Out & About Today Nashville Channel 5
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Labels can feel heavy. And for me “ally” is one of those. What does that exactly mean? In some ways it makes me feel like an outside supporter of the community to which I belong. Admittedly I am a heterosexual female, yet I identify with LGBTQI culture for more important reasons than whom I prefer in my bed.
In the chosen family I have been lucky to find I am one of many who have been ostracized for living my life in a way some people I wish loved me do not understand. And I have discovered the power of a tribe of brothers and sisters who share my interests, sense of humor, and need to live out my truth.
As a writer and a woman and a human being just doing my thing, I’ve been called a “fag hag,” a “tranny chaser,” and a “breeder.” I love words and believe they only carry the energy we allow them to, so those names don’t really bother me. But I don’t enjoy being questioned about my intentions or my sexuality by people in the community as though I am an interloper who does not belong. What is the point of all of these letters we keep adding on to the definition LGBT culture if not inclusiveness? Can I not fight this skirmish for equality from the inside? Aren’t acceptance and understanding all any of us are looking for?
Meeting Margaret Ellis was enlightening to me. Like me she is a straight female artist who found inspiration, deep friendships, and a sense of belonging when she stumbled into the world of drag queens and Nashville gay nightlife. It happened for both of us when we needed to remember we were fabulous, and were ready to insist upon being loved for being ourselves.
Margaret and I are both visual artists. Her medium is photography, and I am a making a film. We are equally fascinated by gender and sexuality and community and the nature of love, and that’s what propels our work. You can call me an ally and I am proud to own that. I’m sure Margaret will carry that mantle too. But to the people in our chosen families we are both just Holly and Margaret, and there’s nothing heavy about that at all.
Hollis Hollywood: Why don't you start by telling me about your latest inspiration for the gorgeous photos of performers you've been taking
Margaret Ellis: I have been doing some art photos of what I would describe as "gender shifts." A person having a relationship with their masculine and feminine sides. I met an amazingly beautiful young man, Dylan Stephens, who was modeling as a female at Nashville Fashion Week and photographed him many times early this summer. Androgyny fascinates me and I enjoy exploring the aesthetics of it. I did a similar series of photos with my friend, Andrew Pentecost, who loves to express his drag persona, Angel Electra. My next series will feature a female model. I also recently did a portrait of DeeDee Renner (performance artist Deception), who is recovering from chemo, and wanted a picture while she was still bald. I love that picture.
Hollis Hollywood: I saw those you posted of DeeDee and her mom online, which are beautiful. Your photographs tell stories and pose questions, and it’s the individual stories of people in the community that draw me in as an artist as well. Looking at what outwardly seems like differences, whether it's gender or sexuality or a belief system or whatever, and finding the human sameness underneath.
Margaret Ellis: I love the idea of people being so fluid in their identities. I think that's why I find drag so fascinating. I love makeup and the effect it has on people. The change that takes place on stage when someone impersonates another gender is different from the change that happens when someone becomes another gender. Both fascinate me. I enjoy taking photos of drag queens more than any other subject matter. I am humbled and honored to be allowed into that world.
Hollis Hollywood: I agree and am also intrigued by the idea of chosen identity in ways other than sexuality or gender. It is connected to the concept of chosen families or communities and something you and I have both talked about discovering personally as we became involved as straight women in the gay community.
Margaret Ellis: It is interesting that you bring up the subject of family. Last night at the Miss Gay TN America pageant I was distinguished as a "Lifetime Member of the Miss Gay Tennessee Family." In 1972 when I went to the first Miss Gay America pageant, I was suddenly embraced and accepted at a time when my life when I was lonelier than I had ever been. I don't know how I would have gotten through that time without my friends in the gay community, who were definitely my family. So, to receive than award last night for what I do for the community brought it all back full circle. It meant the world to me.
Hollis Hollywood: One of the key elements of my documentary is how the AIDS epidemic in its earliest days of fear and the unknown were both devastating and transformational in the way the community banded together to get attention and answers and care. I was in high school when I remember reading an article in the Village Voice about the "gay cancer" or "gay plague" that was menacing otherwise healthy young men. How did that time affect you and your friends?
