Rabbi Mackler understands that not everyone has such a personal experience to inform their religious view, but that is part of the importance of teaching love and acceptance. “There are several principles that can contend against each other. You have the biblical prohibition about being gay that is one element, but you also have the obligation to recognize the divine image in every human being,” she explained. “You have to be able to find where you are going to come down on that balance, but you must recognize someone’s humanity. You may not understand it, and you may not accept it as a personal pathway, but it doesn’t give you the right to legislate hate against another human being.” “Fundamentally I believe in the separation of church and state,” she continued. While others may have different religious foundations, “My religious values say that I should love my neighbor, and that

I should see the divine image in every human being. I know what it feels like to be oppressed, so why would I turn around and do that to someone else.” “As Jews our views are not always in line with the Christian interpretation. Sometimes when the majority takes ownership of religious voices, or being the public voice of religion, the rest of us have to speak up too,” she explained. “I know many churches are friendly to the LGBT community, as is the Temple, and I want to make sure that people know that there are houses of worships and pathways to God that are open to them, if that’s important to somebody.” And with those beliefs comes pushback. Shana has seen hostility, but reminds people that religious freedom means religious freedom for everyone. “Your beliefs should not impose upon mine... That was something that we had talked about with the Religious Freedom Act which is something I lobbied for when I was a high school student going to D.C... not to have the religion of the majority infringe upon the practices of the minority.” In regard to same-sex marriage, this was at issue, she explained. “For me, something I feel like was challenging was that I couldn’t practice religious freedom. My ability to do gay marriage [which Reform Judaism had long allowed] or any marriage was being threatened by ... state legislators so when the Supreme Court ruling came down, it granted me the right to practice my religious freedom, to do a religious ceremony that was legally recognized. Some of that has been turned on its head recently and that still infringes upon the rights of all.” James reminds everyone that, while same-sex marriage is, for now, a settled legal issue, there remain many other issues we as a community share with our neighbors. “Most people in Tennessee want someone who wants to tackle the fundamental issues for them, environmental issues, healthcare, etc. I want to be able to practice my religion the way I see fit, and you to do the same with yours,” he added, reminding us again of why it’s important to support candidates who share that value. “Voting was a right people died for so how dare I even think about not voting,” Shana added. “That’s how I was raised and that’s how we are raising our children. This is really important. You have a voice and not everyone has those freedoms... So when you see something wrong and you don’t try to fix it that’s when you take on that error yourself.” And for the Macklers, fixing those issues is not just something they preach, but something they practice daily, not only personally but through the organizations they work with. For more information about, or to support, James’ PAC, visit believeinservice.com.

@OUTANDABOUTNASH

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LGBT CHAMBER EXCELLENCE IN BUSINESS AWARDS

CRACKER BARREL, DELL NASHVILLE EARNED TOP HONORS STAFF

PHOTOS: BELLALU PHOTOGRAPHY

The Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce hosted its 6th annual Excellence in Business awards luncheon on Friday, May 4, 2018 at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Nashville, celebrating businesses and professionals who lead the city in diversity practices. The event was emceed by David Brzozowski and sponsored by Curb Records, HCA, Synovus Bank, Waller, Asurion and MediCopy. More than 300 people attended this year’s luncheon which featured a keynote address from Mayor David Briley. At the event, Briley announced Metro’s investment in the city’s minority community by including $25,000 in the city’s budget earmarked to the LGBT Chamber, along with equal investments in the Greater Nashville Black Chamber of Commerce and the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The 2018 luncheon featured seven awards categories, five for individuals and two for businesses in the community. More than 100 applications were submitted for consideration. A panel of board members, members and previous winners selected the finalists. Members were then able to vote on the finalists. A close, competitive score in the Corporate Diversity Award resulted in co-winners for the first time. Dell Nashville and Cracker Barrel received the Corporate Diversity award which recognizes large companies that excel in promoting LGBT friendly policies and workplace environments. “It is a privilege for me to work with these loyal members and local employers of choice,” said Chamber CEO, Lisa Howe. “Our panel and our members recognize Dell’s long-time commitment to diversity and inclusion and voiced a strong appreciation for Cracker Barrel’s work over the last year to advance LGBT-inclusion as a part of their journey.”

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2018 WINNERS

Small Business Diversity: MediCopy Entrepreneur of the Year: Phil Cobucci, BAM! Social Business Business Leader of the Year: Kimberly Stephan-Tate, Asurion Ally Award: Bethany Mason, Dollar General Community Service Award: Joe Woolley, Get it Done Solutions

HAPPY

Leadership in the Arts: Don Schlosser, Nashville in Harmony

PRIDE!

President’s Award: Ron Sanford, Ron Sanford Productions

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce. The organization has seen large growth over the last 20 years and now has more than 300 members in Middle Tennessee.

Nashville Humane Association is committed to finding responsible homes, controlling pet overpopulation and promoting the humane treatment of animals.

ADOPT WITH PRIDE AT NHA! Please look for our Mobile Adoption Unit Teddy’s Wagon at Nashville Pride Festival

VISIT US PHOTOS: BELLALU PHOTOGRAPHY

213 Oceola Avenue • Nashville TN 37209

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615.352.1010 • nashvillehumane.org Monday CLOSED Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm Sunday 12pm – 5pm


Your Nashville Symphony Summer Summer at at the the Schermerhorn Schermerhorn

A Tribute to

Ray Charles with Ellis Hall & the Nashville Symphony

June 22

June 15

GROOVIN’ with Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals

A New Hope – In Concert

with the NASHVILLE SYMPHONY

JUNE 25

july 5 to 8

JUly 13

JUly 17

Music City Beatles Bash with

& Members of the Nashville Symphony

july 22

july 24

Live at Ascend amphitheater RO G E R D A L T R E Y performs

THe WHo’s

SYMPHONY UNDER THE STARS

Featuring Beethoven’s Emperor & Respighi’s Pines of Rome

Magical Music from the Movies

june 16

june 23

june 27

615.687.6400 NashvilleSymphony.org

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sepTEMBER 9

WITH SUPPORT FROM 1 5 Y E A R S O F LG B T N E W S

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Pride has expanded over the years to encompass far more than a march, a parade or a festival. Pride is a season for the LGBT community that stretches way beyond the typical June dates, now celebrated from spring to fall in various cities, and it is a way of life that is gradually expanding beyond the large and mid-sized urban centers. Nashville Pride (June 23–24), Mid-South Pride (September 28–30), and Knoxville Pride (June 23) used to be the opportunities for LGBT citizens of Tennessee’s Grand Divisions to congregate and celebrate our diversity and strength. But recent years have seen many smaller cities make additions to this list: Cookeville (June 2), Murfreesboro (September 8), and Chattanooga (October 7) are some of the most recent and popular. And within Nashville, Pride has grown as well, both in terms of official Pride month events and unofficial additions to the calendar of celebrations. Below some of the major events leading up to the Festival in Nashville that will give you the chance to really get your Pride spirit amped up!

