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She Made Eye Contact

First LGBT Brewery The Seattle Lesbian: SARAH TOCE Singer: KENYTH MOGAN Shadowlands: VASILIOS FILIPPAKIS Adventurer & Host: J.J. YOSH New Review: Eating Out At Pride

Photo By Preston Burford


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Pride month may be over, but the spirit still remains. We are so excited to bring you this issue featuring interviews with Yuhua Hamasaki, Kenyth Mogan, Sarah Toce, Hillcrest Brewery, J.J. Yosh, and a special column called “Eating Out At Pride.” It was an exciting Pride month for us here at Proud Times. We had attendees at both Spokane and Seattle Pride. It is always amazing to see people come together to celebrate the beauty that is the LGBTQ community. We hope you had an awesome Pride month too, and we want to read and see all about it! Send us your photos and stories, we would love to feature you! We would like to take a minute to thank our contributors Sam Nemri and Micheal Miller, Anthony Greer, J’son M. Green, Brenda J. Robinson-Burgett, Katrina Hofer, and Leroy Shmierer. We would also like to thank Charlie David and Sarah Toce for their continued support. And last, but not least, we would like to thank our readers. You are the reason we do this. Pride month is a great celebration, but we want every month to feel like Pride month at Proud Times, and we want all members of the LGBTQ community to feel valued, seen, heard, and PROUD every day of the year. We love you! See you next month! Victoria Smartt Managing Editor

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First LGBT Brewery - Hillcrest Brewing Company

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The Seattle Lesbian’s Sarah Toce

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Singer Song Writer Kenyth Mogan

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Shadowlands Vasilios Filippakis

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Film Maker, Adventurer & Host J.J. Yosh

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Eating Out At Pride

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By Victoria Smartt

This infamous clip from True Blood is still a sad reality for the LGBTQ community, however, things are improving, especially when it comes to good beer and great spots to drink it. Hillcrest Brewing Company first opened their doors in 2012 as the first gay brewery in the world. And they’ve been killing the game ever since! We sat down with Marking and Event’s Director Lukas Volk to about the company, what their plans are, and how they feel they have impacted the LGBTQ community.

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Can you tell us about your role in the company? I am the Marketing and Events Director for MO’s Universe. So not only do I work for Hillcrest Brewing Company (HBC), but Urban MO’s, Baja Betty’s, Gossip Grill, and our latest venture, insideOUT. Hillcrest Brewing Company is renowned as the first gay brewery in the world, but it’s much more than that. The company also sells the beer they brew right at the shop, and you can also get pizza, yum! It seems to have become a local LGBTQ hangout. When Hillcrest was established was it intended to be just a brewery, or was it always intended to be more than that? Like all of our locations, we serve some pretty delicious eats. From the very beginning we wanted to serve food along with the beer that we brew in house. Who doesn’t love a nice slice of pizza with an ice cold beer? What do you think Hillcrest brewing represents for the LGBTQ community? HBC represents the opportunity to show our community and the world that anyone can be anything they want to be regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race, religious belief. There are stereotypes for all industries and we like to help break those down.

Beer is often portrayed as a “manly” drink in the media, what was the initial reaction to a gay brewery opening? Do you think it was more positive or negative?

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We definitely got a positive reaction. At times though, we are pigeon holed into being a “gay brewery” that is “pretty good for gay beer.” We shrug it off and keep doing what we do best, making some great beer and some great food to go with it. If people need labels, well, that’s because they can’t see past labels. We’ll still be here. The brewery hosts a lot of events, including happy hours daily, and something on Sunday called Kegs with Eggs? Can you tell us more about these events and what you want them to represent for the company? Hoppy Hour is great because you can sample some of our beers at a discount price. We also offer pizza by the slice during these hours. Sunday is known as being a “Funday” for San Diegans, and we like to give you a base to start the day of fun with. Kegs with Eggs offers breakfast pizza pies with eggs, bacon, sausage and other morning delights you wouldn’t normally find on a pizza or a breakfast menu.

I noticed that a lot of your beer names are kind of fun, sexy puns. I love it! Whose idea was it to make the names so fun? Do customers enjoy ordering the drinks? I’m sure they get a good laugh from most! We’ve always had sassy names steaming back to the mothership Urban MO’s. It’s who we are. We like to think of ourselves as the “adult playgrounds.” We put a touch of gay sass in everything we do.

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Hillcrest seems kind of like a mom and pop shop, with a small team. Is it correct that your shop is the only place that serves your beer? I tried to find it near me and was bummed that nothing came up! We are slowly but surely growing. You can find our brews at our sister locations, MO’s, Betty’s, Gossip and insideOUT. Because those locations blow through so much inventory, we don’t really supply to anyone else. Though we just completed an amazing collaboration with Ballast Point. This got us into many more markets including LA and SF.

themselves without judgement. Our brewery is great because it merges communities together. Beer lovers and the LGBTQ+ community. It’s heartwarming to say that we have such a diverse group of guests that share our space. Everyone who is loving and respectful is welcome into our space. What’s your most popular beer? And what’s your personal favorite?

Do you have any plans to expand?

Our most popular beer is probably the Banana Hammock, the scotch ale, or our Hef. My personal favorite at the moment is the Pride 2018 Collaboration with Ballast Point. It’s a Cucumber Lager and it’s AMAZING!

At this time we don’t have plans to expand, but we’re always growing. We are a small brew house that meets demands of our sister locations needing beer. You never know, things could grow in the near future.

Hillcrest Brewing Company is located at 1458 University Ave in San Diego, CA. Visit their website for hours of operation, upcoming events, and to take a look at their clever menu!

