By William Hairell
The recent boom in Nashville’s population has led to more than just an increase in the number of people who call the city home. Rapid growth has also led to a significant increase in the number of allies in its LGBT+ community. These proponents play vital roles in the city’s path toward progressiveness, and their perseverance through partnerships provides the momentum needed to maintain the speed at which Music City moves in the right direction.
One such ally who has undeniably served as a major trailblazer for Music City is Deborah White. Hailing from Hannibal, Missouri, a culturally-rich town on the banks of the Mississippi River and the hometown of Mark Twain, White spent her adolescence playing along with the same riverbanks that served as the setting for Twain’s famous literary characters, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Growing up in Hannibal’s picturesque, storybook setting allowed White to develop a vivid imagination and a “sky’s-the-limit” frame of mind — traits that run in her family.
White’s older brother has been writing music for most of his life, and the mutual decision between the two talented siblings to collaboratively write and create a bluegrass album was the initial spark that ignited her entrance into the professional music world and, ultimately, her move to Nashville in 2004. In addition to writing music, White has managed a bluegrass band and run a publishing company.
While music led to White’s waltz to Music City, her reach stretches far beyond her love for music. She doesn’t meet a stranger and she welcomes new friends with open arms.
With the city’s growth contributing strongly to the cultural revolution it is experiencing, no one is better than White to pioneer its movement toward being a wonderful haven for LGBT+ people.
White’s signature statement, “meet me under the chandelier,” refers to the chandelier and corner dedicated to her at the artsy Canvas Lounge on Church Street. White says of the special spot, “I love inviting new people and making them feel like family. Young gay men need someone to welcome them and support them, and I think they need a woman.”
From songwriting to band management to her current career as a property manager, Deborah is talented and successful at virtually anything she touches. White’s next goal is to incorporate the performance art of flagging into Nashville’s LGBT+ community. She is mesmerized by both the skills required to learn this art form that became popular in the 1970s and the spiritual aspect involved with flagging, and she would like to bring it to Nashville.
If all her past successes and her strong determination are indications, that’s exactly what she will do. White’s first encounter with flagging was last spring and she felt immediately compelled to bring the movement to Music City. After the encounter, White organized a group of people who enjoy the art of flagging. She hopes to grow the group this year and oversees it from Canvas Lounge where she holds court under the chandelier.