Tag Archives: Gay Nashville

CRANBERRY CLOUDS ACROSS MUSIC CITY

I’m sitting here in my room at the Radisson Airport overlooking a sky of clouds in hues of cranberry, charcoal and periwinkle contemplating the last night of my fabulous trip home to Nashville. I’ve had an amazing time seeing very good friends, eating good southern food and venturing to old haunts of days past. I wish I could have seen everyone I had wanted to but there will be other trips. Now it’s time to get back and focus on Mr. All American Gent 2013 with workouts, dance training and blinging the house down. Sondra Celli watch your back and glue gun, Gal!

Here in Nashville, after arriving on Friday afternoon, I’ve seen Aurora Sexton turn out some Fergie Ferg, Miss Fergalicious. I’ve been confused between Katy Perry and Sara Andrews trying to figure out which one was onstage at Play Saturday night. I braved shopping at Cool Springs Galleria with Mom and found myself picking out angel ornaments in a Christian Bookstore. Somehow the word “gay” slipped out of my mouth a few times. Blaspheme. I loved those stores as a teenager! I’ve worshiped a soulful woman of color over some soul food realness she provided me and my best friend Kristy at At The Table on 12 Ave. South. I found the final touches on my formal wear at Macy’s at a cute discount on “Friends and Family” day.

I Ki-Ki’d with a dear friend Fred Scott at Tribe with our legs crossed reliving days behind cocktails. It meant SO much he came out and made the true effort to see me. He used to whoop my wigs into an Ivana Trump for your nerves during my competitive drag days. Worship him. I enjoyed giggles of high-kicks past with my dance girls and teacher Mrs. Cathy from our company days over margaritas. Opryland Christmas lights twinkled above Mom and I as we ventured out for a nice evening drive. Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme battled it to their sugary death. But when the sign flashed Hot. Donughnuts. Now. and they sure did I tell you, the glazed delights pulled ahead. However, the still fresh munchkins in the box next to me are calling my name so let’s call it an even draw. I’ve made it to all my favorites so it’s been a win-win for my appetite.

My trips home are always great and I return to Palm Springs so vitalized and appreciative of what I’ve become and where I’ve been. It’s exactly what I needed before the contest to give me a chance to step back and see it all from a different perspective. I’ve had the chance to talk even more about what’s happening and it’s helpful hearing it aloud and described getting people’s reactions who are, for the most part, detached from the scene and circuit. BIG THANKS to Bobby who hooked an old friend up as always with my room. Indoor pool, weight room and onsite food. Can’t best it! Don’t let the Radisson “Airport” location scare anyone. I don’t hear one plane. I hear more at my Mom’s and the hotel is only 3 minutes from BNA.

My flight heads out tomorrow at 1:30 with a layover in Dallas just long enough to watch my downloaded rented movie Step Up 4: Revolution having a cocktail and fried mozzarella sticks at a Chili’s, Too. Maybe a spot of bird watching if the mood strikes me. After the cocktail, I’m sure it will!

Good Night and Safe Travels! And the final picture is of Nikki. It was only after dinner did we notice what she had done. I squealed with my camera in hand!

HOME. SWEET. HOME.

This is a quick HELLO as I’ve just returned from Nashville where I had a great time seeing friends and spending time with Mom. More details and the heres and theres of my visit are to follow but I felt like I hadn’t ran my fingers over my lighted MacBook keyboard in a few days. I have just another day of work and I’m off for a few before tackling Memorial Day back at work. I’m having fond visions of IML events past, weekends of Pensacola Beach circa mid-90s and witnessing the pageant that is Miss Gay USofA that always falls around Memorial Day Weekend.

And what about the picture above? It’s at the Cracker Barrel where I came out to my mother at when I was eighteen. Love those rocking chairs. Price tag that my mother had to turn round when she used her new phone to take my picture: $149. Here’s hoping everyone enjoys themselves this weekend, and parties smartly and safely. In Palm Springs, the number for American Cab is 760-322-4444. Don’t be silly.

