Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tracy Morgan Cancels Tunica Show Over Anti-Gay Mississippi Law

Posted By on Tue, Apr 19, 2016 at 1:45 PM

Tracy Morgan
  • Tracy Morgan

Comedian Tracy Morgan announced that he's canceling his upcoming appearance at the Horseshoe Casino in Tunica due to Mississippi's new law allowing for discrimination against LGBT people.

Morgan was supposed to perform on Friday, April 29th. He released the following statement on Tuesday afternoon:
"Tracy did not make this decision lightly. He very much looks forward to rescheduling his tour dates in the area after the ‘Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,’ is either repealed or heavily amended."
Horseshoe Casino said refunds will be made available for those who'd already purchased tickets.

Earlier this month, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed the law that allows churches, religious charities, and privately held businesses to decline services to LGBT people if doing so would violate their religious beliefs.

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Anti-Transgender Bathroom Bill Dead ... Again

Posted By on Mon, Apr 18, 2016 at 9:17 PM

The Tennessee bill that would have prevented transgender students in public high schools and universities from using the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity is dead again. 

House sponsor, Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet) announced on Monday that she would roll the bill over to next year.

It's the second time in less than a month that the bill has been killed. In late March, the bill was sent to summer study, but proponents managed to get it back up for consideration and a House committee voted 8-4 to reverse the decision to send the bill to summer study.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has expressed concerns about the bill, citing that the state may lose federal education funding if it goes into law. And an opinion by State Attorney General Herbert Slatery issued last week backed up Haslam's concerns that the state could lose millions in federal funding if the bill was passed. Across the country, as states have considered such bills, major companies, such as Coca-Cola, the NFL, and Delta Air Lines, have raised concerns about discrimination. In Tennessee, CMT (Country Music Television) has issued a statement against the bill.

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Gay-Straight Alliances for Shelby County Schools

Posted By on Mon, Apr 18, 2016 at 2:46 PM

The Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC) has arranged two meetings this week for students, parents, and community partners interested in starting gay-straight alliances (GSAs) in Shelby County Schools (SCS).

Both meetings will feature a representative from the national GSA Network, as well as SCS and MGLCC staff.

The first meeting, which is designed for community partners (LGBT groups, supportive religious organizations, etc.), is Tuesday, April 19th at 6 p.m. at MGLCC (892 S. Cooper). 

The second meeting will be at Church Health Center Wellness (1115 Union) on Wednesday, April 20th at 6:30 p.m. That meeting is designed for parents, students, and families.


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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Tennessee House Revives Anti-Transgender Bathroom Bill

Posted By on Wed, Apr 6, 2016 at 10:14 PM

House Republican Susan Lynn is sponsoring the anti-transgender bathroom bill.
  • House Republican Susan Lynn is sponsoring the anti-transgender bathroom bill.
A state bill that would prevent students at Tennessee public schools and universities from using the restroom or locker room that matches their gender identity was brought back to life Wednesday afternoon by the House Education Administration and Planning Committee.

The bill essentially failed two weeks ago when it was sent to summer study, but proponents of the bill managed to get it back up for consideration. The committee voted 8-4 to reverse the decision to send the bill to summer study. The bill will now move on to the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has expressed concerns about the bill, citing that the state may lose federal education funding if it goes into law. Across the country, as states have considered such bills, major companies, such as Coca-Cola, the NFL, and Delta Air Lines, have raised concerns about discrimination. In Tennessee, CMT (Country Music Television) has issued a statement against the bill.

“Tennessee lawmakers must not be paying attention to North Carolina and the national backlash caused by a similar legislative attack on transgender people,” said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin. “In addition to undermining Tennessee’s economy, this vicious and appalling measure would needlessly jeopardize millions in federal funding for Tennessee’s schools and universities in an attempt to force local administrators and teachers to discriminate against transgender students — young people who already face high rates of harassment, bullying, and discrimination.”

The Tennessee House also passed a bill on Wednesday that would allow counselors to deny treatment to patients based on religious beliefs. That bill is heading to Haslam's desk for a signature.