What makes you most proud of Hillcrest? What do you feel you’ve accomplished with this brewery, and what more would you like to accomplish, particularly for the LGBTQ community? Hillcrest the neighborhood is such a vibrant and fun spot. It’s a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community to call home and be able to be

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The Oxford a lesbian attracted By Victoria Smartt

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d Learner’s Dictionary defines as “a woman who is sexually to other women.” Nowadays the word lesbian has a lot of different connotations and variations. You can be a butch lesbian or a lipstick lesbian. Some people think lesbians are all just women who are over men and it’s a choice they’ve made, some believe lesbians are women seeking male attention. Everybody wants to put a label on everything, they want people to fit into boxes they can understand. The one box we all checks is the human box. We are all humans. We are all the same in that. But we’re not all the same in other respects, and those differences should be celebrated, not boxed and feared. Here at Proud Times we understand that not everyone is familiar with the LGBTTQQIAAP letters and what they mean. We want to educate and help people see others as different but beautiful. Each issue from here on out will feature a letter, going in order, and starting with L for lesbian. To celebrate the letter L we contacted an amazing woman, Sarah Toce, founder of The Seattle Lesbian. We asked her what the word lesbian means to her, how she has incorporated it into her life, how she feels it is perceived by the public, and much more. So don’t take it from us, take it from someone who is willing to share themselves with you, including, but not limited to, their identification as a lesbian.

Sarah Toce We encourage all our readers to learn from the interviews revolving around these letters of the LGBTQ alphabet. People are far more than their sexuality, but we also want to celebrate the differences between us and create a conversation and a better understanding for all.

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I think we all know the technical definition of lesbian, but can you tell us what that means to you as far as community, society, struggles, and women empowerment? My goal in creating The Seattle Lesbian was never to silo the community into segments - it was quite the opposite. I think that regardless of how you label yourself (or choose not to be labeled), is exactly as it should be. What does the word “lesbian” mean to me, personally? It’s a term that I both love and... don’t. I don’t usually use the word, quite honestly, and it’s not because of shame or fear. I prefer to call myself a gay woman or, moreover, a woman. A mom. A wife. A human being. Our intersectionalities cross lines, borders and societies in a moment-by-moment basis. I think that boxing ourselves in is not helpful to many of us, but it is necessary for some of us and I respect both lines of reason. To some of us, calling ourselves a lesbian is comfortable. To others, it is not. I am glad the community exists, and I think aligning ourselves with commonalities is beneficial to overall health and well-being. But does that one word define me as a person? Absolutely not. Perhaps therein lies the strength of women and the power of being exactly who you are where you are right now. You are the founder of The Seattle Lesbian, which is a very popular online publication. Can you tell us why you started The Seattle Lesbian, what the publication means to you, what you have already accomplished with it, and what more you hope to accomplish with it?

I started The Seattle Lesbian with a friend named Kate West back in 2010. We were talking over dinner one night with my wife, Stephanie Brusig, about how there wasn’t enough news in the gay papers that reflected our lives and lifestyles. Personally, I wanted to read about hiking, running, potentially having children, and married life. I wasn’t interested in the bar scene and seeing men in their underwear. That’s perfect for some, but I wanted more. I wanted substance and depth. My wife suggested we create our own brand and the rest, as they say, is history. We’re at eight years now and stronger than ever. Inclusivity by diversity is so important. There’s often spotlight on the male gay community. Do you feel that there’s a need for more publications geared specifically toward lesbians? How can people within the community help to accomplish this? We don’t know what we can’t see - and that’s one of the reasons I think it’s extremely important to push for more female representation in media. Whether you identify as gay, lesbian, queer, straight, bisexual, or transgender, recognizing yourself and your journey in a story is a valuable way to feel included and part of something larger than what your own circumstances entail. If you feel that you are not as visibly recognizable in mainstream - or even LGBTQ+ media - change it. Create something. Write and publish your story in as many places as you can. Pen a letter to the editor. Submit a blog post. However you decide to do it, the goal is to make the opportunity that perhaps doesn’t already exist.

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Personally, I feel we have come a long way as gay women in the media and we have some powerful women in the industry to thank for it. Women like Ellen DeGeneres, who made her mark in television as the first out lesbian in a mainstream show. Coming out cost her everything - her career, her livelihood, her relationships, and her reputation in Hollywood. But you know what her coming out also did? It inspired millions of gay kids, teens, and adults to feel less alone. To feel included and hopeful for a better future. I was one of those young adults. Thanks, Ellen. You are also the founder/producer of Seattle Women’s Pride, from a more political standpoint do you feel that things are improving for women, and what do you think can be done to solidify and/or further those improvements? The most qualified female ever to run for President of the United States, win the popular vote, but lose the electoral college was Hillary Rodham Clinton and now, because of a rigged system, an egotistical maniac is running the White House. So, politically, no, I do not feel we have seen the best of times in recent years. However, I do see a light ahead. That light is in all of the women currently running for office that would have never had the audacity to imagine doing so before this time. In that arc toward justice, I see hope - and I am encouraged.

a more equitable future for all of us. We need more representation across every perceived boundary and we need it now. We can see vast improvements by getting people registered to vote and making sure they show up. And we need to show up as well. We are not powerless. We have the strength, the courage and the conviction to turn this tide around and we have to start now. As a woman and a member of the lgbtq community, you are an inspiration for change. What advice would you give those who want to make a difference politically or within their own community? Show up and start working. I think there’s far too much time spent on worrying about outcomes and not enough time, in general, actually getting down in the dirt and planting the seeds for change. Success does not happen overnight. If you think that it does, you’ll be disappointed. The money won’t come overnight and the long hours are mostly exhausting at best. This is real talk - it takes years of hard work, sweat and tears to carve out your niche, but if you can stick to it and be willing to get dirty so that you can build your life, your career, your happiness, and your community from the bottom up, it’ll all be worth it. Read more about Sarah and The Seattle Lesbian’ by visiting their About Us section on their website, or by clicking on the web link below.

My wish for the immediate future is that more women will run for local and national office; more people of color will take positions of power; more transgender citizens will be issued the oath of office; and all of the minority populations and our allies and friends will say: “Enough.” The time is over for complacency and explaining away. We are here and we are taking charge to make

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The Seattle Lesbian is a daily online newspaper operating from offices in the Pacific Northwest, and reaching communities spanning continents around the world. The Seattle Lesbian has changed the landscape of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) life by providing thought-provoking content with substantial relevancy on various angles of discussion and advocacy. The Seattle Lesbian was awarded the McCormick Foundation‘s New Media Women Entrepreneur grant from J-Lab in 2012. The McCormick Foundation supports free, vigorous and diverse news media that provide citizens the vital information they need to make reasoned decisions in a democracy. In 2015, The Seattle Lesbian became a NASDAQ content partner. The Seattle Lesbian works closely with the University of Washington to feature a regular stream of diverse voices. Write for us! The Seattle Lesbian regularly features freelance submissions from various community intersections. Pitches may be sent to: info@theseattlelesbian.com.

