In May, transgender woman Kiare Newsom claimed she was harassed by Memphis Police officers during a traffic stop. She said the officers used homophobic and transphobic slurs, and asked her to raise her shirt along a busy highway. She filed a complaint with the MPD's Internal Affairs office.
In response, members of the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) and the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center met with new Memphis Police director Toney Armstrong on Tuesday. According TEP chair Jonathan Cole's blog post on the meeting, "Director Armstrong expressed a commitment to fairness and treating people equally and is willing to address concerns about interactions between LGBT members of the community and the MPD. Mayor A C Wharton also visited with the assembled group and offered constructive ideas for addressing presented concerns."
TEP provided diversity training to officers at the MPD training academy in 2008, following the beating of transgender inmate Duanna Johnson. Although she was later murdered in an unrelated incident, Johnson's attacker Bridges McRae is now serving a prison sentence for violating her civil rights.
To read more about TEP's meeting with Armstrong, check out this post on TEP's Grand Divisions.
In case you were wondering why Memphis didn't have a gay pride celebration during Pride Month (June), you should know that annual event was moved to October.
This year's event is scheduled for Saturday, October 15th, and for the first time, the parade will be held downtown on Beale Street at 2 p.m. The festival will be at nearby Robert Church Park from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. In the recent past, the parade was held in Midtown's Cooper-Young neighborhood.
For years before 2010, Mid-South Pride's festival and parade was held in mid-June, when most major cities host their pride celebrations. But last year, local organizers moved the event to avoid June's heat and humidity.
For more information on the October pride event, check out Mid-South Pride's website.
The Tennessee Equality Project is hosting its annual Ice Cream Social on Sunday, June 26th from 3 to 5 p.m. at Kingsway Christian Church in Germantown (7887 Poplar).
In addition to ice cream sundaes, guests will be treated to good old-fashioned games, face painting, and more. The fund-raiser is $10 per person or $25 per family.
For more information, go here.
Months ago, we called on local artists to submit gay-themed prints for an upcoming Harvest Creative-sponsored "This Poster Is Gay" exhibition. Well, the artists have been selected, and the show opens on Friday, June 24th from 5 to 10 p.m. at Harvest Creative.
Half of sales of the equality-themed artwork by LGBT and LGBT-friendly artists will benefit the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center, and the other half goes directly to the artists. And to make the event even cooler, Harvest Creative is serving Ghost River beer and Stoli Raspberry lemonade.
The Outflix Summer Film Series closes this week with a screening of Mommie Dearest at Malco's Studio on the Square on Thursday, June 23rd from 7 to 10 p.m.
Based on the best-selling memoir, this campy '80s flick chronicles the abusive relationship between actress Joan Crawford and her daughter Christina.
For more information on Outflix, check out their website.
A group of Tennesseans are planning a documentary project highlighting Representative Stacey Campfield's SB49, a.k.a. the "Don't Say Gay" bill. That bill preventing elementary and middle school educators from teaching anything outside "natural reproduction science" passed the state Senate last month, but it's still dead for awhile since the House previously declined to take it up.
The documentary project will only happen if organizers raise $25,000 by June 20th. Right now, that doesn't look so likely. So far, they've only raised just more than $3,000 using this Kickstarter campaign.
If you're interested in making a donation, here's what you'll get: A film featuring interviews with LGBT students who have been the victims of bullies (or students who have been bullied because other kids assume they're gay), interviews with parents and teachers, and an in-depth analysis of the bill with lawmakers, therapists, and community leaders.
If organizers reach their goal, shooting would begin in late June and the film would be released by January 2012. Click here for more information.
Would you like to get married, but your state won't recognize the union of two men? Or do you wish your daughter's school-age peers would stop picking on her for being a lesbian? Do you have a fabulous coming out story?
Whatever the case, you probably have an LGBT-supportive story to tell. Doing so in a short two-minute video could land your story in a nationally-televised TV ad. The Courage Campaign is seeking video submissions of people telling their stories about being gay or loving someone who is for their "Testimony: Take a Stand" contest. Submissions will be accepted through 11:59 pm (PST) through Wednesday, June 15th.
Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black will select three winning videos, and then he'll fly to each location to shoot a longer video of the winner telling their story. That video will air in a series of TV ads for the Courage Campaign.
Click here for more information. Or watch this video by Dustin Lance Black:
Bills banning talk of homosexuality in grade schools and preventing local governments from passing non-discrimination ordinances made the Tennessee General Assembly this past session seem like a bully against equal rights.
A group of equality advocates are organizing a rally to stand up to that government bully. The Justice for All Rally will be held at First Congregational Church on Sunday, June 12th from 3 to 4 p.m.
Here's description from the event's Facebook page:
They talk about small government, when they should be talking about smart and effective government that works for all Tennesseans instead. Help send a message that we look to Tennessee state government to promote women's health, fair labor standards, workplace equality, safe schools, policies that respect people of all faith traditions or no faith tradition, responsible immigration policy, and the right to vote.
If you plan to attend the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center's second annual "Prom for All," get your tickets in time to make a date. The event will be held this Saturday, June 11th at 8 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel downtown.
Tickets are $50 per person or $80 per couple. To purchase tickets, call 901-278-6422. For more information, visit the event's Facebook page.
After prom, you and your date can continue to dance the night away at the official prom afterparty at Club Spectrum on Marshall Avenue.
In late April, things weren't looking good for the future of the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center. A funding shortage threatened executive director Will Batts' position and possibly even the center's ability to stay open.
But an aggressive funding campaign was launched with a goal of raising $45,000 by May 31st. Batts announced today that the center exceeded that goal, raising $60,277. Part of that total came from a generous matching gift from Dr. Herb Zemen. Some donations came from as far away as San Francisco, New York, Canada, and Europe.
“The generosity of our donors has been inspiring, and I’d like to thank each and every one of them,” said Batts in a statement released today. “They recognize that maintaining this proud and openly LGBT agency in this Southern city is a testament to the courage, sacrifice, determination and strength of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens of the Mid-South.”
With its funding goal met, the center will now focus on attracting "sustaining donors" who would pledge to give monthly donations of $10, $20, or $50.