ROLL OF HONOR
In 2014, in celebration of the 25th anniversary, a group of volunteers selected the first ever “Roll of Honor,” over 100 individuals and organizations who had contributed the community between 1989 and 2014. Their names and photos hang on the walls of our community center.
This spring, in celebration of our 30th anniversary, OUTMemphis opened nominations — this time to the public — for new members for the Roll of Honor. We also established new criteria: Each of the individuals listed below have served LGBTQ+ causes in the Mid-South for a minimum of five years, have created lasting impact on the experiences of LGBTQ+ Memphians, and have embodied the mission of OUTMemphis: to empower, connect, educate, and advocate for the LGBTQ community of the Mid-South.
We acknowledge that our Roll of Honor is, by definition, incomplete. No list of names could do justice to the breadth of the Mid-South’s LGBTQ+ community and those who serve it. We also acknowledge that not every LGBTQ+ person, organization, or community is connected to OUTMemphis. While we celebrate the 2019 Roll of Honor, we look towards the future excited to expand our programmatic reach and network of collaborators.
In the coming years, we will continue to add members, and invite our community to help us to do so.
We hope you will join us in thanking these 25 individuals for their service.
Latino Outreach Coordinator, LeBonheur Children’s Hospital
Maria Bozo serves as Latino Outreach Coordinator for LeBonheur Children’s Hospital and the Bilingual Victims’ Advocate at Casa Luz. She is an ally to the Latinx LGBTQ community, and is a relentless advocate for health equity. Over the course of her career, she has served as a translator, an HIV educator, a linkage-to-care coordinator, a PrEP navigator, and a family safety advocate. Maria understands the hardships, threats, and LGBTQ stigma within the Latino community and works diligently to provide confidentiality, dignity, cultural sensitive health information, and other valuable resources.
Former Board Chair and outgoing Director of Programs, OUTMemphis
Elokin CaPece is a longtime sexual health advocate and educator and has supported OUTMemphis over the past ten years as a volunteer, Board Chair, and eventually serving as Director of Programs for the agency from 2015 – 2019. Elokin’s relentless dedication to the organization shepherded in a tremendous growth for OUTMemphis and supported its transformation from a volunteer-run community center to an impactful service provider.
Dr. Davin Clemons
Minister; Co-Founder/Executive Creative Director of The Unleashed Voice; Executive Director, The Cathedral Foundation, sponsor of Tri-State Black Pride; and LGBTQ Liason, Memphis Police Department
Through his extensive range of projects and collaborations with this mother, Gwen Clemons — as minister, police officer, entrepreneur, and social activist — Davin Clemons has dedicated his life’s work to amplifying, destigmatizing, and empowering the experiences of black LGBTQ people in the region. Through his work with The Unleashed Voice radio show and magazine, his representation as the LGBTQ Liaison to the Memphis Police Department, and his service with Cathedral of Praise, The Cathedral Foundation, and Tri-State Black Pride, Davin works tirelessly on behalf of the black, Southern, LGBTQ communities within Memphis and beyond.
Gwendolyn D. Clemons, M.B.A., M.S.M.
Co-Founder/Publisher of The Unleashed Voice Media Firm; Ordained Elder of The Cathedral of Praise Church; Counseling Supervisor, Shelby County Division of Corrections
Gwendolyn Clemons is co-founder of The Unleashed Voice Magazine, The Unleashed Voice Radio Show, and the 501c3 nonproft organization Relationship Unleashed (RU Unleashed). RU Unleashed offers monthly comprehensive programming. The programs are centered to provide awareness about systemic and social determinates that particularly affect the Black LGBT community. The mission is to provide education about HIV & Aids, sexual competency, healthy relationships, diversity and inclusion, spiritual health, and financial literacy. Gwendolyn’s lifetime of advocacy has led the way for her son, Davin to follow. Gwendolyn was ordained by The Cathedral of Praise Church, an affirming ministry for the LGBT community. Gwendolyn believes it is her calling to teach the agape love of God to all, particularly the LGBTQ community of Memphis.