SARAH TOCE, FOUNDER/PUBLISHER Global influencer, journalist and publisher Sarah Toce was recognized by Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and Congresswoman Maxine Waters as one of their 2017 Community Builders. She was the recipient of the distinguished 2016 LGBT Leadership Award from the Washington Diversity Council. In 2014, she was named one of GO Magazine’s Red Hot Entrepreneurs. In 2012, the McCormick Foundation named Sarah one of their New Media Women Entrepreneurs for her work developing and publishing Seattle’s daily LGBT online newspaper – The Seattle Lesbian. In its first year alone, The Seattle Lesbian reached a threshold of one million readers on a global scale. In 2015, The Seattle Lesbian became a NASDAQ partner. Sarah has interviewed and profiled many of the world’s most influential players ranging from high-level politicians to A-list celebrities, health experts, and key civil rights advocates. Her diversified portfolio has runs the gamut between local, national and international news coverage and features. Sarah currently serves on the boards of the Society of Professional Journalists – Western Washington Pro Chapter and GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics. She also works with Family Equality Council on the West Coast Advisory Committee. Sarah is the founder and producer of Seattle Women’s Pride.

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By Sam Nemri & Blair Bi

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itch Project

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Winter had finally passed and we found ourselves reconciling with the cool night that spring had brought us on Capitol Hill in Seattle. It was this evening that we were meant to meet Yuhua Hamasaki for the first time. Standing outside of Queer/Bar we got to see an eclectic array of drag queens and drag enthusiasts. One stunning, but hurried drag queen came strutting toward the front door, getting ready to excite bar patrons and turn out a sickening performance. She made eye contact, stopped and chatted with us for a few minutes, despite the demands of her busy schedule. We had not met Yuhua yet, and neither party recognized one another, but we will never forget the sisterhood of Yuhua as she took the time to greet us as family would. It was then that we knew this interview would be different from any other we had ever expected to be a part of. Yuhua has a fascinating background. She immigrated to the United States from China, settling in New York City at the age of seven. Her heritage and upbringing are very apparent in her art. She combines themes of Chinese culture, New York City style, and futuristic glam that creates a look that is not often replicated in the American drag community. She started performing at the young age of sixteen. At a time when there were not nearly as many outlets for LGBT youth as there today, the gay bars were the safer spaces for a drag queen fresh on the scene. “I went to gay bars not because I wanted drink, or do drugs, or party, but just so that I could

be in an environment that I was not judged…” Before actually meeting with Yuhua, we had the pleasure of watching her and a fabulous cast of drag queens perform a regular show at Queer/ Bar. Yuhua has a way of energizing the crowd and getting them ready for something one won’t see at your local bar on a regular Friday night. She lit up the stage, opening the show with “Sweet Nothing” by Calvin Harris and Florence

Welch of Florence + the Machine. Her outfit only added to the allure and excitement the showgoers were already feeling, wearing a dazzling, big shouldered and glittering piece that turned

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heads. That set the bar for the rest of the night. Taking the moment to sit down one-on-one with Yuhua Hamasaki was more an experience than it was asking her a series of questions. We had been looking forward to meeting her, hearing about her story, her evolution as a New York City drag queen, and her experience on the critically acclaimed television series RuPaul’s Drag Race. Having the opportunity to talk with her face-toface gave us a look into her life and to see the real Yuhua that not everyone was able to see while watching her on the silver screen. We wanted to know what it was like for her being jettisoned from the New York City drag scene to national drag superstardom. She had gone from being a regular performer at clubs around the city to working with Katy Perry on the set of Saturday Night Live. From how drag queens are typically portrayed on T.V. and film, “...being featured on Saturday Night Live as talent was completely new. I’ve acted as a prostitute on TV , I’ve acted as a drunk drag queen on TV, but as talent, that was completely new, so I was very very honored and grateful that she asked a bunch of New York City drag queens, and entertainers, and transwomen and men to be featured as talent on Saturday Night Live.” From the moment we met her, we got the impression that she is a warm, light-hearted and fun-loving artist. Yuhua has a gregarious personality, a casual sense of humor, added with a dash of charisma and outspokenness. All those characteristics combined gives you someone who is organically authentic. Through speaking with her, we received invaluable insight on what it is like to be part of a nationally recognized drag community and more so what it looks like to be a spokesperson for the LGBTQ community. In

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today’s political climate, she reminded us of the importance of not only searching for, but also having a voice for our community, which ultimately helps us to find a place for all of our brothers and sisters in this world today. For Yuhua, her art also delivers a message: “I think that everybody that does drag comes from a place of darkness…they’re either picked on, they’re bullied, or don’t fit in and that’s why they do drag and that’s the same reason I do drag. With drag, I found happiness, confidence, determination and just put a smile on my face…” For Yuhua, her art was an outlet for her to become stronger and more courageous and relaying the message that others can be that way too, even if they are doing drag or not. Her doing drag gave her the confidence and made her happy even when she isn’t performing. The first part of the interview focused on her thoughts about the drag and LGBTQ community’s current status in the United States given the new direction of our country’s administration and what we, as a community, have fought for. The new members of the President’s Cabinet yield a lot of power which has raised concern it could infringe on the rights that have been earned and the progress that has been made for the LBGTQ population. We asked Yuhua what her feelings are regarding how people who are LGBT are affected by this change across the country, “In NYC not so much, same thing as in California...if you’re living in a big city like Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago, those cities are not affected as much. But I’m assuming if you’re living in the middle of America...yes you are affected. Your rights are taken away from you as a human being. These are basic human rights.” To have had

