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The Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) is collecting a series of first hand stories of LGBTQ people in Tennessee who work in the health field during the COVID-19 pandemic. This story is from Dustin Cross. If you are an LGBTQ person working in the health field and want to tell your story of working during the pandemic send it to Jeremiah at email@example.com .
By Dustin Cross
My name is Dustin Cross and I am a Registered Nurse that has worked in the healthcare field since 2008. I grew up in a small town in Mississippi and moved to Nashville after falling in love with the diversity and inclusiveness of the city in 2016. I did travel nursing before moving to TN and brought a wide range of skills and experience with my Bachelor’s in Nursing, which has now turned into a recent completion of a Master’s of Nursing in Family Nurse Practitioner degree from Austin Peay.
I currently work on a COVID-19 Isolation Unit as the night shift charge nurse role. I care for patients for 12+ hours a night but the shifts feel so much longer while working in the heavy PPE that I am grateful for. I remember my first night working on the unit with positive patients. Reaching out to touch their hand and greet them with an introduction through an N95 mask, jumpsuit, face shield, and all the rest of my PPE. It was a reality check for me as a provider of care battling against an enemy in the form of a virus that we have never fought. At that moment I knew this virus was different and this pandemic would change the healthcare system. Out of all of the nursing experience I have from working across this country, nothing has compared to the heightened level of care that I have been asked to give for these critically ill patients. Despite the challenge, this has definitely been one of the most rewarding times of my career.
I find myself being encouraged with the praise that the public has given my colleagues and I. However, I also feel the pressure that this pandemic has placed upon the healthcare system of this country. It is hard to see my city and state suffering from a novel virus, but also my very own community. I stay positive for those that have looked to me for guidance and assurance that we can beat this enemy that healthcare workers know so little about. I truly believe that we can and that we are defeating this. We learn more each day. The unprecedented times that I am working in have carried me into a type of nursing that I have never thought about. The isolation. The survival while caring for others. The fear of contracting the virus in my care. The worry of giving it to someone I love. The heaviness from the politics of the pandemic. Will I have enough PPE each day? The loneliness from staying away from friends and family. Will someone back home get sick? So much is to be considered when evaluating the many changes that have taken place over such a short amount of time in the healthcare industry, as well as the way we live our normal lives at home. I lean on friends and colleagues sharing their stories from across the country during their COVID shifts for a sense of togetherness.
However, sometimes I walk into work with a heavy heart for those that are hurting around me and I unfortunately sometimes carry those burdens home with me. My face bares the markings of the masks and face shields that protect me. The bridge of my nose is rubbed raw. The headaches from the struggle to breathe through the masks linger for days at a time. I feel exhausted after running on my feet for 12+ hours in the hot PPE. The skin on my hands are irritated from continuous and vigorous hand washing. Some days it is all I can do to make it to my shower after a long shift. My coworkers and I keep each other positive on those tough days. We are a team but we are also human. Despite the opinion on the severity of this pandemic, I know our servitude matters to so many and it is uplifting to hear from the community via positive feedback and acts of kindness. It is this positivity and also the need of the community that drives me to do more, care more, give more, complain less, and seek out hope for the future in this fight. I feel lucky to be able to be a part of the healing hands that are working to keep everyone safe.
I want to enjoy the luxuries of my great city during this time so that I can fully escape the stress of fighting on the frontlines. I cannot go to the gym. I cannot grab a coffee or a bite to eat with friends at a restaurant. No movie theater outings or watching a great live show at TPAC. I love to travel but cannot plan any trips due to the unknown future at the moment. I miss the live music of Broadway. I live in midtown Nashville so I do try to get outside and walk with my dog and roommate to get fresh air, but I long for more. I miss my friends that I am socially distanced from. I also want to be able to visit with my family back home in Mississippi soon. I know that eventually I will be able to enjoy all of the great offerings of my city again. Until then, I work the frontlines to save the lives of those that just want the luxury of sleeping in their own bed like I am allowed to do each day. This city has given me the best of it and I want to return the favor through my ability to add to the healing of a place I call home.
Thank you all for your continued support of healthcare workers across the area, nation, and world.
