Out & About Today Nashville Channel 5
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“We give people a safe space, information, and answers to their questions. And along the way, we save lives.”
That about sums up the hard work TVals (Tennessee Vals) is doing in Middle Tennessee. “There are a lot of people who were ready to give up,” Marisa Richmond, co-founder of TVals, went on to say, “and we help those people find the road that they want to be on. We never steer anyone towards any road, but we give them the information they need so they can find the path that’s right for them.”
TVals, a non-political, educational, and social support group, was started in Nashville by Richmond and two others in 1992, when she moved back from Washington D.C. “When I moved back,” she said, “I looked around and saw that there was a need.” At the time, there were no laws that successfully protected the transgender community. Not only were non-discrimination ordinances, and the safe school policies non-existent, but even at the federal level, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) had not yet been introduced (it would be later in 1994). The support structures that existed for the LGBTQ community were limited to a fairly small Pride celebration and a tiny community center in Berry Hill, located in an old house.”
Seeing the lack of support systems for transgender people, Richmond decided to act. Her own experience in D.C. with the Transgender Education Association (TGEA) and as a co-founder of Crossroads, a transgender support group, helped. The founders modeled their group using perspectives gleaned from organizations around the country. Bringing a support group to Nashville proved to have its own unique challenges, however, especially when the issue of how to support deeply religious, transgender people arose. “Many came from conservative fundamentalist backgrounds, and would ask, ‘What does God think of this?’” said Richmond.
TVals was the first, and for a long time only, transgender group raising visibility, organizing the first transgender mixer at Pride and the local Transgender Day of Remembrance event. The group has contributed to the cultural shift of Nashville, as TVals supported members joining boards of other queer-focused organizations around Nashville also proved helpful, “We’ve raised visibility and awareness through the transgender community, there’s been lots of education work, and we have been there for everybody,” said Richmond.
Along with external difficulties, TVals has dealt with internal challenges, such as retention of board members. “We try to organize people to get up, to stand up,” said current Chairperson Shaun Arroyo, “But it can be difficult when people get what they need and just move on.” This obstacle has proved tough, with the group currently only having half of its board positions filled.
Despite all obstacles, however, TVals operates on its strengths, and it prioritizes the accessibility of the group for all people. “The current meeting site is very close to a bus stop,” said Richmond, “So when we moved, we made certain that our location was along a bus line. We wanted to make sure that we were accessible to young people and others who may not have a car.”
Accessibility has been attended to in other ways as well. The group is willing to make accommodations to those who cannot afford its annual membership dues. The ultimate goal is to maximize diversity, which helps make the group welcoming. “We’re not just transmen, or transwomen, we’re not just white. We have people of color, we have young people, we have old people,” said Arroyo. The group’s members range in age from sixteen to seventy-one, representing a wide variety of experiences brought to the table, enabling truly intergenerational conversations within the space.
With newer identities emerging that fall outside of the gender binary, the group has worked to adapt and educate its members, in order to be supportive of all people who fall under the transgender umbrella. “When the first person came in that used ‘they, them, their’ pronouns, we were confused,” said Arroyo, “But we had them explain what that meant, in order to educate ourselves, and to make sure that all people feel comfortable in our meetings.”
TVals has always worked to create safe, supportive meeting spaces and programs for transpeople. The group is currently in the midst of introducing a “Big Sister” program that would match transgender mentors with other transgender people who have questions about anything from relationships, to familial support, to medical transitioning.
The organization is also working with OutCentral to organize the “Out in Transforce Work Fair,” to be held later this summer, which will focus on connecting transgender people with trans inclusive businesses. Without job protection policies in place in the state of Tennessee, the fair will be a way of supporting transgender people in the process of liberation. “It can be extremely difficult to find work and ultimately get hired as a trans person in Tennessee,” said transgender Nashville resident, Adrian Sorolis, “and I see this job fair as something that will be a game changer for many people.”
Besides OutCentral, TVals has collaborated with many groups within the community, including Vanderbilt LGBTQI Life, with whom they have worked to support programs that highlight the queer community in Nashville, from the annual Vanderbilt drag show to the recent event with New York Times bestselling author and transgender activist Janet Mock. TVals hopes that, in the future, more organizations and leaders will be intentional in including them in conversations and events.
Despite the challenges it still faces, the TVals board is excited for what’s to come in the future. After an astounding twenty-two years, TVals is still here, and they want you to know it. “We’re here,” says Arroyo, “And we’re not going anywhere.”
For more information about TVals and its programs, visit facebook.com/tennesseevals
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.