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certain events negatively impact the LGBTQ community is disheartening. However, Yuhua ended that question with a few positive words that can help facilitate change. “The most important thing to realize, and to do, is to keep doing drag, or just keep being yourself.” If you maintain who you are proudly, you are telling those that may not understand you or even oppose you that their method of thought does not necessarily affect who we are perceived to be. “Whatever you decide does not affect me because I am still going to be who I am because that is a part of me and you can’t change that.” Her words transcend the drag community and are applicable to anyone. To anyone who is struggling in their lives, facing issues of acceptance and bullying it is important to not forget who we are intrinsically and that cannot be taken away from us in the face of adversity. Building off of Yuhua’s ideas regarding our nation’s political climate only furthered our curiosity, from a drag queen’s perspective, as to what it must have been like to be on a show like Rupaul’s Drag Race. In filming a show as well developed as Rupaul’s Drag Race, we recognize that there are hours of footage being taken and then edited to concisely fit the time-frame of each episode. As viewers, we really only get a glimpse of what takes place throughout such a rigorous competition. Us being superfans of the show, we had to ask about the Work Room. For readers who aren’t familiar with RuPaul’s Drag Race, the Work Room is where the queens get ready and where some juicy drama unfolds. We asked what it is like to be in the midst of such a taxing competition and what it was like to see fellow queens struggle with their differences with one another consistently and

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with what seems to be a purveying factor all around you. She responds directly, “Here is what I think about drama and fighting arguments: go fight. Go kill each other, go slap each other, but I am just going to sit in the corner.” She continues to explain that as an artist, there are times that we need to “tune ourselves out” and focus on the mission at hand. While in media, these arguments are often entertaining, we learn from queens like Yuhua, that it is often better to focus on why you’re there in the first place. Yuhua Hamasaki may have not been our next “Drag Race Superstar,” but her art has yet to come to full fruition and with her story comes invaluable lessons. The episode she went home, Rupaul lets her and the viewers know that she will always be a part of the Drag Race Family. Succinctly put, Yuhua’s life and art has been carefully curated to teach us to be ourselves without apology. Fashion today teaches us what we should like and admire, and media teaches us who we should be, but Yuhua teaches us that we are the only ones who can be ourselves, and that maybe someday, we could have the influence to change our world around us simply by being true to who we were always meant to be. The video inteviews are fun, crazy, and sometimes you will end up on your side. Have fun and enjoy both videos.

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As a connoisseur of music of all kinds, 2 years ago I ran across a youtube video of “Unlock Your Heart,� and I fell in love with the song, and the video, and have internet stalked Kenyth Mogan on socials, Youtube, and other interviews he has given since then.


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Music comes from a singer’s heart when writing the lyrics, singing, or both. When I listen to his music, I am carried away and get lost in the flow of the song. As a fan of his music, I was excited to be able to talk with him and share not only his art, but the man behind the music with you.

Mic– Where do you currently call home? Is it where you currently live or where you grew up? Ken- Probably where I grew up. Kensdale, Montana. That is where I grew up. Mic– Is that where you grew up or where your family is? Ken – Yes that’s where I grew up and most of my family is. Mic– What is your earliest memory which really made you know that you wanted to be a singer? Ken – Oh gosh, I used to sing all of the time when I was a little kid. I would sing to the records and TV. My grandmother said when I was a tiny baby and was in church when the choir began to sing I would want to sing and dance with them. I guess my earliest performance would have been a summer camp. I sang a song and I was really little, about nine? Mic– Could you sing that song if someone else asked you? Ken – No, probably not. Mic– Your music to me is not really country, not really rock, what would you call your music? Is there a genre that it fits in? Ken – Probably pop music.

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Mic – Is pop music something that is in your soul, or is it at this particular point in time that’s how you feel when you’re singing? Some people are definitely country, some people are super rock--Why would you call yourself a pop singer? Ken – It’s definitely something I’ve grown up with. Mic– Has your family always been super supportive of you – or has it been a little bit of work to convince them that you are a singer? Ken – They have been supportive- they have been great, I get messages from my sister, cousins when they hear me on the radio, so that’s kind of cool. Mic– I’ve been a big fan of yours since before you were on the radio show. One of my favorite videos and songs is “Unlock Your Heart.” I don’t know why, it’s just the video— the story - the music – the way it was portrayed. You know the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz only wanted a heart. You are trying to sift through the boyfriend in the video, to make it romantic. Bring him out – to show him that you care. Was this concept your first choice, did someone else help you? How do you come up with a storyline like that?

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Ken – That was an idea from my director. I had wanted to do along the line of Bewitched, one of my creative directors decided that the Wizard of Oz was much better. He was right, it really fit the song. Mic – How were you going to try to portray it in a bewitched theme? Ken – I honestly don’t remember I just knew it was one of my favorite TV shows and I just knew I wanted that kind of a story.

Darin it was longer running then the first Darin? Ken – Yes. Mic– Actually I think I know why you picked the Tin Man, I’m glad you picked it and I’m glad that you guys picked it, I don’t think you could have done it any better. Ken – Yeah, it turned out so much better than I ever imagined, it would have. Mic– Do you have a favorite video?

Mic– Are you a fan of the first husband or the second husband? Ken – Darin? If I had to choose I’d

Ken- I would say that was probably one of most personal songs and one of my favorites. And the video was all my concept – my ideas. It was just a lot of fun to do! Mic– Do you feel that you married the plot with the song, or did you decide it was all your baby? Ken – I think I decided it was all my baby. Mic– Do you write all of your songs.

probably choose the first Darin. Mic– I liked the first one myself. It might have been because he started it. Sometimes the changing of the guard, so to speak, can really mess up the flow. Actually, I think with the second

Ken– It just depends. A lot of the time I try to, but sometimes, like on the project I’m doing now, I’m co-writing on the EP, but I’m not writing exclusively. Like on the levy TI?, I wrote everything that’s on that one. On this one I’m just taking back and letting the crew I’m working with have their way. Mic– With the writing and the videos, do you like creating the videos to go with the music? Which one do you like better? Ken – I really like the writing – that’s really where I’m in my element. I really get lost in a burst of creativity. When I’m writing I’m just me, and that’s what I love.

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Mic – Where do you get the ideas for your music. What is your Zen- where do you go? Do you sit out on your porch, do you get in your pool? Do you take notes as it comes to you, or do you work for hours?

Mic – The EP that you are working on? Are you going to make a music video for it?