“THE HELP” HITS HOME

We are all into Redbox (even though I believe it’s with a lower-case “r” in the logo) right now. Easy movie rentals for $1 and there is a kiosk almost everywhere. Reserve the film online or take your chances at the actual machine, then pick it up for the night returning it by 9 p.m. the next evening at ANY Redbox kiosk. I always wondered how you could rent a movie at the airport via Redbox with the transient ways of a traveler. Where would you return it? Now I know. Sorry it took me so long to get to one and rent movies. Only the latest and hottest flicks are available. Rarely do I see a former box office smash or the like but those are on cable so no big deal. If you’re weary of sliding your credit card, use one that you have a good report with like American Express and trust it will all be fine. And grab some popcorn!

Last evening we picked up The Help and it was magnificent! Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer played the hell out of their characters. Emma Stone was solid in her role. Bryce Dallas Howard and Jessica Chastain were brilliant, too. It was hard to watch at times because of the reality that during these day of the film’s period bigotry reigned, blacks were not treated as equal to whites and what we take for granted now was once just a dream to many. Freedom and equality. Timely piece for us LGBT since we continually fight for our place among everyone equally.

In the film, the sight of confederate flags brought the feeling home to me personally since the mascot at my high school in Nashville, TN was a confederate soldier, a rebel, holding the flag. Years passed and I believe the school changed the mascot to panthers or cougars or something along those non-discriminatory lines. We would spray paint a HUGE rebel flag across the lawn during Homecoming Week every year. This was the south in the eighties, remember.

Enjoy the film and when the award shows are televised you’ll be in the know about what wins the awards. And again, grab the damn popcorn!

SEASONS CHANGE

STEVEN SPILLS © 107

SEASONS CHANGE

With this being the final installment of “Steven Spills” for 2011, I wanted to finish the year with a bang. These stories are from the heart. I just returned from a holiday visit home to Nashville where I checked in on mom, laughed with friends over dinner and drinks, and felt the southern Christmas magic I did as a child. However, as I looked around it wasn’t only the seasons that had changed around my old haunts in Music City USA. (Cue 80s girl-group Expose Greatest Hits for soundtrack.)

I moved on into the road of life at twenty-two when I escaped the restraints of a very tight Bible Belt and “graduated” to Atlanta. I say graduated because if one moved on from Nashville or surrounding smaller cities, that’s usually where they went on to. This was over two decades ago and things would obviously change over time but on this trip home I was reassured how much. I was continually reminded of how I had grown up and on into adulthood past a more simple way of being.

When I was twenty, I was working a part-time job here and one there and wherever else I could make a dollar. During these years, the shopping mall that was THE place to be was Hickory Hollow Mall. It was an actual event going! Where would you eat in the Food Court? Hot Dog on a Stick or Chick-Fil-A? Should you spend your allowance at Spencer’s, the arcade or Merry Go Round first? What if you see “so-and-so” and they act like they know that you told that something that you shouldn’t have but did and now they’re pissed?!

I actually worked at Hickory Hollow over time as a server at Ruby Tuesday’s, luggage store Nashville Trunk, clothing store J Riggins and Mitchell’s Formal Wear where I measured the inseam of hot straight guys standing in front of me in their socks being fitted for tuxedos. To see the place now, the crime-ridden empty mall, makes me incredibly sad. Sad enough to slightly weep to myself this last trip as I stood alone watching down at Santa Claus sitting quietly in his chair not a child to be found to sit in his lap.

The dreary weather that poured down outside didn’t help the scene at the desolate once-monumental mall. As the long corridors have begun to close in towards the middle due to inactivity, the demise of Hickory Hollow Mall is tragically inevitable. With online shopping flourishing and flagship stores evolving elsewhere, the once popular places of excessive expenditure suffer! Hello, maybe you’ve heard of the Desert Fashion Plaza?!

