Clad in punk-rock leather jackets and colorful Mohawks, George Oeser and Ranger Tillman aren't guys most people would expect to have an agenda.

That's partly what helps them advance the GLBT cause every single day.

They personified the idea of 'grassroots' after organizing a large rally against Prop. 8 in Nashville in November 2008 and candlelight vigil for marriage equality the following month. Tillman and Oeser appeared to be a driving force behind motivating Nashville’s GLBT community and its allies through social networking and man-on-the-street work.

Their motto is “do good” and they adhere to it with confidence while living their lives openly and honestly. While they possess the persistence and know-how to organize a huddled few into an orderly crowd of hundreds, the men make some of their biggest strides for the GLBT community through their daily interactions in Nashville’s mainstream.

By volunteering their time at local nursing homes, working with Nashville Area Reconciling Ministries, attending Hobson United Methodist Church and hosting karaoke at Foobar, a small east Nashville straight bar, the men make it a point to show mainstream society that the face of gay Nashville isn't what they might expect.

“Time after time we hear of studies showing that straight individuals who have friends or family members who are gay or lesbian are much more likely to support equal rights for the LGBT community.” Oeser said. “We think it’s important to represent ourselves truthfully wherever we are and not be shy about sharing that aspect of our lives.”

Regardless of the setting, the men respectfully exchange affection when compelled to do so and speak of one another honestly and with a twinkle in their eye.

"You would be surprised at how many people do not bat an eye when you mention your 'partner' does this or that  rather than omitting that you are in a same-sex relationship," Oeser said. "And if they do, then all the better. You might have changed a mind that day."

Beyond self-acceptance, the men are proud to be unique and exalt in the ability to show the world that the beauty of life lies in the many ways we may live and love.

“There’s nothing I can think of that would be worse than having to pretend to be someone else,” Oeser said. “That chance to wake up every morning and be exactly who you are, to do what interests you and what you love, to be the best person that you’re capable of being makes it worth waking up every morning.”

Photo courtesy of Red Bull

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Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville

Rumble Boxing Gulch, Nashville


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