For 10 years, the Tennessee Equality Project has been lobbying for equal rights in the state, and over the decade, the organization has garnered a number of wins, including the passage of non-discrimination ordinances in Memphis and Shelby County and several other Tennessee cities.
TEP will be celebrating 10 years during its annual Ice Cream Social this Sunday, July 20th at Neshoba Church (7350 Raleigh Lagrange). For $10 per individual or $25 per family, guests can enjoy all the ice cream they can eat.
For the kids, Magic Mr. Nick will be onsite twisting up balloon animals and swords.
For more information or to RSVP, check out the event's Facebook page.
On Sunday, July 20th at 6 p.m., Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, will speak at the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC) about the need for trans-inclusive equality legislation.
Keisling, a transgender woman and parent, founded the National Center for Transgender Equality in 2003. She is a graduate of Penn State University. She did her graduate work on American government at Harvard. Keisling has almost 25 years of professional experience in social marketing and opinion research.
Buzzfeed posted a lengthy article by Wyatt Williams yesterday chronicling Oxford, Mississippi chef John Currence's recent Big Gay Mississippi Welcome Table dinner in New York City.
You can read the full article here, but here's a little background. Last month, the James Beard Award-winning chef from Oxford's acclaimed City Grocery restaurant was invited by Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant to cook in New York City for a lunch meeting between the Mississippi Development Agency (MDA) and site selectors for major corporations. The goal of the luncheon was to woo these corporations to move some or all of their operations to Mississippi.
But Bryant had recently signed into law Mississippi's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which went into effect on July 1st and provides "that state action shall not substantially burden a person’s right to the exercise of religion.” Critics of the bill fear it will be used to protect business owners who choose to discriminate against LGBT customers by claiming that serving those customers would violate their religious freedom.
Currence has been outspoken about the bill. In a New York Times article, Currence was quoted as saying, "The law sends a terrible message about the state of consciousness in the state of Mississippi. We are not going to sit idly by and watch Jim Crow get revived in our state.”
But rather than turn down Bryant's invitation to cook for the MDA dinner in New York City, Currence went through with lunch. But he, Memphis chef Kelly English, and a handful of other celebrity chefs scheduled a protest dinner called the Big Gay Mississippi Welcome Table the next day in New York City. The Buzzfeed story recounts that affair (hint: Morgan Freeman made an appearance) in splendid detail.
According to Williams' story, when Bryant got word of Currence's Big Gay Welcome Table, he wasn't pleased. Here's an excerpt:
The response from the governor’s office was swift. The morning the news broke about the Big Gay Mississippi Welcome Table, Currence said, “I got a phone call, a dressing down by the governor’s office — they wanted to know why I would embarrass the governor like this. And then it fucking dawned on me: You assholes don’t fucking talk to me like a sixth-grader in the principal’s office, I’m a 50-year-old man. More to the point, I’m on the right fucking side of this thing. All you assholes have to do is come to dinner.”
For the first time since the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the entire military will be celebrating LGBT pride month this year. But it's the second year for a pride celebration at the naval base in Millington. In fact, the Millington base was the first-ever command outside of the Pentagon to host an LGBT Pride Month event last year.
June is nationally recognized as LGBT pride month, although the official city celebration isn't held until October. But on Thursday, June 26th, Naval Support Activity (NSA) Mid-South will host their second annual "Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Month" event at 12:30 p.m. at the Helmsman Club on-base.
The keynote speaker will be retired Master Chief Petty Officer Tim R. McVeigh, the first active duty military member to succeed in judicially challenging his “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” removal. The celebration will also recognize the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Vocalists from the Navy Band Mid-South will perform.
The event will take place inside the gated installation, so it is only open to military members.
Whether you're the quiet silent auction type or an aggressive bidder in live auctions, Outbid has an auction for you.
The annual fund-raiser for Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC), now in its third year, will feature a silent auction at 6:30 p.m. and a live auction at 7:30 p.m. Plus, there will be food from Off the Square Catering, cocktails, and live jazz by the Randy Ballard Jazz Collective.
The event takes place at Opera Memphis (6745 Wolf River Greenway) on Saturday, June 21st. Tickets are $50 for singles, $90 for couples, and $350 for a table of eight.
All the single ladies (who like ladies) call Memphis home, according to the Vocativ's first-ever Queer Index, which puts Memphis in the number-one slot for highest number of single lesbians.
The index looked at 100 U.S. cities and ranked them on LGBT-friendliness, fewest hate crimes, number of LGBT businesses, and even availability of hook-ups.
