This month, O&AN is featuring pets—our own pets, and the pets of our friends and readers. Reader response was overwhelming, including poignant stories of how special pets had saved their owners’ lives. There were so many of these that few of them could be printed, so be sure to look to our online articles to feature these stories at greater length!

We wanted to feature pets because, in our community, pets have long played a particularly important role in our lives and wellbeing. In a world where LGBT people still often face rejection from friends and family, pets provide unconditional love. In a world where many barriers against LGBT adoption remain, adopting a pet gives many an object for their unconditional love. In dark moments they provide light.

I remember when I first got divorced. I was living on my own for the first time in my entire life, having transitioned from the dorms at Emory straight into married life. I spent every day with my son at home, so I was rarely alone. Suddenly, I was all alone in an apartment that felt cold and empty as a grave. I had a bit of a nervous breakdown, I admit, and my ex decided I needed to take one of our dogs. She even paid the pet fee. And suddenly I wasn’t quite as alone, though Joan did lick more than a few tears away.

There is also a kinship between a common LGBT experience and that of so many animal companions. As I mentioned earlier, so many LGBT people, especially youth, find themselves abandoned, homeless, without care. Likewise, so many of our pets come to us from shelters, from pounds, where unwanted animals are abandoned by their former families. The grateful expressions, the absolute devotion, these pets give their adopted families, the humans who want them without condition, is amazing.

O&AN has long partnered with the Nashville Human Society to introduce Nashville’s LGBT community to some of the pets available for adoption, with the help of NHS’s Kenneth Tallier (pictured above with his “Funky Bunch”). Remember, when you’re ready to grow your furry family, there are thousands of animals out there who have been cast aside already—don’t buy, head down to your local shelters or the NHS and adopt.





This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

When I was 14 years old, I surreptitiously made my way through the stacks in the local library until I came to the Psychology section. One after one, I took down the books whose titles I thought would provide an answer, went to the table of contents and, if there were any, I flipped to the pictures.

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James Mai

Many of us have made resolutions and pledged ourselves to transforming some aspect, or aspects, of our lives. For some, these resolutions will involve career, budget, home ownership, etc., but for a LOT of us, they will involve various health, exercise and fitness goals.

Often, these resolutions are vague, like “lose weight” or “exercise more”, and way too often they begin with a gym contract and end with Netflix and a bag of takeout. Getting specific can help in holding yourself accountable for these commitments, though. So we thought it might be interesting to talk with a local gay trainer, James Mai, about his fitness journey, his work as a trainer and how he keeps himself motivated, and get some of his suggestions for carrying through on this year’s fitness resolutions!

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