2011 year in review

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JANUARY

Belmont University announced they have amended their current non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation. The move came after the departure of the women’s soccer coach Lisa Howe in December.

FEBRUARY

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) hosted 16th annual Equality Dinner on Feb. 19 at Nashville’s Loews Vanderbilt Hotel. The theme for this year’s dinner – sponsored by Bridgestone – was "The Art of Equality." The gala celebrated the contributions and accomplishments of the Nashville arts community and will feature many diverse, local arts organizations in Nashville.   

MARCH

The Tennessee Equality Project’s seventh annual Advancing Equality Day on the Hill was held March 1. Participants met with politicians to discuss legislation related to equality issues.

APRIL

The Tennessee House approved a bill that would reverse Metro’s ordinance barring discrimination against GLBT employees. House members voted 73-24 in favor of the proposed legislation. Sponsored by Republican Glen Casada of Williamson County, it was intended to nullify a Nashville ordinance prohibiting companies that discriminate against GLBT individuals from doing business with the city.

MAY

Governor Bill Haslam signs into law a bill that prohibits local governments from enacting their own non-discrimination policies, despite the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry reversing their earlier support and now opposing the bill. The measure – SB 632/HB 600 – passed the legislature last week. It effectively reverses an ordinance passed by Metro Council that required city contractors to follow Metro’s rules barring discrimination against GLBT individuals.

A bill that would stop Tennessee teachers from talking about homosexuality in the classroom passed the Senate. The bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Stacey Campfield, who unsuccessfully pushed the same measure for six years while serving in the House, was approved 19-11. The "Don’t Say Gay" bill would make it illegal for educators to discuss any sexual behavior apart from heterosexuality with students in kindergarten up through the eighth grade.

JUNE

The Nashville Pride Festival included a full day of exciting performances on the Bridgestone Main Stage featuring national sensations Kimberly Caldwell, God-Des and She, Jonny McGovern and locally-loved groups Knowing Me Knowing You and The Worsties. The event was held at Riverfront Park for the third consecutive year.

The second season of the hit series Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys began filming in Nashville. Four women and their gay best friends were featured in our November cover story. New episodes of Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys premiered in late 2011.

JULY

"Wildly Unpredictable," the sixth installment of the Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce fashion show series, was held at PLAY Dance Bar on July 17. The event raised over $25,000.

AUGUST

A Nashville Fire Department paramedic was suspended after posting a Facebook rant against gay and lesbian fire department employees, with one post citing that "the queers need to crawl back into the closet." Kevin Kennedy, a paramedic with the Nashville Fire Department EMS Bureau, started a string of posts in a closed Facebook group that was part of Nashville Fire Department’s Deputy Chief Steve Meador’s page. Meador heads the Paramedic/EMS Bureau of the department. Kennedy directed some of his posts towards particular GLBT individuals on the department. Kennedy was fired in December after posting further comments.

Out candidates David Glasgow (District 18) and Nancy VanReece (District 8) succumbed in their bids for Metro Council. Peter Westerholm won a runoff election in District 5 to become the first TEP board member to serve as a councilman.

SEPTEMBER

Nashville CARES hosted its AIDS Walk and 5k Run Saturday, Sept. 24 at a new location, downtown’s Riverfront Park. Kimberly Locke served as the celebrity spokesperson for the event. The organization raised approximately $200,000 for HIV/AIDS research.

OCTOBER

Carla Lewis of Maryville, Tenn. is responsible for General Mill’s decision to abandon a transphobic advertising campaign for Totino’s Pizza. The campaign included an online competition seeking the next Totino’s Pizza Stuffers Mom. One of the video examples on General Mills’ website was a non-female identified cross dresser. Lewis, a member of the East Tennessee Equality Council and a current website manager of Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, composed a petition on change.org to General Mills asking the CEO, Director of Marketing, and Director of Sales to pull the offensive ad.

Nashville welcomed “On the Road to Equality," a nationwide bus tour that carries forth HRC’s mission of "educating the American public and empowering LGBT people to become advocates for themselves and their families." The 12 week tour traveled to 20 cities in 13 states and D.C., with particular emphasis on the Midwest and South where there are limited legal protections for GLBT people. Among the states the “On the Road to Equality” tour visited, none has a state-wide non-discrimination law including sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a national organization that works to elect GLBT leaders into public office, hosted a champagne brunch Sunday, Oct. 16 at the Hutton Hotel in downtown Nashville.

The University of Tennessee held its first LGBTIQ conference on Saturday, Oct. 22 at the Knoxville campus. In partnership with OUTstanding, the free public seminar was open to all identities and backgrounds including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) and ally-identified college students and community members. 

Mid-South Pride moved its traditional June celebration to October, and both the parade and festival moved from midtown Memphis to downtown Memphis.  Out & About Newspaper served as a Platinum sponsor of the event held Oct. 15.

NOVEMBER

As part of its third anniversary celebration, OutCentral Cultural Center hosted Autumn Honors to observe recent cultural achievements of GLBT Nashvillians.

Nashville CARES presented their latest fundraiser, AVANTGARDE, at the Boutique Hutton Hotel Ballroom Saturday, Nov. 12. Designed to be an evening of high energy and fun, AVANTGARDE focused around modern international design and fashion as it transformed the room into four individual night clubs that represent four fashion capitals from around the world: New York City, Paris, Milan and Hong Kong.

DECEMBER

Rolling Hills Hospital in Franklin denied multiple requests by Val Burke to visit her partner, who is currently a patient in the hospital’s residential facility. Staff members excluded her from the room since she was not a legal spouse or family member. After being alerted of the incident, the administration of Rolling Hills contacted Burke and allowed her a special visitation appointment.

The Middle Tennessee community mourned the death of an Ashland City teen who committed suicide Dec. 7. Jacob Rogers, 18, attended Cheatham County Central High School, and friends say he was subjected to frequent anti-gay bullying by classmates.