The monthly "Cherry" party for lesbians and their friends will feature a return performance by burlesque dancer Kitty Wompas and special guest Lady Doo Moi at Cafe Society on Saturday, December 1st.
As always, host Julie Wheeler will sing a few tunes and provide comedy. There will be complimentary hors d'oeuvres and drink specials ($5 martinis and $5 wine), plus a special after-hours menu by chef Cullen Kent. Doors open at 9 p.m. Cover charge is $8.
A pair of researchers at the University of Mississippi, Alicia Cambron and Sheryl Chatfield, are seeking participants for a study examining the barriers to physical activity for the LGBTQ community. According to the study's home page, "research suggests that some individuals within the LGBTQ communities experience poorer health outcomes when compared to self-identified heterosexuals."
The six-question survey is anonymous and the results will be used to professionals in the leisure activity field. Click here to take the survey.
World AIDS Day is December 1st, and there's plenty going on around town to commemorate the event.
* The City of Memphis Office of Youth Services is hosting the 2nd annual World AIDS Day event on Thursday, November 29th at 4 p.m. at the Glenview Community Center (1141 S. Barksdale). The event features speakers addressing HIV/AIDS awareness, commemorating those who have passed, and celebrating treatment and prevention victories.
* Christ United Methodist Church is hosting a World AIDS Day service from noon to 1 p.m. in their Wilson Chapel on Friday, November 30th. Friends for Life director Kim Daugherty and CMC senior pastor Shane Stanford will speak. For more, go here.
* There's a World AIDS Day Kick-off Party (hosted by the Mid-South AIDS Fund) at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Steven Bares on Friday, November 30th at 7 p.m. Cocktails will be served and hors d'oeuvres will be provided by The Majestic Bar & Grille. There's a suggested donation of $50 per person or $75 per couple. For more information, call Evan Hurst (901-729-9439) or Elizabeth Rincon (901-413-6983).
* Christ Missionary Baptist Church will host a Faith and AIDS Conference on Saturday, December 1st at 8:30 a.m. The conference includes breakfast, workshops, and a screening of the documentary, The Gospel of Healing. Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region will be on-hand between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. providing free HIV testing and prevention counseling. To register, go to http://faithandaids.eventbrite.com or call Christ Missionary Baptist Church at 901-948-9786.
* Choices is hosting a screening of Love Choice, a love story written and directed by Memphian Phil Darius Wallace and produced by Caritas Village with funding support from the Mid-South AIDS Fund. The free screening begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 1st at Malco's Studio on the Square. Coffee and donuts will be provided. The film will be followed by a Q&A.
* Later that day, Caritas Village will host the opening reception for its "Life Over AIDS" exhibit. It lasts from 2 to 4 p.m. and features art by Liz Bass, Jamond Bullock, Lauren Beyer, Phyllis Boger, Mary Bowman, Lindsey Byard, Marilyn Califf, Maria Ferguson, Lurlynn Franklin, Dawn Kimble, Marcellous Lovelace, Carl E. Moore, Darlene Newman, Tammy Groves Thornton, Sarah Ray, Frank D. Robinson, Malik Seneferu, and Bill Piacesi.
* The South Memphis Alliance is hosting a World AIDS Day health fair at Towne Center at Soulsville (915 E. McLemore) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 1st. The fair will include information on prevention, treatment and care, including female condom demonstrations and HIV testing. Snacks will be provided.
* Le Bonheur Children's Hospital's Community HIV Network is holding a World AIDS Day ceremony on Saturday, December 1st at 5 p.m. at the Mississippi River Greenbelt Park. They'll be lighting and launching a floating water lantern to remember those lost to HIV/AIDS.
* Also, don't miss the ongoing World AIDS Day Marker Project at First Baptist Church (East Parkway at Poplar). White sticks with red ribbons on the church's lawn represent the 2,924 Memphians who have lost their battle with HIV/AIDS.
Several times each month, Memphis Gaydar will feature Q&As with LGBT Memphians and their allies who are making a difference. This week's installment features Kim Daugherty, the executive director of the Friend for Life, which helps people with HIV/AIDS get access to education, housing, food, transportation and healthy life skills training.
Flyer: In a nutshell, what does Friends for Life do?