Memphis didn't appear to make any other lists, as far as we can tell. Los Angeles was the most LGBT-friendly city, but Chattanooga, the only Tennessee city to place in the top 35, came in at number 21.
If you're looking for a hook-up, New York is the place to go since the Big Apple topped both the "Hottest for Hook-ups" list and the "Easiest to Pay for a Lay" list. Providence, Rhode Island has the fewest hate groups, and Chattanooga ranked again for having the highest number of LGBT politicians. New York and L.A. have the most gay bars, and Chicago has the most influential LGBT media.
The Queer Index sources 32 data sets publicly available online (deep web, open databases, public sites and social network) to analyze the above-mentioned lifestyle metrics, according to a press release from Vocativ.
The monthly "Cherry" party for lesbians and their friends is closing out Memphis In May with "Memphis In Gay."
The party kicks off at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 31st at Earnestine & Hazel's and will feature burlesque and drag performances by Requi Emma, Macc Onner, Kissame Suga, Will Ryder, and Goldie Davenport. Shows will begin at 9 and 10:30 p.m., and in between performances, there will be dancing to the jukebox and an impromptu ghost tour.
Each summer, Outflix screens campy and classic films to raise money for the Outflix Film Festival to be held in September. This year's Summer Film Series kicks off on Thursday, May 29th with a "Summer Camp" theme. Each film is $10 and screens at Malco's Studio on the Square. Tickets may be purchased online or at the door.
* Thursday, May 29th, 7 p.m. - Wigstock
This 1995 documentary takes viewers on a trip to Wigstock, the drag music festival in New York's East Village, which featured performances by RuPaul, Crystal Waters, Deee-Lite, and others.
* Wednesday, June 11th, 7 p.m. - Mildred Pierce
This 1945 film noir starring Joan Crawford tells the story of a long-suffering mother and her ungrateful daughter.
* Thursday, June 19th, 7 p.m. - Hairspray
This 1988 John Waters film stars Ricki Lake as Tracy Turnblad, a young woman who defies the rules of 1960s racial segregation through dance.
* Thursday, June 26th, 7 p.m. - Kinky Boots
This 2005 musical by Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein follows the story a strait-laced shoe factory owner who partners with a drag queen to save his struggling business.
Farmer Brandon Pugh is hosting a "Queer Dineer" (the misspelling is intentional) at his Delta Sol Farm in Proctor, Arkansas to benefit the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center and Slow Food Memphis.
Chef Brown Burch will prepare the meal, which will be paired with locally sourced beer and a curated selection of handcrafted dry rosé from Oregon, Washington, and France by Michael Hughes. The region's top drag queens will provide the entertainment.
Attendees are asked to dress in their "best country realness" (i.e. dress for warm weather and mud). Tickets are $75. Memphis residents can spend an extra $20 to take the "gay ride," transportation from Memphis to Proctor and back, but that service will only be provided if 20 people sign up for the ride.
Chef Kelly English is hosting a cocktail party at Restaurant Iris to raise money for the Tennessee Equality Project's Political Action Committee on Sunday, May 18th from 5 to 7 p.m.
English will prepare hors d'oeuvres, and the bartenders will create special cocktails for the event. Funds raised will go to help TEP support candidates who support LGBT equality and safe school legislation to prevent bullying of LGBT students.
Tickets are $50 per person or $90 per couple and may be purchased at the door.
Kelly has been an outspoken supporter of LGBT equality. He's also headlining at the Big Gay Mississippi Welcome Table Dinner in New York City on June 13th, along with chefs John Currence of Oxford's City Grocery and Art Smith, who owns restaurants from Chicago to Atlanta. The chefs are joining forces to oppose Mississippi's version of the "Turn the Gays Away" bill, which would enable businesses and individuals to refuse services to LGBT citizens on the grounds of religious freedom. Read more about that dinner on Hungry Memphis.
A similar bill was killed in committee in Tennessee earlier this year. Senator Brian Kelsey introduced the bill (and later withdrew his sponsorship), and at the time, English made headlines when he put a message on Facebook offering to host a fund-raiser dinner for anyone who would run against Kelsey in the next election.
Back in 2009, Shane Trice, who owned the popular LGBT nightclub Backstreet and several other gay bars, was arrested, and his club was shuttered after undercover Memphis Police officers say they witnessed illegal drug sales, illegal alcohol sales, and gambling inside the club on at least six occasions.
