Out & About Today Nashville Channel 5
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It’s that holly jolly Christmas time of year again. Unfortunately, the expression does not apply to all of us during what is to be a season of joy, friends, family, and merriment. For some the holidays read more like the tale of Scrooge … minus the happy ending.
This year I was able to hop a plane and spend two weeks back home in Nebraska over Thanksgiving, welcomed in the embrace of my, sometimes, ridiculously loving family, awaiting friends, and even an old flame.
How I couldn’t wait to see my mom’s friends who were regular attendees every holiday meal. It hadn’t even crossed my mind how those unrelated came to celebrate our intimate family holiday meals. They lacked local family to spend the holiday with, and it was best for their spirits to be part of ours. After all, they practically are family.
I realized I had carried the tradition down to Tennessee with me. I commonly have an open holiday meal for friends, ensuring we all are surrounded by love on days when we all should be.
I think back to the first holiday after I came out, and the terrifying thought of facing a primarily Catholic family during sacred religious traditions. It scared the heck out of me, but I was fortunate enough to be surprised by my family’s overall acceptance.
As ages pass, more and more spectrums of the “rainbow,” begin to feel comfortable in coming out, regardless of the implications this may have on their family and social relationships, not to mention the possible psychological affect this may have during this already stressful time of year.
RJ Robles is the Program Leader for the Trans Buddy Program, an organization sponsored by Vanderbilt Medical Center that provides support for emotional support to transgender patients during healthcare visits.
Robles recalls their first holiday season out as gender-queer about 7 years ago: “I could feel the uncomfortabl[eness] with my parents with the way I dress, so they tolerate my gender expression. Obviously because it’s the holidays they have been able to see past just the clothes I wear.”
While this is the feeling amongst most of the family, Robles brother that is gay himself but is still coming to terms with his sexuality is unable to engage in conversation about his brother’s sexual identity. This not stemming specifically from RJ’s trans queerness: rather, it has always been an issue between them.
Robles offers words of wisdom to those facing similar situations this year: “I would remind trans folks that we are beautiful just the way we are, and that we are fierce. Whether or not we have families that understand our gender identities, we hold onto the community for support.”
I also spoke to 22-year-old Erik (anonymous), whom has always known himself to be pansexual, even if he didn’t fully understand it. Pansexuals are attracted to sexual partners on a “case-by-case” basis—as Erik describes it, “I just love people, whether it’s a girl or a guy, as long as they’re the right person.”
Erik feels like the black sheep of the family, and therefore doesn’t spend much of the holiday surrounded by his family. Rather, he chooses to just dine and dash.
This is definitely not uncommon for many during the holidays for those in his situation.
The holiday season can be particularly difficult for those not fully out, like Kenny (anonymous). Expectations around dating and masculinity can create a tense situation.
“It is kind of awkward in conversation,” he explained, “for example watching football games and my lack of a girlfriend, especially with pressures to be in a committed relationship.” Rather, Kenny brings his self-proclaimed best friend to nuclear family gatherings.
“I don’t want to feel singled out and having attention drawn on me.” He added that he “doesn’t want to become a focus of conversation at Christmas dinner.”
He encourages those who share his circumstances to, “Try to always stay positive, and don’t always assume your family will have a negative response.”
The holidays are probably most difficult of all for those who face rejection by family due to religious or culture clashes. Lesbian Amanda Caum, who battles alcoholism, feels an increased drive to self-medicate during this season, and her feelings of depression are especially acute due to her disconnection from her family and distance from her 8-year-old who resides with his father in Oregon.
While in days of past she would celebrate the holidays with her main family, and then make the rounds to other relatives, just as many do, this sadly is no longer the case.
She only came out just this past year, and describes an intense “anxiety of being around my family.” She continues to note, “My mom and I have always been close, but she doesn’t know how to react around me now, she’s not the only one that has reacted negatively in the family.”
In spite of this year’s difficulties, she is falling back on the support of her friends. Similar to my friends’ dinner, she and a group of friends have plans to come together to make the best of the season.
She encourages others, “Not to dwell on the things that you think you should have, but to focus on the things you do have and to appreciate them.”
But where’s that *It’s a Wonderful Life* happy ending? It isn’t all gloom.
AR (anonymous), a bisexual raising a daughter of her own, remembers her best Christmases: “My favorite was my grandma’s house, because she used to get a huge tree… Every year it just seemed to get bigger, and the whole family would come over to her house.”
She loved that the celebration included her extended family, and that ever so ornery uncle that gave all the children gifts that were certainly intended to drive their parents crazy for the rest of the year.
AR’s reaction from her family after coming out, and the annual holidays thereafter, were nothing but a shock. “We have great times together,” she continues, “Our relationship has really improved over the years… If you would have asked me 15 years ago, I’d be like no way.” However, she feels that despite all the changes over the years the challenges have done nothing more than strengthen their bond.
After all her experiences, she reminds us to remember, “Every situation is just temporary. I think if you’re a faith based person go back to your faith… Whenever you go to that dark place do whatever makes you feel positive…stop it and refocus.”
In considering the challenges our community faces, I consulted with Michelle Stevens (Ph.D, LPC, MHSP), a professor at MTSU. She highlighted some warning signs that can alert us to friends and community members in distress.
Common signs include self-isolation, if a person is social and suddenly withdraws, an overall abrupt change in behavior, depression, and unhealthy coping skills, such as increased self-medication, are all indicators that someone may need a friend.
Dr. Stevens encourages the following for those roughing it: “Seeking out some professional counseling would be one of the most obvious things. Talking about it with a friend, pastor, or someone within your safe zone and self-expression including journaling and any other creative activities may serve as coping skills.”
She also encourages, “From a professional stance [don’t] go through it alone.”
Positive or negative outlooks on, or indifference to, the holidays are all valid, but it’s also important to be aware of any potentially unhealthy behaviors that might arise from the stresses of this time.
Look-out for your friends. Be confident and love yourself. And plainly remember the reason for the season is not something tangible, or even the hope of being accepted; rather, it is to love yourself and your fellow mankind regardless.
Happy holidays from all of us at Out & About Nashville, and have a fantastic New Year!
Photo credit for Robles: Fernando Lopez
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.