Daugherty: Friends For Life is a nonprofit organization that supports persons living with HIV/AIDS. Our two main goals are to reduce opportunistic infections in persons living with HIV/AIDS in by assisting them to become medically adherent and remain medically adherent and to reduce and prevent homelessness for persons living with HIV/AIDS.
FFL is the oldest such organization in the south, right? How did it get started?
In the '80s, many people in our community were dying of AIDS. Their friends banned together to assist them to die with dignity, and Friends For Life evolved from that effort. Today, with the invention of powerful drugs that fight the HIV virus people are living long and prosperous lives. We are here to support them.
When FFL was launched, HIV/AIDS was still considered a "gay disease." How have organizations like FFL helped moved past that stigma?
Although many have thought of HIV/AIDS as a “gay disease,” this has never really been the case. This belief developed early on in the epidemic as many of those identified as being infected were gay men. However, we know factually that by the early '90s half of all new infections were children born to mothers who were infected by HIV/AIDS. Fortunately today, very few children in our community are born with HIV/AIDS due to medications and medical procedures used during delivery. Unfortunately, living with HIV/AIDS in our country still carries a great deal of stigma. People tell me regularly that family has asked them to leave their home, or they are rejected by their church family after their HIV/AIDS diagnoses. We are here to help people overcome that sort of experience. We assist them in rebuilding their self-esteem and self-worth so they will care for themselves.
Do you think there's still work to do in educating people about how HIV/AIDS in contracted?
Tons of work is needed to reduce the stigma of living with HIV/AIDS in our community. People really have not gotten the message that HIV is simply a virus. It is transmitted in very specific ways — exchange of blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and mother’s breast milk. You cannot contract HIV through casual contact such as using the restroom after someone, drinking after them, or using the phone after them. Universally accepted HIV testing could really help reduce the stigma associated with HIV.
Do you think the fact that people know now that HIV is manageable might be causing some people to be more reckless?
I occasionally hear younger people say things that let me know that they are not fully informed about HIV/AIDS. Although it is true that HIV is a more manageable, long-term illness than ever before, I must say that we should all do what we can to avoid contraction of the virus. The medications that are taken can have some serious side effects that make them difficult for many to tolerate. Living with a virus that is working full-time to weaken your body and allow infections to invade your systems is something no one should have to live with. The medications designed to fight HIV literally are destroying the virus produced by your body.
Homeless people are at a huge risk for contracting HIV/AIDS. Why is that?
People who are homeless generally have a lack of access to health care, in particular preventative health care, such as HIV testing. They have poor health outcomes and are at risk for early death.
What is FFL doing to combat that?
Friends For Life, in partnership with the City of Memphis, Community Alliance for the Homeless, the United Way and other community partners, are working together to bring housing resources to the community to assist in combating this problem. We believe in housing first — get people off the street and help them work on their problems.
Some people only know of FFL through the huge Halloween party they throw every year. How did that get started?
The agency used to throw a huge party at the end of its "A Place at the Table" party season, and this evolved into the Halloween party. It is a spectacularly fun event that raises between $30,000 and $40,000 annually for the agency.
Enough about serious stuff, what did you eat for breakfast this morning?
I confess I don’t eat breakfast every day. A couple of my favorite breakfast foods are the almond poppy seed pastry at La Baguette and the turkey and egg white flatbread from Dunkin Donuts.
What's your idea of a fun weekend?
I really enjoy going to the Farmers Market and to the Arcade for breakfast on Saturday morning. Sunday mornings, I like to read the paper and watch a movie on TV. I am a huge sports fan so any opportunity to catch the game is great. I love the Grizzlies!!!
Favorite thing about Memphis?
I love Memphis. People here are generous and want to help others. I love that about us!
Last movie you watched in the theater?
Skyfall. I love James Bond. I want all those spy gadgets Q invents for him.
A Facebook fan page has launched for a new gay bar set to open in Memphis. But the when and where remain a mystery.
The owners of Rumors Memphis are being hush-hush about the details. When commenters on their page have inquired as to a location or opening date, the response from Rumors is "information coming very, very soon."
With the closing of Crossroads last weekend and closing of Shane Trice's gay bars — Backstreet, Metro, and Mary's — Memphis is sorely lacking in gay bars. We'll keep you posted on the Rumors progress as we learn details, or you can follow progress for yourself on the Rumors Memphis Facebook page.
Ever wonder what terms are okay to use when referring to transgender friends or family members? An all-day seminar this Saturday, November 17th will lay down the proper etiquette.
