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Gaycation m a g a z i n e

Summer 2017


GIVE INDY

3 DAYS DISCOVER ONE OF AMERICA’S

MOST UNDERRATED LGBT DESTINATIONS. Find the perfect plan for a three-day weekend at

VisitIndy.com/LGBT


RED WHITE ON

BLUE STAR ALAIN JACKISNKY, CANADA

DJ JALIL Z

THURSDAY 6.29 Karaoke 9p FRIDAY, 6.30 DJ Doug 9p-2a PERFECT 10 MEN Cabaret: Dunes Divas SATURDAY 7.1 Porn @ The Pool w/ DJ Roland Belmares 12-6p PM DJ Alain Jackisnky J 9p-2a Cabaret: Amy & Freddy

DJ/PRODUCER

DJ RALPHI DJ BARRY JOE ROSARIO GAUTHREAUX HARRIS

DJ ROLAND BELMARES

DJ DOUG

SUNDAY 7.2 Tea w/PERFECT 10 MEN DJ Doug 4-7p Main Tea DJ Joe Gauthreaux 7p-2a Cabaret: Amy & Freddy MONDAY 7.3 Pool DJ Jalil Z 12-6p DJ Ralphi Rosario 9p-2a Cabaret: Hannaniah TUESDAY 7.4 Tea w/PERFECT 10 MEN DJ Doug 4-7p DJ Barry Harris 7p-2a Cabaret: Hannaniah

Cook • Eat • Drink • Travel www.joeeatsworld.com

DunesResort.com

269.857.1401 SAUGATUCK | MICHIGAN


Gaycation Magazine PO Box 2972 Indianapolis IN 46206 www.gaycationmagazine.com Summer 2017 Issue 22 Publisher Doran Omnimedia LLC Executive Editor Rob McQuillan rob@gaycationmagazine.com Layout John Lyle Belden Art Director Rob McQuillan rob@gaycationmagazine.com Advertising sales@gaycationmagazine.com National Advertising Representative Rivendell Media 908-232-2021 Subscribe subscriptions@gaycationmagazine.com Submissions editor@gaycationmagazine.com General Info travel@gaycationmagazine.com Social Media GaycationTravel1 GaycationMag +Gaycationmagazine1 GaycationMag gaycationmag

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gaycationmagazine

Contents 8 Explore Exuma Island by DJ Doran 10 Bart’s Life by Bart Williams 12 Cool Hidden Stuff by Adam Groffman 14 Great LGBT Camping 18 Discover New Zealand by Gregory L. Kiep 20 Our Favorite Places 22 Saugatuck’s Dunes Resort 24 Miami by Sherel Purcell 28 Key West by Guy Ross 30 Key West’s Island House 32 Gaycation’s Pride Guide 34 Prideflight Ready for Takeoff 36 Big Fun on Small Cruises by Robert Geller 38 Packing For An All Gay Cruise by Gregory L. Kiep 40 Grand Bahama Island by Dan McCrory 44 Cuba by Joseph Cromwell + Alfredo Cruz 48 Introducing Brett Schmidt 52 Feast: Doing Indy Cocktails Right by Joe Morales 54 Explore Costa Rica by Catherine Groux 59 The Magic of Mama Di’Osa by Monica Joan 62 Making The Jump by Aaron Drake


Let’s go on Gaycation! It’s finally summer! Time to travel, time to relax, and time to discover.

Let’s go on Gaycation! In this issue of Gaycation, let’s take a road trip to Michigan and explore the arts communities of Saugatuck and Douglas, two of the most gay-friendly towns in the country. Visit more than 140 gay owned and gay friendly restaurants and businesses, and of course stay at the exciting Dunes Resort in Douglas, Michigan. You can read all about it on page 22. If the great outdoors is more your style, visit the Campit Outdoor Resort in neighboring Fenville, Michigan. Check out our LGBTQ camping guide on page 14. How does sleeping under the stars sound? Or sitting around a roaring campfire with your friends and family? Let our camping guide help you find the perfect gay campground in the Midwest. Are sandy beaches and palm trees more your style? We’ve got you covered like coconut-scented suntan lotion! In this issue we visit Miami and Key West, the beautiful Bahamas, and we meet the amazing residents of Exuma Island (Page 8). How about something off the beaten path? On Page 58, visit a yoga retreat in Costa Rica, where you can sleep in a tree house, with stunning rainforest views, complete with beautiful tropical

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birds and monkeys.

playful

Or look into an amazing cruise to Cuba, where you can step into the past, with its beautifully preserved architecture and automobiles. We’ll enjoy delicious Cuban cuisine, authentic Cuban rum, and the world-famous Cuban cigars. Read all about

it on Page 44. And of course, June is all about Pride! Let the celebrations begin with our Midwest Pride guide on Page 32. And finally, let me introduce myself. I am the new executive editor of Gaycation Magazine, and I want to be your new tour guide. My goal is to keep this magazine entertaining and informative, and you can help. Please share with us your vacation adventure stories and photos. I also encourage you to reach out to me with any comments, ideas, and suggestions. Rob McQuillan rob@gaycationmagazine.com


Caribbean Windjammer

Cruise with pride INTIMATE Our private charter is host to just 30 guests and our crew is always at your service.

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INCLUSIVE Surrounded by like-minded gay men, your sense of adventure will emerge with breathtaking hikes, fantastic snorkeling or just oating on a noodle in the shadows of our ship. And everything is included in the price, from meals and snacks to beverages and gear, even the guided hikes and port charges are covered.

OutingsAndAdventures.com or call 727.776.5213 for more information


Explore Exciting Exuma In the Bahamas there is a district called Exuma made up of around 360 islands large and small, but among them one unique island in particular. Officially, the island is called Big Major Cay, but locals also have a name for it because of its unusual inhabitants – pigs. That’s right! These swimming pigs have become so famous, the area is unofficially known as Pig Beach by the locals. Because they and the tourists bring food, the pigs will run into the water and actually swim out to incoming boats, as if to greet and welcome them to the dining table. It may seem strange enough on its own to see pigs laying around on a tropical beach of white sand surrounded by palm trees, but to see them then charge into the water to greet oncoming boats is just plain bizarre. There are, of course, rumors and legends of how the ancestors of these now-feral pigs came to be porcine

castaways on an uninhabited tropical pile of sand, but the prevailing story is that they were dropped off on Big Major Cay by bunch of hungry sailors who had every intention of coming back to cook and eat them. But luckily for these little bacons in the makin’, the swabbies never returned. Through the years, the pigs have been able to eke out enough food to survive, and thrived from the food dumped by passing ships to keep them well-fed and fat. Another legend has it that the pigs were survivors of a shipwreck and managed to swim to shore, while others claim that the pigs really escaped from a nearby islet, or that the pigs were part of some business scheme gone wrong to attract tourists to the Bahamas. You are probably already asking yourself the same question that has popped into the minds of everyone that has visited the island. “Why would anyone want to swim with pigs?” You do it because the surroundings are incredible and the water is warm, inviting and clear. You can’t help but jump in the water with the pigs because it is by itself a unique experience. It has brought movie stars like Johnny Depp and Nicholas Cage to the Bahamas just for the experience. Regardless of how or why they arrived on their island, the 20 or so little piggies – accompanied by a couple of stray cats and goats – are now fed by locals and tourists alike who visit Pig Beach. For more information, swimmingpigs.

By D.J. Doran

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see

www.bahamas.com/


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Bat gets a passport Recently some famous people have been denied international travel because their passports are set to expire in less than 6 months. And by famous people, I mean drag queens who get a lot of traffic on Reddit. U.S. Passports are good for 10 years, so keep them current, or be prepared to get to know the horror of the passport office in a major city. Back in the mid-90s, I was set to do a graduate course in Ireland, so I dutifully filled out my passport application and mailed it from Detroit (where I was living at the time) three months before my travel assured that I would get it in time. How naive was I? Three months came and went, and no passport. Panic is an understatement to a first-time international traveler. I was frantic, and I also had to attend a wedding in Illinois – so I somehow arranged to pick up my passport at the Chicago passport office. Except, there was a problem: it was denied. My name on my birth certificate and my completed forms did not match.

reservations. The perfect time for a mini existential crisis: Who is Bart? Am I Bat? I am technically Bat-man. I mean, sonar has always appealed to me. I loved “Love at First Bite.” I am a night owl. Owls and Bats. “Oh, of course you’re Bart,” said the clerk. “What was the doctor thinking?” And with a line-cross, more than 20 hidden years of Bat became Bart. And this had to be

faxed ASAP to Chicago. Interesting fact about passport offices – they suck. LACounty-DMV suck. Of the big three national offices though, Chicago is by far the calmest. But there is no such thing as “expedited service.” After watching the day crawl stressfully by, I made my flight with just 25 minutes before departure. At the time, Aer Lingus was like a parish bazaar in the international terminal. Nothing takes stress off the day like drunk priests, Catholic guilt, and a bar of Toblerone. Ireland was great – what I remember of it. I drank a lot and tried to read “Ulysses.” Who knew that getting a passport would reveal all these life lessons? So what have we learned? If you just want to go abroad and not have to deal with hot drunken Irishmen and unearth your secret identity in Nebraska, read your birth certificate, and get your passport sorted now.

