Friday, July 30, 2010

Unity in the Community

Posted By on Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 1:12 PM

In early July, the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center sent out a call to artists in the hopes of finding original work by gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and straight ally folks for an upcoming show.

Work by Katie Jones
  • Work by Katie Jones

The submissions have come in, and the center is opening its doors for the "Artistic Unity" art reception this weekend. Stop in at 892 S. Cooper on Sunday, August 1st from 4 to 7 p.m. to see the show.

The show includes work by Monty Shane, Edie Love, Lily Love-Cloys, Katie Jones, Amy Jones, Seamus Lode, Linda Crowley, Jazmine Coke, Jim Brasfield, Bill Branch, Carissa Bledsoe, Kristi Bauer, Holly Ashmore, Shanti McKinnie, Johnathan Payne, Paula Kirsten Payton, Heather Pike, Ashley Porter, Julia Puckett, Le Rhodes, Shannon Rhodes, Randi Romo, Claire Ryan, Diane Thornton, Sam Viviano, Brandon Wallace, and Rosalind Wilcox.

On another arts-related note, the Emerald Theatre Company (the city's only LGBT theatre group) will hold auditions for the comedy Porn Yesterday on Monday, August 2nd at 7 p.m. at Central Christian Church (531 S. McLean).

Yes, I realize a church seems an unlikely audition venue given the play's title, but Porn Yesterday is about a gay male porn star trying to break into a legitimate acting career. The Emerald Theatre Company is seeking five males in their mid-20s to late-50s for the show, which is scheduled to run September 10th-19th at TheatreWorks. Call 828-5247 for more information about the audition.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Non-Discrimination Ordinance Advocacy Workshop

Posted By on Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at 3:34 PM

Sorry for the short notice, but the Tennessee Equality Project is hosting an advocacy workshop for the proposed non-discrimination ordinance protecting city workers at the group's monthly meeting tonight (Monday, July 26th).

At the meeting, supporters will learn talking points to use at the Memphis City Council's final reading of the ordinance on September 14th.

The Tennessee Equality Project meets at 6 p.m. at the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (892 S. Cooper).

Friday, July 23, 2010

Steve Gaines Comes Under Fire By LGBT Community

Posted By on Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 1:08 PM

Steve Gaines
  • Steve Gaines

On Tuesday, pastor Steve Gaines of Bellevue Baptist Church spoke to a city council committee in opposition to a proposed non-discrimination ordinance protecting LGBT city workers. During the meeting, he expressed concerns about how the ordinance would effect Christian businesses.

“What if a Christian childcare facility is forced to hire a man dressed like a woman?” Gaines asked (Just to clear that up, the ordinance only applies to city workers and companies that contract with the city).

But the way Gaines dealt with a past event at his church is coming back to haunt him. Back in 2006, Bellevue staff minister Paul Williams admitted to molesting his son during the 1980s. Gaines knew about Williams' indiscretion but kept it quiet for six months.

The Truth Wins Out blog had this to say about Gaines as a spokesperson for the non-discrimination ordinance opposition:

Pastor Gaines apparently decided to play the “It’s not child rape if he sez he only raped the boy once!” card. It’s amazing (but strangely, not surprising) that the man the anti-gay side has chosen as a spokesperson is more concerned about hurting gay people than protecting the innocence of the children in his congregation.

For more, check out the entire Truth Wins Out entry.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Council Members Offer Mixed Opinions on Non-Discrimination Ordinance

Posted By on Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 10:00 AM

At a city council committee meeting this morning, several council members expressed support for an ordinance protecting city employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. But it quickly became clear that a couple of more conservative council members were opposed to offering LGBT protections. Awaiting the opinion of Mayor A C Wharton's office, the council voted to move the ordinance downstairs for further discussion at the August 10th council meeting.

Janis Fullilove
  • Janis Fullilove

The ordinance's sponsor Janis Fullilove pleaded a passionate case for equal treatment of LGBT city workers, as well as employees working for companies contracting with the city. Fullilove called the need for equality at City Hall a "human issue," and praised FedEx for taking the lead by adopting a similar policy protecting their workers. She also addressed the concerns of some conservative Christians that a non-discrimination ordinance would allow transgender people to use restrooms for the opposite sex.