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Monday, March 28, 2016

MGLCC Conducts LGBTQ Census

Posted By on Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 4:28 PM

The Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC) has launched a census project to help them get a more accurate picture of the LGBTQ community. 

The anonymous survey asks questions about sexual orientation, gender identity, how comfortable a person is being "out" to family, co-workers, faith communities, etc. It also surveys participants on what LGBTQ issues are most important to the Mid-South community (i.e. making Memphis safer for trans people, preventing school bullying of LGBTQ students, housing LGBTQ homeless youth, etc.).

The survey will be available through April 8th online. Those who would rather fill out a paper copy may do so at MGLCC (892 S. Cooper) during regular business hours (Monday-Friday 2 p.m. – 9 p.m.).


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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Cherry Hula Burlesque Show

Posted By on Thu, Mar 24, 2016 at 1:42 PM

Spring may have just arrived, but it's already summer at Cherry — the monthly party for lesbians and their friends.

This month's installment — Hula Burlesque — will feature performances by burlesque, belly, and drag performers Kitty Wompas, Fatima Fox, Will Ryder, and Delilah, and as always, it's hosted by comedian Julie Wheeler. Cherry will be held at 5 Spot behind Earnestine & Hazel's on Saturday, March 26th, and shows begin at 9:30 and 11 p.m. 

There will be a limbo contest for VIP tickets to the next month's party. General admission is $10, and VIP tickets are $20.


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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Anti-Transgender Bathroom Bill Killed For Now

Posted By on Tue, Mar 22, 2016 at 12:07 PM

A Tennessee bill that would have prohibited transgender students at public schools and universities from using the restrooms that correspond with their gender identity has been sent to summer study, meaning it's essentially dead.

The Tennessee House Education Administration & Planning Committee voted to send HB2414 to study after the Tennessee General Assembly Fiscal Review Committee issued a fiscal note that stated, if passed, “federal funding to the state for education could be jeopardized.” Governor Bill Haslam has also expressed that the bill could endanger federal education funding. The state received $1 billion in federal funding for secondary and post-secondary education in this fiscal year.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee applauded the bill's death.

“We applaud the House Education Administration & Planning Committee’s vote to stop this discriminatory bill from advancing any further," said Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee. "The powerful voices of transgender students and their families who spoke out against this bill truly increased understanding of what it means to be transgender and moved legislators to recognize that this legislation was extremely harmful. Every child in Tennessee deserves to be treated with respect and dignity, which is why today’s vote is so important as we work to move Tennessee forward and ensure that all Tennessee children are treated equally under the law.”

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Tennessee House Advances Anti-Transgender Bathroom Bill

Posted By on Wed, Mar 16, 2016 at 1:33 PM

Susan Lynn
  • Susan Lynn
A bill that would prevent transgender students from using the restroom that matches their gender identity passed a Tennessee House subcommittee on Tuesday afternoon and is up before the Senate education committee on Wednesday.

The bill would apply to students at public grade schools and universities, and the gender restrictions would extend to locker rooms as well.

Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has stated opposition to the bill, but it's being pushed by ultra-conservatives Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet) and Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville).

Similar legislation was passed in South Dakota last month, but it was vetoed by their Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard.

"The Tennessee House of Representatives education and planning subcommittee showed ... that they only care about cis-gender students and not trans students," said Victoria Hester, an opponent of the bathroom bill who observed the subcommittee meeting on Tuesday. "It goes to show how much lack of understanding and hate there is in this state in regards to transgender and gender non-binary individuals. A very sad day."

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Trans*cend Shares Stories of Transgender Memphians

Posted By on Thu, Mar 10, 2016 at 2:55 PM

Elaine Blanchard
  • Elaine Blanchard
Storyteller and writer Elaine Blanchard has spent the past couple months meeting with a handful of transgender and gender-fluid Memphians, collecting their personal stories of coming out and day-to-day life in Memphis.