All those years in school I could have been called “Bat the rat” instead of “Bart the fart!” Nothing like a deadline looming at gate 23 to deal with the fact that for over two decades I apparently was named Batholomew and not Bartholomew. All those years in school I could have been called “Bat the rat” instead of “Bart the fart!” Perhaps I would have actually played baseball with some sense of pride. “Oh,” said my mother, “I do recall it took forever for the doctor to write your name on the birth certificate.” This meant a crazy sleepless drive to Nebraska to argue for a change of name, and learning how to plead with airline

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By Bart Williams


How to find the (hidden) cool stuff when you travel Discovering a new city or a new country doesn’t need to be complicated, even with that ever-present “fear of missing out.” Sorry, but the secret is this: It’s just impossible to discover and enjoy everything. Of course, when traveling, there are some things that you just shouldn’t miss out on. Try going to Paris for the first (and only) time and skipping the Eiffel Tower. But if you’re one of those intrepid explorers (or maybe just a lazy tourist), sometimes you end up with an alternative tourism experience when in a new place. And sometimes, those unplanned adventures just turn out to be that much more fun and exciting, making your entire holiday a little more unique and driving those friends and family back home wild with a bit of travel jealousy! For those willing to think — or better, walk — outside the box, try these tips to find more alternative and interesting things to do when traveling: READ TRAVEL BLOGS. I know, I’m a travel blogger and of course I will recommend my work and that of my blogger friends, but seriously, that’s what I do. I check what other travel bloggers have done and I make my own decisions. When a blogger says that some bar or venue is kind of rude against tourists, I skip it. When they praise the street food of a market or some avant-garde and underground theater, I try to go there. Travel bloggers are experts because they can compare more easily and sometimes they find out (and better: share) their secrets. Yes, I also read travel magazines and other media, but blogs are always a bit more personal and you can often determine what type of person a traveler is from the way they write and share about their experiences. FOURSQUARE (Now, SWARM). It’s one of my favorite ways to find cool places when in a new place. You can use the basic feature to check-in so that you can easily remember where you’ve already been and hopefully find it again. Locals usually write tips through

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the app and they know their city, so trust them. If comments on a place say the food is going to be slow and you only have six hours in the city, it’s often better to hit the street food and get a panini instead of waiting for a table for half a day. It works for museums, bars, restaurants, cinemas, clubs and even doctors (‘cause yeah, you never know). Plus, FourSquare lets you select your favorite tags and will always make recommendations based on your previous ratings of similar places elsewhere in the world. INSTAGRAM. Instagram isn’t probably an app you think about using for travel tips, but it’s actually super useful. Before going to a new place, I usually search the name of the city/country as a hashtag to see what types of photos people are putting up. You can use it to find cool things to do or even cute cafés and restaurants. I think the search feature on Instagram is hugely underutilized and is actually quite powerful. One thing I like to do when I’m visiting a new destination: After uploading a geotagged photo, I check out other photos uploaded to the same location. I look for ‘grams with a cool style (or, let’s be serious, cute boys) and then check out their feeds to see what other places they go. It’s not to be a creeper, I promise — it’s just that if this person was in the same café that I’m enjoying, who’s to say the other bars, restaurants and cafés they’re uploading photos from aren’t equally interesting? It might sound time-consuming, but five minutes on Instagram and I might find myself at an underground club I’d never find in a guide book. Continued on Page 65 By Adam Groffman


Pitching a tent!

Great LGBTQ camping in the Midwest INDIANA

Camp Buckwood 8670 Spearsville Road Morgantown, IN 46160 Phone: 812-597-2450 www.campbuckwood.com Private all-male gay campground, lodge and resort located 30 miles south of Indianapolis on 48 acres in Brown County. Day passes available. Features: • 2.5 acre lake stocked with large mouth bass, catfish and blue gill. • RV sites with water and 50 amp electric and tent sites with large shower house. • Lodge has a bunk room and suites and serves breakfast and dinner. • Heated pool with large deck, spa, natural swimming hole. • Basic free weight gym. • Also barns, hiking trail, sand volleyball courts, horse shoe pits, croquet, badminton and bocce ball. Stag Run Club 2150 Overlook Drive Mauckport, IN 47142 Phone: 812-732-8094 www.stagrunclub.com Private all-male gay campground and lodge located on a working farm near the Ohio River. Features: • Private log cabins, bunk house, pre-erected tents and tent sites. • Lodge with game area, stage, fireplace and

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kitchen. • Heated pool and hot tub. • Hiking trails and activities.

MICHIGAN Campit Outdoor Resort 6635 118th Ave. Fenville, MI 49408 Phone: 269-543-4335 www.campitresort.com Adults only gay and lesbian outdoor resort, located 10 minutes from Saugatuck/Douglas, Mich. Features: • Camping for both tenters and RV’ers, 15 log cabins, five-bedroom Bed & Breakfast, and vintage trailers. • Two ponds, a creek, wooded nature trails • Three bathhouses • Rec hall, club house, game room. • Heated swimming pool. • Volleyball, • Horseshoes • Community fire pit. • Weekly events and activities.


Continued on page 16

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Windover Women’s Resort 3596 Blakely Road Owendale, MI 48754 Phone: 989-375-2586 www.windoverwomensresort.com Private resort for women 18 years of age and over. Features: • Camping including rustic tent sites and RV sites with 50 AMP hookups. • Located near golf, boating, fishing, and water recreation sports.

OHIO Freedom Valley Campground 1875 US 250 S. New London, OH 44851 Phone: 419-929-8100 www.FreedomValleyCamping.com Campground for men ages 21 and older, located 30 minutes from Cedar Point Amusement Park. Features: • RV and tent sites, rental cabins, bunkhouse • 2.5 acre fishing pond • Dance hall • Free Wi-Fi • Shower house, flush toilets, dump station and laundry facilities. • Private pool • Themed weekend activities. Circle JJ Ranch Campground 1104 Amsterdam Road Scio, OH 43988 Phone: 330-627-3101 www.circlejjranch.com Gay campground and private resort on 30-plus acres in the hills of Carroll County, open April through Nov. 1. Features: • Campsites for RV’s and tents with electric and water • Camping cabins, bunkhouse and lodge rooms. • Private heated in-ground pool, hot tub and steam room.

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• • • • •

Recreation room, pool table and darts Dance hall (BYOB) Picnic tables and picnic area Gym with treadmill and tanning bed. Modern restrooms, indoor/outdoor showers.

PENNSYLVANIA Hillside Campgrounds 1 Creek Road Gibson, PA 18820 Phone: 570-756-2007 www.hillsidecampgrounds.com Wooded campground on 235 secluded acres in the mountains. Members only, clothing optional, for ages 21 and older. Features: • 45-acre safe, secure play area isolated from the outside world. • Campsites along a shaded creek that runs through campground, • Most sites have electric and water • Can accommodate groups of 80 or more • Camping cabins • Modern restrooms with showers • In-ground swimming pool • Rec hall with a disco on Friday and Saturday nights. • Large bonfire between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. BYOB, food service available. • Reservations are a must.

Michigan’s Campit Resort


The Woods Campground 845 Vaughn Acres Lane Lehighton, PA 18235 Phone: 610-377-9577 www.thewoodscampground.com

The Woods Campground

Private, members-only, clothing optional gay and lesbian campground for ages 18 and up in Pocono Mountains, located on 100 private acres with streams and a five-acre lake Features: • Sites available for seasonal campers, trailers, popup campers, and tent camping. • Class A Motorhome friendly. • Cabins available for short term rental. • Luxury trailers • Café and pool cabana • Clubhouse • Volleyball • Paddle boats, nature trails • Group activities

Oneida Camp & Lodge P.O. Box 537 New Milford, PA 18834 Phone: 570-465-7011 www.oneidaresort.com 100 acre, clothing optional campground resort at the top of the Endless Mountains in Northeast Pennsylvania. Caters mainly to gay men, but lesbians are also welcome. Features: • Secluded campsites for RV’s and tents with water and electric • Restrooms with showers • Clubhouse with disco • Lodge with rooms and rental cabins. • Sauna, fitness center, pool hall, TV lounge. Camp Davis Campground 311 Redbrush Road Boyers, PA 16020 Phone: 724-637-2402 www.campdaviscampground.com Private membership, clothing optional gay campground on 29 acres in western Pennsylvania, a short drive from Pittsburgh. Note: No longer accepting debit or credit cards; pay with cash, money order or personal check with proper ID. Features: • Camping area has limited electric sites for RV’s and tents. • Primitive sites, a trailer rental and camping cabins available. • In-ground swimming pool • Flush toilets, hot showers • Fire rings, picnic tables • Hiking • Volleyball • Pool tables • Dancing in the Last Chance Garage.

What happens around the campfire, stays at the campfire. 17


Let Us Recommend

Indiana’s Camp Buckwood Events

“loved the vibe and atmosphere I got from the moment I got there. Everyone was so friendly…” –Jeff, Cincinnati, OH

June 24 – 26 Amateur Strip Show Weekend

Camp Buckwood is located south of Indianapolis in beautiful Brown County. Buckwood is a private membership campground. The secluded resort includes RV and tent sites, plus the 4 Seasons Lodge and private cabins.

July 8 – 10 Prom Weekend – The Prom you always wanted

There is a beautiful in-ground pool and sundeck next to a huge hot tub. In the evening enjoy great entertainment and karaoke in “Rusty’s” Rec Barn. Also there are potluck pitch-ins, movie nights, and dance parties. The resort is clothing optional, so feel free to let it all hang out, or not. There is no pressure. The staff and fellow campers are all very friendly and this is a great place to meet new people and make new friends. Memberships are required and can be obtained at check in. Day passes are also available. For more information, contact the owners Darrel & Ben at 812-597-2450 or visit their website www.campbuckwood.com.

