Friday, September 28, 2012

Choices Seeks Volunteers for Pride Festival

Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 2:28 PM

Choices Memphis Center for Reproductive Health is seeking two volunteers to staff their information booth at the Mid-South Pride Parade on Saturday, Oct. 6th at Robert R. Church Park downtown.

Although the festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Choices volunteers will only be required to work a two-hour shift. Volunteers will be handing out promotional materials and socializing with any guests who stop by the booth, but they can also walk in the pride parade with Choices if they choose.

E-mail Choices for more information.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

TEP Advocates for Equality in Unified Schools

Posted By on Wed, Sep 26, 2012 at 3:08 PM

  • Safe Schools Coalition

The Tennessee Equality Project will attend the Shelby County Board of Education meeting on Thursday, Sept. 27th to show support for a LGBT-inclusive bullying policy in the new unified school system.

Equality advocates are urged to wear purple or one of TEP's "Equal Protection for All" t-shirts.

The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. at 2485 Union.

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

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

TEP Holds Town Hall Meeting on Nondiscrimination Ordinance

Posted By on Tue, Sep 25, 2012 at 1:17 PM


Last week, the Memphis City Council passed an amendment to add "sexual orientation" to the city's nondiscrimination ordinance protecting city workers. And then the change was promptly delayed for 30 days while the council's legal team determines whether or not such a change violates the city's charter.

Memphis City Councilman Lee Harries, who proposed the change, left out "gender identity and expression," an addition that Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) members were under the impression would be included along with the addition of "sexual orientation."

Both the "gender identity" omission and the delay came as surprises to equality advocates attending the council meeting. So TEP has called a town hall meeting for Wednesday, Sept. 26th to answer questions about the delay and make a plan of action as to what the group should do next to ensure "sexual orientation" remains in the ordinance and "gender identity and expression" is added.

The meeting will be held at the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center at 892 S. Cooper at 6:30 p.m.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Weekend Events

Posted By on Fri, Sep 21, 2012 at 1:43 PM

Whether you're looking for a little lighthearted weekend fun or a serious Saturday night, there's something for everyone this weekend.

On Saturday, Sept. 22nd, Mid-South Pride is holding its second annual Mister and Miss Mid-South Pride pageant. The event, hosted by Kiera Mason and Allysun Wunderland, will feature a talent contest, a formal wear presentation, and a 60-second speech from each candidate on why he or she wants to be Mister or Miss Mid-South Pride. The event begins at 8 p.m.

Also on Saturday, Sept. 22nd, the Emerald Theatre Company will present a reading of 8, the Dustin Lance Black screenplay that chronicles Perry v. Schwarzenegger (the case that led to California's gay marriage ban). The reading begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. Call 272-0909 for reservations.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Confusion Over City Charter Leads Council to Delay Nondiscrimination Ordinance

Posted By on Tue, Sep 18, 2012 at 6:15 PM

The Memphis City Council voted 7-5 to add an amendment protecting city workers on the basis of sexual orientation to a proposal that updated the city's nondiscrimination policy to include age, disability, and national origin. But the council then voted to delay the amendment for 30 days while the council's legal department decides if the amendment is allowed under the city 's charter.

In a move that council member Janis Fullilove called a "diversion," city council attorney Alan Wade informed the council that he wasn't sure if the council adding sexual orientation was legal under the charter because he said the addition may be required as a charter amendment rather than a city ordinance.

However, Wade saw no problem with adding age, disability, and national origin, other characteristics proposed to be added by councilman Lee Harris, because those are already protected by federal law. Federal law does not protect workers on the basis of sexual orientation because the Federal Employment Nondiscrimination Act has stalled in Congress. Wade told the council, if passed, a group of citizens might have a right to sue the city for not allowing a charter referendum.

City councilman Myron Lowery, who voted in favor of adding sexual orientation, told the council it needed to act as the legislative branch of city government and vote on the issue.

"If there are ramifications after the vote, let it be. Let the courts rule on any challenge," Lowery said, evoking thunderous applause from the equality advocates in the room, most of them sporting blue shirts that read "Equal Protection for All."

City attorney Herman Morris told the council he didn't believe the body should be addressing the issue, claiming that it should be for the administration to make policy decisions. But he agreed that the charter issue needed to be researched.

Wade's opinion came as a surprise to equality advocates who showed up to support Harris' amendment to add sexual orientation. But councilwoman Wanda Halbert asked Wade to discuss the legality of making the change after several passionate speeches supporting the amendment by councilpeople Fullilove, Shea Flinn, and Harris.

