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The Ledger - EST. 1978 - Nashville Edition

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VOL. 37 | NO. 46 | Friday, November 15, 2013

Success of Taylor, partners found in branding, not labeling

By Joe Morris

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David Taylor finds Nashville a gay-friendly place, a diverse and creative city, where members of the GLBT community – including himself – have found genuine acceptance.

A Murfreesboro native, he has emerged as a spokesman and advocate for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues.

With his businesses flourishing on Church Street, he also keeps up with the changes in store for Nashville’s Midtown area.

Taylor talked with the Nashville Ledger about these and other topics.

Q: Where did you receive your education?

A: “I went to Birmingham-Southern College for my undergrad, and then got my MBA at the University of Pennsylvania.’’

Q: How important is it that Tribe is seen as a gay bar, as opposed to just a nightclub?

A: “We’ve always been a bar owned by members of the GLBT community, and we brand ourselves that way. But this is an “everybody friend” gay bar, and we want straight people to come and have a good time. It’s not about labeling people every time they come in the door.

“Labeling used to be something different, something used as a signal that you were OK and in an OK place. Where we are now at Tribe, and in our community, is really being just ourselves. If we were a different kind of business, our approach might be different, but for what we are our openness works fine. And Play is a dance bar; not a gay bar, but a dance bar. That’s important to us.’’

Q: Marriage equality hasn’t found its way to Tennessee, although Nashville is a bit more progressive than other areas of the state. What’s next?

A: “If you look at how Nashville has thrived over the past 20 years, it’s because we’ve had mayors and city leadership who know that it’s not just about tolerance, but acceptance, of everybody. Creative minds are coming to Nashville, whether that’s entrepreneurs or corporate offices.

“People look to their city to be accommodating and accepting of its citizens, and the more welcoming, the better. It’s no surprise that we are doing better than other parts of the state, and it’s sad that the rest of the state hasn’t caught on. Nashville is an amazing place to be, and fairly easy place to be openly GLBT.’’

Q: The Church Street corridor is changing; how are you responding?

A: “There’s a real uncertainty as to how this area is going to evolve. Our business is doing fantastically well, growing even after 12 years. We can’t do more than just watch and see what happens to the buildings and properties around us, but we are not just staying still.

“We have a lot more people coming out early since we began a 9:30 p.m. drag show at Play, and we get a lot of bachelorette parties and other events in all three venues. We keep finding niches that we weren’t really sure were there, and it helps us bring in new people.’’

Q: Running a nightspot is a 24/7 gig; how do you unwind?

A: “Time away is hard, but with four partners it’s getting easier to get time off. In fact, the only reason we’ve been in business for 12 years is the flexibility we have thanks to our partners.

“Whatever business you’re running, gay or straight, bar or whatever, you have to be able to step away sometimes. Some people say they are going to retire and open a bar – we say we can’t wait to retire from the bar!’’