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June 30 – July 5 4th of July featuring Movie Night, Saturday Night Cody’s Spectacular Show, Karaoke

July 15 – 17 Hoosier Daddy weekend with the Annual Hoosier Daddy Contest July 22 – 24 Mid-Summer Bear Weekend with the Mr. Buckwood Bear Contest. Potluck Pitch-in @ 6 PM July 29 – 31 (New for 2016) Hanky Code Connection/Fetish Weekend August 5 – 7 Our 7th Annual Northern Decadence at “The Squirt Party” with more “Foam.” (Reservations highly recommended) August 12 – 14 Hot Summer Bear/Pup Event Weekend August 19 – 21 The Men of WSGA (West Suburban Gay Assn.) Chicago & The Indiana Leather Falcons Leather Run with Mr. Buckwood Leather Contest


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Discover New Zealand Far more than just what you see in the scenes of Lord of the Rings, New Zealand is one of the most picturesque countries I have ever been to. Having spent a month there exploring a few years ago, and most recently revisiting on the Atlantis cruise, the country offers a little of something for everyone within its small land mass. As I explored both the North and South Islands, I was delighted by sensational sights and unique experiences. Auckland As the largest population density in New Zealand, Auckland has the most “urban” feel in the country with a walkable city center and all the restaurants, boutiques and hotels you would expect. Gay life is widely accepted and there are a smattering of gay bars and nightlife options. Eagle Bar is a casual place to grab a happy hour cocktail and chat with some of the local guys. Across the street, you will find Family Bar, which has a more “club-y” feel. Most of the gay establishments are near the Langham Auckland, which is a great place to stay for convenience and nightlife. LanghamHotels.com/ Auckland; Akaroa Located on the South Island, this port is popular with cruise ships and is a great place to pop off to and spend the afternoon. There are tons of great places to eat and shop, but the highlight of the area is an attraction called the Giant’s House. This unique destination features beautiful art and gardens that are not to be missed. TheGiantsHouse.co.nz Wellington The country’s capital has one of the most beautiful boardwalks along the coastline filled with shops and places to grab a coffee or a drink. The Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa, is architecturally fabulous and worth an hour or two of your day. You will find a bit of a gay scene here as well with S&M’s being a popular gay bar for locals and tourists alike. TePapa.govt.nz

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Outside of the ‘Big Cities’ This, in my opinion, is what really makes New Zealand an exceptional vacation destination. Driving around the countryside is breathtaking — with unspoiled beauty at


By Gregory L. Kiep

every turn. It is overwhelming how free and serene you can feel less than a half hour away from the nearest city. Also, there are many adventurous ways to experience the beauty of nature around you as New Zealand boasts the title of “Extreme Sport Capital of the World.” Try a Zorb

adventure (pictured above), which is essentially rolling down a hillside in a giant ball (it’s more fun than it sounds!). There truly is something for everyone in this amazingly beautiful country.

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Unabridged Books 3251 Broadway, Chicago www.unabridgedbookstore.com

Unabridged Books is easily the best bookstore in the city; in fact, it was voted ‘Best Bookstore in Chicago 2015” by Chicago Magazine. Located in the heart of Boystown (Lakeview) since 1980, this store seems to have it all. There is an impressive selection of LGBT literature and nonfiction, as well as an extensive selection of travel books, art, photography, architecture, and design, along with a large section of fiction, biography, and children’s books. The staff is always helpful and knowledgeable, often posting hand-written reviews and recommendations on the shelves.

Manhood +Home

1127 N. High St, Short North, Columbus, Ohio www.manhoodmarket.com Manhood is the kind of shop where you find all the fun and interesting things that you never knew that you needed, and now you suddenly can’t live without. Half clothing store and half home accent store, stocked with unusual and unique items, it is a fun place with a cool vibe. When you enter, you feel like a kid in a candy store, especially if your idea of “candy” is jockstraps and candlesticks. Very recommended.

Pronto!

608 S. Washington, Royal Oak, Mich. Facebook.com/prontorestaurantRO Pronto is a Royal Oak institution. Part casual dining, part video bar. The décor is fun and festive, and the food is delicious. Pronto is known for great deli sandwiches, creative salads, and an extensive menu with huge selection of mouth-watering appetizers. On a recent visit we enjoyed an appetizer of oven-roasted garlic, served with roasted red peppers and chevre cheese, served with a garlic crostini. For entrees we recommend the chicken pot pie, a local favorite. And save room for one of Pronto’s famous desserts!

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Saugatuck’s Dunes Resort It All Started with Pizza, Margaritas, and Three Friends It’s not a boardroom, there’s no conference table or uncomfortable chairs and there are clearly no suits. It’s just another day in paradise.  It’s Douglas, Michigan, a hot September day and three friends are unwinding after a day of moving furniture.  Of course, there are the requisite margaritas and pizza underscoring the brainstorming and the abundance of laughter. From this fun infused “What if?” backdrop would emerge a life altering idea.  It was this setting, this day in 1998 when partners Mike Jones, Danny Esterline and Greg Tryzbinski came up with the idea to buy a gay bar. Many dream but few dare and margaritas add the needed perspective. According to Jones,  “We were at points in our lives where it just seemed right. Maybe you shouldn’t eat pizza, drink margaritas and try to plan your life, but you just never know what’s going to happen.” The next day, idea in mind, no plan on paper, and amazingly hangover free, the three amigos called their friend, and realtor, Lynda Holmes who began moving their idea towards realization. The rest of their lives were about to change, as was the gay scene in the Midwest.

A Dream Becomes Reality: Owning One of the Largest LGBTQ Resorts in the Midwest Nine months later, on May 26, 1999, the trio took ownership of The Douglas Dunes, renaming it The Dunes Resort and now referred to by most as simply The Dunes. 2017 marks 36 years since the Douglas Dunes first welcomed curious gay men and women to Douglas. Through hard work and an unwavering dedication to providing the best in service, hospitality and perpetuating

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a gay safe haven, The Dunes Resort has become one of the largest LGBTQ resorts and entertainment complexes in the Midwest, and no doubt one of the biggest in the United States. In the summer of 2010, Bump! (Logo TV’s first gay and lesbian travel and lifestyle TV series) visited and toured the communities of Saugatuck and Douglas and then told their audience of more than 30 million viewers that The Dunes is, without question, Western Michigan’s premier gay vacation destination while being the pinnacle of the gay Saugatuck/ Douglas community. The Dunes Resort is a popular destination for gay and lesbians vacations, with most guests coming from cities like Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit, Milwaukee and St. Louis. Located two and a half hours by car from Chicago, three hours from Detroit and less than 4 from Indianapolis, the Dunes Resort sprawls over 22 acres, with 81 hotel rooms and six bars, including western Michigan’s largest gay dance bar and a cabaret with live entertainment and a game room, plus a fantastic view of the outdoor patio bar and a larger than large pool and pool bar. “The Dunes can be a lot of different things for a lot of different people. To me, it’s a little slice of heaven in the middle of western Michigan where it’s traditionally pretty conservative,” said Jones. They’re a diverse trio, personal and professional partners, who work together like a welltuned machine to make The Dunes a great place. Jones is an Indiana native, who earned a hospitality degree from Purdue University, then lived in Chicago and worked at a design magazine before spreading his entrepreneurial wings.  Esterline has a political background and serves as the “I can fix anything man.”  Trzybinski comes from a banking background and takes care of everything financial. continued on page 66


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Miami

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Birthplace of gay travel, American style A 1982 Calvin Klein ad featuring toned, tanned abs set against a white art deco roof, alerted fashion photographers to South Beach’s scenic backdrops and exotic morning light. The rebirth of gritty SoBe continued throughout the decade, thanks to the arrival of a thriving gay community that’s expanding throughout Miami Beach. The ever-evolving South Beach scene welcomes gay and lesbian visitors from around the world who flock to the rainbow flags at 12th Street and Ocean Drive to claim their spot in the imported Bahamian sand. A pink and white boardwalk separates the beach from a long row of turquoise hotel pools as it meanders through palm trees and tall grasses. Cyclists, joggers and roller bladers whiz by en route to the cafés lining Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue and local gay favorite, the Lincoln Street Mall, bordering the Art Deco district. This square mile of pastel-hued restaurants, hotels, bars and cafes comprises South Beach central. Regular visitors like New Yorker, Philip Desiere, come for the annual parties. The granddaddy of these, the November White Party, culminates in an all-nighter, where patrons sporting their skimpiest white outfits parade around the 10-acre grounds of the Italianate Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Winter Party is the big draw in March and in mid-May; lesbians hit the four-day, Aqua Girl party. April completes the circuit with the annual Gay and Lesbian film festival.

As for the best hangouts – there are few boundaries. “With so many gay dollars floating around, all businesses are gay friendly”, says Desiere, who’s been coming here for the past three years. On Lincoln Road, the casual bistro, Balans and the Van Dyke café patio are a hit as much for the people watching as for the food. Here too, are the legendary gay bars, Score and Laundry Bar. Nearby, MOVA, formerly Halo, is popular with women. The eight-block outdoor pedestrian mall also offers good shopping and a chance to visit more than 50 artists’ studios at the Art Center of South Florida. North of Lincoln Road, It’s hard to miss the stark white, 16-story Delano Hotel adorned with a gawky headdress that towers over Collins Avenue. Inside, the Philip Starck indoor–outdoor lobby features long, billowing white curtains set against dark wood that ushers tiny visitors onto an open-air patio facing the Atlantic. Even if you’re not staying here, stop in to the Rose Bar or Starck’s “Pool Salon” for a cuba libre or a margarita. South of the gay beach section, at 11th and Ocean Drive, visit the Versace mansion, and the Art Deco Welcome Center. The World Erotic Art Museum is worth a peek on nearby Washington Avenue. True sun worshippers head 11 miles north to Haulover Beach Park, Florida’s only clothing-optional 1.3-mile stretch of sand and one of her best. Most gay and lesbians hang out in sections 27–29, past the North Beach Tunnel, where Continued on next page 26

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the volleyball court encourages mingling. While the facilities here are excellent, don’t forget the SPF 45, as there’s no shade. If you’re looking for a more exclusive beach, book into the Turnberry Isle Resort and Spa, five miles north of Haulover Beach. The resort features the expanded Willow Spa and fitness/workout area. It’s also home to celebrity chef, Michael Mina’s only south