County commissioner and attorney Steve Mulroy was in attendance, and upon request of several council members who supported adding sexual orientation, offered his legal advice on the matter. Mulroy, who sponsored a similar ordinance protecting LGBT workers with the Shelby County Commission in 2010, said it was his opinion that adding sexual orientation did not violate the city charter. He also spoke against delaying the amendment for 30 days because he didn't think anyone would have the standing to challenge the action of the council until a city employee actually tried to sue the city for violation of the ordinance. He called the fear of potential litigation a "bugaboo."

Equality advocates were disappointed that the amendment didn't change the city's nondiscrimination policy immediately, but the Tennessee Equality Project's Anne Brownlee Gullick remained hopeful that proponents of adding sexual orientation would mobilize even more around the issue over the next 30 days.

"The future of Memphis will not be denied," Gullick said, speaking about the next generation of Memphians who may go to work for city government.

The usual opponents of adding sexual orientation were also present. Bellevue Baptist Church pastor Steve Gaines spoke at the meeting. He told the council that he didn't believe "homosexuals deserve civil rights protections." He also claimed that passing the amendment would open the door to the "long term agenda" of the Tennessee Equality Project, which he claimed was to force all business owners to have no choice in whether or not they should hire "homosexuals."

But equality advocates showed up in greater numbers. The roster of speakers from that side included minister Davin Clemons from Cathedral of Praise and the Rev. Joseph Wallace Williams of Grace-St. Luke's Episcopal Church, who told council members that he would personally absolve them of any guilt they may feel about supporting the amendment to add sexual orientation. That drew laughs from the audience. Also representing the equal rights side were Jonathan Cole of TEP, Jacob Flowers of the Mid-South Peace & Justice Center, a member of the Memphis Fire Department officer corp, a member of disability rights group ADAPT, and Chad Johnson, the executive director of AFSCME.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Nondiscrimination Ordinance Rally

Posted By on Fri, Sep 14, 2012 at 11:26 AM


The Tennessee Equality Project is calling on local equality advocates to rally in support of a proposed LGBT-inclusive amendment to a nondiscrimination ordinance making its way through the Memphis City Council.

City employees, pastors, and other advocates are expected to speak at the rally scheduled for Sunday, September 16th at 3:30 p.m. outside the National Civil Rights Museum. TEP and its supporters are asking councilman Lee Harris to propose an amendment that would add "sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression" to a list of other characteristics that would protect city workers in an ordinance Harris proposed earlier. That ordinance has made its way through two readings and goes up for its third reading on Tuesday, September 18th.

Harris has voiced his support for the LGBT-inclusive changes, but he has not yet decided whether he will propose the amendment at Tuesday's council meeting. To read the full story, go here For more information on Sunday's rally, go here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lost In Fairyland Opens This Weekend

Posted By on Wed, Sep 12, 2012 at 11:15 AM

The "on again/off again" encounters of a young, outspoken male prostitute and an older, closeted married man are the subject of Andrew Biss' comedy/drama Lost in Fairyland.

Emerald Theatre Company's Sam Eldred and Julius Hunt star in the show, which opens on Friday, Sept. 14th at 8 p.m. and runs through Sept. 21st at TheatreWorks. Shows on Fridays and Saturdays begin at 8 p.m., and Sunday matinees are held at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for seniors and students with a valid I.D.

For more information, check out Emerald Theatre Company's website.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Outflix Film Festival

Posted By on Thu, Sep 6, 2012 at 3:50 PM

Friday (Sept. 7th) marks the start of the 15th annual Outflix Film Festival, the city's only fest dedicated to LGBT-themed films.

Much like last year's line-up, this year promises plenty in the way of international features, hard-hitting documentaries, dramas, and comedies.

Flyer film editor Chris Herrington reviewed six of the films screening at the nearly week-long festival. Call Me Kechu (a documentary on anti-gay violence in Uganda), Love Free or Die (a profile of the Episcopal church's first openly gay bishop), United In Anger: A History of Act Up (a documentary on AIDS activism in the 80s), Facing Mirrors (a documentary on being transgender in Iran), Mosquita y Mari (a look at a teenage lesbian relationship between two Latino girls), and Gayby (a comedy about a gay man and a straight woman who decide to have a baby the old-fashioned way).

From Gayby
  • From Gayby

To read Chris Herrington's take on these films, click here. And to see a full Outflix line-up, go here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mom's Corps Meeting

Posted By on Tue, Sep 4, 2012 at 2:05 PM


A new group made up of LGBTQ-supportive moms will hold its inaugural meeting tonight (Tuesday, Sept. 4th) at the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (892 S. Cooper).

The Mom's Corps — a joint venture between the Tennessee Equality Project, PFLAG, and the MGLCC — will attend public gatherings, such as city council meetings or county commission meetings, in support of equality for LGBTQ kids, friends, and family.

All interested moms are invited.

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