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If Dan Ayers must be described with one word, it would probably be “determined.”
He has an admirable list of accomplishments: graduating from medical school, serving in the Army National Guard, winning national and international piano competitions, and surviving a parental suicide. These achievements and others have grounded Ayers in his faith — after years of running from the unconditional love of God, Ayers finally is able to embrace it.
Ayers grew up in Attalla, Ala., with his mother, father and younger sister. His family faithfully attended a Church of God and was there any and every time the doors were open.
“When I was 11, my parents divorced," Ayers said. "Mom moved on and would remarry, but Dad was a very devout Christian."
After 19 years of marriage, separation wasn't easy for Dan’s father, Ayers said. His inability to deal with the separation was one factor that soon led to a Sunday-morning suicide.
Divorce is rarely easy, and when you add the devastating effects of a parental suicide, you double the difficulties. However, Ayers found solace in music.
“I started taking piano lessons when I was 5 years old," he said. "At first I didn’t like it, but I soon realized I could easily have a crowd of girls and guys around me at school,” says Ayers. When he was only 12, he began playing for church. “I was so short I had to sit on a stack of hymnals just to see the worship leader.”
Ayers’ skill at the piano gained him a variety of national and international awards. Eventually, his artistry earned him a scholarship at Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., the Mecca of The Church of God.
“I entered Lee University as a piano-performance major in 1994, but that lasted one semester. The first semester of music theory told me this wasn’t for me,” recalled Ayers.
He would continue to play for church and he would continue writing, but now was the time for Ayers to pursue his desire to practice medicine. After speaking with the head of Lee's science department, Ayers realized his grades were so solid that they not only matched his piano scholarship, they doubled it. And in 1996, with only five academic semesters under his belt, Dan earned his bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry with a minor in religion, graduating summa cum laude.
Ayers’ experience at Lee University was intense; to graduate within the standard four-year period is an admirable accomplishment, but by graduating in five semesters Ayers had almost cut that in half. And there was more going on than a fast-track academic schedule, too.
“I dealt with a lot of issues at Lee," he said. "My abrupt career change, my sexuality … I can recall being attracted to men as early as elementary school. I tried to like girls, even dated them, but I caught myself being more attracted to guys.”
After such an intense time at Lee, Ayers took some time off and moved back to Attalla before starting medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1997. By 1999, he graduated at the age of 23, one the youngest graduates to earn the physician's assistant program degree.
But even after he graduated from UAB, Ayers had difficulty suppressing his sexuality.
"One Sunday I was sitting at the piano and I thought ‘God created me. He knows I am gay.'" he said. "I had been told all my life that God doesn’t make mistakes, yet everyone around me said homosexuals were wrong and going to hell. How have I messed up?’”
Ayers would once again show a tremendous amount of determination. He said he thought, “I’ll change myself. I’ll get married like I am supposed to. I’ll be preoccupied with my wife, kids and job, and that will fix this.”
And in 2001, he “fixed” it.
His bride was a pharmacy student at Samford University. She was a beautiful girl who happened to play the violin, so Ayers and his bride-to-be connected on a medical level as well as a musical one.
Ayers and his wife painted a picture of the perfectly happy family. They both had excellent careers, made excellent money and could pretty much do whatever they wanted. But deep inside, Ayers was miserable. “I had suppressed my sexuality for years, and it finally had me in a deep state of depression. But being the determined person I am, I continued to suppress it.”
Ayers’ marriage was in jeopardy and the relationship continued to get worse. After a brief move to Knoxville, the couple moved to Nashville in 2003. Eventually, feeling he had to get out of his marriage, Ayers called on his best friend from Lee University, Jason Warner of the musical Christian duo Jason and Demarco.
Ayers recalls, “Unlike me, Jason had come out of the closet and I felt comfortable with him. He was my best friend and never questioned my marriage. But Jason knew I was gay. He said, ‘Dan you’ve been so determined to push this away and suppress it, but it has always been there. I’ve watched you create this life. You’ve paid for this life, and it is empty.’”
Ayers said he knew Warner was right.
So in 2004, Dan and his wife of three years divorced. However, during those three years, Ayers had a form of escape. During his last year in medical school, Ayers enrolled in the Army National Guard.
“There was a sign-on bonus and they would pay off my student loans,” he said.
During his time with the Guard, Ayers continued his history of achievement. He started out as a second lieutenant and was promoted to captain. It isn’t easy for a gay man to serve in the armed forces. Ayers said, explaining that “A lot of friends came out to me during my time in the Guard, many enlisted soldiers, all who go home to their same-sex partner, get up in the mornings, put on a uniform and do their job — and they do it very well!”
When asked about the “Don’t ask. Don’t tell.” Policy, Ayers says only, “I think it should be ‘Why ask? Why tell?’ Being gay doesn’t make me any less of a man. It doesn’t make me any less of a human being. My skills, knowledge and desire to serve my country are just as valid as anyone else’s.”
After serving in the Guard for seven years, Ayers received his honorable discharge in 2005.
Currently, in addition to working full-time in a hospital emergency room, Ayers also works at Elan Medical Spa in Green Hills, one of the state's premier skin and laser centers. He has a strong interest in aesthetic medicine, and is an advanced injector of numerous dermal fillers and Botox. He also provides a wide range of anti-aging modalities, including the latest in fractional CO2 laser skin resurfacing.
Reflecting on the variety in his life, Ayers says that “Despite all that I did, I never once loved myself. I filled the void in my life with achievements. I have finally come to the point where I know I can’t run anywhere or hide anything from God. He knows me inside and out and loves me no matter what. It took me several years, but after accepting His unconditional love, I learned to accept myself.”
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.