With Backstreet closed (again) as a public nuisance, there's at least one less place to ring in 2011. But a new gay club, called Spectrum, is holding its grand opening on New Year's Eve.
Located at 616 Marshall (in the old Club 616), the 18 and up party features a $5 cover and a live band beginning at 8:30 p.m. There's a drag show at 11 p.m. and a balloon drop with prizes at midnight. Spectrum has two dance floors, which means there will be plenty of room for the 12:30 a.m. dance-off (yes, I said "dance-off.").
If the night club scene isn't your thing, spend a quieter evening at the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center's New Year's Eve Party. The gathering will run from 6 to 9 p.m. (so you can still make the club if you want). Volunteers of the year will be awarded at the party.
For the most part, 2010 was a momentous year for equal rights (spurred by the recent repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy). But locally, Memphis experienced a major setback when the city council failed to pass an inclusive non-discrimination policy. Here's a look back at local highlights and lowdowns in LGBT news:
* In January, the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center expanded its services to include finding temporary homes for struggling LGBT youth. The Youth Empowerment Services (YES) program was made possible by a generous holiday donation from an anonymous donor.
* In April, Knoxville Republican Stacey Campfield's "Don't Say Gay" bill was killed in the Tennessee State Legislature for the second time. The bill would have banned teachers from discussing homosexuality in elementary and public schools.
* Also in April, a federal judge failed to reach a verdict in the trial of Bridges McRae, who was charged with violating the civil rights of transgender woman Duanna Johnson. In August, McRae finally pled guilty.
* In May, Memphis-based FedEx announced that the company will begin offering insurance benefits to same-sex domestic partners in January 2012.
* Also in May, the University of Memphis changed its policy to allow gay families to join the student gym.
* In August, city councilwoman Janis Fullilove withdraws the proposed non-discrimination ordinance protecting city workers on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity at the request of the Tennessee Equality Project. TEP cited a lack of support by the council but promised to bring the ordinance back at a later date.
* In October, Tennessee-based Cracker Barrel Restaurant jumped up 40 points from last year on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index after the company implemented a non-discrimination policy and diversity training.
* In November, TEP brings the non-discrimination ordinance back to council but it fails to gain enough votes on second reading, effectively killing the ordinance for at least six months.
* In December, President Barack Obama signs legislation repealing the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Though it's not local news, it will certainly effect plenty of Memphians with military ties.
Happy New Year!
The comedy film about real-life con man Steven Jay Russell (played by Jim Carey) and his prison crush on fellow inmate Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor) opens on Christmas Day at Malco's Studio on the Square. Here's what Flyer film editor Chris Herrington had to say about the show:
Arriving just shy of two years since debuting at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, I Love You Phillip Morris is a broad, daring farce that marks the directing debut of Bad Santa screenwriting team Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, who bring that film’s principled disregard for good taste to this amazing true story of unrepentant con man Steven Jay Russell.
Jim Carrey, in his strongest performance in years, plays Steven, who is a married police officer and church organist in Virginia when we first meet him. But he harbors a secret, and a near-death experience spurs him to announce joyfully: “I’m gonna be a fag!” as his bloodied body is carted into an ambulance after a car wreck.
Recuperated, Steven parts ways with his perplexed but sympathetic wife (Leslie Mann) and takes his talents, so to speak, to South Beach, where he shacks up with a fabulous new boyfriend (Rodrigo Santoro) and makes a troubling discovery: “Being gay is expensive.”
This realization spurs the film’s con-man plot, as Steven dabbles in credit card and insurance fraud, experiences that lead to multiple prison stints — and multiple escapes. One period of incarceration introduces Steven to his soul mate, the titular thief played, with needed understatement, by Ewan McGregor.
Carrey, back in gonzo mode, doesn’t get under the surface of his character, but surfaces are mostly enough. Laughs are plenty as when Steven and Phillip, in love, ask Cleavon (Michael Mandel) — the very large, very masculine inmate in the next cell over, who owns a portable stereo — to play their tape all the way through. And as they slow dance, Cleavon refuses to turn the tape off despite being teased by prison guards. “My word is my bond,” he shouts, offscreen.