She and a professional cast will be acting out those stories this weekend in her original show, Trans*cend. The show will take place Saturday, March 12th, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, March 13th, at 2 p.m., at TheatreSouth (1000 S. Cooper) inside First Congregational Church. Admission is $10.

will be dedicated to Duanna Johnson, a transgender woman who was brutally beaten by Memphis police officer Bridges McRae in February 2008. McRae pled guilty to a civil rights violation in federal court for the beating. But Johnson was found fatally shot in November 2008 in a yet-unsolved case.

Memphis film-maker Shelby Fuller Elwood will be filming the play for a documentary on the process of making Trans*cend.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Pageant: The Musical

Posted By on Wed, Mar 9, 2016 at 2:11 PM

Pageant: The Musical, a beauty pageant-based show featuring six contestants (all played by men in drag), opens at Circuit Playhouse this weekend.

In the show, the contestants are competing for the title of Miss Glamouresse in the categories of best swimsuit, talent, gown, and spokesmodel, and since the judges are selected from the audience, no two performances are the same.

Pageant runs March 11th through April 9th, but there will be a special preview show on Thursday, March 10th benefitting the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center's youth services programming. 

Tickets to that fundraising performance are $45, and that includes a cocktail hour reception from 7 to 8 p.m. The show begins at 8 p.m. that night. For tickets to that performance, go here.

For ticket prices and time for the show's regular run, check out the Playhouse on the Square website.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

MGLCC Receives Grant to Expand HIV Testing, Programs

Posted By on Tue, Mar 8, 2016 at 1:04 PM

Elton John
  • Elton John
The Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC) has received a $75,000 grant from the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation to expand the center's HIV testing and outreach efforts.

The local grant is part of $330,000 in grant funds awarded to organizations that fight HIV/AIDS across the South.

“The U.S. South is the global epicenter of the AIDS crisis – driven by discrimination, rampant economic inequality, and a lack of access to quality healthcare,” said EJAF Chairman David Furnish. “Our two foundations realize the urgency of this crisis. With these grants, we’re supporting the advocacy and action that will, once and for all, change the course of this epidemic.”

MGLCC will use the funds to launch the Memphis SYNAPSE Project, which will reach out specifically to gay, bisexual, and transgender African-Americans. That project will allow the MGLCC to begin providing at-home HIV tests for those who need them. Previously, the testing was only available at the center. The project also includes the launch of Healthy Relationships, an evidence-based intervention for HIV-positive people. The grant funds will also go toward PSAs announcing the SYNAPSE program.

MGLCC will also be able to hire two new staff members with the funding, and it will support the launch of "Bold and Beautiful," a support group for transgender women.

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Tennessee House Passes Anti-Marriage Equality Resolution

Posted By on Thu, Mar 3, 2016 at 1:12 PM

Susan Lynn
  • Susan Lynn
The Tennessee House of Representative has passed a resolution expressing disagreement with the U.S. Supreme Court's Obergefell v. Hodges decision — the case that cleared the way for legal same-sex marriage across the country last summer.

The resolution, which was sponsored by Representative Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet), passed in a 73-18 vote. It has no legal force, and Representative Mike Stewart (D-Nashville) called the resolution a waste of time. Representative Sherry Jones (D-Nashville) tried to tack on a resolution that would have required the state to pay any legal fees associated with lawsuits against local governments that refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but that amendment failed.

Here's the Tennessee Equality Project response to the resolution's passage (first published in the Nashville Scene):
TEP condemns House passage of HJR529 today on the House floor. Though it has no legal force, the resolution insults the LGBT community with yet another vote on something that should not be voted on, namely, basic rights. The resolution furthermore celebrates lawsuits against local governments in our state, which will take up the time of county clerks and the resources of taxpayers. Yet, the Legislature refused an amendment by Rep. Sherry Jones, which would have required the state to pay for legal costs associated with the lawsuits. Legislative attacks on Tennessee's LGBT community have become desperate and bizarre.
Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet—the resolution’s sponsor—said it supports strange lawsuits like the one from the Family Action Council claiming the state’s marriage law is invalid now because of Obergefell and seeking to force county clerks to stop giving marriage licenses to gay or straight couples.
On March 8th, the House Education Administration and Planning Subcommittee will consider an anti-transgender bill that bars public school students from using bathrooms or showers that correspond to their gender identities. 

