The Mill returns to its LGBT+ background


Image: Jayla Moody

General Manager Martin Marshall said the mill is a safe place for members of the LGBTQA community.

Vanessa Alva, Staff Writer

As of October, The Mill nightclub has undergone a transition to create a more inclusive nightlife environment in the Middle Georgia-Mercer community by becoming a gay club — the only one in the downtown Macon area that caters to the LGBTQIA community.

The Mill had once been a gay club in the past, originally named Club Synergy, for about ten years before it became a “straight club.” However, the owner of The Mill, Tim Oblegoner, who also owns the Hummingbird and Billy’s Clubhouse, believed the community needed the change.

“There have been a lot of attempts over the years to try to do a gay night here, a gay night there, at various clubs around downtown or even private banquet venues, but nothing ever got going,” said The Mill’s general manager, Martin Marshall. “He [Oblegoner] saw the interest in the crowd and the community and the desire of the community to have a place of their own again.”

The Mill is committed to staying, Marshall said.

“The club is not temporary, it’s not an experiment; it’s a commitment. Time will show the commitment,” Marshall said.

The club is not temporary, it’s not an experiment; it’s a commitment.”

— Martin Marshall

The club’s programming includes drag pageants, talent shows and karaoke. On Thursday and Friday nights, The Mill hosts Cherry Street Cabaret show nights which include skits, singers and stand-ups, among other talents. The Mill welcomes local talent but will also have special appearances from some of RuPaul’s Drag Race show, such as Nicole Paige Brooks.

“We continue to build shows showing the diversity in our shows. We have transgender, we have drag queens, we have drag kings, [and an] ethnically diverse cast,” Marshall said. “We’re all about diversity and that builds a strong community.”

Aside from being a nightclub, the club is dedicated to be an outreach resource to help members of the community.

“We’re doing a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff by reaching out to groups in Atlanta,” Marshall said. “There are some groups that’ll be showing up in the next few months for events that are outreach oriented to the LGBT community, the trans-community and the LGBT youth.”

This would, overall, help the Mercer student community as well, said Common Ground’s president James Stair.

“I think that it would make for a more welcoming environment for the LGBTQ+ students here,” Stair said. “Because the club does have major icons on the walls and frequent drag shows, it would also make for a more accepting campus overall just by the mere exposure of it.”

Gay clubs, historically, have been a major outreach and aid resource for the community, which allowed for the civil rights movement to commence. According to Time Magazine’s the Revolutionary Role of the Gay Bar in American History, the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York, played a major role in the modern day LGBTQA rights movement.

“We’ve seen gay bars be the center of the community and many of the movements today came out of gay bars,” Marshall said. “They started as a defense for the community when it wasn’t very easy.”

Although the LGBTQA civil rights movement has made significant strides, it is still helpful to have a safe space like The Mill, Marshall said.

“Many members of our community have been kicked out of their homes, disowned by parents, so we are a family,” he said. “Basically, for the Middle Georgia gay community, we like to feel that this is a home that the family can come home to.“