Out & About Today Nashville Channel 5
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by Kevin Lawson
Inside Out Nashville Contributor
The right to love a person of the same sex and to enjoy a healthy sex life is a fundamental human right. Sex is not dirty, the human body is not obscene, gay sexuality is not immoral, homophobia is not natural and most importantly HIV/AIDS is not inevitable.
Keeping this statement in mind, it is reasonable that first and foremost we as gay men do not want to be labeled as disease ridden, or so directly associated with HIV that everything else we are is ignored or forgotten. However, it is not healthy for gay men to be so ready and willing to separate ourselves from HIV/AIDS that we forget the cold hard reality of a disease that is still very much a part of our community and will affect each of us in a personal way in our lifetime.
In the USA, the data is very clear: though gay and bisexual men make up between 3 and 7 % of the population, they account for more than 55% of those living with HIV/AIDS and 67% of the new infections. This ever present challenge to our community is undeniable and at the same time immeasurable. The men who passed on before us took with them energy, enthusiasm, and creativity that we fail to miss simply because we never truly had the opportunity to experience it. Will we force future generations to say the same thing about us?
Back in the 80s, AIDS was all over the news. And, the more we learned about it, the more vigilant we became about practicing safer sex, about asking our partners the right questions and about demanding that researchers work toward a cure. But now, 25 years into this continuing health crisis, we have stopped talking to each other about HIV and, as a consequence, we have seemingly lost the will to fight and more importantly we may have lost the hope that we could ever defeat it. HIV must be confronted daily until it is beat.
Because HIV is primarily a sexually transmitted disease we must continue to address the attitudes towards the practice of sex and safer sex in the gay community. We know that sex is but one part of our world; however, it is the very part that others often choose to use to condemn and ridicule us. Even more sadly, many of our own brothers feel threatened and hate-filled about their own sex life. It is society that has taught us to fear sex and hate our sexuality.
From the time we are born we are immersed in a sexual world, and the way we are touched and treated send messages about our worth and being loved. Words and actions surround us and impart values about sexuality, sexual orientation, sexual behaviors, and gender roles. Parents, lovers, tricks, television, film, religious leaders, musicians, actors, politicians, advertisers, peers, and close friends all send messages about sex and sexuality that we incorporate into our self worth and actions. It is our challenge to begin speaking of sex with words that build self-esteem and begin to expect and reward values such as honesty, responsibility and respect. We as gay men must be comfortable initiating (non judgmental) conversations about intimacy, relationships, condoms, sexual meanings and responsible choices.
This responsibility may seem overwhelming. We have been led to believe that safer sex and HIV prevention is a difficult and complicated set of rules and positions that will make sex less pleasurable and less intimate. In actuality, HIV prevention is fairly simple and need not be a barrier to intimacy or sexual fulfillment. In fact there are 2 actions that would greatly reduce the transmission rate of HIV in our community.
1. Use a condom consistently and correctly for anal sex when the HIV status of a sex partner is unknown or when the HIV status of a partner is different than your own. (We know that HIV is most commonly caused by unprotected anal sex with an HIV infected partner. We also know that the receptive partner is at most risk in this situation.)
2. Get an HIV test every six months if you are not in a mutually monogamous relationship with a person you know to be HIV Negative.
That’s it! Those are the two actions that any and every gay man can do that will have a significant impact on the well being of our community. Intimacy and fulfillment are often more of the heart and mind than of the body, so look for it there first. Intimacy and fulfillment does not have to include a raw penis and neither can truly be diminished by a thin piece of latex.
When it comes to safer sex, gay men have a responsibility to ourselves to become proactive in making HIV a disease for the history books. Men who are HIV Positive must seek testing, treatment, education, and support to continue their lives as normally as possible. No one should be ashamed or scared of HIV disease. Ignorance and fear have been the tools of HIV for too long. HIV Positive men must also make it a personal value not to infect anyone else with HIV. HIV Negative men must seek to remain negative and be proud of that accomplishment. Being HIV Negative is not an accident or simply an inevitable precursor to being HIV Positive. The next time we feel joy for someone who has successfully lived with this disease for 20 years, let’s be equally joyful for the man who has been HIV Negative for 20 years. Both are marvelous accomplishments.
Kevin Lawson is the program coordinator for Nashville CARES’ health promotion program for gay men called The Circuit. He can be reached at Nashville CARES by calling 615.259.4866 x.220 or firstname.lastname@example.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.