by Lauren Means | photo courtesy Kurt Grenig
An ally to the LGBT+ community is someone who supports LGBT+ people and equality, both publicly and privately, and stands up for LGBT+ rights and representation. Sometimes an ally goes a step further and advocates for or against particular policies that affect the community. Buick Audra is one of these allies. A musician originally from Miami, Buick has lived in Nashville for close to 12 years with her husband and two cats. She’s also lived in Los Angeles, Boston and Brooklyn. “I moved here from Brooklyn because I was coming down here somewhat frequently to write and perform, and it seemed like an easier place to make my music more of a priority,” she says. The move was a good one for her music career but it has also been great for our LGBT+ community.
As you might have noticed over the years, Tennessee has been bombarded with many anti-LGBT+ bills. There are advocacy groups who are at Cordell Hull for the legislative sessions day after day beating back discriminatory bills throughout the year. The Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) is one of those groups. If you have ever been up there during one of these legislative days, you may have seen Buick fighting alongside her fellow TEP activists. She says since arriving in Tennessee she’s become more involved in activism around the issues she cares about. “There are some incredible people doing strong work in this activism community. I feel lucky to be part of what they’re working on,” says Buick.
When asked what drives her to be an ally to the community she says she never knows quite how to answer the question. Buick says, “Part of the answer is that I can’t imagine NOT being an ally and advocate. I got involved in HIV and AIDS activism as a teen and was also attending group meetings for the LGBTQ+ community and allies at that same time, and it’s just continued for the rest of my adult life.” She does say being in Tennessee has made the work she does seem more urgent. Buick explains, “This state legislature has a long way to go toward reflecting equality, and until then, I’m more than happy to keep showing up and making sure they hear our voices.”
She goes further to say, “I am for equality and dignity. I think being an ally and/or an activist is the very least each of us can do. It’s important to be an ally who listens and learns from suggestions and experiences, and I will continue to shape my participation accordingly. Showing up for equality and dignity is part of my life purpose, however long it takes.”
She does have advice for other allies looking to become involved or increase their involvement. “Do something. Do anything,” says Buick. She continued by saying, “Doing nothing accomplishes exactly that – nothing.” There are some things that anyone can do such as calling your representative, writing to congress and even attending lobbying training.
Hope drives her to keep showing up and speaking out. Buick says, “Stay hopeful. Everyone I admire in the greater movements, historically speaking and in the present, had/have hope. Harvey Milk talked about it, Bryan Stevenson talks about it, and I try to talk about it and keep it with me. Without hope, anger and defeat have a greater chance of winning.”
In addition to being an ally and advocating for equal rights, Buick is currently working on two music projects. “Hold On to Yourself,” a new album from Friendship Commanders, a heavy melodic duo that she shares with drummer Jerry Roe, to be released Spring 2020. The other is “Conversations with My Other Voice,” her first solo release in nine years coming in Summer 2020.