The Conductors is one of the longest surviving gay social and service groups in the city, having been involved in Nashville's gay community for over 35 years.
We were established in 1982 by a group of friends who shared common interests in leather. Nashville’s gay community in the early 80’s, although thriving, was still small. Knowing that introducing leather boots, vests, and chaps into the nightlife of Nashville's bar scene was somewhat of a risk at the time, those first members organized that it was vital for acceptance and future to give something back to the community.
At the time, AIDS was not on the forefront of anyone's mind in Nashville, as it was just beginning to be seen in some of the larger gay communities. For our first couple of years, the Conductors supported various local charities such as the Second Harvest Food Bank and the Angel Tree programs. We sponsored food drives at our first home bar, The Crazy Cowboy, and held regular club nights at our second home bar, The Chute Complex, where we remained for 21 years. The tradition continues at our current home bar, TRAX. We also host a variety of other fundraisers, partnering with many of the local bars.
Around 1984, Nashville began to see its first AIDS cases. The following year, Nashville CARES (Council on AIDS, Resources, Education and Support) was formed. A Conductors member at the time, the late Thom C, was involved with Nashville CARES and a representative from CARES soon made a presentation to the Conductors and asking for any type of financial assistance to help Nashville CARES get established.
The Conductors devised a form of emergency support that is still being used today. Owing to the limited resources available solely from donations from the community, a direct-assistance emergency need program was established with Nashville CARES to serve their most severely impacted clients. The criteria for assistance requests includes:
1) The need should be emergent in nature and,
2) All other sources (grants, federal and state programs, etc.) should be exhausted before making a request to the Conductors and,
3) The client's name and other personal identifying information is not disclosed.
Through our fund, the Conductors has paid for prescriptions, co-pays, eyeglasses, utility bills, home repair, rent, among many other need items, and has also made donations to support Thanksgiving meals sponsored by Nashville CARES for its clients.
We are very proud that during our 37 year history we have never had to deny an HIV related funding request; this is thanks to the generosity of the Nashville community and our friends in the leather community across the country.
Since our founding in 1982, we have celebrated our anniversary every year, primarily in March, with our club’s ‘Run’. This is a chance for us to invite our leather brothers and sisters to Nashville for a weekend of fun and fellowship. The first anniversary weekend was in 1983 and was dubbed "Track I".