Ken – It’s a little bit of all of that. It’s kind of anywhere it hits me. I’ve been in the car, and I pull over. Sitting in my grandparent’s home, in high school I was always carrying a clipboard, because whenever an idea would hit me I would write it down. Whenever it hit me – It hit me. I wrote a song in the middle of a basketball game. It doesn’t matter where I am, it just happens.

Mic– Do you have the name of one of the songs that’s going to be your preference that you are going to want to take control of, more than the others?

Mic – How long have you been writing and cowriting with other people? Ken – I remember when I was a little kid I wrote a little song about a caterpillar, when I was about seven. I couldn’t tell you what it was about, I just remember. But I wrote my first- first song, 2006? 2007? I think? I recorded this little demo. And another thing, my friend and I would sing with her family at Christmas. I had gone on a date with a boyfriend, I had known throughout college. I got back to my room and turned on the lights and started writing. I had it written in about five minutes. It just flowed out of me. My roommate asks, “what the hell are you doing?” I sang the song, and she really liked it. It was the first song that I really ever recorded. Mic – What was the name of it? Ken – Oh, my gosh I have to remember? “In your eyes.”

Ken – Yes, That’s the plan. The plan is to do a video of all of the songs.

Ken – No, I’m working with a producer that happens to be a really good friend of mine, and that I trust explicitly and he is musically just a genius, and his business partner is also equally talented. My producer and I sat down and mapped out the story art we wanted for each video, and what we wanted overall for the whole thing. In the span of fifteen minutes we knew exactly what we wanted to do, and how we wanted to do it. Once everything is recorded we will start working on position of the videos. Mic– Do you have an estimated time to release at this time? Ken – Not at this time. We are still in the recording process. It will be sooner rather than later. I would say probably –fall? If we can get it all done if not we will push it back to winter or early spring. When the EP is out and the videos are ready Proud Times will let you know, but til then here are a few links that will help you learn more about Kenyth and his music.

It was all about his struggle with his sexuality. He had a girlfriend and the struggle with that was the only part of the world that mattered. And I think he’s the only one who has a copy of that song.

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By Charlie David

Today we’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to Vasilios Filippakis, one of the stars of the ‘Mating Season’ episode of the brand new Shadowlands miniseries. VASILIOS FILIPPAKIS is excited for the premier of the Shadowlands gay series where the world will be able to discover an array of relationship dynamics within gay culture.

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Vasilios is a Toronto based actor born in Windsor Ontario. After graduating from theatre school at York University, he has trained with many coaches across Toronto ranging in technique and continues working to deepen his craft. When Vasilios is not training or creating his own work, you may see him in a soon to be released feature film “The Lone Paddler”, or in commercials for Swiss Chalet, Gradifi, or Kit-Kat to name a few.

Tell us about your story in the new Shadowlands gay series. What were the main challenges and fears you had in your role?

Vasilios Filippakis: In Shadowlands, the story I am in is called “Mating Season”, which explores the boundaries of a monogamous relationship. A gay couple takes a few days in the woods for a romantic camping trip when they meet a harmless man who has been camping for some time . It turns out, the man isn’t exactly as he appears ( I don’t want to give anything away). This aspect is something I really considered while preparing for this role. As real as “Daniel” (the character I played) is there are many elements of mystery with him that were interesting to find spots to incorporate into the script.

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Honestly, I didn’t have many fears going into filming this project, It was all excitement. The ONE thing thing that was difficult was trying to be sexy in that really cold water. We really tried our best. How much of yourself goes into a character? Vasilios Filippakis: I always try to put as much of myself into all my work and characters. I think as a human with years of life experience you can find many correlations between your real life and the one that is depicted on the script. Sure there are some stretches here, for example, playing a murderer, but even in that case a person is much more than a killer. You still have other human qualities that make you whole, and those are things that I look to explore and pull when creating. I believe that the best performances come from things I grab from my experience. In this case it’s all about love, loss, hope, reflection and finding peace, all things that I as Vasilios can live authentically in the moment because they are things that I feel naturally.

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How much were you able to relate your own experiences to create your character? And how much did you have to research or imagine? Vasilios Filippakis: I could relate to my character’s experience a lot. Daniel really struggled with the idea of being loved and accepted. I think that we all have had that in our lives. He has this monologue about a past love that was “the one” for him. Again, I think everyone has a similar story to Daniel and has or will feel love the way he did. Each story or episode is unique and has its own world of characters, time and place. And yet there are connections between them. Were you aware of these connections while filming or was it a surprise to learn later? Vasilios Filippakis: Honestly, I wasn’t really aware of any of this until we started filming. I remember in rehearsal Charlie David was framing a shot to mimic one that is shown in the third episode. It was all a surprise until I saw the final edits and saw all three episode after each other. I think this will be fun for the audience to discover!

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Romance between men and between women was common place and written about in Greek and Roman mythology. Many of the stories in the Shadowlands book were inspired by these ancient myths. Why is it important to continue sharing these types of stories today? Vasilios Filippakis: It’s important to share these stories because love is love, no matter the time, place, or gender. Every story explored in the Shadowlands gay series is very relatable to present times.

Vasilios Filippakis: I act for my heart. It wasn’t till recently that I explored this reason. I was in acting class with the amazing Suzanne Bastien (At The Creative Space) here in Toronto, when we were asked this question “Why do you act”? We began exploring our hearts why on why we have chosen to be an actor. For me it’s about exploring every emotion without holding back. Acting a vessel to be free and really let go. What’s next for you as a creator/actor/performer?

This show really just shines another light on life as it is. As much as the inspiration came from Greek and Roman mythology I think the audience will see how much these stories are rooted in today.

Vasilios Filippakis: I am currently working on a show I created called “FAK YAASS”. I’m the creator, writer, producer and lead actor (it’s totally about my life). The show is a mix between “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and “Queer as Folk”.

What was the hardest scene for you to do and why?

We have an amazing team and we’re really looking forward to putting this story out there! We have a concept trailer out now and should have some more updates soon about the project!

