Friday, November 10, 2006

Rocky Top - Trip to Tennessee

Paris, TN
Sometimes, returning home brings more pleasant surprises than anticipated. Certainly this happened to us as we went to Tennessee to visit E's mom.

Neither of us was really looking forward to this trip. Tennessee is a state that only seems to have bad news coming from it from a gay and progressive standpoint. After all, it is Bush's favorite place to go whenever he wants a morale boost. E's mom was even concerned about our coming because she was afraid that two gay men in E's hometown of Paris (pop., 10K) might not be welcomed at all (although Paris is the home of Tony award-winning actress and very out lesbian, Cherry Jones).

Anyway, we arrived on a Friday night in Nashville, where we were scheduled to spend the night before driving the 100 miles westward to Paris. We were totally delighted to find a wonderful group of gay establishments near our downtown hotel. We had drinks at TRIBE -- a huge, multi-faceted bar with several different venues (sitting rooms with couches, large bar area, tables on a balcony, large video room (with great musical videos played at a volume where you could still talk), and a non-smoking bar area. Even more surprising, Tribe includes a really great restaurant called RED where we had a wonderful meal at reasonable prices sitting among tables of gay couples and groups. TRIBE serves also a mixture of gays and lesbians and some hip heteros, a mixture we rarely see in SF.

After dinner, we went next door to the equally fun PLAY, a two-story club where the top floor has a stage and a parade of drag queens belting it out (and many were REALLY good) to an audience of gays and heteros. Down below was a great dance club, with many cute boys of all races (another great surprise in Nashville) along with some more hetero couples who seemed right at home with the guys.

We had a fantastic evening and stayed from about 6 p.m. until 3 a.m. when we capped of the evening with several ‘gutbombs’ from Krystal hamburger restaurant. Who would have thought??

We also visited the large and well stocked GLBT bookstore Outloud Books and Gifts. What a great community resource. All these establishments were along Church Street.

E and his Mom visit The Homeplace, a 19th century farm
And how did Paris go? GREAT! We rented a cabin on beautiful Kentucky Lake (about 12 miles from Paris). I got to see all the little houses E had lived in, along with his schools and other local sights (the 100+ year court house, the 3rd highest Eiffel Tower in the US, etc.). We also spent a day in Land between the Lakes, a park that extends for 40 or so miles between Kentucky & Barclay Lakes, where we saw bison, elk, and a large, re-created farm community of the 1880s. Museum of the American Quilter's Society
We also went to the Museum of the American Quilter’s Society in Paducah, Kentucky (50 miles from Paris), where we were amazed in what is a fine arts exhibit of quilts that take in many cases years to make. The museum features a rotating exhibit of over 100 art and traditional quilts by renowned contemporary quiltmakers. We were stunned by their beauty, by the huge museum itself, and by the way the quilts were almost as spectacular as Renoirs or Monets.

So, all in all, venturing into this very Red State was not quite as bad as we thought it would be. As the saying goes, 'great place to visit, but don't want to live there.'
bison at Land Between the Lakes


Thomas (Tom) Rimington said...

Who would have thunk?

Glad you had a good time, I think I'd like to visit Nashville sometime... Sounds very progressive to me. Richmond, VA does not offer as much, neither do Norfolk or Va Beach...


Will said...

What a nice surprise. I have to admit that Fritz and I have avoided a lot of states for the last several years, feeling it would be better not to go where we obviously weren't wanted.

But in truth the worst that ever happened was when we were told rather frostily by a motel clerk that she would NOT but two men in a room with only one (double) bed. In the other hand, she was perfectly cordial once it was established that we would be in twin beds.

Joshua said...

Seriously glad you had a great time. Unsuspecting, pleasant surprises are always the best!

A Bear in the Woods said...

Tennessee is such a mixed bag, from the hippest to some of the most concentratedly redneck hollows on earth.
But anyplace that can produce somebody like Dolly Parton can't be all bad.

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