Trice owned two other bars in Memphis — Metro and Mary's — and they remained open for awhile after Backstreet's closure. But eventually, Trice closed both bars and left town. Now there is a warrant for Trice's arrest in Florida, issued by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. Trice is accused of opening credit cards and cell phone accounts using former employees' social security numbers and dates of birth.
A group of Chattanoogans have launched a petition drive to recall City Councilman Chris Anderson, who represents District 7 in Chattanooga. Anderson is the first openly gay councilman in the East Tennessee city.
Those behind the recall effort, led by Chattanoogan Charles Wysong, say Anderson hasn't represented his constituents' interests, but Anderson believes the recall is related to his sexuality. According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, "Wysong has been an outspoken opponent of the City Council's decision to extend benefits to the domestic partners of city employees, a measure sponsored by Anderson."
Anderson has filed a lawsuit challenging the Tennessee statute and the Chattanooga city ordinance on recalling council members.
The Rincon Strategy Firm in Memphis will host a fund-raising dinner at Rizzo’s Diner (106 E. G.E. Patterson) on Wednesday, April 30th from 5 to 7 p.m. The cost per person is $150, which goes toward Anderson's fight against the recall.
For more information, email Liz Rincon.
This month's Cherry party, billed as a "lezzie shindig," will feature burlesque performers from three cities.
On Saturday, April 26th at Side Street's RedBar, Memphis performers LadyDoo Moi, Macc Onner (with Boi-lesque), and Kissame Suga will join Bre Von Buxx Xom and Spyke Styletto from Little Rock and Mimi Magnolia from Hot Springs, Arkansas.
As usual, Julie Wheeler will host the event. And there will be giveaways. Doors open 8 p.m., and shows start at 9 and 10:30 p.m. General admission is $10, and VIP admission is $20.
On Thursday, April 24th, participating area restaurants have pledged to donate a portion of their sales from the day to Friends for Life, which provides food, housing, education, and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS. Friends for Life also offers free HIV testing.
Here's a list of restaurants taking part in the annual national "Dining Out for Life" event. Some are giving a portion sales from all meals, and others are opting to give from just lunch or just dinner sales.
Chez Philippe — Donating 100% Dinner
The Elegant Farmer — Donating 50% Dinner
Grawemeyer's — Donating 50% Lunch, Dinner
Imagine Vegan Cafe — Donating 50% Lunch, Dinner
Rizzos Diner — Donating 50% Dinner
Stone Soup Cafe and Market — Donating 50% Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch
Alchemy — Donating 25% Dinner
Amerigo — Donating 25% Dinner
Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen — Donating 25% Dinner
Bari Ristorante — Donating 25% Dinner
Bayou Bar and Grill — Donating 25% Lunch
Beauty Shop Restaurant — Donating 25% Dinner
Bogie's Deli — Donating 25% Lunch
Cafe' Eclectic-Midtown — Donating 25% Lunch
Cafe' Society — Donating 25% Lunch, Dinner
Celtic Crossing — Donating 25% Lunch, Dinner
Cooper St. 20/20 — Donating 25% Dinner
Cozy Corner BBQ — Donating 25% Dinner
Felicia Suzanne's — Donating 25% Dinner
The Four Way Restaurant — Donating 25% Dinner
The Green Beetle — Donating 25% Lunch
Hog and Hominy — Donating 25% Lunch, Dinner
McEwen's Memphis — Donating 25% Dinner
Mollie Fontaine Lounge — Donating 25% Dinner
Molly's La Casita — Donating 25% Dinner
Mulan Asian Bistro — Donating 25% Lunch
R.P. Tracks — Donating 25% Lunch, Dinner
Restaurant Iris — Donating 25% Dinner
SkiMo's — Donating 25% Dinner
Central BBQ (Central) — Donating 10% Dinner
Central BBQ (Downtown) — Donating 10% Dinner
Central BBQ (Summer) — Donating 10% Dinner
Next Door — Donating 10% Dinner
Southward Fare and Libations — Donating 10% Dinner
Sweet Grass — Donating 10% Dinner
Tennessee Equality Project's (TEP) monthly meeting for April will feature representatives from the FBI in a presentation about hate crimes.
The FBI representatives will talk about federal hate crimes law, outline the process for reporting a hate crime, share contacts for the local FBI office, and answer any questions from the audience. Sexual orientation and gender identity were added to federal hate crimes law in 2009 with the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
Also at the meeting, candidates running for local office will have a chance to introduce themselves.