A couple of nights ago, I attended a meet-n-greet with Cheryl Jacques, the new President of HRC. It was a pissy little affair, hosted at the tony high-rise Plaza in Clayton, where available units run from $785,000 - $2,575,000. The $3 million-plus penthouses have, of course, been sold, but afterwards tours were offered to those of us interested in seeing the rest of the place. While flattered by the offer of a grand tour, I told the Mister Sales Flack that I couldn’t even afford a 2’ by 3’ broom closet in the Plaza, but I wished him best of luck, nevertheless. He didn’t seem happy with my answer, but it seemed like a waste of my time and his to act otherwise.
Apparently candor isn’t appreciated in Clayton and apparently, neither is being a lower middle-class volunteer. Two little birdies have since whispered in my ear that, reportedly, Mr. Flack was distraught and vocalized his disappointment that only one “A-List” gay showed up, which leaves one to wonder whether the event was really organized to thank HRC donors and volunteers, or if the event was geared to sell multi-million dollar condos in downtown Clayton?
1. Being a goof with Cheryl Jacques. She was very nice and approachable.
3. The fine folks from PROMO - who lobby for GLBT rights every day - attended the event.
2. Representatives from HoLa
Nevertheless, Cheryl Jacques was very, very gracious and didn’t seem to mind that some non-millionaires were there. She is a former senator and a most capable politician, who made you feel welcome regardless of your income level. When she looked at you, she looked at you – and not through you to see if someone “more important” was standing behind you. She’s a really engaging speaker and gave the assembled crowd the task of helping repeal a Constitutional amendment against gay marriage.
HRC has made marriage the focus of its strategy this year. Jacques argued that granting or denying marriage rights sets the stage for every other legal argument that gay folks will face in the upcoming years. If the amendment passes and we can’t marry, HRC fears that will set a precedent for other legal protections – from adoption to employment to housing, etc. And it’s a scary thought that any advancements we’ve made could be set back by Dubya and this amendment.
Governor Bob Holden showed up mid-speech (he might be “A-List”, but not an “A-Gay”) and there was an awkward moment when someone from HRC’s DC headquarters said, “Excuse me…but we have to interrupt. The governor is here and would like a few private words with Cheryl….” It was a real “talk amongst yourselves” sorta moment. Awkward and tacky, actually – but then the governor addressed the crowd for a few minutes. I didn’t hear him, though, since I’d strolled outside for a cigarette and to clear my mind. I was feeling a tad overwhelmed by the whole event.
I’m never sure I quite fit in at those types of hobnobby parties. I feel a little conspicuous – a little out of my league – and a little unsure that I’d want to join that league if I could. I’ve written about it before, but there’s a real pecking order in gay St. Louis and the various groups and sub groups seem stuck in maintaining their social order. Circuit boys hang with circuit boys, mullet girls co-mingle with only other mullet girls and bears just wanna do bears. At times it feels that having an identity that doesn’t fit a checklist of appropriate behavior, dress and income-status leaves you without a place to call your own.
Yay! Enjoyable Flame(r)s!
The good news is that I think I have found a place to volunteer my time. I’m on a Circus Flora committee, a locally-produced circus, whose mission is “to broaden and deepen the appreciation of the performing arts in the greater St. Louis community by producing and presenting innovative performances and educational programs through the use of classic circus skills.”
Circus Flora won’t forward a political agenda – and it won’t protect my right to marry. But there’s a component of my life that is equally important and it involves promoting art and creativity and imagination. Three things that seems terribly lacking in gay culture in St. Louis, and three things that are missing in my life at the moment.
When I volunteer my time, I want to feel that my abilities and skills as a creative person are valued more than my checkbook and I believe that forwarding a creative agenda is much more important than getting on a list of potential buyers of overpriced real estate. Maybe I’m failing my gay brothers and sisters, but often times I feel like they’ve failed me.
Anyway…that’s just me spouting off. Go do something that matters
to you! I’m running off to join the circus this summer!
This weekend was a blur - I watched Kill Bill - Volume I, made an outfit, went to the Dada Ball, went to Metropolis' Out N' Urban Brunch at the Piper Palm House and Food Outreach's A Tasteful Affair. I have all sorts of funny stories and some spy news - but that will have to come later. I need to sleep. I've consumed inhuman amounts of caffeine, nicotine and glitter. I'm wound tighter than a tick and pooping sparkles.
