OutCentral to open, OutLoud to expand on National Coming Out Day

Church Street may rightfully be the hub of excitement on National Coming Out Day as two neighboring GLBT venues celebrate new beginnings, bringing one man's 15-year dream to fruition.

On Oct. 11, long-awaited OutCentral Cultural Center will officially open its doors at 1709 Church St. and Revive, a new cafe, will host its grand opening just next door at 1707 Church St. The venues are housed in the same building as the iconic OutLoud Bookstore, Nashville's only store devoted to the GLBT community.

For Ted Jensen, who owns OutLoud and Revive with his partner Kevin Medley, the day brings about a 15-year goal to provide the GLBT community with the support system necessary to thrive.

"It has always been my vision to see positive and progressive meeting spaces on Church Street," Jensen said. " I moved to Nashville with the intent to fulfill my dream of opening an affirming progressive GLBT bookstore, coffeehouse and community meeting space. Kevin and I are both excited and overwhelmed to see this dream coming to fruition."

The day's events will include a ribbon cutting for the center, free tastings of desserts and treats from Revive and store-wide specials at OutLoud.  Church Street is home to several other gay venues including bars Blue Genes, Play Dance Bar, Tribe and gay-owned Red Restaurant.

OutCentral is a cultural center that welcomes gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and intersex individuals and their friends and families into a positive, energy-filled environment. 

Jim Hawk, OutCentral executive director, presented a plan to Jensen and Medley last year to create a board of directors to build OutCentral. Jensen and Medley do not have a direct role in the center but are active supporters of it.

Hawk said the board of directors faced many struggles to get the center running. Its original grand opening was set for last fall.

"When we first began OutCentral, we knew that it would be a struggle," Hawk said. "We believed, however, that our hearts and minds were in the right place and we would be successful--the community needs a space that affirms GLBTQIF people, our story and our culture."

OutCentral offers rental office space to community groups and is equipped with a large room for meetings. The Nashville Pride Board has already held several meetings in the space.

Revive is a second attempt by Jensen and Medley to offer the GLBT community its own coffee house. Under the direction of Hawk as general manager, Jensen said Revive will be closer to their original coffee-house concept than was Cafe! at Outloud, which previously housed the space. 

"Our goal with Revive is to create a friendly, welcoming place with quality service, food and non-alcoholic beverages as its hallmark," Hawk said. "We have a small tight-knit staff that has received the proper training to ensure that the customer has a positive experience." 

The cafe will offer coffee, tea and teasans, juices, elixir tonics, waters and soda as well as light snacks and desserts.

Facing health issues, Jensen and Medley placed OutLoud for sale in June and planned to close the store if it hadn't been purchased by December. The plan for the Coming Out Day celebrations came just after an announcement from the men last month that OutLoud is still for sale but will not close in December. Jensen and Medley decided that they could not stand to see the store close before it is purchased.

"For us, Coming Out Day is a party day to celebrate everyone—gay, lesbian, bi, trans, straight—who has chosen to come out and affirm GLBT people," Jensen said. "Since OutLoud, Revive, and OutCentral are affirmations of GLBTQIF people, we thought we’d have our own coming-out party."

Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

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