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Florida restaurant, Bourbon Steak. Across the street from the Turnberry sits North Miami Beach’s answer to the Lincoln Street Mall: 250 highend stores comprising the Aventura shopping center where you can pick up fashion items from Calvin Klein, Versace and Bloomingdale’s, whose models upped the glam factor and brought new life to Miami Beach. By Sherel Purcell


Key West

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The perfect place to just be yourself If you don’t live here or if you’ve not been born here you might miss it. But it’s definitely here. You can feel it, sense it, and sometimes even taste it. A gentle cadence that impels you to breathe deeply, lower your shoulders, chill. One of the bestselling bumper stickers in Key West warns: “Slow Down! This Ain’t the Mainland!” Locals call themselves “conchs” (pronounced “konks,” like the shell). If you were born here on the island, you’re considered a “salt water conch” or “bubba conch” or just “conch.” If you moved to Key West more than 10 years ago, you’re called a “fresh water conch.” But the official motto of the city, and the bumper sticker that you will find affixed to all City vehicles, explains who we really are: “One Human Family.” It’s more than a motto — this little island lives it! If you want to experience Key West like a local, get on a bike — you know, the kind you pedal. We call our home the “two by four” island, because it’s approximately 2 miles wide and 4 miles long. So you can get from one end to the other in a matter of minutes, even if you have to dodge tourists and chickens. And at any given intersection, you might breathe in a heady mix of fragrant tropical flowers: confederate jasmine, ligustrum, euphorbia, allamanda, gardenias, angels trumpets, frangipani — and always the salt air on the breeze. Riding down any of the charming streets in Old Town, lined with the highest concentration of wooden 19th-century architecture in North America, you are likely to pass an

artist or two deep in concentration over their easels. Or you might encounter a walking-tour group following their docent like eager little ducks. And everywhere, people nod hello. It’s that kind of place. Chances are, once you get to the other side of the island, you’re on a beach. That’s right — Key West really does have beaches! Now, these aren’t the kind of broad beaches of north Florida, where you can drive your car up and down the strand. But they are indeed lovely sandy beaches that offer all the sun and fun you could ask for. Many locals are partial to the quiet sandy stretch known as Higgs Beach. Others opt for the long sweep of beach that winds all the way out to the airport, known as Smathers Beach. But real locals know that Fort Zachary Taylor (aka Fort Liz Taylor), with its whispering shady pines and shallow shore, is the best place on the island just to relax with friends. That’s not to say that this island doesn’t know how to party. Key West is world-renowned for its events like Fantasy Fest, Songwriter’s Conference, Womenfest, Tropical Heat, and, yes, Key West Pride. Over the years our island parties have developed and grown into international events. And each year even more people discover the charms and unique energy of these events. Locals look forward to each of these annual festivals like the changing of the seasons, comparing notes as to which year was the most fun or the most unusual or the most Continued on next page 71

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Let Us Recommend

Island House Key West

Island House, the ultimate gay getaway Picture yourself in a tropical paradise. Imagine yourself relaxing poolside, with cool tropical drinks in hand. See yourself surrounded by friendly and handsome men from around the world, and find yourself attended to by a charming and attentive staff. This is the Island House in Key West. This is the place where you can just be yourself. Located in the Old Town district, and a short walk to famous Duvall Street, the Island House resort is within a secure locked compound, offering both privacy and security. The resort easily exceeds expectations on every level. The grounds are beautiful, the rooms are charming, the food is delicious, the décor is luxurious, and the staff is friendly and professional. This world class resort features every amenity for you to enjoy. There are Jacuzzis and a large heated pool that

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are open 24 hours a day. Just picture yourself floating in the pool on a warm Florida evening, leaving all your cares behind, or just lean back in the Jacuzzi and feel the outside world melt away. There is also a health club with a complete gym and spa, steam room and Jacuzzi. The health club is free for Island House guest and is open day and night. This is truly the place to stay if you want to pamper yourself. How does breakfast in bed sound? Just call the café, and they will deliver. How does a soothing poolside massage sound? The front desk will make all the arrangements for you. The resort is clothing optional. If you want to bare it all, great! If not, great! There is no pressure. Enjoy the poolside café, for breakfast, lunch, dinner or late night snacks. Continued on next page 71


Join the party! Summer in Chicago is all about the street festival, and the biggest festival of them all is Market Days in Boystown ( Lakeview ). Held this year on Saturday August 12th and Sunday August 13th, the two day annual event, now on its 36th year, regularly draws over 300,000 attendees from all over the world. If this is your first time to Market Days, what should you expect? People. Lots and lots of people having a great time. This is a big party, so go out and have fun! And of course this is the place for people watching, so remember to look your best because just as you are checking out all the eye candy, there will always be someone there checking you out too! Many of the bars along Halsted will set up booths along the street, so drink up! Everything from Beers to Pina Coladas will satisfy your thirst. As they say, “eat, drink, and be Mary!” and speaking of eating, you will encounter a whole street full of food vendors (YUM) everything from pizza, kabobs, burgers, and more. Or if you want to sit back and escape the crowd, you can enjoy one of the many restaurants that line Halsted. Market Days is known for bringing in top tier entertainment, and in years past, artists such as En Vogue, Sheena Easton, and Jennifer Holiday have performed. There are multiple performance stages, with a variety of both local and national entertainers throughout the day.

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If you are an art collector there is a variety of artists who have set up booths along the street. Look for interesting jewelry, creative and fun t-shirts, stunning art and more. As always it is important to support our local arts community. The event is held on Halsted Street between Belmont and Addison. The easiest way to get there is to take the CTA red line to the Belmont or Addison stations. Do not try and park in the neighborhood. Seriously, don’t even try. There is a $10 suggested donation and the event runs from 11am to 10 pm.


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PrideFlight2018 Well the day is almost here. After months of agonizing, planning and development the time is almost upon us to launch the Kickstarter campaign to complete the purchase of the plane. I would be a liar if I didn’t confide in you that I am nervous. I have never launched a Kickstarter before and from what I have read even the best designed campaign can fail to reach its funding goals if not enough people are aware of it or believe in the project. Kickstarter is an “All or Nothing” model so there is no partial funding if we fail to reach our goal and that’s the scariest part.

A successful campaign means that we can move forward to complete the purchase of the plane and begin the process of getting it here in Indianapolis, but an unsuccessful campaign will mean that we need to learn more about what we can do in the next round to make it successful. My team and I have worked hard to put together a presentation that we hope resonates with people that will see the campaign, but with these types of projects you just don’t know what will or will not click with people. I am proud of the people involved so far who have given

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so much of their time and creativity to make this work and I know that whatever happens we will continue to work hard to make PrideFlight2018 a reality. Beginning this week, we are launching all the social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and will begin posting updates, photos and videos. In addition, I think we have finally worked out the last remaining details for the website www.prideflight2018.com and it is looking great! Our marketing team will be sending out an email blast to LGBTQ organizations worldwide announcing this project and seeking their support. We will also be issuing a press release while reaching out to media contacts, LGBTQ celebrities and influencers worldwide in hopes of getting their help to spread the word. I am confident that my team will do its very best to launch a successful campaign and will work hard during the subsequent 30 days after the launch to help us reach our goal. I realize that this project is so large in scope that I know some will not be able to wrap their arms around it, but all it will take is an army of small donors to help reach


ready for take off! our goal and bring the Bag lady home to Indy. I hope all of you that are reading this will help us make our campaign successful by liking our Facebook page, visiting our website, and supporting our Kickstarter campaign.

Please share these links with your network. Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/PrideFlight2018 Website: www.prideflight2018.com Kickstarter: www.kickstarter.com/prideflight2018

I know that sometimes when you try to do something extraordinary there will be those that want to drag you down, discourage you and dismiss your attempt, but that has never stopped me from trying before and it won’t now. I believe that PrideFlight2018 has the potential to inspire people from every community around the globe and in these troubled and tumultuous times I think trying to set the record of being the first openly gay pilot to circumnavigate the globe flying a DC3 is something worthy of people’s support, don’t you?

By DJ Doran

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Big fun on small cruises We’re all pretty familiar with the big gay cruises, right? Robots serving drinks, bumper cars, indoor skydiving, broadways shows, ice skating rinks, bowling alleys and ‘round the clock food are just some of the offerings of these mega ships carrying 6,000 people. Not to be overshadowed by their mega-ship counterparts, small ship gay cruises offer an entirely different take on cruising.

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Sailing on a gay windjammer cruise of just 30 guests, like Outings & Adventures Caribbean trips, the itineraries typically bypass the huge touristy docking ports and instead set out to explore hidden ports and coves inaccessible to mammoth vessels. This is possible because the smaller ships have the ability to drop anchor wherever they choose and use skiffs to transport guests to shore making nearly any beach a


port of call. Wet or dry landings, as they are referred to, lead to amazing exploration; hiking to waterfalls, visiting small towns and villages, sightseeing, soaking in natural hot springs and of course beachfront cookouts. Who’s got baggage? Small ship cruises tend to be on the low-key side, T-shirt, bathing suit, flip flops and shorts— there, you’re done packing for the Caribbean! Although there are themed evening social events, the most thought

or effort you need to put into a costume is picking out a sarong to wear or just pick one up while onshore. The usual steamer trunks of elaborate costumes seen on larger cruises will be tossed overboard on a small ship! Creating your own customizable vacation experience makes small ship cruising very appealing. You want a totally chill afternoon, day or week, there’s a hammock and Continued on page 70

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Packing for an all-gay cruise You booked your gay cruise and now just have to solve the question of, “What do I bring with me?” First off, calm down and have a cocktail. You will get through this and you will look fabulous. After numerous gaycations, I am a bit of an expert and will hold your hand. Here are 7 tips when packing for your fabulous gay cruise:

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LESS IS MORE

You do NOT need those salmon colored sneakers to match one outfit - it will be ok. Try to coordinate around color schemes with complimenting outfits so that your accessories, shoes, belts, etc. can match a bunch of things. You are gonna shop, girl. Don’t get so close to that 50 pound limit that you can’t buy some new outfits along the way.