Nashville has grown leaps and bounds since my days of stomping around the knowing streets that still give me feelings of happiness when traveled upon. But the things that stay constant are conservative views, churches positioned every ten feet and scattered BUSH ’04 stickers that still adorn American-made car bumpers. We even tripped out to Opry Mills shopping mall that once homed Opryland USA, a fabulous theme park I spent two adolescent summers working at through stagnant heat while chopping off tops to plastic fruits that held sugary juice inside. With changing times, the theme park was finally flattened in 1997 and resurrected as a retail heaven.

Today, the still-closed shopping mall that stood against the great Nashville flood of ’10 has a predicted re-opening in the spring of ’12. But as we drove by it really seems like someone needs to be working harder because it is still quite closed. The Grand Ole Opry reopened rather quickly and has a full schedule of performers throughout the year. The beautiful holiday lights of Opryland Hotel located next door delivered some Christmas spirit to my mom and I. However, past memories of what once was dominated the conversation between us as blue and white lights twinkled over our car driving through the grand hotel grounds.

When I return from a trip home I always feel that I bring back with me another layer of my maturity. I see that my life is amazingly unique and the wonderful bubble I often take for granted here in Palm Springs shouldn’t be seen as such. Being back home in Nashville is an escape of what’s expected from me in the world I live in today. That can be a wonderful break. Just saying. I continually appreciate myself more, my life and those in it. I’ve come a long way, baby!

Happy New Year… You, Me and We.

2011 © PULP

GAY CULTURE IN NASHVILLE

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook then you’ve surely seen that I’m back home in Nashville visiting Mom, friends and making new ones. Life here, rather gay culture, is starving to many degrees in Music City and times have changed considerably since the fond days of the Warehouse 28, then the Warehouse 2, The Chute, Juanita’s, Pyramids (after my time) and Connection, for that matter. On Church Street there’s really all there is, PLAY and Tribe. Both are gay nightclub/bars catering to all the baseball cap, Polo shirt wearing gay men “NashVegas” and surrounding towns can handle on a given night.

PLAY (not sure if it’s all CAPS but I like it like that) has the only dance floor in town with good DJs and is Tranny-ville in the spacious show bar. Gorgeous female impersonators entertain lesbians, straight folk that have gotten lost and extreme drag worshipers. The PlayMates include Deception whose man-made rack is quite spectacular to see; Sara Andrews who is Katy Perry’s twin, dead-on; Nichole Ellington Dupree who brings in the flavor to the cast; DeeRanged who is as twisted and talented as the name sounds; and new cast member Aurora Sexton who is a bombshell goddess who is the pure Tea and I live for. Loved seeing the show and BIG THANKS to Aurora for the guest list placement for me. She turned out Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You dressed in naughty red Santa wear, knockers knocking me out as I threw money at her on the stage. I danced a short while in the disco but have been recovering from a fractured rib so I was just happy to be on the floor for a bit.

Tribe is next-door and a video bar that plays show tunes, has hot bartenders and has some unique spacing inside. Suzy Wong’s House of Yum is where I dined with dear friends Kristy and Eddy on Saturday evening located inside Tribe owned by Top Chef contestant Arnold Mynt. Afterwards, Eddy and I sat and had a cocktail, cruised men and giggled at who was on Grindr and Scruff on our iPhones until Krispy Kreme’s called me back to the room.

Other than those two locations, there are a few others including Vibe, Stirrup, Canvas Lounge, Purple Heys, Blue Jeans and Trax but I didn’t find myself there this weekend and will not be making it there tonight before I head out tomorrow. As you may expect from the Bible Belt, gay culture is minimal and precious when you have it. It’s been fun to go out and see strangers in their own habitat. I used to be one of them and now find home life so much more appealing. Luckily I’ve had a great time and look forward to getting home to Palm Springs safely to my Husband and Kids. I’m starting to get slightly homesick and it’s time to return. If I’ve missed anyone this trip, I ‘ll catch you next round. Love you all! This will always be home.