Vasilios Filippakis: The hardest scene for me (no pun inteneded) was for sure all the water scenes. The water was SO cold. Trying to not shiver and look good is a challenge, believe me. The rest of the shoot was so fun and easy. The cast and crew made being on set a dream! I would go back to film with these people in a heartbeat. Who is a major influence for you and on your creativity? Vasilios Filippakis: The major influence for me on my creativity is my own life. I just think that we all have a story that is unique and nobody else can live it or write it. To me that’s inspiring. Who else can tell your story? Nobody! I know that I am a well of emotions and have so much to tell that I am constantly in a state of creation. With so much going on in the world today, what’s your motivation to be a performer? Do you act to explain? To get away? To move past? To widen our knowledge? To incite a conversation?

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By Brenda J. Robinson Burgett

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Image Trail Running Golden

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Image by Morahan Visuals / Corbis Images - Camp Lost Lake

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J.J. Yosh is a remarkable young filmmaker and outdoor adventurer who has traveled throughout the U.S.A. and the world. His love of nature led him to his purpose of changing the world through the media. He was even out on a hike when we had this interview! He has been on various television shows, commercials, and he starred in a full length film called Ancient Tomorrow - find it on Amazon and Google Play! We spoke with J.J. about Ancient Tomorrow, what he’s doing now, and how he got to where he is now.

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J.J., one of the things that stood out the most when I did my research on you, was your spirit, your free, free spirit. Did you arrive with this spirit? When did you know you were going to live your life your way? I suppose since it’s my spirit it has always been within me. As soon as my mind caught up with my spirit I was really able to channel what my true calling was and I would say I had moments of my spirit coming through to me in my early childhood. But, it was in college, when I was going to school and I was part of a group called the excursion club that it really started to take shape and form. Part of my research about you is the all you have accomplished has a common thread, if you don’t mind me asking, is this a peace and giving back to the Universe and nature? You mentioned that you wanted to wanted to change the Universe through the media. Yeah, early on in college I wanted to go on excursions out into the woods. And I wasn’t alone, I had friends and students that felt the same way. I really experienced firsthand how powerful being outside -and actually right now I’m in a forest in upstate New York. Just the feeling you get when you are around nature, is so—recharging, and revitalizing, that I realized that was a part of my life that was missing, and I didn’t know what I was missing because I hadn’t had those experiences, until that point. And I saw others around me – other students experience similar transformations and realize that this was one of the ways—the way I could help, give back to the world, by getting people inspired by about their environment and their backyard. And so that they could get more connected to the Earth. And

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so, I realized that was what my calling was. The media was a vehicle to do that on a larger scale. And so, ever since I have been pursuing it full throttle. And now it’s working out. It’s more than working out. I’m intrigued with your travels. I understand that you have tours that you take people on? I did—I did, I am more now through videos and films and videos that I make. People through social media are able to journey with me. I love that it is working for you. One of the questions that always seems to be asked is what makes you happy. In your case that is broadcast all through your work. I am impressed with the peace I get when I listen to you. Thanks. I also love the way you word things. You have a wonderful ability to seem to contradict yet mean the same. I love the fact that you call you food creations Zen sushi rolls. Yes. You actually do this in the woods during hikes? Do you catch you own fish –What does this involve? Since I’ve been going in the backcountry, ever since college I’ve wanted to bring good food out into the wild. A lot of people think that when you are camping you have to eat camp food. And you have to sacrifice luxury eating when you are camping and it’s just not true. I have really tried to promote the idea of gourmet backcountry cooking. And being able to take spices up there

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with you but also use spice you might find out there. Sometimes there is wild lavender, mint, sage- and you can use that in your cooking outdoors. Sometimes you can catch fish in the lakes and the rivers and add that to your cooking. A lot of times I’ve had cactus, wild berries and this has made very delicious meals out in the wilderness. Nothing is better for me than watching the sunset and eating a delicious meal. The trips I have taken you hear that it is an important thing to eat the local food? The common thread seems to be eat what is grown, where you are, helps you to become a part of the local environment. Does that resound with you? Yes, definitely! Actually, the trip that I’m on right now, we are doing a little bit of that. We are cooking with local ingredients. So, it’s really been a nice little treat to see what we find. Giving back appears to be important to you. Are you still involved with the save the national monuments? That was a single campaign that I was involved with. I’m part of Nature Conservancy in Colorado and there is a local counsel called The Thirteens, which is a group of people in their fifties, that do different events to help with conserving nature and Colorado, so I’m involved with that. And then we did work with the monuments. I would image that there will be other spinoff projects that are important to you? Yes, Yes.

Image by Morahan Visuals / Corb

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I was agonizing over waiting long enough in this interview to bring up the project of Ancient Tomorrow. It intrigues me. The pyramids the vortexes –Would you like to tell me a little bit about the full-length movie called Ancient Tomorrow? Yeah, Ancient Tomorrow has been one of the largest projects I have ever worked on in my life. It definitely took up over a decade of my life. It was quite an accomplishment to finish it. Once I didn’t think I was going to, it was my first fulllength feature film. The movie itself was about the pyramids, and ancient ruins around the world. Not being tombs at all but being ancient power plants connected on a worldwide grid. And as much of a fantasy as that sounds, actually there are a lot of people out there, including incredible scientist who have come together and united on this theory, and sometimes we call it a theory, but it’s hard to prove these things. Things you know inside to be true. The public needs to have very tangible truth, and actually there is tangible truth out there. That is actually all part of the movie. Ancient tomorrow was really showing how this theory that these things were actually power plants can indeed be truth not myth. And just showing all the synchronicities and coincidences that bring to light the powers of this ancient power is actually not ancient at all. It’s alive and breathing. And a lot of our current cities are existing around these ancient models. That is sort of the short story of the movie. It was more than a movie to me. It was a movement – it was my life project that I was working on, and I was very involved in it—I was very involved in it and I’m taking a little break from it at the moment. It was definitely one of the biggest parts of my life to date so far.

bis Images - JJ Vedavoo

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I love your presentation of fact that were not really documented facts at the time, but there carried such an element of truth. Thank you! It was very well delivered. I was confident that you were on the on the right track, I have done a lot of research and it is enough to convince that I am in 100% agreement with you. One of the things that is so exciting was the mention of vortexes. Tell me more about how that ties in with the pyramids. Well, the ancient grids that the theory is based on, basically the world, the globe has an electric energy grid around it, and it is caused by the sun and the Earth’s’ axis and is considered to be invisible lines that circulate the world and the narrow points which are the crossing of two ley lines, the ley lines being these energy lines, that create a concentrated energy point which would be either a normal point or a vortex point. A lot of these lines cross. And at these vortex points, that is where it’s believed that a lot of these ancient pyramids and structures were built, to fully harness the special heightened level of energy that is at those points. It’s said that a vortex energy not only can be harnessed in physical form, but if you were to plant crops, agriculture is able to grow better and you’re able to connect with allomones and benefits that have been reported at these vortex points. And that in itself is helpful in learning what it is at a vortex points.

