May 2006


Michael Duffield launches PR/Marketing firm in Chattanooga

Michael Duffield has announced the launch of Michael Duffield Communications, a creative consumer communications and public relations agency based in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Duffield, whose recent background is in national public relations for Whole Foods Market, the world’s largest retailer of natural and organic foods, looks forward to working with his already impressive client list.

His initial client roster includes Chalmers Chocolate, Bristol Farms, Stone Cup Roasting Company, and cre824. This client list runs the gamut from groceries to “webjam” design competitions, pointing up Duffield’s versatility.

“I was encouraged by former clients, colleagues and local business owners – some who’ve followed me from agency to agency – to strike out on my own,” Duffield said. “They told me of their appreciation for my style, my commitment, and my creativity. I’m honored to be thought of so highly.”

His brand-building work has generated coverage for his clients in some of the country’s leading business and consumer media, including the Chicago Tribune, Gourmet Magazine, Food + Wine, Bon Appetit, FOX Good Day Live, The New York Times, Nation’s Restaurant News, Crain’s New York Business, Supermarket Sampler (a nationally syndicated food column) and online on foodline, StarChefs,, Daily Candy, and CBS Market Watch.

Born and bred in the Midwest, Duffield, holds a Bachelor of General Studies degree in journalism and design from the University of Iowa. A relatively new Chattanoogan, Duffield is proud to say he lives and works downtown. When not at work, he sips, shops and sups his way through the Tennessee Valley.

Contact Duffield at (423) 209-2986 or

Dr. Al Ichiki passes away

Noted immunologist and HIV/AIDS activist, Dr. Al Ichiki passed away recently while visiting friends in Australia. Dr. Ichiki apparently suffered a massive heart attack. Friends and relatives gathered on Saturday, April 1, 2006, at the Metropolitan Community Church of Knoxville (MCC-K) to memorialize his life and his work. Services were officiated by Bob Galloway, Senior Pastor of MCC-K.

Dr. Ichiki received his B.S. and M.S. from Purdue University, and his doctorate from UCLA. He also did post-doctoral studies in microbiology at the John Curtin School of Medical Research in Canberra, Australia. Upon his death he was the Acting Chairman for the Department of Medical Genetics in the Graduate School of Medicine at The University of Tennessee. He also served honorably in the United States Air Force from 1960-1965.

A native of Lahaina, Hawaii, Ichiki’s presence in Knoxville is well known to many. He co-facilitated the Tuesday support group at the Hope Center along with Dr. Jeannie Gillian at the Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center. The group offers support to persons living with HIV/AIDS.

Halls Shopper News prints homophobic comment

A recent brouhaha erupted over a photo caption in the Halls Shopper-News. The photograph depicts a local candidate for Knox County Commission, Chuck James, hugging Tyler Harber, local wonder boy politico. The picture was taken after James won his seat on the Knox County School Board in May 2002.  The picture originally appeared in the Knoxville News Sentinel nearly four years ago. The Halls Shopper headlined the photo caption with “Brokeback Buddies.” 

Harber is currently embroiled in local intrigue involving missing computers, the ex-Knox County GOP chair, and the County Mayor’s office.

Sandra Clark, editor of the weekly, declined to comment when approached by “Out & About Newspaper” but in a written statement to WATE Channel 6 news she said, “The caption was intended as humor and no offense was intended. We regret this misunderstanding.”

In Vol. 45, No. 13 of the Halls Shopper-News Clark writes, “We deeply regret offending Chuck James, although it’s hard to believe he has never been called anything worse than gay.”

Harber, a 20-something political strategist, previously managed campaigns for County Mayor Mike Ragsdale and others. An agreement to discontinue providing those services in local races came after Jamie Woodson complained to the County Mayor’s office about his support for her opposition.

Following the incident in which the Knox County Sheriff’s Office confiscated his computer, found hidden in basement air ducts in the Andrew Johnson Building in downtown Knoxville, Harber was terminated from his position with the County Probation Department. The computer-related investigation is ongoing.

Gay Evangelical Conference to be held in Gatlinburg May 4-7

Evangelism isn’t just for straights. The Evangelical Network (TEN,) a group of GLBT Bible-believers, will convene their annual meeting at the Glenstone Lodge in Gatlinburg beginning on May 4 and running through the weekend. Conference topics include relationships, recovery, extreme faith, building bridges with mainstream churches, developing balance in life, and Christian identity.

TEN is an association of churches, ministries, Christian workers, and individuals who share faith, purpose, and promise for Christian gays and lesbians. Their members are bound together by a common purpose, but are not a denomination in the traditional sense. They do recognize that problems related to prior abusive experiences with Christian churches exist in the gay and lesbian community. They also firmly support marriage equality.

 “Evangelism and fundamentalism have been made into dirty words by the forces at work in our country,” states Todd Ferrell, President of TEN. “We have no problem being both gay and Christian.”

While touting abstinence and celibacy as a “gift,” Ferrell readily admits that unscrupulous and misinformed Christians have done much harm to the GLBT community.

“The ‘clobber’ passages,” notes Ferrell “are used to harm gay Christians. The scriptures must be taken in historical context. A church or denomination is not God. Judgments made by humans will always be fallible.”

The convention speakers roster includes Randy Morgan, Pastor of New Covenant Church in Atlanta, Ga.; Janice LaCount, Minister and Evangelist; Randy McCain, Pastor of Open Door Community Church, Little Rock, Ark.; and Kevin Rushing will function as the conference’s worship leader.

In addition, an optional class scheduled for Friday, May 5, at 8:00 a.m. will focus on the reconciliation of homosexuality within a Christian context. The seminar will be lead by Dr. Joseph Pearson, President of the Christ Evangelical Bible Institute in Phoenix, Ariz.                               

Ferrell reports a welcoming atmosphere and attitude on the part of the staff of the Glenstone Lodge in Gatlinburg. TEN’s 2005 convention took place in St. Louis, Mo.

For people living with HIV/AIDS, the Schubert/Shears Scholarship Fund has been established to assist them in attending the TEN Conference each year.

The Evangelical Network can be reached by e-mail at or by mail at P.O. Box 324, Pacifica, CA 94044. Phone:  (415) 286-7751 or fax: (650) 557-9748.

Visit their Web site at