NASHVILLE SOUNDS PRIDE NIGHT TUESDAY, JUNE 5, 2018 Join the Nashville Sounds for Pride Night at First Tennessee Park on Tuesday, June 5th at 7 p.m. Use the code PRIDE18 to access the Pride seating and discounts. TICKETS: https://oss.ticketmaster.com/aps/nashvillesounds/ EN/promotion/home NASHVILLE PRIDE TURN ABOUT FRIDAY, JUNE 8, 2018 Join Nashville Pride and members of the community as they Turn About to raise money for the annual Nashville Pride Festival. Doors at PLAY Dance Bar open at 8 p.m., with the show starting at 9 p.m. All door and tips help raise funds for the Nashville Pride Festival. NASHVILLE PRIDE PAGEANT SUNDAY, JUNE 10, 2018 Come out to PLAY Dance Bar and watch the competition to crown Ms Nashville Gay Pride. Doors open at 8 p.m. NASHVILLE PRIDE SPIRITUALITY NIGHT MONDAY, JUNE 18, 2018 This annual night of story and song allows LGBT people to celebrate their Pride and their spirituality, to remember those lost or disenfranchised, and to inspire the community to move forward. The event, held at Benton Chapel at 7 p.m., features a joint choir, local LGBTQ+ artists, leaders, and allies, and an introduction of inclusive faith communities of Nashville, as well as non-religious yet spiritual communities, and individuals. FAMILY FEUD FOR PRIDE WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20, 2018 The top 100 answers are on the board! Grab your friends and join us for a zany game of Family Feud supporting Pride! This is a free event, and teams representing Nashville LGBT groups will be participating, so come out to Tribe at 7 p.m. and enjoy the show!

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Shake it up.

Stir it up.

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PRIDE OVERTOOK EAST IVY MANSION

PHOTOS: JAMES GRADY

This year’s Nashville Pride Martini’s & Jazz event was held at the beautiful East Ivy Mansion on May 16 from 6-8 p.m. Though it was a sticky evening, the gardens of the mansion provided relief, as live music and a silent auction, as well as lively conversation, kept attendees entertained. Small plates from The Mockingbird, Tansuo, and Chauhan Ale & Masala House delighted the palate, while drinks from Bud Light and Absolut kept the part rolling! Pride offers special thanks to First Tennessee Bank, Nashville Lifestyles, Bridgestone, Nissan, Absolut Vodka, Dahlia Fine Jewelry and Body Piercing and Bud Light for supporting this annual event.

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PHOTOS: JAMES GRADY

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RON SANFORD TALKS 30 YEARS OF PRIDE IN THE SOUTH DAVID BRASHER

If you want to learn about the history of Pride in Nashville and in the South, Ron Sanford is someone you should talk to. The founder of the event planning company Ron Sanford Productions has been to every Nashville Pride since 1996 and has attended Pride in almost every other major city around. He remembers details about Nashville’s Pride that would make any historian proud, spouting off dates and recalling people’s names with razor-sharp accuracy. Like the time in 2003 when Ron took poodles dyed every color of the rainbow to Pride. Or when, in 1998, Bianca Paige rode a pink elephant down Church Street. Then there was Pride in 1999 when the “Roaring into the Millennium” float went down Broadway. And he definitely can’t forget the year he fell through a barge on the river that was used as a stage and almost broke his leg. Ron Sanford is a true Pride aficionado. Ron was born and raised in Nashville. His father worked in top level management for Ford Glass and was also First Sergeant of the National Guard, assisting the Governor. His mother was a homemaker. In 1980, at the age of seventeen, Ron came out. Two years later, he moved to Atlanta where he would go on to win Mr. Gay World and also start two companies. Ron Sanford Productions was launched in 1986 and was known as Ron’s “gay company.” His other company, Flamboyant Design, was his “straight” decor business. Ron Sanford Productions was started as a pageant, pride, and party planning enterprise. “Back then you couldn’t be in both worlds— certain people would not come to you if you were a gay business. This was a way for me to stand in both worlds as a business owner,” Sanford explained. “They were sister companies.”

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While his companies were launching in the eighties, the gay community was experiencing a devastation never before seen: the AIDS crisis. You can’at talk about the history of Pride without recognizing the impact of the AIDS epidemic during the eighties. At that time, it was called the gay cancer, among other, even less kind, phrases. As one of Ron’s friend’s pointed out to him, “How does cancer know you are gay?” It was a hard time for the gay community. “Not only did no one like us, but they didn’t even want to touch us,” stated Sanford. Sanford, who was working as a gay entertainer in Atlanta in the early eighties, witnessed the devastation of the AIDS crisis firsthand. In 1982, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta asked Ron and other influential members of the LGBT community to help close down the local bathhouses. “We lobbied the bathhouses and gay people with a coalition to convince people not to patronize them. That was in conjunction with the CDC, along with a condom campaign (an early AIDS awareness and education program). The CDC just knew that it was impacting gay men first and hardest,” he explained, “so it was like their Hail Mary play to stem spread of the disease while the CDC could work to figure out what it was.” But even with the closing of bathhouses, AIDS was still spreading throughout the gay community like wildfire and leaving devastation in its wake. Sanford doesn’t know an exact number, but he estimates that 400 friends, acquaintances, and co workers died within the decade. If losing your friends to AIDS wasn’t bad enough, not being able to give them a public memorial service added to the injury. “None of the funeral homes in Atlanta would let us use their place because


was co chairman that year. We had to beg for money. We were always in the hole at the end of the year— sometimes as much as $50,000 in the hole. But bringing Pride to Broadway was a huge deal.” A Pride parade down Broadway proved to be a good idea. That same day there was also a Predators parade following the Pride parade. “We had a lot of people there that didn’t know what was going on, but that didn’t matter because everyone was there to celebrate.” Following the parade down Broadway, Pride was moved first to Bicentennial Mall in 2000 and then to Centennial Park in 2001, where it would remain for the next several years. In 2009 the festival was moved from its Centennial Park home to Riverfront Park in downtown Nashville, with Deborah Cox headlining that year. National attention was garnered by the festival in 2010 when the festival’s headlining entertainer, Vanessa Carlton, came out to a record number of attendees. “I would say when we went back to Riverfront that’s when it became easy to celebrate. We had big sponsors like Hard Rock Cafe and Bridgestone. They made it into a celebration. They started getting big names. That’s when people became out and proud. If the straight people will sponsor us, we can come out.” In 2014, organizers moved the event from Riverfront Park to its highly visible location in the heart of downtown Nashville at Public Square Park, where the event drew a record number of attendees and vendors. This was also the first year the festival added a Friday night concert prior to the Saturday Festival. The annual Equality Walk was also started in 2014, drawing an estimated 2,500 that first year. “Between the location and the Equality Walk, it was like we were fighting on the steps instead of partying on the river,” Sanford said. In 2015, in the ruling heard round the world, gay marriage became legally recognized by the federal government. That year, Pride began immediately following the announcement, and it was a bigger celebration than it had ever been before. The Equality Walk kicked off with the wedding of Al Gregory and Toby Sturgill. This was also a particularly special year for Sanford. For the past few years, Sanford had closed up shop on his company, but with the new ruling, he felt it was time to bring Ron Sanford Productions back. “That ruling was why I brought back my company,” Sanford explained. “I was able to put my name on my company and be proud. I could be upfront and out there, and I could do something every year for the community to show how much I love them, and to give back.” The following year also saw a boost in attendance on the heels of the tragic mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub, though the tone of the Festival was less celebratory than in years past. This time, more

