Archived entries for Gay Stuff

New gay travel magazine, ManAboutWorld

My friend Ed Salvato – the ultimate gay travel guru – has teamed up with Billy Kolber (also no slouch in the gay travel department, as founder of Out & About) to create ManAboutWorld magazine, a new travel publication for the iPad. I’m thrilled to be contributing to it occasionally; here’s a piece on Vancouver I wrote for the November edition. For the full effect be sure to download the App and see the magazine for yourself!

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NOW/NEXT: VANCOUVER

The beauty of Vancouver can drive a grown man to cry. With its forest of glass towers nestled where the mountains of the Canadian West rise and fall into the Pacific, Vancouver is one of the world’s most beautiful spots – but somehow still off the radar of most travelers.

An influx of money and Asian immigrants has changed the look of Vancouver over the past three decades from self-described backwater to cosmopolitan global city. At its heart, though, it remains a genuinely down-to-earth place (the recent debut of “Real Housewives of Vancouver” notwithstanding) rife for exploring.

Befitting the region’s progressive reputation, Vancouver is also home to a sizable gay population, which hoists its rainbow flag in the Davie Village section of the West End (not to be confused with West Vancouver, to the north, or the West Side, to the south).

Get your bearings at ground zero, near the corner of Thurlow and Davie Streets, but don’t be alarmed if the crowds happen to be thin: locals in this outdoorsy place are as likely to be found at the neighborhood’s many lively watering holes as they are doing what Vancouverites do best – being out and active in their slice of paradise.

Exercise is religion here, but so is good food. A pair of upcoming events is perfect excuse (as if you needed one) to plan a winter visit. January brings the two-week Dine Out Vancouver Festival, touted as the largest food festival in the country, with more than 200 restaurants offering up their diverse menus on the cheap. The huge Vancouver International Wine Festival follows in February and is a tippler’s time to try the surprising fruits of the Okanagan, the wine-producing area in the province’s interior, and a variety of other vintners from around the globe.

Continue reading…

Keep The Lights On

I have such ADD that I rarely watch films. But this week I saw a screening of Ira Sachs’ “Keep The Lights On” — hosted by Out Professionals — in advance of its New York and LA opening next week, and I was gripped. I simply have not been able to shut up about it since.

The film mirrors so much of the story told by Sachs’ ex-boyfriend Bill Clegg in Portrait of an Addict, the story of their relationship and Clegg’s descent into crack addiction. Far more than a gay drama, though, the beautifully shot film seems a universal story of confusion and obsession in love. The music, by Arthur Russell, is haunting and perfect. The last ten minutes of the film is perhaps one of the most incredible sequences every shot; I promise you’ll go to bed contemplating what happened with the lead characters, Erik and Paul!

PFLAG

PFLAG NYC is such an important organization, and their annual benefit is a total blast. This year the keynote was offered up by the one and only Sandra Lee, who marched in June’s Gay Pride parade alongside her boyfriend Andy Cuomo days after he became a celebrity by leading the charge for same-sex marriage in New York.

Sandra speaks – and the gays listen:

With my friends Dean and Brian:

Gay Oktoberfest 2011

I’ve started a new tradition: Gay Day at Oktoberfest! This was my second year attending this fabulous German gay party, held each year on the first weekend of Munich’s massive Oktoberfest. It is a blast, but requires some serious pacing of one’s beer drinking!

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Rainbow Book Fair

I had no idea there was a Rainbow Book Fair in New York, the country’s biggest LGBT literary expo, let alone that it was a block from my apartment!

So I spent an afternoon this weekend taking in a few readings and panels including an excellent one featuring Vicki Eaklor, the woman who taught my Gay American History in college! Not only is she a riot but she is one of the most brilliant historians I’ve ever met. As a know-it-all 20-year old, she really changed my perspective and appreciation for history.

In a panel discussion, she mentioned something pretty interesting: we tend to be taugh history as a very linear narrative, meaning we’re urged to think that ‘things just keep getting better’ as time goes on. When posed the question in relation to gay life, she pointed out that she probably would have preferred living as a lesbian in the 1920s.

Her new book is Queer America: A People’s GLBT History of the United States. Buy it now!

Equality Florida Miami gala

Last night was a great fundraiser for Equality Florida in Miami that raised a whopping $100,000 for the organization. My wallet left a little lighter, but this is such an important organization in such a key state for LGBT equality.