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SWIMWEAR

Probably the biggest piece of concern for cruising gays: What kind should I wear? How many suits do I need? What is in right now? Well, as someone who owns over 100 pieces of swimwear, I can tell you that I have shopped for Speedos more than jeans. Try on different cuts to see what works with your body. Typically, square cuts look best on more muscular guys and smaller cuts on you twinks. But try things on. I always say bring one “gaything suit” per day on a gay vacation. Rewearing can get you glances on the pool deck.

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PROTECTION, PROTECTION, PROTECTION

I mean sunscreen, queen. ;) Don’t forget ALL kinds of protection as you get your toiletries together for your gaycation. Coppertone and Trojans, people. Be safe.

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SPEAKING OF YOUR CARRY-ON

Make sure you have an extra outfit and swimsuit in it. Things happen with luggage and you need to be prepared. There is nothing worse than flying down to your gay vacation in jeans and a sweater only to arrive without your luggage. Have a smart pair of shorts and blouse so that you can be comfortable while you figure things out with the airlines.

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NIPS IN YOUR CARRY ON

Wait. What? What? Yep, nips are under the TSA limit and can be checked just like that shampoo when you go through security. Nips are those little bottles of booze you get on airplanes, in hotels, etc. So pack some up and save yourself a few pennies for ship excursions. You’re welcome.

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DON’T BE AFRAID OF COSTUMES

Seriously. Costumes make it fun. You don’t have to go all out, but doing a “lil something” can be cute and fun. Think you will look silly? Trust me, when you are on the pool deck with 2,000 gays you will be loving it and not care. And I guarantee someone will have a more over-thetop costume than you have.

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SHOES

I love a smart stiletto just like anyone else, but that is not the best choice of shoe when walking around the Parthenon. Choose shoes that you can walk in and be comfortable. Some excursions on gay cruises can be over 8 hours long, and you need a flat for that. Bring those and some sandals. By Gregory L. Kiep

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Grand Bahama Island

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A destination away from it all Shocking though it may seem, tropical locales like the Bahamas are a couple steps behind us in the establishment of marriage equality and other rights that some of us are beginning to take for granted in American society. Like President Obama, the Bahamaian opinion of the LGBT community is “evolving.” More on that later. Grand Bahama Island is not the biggest or the closest island to Florida, but it’s pretty close. Looking for a tropical island getaway in the Caribbean, there are a plethora of choices: Aruba, Jamaica, or the Dominican Republic. Grand Bahama, though somewhat rustic, is not overrun by tourists, a drawing card for those looking to get away from it all. If you’re looking for a party scene, head to Nassau on Paradise Island. If an LGBT community will grow and thrive in the Bahamas, Nassau with its WTF attitude, would be the place. Flying to Grand Bahama from the west coast is often an eight-hour ordeal that includes a six-hour flight from LAX, a two-hour layover in Miami, and a short 45-minute hop to the island. That’s probably why most tourists to the area are Canadian Snow Birds who sail down along the eastern seaboard to get here, Europeans, and Americans from anywhere east of the Mississippi. There are hotels, timeshares and bungalows for every budget. Upon most arrivals, visitors are greeted warmly as soon as the plane lands. A hostess awaits at the resort with ready-made Bahama Mamas, a local tourist drink that capitalizes on a Caribbean staple, rum. Grand Bahama is an excellent vacation choice for those looking for lots of downtime. There are miles and miles of deserted white sand beaches with turquoise waves gently lapping at the shore. Even the occasional busy beach can be frantically active one moment, the island’s rake-and-scrape music blaring from the speakers with drunken patrons bellying up to the bar, and devoid of civilization ten minutes later. With a year-round temperature that hovers around 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit, the weather is almost always perfect. There are the occasional rainstorm and hurricane, but they

move in and move on quickly. There are lots of culinary choices at the Lucayan Marketplace, named after an extinct tribe of indigenous people who greeted and were enslaved by Christopher Columbus and his successors. (He first came ashore in the New World at the island now known has San Salvador not very far from here.) Though there’s nary a native descendant left to protest, the Islanders all celebrate Columbus Day, October 12th, as Discovery Day and parties and festivals can be found on many of the islands. On Grand Bahama, the day is celebrated with an observance of the Conch Festival in McLean’s Town, a day of conch cracking by experts and amateurs, conch fritters, conch salad, fried conch and lots of Sands Beer, the main industry of the island. Try the Bush Crack, a smooth malt liquor that rarely makes it off the island as an export. Locals and tourists fan themselves under makeshift shelters or dance to local music. In October, on the beginning edge of Hurricane Season, the weather can still be unbearably hot and humid during the day, so the recommendation is to stay near water to cool off. Fortunately, that’s easy to do on Grand Bahama; the ocean is usually a stroll or quick bike ride away. There’s also a hotel pool within walking distance or a canal that weaves through the island and under the highest point of the island: a bridge that rises a dizzying 30 feet above sea level! Diving expeditions both small and large are willing to certify you and get you out among the shipwrecks and sharks, and both are found in abundance. The sharks are curious, but rarely are they up for a taste test. Pier One restaurant, located on the north end of the island where “Beware of Sharks!” signs warn visitors of their close proximity, hosts hourly evening feedings. On the hour, restaurant staff will toss several pounds of chum off the balcony and, for a few Continued on next page

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minutes, a feeding frenzy ensues as diners look on. Once, it is said, a photographer wanted to get a close-up of feeding time and was disappointed when the sharks were too scared of him to come after their free meal. Local boat captains stand ready for a half day or full day hire or you can sign up for a snorkeling and fishing trip out to Peterson’s Cay, one of the smallest national parks in the Bahamas, a tiny promontory of land a mile off shore where the fish you catch can be cooked over an open flame and augmented with local lobster. You can also make the journey by kayak and snorkel among the coral reefs that hug the west side of the little island. Snorkelers can spot schools of tropical fish, elkhorn and soft corals, sea fans and an occasional manta ray or barracuda. Most of the nightlife in Grand Bahama centers around the Port Lucayan Marketplace. You can also visit bars in abundance that take advantage of cool island evening breezes to offer most of their wares under the stars on a verandah. If you’re feeling lucky, you can stroll across the street to the Casino at Grand Lucayan Resort. You won’t find any locals at the blackjack tables; by law, Bahamians are barred from gambling in any casino on any island. If you’re looking for trinkets to take back to the family, they can be found anywhere. From the colorful huts at Taino Beach and those adjacent to Port Lucayan Marketplace, you will find that most of the wares – everything from cardboard/ straw sun hats to hand-carved knick-knacks – are made locally. There are also some shops at the International Bazaar, but the main buildings, desolated by past hurricanes, have not been rebuilt and stand in various stages of disrepair. Don’t forget the big Fish Fry on Wednesday night. Locals and tourist alike gather at six establishments on the point at Smith’s Point Beach. Some places serve up a plate of the local catch of the day – usually yellow tail, barracuda and mackerel – with the fish staring back at you. They heap on a pile of peas and rice, black-eyed peas and brown rice, baked mac and cheese with a slightly spicy flavor and, if you’re lucky, a piece of guava duff for dessert. Looking for more to do? There are eco tours, a tour of the local brewery for a cheap drunk, and the dazzling Garden of

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the Groves to get a glimpse of local flora and fauna. Though it is possible for a guy to meet a guy and a woman to hook up with a woman, most of the folks of the Bahamas are conservative Christians. The atmosphere is changing quickly, though. A plane crash recently took the life of a very popular evangelical minister who was very vocal in his condemnation of the LGBT community so that event may hasten change. Still, open public displays of affection may draw unwanted attention to you and your partner, so proceed with caution.

By Dan McCrory


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Cuba

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The Culture and Sights of a Forbidden Island

Why do you want to take a cruise to Cuba? Most people tell us it’s because they want to “enjoy Cuba’s unique culture and heritage without too much of the commercial tourism component.” However, seeing Cuba before mass tourism changes it means a sometimes shocking lack of modern-day comforts and conveniences. This third-world destination has been cut off from Americans, modern technology and commercial businesses for 60 years. Only in the last 20 years have American tour groups been allowed restricted visits. But this year, the proverbial sea will part for us to cruise to Cuba; although, even a cruise to Cuba will present some limitations that prevent the free-flowing experience you have come to enjoy on similar Caribbean island cruises. There are currently no port-side shops, bars or restaurants laid out in a safe and sanitary plaza. Fully escorted and mandatory shore excursion groups are required, and deviation from the scheduled itinerary or separation from the group are prohibited. You might have some free time for lunch and maybe an hour to shop or explore, but expecting a full or even half day to relax on a beach or wander the port cities freely is not possible until the U.S. Embargo is overturned by Congress. We currently escort tour groups to Cuba under the People to People licenses. Four years ago, the president reinstated this program and permitted the lifting of some travel restrictions to Cuba for U.S. citizens. Under the rules of this educational and cultural exchange license, Americans are legally allowed to visit this island nation in preplanned escorted travel groups. The results of President Obama’s recent announcement to open diplomatic relations has boosted tourism and

opened up allowances for the purchase of previously restricted merchandise like cigars and rum. Under the new rules, you are now able to bring home to the U.S. up to $400 worth of Cuban goods, which includes up to $100 in alcohol and tobacco products for personal consumption. Communications access is expanding, but travelers have limited availability since cell phones and internet cafes are just now becoming popular. Currently we recommend using any hotel business office or the ship resource center. Banking access has also been approved to expand into Cuba. However, you will need to take and exchange American dollars into the local tourism currency called a CUC, which is technically on par with the dollar but you will pay a 13 percent commission to exchange it each way. On our first visit, we arrived in Havana and made our first stop at Plaza de la Revolución. It is one of the largest city squares in the world, most notable as the place where Fidel Castro addressed Cubans on many important occasions and where two large Catholic Masses were held during papal visits. The square showcases revolutionary heroes such as Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, as well as José Martí, a national hero from Cuba’s claim of independence against Spain in 1895. We enjoyed chatting with the locals and found that they are relaxed and friendly. Most speak some English and make their best efforts to communicate. They don’t have much but are very resourceful and try to be as accommodating as they can be. Americans are new to them, but basic tourism is not since they have been welcoming other foreign visitors for decades. Shop owners know how to bargain with you, Continued on next page

