Equality Clarksville hosts vigil to honor victims of Pulse shooting

Despite the high temperatures and humidity, a crowd, mostly sporting tennis shoes and tank tops, showed up at Clarksville’s McGregor Park for an anniversary vigil in honor of the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting one year ago in Orlando. Even after 7pm the sun was still shining brightly on the water, making it difficult to see clearly without sunglasses. On the large steps overlooking the Cumberland River, locals held candles while each of the 49 victims’ names were read, before observing a collective moment of silence, while kids continued to swing and play tag under parent supervision at the nearby playground.

Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan spoke of the importance of hearing the names read aloud before joining in the candle ceremony herself.

This year’s vigil, organized by the newly minted Equality Clarksville, managed to avoid talk of President Trump and current state politics, focusing instead on honoring victims and their families. The past several years have been plagued with incidents of state lawmakers working hard to pass anti-LGBT legislation. Yet the vigil was firmly apolitical, a welcome change from the usual course of things.

After each name was carefully read by Equality Clarksville leadership, everyone was thanked for participation in the vigil and informally invited to Fusion Night Club, Clarksville’s only “gay bar.”

Fusion, which opened its doors almost three years ago, is the only bar in town where residents can catch a drag show, have a beer and socialize with other members of the LGBT community in an entirely comfortable, open environment. And on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting, Fusion serves as the center of remembrance—the local gay bar.

Owner and Operator Buddy Wells, who was tending the bar, runs a tight ship. Sliding between conversations with customers, he kept drinks filled, water handy and talk lively. When I arrived at the bar, things were already dying down for the night and customers at the bar (several of whom were part of Equality Clarksville) were watching the evening news, which featured a story on Clarksville’s second annual Pulse vigil.

Walking into Fusion, one can't help but notice the small stage on the right where Fusion hosts regular drag shows. In the large backroom, there are pool tables with an additional bar and seating area, for those who need a break from standing for the drag show or who prefer a more low-key setting. There’s a large backyard, popular with customers when the weather is warm, which lately is most of the time.

The bar is a friendly place, and Wells likes to keep it that way. "When we named this club Fusion, we were trying to fuse all walks of life,” said Wells. “We're not concerned about race, color, gender or orientation." While recognizing that the clientele is predominantly LGBT, he refers to Fusion as an “alternative club, where everyone is welcome” as a way of reasserting the bar’s community focus.

The first anniversary of the attack at Pulse was a strong reminder of the potential danger for businesses and organizations serving the LGBT community. Reflecting on last year’s events, Wells described the fear in the local community. “This could have been us,” he said somberly.

Wells also understood he was in a unique position to show support for Orlando, raising over $5,700 for victims at Fusion’s benefit almost one year ago. “You've got to unite together as a community,” he reaffirmed.

At the far end of the bar, customer and Equality Clarksville Budget Committee Head Brian Damiani reflected on the anniversary of Pulse and the unique opportunity it presents for the Clarksville community. “I am grateful we are able to do something like this,” said Damiani. “From what I saw on the news, we were the only town in Tennessee that did a vigil that was not political. It was remembrance, to let people know we are not forgetting.”

And on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting, it’s good to know there is a bar in town “where everyone is welcome.”

For more information, visit Fusion and Equality Clarksville’s Facebook pages.

You can reach Thom Murphy on Twitter at @thomdit.




WhistlePig + Alfa Romeo F1

SHOREHAM, VT (September 13, 2023) — WhistlePig Whiskey, the leaders in independent craft whiskey, and Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake are waving the checkered flag on a legend-worthy release that’s taking whiskey to G-Force levels. The Limited Edition PiggyBack Legends Series: Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is a high Rye Whiskey selected by the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake drivers, with barrels trialed in their wind tunnel to ensure a thrilling taste in every sip.

The third iteration in WhistlePig’s Single Barrel PiggyBack Legends Series, the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is bottled at 96.77 proof, a nod to Valtteri Bottas’ racing number, 77, and the precision of racing. Inspired by Zhou Guanyu, the first Chinese F1 driver, this Rye Whiskey is finished with lychee and oolong tea. Herbal and floral notes of the oolong tea complement the herbaceous notes of WhistlePig’s signature PiggyBack 100% Rye, rounded out with a juicy tropical fruit finish and a touch of spice.

Keep readingShow less
by Spectrum Medical Care Center

Nurse Practitioner Ari Kravitz

When I started medical transition at 20 years old, it was very difficult to get the care I needed for hormone replacement therapy because there are very few providers trained in starting hormones for trans people, even though it’s very similar to the hormones that we prescribe to women in menopause or cisgender men with low testosterone.

I hope more providers get trained in LGBTQ+ healthcare, so they can support patients along their individual gender journey, and provide the info needed to make informed decisions about their body. I’ve personally seen my trans patients find hope and experience a better quality of life through hormone replacement therapy.

Keep readingShow less

Descanso Resort swimming pool and lounge area

Descanso Resort, Palm Springs' premier destination for gay men, just received Tripadvisor's highest honor, a Travelers' Choice "Best of the Best" award for 2023. Based on guests' reviews and ratings, fewer than 1% of Tripadvisor's 8 million listings around the world receive the coveted "Best of the Best" designation. Descanso ranked 12th in the top 25 small inns and hotels category in the United States. Quite an accomplishment!

Open less than two years, Descanso Resort offers gay men a relaxing and luxurious boutique hotel experience just minutes away from Palm Springs' buzziest restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping. Descanso has quickly established itself as a top destination for sophisticated gay travelers, earning hundreds of 5-star guest reviews and consistently ranking in Trapadvisor's top positions alongside brother properties Santiago Resort and Twin Palms Resort.

Keep readingShow less