Much love, Dustin Cross RN, MSN-FNP
Read the healthcare focus on Casie Habetler
Read the healthcare focus on Matthew Fuson
For those with a thirst to celebrate, Red Bull Unlocked is the key. In city after city, the most exciting bars, clubs, mixologists, performing artists, and more take over a local landmark building to showcase their signature ambiance while also collaborating for a must-see mashup. And now it's Music City’s turn to seize the spotlight, as the event brings 10 bars together in East Nashville’s Five Points neighborhood.
Fueled by the best of Nashville’s thriving music scene, Red Bull Unlocked has curated an eclectic night of show-stopping entertainment performances including a pop-up Whiskey Jam show, DJ sets, musicians, and more. The full lineup is here:
- Whiskey Jam (feat. Dozzi, Willie Shaw, and Johnny Hayes)
- A.B. Eastwood
- Daisha / Rap Girl
- Boom Bap (DJ Collective feat. DJ-Rate, Case Bloom)
- Whiskey Disco (DJ Collective feat. Coach, Jim O'Shea)
- Old Crow Medicine Show’s Jerry Pentercost (DJ Set)
- DJ Stretch
- DJ Griffin Green
- The Play Mates (Drag Show feat. Sasha, Vanity, Deception, Aura Mayari, Corlis Todd, and Carmin Triple C)
Counting down to the epic celebration, Daisha shares, “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to perform in so many of Nashville’s top spots all in the same night. Fans can expect a lot of bops and high energy. I want people to dance and have a good time.”
Ward Guenther, Whiskey Jam Founder, adds, “Red Bull has been enjoyed at Whiskey Jam since the very first night, so it's only fitting Whiskey Jam is enjoyed at Nashville's first Red Bull Unlocked. Looking forward to this!”
Red Bull Unlocked Istanbul
Photo courtesy of Red Bull
Local favorites including Pearl Diver, Tin Roof, Lipstick Lounge, White Limozeen, and more will join forces for one epic night. Full list of bars and partners below:
- The Dive Motel
- Lipstick Lounge
- Pearl Diver
- Play Dance Bar
- Rosemary & Beauty Queen
- The Stage
- Tin Roof
- Whiskey Jam
- White Limozeen
- Woolworth Theatre – Opening Fall 2022!
- Eleven Eleven - Opening 2023!
Date: August 21, 2022
Time: 6 PM – 11PM CT
Location: 1102 Forrest Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Entrance: Ticked event
Rumble Boxing, the boxing-inspired group fitness studio, opened its doors for the first time in Nashville on June 20 at 609 Overton St, Nashville, TN. The hottest workout on the block is hosting its official grand opening from August 4th-7th with daily classes, membership specials, and prizes from local vendors. The new Rumble Boxing studio is currently offering a buy one class, get one free promotion for the Nashville community.
Rumble Boxing delivers 45-minute, 10-round, strength and conditioning group workouts, crafted around teardrop-style aqua boxing bags and high-intensity strength training circuits. This brings all fitness levels together to experience what Rumble is known for: combining the sweet science of boxing with high energy and positive vibes.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
This boutique fitness brand offers serious benefits like increased stamina and strength, with cardio that’s actually fun. The seasoned trainers at the new studio are thrilled to serve their local community while offering this fun, new modern approach to boxing and welcome members of all fitness levels to the Rumble family.
The new Rumble Boxing studio is owned and operated by Blake Baskin and Antonio Compton. With their background in the fitness industry, this dynamic duo is excited to bring their passion for boxing and group fitness to Nashville. As business and life partners, Blake and Antonio aim to create a strong community within their new Rumble Boxing studio and share their message of non-apologetic inclusivity.
Black and Gay-Owned Business
Rumble Boxing Store with Dolly Parton Mural
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“We own who we are, and this brand aligns with that perfectly,” said Antonio. “This is what we want to create and bring to this community: a fitness class that is designed for anyone and a place for people to be who they are. As a Black and gay-owned business, we want to help lower the division we see in the world right now. Our goal is to bring people together through Rumble, set everything aside, and have fun.”
To echo their message of acceptance and inclusion, Blake and Antonio commissioned a local Nashville artist to paint an 11 X 6-ft. mural of Nashville icon and philanthropist, Dolly Parton. The massive portrait features the country star in Rumble Boxing gear in the lobby of the studio.