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF RON SANFORD

they were scared of AIDS spreading,” Sanford explained. “One funeral home gave us their basement. A few of us got together and decorated that basement and it was the best looking site for a funeral in the whole south. Hundreds of people used that basement to say goodbye to their friends.” That’s just one example of the gay community having to take care of themselves. Had they not taken care of themselves, thousands more would have died. It was the gay community that founded Nashville Cares, and organizations like it across the country, and that same community that has worked to keep these organizations open. Ron remembers drag queens being asked to give their proceeds to Nashville Cares, just so the organization’s electricity wouldn’t get turned off. While AIDS did not go away overnight, Ron does remember when he began noticing a turnaround. In 1989, Barbara Bush, wife of the newly inaugurated George H.W. Bush, broke the silence of the previous administration with a hug and her voice. Mrs. Bush cradled an infant and hugged an adult AIDS victim to demonstrate a message: “You can hug and pick up AIDS babies and people who have the HIV virus” without hurting yourself, she said. “There is a need for compassion.” Other celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Elton John, and Princess Diana would soon follow suit, and the stigma of AIDS would ever so slowly begin to dissipate, but not without leaving a lasting impression on the gay community. If the eighties was all about fighting for our lives, the nineties was about fighting for equality. In 1995, Ron moved back to Nashville and attended his first Nashville Pride the following year in 1996. Linda Welch was the head of Pride that year. Pride co-chairs Linda Welch and Brad Beasley moved the event to Riverfront Park and, for the first time, were able to raise enough money to have a police officer on each street corner to block traffic, allowing for horses, motorcycles, and floats. It was also the first year there was a Pride parade. Prior to that, Pride in Nashville was just an impromptu march, then a gathering at Legislative Plaza. The year 1996 was also memorable because of the rain. “We had all of these big plans, but it was supposed to rain. We didn’t know what to do. We were going to be celebrating after the parade at Riverfront Park, which was a really big deal. We ended up hosting Pride at The Connection, the southeast’s largest gay bar,” Sanford said. “It was located on Cowan Street on the river and provided a great last minute location. Even though it rained, we still made it work.” Three years later in 1999, Pride in Nashville moved somewhere else it had never been before and has never been since: Broadway. “I

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than any other in the past 10 years, people were coming together to support each other and raise awareness for the ongoing need to advance LGBT rights and acceptance. More than 5,000 people participated in the annual Equality Walk, far exceeding the previous year’s numbers, in a show of solidarity and strength. In 2017 the two-day festival smashed attendance records with more than 35,000 people congregating at Public Square park with an impressive lineup of corporate sponsors such as Bridgestone and supported by Nissan, Delta Air Lines, Genesco, Journeys, Miller Lite, Jack Daniels, Dollar General Tribe, Play Dance Bar, Curb Records and many more. Also, in 2017, the Metro Historical Commission approved Nashville’s first marker recognizing an LGBT rights activist, Penny Campbell, who passed away in 2014. Campbell organized the city’s first pride parade in 1988, at the height of the AIDS epidemic. She also acted as the lead plaintiff in the court case that decriminalized homosexual acts in Tennessee. As Pride in Nashville grows, Ron hopes that younger generations do not lose sight of the meaning behind the movement. Pride is meant

to oppose the shame and social stigma that was the predominant outlook of the LGBT community for so many years and not just a party. “I would say the younger generation—25 and below—may not understand Pride the way the older generation does, but I don’t get upset at them over that,” Sanford said. “I came out in high school. I knew what I was doing. I knew I was going to be thrown out of school and church. I look at it like thank God these kids don’t have to go through what we did. Thank God they don’t have to be called faggot or queer or accused of having aids. Do I think they need to learn their history? Of course. But I wouldn’t wish what i had to go through on anyone. I am proud to see how far we have come and what Pride is today.” And Pride in Nashville today is truly something to proud of, according to Ron. “I have been to Prides all over— Atlanta, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Tampa— and I believe Nashville holds its own. We have 25,000+ people show up. I am extremely proud of Nashville’s Pride. Even through the discipline we had to go through, we prevailed. Through debt, through begging for sponsors, through bad weather, Pride in Nashville prevailed.”

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Look East (Optometrist) 1011 Gallatin Avenue Nashville, TN 37206 615-928-2281 | lookeastnashville.com Christopher May DC (Chiropractic) 2933 Berry Hill Drive Nashville, TN 37204 615-220-0777 | doctormay.net Cool Springs Internal Medicine & Pediatrics Bradley Bullock, MD 1607 Westgate Circle, Ste 200 Brentwood, TN 37027 615-376-8195 | coolspringsinternalmedicine.com Nashville Pharmacy Services 100 Oaks Plaza 615-371-1210 Skyline Medical 615-724-0066 npspharmcay.com SPIRITUALITY Covenant of the Cross 752 Madison Square Madison, TN 37115 615-612-5040 | covenantofthecross.com Holy Trinity Community Church 6727 Charlotte Pike Nashville TN 37209 615-352-3838 | htccnashville.com PERFORMING ARTS Nashville Symphony Schermerhorn Symphony Center One Symphony Place Nashville, TN 37201 615-687-6400 | nashvillesymphony.org

BARS & NIGHTCLUBS PLAY Dance Bar 1519 Church Street | Nashville, TN 37203 615-322-9627 | playdancebar.com Tribe 1517 Church Street | Nashville, TN 37203 615-329-2912 | tribenashville.com REAL ESTATE Sheila Barnard, Realtor THE REALTY ASSOCIATION 1305 Murfreesboro Rd | Nashville, TN 37212 615-385-9010 sheilabarnard.realtyassociation.com Kate Nelson, Realtor VILLAGE REAL ESTATE 2206 21st Ave South, Ste. 200 Nashville, TN 37212 615-383-6964 | realestatewithkate.com ORGANIZATIONS Nashville Humane Association 213 Oceola Avenue | Nashville, TN 37209 615-352-1010 | nashvillehumane.org

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A QUICK RUNDOWN

THE 2018 NASHVILLE PRIDE FESTIVAL IS PRESENTED BY BRIDGESTONE AND SUPPORTED BY NISSAN, GENESCO, JOURNEYS, VANDERBILT HEALTH, JACK DANIELS, DOLLAR GENERAL, TRIBE, BUD LIGHT, PLAY DANCE BAR, CURB RECORDS, EL JIMADOR, AARP, ABSOLUT VODKA, OPRY MILLS MALL, RON SANFORD PRODUCTIONS, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY, FIRST TENNESSEE BANK, BAREFOOT WINE, CUMMINS, DELL, TFS, VILLAGE REAL ESTATE, CHARLESTON MIX, LYFT, BAKER DONELSON, THE MOCKINGBIRD, US BANK, FROTHY MONKEY, SCHAFFER LAW FIRM, DAHLIA, OUT & ABOUT NASHVILLE, NASHVILLE SCENE, THE EAST NASHVILLIAN, DO 615, AND FOCUS.

