by Sarah Rushakoff | photos courtesy of Allan Creasy
If you’ve lived in Memphis for a while, chances are you’ve had a conversation with Allan Creasy. It might have been at Celtic Crossing in Cooper-Young, where he tended bar and ran trivia nights for years. Maybe it was for a political campaign he’s volunteered with, or during one of his own campaigns for the Tennessee State House over the past few years. As a bartender, he would often give tourists directions and sometimes, he recalls, “I’d take them out and show them the real Memphis, go to a local show, or some dingy dive bar they would never have gone to on their own.” However it happens, chatting with Creasy is always a “real Memphis” experience.
Back in 2018, Creasy ran for the district 97 seat in the Tennessee State House of Representatives. “No Democrat had run in 16 years,” he says. “It was considered ‘too red.’ But we had a huge amount of volunteers, raised about $140,000, and we knocked on over 20,000 doors.” Creasy earned 45% of the vote that year, and while it was a disappointing loss, he’s proud of the work his campaign did. “I mean, we were endorsed by the Tennessee Equality Project, among others,” Creasy shares proudly. “I was really grateful for that.” This year, he ran again for the same seat, this time pitted against Gabby Salinas in the Democratic primary. Salinas won the nomination, and Creasy has nothing but admiration for his one-time opponent. “I am in awe of the type of campaign they were able to run in the primary. Gabby is an absolutely amazing candidate and I support her completely.”
Now that he’s not bartending or campaigning, and since the pandemic has kept all of us from socializing like normal, he misses meeting new people and hanging out with regulars at the bar. “It really helped to preserve my sanity,” says Creasy about making connections with folks. “When I didn’t have bartending and I wasn’t knocking on doors for myself or other candidates, I
felt a bit lonely and out of place.” No longer working the night shift, he looks forward to having more time to visit with friends and loved ones. With masks on, of course, and from a safe distance. “Instead of going out for a drink, it’s sitting six feet apart on somebody’s front porch.”
What does a gregarious, Memphis-loving guy do after 15 years of bartending? It was a natural move for Creasy to join the staff at Future901, a West Tennessee political action committee that champions inclusivity. “So much of the most racist, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic legislation gets written at the state level,” Creasy points out. “Knocking on a few hundred doors can mean all the difference in a primary where only 5 or 6,000 people are going to vote. We can make a huge difference working on voter education for down-ballot races.” In his new position as consultant at Future901, he’s working on social media campaigns and fundraising. He jokes, “It’s a good fit because bartenders have no qualms about asking people for money.”
Creasy wants Memphians to stay informed about local and state politics even after the election. “I would recommend subscribing to and supporting local journalism like Focus, the Daily Memphian, the Memphis Flyer, publications that really go in-depth on state issues. Follow Future901 and the Tennessee Holler on social media.” He also cautions West Tennesseeans to pay more attention to what is happening in Nashville, and which state candidates support things that could either strengthen or weaken Memphis and Shelby County. For example, he says, “The state legislature has ensured that our city council can’t decriminalize any amounts of marijuana, is pushing some really disgusting anti-trans bills, and has passed legislation preventing local municipalities from increasing the minimum wage.”
Looking toward a future Memphis, “I want to see a more progressive, inclusive city and county,” says Creasy. “I want to see us unfettered. I want to see the party that claims to support small government, let Memphis rule itself to a greater degree. To move forward with candidates who will fight for Memphis to not only survive, but to thrive.”