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local guides are knowledgeable and restaurants are high on service standards. We ate Cuban-style pizza for lunch at La California, a beautiful paladar — a term used for newly allowed familyowned restaurants. They served a wonderful family-style meal for our group of 15 people, and everything was hot and delicious. The festive music set the right tone, and the family greeted us personally adding to the experience. We discovered that Cuba has such limited resources that many of the small restaurants did not have unique, stylish or customizable menu selections. From the restaurant, we appreciated the centuries-old buildings literally crumbling away, leaving only empty shadows of the city’s former glory, and observing the tourists riding by in classic car taxis reliving the 1950s and their love of these haphazardly preserved icons of Cuba. After lunch, we hopped back on the bus for a tour of the Hotel Naciónal. The hotel is uniquely historic and is worth a visit and perhaps a meal at La Baraca, located outside and behind the entrance lobby which we enjoyed later in the trip. They are known for their slow-roasted chicken and the use of malanga in their dishes, which is a root said to be an aphrodisiac with healing properties. What people don’t know about Cuba is that the things that we take for granted are in fact luxuries for the natives. Items such as bug spray, sunscreen, hand sanitizer and over-the-counter medications are difficult to find. As we walked around on some limited free time during the tour, we found only a handful of shops that offered anything beyond handcrafted souvenirs, and museums that poorly executed displays of valuable artifacts. We were somewhat surprised that public restrooms rarely had toilet paper, and air conditioning was rare. However, the misconceptions that upset traveler expectations most are the misleading media stories: Cuba is simply an independent nation that is economically challenged by the blocking of international trade by the USA. Gay Cuba seems to flourish at night, so we ventured out on the Malecón to discover the scene. The seaside roadway stretches for five miles along the coast from the

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beginning of the harbor in Old Havana, along the north side of Centro Havana, and ending in the Vedado neighborhood. People – gay and straight alike – congregate along “The Great Sofa,” where they sit and relax. Speaking with some, we learned that homosexuality for men is somewhat acceptable, while women have a much harder time. We heard that evenings can be a great time to cruise for a date using a simple nod or smile — the meaning carries across all languages. But beware that you may be propositioned by male prostitutes, also known as jineteros or jockeys, to engage in sexual fun, and that they may be straight men looking to rob you. The police rarely intervene in male prostitution situations and the economic need drives these men to sell themselves or steal. After a bit of interaction on the Malecón, we took a short walk and ended up at Esencia Habana, a small gayfriendly tapas bar with International music videos. Located in an older home and remodeled to make a restaurant that fits the Havana style, the dishes were composed mainly of tapas with familiar favorites such as olives, prosciutto, chorizo, corn and plantains. There were also a few entrées to choose from, such as chicken piccata and paella. The service staff was attentive to our needs and it was very affordable. After a few hours of walking and talking, we found ourselves on Humboldt Street, ironically known for the gay Prussian geographer Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt. We stopped at Humboldt 52, which is marked by a small rainbow sign. It was Havana’s first openly gay night club, opened in 2013. Once through the doors, we were shocked that they were listening and dancing to our American favorites like Katy Perry. The dance floor was a little small and the nightclub itself proved to be a crowd of gorgeous Latino men dancing salsa and conversing. The bartenders were sexy and asked for our drink orders in pleasant voices: “Que desean tomar?” So we ordered the national drink, Cuba libre (Havana Club rum and tuKola) and a Bucanero cerveca (dark beer). The environment was like stepping back in time to the


smoky bar scene of the ‘70s with a disco ball and a “back room,” but this one used mostly for smoking rather than other, more libidinous, activities. Cuban men are not ones for public displays of affection. Machismo still permeates throughout the culture. The party went on until 4 a.m., but we had to get back to our rooms for a bit of sleep before the required tour excursion the next morning at 9 a.m. The one thing that amazed us most, and something that Americans are lacking, was common courtesy. “Buenos dias” was a common greeting as we passed people on the street. As Americans, we are so caught up on our cell phones that we can no longer just admire the day or the people around us. The country is struggling — multiple

families often occupy a single family home, they wait in lines for their rationed food supply and they have limited conveniences. Yet they have time and decency to say hello when they pass you on the street and are always up for engaging in some light conversation as they practice a bit of English. This is what visiting a third-world country is about. You come to Cuba for the culture, the history and most importantly, the people. Understanding them is understanding Cuba. By Joseph Cromwell & Alfredo Cruz

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NYC artist Brett Schmidt

Brett A. Schmidt, born in Houston, Texas, in 1979, began drawing at a young age. He first studied art at the University of Houston, Clear Lake Campus; through the youth program he began to advance his drawing, painting and sculpting skills. Having discovered his sister’s comic book collection in his teens, Schmidt began to draw inspiration from the sequential art of Sam Keith, Jim Lee, Whilce Portacio, and Marc Silvestri. While studying painting in his high school art classes Schmidt began exploring the themes of myth and legend, as well as taking a closer look at the Old Masters, Sandro Botticelli and Henri Matisse. The summers leading up to art school were less restrained as he drew his swords and sorcery comic, Claws of Destiny.   Schmidt received his BFA in Computer Animation in 2002, at the Ringling College of Art and Design. After graduation Schmidt moved to New York City in hopes of finding a digital studio job. In New York City Schmidt began noticing the eye catching, comic book infused visuals created by Stephen Bliss to promote Rockstar Games latests releases. These posters were a constant reminder for Schmidt to keep striving for and improving on his own vector based illustration skills. Though discouraged in his job search, Schmidt used his finely honed skills to create and produce Demon Pack, his own line of t-shirts. In 2007, the Eagle NYC, took notice of their patrons wearing early runs of Demon Pack shirts and commissioned

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Schmidt to produce custom t-shirt designs for their leather bar. Schmidt’s t-shirt designs were such a success that his role with the Eagle NYC expanded, producing artwork and designs for many of their events throughout the year for a wide variety of publications and online media.  He also joined the Manskins crew to sell their unique leather gear, official Eagle NYC merchandise, and his original artwork at Mid Atlantic Leather and International Mr. Leather starting in 2013.  The experience of being present at leather shows and listening to people define their fetish enhanced his understanding of who is buying his art.  He now draws with a better understanding of important details and acknowledging the power of accurately depicting inner desires. As well as creating Demon Pack designs and working on projects for the Eagle NYC, Schmidt also creates custom animated visuals for the live shows of recording artists Plumb and Marc Vedo.  Schmidt is a regular contributor to Harmonious Discord Recordings producing animated Continued on page 70


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www.casacupula.com


Doing Indy cocktails right: Hotel Tango After moving and getting settled in Indianapolis, I checked out a few places to eat and asked locals what their opinion was on various food and drink establishments. I received so many recommendations for places to eat or drink, I was having a hard time keeping up. So I created a list. The list is still long and it in no way scratches the surface of places I have yet to visit. The first place I decided to visit was a small batch distillery located in Fountain Square, a neighborhood of Indianapolis. Hotel Tango Whiskey, or Hotel Tango, is the first combat-disabled veteran-owned distillery in the country and the first artisan distillery in Indiana. The idea was first cooked up by Travis Barnes, a former Recon Marine who served three combat tours, and his wife Hilary. Mix in three of their closest friends and you have a recipe for an exceptional small batch distillery. Hotel Tango opened its doors on September 15, 2014, and just celebrated a very successful first-year anniversary. The distillery sits back on a corner lot in Fletcher Place next to a production warehouse. The former 1890s Carriage House served as a mortuary and the parking lot housed caskets and the horse-drawn carriages. The first portion of