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CHELY WRIGH T

STEVE GRAND

JOJO

WILSO N PHIL LIPS

pop singer FLETCHER (“War Paint”, “Wasted Youth”, “Live Free Die Young”), emerging hip-hop star and younger brother to Chance the Rapper, Taylor Bennett, and Saturday’s Nissan Main Stage headliner, JoJo (“Leave (Get Out)”, “Too Little Too Late”, “Vibe”, “F*ck Apologies”). The festival continues on Sunday with performances on the Nissan Main Stage from Nashville’s own Katie Pruitt (“Loving Her”), a special performance from Becca Mancari (“Summertime Mama”) and Lavender Country (Nashville Pride 2017 Trailblazer Awardwinner and queer country icon), soul crooner Desi Valentine (“Fate Don’t Know You”), pop star Steve Grand (“All American Boy”, “Look Away”), and of course Sunday’s Nissan Main Stage headliner— Wilson Phillips (“Hold On”, “Release Me”, “You’re in Love” — and so many more). Tickets and festival information—including the functionality for attendees to create a custom schedule—are available through the Nashville Pride app, available for iOS and Android, or by visiting NashvillePride.org. Daily passes are $5.00 for the general public, weekend and VIP passes are on sale now.

FLETC HER

STAFF

This year’s Nashville Pride Festival—which will take place Saturday June 23 and Sunday June 24 at Public Square Park in Downtown Nashville—has an entertainment lineup that includes performances from 1990’s pop trio Wilson Phillips, along with JoJo, Taylor Bennett, Chely Wright, Steve Grand, FLETCHER and many more. On Saturday, the festival kicks off with the Equality Walk at 10:00 a.m., following which attendees can enjoy performances across the festivals four stages: the Nissan Main Stage, which opens with two Nashvillebased acts, synth-pop group, John Cyrus, and Nashville native (unicorn) and emerging hip-hop artist, Gifted Queen; the RNBW Nash Songwriters Stage which features singer-songwriters from Music City’s LGBTQ community; a stage dedicated to drag performers from around the region; and a full day of music from DJs from WXNA. Saturday’s Nissan Main Stage lineup includes chart-topping country musician and social activist, Chely Wright (“Shut Up and Drive”, “Single White Female”), Nashville-via-Sweden producer Andreas Moss (“Thinking Bout You”, “Stuck in My Feelings”), rising


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STEVE GRAND’S FIRST (PROFESSIONAL) NASHVILLE PERFORMANCE

GAY COUNTRY MUSICIAN TAKING THE BIG STAGE IN MUSIC CITY 42

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JOSEPH BRANT

They called him the first openly gay male country singer back in 2013 when the music video to his song, “All American Boy” became an overnight viral smash on YouTube and captured the pop culture zeitgeist. But Steve Grand never set out to be a country music singer. “I was a student of the Music Business Program, with a songwriting emphasis, at Belmont University,” he said. “I only went for my freshman year, though, so I’m very excited to be coming back to Nashville. I haven’t performed there since my college days.” “Perhaps that’s where I picked up some of that country sound,” he added. It’s fitting, therefore, that he would professionally debut here in Music City now, five years later, because, according to Steve, his career aspirations are all about the music. He’s putting the final touches on a new album that he promises will be released this summer. “It is going to be a full album,” he said. “I’m really just finishing up, putting the final touches on the last two songs. All of the songs have been written, and we’re pretty much done recording. Now it’s mostly moving into the final editing stage for those last two and then some still need to be mixed.” His national career is just five years old, but Grand has achieved a degree of mass success (and community-wide notoriety) that lifelong careers are built upon. “All American Boy” is about a gay kid falling for a straight friend, and it has a country tinge that led many to deem him the “first openly gay male country singer.” It’s a label he spent years refuting. Then came the accusation of slut-shaming that Grand hurled toward the online blog Queerty for routinely posting photos of him in various degrees of undress, despite his claim that plenty more artists and creative people post far racier material without so much as a blink from one of the biggest U.S. LGBT media companies. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my career already,” he said, “and sometimes you have to make mistakes to learn, and that’s been the case for me in a lot of instances, but one thing I’ve really tried to do is always really consistently make my fans know how much I appreciate them for their support.” And Pride festivals in particular are always opportunities to make new fans. “They are quite different from intimate venues,” he said. “On my end, I know that, at Pride festivals, people are expecting a lot more energy. And since my shows mostly involve me singing and playing acoustic guitar or piano, I have to be creative in keeping it lively and engaging even for the people that may not be familiar with my music.” “I know that when I perform at a more intimate venue that the crowd is definitely there to see me,” he added, “and so that helps me to be more confident on stage. But with Pride festivals, I feel like I have to play both to the people that know me well, and those that don’t. It’s always a little nerve-wracking when you know you are making a first impression.” It’s here where it all comes back to the fans again. “I really like to give a lot of myself to my fans,” he said, “and they have really blessed me with support by showing up for shows and buying the music, playing the music and buying the merchandise so it’s allowed me to do what I do and I really feel lucky.”

