Obituary: Teddy Jensen, Founder of OutLoud! Bookstore
Those who are newer to Nashville may not be familiar with OutLoud! Bookstore, but there was a time when it served as the de facto LGBTQ community center for Nashville and Middle Tennessee. During its years of operation, 1996 - 2012, it was one of the original nuclei of the Nashville gay community. Sadly, one of its founders, Ted Jensen passed away last Thursday night / Friday morning.
In 2014, I spoke with Jensen about the bookstore, and the farm, and I want to share some of Jensen's thoughts. “In college, I was on the way to a Crusaders for Christ meeting,” he recalls. “Somehow, instead I ended up at Virginia Tech’s gay student group. I really began coming out at the point, but I was confused. The church of course said it was wrong, and what little I knew about gay culture—mostly drag queens—made me confused about where I could fit. Libraries and bookstores were where I did my research.”
And, when he didn't find what he needed in Nashville, he provided just such a place for Nashville. “OutLoud! was supposed to be a safe place for anyone to come and be who they were: gay, straight, bisexual, and questioning. Over the years, especially when we were in the process of closing,” Jensen recalled proudly, “I had parents come in and say it was a safe haven for their kids, that their children would have died without it.” Unlike many traditional gay spaces, OutLoud! was a family friendly environment and was a sanctuary for young and confused people.
“When the economic crash came,” Jensen said, “around the same time you saw the collapse of small booksellers, we just couldn’t maintain the store. We officially moved to the farm on May 1, 2010, and continued to commute to the store daily, but we just couldn’t keep that up. We closed up in 2012.”
Many will remember OutLoud! as the place their LGBTQ identities developed and flourished, and Jensen as one of the caretakers of their processes. He will be sorely missed by many in the community. Those of you who are willing to share memories can email them to email@example.com and a page will be set up to share those.
Teddy Neils Jensen age 47 of Hohenwald, Tennessee passed away on Friday June 7th, at his home. He was born on February 3rd, 1972 in Virginia Beach, Virginia to Albert Neils Jensen and Diana (Helms) Jensen.
He is survived by his parents Albert & Diana Jensen, sister Diana Stadler and a niece Chanler, along with many other friends.
A Memorial Service is scheduled for Friday, June 14, 2019, at 2:00 p.m. in the McDonald Funeral Home Chapel. Visitation with the family will begin at 1:00 p.m. on Friday.