The film’s attitude about gay sex is defiantly open, and the plot twists make for quite a ride — including a comically tasteless final turn that conned not only the characters onscreen but also this viewer. — Chris Herrington
In my last post on the closing reception at Caritas Village's "[choice] Life Over AIDS" exhibit, commenter Neondragon wondered why I hadn't posted anything on the Senate's vote to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
For the record, my editor Bruce VanWyngarden did put up a post on his blog on Saturday, shortly following the long-awaited vote. But I think have a pretty good excuse as to why nothing was posted on this blog until now.
On Friday, I made the mistake of petting a stray cat that had been hit by a car. We were taking the injured animal to the emergency vet, and for some reason, I thought petting the cat would take its mind off of the pain. Bad idea. The cat bit me, resulting in a nasty infection in my right index finger. Due to the swelling and pain, I was unable to type (or use my right hand for anything) on Saturday and Sunday. The finger is still swollen and stuck in a bent position, but I'm now able to type with my remaining four fingers (yes, I did go to the doctor). But I'm sorry I missed posting on Memphis Gaydar on such a monumental occasion.
As for the Senate's vote, I'm absolutely elated. I'm saddened that Tennessee Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander voted against repeal, but thankful their closed-minded opinions were in the minority. President Barack Obama is set to sign legislation repealing the outdated, discriminatory military policy at 5 p.m. today. It may take up to 60 days before the new policy takes effect. For the first time in awhile, I'm proud to be an American.
For several months, the Caritas Village has been spreading the word about HIV prevention and treatment options through an art show, film screenings, and bus stop advertising in the "[choice]" Life Over AIDS" campaign.
On Saturday, December 18th from 4 to 6 p.m., the Caritas Village hosts the closing reception for the campaign's group art exhibition, which features works by Frank D. Robinson, Chandler Pritchett, Marcellous Lovelace, Judith Dierkes, and others. The works in this juried show are intended to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of HIV/AIDS.
At 5 p.m., there will be a screening of local actor Phil Darius Wallace's Love Choice, a film about a man whose HIV-positive status leads him to lose his job and consider suicide. But the situation also brings a new woman into his life.
For more information about the "[choice] Life Over AIDS" campaign, check out the website. Caritas Village is located at 2509 Harvard.
Without legalized gay marriage, LGBT people face unique legal problems when it comes to making healthcare decisions for their partners. Say for example, a gay man is in an auto accident, would the hospital staff know to contact his life-long partner?
That's one of many healthcare issues likely to be discussed at Tuesday night's "Your Wishes, Your Choices: Advance Healthcare Planning" workshop. The free class begins at 7 p.m. on December 14th at the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC). Call 901-326-8861 for more information.
Anti-gay violence is a still huge problem across the country, and Memphis is no exception. Though many physical attacks on LGBT Memphians likely go unreported, the media picks up on the occasional story of anti-gay or anti-transgender violence.
Take for example the case of Duanna Johnson, who was beaten by former Memphis Police officer Bridges McRae in 2008. Or Randi Foster, a 12-year-old straight, Hernando Middle School student who was beaten in November because her peers thought she had a "boy name."
A little self-defense training could come in handy for the local LGBT community, which is why the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (892 S. Cooper) is hosting a free Krav Maga workshop on Friday, December 10th at 6 p.m. Krav Maga is an Israeli hand-to-hand combat method that involves wrestling, grappling, and striking techniques. The workshop is hosted by the Krav Maga Center of Memphis.
According to SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders), many LGBT older adults often avoid seeking out needed services for fear of discrimination. Some older LGBT adults go "back in the closet" when accessing home health care or residing in assisted living facilities.
But SAGE, a national nonprofit aimed at addressing the needs of LGBT elders, works with older adults to overcome the challenges of discrimination. SAGE services include a visiting program for frail and homebound LGBT elders, a support group for older people with HIV, and caregiving services.
The Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center is investigating the possibility of becoming a SAGE affiliate. They're holding two workshops (one at 2:30 p.m. and one at 7 p.m.) on Tuesday, Dec. 7th to gather input from the community.
Bars and clubs aren't for everybody, and now the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC) is offering an alternative place for young LGBT folks to socialize.
Gen Q, a new group catering to 19 to 24-year-olds, offers a safe (and quieter) setting for young gays and lesbians to mix and mingle. A bonus — there's free food! Gen Q meets every Friday night at the MGLCC (892 S. Cooper) from 7 to 9 p.m.
Check out the Gen Q Facebook page for more information.