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Pride Brings Chely Wright

for a Rare Nashville Performance

Out Singer

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Circles Back Home with New Music


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JOSEPH BRANT

If you want to see Chely Wright lose her cool, ask her about American Airlines. “There’s a federal provision that passed in 2012, I think,” she said over the phone when we spoke in mid-May, “that legally allows us to board with our guitars, allowing us a chance to see if there’s enough overhead bin space to sit our guitars. We legally get to do that, but about half the time the folks at the airlines aren’t aware of the law and they try to take our guitars from us.” She had experienced exactly that a few weeks prior to our conversation, and it is fully documented on her Twitter timeline. Like any traveling musician, Chely Wright faces with every flight the likelihood that her guitar will be stored with regular baggage, where the barometric pressure outside the cabin or simple baggage handling can cause damage. “Boarding with our instrument is a source of maybe heart attack material type stress!” she said. “If I ever die of a heart attack, it will be when I’m boarding with my guitar. Or not.” The issue has yet to be resolved to her liking. According to Wright, the airline simply should agree to send a company-wide email that references the provision, so musicians won’t be faced with arguing on its behalf with every flight. It was a Monday morning when we spoke. “I am in my home office at my apartment in Manhattan,” she said casually, and it belied her busy schedule of late. A resident of New York for a decade now, she’d spent the previous two weeks in Nashville recording new music (to be released later this year). The previous weekend, she and her wife Lauren Blitzer were in upstate New York attending the wedding of CNN broadcaster Brooke Baldwin. Earlier this morning she’d taken her and Blitzer’s twin sons to their biannual dentist appointment. “I’ve been on the move!” She acknowledged that, as of a few days earlier, eight years had passed since her public coming out, in 2010. A fullon media campaign, it was announced via People magazine and accompanied by both a new album of music (Lifted Off the Ground) and the Lambda Literary Award nominated autobiography, Like Me. Undoubtedly, her world has changed enormously over the past eight years. She reports that, to this day, she receives email and messages via Facebook and Twitter that are negative, yet they are balanced by messages from fans old and new. “I lost some fans,” she said. “I’m sure I gained some fans that maybe had never given country music a shot before. So it’s really hard for me to have any objectivity about it, because I’m so close to it that it’s hard for me to know how much change has happened. But change is slow in these pockets of conservative fanbases, and that’s ok. I wish it were faster but I’m happy to have been part of the change.” “There will never again have to be a first commercial country artist out of the closet,” she quickly added. “That’s been done, and then a few years after I came out my pal Ty Herndon came out, and the same day Billy Gilman came out, so there are a few of us who had commercial hit records who’ve come out, so there’ll never again have to be a first, second, or third.” Wright’s professional career, and the evolution of a unique Chely Wright sound, has mostly followed the trajectory of the artist’s personal life and experiences. It is uncommon for a modern country music performer to deny the fickle whims of programmers, OUTA N D A B O U T N A S H Vto I L L Enegotiate .CO M JUNEan 2018expression that 46 radio

encapsulates both personal history and current influences. It all began just as organically back in 1994 with an album called Woman In the Moon. “I don’t know if my first album was that good,” she told me. “It’s hard to know. Did [the singles] not get airplay because the label wasn’t right, or I wasn’t right at the time, or the music wasn’t there, or the sound of the record wasn’t there? But my first album really was a reflection of the aggregate of the musical knowledge that I had at the time.” “Then after having made my first record,” she said, “and having spent more time in Music City, which is not just country music city but music of all kinds, I think my second record (1996’s Right In the Middle Of It) then kind of reflected just my musical intake at the time. And as I grew into myself as an artist I think I started to gain other influences that showed themselves in my work. And as a young person—I was 23 when I made my first record—I was willing to grow into myself musically through the years, until now… seven albums later and I’ll be 48 this year, and I think the music has appropriately reflected my diet of music.” And new music is on the way. Along with a holiday themed collection, Wright is working on an EP now that will bring her full circle to the style of country music she first recorded nearly 25 years ago. “It’s not an attempt to get on country radio,” she said, “but… I had a lot of good years in commercial country and this kind of pulls me back a little bit more to the commercial realm of things. It’s also got some commercial pop feel to it, which speaks a lot to the influence of Dustin [Ransom] and Jeremy [Lister], the producers of this record. The reason I went to them is for those very reasons, I wanted it to have that commercial flavor.” Which brings us to Nashville Pride 2018. Of the fifty or so personal appearances she makes each year, Wright estimates that maybe twelve of those are for Pride festivals across all parts of the country. “They’re always emotional for me,” she said. “Standing on the stage is one thing, but it’s the hang with the audience either beforehand or afterwards and hearing the things they say, you know, about the fact that one of their favorite country artists ended up being gay, it’s really emotional for me. It’s not lost on me how much that means to people when someone they grew up listening to, or their parents listened to, comes out of the closet and owns their authenticity.” “I wish I could do two songs off of every album,” she added, regarding the sort of playlist that might lend itself to a Pride festival, one that is not exclusively country music in nature, “but I kinda’ have to gauge the audience and consider ‘what do they expect to hear from me?’ So I know they’re going to want to hear the hits that I had, ‘Single White Female,’ ‘It Was,’ ‘Shut Up and Drive,’ but a lot of them are also new to being listeners of my music, so I give them a little bit of Lifted off the Ground, the album that came out when I came out, something from [2016’s introspective] I Am the Rain and some of the newer stuff. It’s always really tricky.” “Nashville Pride is a milestone for me,” she said. “Next week it will be 29 years since I moved to Nashville, so I can’t think of a better way to ring in almost three decades than to stand on stage at Nashville Pride. When I moved to Nashville, I was still praying every single day that God would fix me. So this is quite a milestone for me. In a lot of ways.”


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‘HOMETOWN’ SINGER

BRANDON STANSELL RETURNS FOR CMA FEST

JOINS TY HERNDON AT 2018 CONCERT FOR LOVE & ACCEPTANCE JAMES GRADY

In Nashville

, June means festivals galore. Pride is our favorite, of course, but none of June’s festivals is more Nashville than CMA Fest. For the last few years, though, thanks to Ty Herndon, in partnership with GLAAD and others, a little bit of pride has snuck its way into this most Country of events. The 2018 Concert for Love and Acceptance is scheduled for June 7 at the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville, taking place the night after the CMT Music Awards. This concert as always will feature a coalition of artists and celebrities appearing and performing to accelerate acceptance for the LGBTQ community. Ty Herndon and CMT’s Cody Alan will host, and the event will feature performances by Herndon, as well as Terri Clark, Cassadee Pope, Michael Ray, Calum Scott, Brandon Stansell, and more.

