Nashville, April 17, 2006: Once a week the volunteer members of the marriage subcommittee of the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) gather in an otherwise empty office building after the business day in downtown Nashville. Ten people are on the committee, though not every member is always present, and the meeting tonight is an unusual one: it marks the end of the first official week that their newly hired campaign manager, Randy Tarkington, has been on the job.

Before the meeting begins, Tarkington engages in light chit-chat with all the familiarity of a longtime friend with committee member Jared Davidson, who is a college student taking the semester off from his studies. Davidson is seated in a classic leather button-tufted chair at the corner of a long glass-covered conference table with his laptop open.

“I’m still going through all these contacts in my phone,” says Tarkington, “telling everyone about my move. Some of these names I don’t even recognize.” A 12-year resident of California, he moved this past February home to Tennessee.

“I know,” says Davidson. “You know, when you’re at a bar or something—“

“—yes! And you meet a possible business contact or something and get the number. You just put the first name in, and then you think later, who is this person?!”

In a few moments we’re joined by uber-activists Pam Wheeler and Marisa Richmond – two of the hardest working volunteers in our entire community – and the room is alive. Committee member John Snyders joins in by phone. The meeting begins.

“One thing I’ve found, just talking to people the past while,” says Tarkington, “is that no one knows this election is going on.” Heads nod in agreement.

“We have a lot of work to do.”

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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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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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