More of the story to come in Steven Spills very soon! Good Night.

COMING OUT IN CHURCH

STEVEN SPILLS © 100

COMING OUT IN CHURCH

And the Lord said, “Girl, you’re gay!” And it was done.

My bi-monthly therapy sessions here at “Steven Spills” turns 100 this issue. As a proud milestone must be celebrated, I’ve decided to cross lines that I‘ve rarely treaded before. I’ve always tried to keep my columns light but personal, entertaining and opinionated. I rarely mix with politics and almost never open the book of religion. It’s time, dear.

When deciding what I should do for this big installment I first thought of composing a love-letter to my readers for always picking up PULP and supporting me by reading my words. Or maybe even a self-adulation story of how wonderful I see myself for what I’ve done. I’ve always prided myself on being a storyteller and the following is true, barrier-breaking and the tale of another milestone in my life. This is the story of the day I sat in church and realized that I was what everyone had been calling me my entire life. I was gay.

I was born into a family of Church of Christ believers and until I was seven-years-old, I spent Sunday mornings hating my life while sitting on a horribly uncomfortable wooden pew listening to a man basically yelling scripture at us, his congregation. When I wasn’t enjoying the only thing about church I actually liked, Vacation Bible School, I was being spanked by my father on the front steps of the church in broad daylight for being a child fidgeting in his seat until I stopped crying. Ah, the memories that burn deep. Ouch.

It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I stepped foot back into church attending a few Baptist services with a girlfriend from dance class. About this same time I had also met another male dancer at the studio and we became friends fast. Scott assumed I was gay. I had no idea that he was. Looking back Scott Vernon was a big ‘ole sis. Mustache, bandana around the neck and a bright-ass shirt tucked to perfection in his tight 501s. Queen! I was obviously queer from birth but after learning the meaning of “repression” in Health Class I began pushing those feelings down and away. I wasn’t sure what I was but I knew I was different.

One day Scott was telling me a story about tricking with someone during his lunch break and when I honestly asked him, “Who Trix was?” like it was someone’s name, he looked at me like I was crazy. I quickly became very curious about this gay lifestyle. The only exposure I had was seeing two men come out of a bar on Christmas Eve when I was twelve kissing before getting in the car together. Knowing Scott showed me that there were others that seemed like me and it was OK.

The date was May 11, 1986 and it was the day that changed everything for me. I attended church alone that evening and am not sure what the precursor was but about 6 p.m. everyone sat down quietly in their seats, the sermon began and a voice immediately said to me, “Steven, you’re gay.” Was it out loud? It was loud enough for me to hear it and to listen. I have no idea what the sermon was about because after I heard those words everything else cleared in my mind and I was different forever.

Afterwards I drove to Scott’s apartment and exclaimed, “I’m gay!” Friends were there and they all joyously replied, “We know! Welcome out. Get in here!” They threw me a surprise “Coming Out” party and we watched William Higgins’ fantastic adult classic The Young and The Hung. Not to get too personal but I was so hard it was ridiculous. And so embarrassed. I was eighteen and this scene was very new and extremely inviting to me, a quiet southern boy living in Nashville.

I’ve never claimed to be religious. Even though Christian brainwashing I endured living in the Bible Belt gives me cause for prayer of forgiveness thinking anything other than what I’ve been taught. When the subject of man-made religion is even on the table I usually take a pass. But loving a Jewish man and knowing alternatives of religious beliefs and human spirituality gives me a reason of honesty in saying my God, my Higher Power, is the one that put me here on earth, gave me life and the love in my heart. That’s what I know. The rest is available for those who want and need to believe. And by all means, do find that something to believe in! It feeds your soul and gives life to you. Thanks for reading.