Among the honorees was George Sheldon, the former head of Florida’s Department of Children and Families who was instrumental in stopping the enforcement of the state’s bizarre ban on gay adoption; Liz Schwartz, the influential family lawyer in Miami Beach; and Ellen Friedin of Fair Districts Florida, the organization working to fight some wacky gerrymandering. I’m thrilled to support Equality Florida and be on the board of its workplace equality program — donate today!

PFLAG NYC

I’ve been fascinated by the story of Brendan Burke since I first learned about it. This week I had the immense pleasure of being there as his father, Brian Burke (head of the Toronto Maple Leafs), gave the keynote address at PFLAG NYC’s 30th Annual Gala. It turned out to be the first time he’s publicly spoken at length about Brendan since he died earlier this year, and there weren’t many dry eyes in the house — including Burke’s himself. (Meanwhile, the wackadoodles from the Westboro Baptist Church protested outside.)

“He was a great kid, a much nicer person than I am,” Burke said. “We would have been praising his accomplishments for many, many years.”

A long-running NHL executive, Burke said, “We still haven’t had a professional athlete come out — we know we have gay athletes, but no one has had the courage to take that next step.”

Related: Brian Burke Honours Late Son with Pride (Torontoist)

Morizz

I have been badmouthing Munich’s slightly stiff gay spot, Bar Morizz, for years. It’s just so un-German (no backroom?!) and so Munich (in its stereotypical stiffness). Then I spent the past three nights there and fell in love (and not just with the food and the drinks, but with one great bartender).

Gay Oktoberfest

Who knew there was even a Gay Day at Oktoberfest?! Fortunately my friends are far more informed about these things than I am, so I jetted off to Munich for the festivities. It was truly fabulous and I cannot wait for next year.

At the wiesn:

This is what 10,000 gay people looks like!

Each person’s average beer consumption (the media is reporting that Germans’ beer consumption continues to decline each year, but that was not evidenced here):

With Mr Gay Leather Germany!

With the boys of Paris:

With Klaus at a pre-party (as if one is needed!) at the truly fabulous Mandarin Oriental Munich:

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Brendan Burke

“If we don’t fight hard for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we really don’t stand for them.” – Brendan Burke

I had no idea about the story of Brendan Burke until just this week! The gay hockey player, whose dad is general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, died in a car crash earlier this year, just two months after coming out in an ESPN.com article. Now this week his brother has penned an excellent piece that appears on my friend Cyd’s site, OutSports, about Brendan’s life and his family’s experience with his coming out. I actually teared up a bit reading it…and you will too!

Jon and Zack’s big gay wedding

All my friends are getting married, it seems. This week I went to my third same-sex wedding (and my second this year), between my old friend Jon and his now-husband Zack. At least my friends have great taste: they hosted their ceremony at Stonehurst, the estate of Robert Treat Paine just outside Boston. With its gorgeous landscaping and shingles as far the eye could see, the estate screamed Henry Hobson Richardson and Frederick Law Olmsted (and it turns out, they DID, in fact, design it).

It was a great ceremony, with lots of good friends turning out for Jon and Zack…definitely the kind of wedding everyone wants (well, if they want a wedding!). I love them both and am incredibly happy for them, but I have to admit, the highlight was meeting one of the other guests, who grew up in Vancouver — we compared notes and Sun Run times over red wine well into the night!

A few more pics here.

JetPride

Spent Friday afternoon with Pam Ann aboard JetBlue’s JetPride flight from San Francisco to Long Beach. To say that it was the best flight of my life would be an understatement…more to come!

Quotable:

“5A and B. Yeah, you’ve got a good view of the engine. And you can see the volcano when we go over it.”

“OK, we’re going to be boarding from Rows 1A to 1C. And I’ll have the gays wearing Armani and Abercrombie Fitch first.”

“We’re currently flying at 35,000 feet. For those of you on the left if you look outside you can see the Sydney Harbour Bridge. For those on the right, you can see Islamabad.”

Chris and Brian’s wedding

I usually dread weddings, but not my first same-sex wedding! I was thrilled for my BFF Chris and his boyfriend Brian for officially (and legally) tying the knot yesterday in Connecticut before having a fantastic party with hundreds of friends back in New York. Chris was my first new friend when I moved to New York more than four years ago, and I love him to death — so glad to see him finally hitched!

