by Gary Elgin
Knoxville News Writer
KNOXVILLE – An active group of nearly 40 men gathered on Monday, October 3rd, to celebrate the 13th anniversary of Knoxville’s Monday Night Gay Men’s Group. Celebrants represented a number of local groups including PFLAG, HRC, RCAP, MCC-K, and others from both Knoxville and surrounding areas. The group has long been a refuge for men of various generations and a variety of experiences and backgrounds offering a venue for all to come together in brotherhood and community.
Over the 13 years, topics of discussion have ranged from internalized homophobia to domestic violence to "Show and Tell" nights (no toys or films, thank you.) The group has seen laughter and tears, relationships and break-ups, celebrations and mournings.
This Monday night was all about memories of events and people who have added a different flavor to each gathering. The late Rev. Jim Richards was a familiar face at past meetings. One of the guests recalled, "He would get all fired up about something, and we’d hear about it. He would always make us laugh". Jim Richards was remembered by many Monday evening. He passed away in January of 2005 of cancer.
Members were treated to a delicious pot luck buffet as part of the celebration.
Credit for the Group’s longevity goes to Rick Sawyer, a well-known part of the Knoxville community. Rick has been solidly building community for GLBT person in our area for decades. His efforts in keeping the Gay Men’s Discussion Group going are only a part of his contribution. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Rick’s day job with the Helen Ross-McNabb Mental Health Center takes him to the local jail to help care for the prisoners. His other accomplishments include the Gay and Lesbian Help Line and St. Ninian’s Well, a shelter for GLBT and allied persons in transition. His partner, Bob Galloway, is an integral part of these efforts as well. Bob is well known as the Senior Pastor for the Metropolitan Community Church of Knoxville and the President of the Knoxville Ministerial Association. Rick and Bob have been united in love for more than 30 years.
The Monday Night Men’s Group meets each Monday @ 7:30pm at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church located at 2931 Kingston Pike. For more information, contact Rick at 865-523-6101 or email – [email protected].