Transvision: Express Yourself, hosted by Perpetual Transition, is designed to teach members of the LGBT community and straight allies the basic terminology to use when referencing or addressing transgender people, how to determine the proper pronoun without being offensive, and some common mistakes (hint: "tranny" is not okay).
The free seminar at First Congregational Church, which runs from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., will be broken into three sections. The morning session will focus on etiquette 101. The mid-day session will involve some hands-on exercises related to gender expression. And the afternoon session will feature a panel of eight local transgender people discussing their personal experiences living in Memphis.
Lunch will be provided. See the event's Facebook page for more details.
Memphis native filmmaker Ira Sachs' latest film, Keep the Lights On runs through Thursday, November 15th at Malco's Studio on the Square.
The Teddy Award-winning film chronicles the relationship between a gay Manhattan man and a closeted lawyer as they experience friendship, love, and then crippling addiction. Check out the trailer.
The Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC) is hosting a networking event for business professionals on Thursday, November 15th from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at The Tower Center at Clark Tower.
The event is free and open to local corporate employee resource groups, business owners and entrepreneurs, LGBT and ally professionals, and their family and friends.
Professionals from the following companies are anticipated: AutoZone, Baker Donelson, City of Memphis, Delta Airlines, FedEx, First Horizon, Greater Memphis Chamber, Harrah's, Hilton Worldwide, International Paper, Medtronic, McDonald's, Merck, Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare, NIKE, Raymond James, ServiceMaster, Smith & Nephew, University of Memphis, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and others.
Attendees should dress in business casual attire and bring business cards. There will be a cash bar and light snacks. RSVP on EventBrite.
The annual Transgender Day of Remembrance will be held Sunday, November 11th from 6 to 7 p.m. at First Congregational Church (1000 S. Cooper).
The candlelight vigil and memorial service honors the lives of transgender and gender non-conforming victims of violence. Locally, those victims have included Duanna Johnson, who was beaten by a Memphis Police officer in 2008 and was killed in a still-unsolved murder later that year, and Tiffany Berry, who was gunned down outside of her front door at the Camelot Manor Apartments in South Memphis in 2006.
The national Transgender Day of Remembrance was started in 1998 to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th that year kicked off the 'Remembering Our Dead' web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999.
Several times each month, Memphis Gaydar will feature Q&As with LGBT Memphians who are making a difference. For the inaugural LGBT Voices post, we've chosen Will Batts, the executive director of the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC), which has offered programs, services, and support for LGBT Memphians since 1989.
1. How long have you served as executive director of MGLCC?
Since July 1, 2008
2. How did you get that position? Did you ever see yourself heading up a LGBT community center?
It was a long route. I've done many different types of jobs in my life — bookstore manager, high school religion/psychology teacher, psychology graduate student, corporate flunky, small business owner, and now MGLCC E.D. Each job I've had has taught me some skill that I use in this job, whether it's how to keep the books, run a small business, or how to listen effectively to people in crisis. I became involved with MGLCC through the Outflix Film Festival back in 2005. I just never left because I love this organization and the impact we have in the community.
3. What are your favorite things about the job?
I love watching people transform and grow. People often come to MGLCC worried about coming out, looking for support or friends, struggling with job or family issues, or in real crisis. Seeing them find their own inner strength to live free, happy, and healthy lives is so amazing!
4. Anything you don't like?
It's very difficult to hear stories of abuse, despair, attempted suicide, family violence, or rejection. I struggle when I hear young people talk about the things they have to do to survive on the streets. I hate not being able to fix everything. Those are very long days.
5. What has been the most rewarding moment so far?
Lots of things make me happy about my job. But I am most touched when people say, "Thanks for being here. I'm not sure I would have survived without this place." I tear up every time because I know it's very likely true.
6. How far would you say Memphis has come regarding LGBT equality and acceptance? We've come a very long way just since I've been connected with MGLCC. We have so many supportive churches, businesses, and other agencies. We have many LGBT folks appearing openly in the media. Outflix Film Festival grows every year. Pride has become a must-go event. I think we're reaching a tipping point in our community where acceptance of LGBT equality is becoming the norm rather than the rarity. And I love it! It means the people of my community will be safer.
7. Now that the city and county have passed employment non-discrimination ordinances, what do you see as next on the horizon in the local fight for LGBT equality?
