The Music City Sisters visited each of the gay bars last night after our monthly meeting. Blue Jeans, Vibe, Canvas, Tribe, Play, then dividing up for The Stirrup and Trax, we hit them all. That may sound like a lot of vodka cranberries or, in my case club sodas, but we feel an obligation to support these establishments with our patronage when we visit, or that’s what we tell ourselves as we hop from bar to bar in ministry. If another gay bar ever opens in Nashville, we’re going to have to rethink our strategy, or at the very least divide up earlier in the evening. As it is now, we barely have enough time to make our rounds, and our vodka cranberry quota has reached its limit.
Our primary task last night, and every night we put on our white faces and crazy outfits, was to inspire joy, end guilt, and encourage safer sex. More about that in a moment. Our secondary task was to talk up and collect donations for Launch Pad, an upstart effort to shelter homeless LGBT youth on cold winter nights. To that end we not only raised awareness and money, but we also secured commitments from each bar owner or manager allowing us to put collection boxes for items like toothbrushes, socks, gloves, etc. in each of the bars. As an added incentive, the owner of Canvas offered a drink token for anyone who brings an item for the box placed in his bar. A. Maz. Ing.
Let me say more about spreading joy, ending guilt, and promoting safer sex. Right off the bat, I was part of a conversation with the owner of a bar that primarily serves African American clientele. Since my involvement with the Sisters, we have not included this bar in our ministry. The story goes that at some point in our sistory we were turned away at the door because of our white face makeup. In truth, I suspect most of us are quite comfortable with passing over this bar. As I said, we’ve reached vodka cranberry capacity, but more importantly, it will take effort on our part to bridge the racial divide that still exists in Middle Tennessee. After the conversation with the bar owner, the way is clear for us to make that effort as he made it clear that not only are we welcomed, but encouraged to visit his bar. Before we left, I watch one of our Guards dig around in his safe-sex bucket for a receptive condom requested by one of the bar’s arriving customers.
A two-door hop to the next bar and I found myself holding a microphone and explaining to anyone who might have been paying attention the launch of Launch Pad. A few moments later, I was on the patio listening to a man seeking advice regarding a budding relationship. I won’t go into details about the conversation, but I will say it was sensitive, intimate, and personal in nature. The guy about whom he spoke was on the patio as well, so this exchange was somewhat awkward, even as it was necessary. When I left the couple was kissing, guilt sufficiently banished. I smiled as I headed on down the street.
At stop number three I spoke at length with one of my favorite bartenders about the future of same-sex marriage in Tennessee. We discussed the likelihood of the Supreme Court listening to an upcoming appeal out of this state, where the Sixth Circuit Court recently upheld Tennessee’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. We parted in hopeful agreement that this would be the case that makes marriage equality the law of the land for the entire country.
At stop number four I danced my ass off, or I would have if I had an ass. You know Sister Ann is having a good time if she pulls her sheer overveil above her head and lets it fall over her face, fake eyelashes be damned. Rest assured that this is her attempt to channel Lady Gaga realness. She’s really getting into it if grabs both veils and twirls them above her head like a cowboy with a lasso. She may not be able to twerk (she has no butt), and her dance moves may be goofy, but there’s no denying she inspires joy when she twirls her veils up over her head.
By the time we arrived at our last destination it was 1:30 am. To the right of the entrance a young woman was talking on her phone in the parking lot. As we made our way toward the door she smiled and pointed at the back of her phone. A pink heart was stuck there, one that I had given her on a previous outing. I smiled back as she exclaimed, hand covering her phone’s mic, “Love you, Sisters!”
She caught up with me later and said, “Sister Ann! The heart you gave me is torn. Can I have another one?”
I frowned and shook my head, “No,” I replied.
Reaching into the front pocket of my purse and digging around as if all of the hearts I keep there were gone, I pulled out a fistful. “You can’t have one, but you can have five!”
“Really?” she said, and gave me a hug.
Not a bad way to spend a Saturday night. And since I stuck with club sodas, my Sunday has been quite enjoyable, too.