Times are tough, and maybe you've had to cancel your cable subscription. Now what will you ever do without your weekly dose of True Blood or Entourage?
On July 30th, HBO announced the hit vampire show True Blood will be renewed for a third season next summer, and the Hollywood-based comedy Entourage will see a seventh season next year.
Until you can afford to renew your subscription, catch the current seasons of both shows on the large HD television screen at Mary's Memphis (405 N. Cleveland) during Stimulus Sundays every week.
While you're there, take advantage of crazy awesome drink specials like 75 cent drafts and $1.25 longnecks until midnight.
In February 2008, 15-year-old Lawrence King was shot twice in the head by classmate Brandon McInerney during a class in the computer lab of E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, California. King, who was openly gay and often wore make-up and high heels to school, was often the subject of bullying at his school. McInerney has been charged with a hate crime.
Though the King murder is an extreme example, bullying of gay kids is all too common. Last summer, the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center launched Queer As Youth (Q.A.Y.), a bi-monthly support group and activities program for LGBT and supportive straight kids ages 14 to 19. Q.A.Y. meets Saturday, August 1st at the MGLCC from 7 to 9 p.m.
Each session offers a different activity or educational experience, ranging from theatre and cooking to badminton and filmmaking. For more information, check out Q.A.Y.'s page on the MGLCC website.
For over 20 years, the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC) has provided a hub for local LGBT folks to host meetings, get-togethers, live music events, and support groups. On Sunday, July 26th at 4 p.m., president Will Batts will deliver the MGLCC's annual state-of-center report.
"We'll discuss the past twelve months — what went right and what didn't go right," says Batts. "We'll also discuss our plans and focus for the next twelve months and beyond."
The meeting is open to everyone, but those who have been members for at least 90 days will be eligible to vote for new board members at the meeting.
Officer candidates include Heidi Cranford Williams (president), Len Piechowski (vice president of administration), Elokin CaPece (vice president of programs), Tom Crutcher (treasurer), and Darlene Fike (secretary).
Director candidates include Marian Bacon, Marc Brown, Kenan Gilmore, Matthew Malone, Mickey Maxwell, and Susana Rodas.
In addition, nominations from the floor will be accepted provided that the nominee meets the qualifications as stated in the MGLCC by-laws.
State Senator Paul Stanley of Germantown, one of the sponsors of an anti-gay adoption bill, was blackmailed by a man claiming the senator had taken nude photographs of his girlfriend while she served as his legislative intern in Nashville.
Joel Palmer Watts, 27, of Clarksville began calling and texting Stanley back in April, insisting the senator pay him $10,000 in exchange for the photos. Watts later told police Stanley had been in a sexual relationship with his girlfriend, Austin-Peay University student McKensie Morrison.
After receiving the calls and texts, Stanley reported the situation to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The agency directed Stanley to help with a sting operation to net Watts for extortion and theft of property. The exchange took place at El Rey Azteca Mexican restaurant in Whites Creek near Nashville, and Watts was arrested.
Stanley, a self-described evangelical Christian, has not confirmed or denied a sexual relationship with McKensie. In a statement issued through his press secretary, Stanley said: “Unfortunately, I am the victim and a witness to a crime in an ongoing investigation."
Earlier this year, Stanley and Representative John DeBerry of Memphis co-sponsored a bill that would have banned adoption by unmarried couples.
For more on the Stanley debacle, check out Jackson Baker's story.
With the recent Shelby County Commission victory under their belts, local gay rights advocates are ready to work with the Memphis City Council to pass a citywide non-discrimination ordinance.
The Tennessee Equality Project (TEP), the organizing force behind local LGBT workplace protection efforts, is hosting an informational meeting on Sunday, July 19th at the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center (892 S. Cooper).
TEP members will discuss the scope of the non-discrimination ordinance they'll propose to the council. They'll also give a rundown of how city council makes decisions, while providing tips for how to advocate on behalf of workplace protection.
On Tuesday night, about ten people gathered at the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center (MLGCC) for the first planning meeting of the Mid-South delegation for the National Equality March. Of those ten, most expressed an interest in attending the national march in Washington DC on Sunday, October 11th.