Advocate, Volunteer, former Business Owner
Patty Crawford has served Memphis’s LGBTQ community for more than thirty years as a business owner, advocate, volunteer, friend, and neighbor. Patty has been politically active her whole adult life. Patty and her late partner Nan Lemons were some of the first out lesbians and community advocates in Memphis, as members of the 12-step community, and members of Memphis’s Episcopal Church community. As out business owners of the former midtown shop Lavender Earth, Patty and Nan provided floral services for many of the events that Al Gore held in his time as Vice President. Patty continues to facilitate OUTMemphis’s Al-Alon group “Seeking Serenity” and remains an active member of the OUTMemphis community.
Advocate and Volunteer for the LGBTQ Latinx Community
As a key stakeholder in the LGBTQ and Latinx communities in Memphis, Jerry Flores’s spirit of volunteerism have had enormous impact on connecting LGBTQ and Latinx individuals to community, programs, and health services. As a supporter and friend, Jerry has assisted Latinx individuals in connected to OUTMemphis’s health services, including HIV testing and getting those who are positive connect to care. Jerry supported OUTMemphis’s first ever Latinx Awareness Week in 2018.
Rev. Floridia Jackson
Pastor; Facilitator; Director, Memphis School of Servant Leadership
Rev. Floridia Jackson serves the larger Memphis community as an ordained community pastor, activist, facilitator, and educator lovingly embodying the principles of anti-oppression, anti-racism and nonviolence. Serving as the Spiritual Director at the Memphis School of Servant Leadership, she has served on the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board which investigates police misconduct, and is a part of CRY LOUD: Clergy Responding with You in Love and Outrage for Unity and Diversity.
Nan Lemons (1954-2012)
Advocate, Volunteer, and former Business Owner
Nan Lemons was a fierce advocate for justice her entire life. During the 60’s and 70’s, she worked diligently with the Civil Rights Movement. Nan spent many years working with the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), an early Civil Rights organization network. During this time she worked in the Mississippi Delta doing voter education and registration for those people of color who did not have access to voting. Along with her partner, she co-owned Lavender Earth, a floral shop in Midtown for many years.
Chair of the Boards, Tennessee Equality Project and TEP Foundation
Ginger Leonard has been a fiercely active leader and advocate for LGBTQ rights for decades. Over two decades ago, Ginger and Diane Thorton were the first publicly visible LGBTQ parents and stood up for the community by speaking to local and national media about lesbian parenthood. Having served on the Boards of CHOICES, Friends for Life, and in many other capacities, Ginger today leads the LGBTQ community’s advocacy mission with the Tennessee Equality Project.
CEO, Love Doesn’t Hurt
Phillis Lewis AKA Freak Nasty has worked as an advocate for victims of Domestic Violence in the LGBTQ+ Community for over 9 years and is the Founder/CEO of Love Doesn’t Hurt which focuses on violence in the LGBTQ+ Community. If you ever check out the night life or drag show here or there you have probably seen her drag persona Freak Nasty who has been performing for over 8 years a former Miss Mid-South Pride 2017, Miss Femme American National Star 2015, Mr. Misster 2012, Mister Mid-South Pride 2012, and Mr. Drus Place 2011. Phillis works with many non profit organizations such as Mid-South Pride, Friends For Life, Memphis Pegasus Krewe, Planned Parenthood, Men of Hoist, OUTMemphis, and donates her time as well to many others.
Volunteer and Board of Directors member, OUTMemphis
The true embodiment of an “ally,” Carol Livingston has generously contributed countless hours of service and enthusiasm to OUTMemphis for half a decade, and has played a prominent role in the Metamorphosis Project since its inception. From cleaning up an overgrown lot that would one day house the Youth Emergency Center, to helping write the HUD grant that helped us start the rapid-re-housing program to spearheading OUTBid, Carol’s volunteerism and allyship have made an enormous impact on OUTMemphis’s capacity to deliver lifesaving services. Carol was also one of the founding facilitators of PRYSM, OUTMemphis’s weekly social-support group for teens and spent every other Saturday, for years, providing love and support to LGBTQ+ youth.