Margaret Ellis: Now we see that I am quite a bit older than you are, Hollis. I was about 35 and a regular reader of the Village Voice, which was mailed to my home in Nashville. That is how I first heard of it. I remember so well the first time I learned that someone I knew was affected. It was 1985. By the time I was in my early '40's, my friends were starting to become ill. I lost several friends to this horrible disease. It was just heartbreaking, as at that time there was no cure, and no drugs to slow down the disease. It was a death sentence, and a slow, slow one at that. We were watching men who were young and vital become like 90 years olds before our eyes. I still think of them. It concerns me that the young people of today, who have never really seen what this disease looks like, might be careless.
Hollis Hollywood: I had a Village Voice subscription too, and it was the same 1985 article I read when I was a sixteen and had discovered the underground music scene in Nashville. It was parallel but also crossed over some with the gay nightclub scene, and had the same kind of outrageousness and promiscuity and drugs going on. The Warehouse 28 was the place I danced with my friends on Friday nights, then The Cabaret became our spot for seeing drag shows. It is interesting as I research that time to understand how AIDS prevention was addressed and marketed differently to the gay and straight communities and how ineffective in general the efforts were to change public habits.
I too know kids who are careless today, and too many who are HIV positive at incredibly young ages. It's a large part of what drives my need to be an ally or speak out by telling the stories of the history of the early days of the crisis in Nashville, with the faces of the people who were loved and lost, and also those who rallied the troops and got some shit done. I interviewed The Lady Bunny for this paper and she bemoaned the lack of activism in the young people of the greater LGBT community. There is a sense I get from the Stonewall Generation that they feel unappreciated and undervalued for the sacrifices they made, the losses they endured, and the incredible strides towards awareness, acceptance and equality they achieved.
Margaret Ellis: I feel the same way about young women who take their liberties for granted. Activism is necessary until all equality is achieved. And necessary to keep the rights that are won. Look at what's happened to Roe vs Wade, for example. Or how a state can grant marriage rights, then take them away. Proposition 8’s defeat is an example of how activism can work.
I have marched for the original Civil Rights (racial equality), for women's rights, and against the wars in Vietnam and Iraq. I am now involved in what has been called the "last great civil rights struggle of our lifetime," the movement for equal rights for LGBT citizens. It is urgently important that those of us who believe that no one is free unless everyone is free take part in this movement. While I would be defined as an ally to this community, I don't think of myself as someone on the outside looking in. I think being “gay” is about a lot more than whom you sleep with.
Hollis Hollywood: I love that you brought up the topic of being called an "ally" in the gay community. It makes me feel uncomfortable to wear that label, as if I am some kind of helper from the "outside." I have loving relationships in my life that involve all kinds of people and I'm about equality, period. This isn't some kind of charitable cause I've taken up, it is an expression of what is important and of value in my life.
I could not care less what anyone else is doing in their bedroom, and what I'm doing there is none of your goddamn business. But if wearing that label makes people pay attention to the things we still need to change, then I'm ok with that.
Margaret Ellis: You rock, Ms. Hollywood.
Hollis Hollywood: Ditto, Ms. Ellis! You are totally my hero and I love you for doing this!
Photo credits: Hollis Hollywood (left) Ovvio Arte Margaret Ellis (right) self portrait
For those with a thirst to celebrate, Red Bull Unlocked is the key. In city after city, the most exciting bars, clubs, mixologists, performing artists, and more take over a local landmark building to showcase their signature ambiance while also collaborating for a must-see mashup. And now it's Music City’s turn to seize the spotlight, as the event brings 10 bars together in East Nashville’s Five Points neighborhood.
