The Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) will host a marriage equality rally on August 31st at First Congregational Church from 7 to 9 p.m. as a response to the state legislature’s declaration of Traditional Marriage Day.
“Our state legislature declared Traditional Marriage Day for August 31st, but it’s a rather unique idea to us because, since we have a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Tennessee, every day in the state is Traditional Marriage Day,” said Skip Ledbetter, chair for TEP’s Memphis chapter.
“We wanted to do something as an alternative where we could recognize couples who have been together here for years but the state doesn’t view them as traditional couples. We want to celebrate their relationships and raise awareness of the hurdles they’ve faced in those relationships,” Ledbetter said.
The event, which is free and open to the public, will feature attorneys who will offer advice to couples on what limited protections they’re afforded without being married, such as medical power-of-attorney and the creation of wills and estates. They’ll also have a roundtable discussion on voting rights and upcoming elections in Tennessee.
The 16th annual Outflix Film Festival kicks off on September 6th, but you can catch a sneak peek of film trailers at the Outflix Preview Party on Thursday, August 29th at 6 p.m. at the Pumping Station.
In addition, the party includes a tribute to Bill Kendall, the local art cinema pioneer, who passed away earlier this year, and a screening of James Franco's Interior. Leather Bar.
There will be wine served in the lobby at 6 p.m., and the film program begins at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10. Click here for more information.
Prison Break star Wentworth Miller, who plays Michael Scofield on the series, recently came out in a letter posted to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) website declining an invitation to the Saint Petersburg International Film Festival in Russia due to that country's anti-gay legislation banning "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations."
Although Miller was born in England while his father, Wentworth Miller II, was studying at Oxford, Miller has family ties in Memphis. He's the great-grandson of Dr. Greene Forte Pinkston, one of the first African Americans to practice medicine in Memphis. Pinkston was the grandson of freed Mississippi slaves and died in 1963.
Wentworth Miller was in Memphis for a 2007 family reunion of Pinkston's descendants. Miller was named "sexiest deep thinker" by People Magazine in 2007.
T-dances, which were once popular as end-of-the-weekend LGBT dance parties, are making a big comeback in Memphis.
Grawemeyer's began holding Sunday T-dances a few months ago, and now Ink Lounge in Cooper-Young has jumped on the retro T-Dance bandwagon.
DJ Nathan Ashby spins every Sunday at Ink, which offers drink specials from 3 to 6 p.m.
The monthly Cherry event will honor the end of summer with a "white party" at Side Street Grill's Magnolia Room on Saturday, August 24th at 9:30 p.m.
In case you don't know, a "white party" just means the guests are expected to wear white clothing. As always, there will be a burlesque show featuring Kitty Wompas, Kissame Suga, Foxy Fairmont, and Lady Doo Moi. Julie Wheeler is the party's host, and DJ Willow will provide tunes for dancing.
Underground Art will be giving away a $125 gift certificate to one lucky party-goer. Admission is $10, but there is VIP seating available for $20 per person.
Two local gay couples asked the Shelby County Clerk's Office for marriage licenses on Wednesday morning, only to be turned away because Tennessee doesn't allow gay marriage.
"They said they don't do them yet," said Aaron Thompson, one half of a couple who applied on Wednesday.
The couples, who participated in the action with the backing of the Tennessee Equality Project, expected to be turned away. The action was a symbolic way to show that gay couples in the state want the opportunity to get married and have the same rights as straight couples.
"I think everybody realizes that something is coming down the pike," Thompson said. "We just have to start stepping up and doing something. The first step is to get turned down."
Thompson and his husband Chris Snow married in Washington D.C. three years ago, but Thompson said they are "looking for the state of Tennessee to recognize [our marriage]." The men have been a couple for 13 years.
Thompson said they want the right to make medical decisions for one another at the hospital, a right that straight married couples have. And they'd like Tennessee to recognize their marriage for tax reasons.
"It's such a big commitment to have this piece of paper that says we are family," Snow said.
Amy Barton and her fiancee Lyndsay Gray were also turned down for a marriage license. The couple are planning a commitment ceremony in Arkansas, where many of their friends and family live, for October 2014. Like Tennessee, Arkansas also has a state ban on gay marriage.
Barton has three teenagers from a previous marriage, and she said she'd like for Gray to be their legal stepmother.
"We want to be a true structural unit. If something happened to me and I was in the hospital, I don't know if she'd have access to me and the kids," Barton said.
Collegedale, suburb of Chattanooga with a population of around 8,000 people, became the first town in Tennessee to approve benefits for same-sex spouses of government employees.
According an article in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Collegedale's five-member governing commission passed the measure on Monday night with four "yes" votes. The lone dissenting vote came from Collegedale's Mayor John Turner. The charge to change the town's policy was led by detective Kat Cooper, who married her wife in Maryland this past spring.
Read the full story at the Times Free Press.
The following obituary for GLBT equality advocate (and occasional MemphisFlyer.com commenter) Allen Cook was written by Memphis historian Vincent Astor. Cook passed away on Saturday, August 3rd:
Allen Cook and his partner of over 30 years John Stilwell have been central to the GLBT community of Memphis since the early 1980s. Allen and John took over production of Gaze newspaper shortly after its founding and co-founded its successor the Triangle Journal News in 1990, which they published until 2005.
Allen was part of the Memphis Gay Coalition, the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Switchboard, and the Gay Speakers Bureau of the 1980s. He was also on the founding board of the Aid to End AIDS Committee (now Friends For Life) and was instrumental in bringing the national fund-raiser HeartStrings to Memphis. At the time of his death, he was survived by his partner, John Stilwell, and two siblings. He and John have been perfect examples of altruism in their community service throughout the years.
Allen donated his body to Medical Education and Research Institute of Memphis (MERI). An online memorial may be found here on findagrave.com. A memorial service is in the planning stages at this time.
Allen Cook's memorial service will be held August 18th at 4pm at Holy Trinity Church, 685 South Highland at Spottswood.
The Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center opened its doors to offer a safe space for LGBT Memphians at its 892 S. Cooper location way back in 2003.
This Saturday, August 3rd from 3 to 7 p.m., the MGLCC is celebrating its 10th anniversary at that location with a party for its Cooper-Young neighbors and friends of the center. They'll have food, a DJ, and balloon artists and face painting for the kids. The open house-style event is a chance for the community to meet with MGLCC staffers and volunteers.
All families and straight allies are welcome, and the party isn't only for Cooper-Young residents. From the event invite: "Even if you're not a Cooper-Young'er, please come out and share our big day. We love you all!"