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Our LGBT + allies blog is enriched with multi-media content that offers you updated stories, features, and life pieces in print, audio and video. Enjoy.

Recreating the Gay American T Dance

October 23, 2017 - articles

story and photo by Mark Benton   Christian “Cashmere” Assandria was asked by the owner of Alchemy/Growlers to manage a Sunday entertainment venue at Growlers Sports Pub in May. He quickly thought about the days when Sunday T Dances were the norm and a booming…

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Equality Jackson: Bringing Positive Change to Small Towns in Tennessee

October 6, 2017 - articles

story and photos by Mark Benton     When Focus contributor, Mark Benton, moved to Jackson, Tennessee in 2013, he had lived in many large cities but never a city as small as Jackson, population 70,000. He had always been active in the local gay…

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Community Pegasus Krewe Fun-Raisers

July 24, 2017 - articles

story and photos by Mark Benton (Photo Above) Growlers bar on Poplar Avenue played host to the Mystic Krewe’s recent fundraiser ‘Tea Dance.’ The group raised $1500 for their efforts, 100% of which will go to charity. Party goers included (from left) Coco Flores, Imagene…

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Pastor Robert Van Ess

June 21, 2017 - articles

by Mark Benton | photos by Greg Campbell   Like a priest hearing confession, former hair stylist Robert Van Ess’s listening skills helped him become an ordained, able minister, ready to guide his congregants’ life journeys.   At the age of 32, Robert Van Ess…

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Becoming Stella Brooke

September 10, 2016 - articles

by Mark Benton | photos courtesy of Stella Brooke Stella Brooke came into this world facing challenges that most of us could never fathom. Her mother was from Korea, while her father had deep roots in the South. Stella was born in 1971 and thought…

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A Check for Pulse – Cover Story

August 25, 2016 - articles

LGBT bar owner Tami Montgomery finds meaningful response to Orlando nightclub murders by Mark Benton photos by Mallory Lane Photography   Wow! Tami, it seems everyone is talking about the tremendous outpour of love that resulted from Dru’s fundraiser for employees of PULSE NIGHTCLUB after…

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Welcome to MAGY

June 27, 2016 - articles

MEMPHIS AREA GAY YOUTH by Mark Benton with Emerson Kirkpatrick and Jamilyn Cole photos by Joan Allison In Memphis, there exists a safe space for LGBTQ youth. It’s called MAGY, for short. Memphis Area Gay Youth, for long. Mark Benton, Focus Mid-South contributor, recently checked…

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Play ball! The History of Gay Softball in Memphis

April 15, 2016 - articles

By Mark Benton   Gay softball in Memphis began when a group of men watching the 1993 Super Bowl at a local watering hole turned from cheering for the game to a discussion about putting together a gay softball team. Within one month they created…

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Outflix Film Festival Debuts “Boulevard” at the Brooks Museum

March 21, 2016 - articles

Movie Review of “BOULEVARD” Starring Robin Williams & Kathy Baker Reviewed by Mark Benton & Mike Millson Mark’s Review: My spouse Mike Millson and I are no Siskel and Ebert by any means, but we always thoroughly critique movies we see together. The screenplay written by…

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Mark Benton – This is My Story

March 9, 2016 - articles

At the dawn of the HIV/AIDS crisis, I was in the armed forces – and newly diagnosed with HIV. Thirty years later, I am thriving. by Mark Benton photos by Greg Campbell   “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” —Friedrich Nietzsche   I…

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