During the march, LGBT folks and straight allies will be demanding full federal LGBT equality in matters governed by civil law in all 50 states. That means the right to marry, employment protection, an end to the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, and inclusive hate crime legislation.
"We're tired of local and state legislative bodies trying to piecemeal the effort by passing ordinances here and there," said local organizer Tommy Simmons. "We want equal rights at the federal level across the board. Case closed."
Previous gay right marches in 1979, 1987, and 1992 drew anywhere from 100,000 to 250,000 people, and this march is expected to meet or even exceed attendance from past years. All the previous marches boasted delegations from Memphis.
Unlike in year's past, however, this march will not feature celebrities or fancy after-parties. The goal is strictly a grassroots effort in lobbying the federal government for LGBT rights. Simmons recommends attendees arrive in DC by Friday, October 9th since there will be a series of lobbying training meetings on the Saturday before the march.
It's not too late to join the local delegation. Those interested should join the National Equality March's 9th Congressional District Facebook page. There will also be another informational meeting at the MGLCC on Tuesday, August 11th at 6:30 p.m.
According to news website OneNewsNow.com, Memphis-based FedEx has added "gender identity" to its company-wide policy banning discrimination of employees. "Sexual orientation" was already included in the FedEx policy.
"FedEx has always had a strong policy regarding discrimination, and we felt the language was inclusive," said spokesperson Sandra Munoz. "But we were asked by some shareholders to be more specific."
Earlier this year, FedEx scored a 55 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index because it does not offer benefit for same-sex partners company-wide. Such benefits are only offered at FedEx Kinko's and the company's California locations, where it is required by law.
According to Nashville's Out & About newspaper, Nashville Metro council member Megan Barry plans to file a non-discrimination ordinance Tuesday, July 14th that would protect Metro government employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The ordinance is similar to one passed by the Shelby County Commission last month. The Nashville chapter of the Tennessee Equality Project has been working toward getting this ordinance to the council since last year.
Though Shelby County beat Nashville in passing such workplace protections, the Nashville Metro Council has dealt with the issue before. In 2003, a similar proposal failed on the second reading when then-vice mayor Howard Gentry cast the tie-breaking vote. Out & About reports that he later apologized for the "no" vote when he ran for mayor in 2007.
It looks like the Nashville ordinance may have some dissenters again this time around. Councilman Michael Craddock is proposing government employees take sensitivity courses as an alternative to workplace protections.
The Nashville City Paper reports that Metro council members Tim Garrett, Ronnie Steine, and Jerry Maynard are also sponsors of the non-discrimination ordinance.
On October 11th, thousands of LGBT rights activists will gather in Washington, DC for the National Equality March. The brainchild of longtime activists like California gay marriage proponent Robin Tyler, author David Mixner, and Names Project AIDS quilt founder Cleve Jones, the march is intended to be a full-on fight-for-all-your-rights style rally.
Among the demands on the table: the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the passage of the national Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and the passage of an inclusive hate crimes bill.
Locally, a District 9 group is organizing their efforts to take part in the march. The first meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 14th at 6:30 p.m. at the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (892 S. Cooper). Those interested may also join the local group's Facebook page.
Earlier this week, Jonathan Cole of the Tennessee Equality Project, a statewide gay rights organization, posted a notice of an upcoming anti-gay meeting of the Family Action Council (FAC) in Memphis.
Cole received an e-mail message from FAC president David Fowler regarding a July 10th lunch meeting for FAC followers at a Memphis restaurant. The meeting is intended to let FAC supporters know about the group's activities in the Tennessee General Assembly, including "legislative victories, and challenges, that relate to our core values: the institution of marriage, family values, the sanctity of life, and religious liberty.”
Also in the e-mail was this tidbit from Fowler: "...everyone in Shelby County needs to know about looming local attempts to further the national gay rights agenda that could affect employees of Memphis City government as well as businesses, churches and other private employers."
According to Cole, FAC will also be in town to promote “The Truth Project”, a program designed by the national anti-gay industry’s Focus on the Family to misrepresent American history and culture and establish special rights and privileges for the far-right.
Cole is hoping to organize a group of gay rights supporters to peacefully attend the July 10th meeting. Interested folks (or those interested in making a donation to help someone else go) should send an e-mail to ShelbyCounty@tnequalityproject.com.