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Brian Kelsey Drops Bill Supporting Racist, Sexist, Homophobic School Leader

Posted By on Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 12:55 PM

Douglas Wilson
  • Douglas Wilson
State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) has dropped a bill that would give school accreditation authority to the Association of Classical and Christian Schools, which was founded by a far-right religious leader who has expressed support of slavery and advocated for the exile of gays.

Douglas Wilson, the founder of that association, is perhaps best-known for co-writing a pamphlet called Southern Slavery, As It Was, which stated that "slavery produced in the South a genuine affection between the races that we believe we can say has never existed in any nation before the War or since."

When Kelsey's bill was heard in the Senate on Monday, Senator Jeff Yarbro (D-Dyersburg) questioned why Kelsey would bring forth a bill supporting the organization of a man who defended slavery. Kelsey replied, "I'm not sure of the actual person." Apparently, Kelsey hadn't done his research on Wilson. A simple Google search turns up all kinds of choice quotes from the founder of the evangelical Christ Church in Idaho.

Here's another quote from Wilson's Southern Slavery pamphlet:
“Sodomites parade in the streets, claiming that if we do not appropriate more money to study why people with foul sexual habits get sick, we are somehow violating their civil rights. Feminists, in rebellion against God, invert the order of the home established by God. They do so in a way that seeks to rob women of their beauty in submission and their security in being loved. For two decades, we have seen millions of unborn children slaughtered in abortion clinics. How did we get here, and what is the way out? The question cannot be answered fully without careful study of the War Between the States and the controversies surrounding it. Slavery was one of those controversies.”
And another anti-gay Wilson quote:
“You might exile some homosexuals, depending on the circumstances and the age of the victim. There are circumstances where I’d be in favor of execution for adultery. … I’m not proposing legislation. All I’m doing is refusing to apologize for certain parts of the Bible.”
Technically, the bill isn't dead yet, but Kelsey has said he's moved it back to the Senate Calendar Committee and isn't planning to pursue it this year. 

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Fundraiser to Benefit LGBTQ Youth Housing Project

Posted By on Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 12:25 PM

In December, the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC) announced an ambitious plan to house the city's LGBTQ homeless youth in temporary shelters fashioned from shipping containers.

“We’re going alter the containers by adding windows and doors and making them into individual living spaces with a bedroom and a bathroom,” said MGLCC Youth Services Manager Stephanie Reyes. “And we’ll have an administration building there with a classroom, where we’ll teach classes on writing a resume, nutrition, and life skills.”

Greg Utterback, who lives out of state and has only visited MGLCC one time, gave the center the funds to purchase property in Orange Mound from the Shelby County Land Bank. The shipping containers will be set up on that land, but MGLCC is still looking for donors to fund the program, which they've dubbed the Metamorphosis Project.

On Sunday, February 21st, they're having their first major fundraising event for the project. The party will be held at the Hilton Memphis (939 Ridge Lake Blvd) at 4 p.m. and will feature live music by Alex da Ponte. There will be a live auction to purchase items that will be used in the housing project. Tickets to the fundraiser are $40 for singles or $75 for couples. For more information, see the event's Facebook page.


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Friday, January 29, 2016

Cherry Does Bowie

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2016 at 12:09 PM

The monthly Cherry party, billed as a place for "freaks, queers, Burlesque dancers, and everyone else," will pay homage to the late David Bowie with its "Bowie Burlesque" show on Saturday, January 30th at Earnestine & Hazel's.

Requiemma, Will Ryder, Lady Doo Moi, and Kitty Wompas will perform their "interpretations of Bowie's genius," according to Cherry host/singer/comedian Julie Wheeler.

The Cherry party is typically in the 5 Spot behind Earnestine & Hazel's, but the show may be moved to the front room of the bar due to a scheduling conflict with a dance party.

Doors open at 8:30 p.m. and the shows are scheduled for 9:30 and 11 p.m. General admission is $10, and VIP (saved seat, signed Cherry poster) is $20.


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