Architect of the Metamorphosis Project, with LLW Architects, PC
Dell Livingston has supported the Metamorphosis Project’s Youth Emergency Center on a completely volunteer basis over the past four years as the building’s architect and construction planner. LLW Architects, Dell’s firm, has generously contributed hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars in work to the project, including guiding OUTMemphis’s process of navigation with city and county agencies, drawing up plans and assisting with every piece of the building construction. Dell has also been involved with other aspects of OUTMemphis over the past 5 years. He can often be found volunteering alongside his wife, Carol, at the Memphis Youth Count, Queer Youth Field Day, OUTBid, Pride and countless other events and programs.
HIV Advocate, Tennessee Department of Health
Christopher Mathews has been active in the field of HIV prevention and care in the Memphis region for over 12 years, contributing his skills, expertise, and volunteer efforts to the LGBTQ community and individuals affected by HIV. Chris has served on the Board of Directors for OUTMemphis, on the organizing committee for OUTFlix, and was the facilitator of the first group for same-gender-loving men of color at OUTMemphis. In the community, Chris has worked for Friends for Life, LeBonheur’s Community HIV Network, and served as a program director at The Tennessee Department of Health. During his tenure at the state health department, he was charged with increasing PrEP uptake in the city of Memphis. He currently works as a therapist for The Mental and Emotional Resource Center of Memphis. Christopher provides support to clients working through their traumatic experiences, including those working through their sexual experiences and HIV diagnosis.
Owner, Dru’s Bar
As the owner of Dru’s Bar, which opened in 2008 as a community bar and has grown into one of the city’s most central LGBTQ spaces, Tami Montgomery provides a safe, fun, and supportive space for the LGBTQ community and its allies to gather and play. Dru’s consistently provides space for many organizations to bring awareness and raise funds, and Tami constantly supports the larger community.
Co-Owner, the Pumping Station
Steve Murphy, with Robert Taylor, has co-owned and operated The Pumping Station for 18 years, catering to the gay and LGBTQ+ communities as a host, advocate, and supporter. As one of only a few gar bars in Memphis, the Pumping Station not only creates a safe and welcoming environment for our community, but Steve has generously supported LGBTQ causes, including as a key sponsor for Mid-South Pride, the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP), Friends for Life, and OUTMemphis and OUTFlix. A proud LGBTQ representative in Memphis’s business community, Steve and Robert’s newest venture — The Doghouzz, Memphis’s only hot dog bar — will open this summer.
Volunteer Coordinator & PR, Mid-South Pride
Jennifer Murry-Rodley has a heart for service work has served Mid-South Pride and Memphis Pride Fest for almost a decade. She has helped to shape the festival into its current iteration as a landmark Pride festival in the region. She also serves as a Board Member of Friends of George’s and consistently supports the LGBTQ+ advancement in the Arts throughout the city. Under the leadership of Jennifer and the Mid-South Pride Board, Memphis Pride Fest has grown to be an essential event for the community.
Owner, Ray Rico Freelance and Publisher, Focus Magazine
Ray Rico has owned and operated Ray Rico Freelance, a full-service marketing agency in Memphis, TN since 2007 donating many hours of marketing and design work to OUTMemphis and other LGBTQ+ organizations. In 2015, Ray’s vision of starting an LGBTQ+ local magazine came true when Focus Mid-South released their first issue. Since then, Ray and the rest of the Focus team have been covering city-wide LGBTQ+ events, news, and stories. In 2016, Ray started the annual Focus Awards, honoring leaders and activists in the Memphis community and supporting local social justice agencies with large donations. Ray also served on the board of directors for 7 years and most recently as the board chair for Friends for Life.
President, Mid-South Pride
Vanessa Rodley has stewarded Mid-South Pride for nearly a decade, helping to shape the festival into a major attraction for the city and a vital weekend for the LGBTQ+ communities of the Mid-South and beyond. Her commitment and ambition to Mid-South Pride has helped create a more affirming and engaging city. As a Board Member of Friends of George’s and longtime supporter of OUTMemphis, Vanessa goes above and beyond to serve Memphis’s LGBTQ organizations.
