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Cyndi Lauper is undoubtedly a modern American pop icon, but she is also a renowned champion of LGBT rights. Lauper has devoted a great deal of time, creative energy, and money to the development of active and dedicated straight allies and to tackling the problem of LGBT youth homelessness. Given her social commitments, it is hard to imagine an artist better suited to writing the music and lyrics that bring Harvey Fierstein’s adaptation of Kinky Boots to musical life, even though she’d never even seen the movie when Fierstein proposed the project to her.
“Harvey Fierstein called me one day and told me that he was writing the book for the Broadway adaptation of UK indie film Kinky Boots,” Lauper said. “I had never seen it. He asked if I want to write the music for it. I had always wanted to work with Harvey, and to be able to write songs for a Broadway musical was just a dream come true. So, right away I found the film through Netflix or one of those kind of services and watched it. It spoke to me on so many levels. The heart, the soul, and the shoes!”
Its simple message—in Lauper’s words, “Accept others for who they are!”—also spoke to her energetic inner ally and pro-LGBT activist. “The great thing about the show,” she added, “is that it speaks to everyone. To see such diverse crowds seeing the show and by the end of the night they are all on their feet dancing and singing along to the closing scene is very powerful.” Indeed, part of power of the musical lies exactly in it “having catchy songs, so that when people leave the theater, the songs resonate outside of the theater walls, you can spread the story that way too.” From this perspective, Kinky Boots fits perfectly into Lauper’s career.
Lauper has long been committed to LGBT issues. Her sister, Ellen, is a lesbian, and Lauper’s circle of friends includes many LGBT people. When I asked about the origins of her commitment to LGBT causes, Lauper responded emphatically, “Listen, I am friend and family, and, where I come from, you stand up for the people you love and care about in your life. You do not turn your back on them.”
Her commitment is grounded in a deep personal conviction that LGBT rights are rooted in the core values we share as Americans. “Equality and freedom,” Lauper said, “are what this country was built on and why I am proud to be an American, but, unfortunately, we have a long way to go before those ideals are really true.” Lauper has devoted herself to being part of the solution, utilizing her fame to raise the profile of the LGBT rights movement, from participating in Gay Games VII at Wrigley Field to appearing as herself at a fictional Pride event on As the World Turns!
As an activist, she’s had significant impact in LGBT rights issues in recent years, primarily through her True Colors Fund. It is entirely unsurprising that her foundation would be named after a song that held so much meaning for a generation of LGBT youth. But, ironically, Lauper wasn’t truly and fully aware of the positive impact “True Colors” (1986) was having on her young LGBT fans until much later.
Indeed, that was only brought home to her a decade later! “I first became aware that ‘True Colors’ had had such an important impact on the lives of my gay fans when I was home pregnant with my son and I had a real chance to read a lot my fan mail. Every other letter or email was about how ‘True Colors’ had saved this person’s life, how it helped them come to terms with being gay, and how it helped them overcome the hate and discrimination they were facing.”
This realization, Lauper explained, deeply impacted her developing social consciousness and gave shape to her LGBT activism: “That was a turning point for me in understanding the role this song had played in so many people’s lives and reminded me of my responsibility to do all that I can to continue to help.” If her song was about social acceptance and creating space to be one’s true self without fear, this would also be the goal of her work.
The True Color Fund now declares two main mission goals, one to “raise awareness about and bring an end to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth homelessness, and the other to inspire everyone, especially straight people, to become active participants in the advancement of equality for all.” The fund currently has two major projects to fulfill this mission: the “Give a Damn Campaign” and the “Forty to None Project.”
Broadly speaking, the Give a Damn Campaign seeks to increase education about and involvement in LGBT issues among all those interested in LGBT rights. However, its website declares, “it’s especially for all you straight people out there!” From active and first time supporters to those who “hadn’t given equality a lot of thought before and now want to learn more,” the campaign wants to “help you get informed about the issues and get involved, at a pace that works for you.”
Most LGBT rights organizations focus on harnessing the energies of our community on behalf of its own interests. National organizations, such as HRC, have also attracted significant ally support. For an organization to focus directly and explicitly on the development of allies is fairly unique, and it was shaped by Lauper’s own experience and worldview.
“I grew up in the era of the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights Movements,” Lauper explained. “I saw the power of White people marching with African American people, and of men marching with women. When the majority steps up and sides with the minority, great change can happen. So, as a straight person, with great pride, I take my responsibility seriously to stand arm-in-arm with my [LGBT] family, friends, and fans, and the community as a whole.”
Even if bonds of family and friendship don’t motivate potential allies, Lauper firmly believes that everyone has good reason to take up this cause as their own. “Listen, selfishly, what people need to understand is that equality for one group of people is not just about that group, it is about you as well. When one group of people is singled out and treated different for who they are, who is to say that the group you belong to won’t be next in line? History is a testament to that fact as well. If one of us not equal, none of us is equal.” The goal of the Give a Damn Campaign is to give people the tools to fight most efficiently and effectively for our shared rights.
The Forty to None Project takes its name from a startling statistic: nearly forty percent of all homeless youth are LGBT. Given that a significantly smaller percent of youth nationwide identify as LGBT, the disproportion is evident. The project’s goal is to “raise awareness about and bring an end to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth experiencing homelessness.”
For Lauper, the idea that youth are abandoned because they show their true colors hits home on multiple levels. As a sister, a friend, and an ally, she’s devoted herself to acceptance. But even more personally, she explained, “As a mom, I cannot imagine throwing my kid out for any reason, let alone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We all have a responsibility to step up and help these kids. That is why we started the True Colors Fund, to bring an end to this epidemic.”
The problem of LGBT youth homelessness, Lauper said, remains acute because so many kids are still “being kicked or forced out of their homes for being gay or transgender.” However, their situation is desperate because there have been protections provided for youth put in this situations. “These are incredible young people who we have let down by not providing them the support and help they need,” Lauper explained.
To address the conditions that lead to homelessness, the Forty to None Project seeks to reach families before their children come out, promoting acceptance and educating them about the “negative outcomes associated with identity-based rejection and homelessness.” For those who are struggling with their children’s sexual identity, or who may have already rejected a child, the project provides family assessments to support families to allow young people to stay in or return home. When that’s not possible, it seeks to “support relationship building within the family, family networks, and community.” And, for youth already homeless, the project helps ensure that those youth have access to “ongoing safe and affirming services” to assist them in the transition to independence.
The work of the True Colors Fund is having real impact on the ground nationwide. Lauper was keen to make our community aware that “The True Colors Fund is actually on the ground in Nashville working with the community and the Oasis Center to address the problem [of LGBT youth homelessness] locally.” The fund has been supporting the effort in Nashville to remedy the gap created by the closing of OASIS’s LGBT youth shelter program. “One thing people can do [locally],” Lauper insisted, “is support Oasis so that they can help more youth. I would encourage any young person who needs support to find a trusted adult in their life and get their help, if you do not have someone, reach out to Oasis. They can help you.”
According to Daniela Medina of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC), a fitting collaboration in Nashville will bring many of Lauper’s worlds together. “On Thursday, February 5th, we have a group from the Oasis Center taking a backstage tour of TPAC, listening to some of TPAC employees detailing job opportunities in theatre, watching [Kinky Boots], and getting a private Q&A with cast afterwards.”
For more information about Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund, visit www.truecolorsfund.org, and for more information on TPAC’s showing of Kinky Boots, visit www.tpac.org.
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.