2011 © PULP

STEVEN SPILLS #95

STEVEN SPILLS © 95

GOING HOME

So maybe there is something to what Beyonce says as she croons about girls running the world during her erratic neck-thrower “Run the World (Girls).” During my recent visit back to Nashville not only did I unknowingly schedule my adventure during the Country Music Awards festivities (Kimbol and I sat next to Sugarland at lunch at Noshville delicatessen!) but also during an outbreak of cicadas. As you may know or not, these buzzing females breed quite loudly with the males and then they die while the girls head back down into the ground dropping eggs in twigs and bark to hatch for the next round. All along the grounds were the crunchy carcasses of males gone to a better place.

I arrived in Tennessee after American Airlines delivered me safely back south via a painless layover in Dallas/Ft. Worth. They knowingly schedule flights with definite space between since the airport is so spread out and a transit monorail is necessary for moving along to other terminals. Calling it out for what it is… traveling makes me horny. There was no easy way to put it so if you’re an adult you can handle the truth. Maybe it’s all the strange men that I don’t know, many traveling alone or with business buddies. Nonetheless, I’ve always got whiplash by the end of my travels and a full camera phone.

The Hyatt Place Brentwood housed me once again and generously provided me a media rate when other hotels in the area reneged on original offers. I won’t even go down that road but after a certain hotel found out I write for a gay magazine my rate mysteriously and unfortunately shot up $40 overnight. Their loss. The Hyatt Place has a great pool, big suites and large screen televisions. Having stayed there before I immediately asked if the view was the front or back lot once I got my room key and politely asked to be moved since I would be there four days. Travelers tip: Don’t ever be afraid to nicely ask about something you’re interested in or desire.

My first night’s finale was quite interesting. Mom and I did our traditional southern barbeque with cornbread at Bar-B-Cutie before I dropped her back off with her new HP laptop that I took for her all set up and ready to go. At a very excited sixty-eight it will be her first personal computer. Having it locked and loaded before my arrival saved a lot of time allowing us to be doing other things like the continual cleaning out of excess in her house providing me time to visit good friends and also take her out on the town.

On my way home from having a drink at Tribe (ugh, they closed at midnight!) I sadly saw a deer that had been hit and was laying on the side of the road. I called 911 but was informed I should call the non-emergency number. As I whipped home in my KIA Spectra rental car I tapped Google on my iPhone, got the number myself and called to report poor Bambi’s demise. Always the reporter, that’s me! I didn’t figure anyone else would have taken the time it was so late at night and I felt compelled to do something so I did.

The stifling humidity in Nashville was about as thick as comedian Tracy Morgan’s nerve with temperatures reaching above 90-degrees. I was able to visit with friends that I don’t always have the luxury of doing. It was wonderful having dinner with Shanda, Stacey and Cathy from my dancing days at CDS. They’re my family. Seeing Ron and Dolly was definitely like “old school” times! Thanks Loves! Kristy, my BFF from high school and born one day after me, dished about old friends, her crazy trip to the plastic surgeon and seriously brilliant daughters. At eight and ten years of age they sound smarter than many adults. We enjoyed a variety of small plates at Arnold Myint’s Suzy Wong’s House of Yum on Church Street. Afterwards I stopped by Play to catch the drag show. My lovely friend Nichole Ellington Dupree served up chocolate decadence while transsexuals Sara Andrews and Deception made me question my love for masculine real men. Their bodies are right on point and their man-made racks perfect.

With all that said, going home is emotionally draining. If you’re like me, in doing so we are faced with decisions that we’ve made in life and the consequences that have become. Sometimes we must answer for things. Other times with real family everything is understood and there’s no need for discussion. I love returning but by the end of the trip my system and soul is yearning for the comfort of my home here in Palm Springs. I’m blessed to have come all this way because the only option I’ve ever really had was to keep going. Growing up is really the only thing any of us can and must do. I have and continue to.

2011 © PULP