Making sure our kids are safe in their schools. Kids are coming out so much younger than my generation did, which often makes them targets. We need to ensure that not only are there strong anti-bullying policies in place but that all adults have the buy-in to protect kids regardless of their own personal beliefs. That and making Memphis a safer place for our transgender brothers and sisters. Education and awareness are keys to a safer community.
8. Okay, enough serious talk. What's your favorite Memphis restaurant?
I could eat at Soul Fish every day!
9. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 3 things would you want to have with you?
You mean besides a daily meal from Soul Fish? My hubby Curtis, my favorite book The Count of Monte Cristo, and a toothbrush!!!
10. What's on your iPod right now?
Green Day, Johnny Cash, Aaron Copland, White Stripes, The Killers, Patsy Cline, George Winston, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Blondie
11. Last book you read?
Game of Thrones
12. What do you want for Christmas?
Marriage equality … but I'll settle for an iPad. This time.
If the polls are any indication, this Election Day is going to be a nail-biter.
Don't nibble your nails alone (or at all). Head to the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center on Tuesday, Nov. 6th at 6:30 p.m. for an Election Results Watching Party co-hosted by the Tennessee Equality Project and MGLCC.
Guests are encouraged to bring snacks to share. MGLCC is located at 892 S. Cooper.
We’ve learned something about The Commercial Appeal’s management this week: They don’t think much of gay people. The newspaper won’t take sexual enhancement ads on the grounds that some readers might be offended. But it will run full page advertorials — advertisements that look like articles — warning readers of the homosexual agenda to seduce and convert heterosexual children, as it did last Sunday when it ran an ad titled "The Whole Truth About Homosexuality."
CA Editor Chris Peck issued this written response to complaints about the anti-gay ads: "The Commercial Appeal fully supports the rights of people to express opinions, even opinions we or others might find objectionable. This right to express opinion is fundamental to a free press and the First Amendment. And it's why we accept advertising that doesn't necessarily reflect our newspaper's editorial page positions. In relation to homosexuality, the newspaper editorial board actively has opposed any kind of discrimination based on race, gender, or sexual orientation, and will continue to do so. These two core principles will continue to guide us as we consider future advertising and news coverage."
Compare Peck’s defense to comments by the CA’s president and publisher George Cogswell from the article “Certain Ads Declined,” published July 13, 2012: “The Commercial Appeal has stopped accepting ads from a national vendor whose products are promoted as sexual enhancements.
"While the products are legal and protected under free speech laws, we recognize the sensibilities of those who find the ads to be of questionable taste," said George H. Cogswell III, president and publisher. "We have made the decision to discontinue publishing the ads out of respect for our readers."
What can be concluded by the fact that the CA refuses some ads because they may offend valued readers but accepts ads that make Jim Crow-style accusations that an entire group of people are engaged in conspiracy and perversion?
In response to a full-page, anti-gay ad that ran in The Commercial Appeal last week, a group of LGBT advocacy organizations have begun a food drive for the Mid-South Food Bank.
The anonymous organization behind the ad, known only as Memphis Churches of Christ, reportedly paid around $15,000 for the spot. Rather than raise money to buy a pro-equality, counter-ad, a handful of LGBT groups are asking supporters to make a donation to the food bank.
"The content of the ads is deeply offensive, but I remain a firm believer in the First Amendment right to free speech. While this group is entitled to say what they want, most people reject the divisiveness of the ad's message because they support inclusion, fairness, decency, equality and diversity in Memphis," said Jonathan Cole of the Tennessee Equality Project. "It's hard to watch churches and other religious organizations spending tithes and church offerings on hateful advertising rather than benefit their church members or assist those living in poverty in our city."
"Our organizations have criticized churches who spend money to demean us by suggesting that they focus on caring for the poor and feeding the hungry," said Will Batts, executive director of the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center. "In response to recent attacks on our community, we're putting our money where our mouths are and the mouths of those who go hungry. We shall meet hatred with love for our friends and neighbors."
They are calling on people to make donations of food or money by November 9th. Donations may be made online. Food may be dropped off at the Mid-South Food Bank at 239 S. Dudley between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday or 8 a.m. to noon on Friday.
Needed items include canned meats (tuna, stews, chicken and dumplings, chili, Spam), soups, peanut butter, canned fruits, canned veggies, canned 100% fruit juice, and any non-perishable item. No glass containers are accepted.