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This year, to preview the concert, we caught up with Stansell, an out gay country singer with deep roots in Tennessee. Stansell grew up in Chattanooga, but he’s no stranger to Nashville. “I was one of those Opryland kid performers,” he explained, laughing. “So, yeah, I spent a lot of time in Nashville as a kid, and then I moved to Nashville when I was 18 and went to Belmont. I lived there for about a year after school, and then I was in New York for about three years, before I moved out to the West Coast about five years ago. I’ve been out here ever since then. I love Nashville, but you’d have to drag me away kicking and screaming to get me to leave Los Angeles!” His heart may now live in Los Angeles, but it was while in Nashville that he first came out and came to terms with himself. “I was 22. I was in college,” he recalled. “I’d been dating a guy for about a year before I ended up coming out to my family and friends. I was actually very thankful for that experience, because I don’t credit myself with a lot of courage. It took actually really being in love with someone to make it feel worth it… The people that just come out of their own volition, just trying to be authentic ... Those are the people I am in awe of, I guess.” Stansell’s experience with that was sadly not out of the ordinary. “People get the question after they come out, ‘Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you ever talk to me?’ I think the deep-rooted answer to that question is, ‘Because we know how you would react… We knew that your perception of us would change and we knew that our relationship would change, and we didn’t want that.’ I knew that of my family, a lot of my friends, so when I did eventually come out, everything that I knew would happen, did. It was really hard. It’s taken a long time to kind of get past that…” Despite the difficulties he faced, Stansell believes that his experience has shaped him in ways he is proud of. And of course it has shaped his music. “You gotta write what you know, so I write a lot about my own personal experiences,” he explained. “There’s a song on my record called ‘Hometown’, which is pretty much my coming out story and my feelings on that. I write about love and relationships gone good and bad. I kind of write about all the facets of my life, and being gay is a big part of who I am, so that naturally comes out in the music.” One of the biggest hurdles in his career, Stansell said, was embracing himself as a writer. “Then,” he added, “I went through this horrible break-up about four or five years ago, and suddenly had all these things to write about. I did this concept record through that break-up, and I flipped that out in 2015. It kind of did two things for me. It was just like a cathartic experience of being able to almost journal about my feelings and put that in writing… But it also really did show me that I could write music.” “My passion for writing grew from there,” he added, “and I’ve just kind of been rolling along ever since, trying to write about my experiences and write the music that I wanna put out into the world and that I think people wanna hear, and just trying to get better at it.” Music is hard work, and the business side is the hardest in some ways. Stansell has been hard at work independently producing his own music for years. “I’ve worked with a couple of different producers. It’s nice to do that ‘cause you get a different take and a different ear on your work” he said. “It’s been really helpful to kind of try to use different people to develop my own unique sound, but up until now everything’s been a product of my own making, which

is really nice, because it gets to be exactly what I want it to be. That’s something I’m very proud of. Stansell is currently working on a number of projects, including a new song for the summer. “We’re still kind of tweaking it and figuring out how to really make it work, ‘cause it’s a little bit different that anything that I’ve done before. It’s called ‘For You,’ and it will probably come out in late June. It’s a lot more pop country than anything I’ve put out, something really fun. It’s upbeat for the summer.” On top of that, he’s working on a fun YouTube series that should start coming out soon. “We have a little cover series that I’m working on. The first video’s about to come out. It’s basically just kind of a way for me to reconnect with other artists—have them cover my music and get to talk to them, get to know them a little bit!” “The first one that we’re gonna put out is myself and Ty Herndon,” he added. “He’s covering ‘Slow Down.’ He’s actually featured on the record, but he’s actually covering it in this video, which is really fun to see. Then we do a little Q&A. I wasn’t really sure how the format was gonna work out, but I’m really extra-excited to put them out ‘cause I love to talk. It was fun to connect and just kind of banter back and forth on camera.” “We just filmed the second one with Natalie Stovall a few weeks ago,” he said. “Natalie and I have known each other since we were kids. We worked at Opryland together for a long time but really haven’t been in touch too much as we’ve gotten older. That was really fun, to reconnect and hear her sing my music and get to talk to her again.” While Stansell is, for now, not a household name in country music, his career has definitely been on a path of steady growth. “My career path has been kind of a slow-burn,” he observed. “I’m doing more this year than I was last year, and more last year than I was the year before. I’m just trying to make things that I’m proud of and that I think other people will like and putting those things out into the world… This is what I’m doing for the rest of my life, and no matter at what level, at least I’m doing something that I love.”

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PRIDE IS THE PERFECT TIME FOR SOCIAL INTERCOURSE LOCAL AUTHOR GREG HOWARD DEBUTS NEW NOVEL CHUCK LONG

It’s time for Nashville Pride, and for readers there is no better way to celebrate than with an LGBT-themed book by a local author! Nashville’ Greg Howard has a new book, Social Intercourse, hitting shelves just in time for Pride—on June 5. The book focuses on Beckett Gaines, a gay teen living in South Carolina, who has his world turned upside-down by a jock in this laugh-out-loud novel that’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets The Parent Trap. Chuck Long, of Out & About Today, sat down with Howard to discuss his latest release. CL: With Social Intercourse, you have a major release through a major publisher, Simon and Schuster. What’s going through your head? GH: Total disbelief that it’s finally happening! I secured my agent and sold the publishing rights to Social Intercourse, TWO YEARS AGO! That’s about normal timing for the publishing world from sale to publication date, but still, the waiting was excruciating. Now that it’s finally here, it all seems a little surreal—but exciting and wonderful as well, of course. CL: Why did you want to write Social Intercourse and what was the inspiration? GH: I’d never considered writing in the young adult genre because I honestly didn’t think I could pull it off. And when I read young adult, I don’t really read contemporary. I’m more of a The Hunger Games and Maze Runner kind of YA reader. But I’d been reading some contemporary young adult novels with gay main characters like Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, More Happy Than Not, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets to the Universe, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and I loved them all. All of those books have such different points of view and none of them were anything like what I thought my point of view or voice would be in that genre.

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That made me wonder if I might have my own unique perspective to offer. So, I gave it shot and wrote the manuscript during National Novel Writing Month (every November) with no idea what I was doing and no expectations—which was probably a good thing. All I knew was that I wanted to write a really funny book, with some romance, and show a different kind of gay teen character than what I’d seen before— one that is unapologetically out and proud, knows who he is, and not afraid to let his freak flag fly. Beck is a self-proclaimed “femmy choir boy” looking on the first page of the book to lose his virginity via a gay hook up app called Bangr. And he’s looking forward to becoming a bossy power bottom. That edginess, raciness and balls to the walls attitude guided the whole story. Sure, gay teens can be sweet, adorable, chaste, and perfectly straight-acting (a term I hate), but they can also be wonderfully messy, just like straight teens. Beck is a hot mess. CL: How you would describe Social Intercourse in ten syllables or less? GH: Jock straps, drag queens, anal bleaching. Oh my! CL: Some agents and editors initially passed on Social Intercourse, even though they loved the writing, because they felt it was too “racy” or “edgy” for the young adult genre. But it’s actually less racy than a lot of heterosexual YA romances. Is there a double standard for LGBTQ YA fiction? GH: I had several potential agents initially request more pages, then some requested the whole manuscript. Most of them said they loved the voice and the writing, but they felt it was “too much” for YA. The same thing happened when my agent started sending it to potential publishers. I found it very perplexing because Social Intercourse is, as you said, less racy than a lot of het YA romances.

