Friday, December 28, 2012

Ring In the New Year at Club Spectrum

Posted By on Fri, Dec 28, 2012 at 9:00 AM

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Club Spectrum officially opened its doors for the first time on New Year's Eve two years ago, and the club is celebrating both its anniversary and the New Year's holiday with a party on December 31st.

The first 100 guests will receive a free bottle of champagne, and all guests will receive 2013 memorabilia at the door. The club's all-star cast will perform a drag show as well.

The party starts at 8 p.m. There's a $10 cover. Spectrum is located at 616 Marshall.

For more information, check out the event's Facebook page.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Celebrate the Apocalypse After It's Over

Posted By on Wed, Dec 26, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Dru's Place is having their obligatory apocalypse-themed party a few days after the official end-of-the-world.

On December 29th, "Dru's Apocalypse" rings in the new year with a $5 beer bust and a drag show hosted by Mr. Freak Nasty. The show begins at 10 p.m. There's no cover charge. Dru's Place is located at 1474 Madison.

For more information, check out the event's Facebook page.

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center Closed During Holidays

Posted By on Fri, Dec 21, 2012 at 1:56 PM

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The Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center will be closed on the following dates so volunteers and staff can spend time with their families and friends.

Dec. 23rd - "As I Am," a discussion group for LGBT men of color, will NOT meet, but the center will be open.
Dec. 24th - Closed
Dec. 25th - Closed
Dec. 26th - Closed (and that means there will be no regularly scheduled HIV screenings)
Jan. 1st - Closed

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Q&A with Jonathan Cole

Posted By on Mon, Dec 17, 2012 at 3:19 PM

Jonathan Cole
  • Jonathan Cole

Since 2007, Jonathan Cole has been fighting for equality in various roles with the Tennessee Equality Project, the state's LGBT rights organization. From convincing the Memphis City Council to add workplace protections for city employees to lobbying against anti-gay bills in Nashville, Cole has done it all. He took out a few minutes to talk to Memphis Gaydar:

How long have you been involved with the Tennessee Equality Project?
I’ve been appointed or elected to a number of volunteer roles for Tennessee Equality Project since 2007. I was named co-chair of the Shelby County Committee in 2007 and later served as chair from 2008 until 2010. Anne Gullick is the current chair of TEP’s Shelby County Committee. I was elected to the statewide TEP Board in 2008. I’ve served as secretary, chair, and president and chair of the board. I currently serve as vice president. I’ve also served as a board member of TEP’s Political Action Committee since 2007.

What does your current VP role entail?
I coordinate TEP’s advocacy efforts in West Tennessee. I support the work of our steering committee chairs in Shelby and Madison Counties as we advance local campaigns (like last October’s employment non-discrimination ordinance in Memphis) and state-level efforts to engage the Tennessee General Assembly. Citizen engagement will be essential in opposing anti-LGBT bills in the state legislature in 2013. In the coming weeks, I will be helping to organize West Tennesseans for Advancing Equality Day on the Hill in Nashville on March 12th.

Before getting involved with TEP, what other sorts of activism were you involved in?
From 1999 until 2007, I served on and off the board of Integrity-Memphis, an LGBT advocacy group within the Episcopal Church. Most of my efforts were devoted to challenging the parishes, clergy, and the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee to become more welcoming to LGBT people and their families.

My interests turned more secular when organizing local opposition to the Marriage Discrimination Amendment to the Tennessee Constitution in 2006. Voters were asked to enshrine discriminatory language in the state constitution that year in a referendum on the November ballot. While serving on the board of the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center, I helped organize grassroots opposition to the Marriage Discrimination Amendment. We lost that battle, but the fight for equal rights for LGBT people and their families in Tennessee continues on other fronts.

You've become one of the most public faces in the local fight for LGBT equality. Did you ever imagine yourself in such a spotlight?
Not really. While I feel blessed that I can play a role in advancing equal rights for my community, my greatest hope is that new leaders will step forward to represent our diverse community. I can’t possibly represent the interests of my entire community.

How have you adjusted to that public role?
I can honestly say that nothing I’ve done would be possible without the love and support of my husband Paul. The political work that I do requires a lot of networking, community organizing, and engaging the media that happens after-hours outside my full time job. This has always meant time away from home and family. Paul helps me stay grounded in the simplest of ways whether it’s making dinner, folding my laundry, or telling me it’s okay to say “no” when that public role becomes too demanding.

What accomplishments are you most proud of from TEP?
I devoted more than five years to advancing workplace protections in Memphis and Shelby County. I am most proud of the LGBT-inclusive employment non-discrimination ordinance passed by the Memphis City Council on October 16, 2012.

We were very close to passing the ordinance in 2010, closer than most people realized. A consensus on the council was ready to pass an ordinance that would add sexual orientation to workplace protections for city employees and job applicants in 2010. But there were not enough votes to add gender identity. I knew then that we’d never get the council to add gender identity in the future if we compromised. We failed in 2010, but we came back again in 2012 to fight for an LGBT-inclusive ordinance. I’m proud that we stood together as a community until we could do the right thing.

I am also proud of the fact that TEP and its allies were able to defeat several anti-LGBT bills in the 107th Tennessee General Assembly when I was president and chair of TEP’s Board: “Don’t Say Gay,” “License to Bully” and the “Police the Potty” bills were the most prominent last year.

What is next on the horizon for the Shelby County committee?
The Shelby County Commission voted for a resolution in 2009 which offers some workplace protections for LGBT county employees and job applicants. County workers deserve the same level of protection in a non-discrimination ordinance that city employees now enjoy.