It was all worth it -- it was way wicked-cool winning the costume contest at the Dada Ball and dancing the night away to some really fun house remixes at the Contemporary Art Museum (we rocked the house during Billie Jean). I think the highlight was going with Jenny and Rocky to the Rocket Bar after we made a brief detour at the Complex! Rocky had never been to the Complex before, and it was fun despite the fact that some of gays seemed very perplexed by my outfit. I know drag at a gay bar seems like a really unusual concept here in St. Louis - but we didn't let that keep us from rocking the dance floor! Eventually we grew tired of seeing the same A&F tee shirts and headed to midtown to wind down the evening listening to some indy/punk rock/alterna music. Oh! and a trip to South City Diner at 3:30 a.m.
Okay, I have reached rambly-incoherence...... time to sleep!
I never thought I'd tip my hat to the far-right - but with the cute fashiony items at The George W. Bush Online Store, I just might have to. Yes....the Dubya Store. Oh, excuse me, "Team W".
It's kinda sleek in some ways. It's kinda Old West meets American Eagle Outfitters meets Talbots (without ultra-creepy, rich white ladies) meets Abercrombie (without the hot, naked jocks). The whole "W" line is so fucking brilliant - in so many ways. From a marketing standpoint, one could claim the president has reclaimed his middle initial from the pundits that have derided him by calling him Dubya. Thanks Molly Ivins - now you've made his initial (and him, by association) stylish and cool.
As for John Kerry -- only one cute shirt is to be found.
It was so beautiful out tonight that I wish I could overlook that the National Park Service and St. Louis Art Museum declined to exhibit a thought provoking piece of art. I chalk it up to the small minded and narrow thinking silliness that seems to pervade St. Louis.
The question I ask is how does the St. Louis Art Museum turn down hosting this piece? To quote Kay Porter, the Director of Communication, "The question we had for the Washington University people was the relevance the project had for our building...." Oh, gosh, gee...something relevant at the art museum - I forgot they're running that incredibly relevant show about moccasins.
After the Friday gallery walk in the Central West End, Stephen and I headed down to see this projection and sound piece, which was very moving and poignant. There was no blood - no gore - no over-the-top artiness. I just don't get what the fuss was about. But then again, I don't get half the crap that happens in this goofy little town.
I've been googling Minneapolis for the past half hour. A Rhoda Road Trip may be in my future soon!
This is a quick visual recap of my night at Venus Envy and how I spent my Easter.
As a friend said to me last night, "Couldn't they have picked a better car than yours to break into? Shit...a Ford Focus?"
I was upset that she thought I drove a Focus and even more horrified to have to admit that it was a Kia!
Enough is Enough
Some rocker boys, however, need a quick education in talking to girls and their gay companions. Wednesday, Joyce invited me to join her at the Granddaddy/Saves The Day double header. I went along, ‘coz it’s always fun hanging out with Joyce and indie rock shows always make me giddy. There’s just something really special about live music. The way the bass hits your gut, the way your just cannot help but tap your toes.
So, this very-cute fella starts flirting with Joyce and we had to quickly establish that I was not her date. His ding-dong friend all of a sudden chimes in, “So what does a gay guy get out of being here? She buying you drinks?”
Somewhat dumb-founded I replied that I enjoyed a variety of music and concluded, “It’s not all Donna Summer, honey!"
So this post goes out to Ms. Summer, Babs and the other sound pioneers who rock my world, and to women like Laetitia who share a special fondness for disco, herself.
It’s been a full-on crazy week again! But I bought a bike! And I've ridden it to work...twice, even. I also started the South Beach Diet and I am concocting an evil scheme (translation: workout regimen) with my very buff co-worker to transform this flab into fab. I did have one stipulation to this whole eat-better/exercise thing: I will not quit smoking or quit drinking coffee. Maybe that's two stipulations, but I am not becoming one of those healthy people you see doing healthy things living healthy lives. Hell, no!! My goal to eliminate my gut is simply vanity and one last-ditch effort to avoid gay spinsterhood (at 33, I'm nearing Golden Girls status). See, boys don't make passes at boys with large asses.