The excitement and buzz around Rumble allowed Blake and Antonio to recruit top-tier trainers to head up the new studio, including Head Trainer Oronde Jones, a well-known celebrity trainer in the Nashville market.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“Compared to other fitness classes, Rumble is a class you can truly get lost in for 45 minutes. With the dark room, you don’t have to worry if anyone is paying attention to you. The music is awesome and inspiring, and the beat drops right when you need it the most. Also, with boxing being a sport you can never truly master, you’re always improving and crafting your skill. On the floor, you’re consistently doing something new, which prevents you from ever hitting a plateau.” Said Oronde Jones about his favorite part of Rumble.
Rumble has massive brand loyalty and widespread appeal, partly thanks to attracting top names like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Jason Derulo, David Beckham, and Kevin Hart to its studios.
About Rumble Boxing
Founded in New York City in 2017, Rumble is a group fitness concept delivering a mix (or combination) of boxing-inspired circuits and the transformative power of resistance training. Pro and amateur fighters glove up together, no matter their fitness level or skill, to reveal their inner fighter. The experience is a 45-minute, 10-round, full-body cardio and strength workout crafted around specially designed water-filled, teardrop-style boxing bags. Rumble was founded by Noah Neiman (former Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer, and cast member of Bravo’s Work Out New York), Eugene Remm (Co-Founder of Catch Hospitality Group (Catch Restaurants, CATCH STEAK, Lexington Brass), Andy Stenzler (Co-Founder Cosí, Kidville), and Anthony DiMarco (13-time IRONMAN, former Managing Director, Google).
Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?
For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:
A Gay Cruise
One of the best options to have in mind when all of this passes is a good, nice and long (pun intended) gay cruise. Or cruise in general, for that matter. Bear in mind, social distancing will still be a thing in the post-COVID world. But COVID-19 likely doesn’t mean that cruises will cease to exist. On the contrary, though cruise ships will probably keep the number of passengers smaller than before, it is believed that they will become an even bigger hit in the following period, especially because they are all going to go a lot more environmentally-friendly. On the bright side, is there any better way of celebrating the end of the pandemic than by cruising around some magnificent seas, stopping by at great cities and having romantic dinner nights at nice restaurants?
A getaway in nature
On the other hand, there is always the option of stepping away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, and spending some time in a place that’s not only healthy, but also beautiful. Some of the destinations that plenty of people will look for are the ones that can cater for both peace of mind and amazing things to see or do. One such destination is New Zealand, one of the greenest countries on Earth right now. Not only will you be visiting the magnificent country that gave us the beautiful Shire from Lord of the Rings; this is also a destination that’s excellent for everyone who prefers relaxing to partying. If you’re up for some partying, you will be able to hit Auckland, while if you’re for something calmer, there’s plenty of amazing places that you can see and visit.
Dancing Around at Pride
Pride parades are also events that you want to have in mind for the post-COVID world. Such events have always been quite important, but it seems that they are now more important than ever. The virus has canceled more than 75 Pride parades all around the world, which is one of the reasons why we must support the ones that will see the light of day once the pandemic stops. Truth be told, the upcoming Prides will perhaps be the best Prides ever organized. Give the gays a couple of weeks of quarantine, then let them outside and see what kind of party they are able to throw!
A road trip
If you’re, as well, waiting for the day to wake up and say “long gone are the days when we were not allowed to go wherever we wanted?”, and if staying at one place gave you a lot to think about, then your first post-COVID travel experience should definitely be a nice road trip. You can practically choose which country you want to tour, and you can either take your own car (you have probably missed it so much), or rent one at your destination. Australia is an amazing country for this, though, as it offers the possibility of seeing the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing thing to see and experience. On the other hand, if you do not want or cannot leave your country, you can also choose to go on a domestic road trip – there are amazing things to see in your vicinity as well.
Holiday for a single guy
If you’re single, or you’re traveling someplace with another single friend, then you should definitely organize a nice vacation for yourself or for you and your single friend, and hit one of the best European cities. Europe has been greatly affected by the virus, which means that now it’s time to pay it back and get it back on its feet by traveling there and seeing all the amazing things it offers. Any city you choose in Europe – you will not make a mistake. Apart from being able to see great landmarks, you will also have the chance to have a drink at great gay clubs and pubs, and join unforgettable gay parties. And if the gay scenery is not your forte, worry not, as Europe indeed has to offer so many different and magnificent things.