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The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund is among the largest LGBT political action committees in the U.S., and its sole focus is on developing political leaders to advance the cause of seeing our community “reflected in the political leadership at all levels of government.” Since 2003, Chuck Wolfe has served as President and CEO of the organization, so his announcement in September rates as one of the biggest shakeups in LGBT advocacy in recent memory.
In a letter posted on the Victory Fund’s site, Wolfe said, “My decision to step down at the end of this year after nearly 12 years as president and CEO comes at a time of great progress for our community, but also at a moment when the LGBT movement must step up the intensity of our work in places where equality is late in arriving. After much soul-searching, I concluded now is the right time for me to seek a new challenge and to hand the tiller to someone else.”
In mid-October, the Victory Fund held a Champagne Brunch in Nashville to raise funds for the cause and to update the community on Victory’s work and strategic planning. Shortly after the brunch, Wolfe sat down with Out and About to discuss the Victory Fund’s work, his decision to step down, and his hopes for the future.
Could you help familiarize our readers with the Victory Fund’s work in Tennessee, and Nashville?
Throughout Tennessee, whenever we have viable candidates we’re all over that! Tennessee is a big state for us. You have one of the worst legislatures in the United States for equality. And people seem to wear that as a badge of honor that are on the other side. We would like to take that badge away. In Tennessee, our major goal is finally getting someone elected to the Tennessee legislature. In Nashville specifically, we’re focused on winning seats on the city council. We have at least two candidates next year, maybe more. It would be great to see one of those win, and one day run for mayor.
You have a strong focus on the legislature. In a state as conservative as Tennessee, what’s the real import of an LGBT legislature? The votes will still be just as conservative, right?
It makes a world of difference. Patricia Todd in Alabama is your best example. She’s the only out LGBT elected official in not just the legislature but the whole state! Just her being there has changed the political climate in the legislature, and some of [her] colleagues’ viewpoints. They aren’t running around passing good stuff, but they have stopped passing bad stuff! We sure would like to see Tennessee stop doing that, too!
A lot of LGBT political advocacy groups spend less in the Southeast. Victory seems to have a big interest here. What’s the difference?
We’re proud of the fact that we spend more in places like Tennessee than we raise. We invest a lot of staff and training time, as well as support, in Tennessee and places like it. I’m proud of that. We had 350 people in the room at our brunch because people know we are actually investing in Tennessee candidates. Hearing Chris Anderson from Chattanooga talk about our support helps people understand the investment. And even though Nancy van Reece ran and lost, she knows we’ve been there with her and [it] helps people see that. Tennessee is important to us because its politicians are among the most regressive. If people everywhere truly knew how backwards some of the elected officials here are, it would really impact the economy. There are major businesses today who will not move to a place as unwelcoming as Tennessee. And, you know, eventually you’ll watch businesses go elsewhere because Tennessee doesn’t treat their employees fairly.
What do you consider some of your organization’s biggest ‘wins’ in Tennessee?
Once you announce you’re leaving a role like this after twelve years, you’re often asked to give this kind of reflection. Nationwide we’ve met with huge successes, but the hardest races are those most local races where you’re trying to break through a glass ceiling. We’ve supported Nancy van Reece in the past, and we’ve gotten so close! She’s such a genuine and sincere candidate, you really want for her to win. She hasn’t won that yet, but hopefully she will the next time. Chris Anderson’s race in Chattanooga, though, is probably one of our greatest success stories, because I don’t think anyone there thought it was possible, and we proved them wrong! I think the races where we prove people wrong are the ones I’ll remember for a long time.
How did this mission take over your life?
Interesting way of putting it, but accurate! The Fund was founded in 1991, so I took over after successful directors, and I came in at just the right time, frankly. There was a wave ready to be ridden, a culture change going on, and we were there and relevant. For me, Victory was personally relevant. I had worked as an out gay person in the Florida governor’s office at a time in the 1990s when that wasn’t done. I know the mission because I lived it. How did it take over my life? It weaves itself into everything you do! I have no vacation between Labor Day and Election Day. I look at all my friends’ Facebook pages, and I see the beautiful fall photos. They’re out riding bikes or horses, and I think, “I want to be there!” But at the same time you realize, “No, one more stop in Indiana or New Mexico means that one of our priority candidates could get some extra help.” You don’t want to pass up those chances, because we’re making history. It’s a remarkable thing to be part of.
That brings up the next logical question. Since we seem to be at the cusp of what may be a major change in culture and history, why now?
It’s hard to explain how much it’s interwoven into my life, but twelve years is a long time. You know I had some health challenges at the beginning of the year, and again in the middle of the year. That gives you all of this time to think and reflect. Labor Day weekend, I had the joy of taking care of my nieces, and you know I just realize that’s a part of life I don’t have. I don’t have weekends, I don’t have time to do those things with family and friends. And I want that! It’s hard to make personal decisions when you get into rolls like this. There’s no way to separate the job from your personal decisions, so when you finally get to the point of having to make a decision for the benefit of you and your family, it hurts. It is actually physically painful to realize that I’m taking this part of me—that has woven itself into me, that I have taken care of and deeply care about—and saying “Alright, down! You have to take second place.” There’s no perfect time to do it, but I think it’s now, for me. If I hadn’t had the challenges I had this year, there’s no way I could have made this decision. Frankly, I never would have had the chance to sit and reflect. I would have just kept doing what I was doing. But it’s easier knowing a great team will keep it going and growing. While I say victory has to take second place in making this personal decision, I know victory isn’t going to suffer, it’s going to grow even larger under the next leader.
What are the things you’d like to finish up before you leave?
Before announcing my decision, I already knew my big dream for this year: winning a governor’s office. Having won race from senate to mayor, now we have a chance to win a governor’s office! For me that’s a huge opportunity, because I came from a governor’s office. I know the difference a governor can and will make. So, my big hopes for November are winning the Governor of Maine, attorney general of Massachusetts, and getting state legislators in places like New Mexico, Idaho, and Michigan. Those are big deals. We have a great county council race in Lexington. Next year the Mississippi legislature is up. There I am thinking about next year. That’ll be for someone else!
Where do you think Victory Fund is headed, post Chuck?
Honestly, I have no idea! But our new strategic plan will probably have a different focus, less on marquis races and more on state legislatures that still have no representation. There’s so much policy and law made at that level—we need to focus on it.
For more information, or to get involved, visit https://www.victoryfund.org/
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.