Learn more about bears here!
Last week, two different advertisers asked me if I was a bear and that sent me into a total tailspin. Now, don't get me wrong. I think bears have their place in the whole rainbow spectrum of love, tolerance and understanding. But I realized that the 40+ extra pounds is inconsistent with the occasionally shallow but well-meaning pseudo-intellectual man-about-town image that I am trying to create. Fundamentally, bears (and their admirers) like their guts. I do not. I just got lazy and stopped going to Jazzercise (Yes! I loved step aerobics) and started eating crap. I hate to admit that I just gave up, but I did. I think it was around the time of a heart-break....and I just relinquished control of my life and began a very special friendship with Taco Bell, Moon Pies and Tropical Punch Kool Aid.
Being overweight in gay-boy land has always been pretty rough. I remember a number of occasions when I was jeered and mocked about my weight in various gay bars (getting thrown out of a gay bar doesn't do wonders for the self-esteem - but being ridiculed was simply devastating). In my early twenties I retaliated to that hatefulness by becoming a club kid. It was simple. I could sew. I made crazy outfits. I was outrageous. And the boys cow-towed to my Lacroix inspired shenanigans. Youth and glitter and drugs and alcohol superceded my gut and it was all fairly manageable, until clubbing got out of control (so very Lifetime Television for Women, I know...but I was young). I walked away from the scene and the platforms were put away (except for a few times a year).
I should've know last month (when this photo was taken) that my candy habit had gotten out of control. The concept for the tie made me giggle (an AIDS benefit with a chocolate theme).but I effortlessly consumed 5 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in half an hour.
Youthful dewiness has been replaced by grey hair and a somewhat cynical outlook. If you don't have doe eyes, being doughy just sends you to the back of the line. And when I was asked if I was a bear, something snapped in the ole-noggin. I walked up to my co-worker who goes to the gym three times a week and said "Change me." He though I was joking at first. The first day I rode my bike to work and declined a chocolate chip cookie, he realized I was serious.
I actually hate to admit that some sort of exercise every day this week (along with the not-eating crap) has made me feel a little livelier. A little bouncier in the step. So as I traverse my fourteen-day stint of no carbs, enjoy your Easter candies - I have a few hours of bicycling, ab crunches and free weights to look forward to this holiday weekend.
Fine-Tuning Pop Culture
|Last night after Stereolab, I was watching Last Call with Carson Daily (hey...he's cute) and her latest protege reminded me that Ms. Ciccone is so astute at creating the perfect product. So, with my hat off to Spy Magazine, I created my own interpretive model for creating today's freshest superstars. Oh! and Carson's wesbsite refers to Ben Jelen as dreamy for what that's worth.|
Who needs Carson?
These fellas have the solution to our cultural/social/political woes.
My favorite quote:
"Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." -- Pat Robertson
I found another item while toodling around:
"I listen to feminists and all these radical gals - most of them are failures. They've blown it. Some of them have been married, but they married some Casper Milquetoast who asked permission to go to the bathroom. These women just need a man in the house. That's all they need. Most of the feminists need a man to tell them what time of day it is and to lead them home. And they blew it and they're mad at all men. Feminists hate men. They're sexist. They hate men - that's their problem." -- Reverend Jerry Falwell
|Sean Hayes has nothing on this man, a porn star who caused quite a stir here in St. Louis. God forbid a frank discussion about sex actually involve someone who has sex (or even gets paid to have it.)|
This story in the New York Times underscores a conversation that I had last night. It seems almost-absurd that black women have taken to field trips to spot their down-low brothers, but shit.....the numbers warrant some sort of drastic action.
With almost 80% of the new cases of HIV infection among women being among Black women, something has to happen to get black men to own up to being gay, bisexual, or at the very minimum, put on a rubber.
I certainly understand the need for establishing a community, but I wonder when the black church takes such an anti-gay stance, the only result is that more black gay men hide their sexuality; become more conflicted about it; and act-out irresponsibly as internalized self-hatred works its vicious course. Even unintentionally, this bias and prejudice within the church only harms more folks than it serves.
If it takes field trips to gay bars for black women to understand that all gay boys aren't Jack McFarland....I say it's time to jump on the bus. I might even go along.