Yes, actually there are. It’s truly an amazing place once you get past the touristy feel. It’s like a renewal of the spirit to sit on the red rocks. I think most of what I’ve read about you has been done earlier in your life – so I’m excited to hear about what’s going on with you right now. I’m going on different adventures. My cat Simon has been kind of a new addition to my life. I’ve had him for almost two years now. And it’s just incredible, he’s such an incredible being. I named him after my guardian angel. He’s my guardian angel now in physical form. It’s like he’s my spirit guardian. He watches over me and in a lot of ways he guides me more than I’m guiding him. And he’s just an incredible being. The amount of things he does from backpacking, to kayaking, to climbing. There’s just really nothing he can’t do. I’ve been focusing on social media lately. Posting a lot of images. Sharing images and videos to my audience and lot of travel and my messages on positivity and so that’s what I’ve been focusing on lately. A lot of smaller projects and focusing on them. It seems to be growing. I’ve definitely not done anything like Ancient Tomorrow.

It just opens up the possibilities to another way of thinking. J.J. have you visited Sedona, Arizona? I know it is considered to be a place of heightened place of energies. I have not gone there yet. I did drive kind of by it. Are there other points there as well?

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It’s like the lull before the storm? And it’s a good storm. I look so forward to following your adventures and travels. Speaking once again about Simon, he seems to have an incredible soul. It hard for some who have never met a cat with his energy to realize how incredible he is. it’s been really great to be able to travel with him and open a lot of people’s eyes, especially dog people, have created in their minds, that cats can’t do certain things. And that’s just not true. Cats are very intelligent and are very capable. So, that’s been really nice to help open people’s minds to the possibilities. To know that it is possible to have a companion as a cat. It’s been very nice. It’s definitely possible. It’s wonderful and I don’t want to say something about you that’s not true, but you are totally an amazing man. Thank you. I have loved speaking with you and so happy you gave me some time this morning. Is there any one thing you would like to say to your audience? I would just like to say- When it comes to the ancient pyramids, with one of the things I have learned with Ancient Tomorrow, was that in this whole time I was searching for this ancient technology, and trying to prove something, what I realized was – the journey itself was the actual technology. I really learned that it really starts with ourselves and finishes with ourselves. For us to fully brings about a new revolution politically, or

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Epiphany Mattel


spiritually or bring our civilization to a new level of change. We ought to be able to fully connect with our higher selves and by doing that it is literally bringing about a change. And that goes right back to the ancient technology because it is by spiritualist along the way these power plants do not need to be plugged into the grid again. We need to plug ourselves into the grid and we are to activate these ancient structures. So, when we awaken, we will be able to awaken these ancients’ energies, because they are fully connected to us. And that’s something I am still learning every day. We live in a life where we keep our energy structures as separate from ourselves, but really the beautiful thing about these ancients is the machines were a part of them and that’s what drove the energy. I think that’s a beautiful thing and one day we will activate these ancient machines. I agree and you are on an amazing adventure and have been on it your entire life. I am just so appreciative of being able to talk with you. Continue you as you are J.J. We have been visiting with J.J. Yosh as he hikes the backcountry of upper New York. You can follow J.J. with the links below.

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By K. Leroy Schmierer

When traveling, it is fun to try the local cuisine. But, how do you determine where will be the best place to eat? Do you ask friends? Go online and look at menus and pricing? Or in my case, we walked, saw the sights, and looked at menus of places as we passed by. My husband does not like seafood, but I can never get enough. So when we are traveling we keep that in mind each time we eat out. This year, we’re celebrating our 21st year anniversary so we did a lot of research. We asked a few friends then winged it. Ha ha. For this celebration, we went to Seattle Pride, because it has been 15 years since we saw our last Pride there. On the way to Seattle, we had an hour stop over in Leavenworth because neither of us had been there.

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That was the beginning of our food journey to Pride: A Brief Look at Leavenworth, WA: Believe it or not, our area wasn’t always Bavaria. Instead, the towering mountain peaks and bountiful land was known amongst Native Americans as some of the most plentiful land anyone had laid eyes on. The Yakama, Chinook and Wenatchee tribes all hunted the same land for deer & elk, and also fished Icicle Creek for salmon. Settlers hungry for gold, timber, and furs soon settled the area, and by 1890, Icicle Flats was born. The area exploded with the arrival of the rail line near the turn of the century. At that point, Leavenworth was a whole lot less Bavaria and a whole lot more Deadwood! The logging and sawmill business was great…until it wasn’t. When the railroad re-routed its rails and moved out of town, it almost turned Leavenworth into a ghost town. The area scuffled along for more than thirty years, always on the brink of extinction. In the early 1960’s, town leaders had a bright idea: change Leavenworth’s appearance to draw visitors. If the gorgeous alpine hills had no equal except in German Bavaria, the city planned on completing the experience. This was no mere facelift. In addition to completely renovating the downtown area, community leaders created a series of festivals, drawing revelers into town. From there, the Autumn Leaf Festival, Maifest, and the immensely popular Christmas Lighting Festivals were born and continue to this day. To say the change worked is like saying you can taste a hint of cabbage in kraut. For decades, Leavenworth has been a top tourist destination in the Pacific Northwest. More than a million tourists walk our streets every year, finding “Bavarian authenticity and Northwest hospitality.” http://leavenworth.org/history/

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We arrived early and found a beautiful street to walk down, which is very easy in Leavenworth. We went from shop to shop and had fun viewing the different touristy sights. But all that walking causes you to get hungry. Very hungry. So, around noon we started to look online and gave up. There were way too many places to read about and check out the menus. So we decided to retrace our steps and look at menus and listen to people who were talking about them. We were looking at prices and what was listed. After looking at 7 places, we decided we would settle on a burger. And for the price, The Loft looked ok. Review:

selection of drinks alcoholic and non alcoholic. We both chose the Mushroom Swiss burger and was given a choice of a large or small burger. We chose the small and ordered our meats differently I like mine burned my husband likes his still mooing. When we got the burgers I almost fell out of my seat. You only see these types of burgers on TV food shows, but I was staring at a two handed hamburger cooked to each of our desired specifications that was taller than I could open my mouth. I forced my mouth around this burger and was happy for the experience. When done we were both satisfied and the bill was not bad at all.