Fueled by the best of Nashville’s thriving music scene, Red Bull Unlocked has curated an eclectic night of show-stopping entertainment performances including a pop-up Whiskey Jam show, DJ sets, musicians, and more. The full lineup is here:
- Whiskey Jam (feat. Dozzi, Willie Shaw, and Johnny Hayes)
- A.B. Eastwood
- Daisha / Rap Girl
- Boom Bap (DJ Collective feat. DJ-Rate, Case Bloom)
- Whiskey Disco (DJ Collective feat. Coach, Jim O'Shea)
- Old Crow Medicine Show’s Jerry Pentercost (DJ Set)
- DJ Stretch
- DJ Griffin Green
- The Play Mates (Drag Show feat. Sasha, Vanity, Deception, Aura Mayari, Corlis Todd, and Carmin Triple C)
Counting down to the epic celebration, Daisha shares, “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to perform in so many of Nashville’s top spots all in the same night. Fans can expect a lot of bops and high energy. I want people to dance and have a good time.”
Ward Guenther, Whiskey Jam Founder, adds, “Red Bull has been enjoyed at Whiskey Jam since the very first night, so it's only fitting Whiskey Jam is enjoyed at Nashville's first Red Bull Unlocked. Looking forward to this!”
Red Bull Unlocked Istanbul
Photo courtesy of Red Bull
Local favorites including Pearl Diver, Tin Roof, Lipstick Lounge, White Limozeen, and more will join forces for one epic night. Full list of bars and partners below:
- The Dive Motel
- Lipstick Lounge
- Pearl Diver
- Play Dance Bar
- Rosemary & Beauty Queen
- The Stage
- Tin Roof
- Whiskey Jam
- White Limozeen
- Woolworth Theatre – Opening Fall 2022!
- Eleven Eleven - Opening 2023!
Date: August 21, 2022
Time: 6 PM – 11PM CT
Location: 1102 Forrest Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Entrance: Ticked event
Rumble Boxing, the boxing-inspired group fitness studio, opened its doors for the first time in Nashville on June 20 at 609 Overton St, Nashville, TN. The hottest workout on the block is hosting its official grand opening from August 4th-7th with daily classes, membership specials, and prizes from local vendors. The new Rumble Boxing studio is currently offering a buy one class, get one free promotion for the Nashville community.
Rumble Boxing delivers 45-minute, 10-round, strength and conditioning group workouts, crafted around teardrop-style aqua boxing bags and high-intensity strength training circuits. This brings all fitness levels together to experience what Rumble is known for: combining the sweet science of boxing with high energy and positive vibes.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
This boutique fitness brand offers serious benefits like increased stamina and strength, with cardio that’s actually fun. The seasoned trainers at the new studio are thrilled to serve their local community while offering this fun, new modern approach to boxing and welcome members of all fitness levels to the Rumble family.
The new Rumble Boxing studio is owned and operated by Blake Baskin and Antonio Compton. With their background in the fitness industry, this dynamic duo is excited to bring their passion for boxing and group fitness to Nashville. As business and life partners, Blake and Antonio aim to create a strong community within their new Rumble Boxing studio and share their message of non-apologetic inclusivity.
Black and Gay-Owned Business
Rumble Boxing Store with Dolly Parton Mural
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“We own who we are, and this brand aligns with that perfectly,” said Antonio. “This is what we want to create and bring to this community: a fitness class that is designed for anyone and a place for people to be who they are. As a Black and gay-owned business, we want to help lower the division we see in the world right now. Our goal is to bring people together through Rumble, set everything aside, and have fun.”
To echo their message of acceptance and inclusion, Blake and Antonio commissioned a local Nashville artist to paint an 11 X 6-ft. mural of Nashville icon and philanthropist, Dolly Parton. The massive portrait features the country star in Rumble Boxing gear in the lobby of the studio.
The excitement and buzz around Rumble allowed Blake and Antonio to recruit top-tier trainers to head up the new studio, including Head Trainer Oronde Jones, a well-known celebrity trainer in the Nashville market.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“Compared to other fitness classes, Rumble is a class you can truly get lost in for 45 minutes. With the dark room, you don’t have to worry if anyone is paying attention to you. The music is awesome and inspiring, and the beat drops right when you need it the most. Also, with boxing being a sport you can never truly master, you’re always improving and crafting your skill. On the floor, you’re consistently doing something new, which prevents you from ever hitting a plateau.” Said Oronde Jones about his favorite part of Rumble.
