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When Vanderbilt found itself on the Princeton Review ranking as number 16 on the list of the least gay-friendly of “The 361 Best Colleges,” students and leaders of GLBT organizations looked at each other in amazement. After all, Vanderbilt has been perceived as being on the cutting edge of equality issues: offering domestic partner benefits, conducting diversity training, creating “Safe Zones,” and openly sponsoring a variety of GLBT support groups for students, faculty and staff.
The ranking was based on one question out of 73 that was asked in an annual poll. “The Princeton Review” annually polls students to compile data for ranking “The Best 361 Schools” by soliciting information through an Internet survey and on-campus questionnaires.
Robert Franek, editor of the publication, said that in addition to a two-page narrative profile of each school, the book lists best and worst rankings on a variety of campus-related issues in four major areas.
Of the 73 questions, several dealt with diversity issues, but only one dealt directly with GLBT issues: “Do students, faculty and administrators at your college treat all persons equally regardless of their sexual orientations?”
Vanderbilt’s appearance on the list “Alternate Lifestyle Not an Alternative” was based on students’ responses to this one question.
The dean of students at another Tennessee university said the metholodogy used by “The Princeton Review” wasn’t necessarily an accurate reflection of the social issues it portrayed.
Eric Hartman, dean of Students at the University of the South (Sewanee), cautioned that the Review should not be regarded as an accurate reflection of social issues, saying the compilers do “not use the most accurate methodology.”
Even though Vanderbilt is one of a handful of employers in the “buckle of the Bible belt” with policies to ensure work environment equality, evidently policies do not automatically create an accepting environment for undergraduates.
According to David, a senior engineering student, “It is not unusual to hear homosexual epithets in the dorms. The word ‘gay’ is used freely as a pejorative term.”
Comparing the climate at Vanderbilt with that of his high school in the Washington , D.C. , area, David adds, “It seems like more students are concerned with religion.”
The subject of the acceptance of GLBT students at Vanderbilt was discussed on the library lawn on National Coming Out Day, October 11, by a group of 57 people including community leaders, campus faculty, staff and administration, as well as a handful of students.
Linda, a doctoral candidate in education, who self-identifies as heterosexual, was one of the discussion leaders for the event.
“It’s a challenge to counteract the prevailing culture,” she said. “Coming here from California , I feel like I stepped back 15 years. There is a strong religious bias and a disgust of people with different sexual orientations.”
Mark Bandas, assistant vice chancellor of Housing and Residential Education, told one of the discussion groups that “we make every effort to make the residence halls inclusive and accepting by conducting education in the residence halls and by moving students if needed. But with a new crop of students every year, that education is a constant process.”
Four other middle Tennessee institutions appeared in the listing of “The 361 Best Colleges”: Rhodes College ( Memphis ), Fisk University ( Nashville ), The University of the South (Sewanee), and UT Knoxville. Surprisingly, only UT Knoxville (ranked number 6) appeared with Vanderbilt on the list “Alternative Lifestyle Not an Alternative,” causing campus organizations to wonder how students at other area schools perceive their campus cultures.
Trixie Smith, professor and GLBT advisor at Middle Tennessee State University ( Murfreesboro ), says that while most students at MTSU “feel free” on campus, some still come to her with concerns about “homophobic comments in classes.”
“One of the problems our students face is that so many of them are from the middle Tennessee area and their parents and relatives are in the area,” says Smith who is openly out on campus, “Their families, more than their peers, keep them from being completely open.”
MTSU does offer diversity training, but, oddly, it does not acknowledge sexual orientation as a diversity issue. Smith adds, “As a state institution, we do not offer domestic partner benefits, and probably never will.”
Sweannee’s Dean Hartman acknowledges that inclusion of GLBT students at Sewanee “has been a challenge for a number of years, largely due to being embedded in the South.”
Although, according to Hartman, the demographics of the student bodies at Sewanee and Vanderbilt are very similar, he believes the smallness of Sewanee (1,300 students) works to their advantage.
“Students at Sewanee have a name and an identity, not just an identity with no name,” he said.
The dean adds, “We do all we can to provide engaged support, so everyone knows it’s OK to be out.”
Although Sewanee has for some time sponsored a Gay-Straight Alliance, this year, the Episcopal-affiliated institution may face its greatest challenge, as administrators try to determine how to respond to their first request for domestic partner benefits.
According to Trish Halstead, the majority of the members of the Gay-Straight Alliance at Austin Peay State University (Clarksville) believe their school is accepting, at least when compared to their high schools and some other area institutions with which they have had contact.
“I have seen a large swing in acceptance just in the last year,” says Halstead, advisor to the group. But when the students were asked if they feel comfortable being out in the Clarksville community, the answer was a resounding “no.”
Two church-related universities in Nashville declined to respond to the question of acceptance of GLBT persons. A Belmont University professor, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of employment reprisals, said “It’s a highly-sensitive issue.” The Baptist-affiliated institution is “in the throes of being disassociated from its denominational relationships.”
Not surprisingly, this writer’s inquiry to Vicki Gaw, administrative assistant in the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Lipscomb University (a Church of Christ school), was promptly forwarded to Phil Ellenburg, general legal counsel for the school. As of time of publication, there has been no reply.
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.