Interest is also building among city employees for domestic partner benefits for gay and lesbian couples (health insurance, family and medical leave, etc.). Our committee is ready to work with county and city employees and community supporters to advance these goals.

Memphis has come a long way in recent years, but are there areas where we still need work?
I would like to see more LGBT people running for office in local and state government in Memphis. In particular, I look forward to supporting an openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender African American for elected office. I’ll know that Memphis has arrived when that happens.

On a less serious note, what's your favorite thing about Memphis?
The people of Memphis. Southern hospitality is alive and well in this city. Memphis is the biggest small town in America. I like the fact that people speak to one another here. That doesn’t happen in bigger cities.

Where do you take out-of-town guests?
Paul and I are big foodies. We proudly expose out-of-towners to the best food that Memphis has to offer. I make sure they stay away from what I call tourist BBQ. I tell them to try Payne’s, Cozy Corner, or Central BBQ before going anywhere else. We tend to take guests to places in Midtown or Downtown where we like to eat or drink: Alchemy, Sweet Grass Next Door, Cafe 1912, Bari, Young Avenue Deli, Rizzo’s Diner, Gus’s Fried Chicken, Mollie Fontaine. We also like Acre, Andrew-Michael and Hog & Hominy in East Memphis.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Friends frequently ask me when I plan to run for office. I have no plans to do so. I think I am more effective influencing government and policy makers from the outside. I’m a social worker in my professional life who loves community organizing. I’ll probably be doing the same thing in 10 years.

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Outflix Planning Meeting

Posted By on Mon, Dec 10, 2012 at 4:10 PM

The first planning meeting for the 16th annual Outflix Film Festival, which usually takes place in September, is scheduled for Tuesday, December 11th at 7 p.m. at the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (892 S. Cooper).

No experience is needed, but a love of film is preferred.

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Rally for LGBT Workplace Protections for Federal Contractors

Posted By on Fri, Dec 7, 2012 at 1:36 PM

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Earlier this year, President Barack Obama took administrative action to see to it that benefits were provided for same-sex partners of federal employees, but those protections don't extend to federal contractors.

This weekend, the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) is hosting rallies across the state to call attention to the need for basic workplace protections for LGBT employees of companies that contract with the federal government. Benefits aside, the group is asking the president to simply bar discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for federal contractors.

The Memphis rally will take place on Sunday, December 8th from 2 to 3 p.m. at the federal building at 167 N. Main. Advocates are asked to wear purple (or if you have one, a TEP "Equal Protection for All" t-shirt). Similar rallies are also being held on Sunday in Nashville and Cookeville.

The Memphis rally is co-sponsored by Latino Memphis, First Congregational Church, Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region, the Shelby County Democratic Party, Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center, Perpetual Transition, the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, and Tennessee Friends of People's World.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Symbolic Same-Sex Benefit Resolution Passed By U of M Faculty Senate

Posted By on Wed, Dec 5, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Yesterday, the University of Memphis Faculty Senate passed a motion to draft a resolution in support of same-sex benefits for faculty. The resolution will be drafted by a five-member committee and should be reviewed by the Faculty Senate in February.

But according to Faculty Senate president Thomas Banning, the move is largely symbolic because any decision to provide same-sex benefits would have to be approved by the school administration and the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR). A similar resolution to provide same-sex benefits for faculty of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville was rejected by that school's chancellor in April. The U of M Faculty Senate also passed a motion yesterday encouraging the TBR to look into the advantages of that resolution.

Banning said the resolution will be rejected by the TBR because state law doesn't allow the university to provide same-sex benefits. He described the Faculty Senate's move to be a symbolic effort to show the faculty's support of same-sex benefits whether they're allowed under law or not.

"It's important that we recognize that trying to hire the best faculty possible means we have to be competitive with other four-year institutions," Banning said.

On a recent list of Newsweek's top 25 universities, 23 provide benefits to same-sex faculty members, Banning said.

Banning called the move a "business decision" and said the senate doesn't expect to see rapid change. Regardless, he said the university is doing what it can to show outsiders that the school is open and supportive of all students and faculty, regardless of sexual orientation.

"Speaking for the students, we have already established LGBT safe zones around campus. That is an indication that we are open, and we want the best and brightest students," Banning said.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

EEOC Commissioner To Talk About Workplace Protections for Transgender People

Posted By on Tue, Dec 4, 2012 at 1:33 PM

Chai Feldblum
  • Chai Feldblum

In April, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission issued an opinion that said any employer who discriminates against an employee or applicant on the basis of gender identity is violating the prohibition on sex discrimination contained in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

On Thursday, December 6th from 5 to 6:30 p.m., EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum will discuss the significance of that opinion at Evergreen Presbyterian Church.

The event is sponsored by the Tennessee Equality Project's Shelby County Committee and the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Holiday Art Sale and Silent Auction

Posted By on Mon, Dec 3, 2012 at 1:52 PM

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The Tennessee Equality Project Foundation and The Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center are having a Holiday Art Show and Silent Auction Fundraiser from today through December 8th.

The art and other items are currently on display and open for bids at at the MGLCC (892 S. Cooper) during regular hours (Monday-Friday, 2-9 p.m.). A closing reception is scheduled for Saturday, December 8th from 5-7 p.m. The auction closes at 6:15 p.m. on the night of the closing ceremony.

Full disclosure: A copy of my cookbook — Cookin' Crunk: Eatin' Vegan in the Dirty South — is included in the auction.

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