With Andy:

With Kenneth in the 212:

With Andy and Chris:

With Yosbel and Drew:

Broadway Beauty Pageant

I can’t say enough good things about New York’s Ali Forney Center, the largest shelter for homeless gay kids in America (an estimated 40% of homeless youth in America are gay). The other night was one of their many annual fun fundraising events, the 2010 Broadway Beauty Pageant.

Five Broadway performers vied for the title of Mr Broadway in talent, interview, and swimwear competitions before host Tovah Feldshuh (who managed to scandalize the audience with some hilarious banter about the Polish presidential plane crash) and a panel of judges that included the riotous Michael Musto and Christine Ebersole (who seemed to have downed an entire bottle of some sort of pill before taking the stage). Their commentary helped make the show was absolutely riotous.

Charlie Williams, from “Memphis,” was ultimately crowned the winner through audience voting after an impressive talent performance that showed his range — he effortlessly switched from a hilarious and very butch rap to a bit of sparkly ballet — before taking his clothes off and revealing the body of a god. (As Next magazine described it, he has “Herculean thighs that could crack walnuts.”)

Another brilliant spoof

Thanks to Andy Towle for this one…

Leave it to a couple straight guys from the University of Rochester to create the most perfect (gay) music video spoof since Party in the USA, Fire Island Pines version.

PFLAG NYC

It’s been a week of gay events in New York! Last night I went to the annual NYC PFLAG Annual Dinner at Tribeca Rooftop — our table was, of course, quite good looking, as were the views from the roof. The highlight of the night was not the PFLAG mom who told the sad and predictable tale of her son’s spiral into crystal meth addiction and HIV (As my friend Andy observed afterward, “You know, I was so expecting her to go to the HIV place in that story that I found the meth revelation to be a nice palette cleanser.”), but Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal faith, and the subject of worldwide anguish by some (well, many) Church faithful…and a very impressive performance by Barbara Cook, who has been singing her heart out for decades, if not centuries.

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Ali Forney Center

There’s no nonprofit group in New York I’m as obsessed about as the Ali Forney Center. Not since I read an amazing article in the New York Times way back in 2004 have I felt so moved by an issue: gay teen homelessness. In New York, the problem is epidemic, and AFC is on the frontline tackling this huge problem.

Every fall they host a benefit, “A Place at the Table,” and last week’s event was superb, what with Mayor Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Chris Quinn, and celebs Sandra Bernhard and Rufus Wainwright on hand to show their support for the Chelsea (and now Queens and Brooklyn) shelter.

As The Times explained back in 2004, “There is no official count of those who are homeless and gay in New York, but Carl Siciliano, who runs the city’s largest shelter for gay young adults, puts their numbers in the thousands. Most national studies estimate that as many as half of all homeless youth are lesbian or gay, many of them tossed out by parents who scorn homosexuality for a variety of reasons.

“As director of the Ali Forney Center in Manhattan, Mr. Siciliano can shelter only 12 people at a time and wring his hands as the waiting list grows beyond 100. He seethes with indignation when talking about the teenagers who are forced onto the streets, where they quickly become acquainted with drugs, hustling, violence and the virus that causes AIDS. For many, he says, suicide becomes the only way out.”

Give to Ali Forney today!

BFFs

As usual, this year’s New York Pride parade was longer than anyone could possibly stand — easily 5-6 hours of parading through Manhattan, though my BFF Brian and I quit early and signed up for margarita drinking instead. Hard to believe that Brian and I have been friends almost an entire decade (scary thoughts). Even though we both live in New York and don’t get to see each other much, every time we do, I always look forward to our time together — it’s easy and always like we saw each other 10 minutes earlier. We don’t miss a beat.

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The bars of Paris

I’ve gay bar hopped across more countries and cities than I’d like the admit but Paris always seems to top them all for fun factor. It could be the French factor — it’s always fun to practice French and attempt to flirt in another language. This trip a gentleman at Central made my week — and month and year — when he said he could understand my French well (and better than Quebecers’ French, he claimed). I think he may have just been flirting but it was good ego boost nonetheless.

A few shots from an evening out at Le Cox, Central, Raidd, Open Cafe, Le Bears Den, Le Wolfbar

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Protest pics

Scenes from Wednesday night’s electric rally at the Mormon temple on the Upper West Side (pardon the quality; they’re from my BlackBerry).

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