by Jamilyn Cole | photo by Joan Allison
Since you were the owner of Meristem Bookstore (feminist bookstore and gathering ground) for eight years, what’s your favorite book?
That’s like asking who’s your favorite child — can’t pick just one! But I can tell you some titles that have been important to me over the years — The Color Purple and almost anything by Alice Walker, Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg, Zami and the poetry and essays of Audre Lorde, The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk, the poetry of Adrienne Rich and Marge Piercy, Blanche Wiesen Cook’s biography series about Eleanor Roosevelt. We read fabulous books by women and LGBTQ writers at Meristem Book Club (meets every second Wednesday 7-9 PM at OUTMemphis); trans-and cisgender women of all ages are invited to join us!
How has your activism changed through the years?
I think I’ve gotten more focused on the long haul and on seeing the connections between all struggles for freedom and justice. I’m learning when to use my privilege as a white, cisgender, middle class women in a conscious way when it’s helpful to move things forward, and when to step back and support the leadership of others. I aspire to be more than an ally — to be a radical co-conspirator for change, especially in supporting work led by women of color. Finally, It is very important to me to make a difference, to leave something of value — and that’s why our work at OUTMemphis is so very important to me. At OUTMenphis, we have the opportunity to make a really lasting difference in our community.
You are currently serving as the board chair of OUTMemphis (formerly the MGLCC). What’s the best thing about the MidSouth?
If Focus readers have never been to the center, why should they check it out? Our powerful vision that guides everything we do — LGBT individuals live in a world where everyone has equal rights, and is safe, respected and celebrated — and our amazing, courageous, and dedicated staff and volunteers. They inspire me every day! We do so many things out of our little midtown bungalow to empower, connect, educate and advocate for the diverse LGBTQ community of the Mid-South — I call us “the little center that thinks big!” Our hope is that you will find the resources, support and community you need here, as well as a fun and meaningful place to support as a volunteer and donor.
What do you hope to accomplish by the end of 2017?
Engage more folks to become monthly sustaining donors, so OUTMemphis can achieve a pressing goal: a new building to better serve the needs of our diverse LGBTQ community!
Audrey Recommends These OUTMemphis Activities for Seniors
- Regular social events such as our monthly OUT for Coffee Sunday brunch (2nd Sunday every month) 11:30 a.m.
– 3 p.m.
- Classes such as the recent Colorcopia art series sponsored by Dixon Gallery & Gardens
- Events on LGBT heritage such as the upcoming “Educate before you celebrate” video history of local pride events (and more to come).
- We’ve recently posted a very cool LGBTQ History of the Mid-South timeline (outmemphis.org/aboutus/historylegacy) that will bring back memories for many folks of my generation, and inform the younger generation of activities and organizations they may not know about.
- I’m really excited about our We Care Call telephone support service for isolated LGBT seniors and their caregivers. This is a free program for Mid-South LGBT seniors age 55 and older who are ill, frail or homebound, or the caregiver of such a senior, and who need or want a weekly telephone call for support. There is always room for more volunteers and for more referrals to the We Care Calls program.
For We Care Call training or any other senior program info, contact email@example.com or call OUTMemphis at 901-278-6422.