JUNE 2018

After talking to my agent, my eventual editor at S&S and other YA authors, I learned that, yes, there is in fact a double standard. And to make matters worse, a straight woman writing a book about LGBTQ teens can go a lot farther with regards to raciness than a gay man writing the same thing. Somehow, it’s perceived as more subversive when a gay man writes it. It’s extremely frustrating, but it’s actually a thing. CL: Did your publisher ask you to tone it down or take anything out? GH: I have to give major props to my agent, Brianne Johnson, and to my editor at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, David Gale. Neither of them asked me to tone it down or take out any of the naughty bits. I told my agent when I first signed with her, that it was important to me not to water the book down to make it more palatable to the masses. I wanted to be true to the characters, and frankly true to myself and my own experience as a gay teen. I was very lucky to find the right agent and editor partners for this book. CL: The book is set in the Florence, South Carolina, where you spent your teen years. How similar is the character of Beck to how you were in high school? GH: Yes, the book is set in my hometown, and like Beck, I was a hot mess in high school. But I wasn’t as brave or as comfortable in my skin as Beck is. I was very closeted. I dated girls, played the game, talked about boobs with my best friend, all that stupid s**t. I like to say that Beck is who I wish I’d had the courage to be in high school. He’s my hero. CL: Social Intercourse shines a light on religious bigotry against the LGBTQ community in the South. Do you think there has been progress in that area, or is there more work to be done? GH: I grew up in a very religious household of the Pentecostal/Holiness variety. Obviously,


that played a big role in my struggle to accept who I really was—who God made me, actually. I tried to pray the gay away for almost half my life! (Newsflash: That doesn’t work, so stop it!) There’s even a Westboro Baptist Church type church creating all kinds of discord for Beck and his queer friends in Social Intercourse. I’d love to think there has been progress, but then I read new stories about religious bigotry and hatefulness from the Christian community against the LGBTQ community and it’s very discouraging. But I know that doesn’t mean all Christians are that way. It’s definitely progress that there are dozens of not only welcoming but affirming churches in the Nashville area. That’s a huge improvement over ten years ago. CL: One of the more memorable (and hilarious) scenes in the book is the drag queen day spa. Where did that idea come from? GH: From my twisted brain. I’d heard about a touring show that was an all-drag queen production of The Golden Girls. I think that idea is genius! And wouldn’t you love to see an alldrag version of *Steel Magnolias*?! Somebody needs to get on that! There needed to be a scene in the book where Beck takes his BFF Shelby to get a makeover, so those thoughts led me to the idea of a salon and day spa staffed entirely by drag queens called Queefy Le Pew’s Pussy Cat Parlor and Day Spa. (Imagine Ginger Minj in a Dolly wig playing the role of Queefy Le Pew in the movie adaptation.) I mean, come on. Who wouldn’t want to go there for a fierce new ‘do or a weekly anal bleaching? I think that would be a hit in Nashville. Somebody needs to get on that, too. CL: There was a major Publishing House auction for your next book, The Whispers, so there’s already a lot of industry buzz about it. Give us a little preview of the book. How did it feel to have major publishers fighting over you??? GH: The Whispers is my middle grade debut. It’s a mystery that follows a queer eleven-year-old boy who seeks out all-knowing, mythical wood creatures to help him find his missing mother before he becomes the prime suspect in her disappearance. This is the most personal story I’ve ever written, so the publishing auction was a tremendous surprise. Going from all those previous no’s to having five major publishing imprints bidding for my new book, was just nuts! It was exciting and really nerve-wracking….

Check online for an extended version of this interview. For more about Greg Howard, or to buy the book, visit greghowardauthor.com. Howard has upcoming appearances at: PARNASSUS BOOKS June 5, 2018 – 6:30PM Social Intercourse launch party and book signing with special guest, critically acclaimed YA author, Jeff Zentner www.parnassusbooks.net YA-HOO FEST September 29, 2018 Chattanooga State Community College www.yahoofest.org

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See these and many other exhibitions this year at the Frist Art Museum. Chaos and Awe: Painting for the 21st Century

Paris 1900: City of Entertainment

June 22–September 16, 2018

October 12, 2018–January 6, 2019

Organized by the Frist Art Museum

Organized by the Petit Palais Museum of Fine Arts, with exceptional loans from the Musée Carnavalet – History of Paris and the Palais Galliera Museum of Fashion, Paris Musées

The Presence of Your Absence Is Everywhere: Afruz Amighi June 22–September 16, 2018 Organized by the Frist Art Museum

919 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203

Do Ho Suh: Specimens October 12, 2018–January 6, 2019 Organized by the Frist Art Museum

Frist Art Museum is supported in part by

For a complete list of programs and exhibitions, visit FristArtMuseum.org. Ali Banisadr. Contact, 2013. Oil on linen; support: 82 x 120 in. Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Gift of Mrs. Georgia M. G. Forman, by exchange, Bequest of Arthur B. Michael, by exchange, Elisabeth H. Gates Fund, by exchange, Charles W. Goodyear and Mrs. Georgia M. G. Forman Funds, by exchange, Philip J. Wickser Fund, by exchange, Gift of Mrs. Seymour H. Knox, Sr., by exchange, Gift of Miss Amelia E. White, by exchange, 2014, 2014:8. © Ali Banisadr. Photo: Tom Loonan O U T A N D A B O U T N A S H V I L L E .CO M JUNE 2018 • 60 Afruz Amighi. My House, My Tomb, 2015. Steel, fiberglass mesh, chain, and light, 168 x 90 x 70 in. each. Courtesy of the artist. © Afruz Amighi. Photo: Jeffrey Sturges


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OVER

the RAINBOW

LOO K A ROUND YOU Nearly three years after Obergefell v. Hodges, the LGBTQ+ community and its allies have clearly become the adults in the room. That’s powerful... JULIE CHASE | @notninahagen

Many of those “not like us” are aligning

allowed myself a brief moment of reflection.

with people and causes that they never would

I had just interviewed the mayor of Nashville.

have associated with if that political catastrophe

A

political

had not happened. Open hatred has opened

interview… As an open transgender woman,

eyes, and given voice to many who formerly

writing for an openly LGBTQ+ magazine, with

chose to stay silent.

mainstream,

run-of-the-mill

a local politician who values our community,

Suddenly, we are considered among the

who openly rubs elbows with people like us in

actual adults in the room. Just as suddenly our

openly queer spaces.

opinions are being sought, our votes are being

Twenty years ago, an openly transgender

courted, and our needs are beginning to be

woman in that same upscale coffee shop

considered and addressed. Pride has become

stood a more than reasonable chance of being

more powerful, and that’s a good thing.

escorted by police officers to the local hospital

ILLUSTRATION: MELISSA GAY

him have forced others to make a choice.