CEO & Founder of SisterReach
As a front line activist in Reproductive Justice, Cherisse Scott’s leadership for the sexual health of women, teens and LGBTQ+ people of color is imperative to our community. Through her leadership, SisterReach has been devoted to making space for masculine of center women of color and trans men through their BOITALK program. SisterReach also works as a courageous partner to LGBTQ+ agencies and causes throughout the city, state and national levels. Through lived experience, advocacy, education, representation, and leadership, Cherisse has worked tirelessly to advance the sexual health and wellness of women, teens, and LGBTQ+ people of color in the South.
Co-Owner, the Pumping Station
Robert Taylor, with Steve Murphy, has co-owned and operated The Pumping Station for 18 years, catering to the gay and LGBTQ+ communities as a host, advocate, and supporter. As one of only a few gar bars in Memphis, the Pumping Station not only creates a safe and welcoming environment for our community, but Robert has generously supported LGBTQ causes, including as a key sponsor for Mid-South Pride, the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP), Friends for Life, and OUTMemphis and OUTFlix. A proud LGBTQ representative in Memphis’s business community, Steve and Robert’s newest venture — The Doghouzz, Memphis’s only hot dog bar — will open this summer.
Lady Wilma Taylor
Musician, Activist, and Legend
Lady Wilma Taylor hails from Dyersberg, TN. She is one of the first women of the LGBTQ community. Lady Wilma is noted for being one of the oldest living Transgender women in Memphis. She is a professional opera singer with a flair for classical music. Her motto is, “You can start with nothing and out of nothing, a way will be made.” Lady Wilma Taylor has been a trailblazer for the trans community and the same-gender-loving community in Memphis for decades. Lady Wilma has been performing since the 1950s and remains a vibrant and active community member, friend, supporter, and advocate for her peers.
Community Advocate and Volunteer
Diane Thornton has held many roles over the decades she has been active in the LGBTQ community of Memphis. She has been heavily active in reproductive rights work, being both an active volunteer as well as an employee of CHOICES: Memphis Center for Reproductive Health. She was a designer for their condom-based fashion show “Condomonium” for several years. She has lent her hand to many initiatives in many ways over the years, being involved in committees, fundraising, activism, marches, both at the Center and elsewhere. She was an integral part of Meristem during its heyday, acting as a speaker and an advocate for feminism and queer liberation. She is also a fierce advocate for LGBTQ parenting and equality, having been publicized heavily during her and her partner’s pregnancies.
Activist & Community Organizer
Ms. Toni Whitfield has been an active member of HOPE (Homeless Organizing for Power and Equality) for many years, fighting for people experiencing homelessness, specifically trans women of color. She has attended housing provider meetings to ensure safe, supportive housing for her community. In addition to advocating for the LGBTQ community with local organizations and landlords, Ms. Toni has personally housed and supported many trans women in need of shelter they had nowhere else to turn. Ms. Toni has also started a business to train and employ trans women of color and provide stable income when they were not able to secure employment elsewhere. She is truly a wonderful example of a grassroots organizer and a role model to many transwomen in our community.
Former volunteer, former Host Home for OUTMemphis’s Youth Services
Deb Word is most known in Memphis for her work on LGBTQ+ youth homelessness with her husband Steve. Together, they have housed and supported almost 20 young adults in their home. Deb also served on OUTMemphis’s Youth Services Committee for years and assisted with the formation of what is now the Metamorphosis Project. She has also been a vital resource for non-emergency youth programming. Every other Saturday for years, Deb was a PRYSM youth group facilitator and ran a monthly parents’ support group. She also held the role of President of Fortunate Families, helping Catholic families navigate their faith while supporting their LGBTQ children.
Former volunteer, former Host Home for OUTMemphis’s Youth Services
Along with his wife, Deb Word, Steve Word opened his home for years to the most vulnerable in the LGBTQ+ community: youth experiencing homelessness. Deb and Steve served as the frontline volunteers and the impetus for The Metamorphosis Project as it exists today. Their advocacy and willingness to contribute made a significant impact not only in the lives of the youth they housed, but in the formation of our long-term strategies to solve youth homelessness.