"I know there are a lot of people with concerns about people going to the restroom. But how many times do you go into a restroom and look into the stall and ask, what are you? A man or a woman?" Fullilove said.

She continued: "If you had a daughter or son who was gay, would you not want them to be able to work and support themselves?"

Council member Shea Flinn and Edmund Ford Jr. also expressed support. Ford also asked to amend the non-discrimination ordinance to include age, national origin, and disability. Flinn suggested that the council hold the ordinance until August 3rd to determine the opinion of Mayor Wharton's administration.

Supporters of the ordinance literally sat across the room from opponents of LGBT protections (many of them wearing "one man, one woman" stickers as if the discussion were about gay marriage). Tennessee Equality Project's Jonathan Cole, whose equality organization helped draft the ordinance, spoke on behalf of the ordinance's supporters.

"Right now, it's totally legal for the city or someone who contracts with the city to fire someone for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender," Cole said. Cole cited a few stories he'd heard about city employees being denied promotions and even fired after their employer learned their sexual orientation.

Following Cole, Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, spoke in opposition, but it seemed as though he didn't fully understand the scope of the ordinance. Gaines talked as though he believed the ordinance would affect private businesses, but it actually only affects city workers and companies who contract with the city.

"What if a Christian childcare facility is forced to hire a man dressed like a woman?" Gaines asked.

Speaking on the city contract issue, Gaines said, "I'm concerned that a Christian business owner can't do business with Memphis, Tennessee because he can't violate his own conscience."

While Gaines spoke, council person Barbara Swearengen Ware nodded her head in agreement.

"Is there a box on the application that requires people to check gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender? Then how do I know you are unless you're trying to flaunt it in my face?" Ware asked. She contended that the city didn't need this ordinance because it's already an equal opportunity employer. Council person Bill Boyd also expressed opposition to the ordinance.

Council person Jim Strickland asked Gaines if he'd support an ordinance that only protected city workers on the basis of sexual orientation, removing gender identity and expression. Gaines said he'd have to think on it, but that it would be "more palatable."

The ordinance is scheduled for discussion at the full council on August 10th.

Monday, July 19, 2010

City Council to Discuss Non-Discrimination Ordinance

Posted By on Mon, Jul 19, 2010 at 3:46 PM

Finally! Over a year after the Shelby County Commission voted to extend protections to LGBT county employees, the Memphis City Council is scheduled to discuss a similar ordinance aimed at city workers.

The Personnel, Intergovernmental, and Annexation committee will discuss the proposed ordinance Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m. The meeting (on the fifth floor) is open to the public, but keep in mind that committee meetings have limited seating space.

Expect an update on this blog after the meeting.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

MGLCC Needs Volunteers

Posted By on Thu, Jul 15, 2010 at 11:07 AM

Looking for a productive way to spend your extra time? The Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center needs a few more volunteers to help staff the LGBT resource and support center.

They'll be hosting a volunteer training session at 892 S. Cooper on Thursday, July 15 at 6 p.m. For more information, e-mail the center at

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

City Council Letter-Writing Party

Posted By on Tue, Jul 13, 2010 at 3:59 PM


Finally! The city council is set to discuss a non-discrimination ordinance protecting LGBT city employees on Tuesday, July 20th.

On Wednesday, July 14th, the Tennessee Equality Project, the equal rights group behind the proposed ordinance, is hosting a letter-writing party to encourage people to let their council representatives know they feel on the issue.

The party meets at the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center (892 S. Cooper) from 6 to 9 p.m. If you can't make the letter-writing session, feel free to stop by the center any day from 2 to 9 p.m. to pick up tips for writing city council reps. You can even leave your letter at the center for delivery.

To organize your own letter-writing party, email for tips.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Outflix Summer Film Series

Posted By on Mon, Jul 12, 2010 at 3:42 PM


The Outflix Film Festival will be screening original and contemporary LGBT films this fall, but the festival's organizers are showing the classics this summer with the launch of the Outflix Summer Film Series.

