Nashville Croons A Welcoming Tune For Gay Travelers

Conventional gay wisdom says the South isn’t inviting to gays and lesbians. Well, times have changed and towns and cities below the Mason Dixon line are laying out the welcome wagon for the LGBT community. Take Nashville: The convention and visitors bureau has been promoting Music City as a premier tourism destination in LGBT media outlets around the country.

As the largest city in Tennessee, Nashville has plenty to offer for live music aficionados, food hounds, nightlife lovers, travelers with a soft spot for Southern charm, or just those looking to bump into stars like Taylor Swift or Nicole Kidman.

Country music connoisseurs will have a gay old time touring the Country Music Hall of Fame, housed in a $37 million modern building. A stop at the Ryman Auditorium, the “mother church of country music,” will also be in order. And don’t forget the Grand Ole Opry with its live incarnations of the radio show credited for putting country music on the mainstream radar.

Nashville is also the home to Tennessee’s largest HIV/AIDS organization, Nashville CARES, and the Oasis Center, an organization to help support and educate LGBT youth. It’s no wonder that GayCities refers to Nashville as the “LGBT Buckle of the Bible Belt.”

And, best of all, the Nashville’s music scene is not without it’s share of (mostly straight) eye candy. Click through for  just a few of the red-hot country singers that have performed on the legendary Grand Ole Opry stage.

Photos: Hollo Photographics

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  • Biff

    As a native Tennessean I can attest that Nashville is truly a great, progressive and
    fun city. Do not go there. Do not spend money in Tennessee. What was once a moderate
    Republican state (Bill Clinton won the state twice) has become a cess poll of hateful
    tea bag conservative ism.

    Last year Nashville passed an ordinance that required city contractors to include gays
    in their non-discrimination policies. The state legislature promptly passed a law that
    banned any such local anti-discrimination laws. They also passed a law that would have
    withheld state money from any university required its students to abide by anti-discrimination rules. That one was vetoed. The veto only survived because it happened at the end of the session and the legislature did not feel like coming back to over-ride it. It will likely be reintroduced next session.

    It is predicted that the legislature will be more that two-thirds Republican after the November election.

  • cam

    Last year Nashville passed an ordinance that required city contractors to include gays
    in their non-discrimination policies. The state legislature promptly passed a law that
    banned any such local anti-discrimination laws.”

    Biff, thank you for that information. There are so many places that are welcoming to us, no reason to hand money over to help out a state that hates us.

  • Daez

    This amount of shock may actually kill me, but I actually agree with Cam. Excuse me while I go wash my fingers with bleach after typing that. Anyways, I really do feel that TN is so incredibly homophobic that I have a problem giving them any of my money even though I really love country music (which undoubtedly is also predominantly homophobic).

  • Biff

    Yeah, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill sponsored by local embarrassment Stacey Campfield got all the attention from the national media but never actually got passed into law. While Stacey was preening publicly on the Michelangelo Signorile Show, others in the legislature were quietly getting the conservative agenda passed.

    It’s frustrating that Stacey got all the attention and ridicule because the real enemy is Senator Mae Beavers. She is very powerful and has played a big role getting the oppressive agenda passed. I figure we ought to be able to make a national laughing stock of her based on her name alone, but the gay media has mostly ignored her.

  • Paul

    I lived in Nashville for 11 years. In 2005 I finally could not take the anti gay hate and GOP and religious asswackery any longer. It was never gay embracing but progressed to the completely off the rails over the cliff ultra right wing insanity in just a decade. Please don’t go there or spend money there. If you really want to spend money in TN then buy one way tickets for gay youth who desire to escape.

  • Cam


    Hmmmmm….hell must have frozen over. ;)

  • J Stratford

    Wow. I was in Nashville in 2005 and I met the hottest gay Southerner ever. It never occured to me that it was part of the “south”. Maybe the rest of TN invaded the city?

  • Oscar Raymundo

    The only way we are going to affect change is by visiting and supporting gay-owned or gay-friendly businesses (the travel tourism lists a bunch!).

    We should be encouraging the Nashville LGBT community to be a part of the political system and demand equality and not trying to convince gay teens in TN that their salvation exists only in fleeing to more progressive areas. We will never move forward as a country if only New York and California become overstuffed as home bases to the LGBT movement.

  • Paul

    Oscar, I agree with your premise in an ideal world. However, I put in my ‘time’ of 11 years there, which is more than I would ever ask of any one person. I was not successful in changing anything apparently as the State is now more conservative and anti gay than ever. Sort of feel like I wasted my time trying. the saying; “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink”….comes to mind.

  • Biff

    @Oscar- The Nashville LGBT community IS quite politically active maybe not to the extent that you see in SF or LA but the gays make themselves heard. The problem is that Nashville (and to a lesser extent Knoxville and much lesser extent Memphis) is the only progressive, safe place for the gays. The state legislature is dominated by legislators from small, rural communities and is just short of becoming 2/3 republican. The governor is a pretty moderate republican but he is no help because TN allows a governor’s veto to be overriden by a simple majority making it effectively useless.

    Tennessee is not a nice place. I grew up there. Then I left for a long time. Now I am back and can’t wait to leave again.

    Remember it was Tennessee and not Florida that really put Bush in the White House in 2000. Had Tennessee voters given the state’s 11 electoral votes to native son Gore, Florida would have been irrelevant and Gore would have won the election.

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