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the tasting room was the main barn where the horses lived. The hayloft is still visible. In the distillery room, you can see the grooves where they repaired carriages on a turnstile. In the center of the tasting room is a massive woodburning fireplace handcrafted by the owner’s father, a third generation stonemason. The Indiana Fieldstones were carefully placed so as to preserve the richness of the room with the chimney rising above and into the hayloft. The tasting room itself has living room-style seating, pub-style tables and counter seating so you can watch the drinks being made. The cocktails are carefully selected and created to enhance the flavor profiles of the ingredients they are crafted with. You can sip, taste and buy various bottles of spirits. Original spirits such as Romeo Rum and Victor Vodka were quickly joined by Golf Gin, Mike Moonshine, Lima Limoncello and now Whiskey. If by chance you’re wondering where the unusual names of the spirits come from, they are derived from the phonetic alphabet of the military. The first initial of Hilary and the first initial of Travis’s name became Hotel and Tango. The turnstile section of the distillery houses three stills, a 150-gallon “big batch pot still” and two 50-gallon “small


batch pot stills.” One of the 50-gallon pot stills is dedicated solely to gin. In order to create a flavorful and quality gin, it needs to be distilled more than once and then have florals infused. Most semi-private events are held in this area so you will find a few picnic tables and more pub-style tables, or you can just wander back and forth exploring. I had the pleasure of running into Fletcher, the Pixie bobcat and mascot of the distillery. Fletcher is a very friendly tabby and bobcat mix. He’s the official peacekeeper and mouser, which is a tradition in distilleries because the mice population is so fond of the grains used in the distillation process. Fletcher is beginning to be a celebrity in his own right and can be found on Instagram under the hashtag #whiskeywhiskers. He recently escaped on a Saturday night and went on a bender until the following Sunday evening, putting everyone on alert and a search was underway for him for over 24 hours. (He’s currently on house arrest.) We sat at the bar and chatted with bartender Thomas as he made us a couple of cocktails. With only six spirits in production, they have a wide range of drinks available for you to taste. We chose two of the bestsellers: Gin Bravo, which is gin, green tea, simple syrup, muddled blackberry

and a fresh basil leaf. It had a nice tartness and hint of basil to it. The second cocktail was The Battle of Old Charlie made from Limoncello, lemon, simple syrup and angostura bitters. The lemon and herby angostura bitters were a perfect blend of flavors. Everything was so perfectly balanced you would never even know you were drinking liquor—until you stood up that is! I’ll definitely be back for a visit. They have been brewing up a whiskey that I would like to get my hands on. It’s been described as a smoky, peaty flavor and has already created quite a buzz in the community. It’s a young barrel program and after nine months of resting, it’s four-week debut would make you think there was a run on liquor just like the Prohibition era. You can find Hotel Tango spirits throughout Indiana and parts of Cincinnati. To find out more about Hotel Tango, visit their website at HotelTangoWhiskey.com. Hotel Tango Whiskey, 702 Virginia Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46203 (317) 653-1806 facebook.com/HotelTangoWhiskey, Twitter & Instagram @hoteltangoindy by Joe Morales Joe is a chef, traveler, and writer. He loves finding new places to eat, drink, and explore. His passion for travel is surpassed only by his passion for food and learning about the culinary world. You can read more of his adventures on his site www.joeeatsworld.com.

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Costa Rica

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Embrace and Explore Costa Rica is one of my favorite places on the planet, but I think that has more to do with who I am when I’m there than the destination itself. It’s the kind of place that demands you to fully surrender to it, giving into its relaxed lifestyle, relinquishing to its natural beauty, and fully appreciating the stunning landscapes that surround you. It invites you, it enchants you, and it grips you until your only option is just let go. Trust me, you’ll be sipping a cold Imperial, zip-lining through the forest canopy, and swimming in the pool of a towering waterfall before you can say “pura vida.” In the past decade, Costa Rica has blossomed into a gay hot spot, quickly becoming the most gay-friendly country in Central America. That being said, it is still a conservative, Catholic country so PDA (especially in rural areas) is frowned upon. But assuming you can keep your hands to yourself in public places, you’ll find Costa Ricans — or Ticos, as they call themselves — to be friendly and accepting. Most travelers begin their Costa Rica adventures by flying into San José, Costa Rica’s colonial capital. From San José, you can easily take a bus — or better yet, fly — to almost any other part of the country, which is exactly what I recommend using the city for. San José does have a handful of gay bars and clubs (as well as a few architectural and historical attractions), but as a whole, it’s just another Central American city — unremarkable buildings, highways clogged with traffic, and endless fast-food chains. It’s OK to spend a night or two soaking up the San José scene, but since you probably didn’t come to Costa Rica for the nightlife, you should then head somewhere greener (and gayer). Here are a few spots that are sure to make you feel like a true Tico:

Manuel Antonio Go for: Beaches, gay scene, wildlife-viewing Manuel Antonio — on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast — is one of the most popular destinations for gay travelers and one of the best places to experience everything Costa Rica has to offer.

One windy, downhill road leads from Quepos — a small fishing city — to Manuel Antonio National Park, and along the way, you can find a wide range of open-air restaurants, bars and hotels, many with fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean. Although Quepos is a Tico town, the area closer to the national park has become quite popular with ex-Pats, and therefore has a beachy, eclectic charm that some travelers say mimics Key West. And since many of these middle-aged ex-Pats are gay, Manuel Antonio also has a blossoming gay scene, with a handful of gay bars and clubs where you can drink Imperials and mingle with the local culture. When you’re ready for some fun in the sun, head to the national park, which boasts some of the best (and most popular) beaches in Costa Rica, as well as a few short hiking trails through the jungle. This might be Costa Rica’s smallest national park, but it’s also the most biodiverse, so be sure to keep one eye open when lounging on its pristine white sand. On any given day, you can expect to flick scorpions off your beach towel, see snakes weaving through the tree branches above, and watch troops of mischievous capuchin monkeys steal the lunches of unsuspecting tourists. With so much happening around you, it’s hard not to have the sudden (and shocking) realization that you’re not in a zoo — that the creatures surrounding you are, in fact, wild animals. But if you’ve been picking up on Costa Rica’s laid-back vibes, you’ll embrace being in the middle of this captivatingly chaotic scenery. Monteverde Go for: Hiking, zip-lining, wildlife-viewing Monteverde isn’t known for its lively gay scene, and its nightlife is particularly tame, but if you want to enjoy the blissful serenity of Costa Rica’s rain forests, this is the ideal location. Nestled high in mist-shrouded mountains and tucked between verdant nature reserves, Monteverde and the Continued on next page

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nearby town of Santa Elena are speckled with small Costa Rican restaurants, tour operators and eco-friendly hotels. Filled with hippie backpackers, ex-Pats, Ticos, and a large Quaker community, the area has a laidback, artistic and environmentally focused feel that’s hard to resist. One of the biggest draws of Monteverde is its nature reserves, which boast one of the most amazing displays of flora and fauna in Costa Rica. A daytime hike through one of the area’s reserves could yield glimpses of countless birds (including the resplendent quetzal), coatis, jungle cats, and brightly colored amphibians. But for the more adventurous, a guided hike through the forest at night is often more rewarding, offering you the chance to see tarantulas, bats, caimans, two-toed sloths and an assortment of snakes. But most travelers who trek to Monteverde don’t want to observe the canopy from the ground — they want a bird’s-eye view. Monterverde is known for its canopy tours; in fact, it invented canopy tours — a unique chance to soar above the forest canopy on a zip-line and walk above Monteverde’s cloak of mist on a suspension bridge. Here, you can find Costa Rica’s highest platforms and longest cables, meaning your zip-lining experience will be nothing short of extraordinary. La Fortuna Go for: Arenal Volcano, waterfalls, hot springs No Costa Rica vacation would be complete without a trip to Arenal Volcano and the nearby city of La Fortuna — an area that in recent years, has become surprisingly gay-friendly. While the volcano stopped erupting in 2010, it’s still a breathtaking sight to behold, whether you view it from the surrounding Lake Arenal or the busy streets of La Fortuna. In the bucolic shadow of the volcano, you’ll find even more opportunities to enjoy Costa Rica’s natural splendors, with countless hiking trails that will guide you through the dense forest. One of the most popular hikes is to La Fortuna Waterfall, a trek that brings you past rain forest and pastures to a cascade that plummets 200 feet into an emerald pool below. This is the largest — and most popular — of La Fortuna’s waterfalls, but the area is known for its towering cascades, so even if you decide to hike on the road less traveled,

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you’re bound to stumble upon a small waterfall or two. To heat things up near the Arenal Volcano, head to one of the many hot springs near downtown La Fortuna. Because of Arenal’s geothermic activity, there is no shortage of these warm, soothing pools in the area. Some of the larger hotels have crafted their volcanic hot springs into Eden-like respites, where you can relax in pools ranging from 76 to 98 degrees F with a cold drink in your hand, surrounded by perfectly manicured gardens. Keep in mind that the larger, more luxurious hot springs are also the most crowded, so if you prefer a more intimate soak, try a smaller, locally owned venue. There is truly no feeling quite like watching a Pacific sunset in Manuel Antonio, hearing the bird songs of Monteverde, or witnessing the awe-inspiring Arenal Volcano. But if you open your mind to the Tico culture and give in to the world around you, you just might experience what I have found to be the greatest feeling that comes from visiting a destination like Costa Rica: the feeling of truly letting go.

By Catherine Groux


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Magic of Mama Di’Osa Welcome to the Osa Peninsula – where town meets jungle and we meet Mother Nature. Costa Rica is hot right now. But the Osa is hotter! The Sanskrit vibrational meaning of the word “Osa” is burning transformation. Living in the heat and humidity of the wild, most biodiverse jungle on the planet, we feel that! The Osa Peninsula is a tiny piece of land outstretching from the southwestern tip of Costa Rica. It holds 2.5 percent of all the biodiversity in the world and half of the 500,000 species Costa Rica holds. Imagine that on a piece of land half the size of Rhode Island! Every morning, Congos, a.k.a. howler monkeys, make their resonant calls as the sunlight starts to trickle through the trees. White-faced capuchins are crashing through the trees. Iguanas are everywhere. Scarlet macaws color the sky with their wide outstretched rainbow wings. Groups of green parrots are always soaring by chirping away. Often, the toucans grant us with their heavenly songs. Hawks and vulture turkeys sweep by again and again. In the forest, the titis, the ridiculously adorable squirrel monkeys, parachute their tiny bodies from tree to tree. And the sloths linger slowly, often unseen. Tropical fruits hang from the trees. Fragrant smells permeate the air — the enchanting smell of ylang ylang flowers brings upon a state of zen whilwe the funky-Frenchcheese smell of the noni tree leaves the senses confused. The Osa Peninsula is a place like no other, where you find nature melded with development. The jungle weaves around up-and-coming villages, tiny airports and beautiful beaches. Primary forest wraps around one of its edges, creating what is now known as the preserved Corcovado Park. The Osa is fabulous because it is still raw, yet there are amenities like wifi, cafes and hostels and local businesses. There are all the tourist attractions from zip-lining to trekking to surfing to whale or bird siting to visiting local cacao farms. Permacultures are sprouting up everywhere, along with other eco and natural businesses. Yet still the life is simple and sweet – we don’t always have internet or electricity or water. Sometimes we just have to go with it.