Rumble has massive brand loyalty and widespread appeal, partly thanks to attracting top names like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Jason Derulo, David Beckham, and Kevin Hart to its studios.
About Rumble Boxing
Founded in New York City in 2017, Rumble is a group fitness concept delivering a mix (or combination) of boxing-inspired circuits and the transformative power of resistance training. Pro and amateur fighters glove up together, no matter their fitness level or skill, to reveal their inner fighter. The experience is a 45-minute, 10-round, full-body cardio and strength workout crafted around specially designed water-filled, teardrop-style boxing bags. Rumble was founded by Noah Neiman (former Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer, and cast member of Bravo’s Work Out New York), Eugene Remm (Co-Founder of Catch Hospitality Group (Catch Restaurants, CATCH STEAK, Lexington Brass), Andy Stenzler (Co-Founder Cosí, Kidville), and Anthony DiMarco (13-time IRONMAN, former Managing Director, Google).
Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?
For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:
A Gay Cruise
One of the best options to have in mind when all of this passes is a good, nice and long (pun intended) gay cruise. Or cruise in general, for that matter. Bear in mind, social distancing will still be a thing in the post-COVID world. But COVID-19 likely doesn’t mean that cruises will cease to exist. On the contrary, though cruise ships will probably keep the number of passengers smaller than before, it is believed that they will become an even bigger hit in the following period, especially because they are all going to go a lot more environmentally-friendly. On the bright side, is there any better way of celebrating the end of the pandemic than by cruising around some magnificent seas, stopping by at great cities and having romantic dinner nights at nice restaurants?
A getaway in nature
On the other hand, there is always the option of stepping away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, and spending some time in a place that’s not only healthy, but also beautiful. Some of the destinations that plenty of people will look for are the ones that can cater for both peace of mind and amazing things to see or do. One such destination is New Zealand, one of the greenest countries on Earth right now. Not only will you be visiting the magnificent country that gave us the beautiful Shire from Lord of the Rings; this is also a destination that’s excellent for everyone who prefers relaxing to partying. If you’re up for some partying, you will be able to hit Auckland, while if you’re for something calmer, there’s plenty of amazing places that you can see and visit.
Dancing Around at Pride
Pride parades are also events that you want to have in mind for the post-COVID world. Such events have always been quite important, but it seems that they are now more important than ever. The virus has canceled more than 75 Pride parades all around the world, which is one of the reasons why we must support the ones that will see the light of day once the pandemic stops. Truth be told, the upcoming Prides will perhaps be the best Prides ever organized. Give the gays a couple of weeks of quarantine, then let them outside and see what kind of party they are able to throw!
A road trip
If you’re, as well, waiting for the day to wake up and say “long gone are the days when we were not allowed to go wherever we wanted?”, and if staying at one place gave you a lot to think about, then your first post-COVID travel experience should definitely be a nice road trip. You can practically choose which country you want to tour, and you can either take your own car (you have probably missed it so much), or rent one at your destination. Australia is an amazing country for this, though, as it offers the possibility of seeing the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing thing to see and experience. On the other hand, if you do not want or cannot leave your country, you can also choose to go on a domestic road trip – there are amazing things to see in your vicinity as well.
Holiday for a single guy
If you’re single, or you’re traveling someplace with another single friend, then you should definitely organize a nice vacation for yourself or for you and your single friend, and hit one of the best European cities. Europe has been greatly affected by the virus, which means that now it’s time to pay it back and get it back on its feet by traveling there and seeing all the amazing things it offers. Any city you choose in Europe – you will not make a mistake. Apart from being able to see great landmarks, you will also have the chance to have a drink at great gay clubs and pubs, and join unforgettable gay parties. And if the gay scenery is not your forte, worry not, as Europe indeed has to offer so many different and magnificent things.