There are currently more than 7,500 people living with HIV/AIDS in the Memphis metro area. Thursday, December 1st marks World AIDS Day, and there's plenty going on to raise awareness and commemorate local lives lost to HIV/AIDS.
* World AIDS Day NAMES Ceremony, First Baptist Church of Memphis (200 E. Parkway N.), 10 a.m.
This annual ceremony pays tribute to the 2,911 people whose lives have been lost to HIV/AIDS in Shelby County from 1985 to 2010. White sticks with red ribbons have been placed on the lawn of the church to commemorate those victims, and their first names will be read aloud at the ceremony.
* World AIDS Day Service, Christ Missionary Baptist Church (480 S. Parkway E.), 7 p.m.
Sponsored by the Red Door Foundation and the HIV/AIDS Ministry of Christ Missionary Baptist Church, the service features music, testimonials of people affected by HIV, a prayer by local pastors, and a ceremony remembering victims who have passed. Attendees are encouraged to wear red. Free HIV testing will be offered in the lobby between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m.
* Free HIV Testing and Rapid Counseling, Packer Clinic (814 Jefferson) and Cawthon Public Health Clinic (1000 Haynes St.), 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Preliminary testing results will be ready in one hour at these events sponsored by the Shelby County Health Department.
* Shelby County Health Department World AIDS Day Event, Northside High School Auditorium (1212 Vollintine), 12:30-2 p.m.
Community-based HIV/AIDS service groups and organizations discuss HIV prevention activities and programs.
* Free HIV & Syphilis Testing, Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region (2430 Poplar), 9 a.m-6 p.m.
No appointment necessary. HIV test results will be ready in 30 minutes, but syphilis tests results will take about a week. Volunteers will lead free zumba classes in the lobby.
In response to yesterday's news that openly gay U.S. Representative Barney Frank is retiring, the Tennessee Tea Party called the Massachusetts Democrat a "perverted sodomite POS" in a tweet, according to The Tennessean.
At 12:40 p.m., @tnteaparty tweeted: “Good riddance you perverted sodomite POS!!” with a link to a story about Frank's retirement.
The tweet ignited a firestorm of responses, including this one from the Tennessee Equality Project: “Your comment re: Rep Frank is a new low. Your movement has been coopted by people who hate liberty &, um, people in general.”
For more on this story and a rundown of responses, check out this article in The Tennessean.
If the family is too far away, too homophobic, or just too annoying, the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Center (MGLCC) is offering another option for Thanksgiving dinner.
The MGLCC (892 S. Cooper) will hold its annual Thanksgiving potluck at the center from noon to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 24th. Turkey and a vegetarian option will be provided, and guests are encouraged to bring a side dish or dessert to share.
Duanna Johnson. Tiffany Berry. Ebony Whitaker. These three transgender women were killed in Memphis over the past six years, and they're a small number in the hundreds of transgender homicide victims nationally.
The local names will be included on a list of victims from across the country during the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance candlelight vigil on Saturday at First Congregational Church (1000 S. Cooper) from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
The Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC) is looking for a few volunteers to staff its front desk, and they're holding a volunteer training session tonight (Tuesday, Nov. 15th) at 6 p.m. at the center (892 S. Cooper).
The position involves answering the phones and helping clean up the center, but that's not all. Front desk volunteers are the first people to greet center newcomers, who may be stopping by to find refuge from discrimination at home, work, or school. Here's a story from the MGLCC's newsletter:
Several years ago, our board chair, Len Piechowski, was staffing the center one quiet night. A young woman walked into the center. Len greeted her and struck up a conversation. The young woman told him that she'd just come out to her mother and that they were fighting. Her mother was having difficult time dealing with this revelation. The young woman and Len chatted for about an hour, and then she prepared to leave. Before she walked out the door, she turned and said "Thank you for being here for me tonight. I walked around the block four times before I got enough courage to come in."
For more information on volunteering, contact Martavius here.
In the latest production from Emerald Theatre Company, a clueless reigning beauty queen finds herself hosting a pageant in which five leather guys compete for the title of Mr. Black and Blue.
In the interactive play, the men compete in evening wear, talent, and Q&A competitions, and the audience votes on their favorite contestant each night of the performance. So each show could have a different outcome.
The show opens on Friday, Nov. 11th, and then it shows again next weekend from Friday, Nov. 18th through Saturday, Nov. 19th. Friday and Saturday shows begin at 8 p.m. with 2 p.m. matinees on Sundays. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. For reservations, call 272-0909.
Bonus: There's brief nudity!
Last week, Lexington, Tennessee teen Kasey Landrum was given three days of in-school suspension for wearing make-up to school. After the story made national headlines, the Henderson County School Board reversed its policy to allow all students to wear makeup, if they so desire.
Landrum said his principal at Lexington High School in Henderson County said his purple eyeshadow violated the school's dress code policy. He said principal Steve Lindsay yelled at him and told him to go outside the school building.
The story made national news over the weekend, including a story in the U.K.'s Daily Mail and on Perez Hilton's blog, who called the situation "dreadful." The Tennessee Equality Project and LGBTQNation intervened, and Landrum's suspension was reversed.
According to a story on Pink News,"the 16-year-old said he has suffered from depression in the past by not being able to express himself at school."
"I’m proud of myself for being as comfortable as I am, but sometimes I wish I was straight," Landrum said.
Performance artist/former Love in Action client Peterson Toscano is in town for the Indie Memphis post-screening Q&A of Morgan Jon Fox's This Is What Love In Action Looks Like tonight at Playhouse on the Square.
But he's sticking around through the weekend to premiere his newest play, Jesus Had Two Daddies, on Sunday, Nov. 6th at Holy Trinity UCC (685 S. Highland) at 6 p.m.
In the play, Toscano "explores the bizarre, hilarious, moving, and at times disturbing world of the Bible as well as his own faith journey," according to his press release. He'll be sharing his interpretations of well-known and lesser-known Bible stories.
Since graduating from Love in Action years ago, Toscano has found some healing through writing plays. He wrote "Doin' Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway: How I Survived the Ex-Gay Movement!" as a direct response to his time in ex-gay camp.
And he's written other plays dealing with LGBT issues and Christianity, including "Queer 101: Now I Know my gAy,BCs," "The Re-education of George W. Bush," "I Can See Sarah Plain from my Window," and "Transfigurations: Transgressing Gender in the Bible."
Despite attempts by some modern-day, right-wing Christian groups to crush LGBT rights, there appears to be some evidence that a few Biblical characters were in same-sex relationships. That's according to the Rev. Nathan Dannison, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ.
He'll be leading a two-hour seminar on Saturday, Nov. 5th on same-gender relationships in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament. The free lecture will be held at the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (892 S. Cooper) from 1 to 3 p.m.
Dannison holds a master's degree in divinity from the Chicago Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in religious studies at Vanderbilt University.