I took a sip from my blonde cappuccino, and

The ones who fear us? They’re still scared, but we can work with that lot. Over time, the

“I think the LGBTQ+ community is focused

majority of them will learn. Then we will be

on the same things that most Nashvillians are

required to pay the hard price that comes to

The week before, I had shared the

focused upon…generally, I do not look at the

restroom with female delegates to a Southern

those entrusted with respect. We will need to

LGBTQ+ community any differently as...other

Baptist Convention conference without anyone

forgive for the next generation’s sake. And we

Nashville communities.”

can do it, because we really are the adults in

for a psychiatric evaluation.

batting an eyelash. A little more than five years

That’s our mayor about us, a little more

ago, a transgender woman using a women’s

than a month ago. The shocking thing about

restroom would likely have been placed under

that statement was not so much what he

arrest.

said, but the matter-of-fact tone, devoid of

Times

have

changed,

and

rather

pandering, in which he made it. The mayor was

quickly too. Much of this change has come

addressing us as people like any other, worthy

from attitudes instead of laws. For all the

of respect.

knuckleheads who want to lock us back into

Let that sink in: Respect. How many of

the closet, a far larger majority have learned

us have been shamed by those who think our

that we’re just us and that that’s okay.

mutual blessing is something to be feared?

Are more people openly identifying as

How many of us had miserable childhoods

queer today? Yes, but why? Because we can...

because we could not adapt to the majority

and because we have to be. The minority who

culture? How many of us were destroyed in

hate us are far more active today than in recent;

one way or another because of this bigotry?

the room, and we know that love wins. Today we possess the honor of being one of organized hate’s main and foremost enemies. When the bigots try to discourage us or make attempts to take away our civil rights, just go back to what our mayor said and remember how he said it as we fight back. We still have a battle ahead, but on the thirtieth anniversary of Nashville Pride, take the time to look around at your sisters, brothers, and allies, and reflect upon how far we have come since the first one. The future generations of Southern LGBTQ+ people may look back upon this period and say that this

they are coming out of their closets too. More

But love is winning, and it is changing the

than a few of our queer cousins finally stepped

debate. Suddenly, the formerly crazy people

was when our community came of age … and

into daylight as a result, and suddenly we are

are now thought of as responsible adults.

truly moved forward.

far bigger than we ever dared to imagine.

Meanwhile, the people who actively hate us

The times are changing and we are

For all the crap that has happened since

are proving themselves to be the bigots we’ve

winning. Just look around you during Pride.

the 2016 presidential election, the elevation of

always known them to be in open daylight

We are everywhere.

an unfit person to high office and the release

now, but this time are getting called out by our

of pent-up hate by many of those who support

allies too.

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JUNE 2018

Julie Chase is the pen name for a local trans woman.


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69


(YOUTHEDON’T KNOW) THE HALF OF IT MEMOIR OF A LOCAL TRANSWOMAN JAMES GRADY

If you’ve been in Nashville long enough, chances are you may have seen Bobbi Williams, who has occasionally contributed to this publication. The original run of her column provided a sometimes-humorous, always clear-eyed view of the world through the eyes of a trans woman. It’s somewhat less likely that you will have met George Wilkerson, the co-author of their recent memoir, (You Don’t Know) The Half of It. These days, it’s far more Bobbi than George, but once it was otherwise, and this book tells the stories of those days, George’s days, from the perspective of Bobbi. Right … Bobbi was (or is, perhaps, but we’ll get back to that) George for most of life, part one. If that’s confusing, I know… I’m sorry. Bobbi’s humorous memoir of George’s outer life, and her inner experience of it. A taste from the very first lines: “One afternoon, when the fog of my presence has momentarily lifted, I get George to tell Mother our secret. ‘There’s a girl in me,’ he says, his eyes following the wooden spoon slowly stirring the pot.” And with that, the story begins. The scene is so simple, yet so powerful, I cannot help but imagine a child in just this position, saying just these words, expressing something profoundly difficult for even an older person to grasp in a simplistic way. And this also sets up the literary device that is the heart of the entire book: the girl inside George telling his story from youth, through tumultuous college days and a fascinatingly varied career, up to the moment when there’s finally more of Bobbi than George. In this book, we are given a lens into the inner life of someone struggling to ascertain identity at a deep level, delivered as they grow and develop through what were already dark times for LGBT people in America. Bobbi gives us a taste of the disapproval George received when even a hint of her was present in childhood. But we also get a window into the hidden life of the child who sneaks into their mother’s dresser and secretly imagines who things might be like. We also see, years later, a George who, having exhausted the thrill of his mother’s and sister’s wardrobes, concocts a scheme that will ultimately land the seventeen-year-old a night in the clink and a felony charge of grand larceny (it was

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later dismissed). For those unfamiliar with the culture and mores of the late-1950s and 1960s, reading of George and Bobbi’s school days and college years will be an eye-opener, to say the least. But in their story, we generally find someone who managed to get lucky a lot— not in the bedroom, but in terms of situations that could have derailed their story entirely. It’s impossible to summarize the story, as the trail through life is as eclectic as Geoge and Bobbi, with work settings as diverse as writing and teaching, performing sketch comedy, working in Africa for big oil, and writing technical manuals for companies like Dell, General Electric and others. We see the struggle not only with gender but sexuality—is Bobbi a lesbian, the book will wonder? We follow George and Bobbi through relationships, marriages, parenting—life in general. And the book is poignant, because it is authentic and forthright, pokes fun at its subjects and recognizes their flaws. And by exposing the inner life of a supremely complicated individual it certainly hammers home the ancient truth—you never REALLY know what’s going on inside someone’s head. We get an immediate insight into the way George presents, and the ways in which Bobbi is concealed, or conceals herself. And at times we see Bobbi as puppet master, guiding George as a wizened voice. We even see Bobbi save George’s life—and that scene perhaps more than any other highlights my one reservation about this book. The book’s chief device— that there’s George and Bobbi—is explained as such in the forward. This is not a case of multiple personalities or mental illness, Bobbi (or is it George) writes. But there are moments throughout where it definitely seems like there are two individuals with their own sometimes diverging interests. So when George is contemplating ending it all, Bobbi writes, “I know where he’s going,

JUNE 2018

but I am not about to go with him. And so I force myself to the forefront and pry deeper. And what I find is telling, because it is something he has never admitted to himself. I had to bring it into that place where he and I are one.” Then the two have a moment, and then Bobbi observes, “For a long time, no thoughts pass between us, but I can feel he is lost, and I wait, and after a while, he gets up, puts the pills away, and goes back into the house.” Now, I’m not saying I’m worried about Bobbi. My one reservation is that, with half a world full of people still convinced that being trans is a mental illness, reading an account like this could strengthen their convictions. Such people don’t understand things like literary devices. Luckily such people also don’t read, so I’m not too worried. To get your copy of the book and to meet the author, head out to Parnassus Books in Nashville on June 30, 2018, at 2:00 p.m., where Bobbi will be holding an event.


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JUNE 2018

Profile for Out & About Nashville

O&AN | June 2018  

It's our special edition PRIDE issue, and it includes 72 pages — our biggest issue EVER! — of information from the community, including the...

O&AN | June 2018  

It's our special edition PRIDE issue, and it includes 72 pages — our biggest issue EVER! — of information from the community, including the...

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