The series kicks off at Malco's Studio on the Square on Wednesday, July 14th with Some Like it Hot, the 1959 film about two struggling musicians who dress in drag to escape mobsters. Tickets are $10, and the show begins at 7 p.m. Proceeds go toward the big Outflix fest in September.

Other summer film screenings include Beautiful Thing (July 21st), Lady Sings the Blues (Aug. 11th), and Steel Magnolias (Aug. 18).

For more information on Outflix, go here.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Trans-Friendly Police Woman of Memphis

Posted By on Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 2:24 PM

This may be old news to some, but I caught last week's episode of TLC's Police Women of Memphis in the encore showing last night. In one scene, Officer Joy Jefferson schools a couple of teens who had been harassing a couple of transgender ladies in a neighborhood near Latham and East Trigg.

Officer Joy Jefferson
  • Officer Joy Jefferson

"You deserve to be comfortable and happy and on sit on your porch and rock your fuschia hair," Jefferson tells the transgender women after warning their harassers to stay away.

Jefferson calms transgender harassment victims
  • Jefferson calms transgender harassment victims

Earlier in the scene, she tells the camera person riding along in her squad car, "If you are a good person, you should always be treated with respect."

After the way former Memphis Police officer Bridges McRae handled relations with transgender police brutality victim Duanna Johnson in 2008, I guess I'd formed a negative opinion of the department's ability to deal with diversity. But Jefferson proved that some MPD officers are respectful to transgender people. Way to go, Jefferson!

Watch the scene for yourself on TLC by clicking here. The police call in question is about seven minutes into the video, but you can fast forward if you're in a hurry.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Booksigning by Angelia Sparrow

Posted By on Wed, Jul 7, 2010 at 3:03 PM


What do a World War II flying ace, a Dartmouth journalism school grad, and mummy's fingernails have in common? Not much unless you consider local author Angelia Sparrow's new LGBT romance novel The Curse of the Pharaoh's Manicurists.

Sparrow is one of seven fantasy authors participating in the annual three-day DK Con at Davis-Kidd Booksellers through July 8th. Sparrow's signing takes place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 8th.

Here's a summary of Sparrow's book from her and writing partner Naomi Brooks' website:

In the roaring '20s, Charlie Doyle, the ink still wet on his Dartmouth journalism degree, answers an ad for a job as secretary to Edward Kilsby, Lord Withycombe and renowned flying ace of the Great War. The ad leads him to expect excitement, but Charlie never expects quite so much.

When Edward is hired to find missing archaeologist Sir Alexander Spencer, Charlie is about to go for the ride of his life. A whirlwind tour of London, the Paris nightlife, a kidnapping by Edward's jilted fiancée and rival, Cairo, the Valley of the Kings, even the Orient Express all pale compared to what awaits Charlie and Edward in the tomb of Ni-ankh-khnum and Khnum-ho-tep, Overseers of the Manicurists in the Palace of the King.

But not mummies nor jilted lovers, not malaria nor Anubis himself can stop their quest...or their growing love for each other...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Calling LGBT-Friendly Artists!

Posted By on Tue, Jul 6, 2010 at 11:59 AM


The Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center is seeking original artwork by local LGBT and ally artists for its upcoming "Artistic Unity" art show.

Submissions will be accepted through July 24th, and the art show is scheduled to open on August 1st.

Interested artists should send their name, preferred artistic media, and contact information to

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Host Families Needed

Posted By on Thu, Jul 1, 2010 at 10:16 AM

Think you have what it takes to foster a displaced gay teen? It's not an easy job.

MGLCC director Will Batts counsels a teen
  • Justin Fox-Burks
  • MGLCC director Will Batts counsels a teen

Just ask Deb Word, the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center transitional housing program's first volunteer. In December, Word and her husband Steve offered to house a 19-year-old gay teen who'd been kicked out of his mother's home. Read all about the MGLCC's program and the Words' experience here.

Now the center is seeking additional host families to house gay youth ages 18 to 24 for several months. Volunteers must pass rigorous background checks. A host family training program will be held early this month.

For more information, call the MGLCC at 901-278-6422.

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