Deciding on a place can be a science, guess or plain tired and wanting to eat. Todays case was pricing and tired and wanting to eat, after 4 hours of walking looking in all the neat shops here in Leavenworth my husband and I decided to backtrack and look at menus. When looking we kept price in mind but wanted to find something that we would like. I think it was the fith or sixth menu we chose The Loft. When you enter The Loft you want to cry and change your mind. What, what...yes you see at least 50 steps going up and up. We looked at each other and decided to go for it. At the top of the stairs there is a cute sign that says “You made it! Please seat yourselves.� It was not too busy for a Friday around 2pm and we found a table close to the balcony so we could look outside while waiting. The wait was not too long but long enough to where we thought we would need to find someone to help us.

On a scale of 1 to 6, 1 being i would rather eat out of a trash and 6 being an orgazum in my mouth(yes I have had one meal in my life that has ruined me for life it was so good) I will give The Loft 5 Stripes. If we gave out half stripes it would really be 41/2 stripes and that is because we almost went looking for a server.

Menu was not too large and had a nice

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First meal in Seattle: Our first day in Seattle we were to go on the Gay Cruise promoted by Nark Magazine. Because we are new and had no idea how to find good parking, we decided to drive and find an all day park and walk. It took 30 minutes to get to the hidden cruise dock. During this long walk to the boarding area, we passed a few good looking restaurants. We came across one called Duke’s Chowder House. Looking at the menu, we thought it would be a great choice for dinner. We made a mental note and headed on. The cruise boarded on time and for the most part it was worth the 3 hours. We met a lot of people and drank a lot of booze. Once back it was later than we wanted to be in town, and being sunburned and tired, we forgot Duke’s and headed back to where we were staying. We were staying with friends in Renton and called them on the way for dinner ideas. They suggested “The Cheesecake Factory,” so we headed there to find out it had about a 45 minute wait. Ugh, tired and hungry, we went inside the biggest mall I have ever seen, Westfield Southcenter, and as we entered there was Duke’s Chowder House.

menu was lengthy but not a book and with a variety of food. I had the clam chowder my husband had a hamburger. We also chose to get appetizers and they were good and much needed not only because we were hungry, but after we ate the meal we were not totally filled and might have needed more if we were not wanting to get back. The meal did not take long and it was very tasty and throughout the meal the server was very attentive. The food was good and I could eat there again, but I found the pricing a little high for the portions. The service was excellent but I can not really guage it because it was either a night for a Saturday so the server was possibly more attentive to make sure she received a tip. I would recommend Duke’s Chowder House in the Westfield Southcenter Mall. I can only give it 4 Stripes because the food, however good, left us feeling like we could eat more even after having appetizers and complimentary bread.

Review: When entering Duke’s we were seated right away and the server was very nice and friendly. The

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Last meal in Seattle: Our last meal was right after the Pride Parade. Because we last saw the Pride Parade 15 years ago, we thought it was going to be on Capitol Hill down Broadway… Oops. After finding a great parking spot and being 3 hours early, we chose to have coffee and look at the events listing only to realize we were in the wrong place. After coffee, we started the long 35 minute walk to Pike’s Place Street Market and where we spent the remaining time until the parade.

but would not hold it against the chef. To me if salmon is done wrong it has a bad fishy taste. Wow is all I can say, every bit was worth it. This salmon was not only tasty, it took pleasures with every part of my tongue. I loved the vegetables and the two types of squash and kale and onion were fried to the right tenderness. The biggest surprise was the sweet potato fries. The natural sweet of the potatoes and the nicely seasoned BBQ salmon made the good price and great food worth our trek. The service was spot on.

After the parade and a few hours at the park, we started to get hungry and decided to call it and make the 35 minute walk back up the hill. Once we made it to the car, we decided to find a spot to eat. We walked up and down Broadway and decided to eat at The Rooster Bar and Grill.

On a scale of 6 for the rainbow flag’s 6 standard colors I would give Rooster’s Tex Mex BBQ a very respectable 5. If you’re in the area be sure to check them out and let us know your thoughts!

Review: It was a long day at Seattle Pride and there were long lines at the food vendors. My husband and I had to walk a great distance to find a place to side outside and enjoy a meal. We parked on Broadway and started to walk up one side, then down the other. We happened on Rooster’s Tex Mex BBQ. The menu looked okay, so we decided in honor of Rodney, our rooster, that we would give this place a try. I wanted seafood for my last dinner in Seattle, and figured this place would have a decent selection - we were in Seattle after all!- , but with only 3 types of seafood on the menu, I thought I might have been mistaken in my choice. We ordered bacon wrapped jalapeño poppers as an appetizer and really liked the presentation and the taste. When the pork enchiladas for my husband and my salmon came out I was hoping the salmon would live up to my high standards,

All in all, we had fun on the trip and finding these cool places to eat made the trip more enjoyable. Proud Times would love to hear about your dining experiences, send your fun, sad, crazy, or romantic stories and reviews to submit@proudtimes.com!

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Yuhua Hamasaki July 2018  

Yuhua has a fascinating background. She immigrated to the United States from China, settling in New York City at the age of seven. Her herit...

Yuhua Hamasaki July 2018  

Yuhua has a fascinating background. She immigrated to the United States from China, settling in New York City at the age of seven. Her herit...

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