So how did I land here? I had a dream. Just like everyone else. I wanted to produce all my own food and create a self-sustainable eco-wellness center with the thought of it possibly turning into an eco-village. I imagined all that goes along in an eco-village: natural structures, a stellar yoga platform, an edible forest garden, a volunteer program, a community center, tree houses, free energy systems, cacao ceremonies and ecstatic dance parties! When I landed and got off the jet plane, there was no resisting the charms of the Osa. I found a large piece of land with primary forest and fully mature producing fruit trees and knew it was the perfect place for my dream. Near to many beaches and the sweet, small dusty town of Puerto Jimenez with hostels, restaurants, a hardware store and other green businesses, I was home in a miraculous place of balance between jungle and city. And so Mama Di’Osa was born. Mama Di’Osa is an evolving project based on sustainability, healing and transformation. Grow food, connect to the higher self, be with Mother Nature and love! These are our mantras. In practicing these we are devoted to growing our own food and sharing traditional tantra yoga — a yoga that is not solely about the external body but one that is about loving yourself and giving way to the higher intelligence that beams within all of us. So here I am in the beginning phase of my project finding that sustainability is not always the easiest or prettiest thing to do, though it is a ton of fun and a lot of good-old, healthy, hard work. If it was totally easy, we would all be doing it, right? Making compost regularly, moving leaves from here to there, collecting cow manure, consistently planting foods and tending to our gardens, hoping we actually get some of our food before all the other critters find it first, cutting the forest back just so it doesn’t overgrow our homes, creating water and energy systems, building with natural materials… all of this requires a lot of sweat, love and labor. Our official volunteer program will be starting in 2017. Continued on next page

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We are now in the process of building two homes out of natural materials. One is fashioned as a small hostel or family home and will be available for rent in 2017! We harvested invasive wood from the property, reducing transportation costs on the environment, for the backbones of our structures. For the walls, we are using earth. It is similar to adobe. Clay is mixed with cow poop and rice husks to make durable, mold-resistant, sound-enhancing walls sculpted with earth art! Earth homes are known to be healing as they are alive and continue to breathe throughout time. Next we will be building a treehouse yoga platform with a 360 degree view of the property with wide views of the Gulfo Dulce and Corcovado national park, pure jungle baby! Mama di’Osa is a place of healing. The structures themselves are healing made with natural materials. Waking up to the magical sounds of the morning and chiming down at night with the chants of the evening, we are enchanted by the forest’s magic. Drinking pure, clean water directly from the land, we know we are in heaven. Springs are plentiful here in the Osa giving our humid, hot home a freshness about it. At Mama Di’Osa we have five springs and have tapped into the underground water system to collect the freshest, purest water for drinking and bathing. In the future we hope to demonstrate and rely on free energy water systems. As for now we are hooked up to the grid and lucky for us in Costa Rica, 95% of the energy is green sourced from hydro, solar, and wind power. Come next year, we will be offering spiritual and lifechanging retreats all based on ancient wisdom from tantra to shamanism. We will be featuring traditional tantra yoga retreats and teacher trainings. In traditional tantra yoga we reconnect with nature’s innate intelligence living within and we let this intelligence guide our movements. It is not a practice of extremism or fitness though we get do get extremely fit practicing it. Instead of redirecting the muscles, we redirect the prana or life force energy. In traditional tantra we understand that the body or Nature is much more intelligent than our conscious minds. Imagine how many things we can do rationally or consciously. Not so many. Then imagine how many millions of more things the body is doing right now perfectly to keep us alive. Our yoga retreats are not only aimed at getting our

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booties ready for beach time (though we definitely will get some beach time). These teachings will hone in on the meditative side of yoga. The pranayama (deep breathing) that we will be practicing will guide us into a deep trance-like meditation that yoga is intended for. Once in meditation, we meet ourselves and see truth. And what a better place than surrounded by jungle to meet the jungle of yourself! But overall, it is a practice of self-love. Once you love yourself, you can love the rest of the world. This will take place in the mountains on a beautiful wide landscape filled with grassy areas, flowers, an orchard of fruit trees, springs and a river for bathing in all surrounded by jungle with walking paths to venture along. At Mama Di’Osa there is a mystical feel up on the mountain surrounded by waters and rainforest yet we are only ten minutes away from the tiny jet plane airport and Puerto Jimenez where hostels and cute little cafés have begun to run wild themselves. We are also only a short drive away from many outstanding beaches and Corcovado itself. It is the perfect space to unplug from the city, get connected to Nature and to Self. Mama Di’Osa means mother goddess. The mother goddess is an interpretation of mother earth, nature, the entire Cosmos, the creator of the entire Cosmos, however it makes sense to you. It is the magic that we know and feel in the Osa every day — the wildness, the rawness, the beauty, the laughter, the struggle and the miracles of the jungle — the pura vida! What I have learned here is that living your dream ain’t easy. It’s work. Work that booty off every day for your dream, work that dream, really work it, and just live it baby! Here we say “poco a poco” or little by little. Every day, we work to get a little bit closer to that idealized end dream. But of course the dream is always in the journey: To learn how to grow organically, how to be sustainable, how to use resources in the best way possible, how to live in another culture in another language along with the thousands and thousands of other creatures living in the jungle… it’s worth it! And for me, it is the dream! The Osa is a magical place. I felt it the second I chilled out after my long travel and settled in to the “tranquilo” “pura vida” vibes of this peninsula. Sit down in nature on the beach or in the forest and just watch the giant


The view from Mama Di’Osa’s treehouse in Costa Rica

butterflies and locusts fly around, the monkeys, the toucans singing throwing their heads back in delight as they make their noise, the people working so freaking hard every day yet always smiling, the fresh fruit hanging off the trees, the sweet fragrances of flowers filling your nose…. sensually the Osa is a real treat… but is intense. It is an intense environment and you have to be ready to adapt and to chill

out and just relax! Mama Di’Osa will teach just this. Forget everything you’ve ever learned and just relax. Relax, meditate, connect to your intelligence, your self, Nature and love! Here it is just pure, it is just magic. By Monica Joan

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Making the Jump

After going skydiving myself, I totally understand why someone would want to jump out of a perfectly good plane. This particular weekend trip when my husband and I decided to do the deed — ahem, not that deed — I think stemmed from boredom and complacency. We’d been living in Los Angeles for just over a year and were starting to fall under the fog that I swear fills many Angelenos’ heads (only half-kidding) and we desperately needed to escape the city for a while. We decided to take the plunge, quite literally, and go skydiving. Skydive Santa Barbara (skydivesantabarbara.com) seemed to be our best option, so we packed a bag to overnight it for an adventure. Santa Barbara is about a two-hour drive from L.A. It was an uneventful drive up, and we hadn’t really planned before heading up where to stay or what to do. Since we were on a budget and the actual

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skydiving was in Lompoc, we ended up at a Motel 6 just outside of Santa Barbara. Once we arrived and checked in, we stumbled across the road to a local bar for a nightcap before calling it a night. The next day, we met up with our friends Lisa, Talia and Pablo, who would be joining us at the airplane hangar where our flight would depart. It was a seemingly interminable wait after we checked in and before we did the all-too-brief safety training session with one of the instructors. It was all entertaining — but I’m not sure we all realized what we were about to do. Everyone was strapped into their harnesses and instructed to double-check their pockets so as not to lose a cell phone at 10,000 feet. We piled into the plane and each got hooked up to our skydiving instructors — we were all doing a tandem jump, of course — and the plane took off. It was like any other plane ride – that is, until the door By Aaron Drake


was opened and the clouds were passing freely by, merely feet away. Somehow, because of the way we had piled in, or just the way it worked out, I ended up being the last one to jump. My friend Lisa, easily the rowdiest one of the bunch, was quick to crack jokes all day (we even posed with frightened faces when Pablo wouldn’t stop taking awkward photos of us throughout the day). No surprise she would keep on cracking jokes until we all jumped. When it was Talia’s turn to jump, Lisa screamed, “You’re gonna f***ing die!” right as she jumped out of the plane. Lisa up next, Pablo’s turn, my husband, then — my turn. The best thing about jumping tandem is that there isn’t much opportunity for you to second-guess jumping out of the plane, or really much time to feel fear at all. And it wasn’t so much of a jump as it was leaning forward and falling out of the plane. The fall was exhilarating. The air rushes at your face, ballooning out your cheeks so much it’s tough to keep your lips together. The earth spread out beneath me, and even rounded out on the edges; I was so high up. Santa Barbara was especially beautiful with vineyards spreading into the mountains, which flattened out into the deep blue Pacific Ocean. The freefall only lasted about 60 seconds, not terrifying in the least. What a rush! I was most terrified when it came time to pull the ripcord (there was an almost overpowering fear it wouldn’t open, but it did). The initial jerk from the change of speed wasn’t too pleasant, and then dangling by a parachute, drifting slowly towards the ground while still hundreds of feet in the air, was actually the most terrifying part for me. My instructor shared with me how if you pulled the ropes to the parachute different ways you could control your direction. No thanks, I was ready to get my feet back on the ground! It was smooth gliding the rest of the trip down. Once we landed with a bit of a run, I think then it hit me what I had just done. Thankfully my body was a bit delayed in realizing it, as I could feel my stomach turn to Jello. Everyone met back on the ground and we all were in good spirits (no one “f***ing died” at least). I would say the jump provided exactly the much-needed escape we needed, but I’m not so sure I’d have the guts to do it again. What was I thinking?!


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Hidden Cool Stuff

continued from page 12

LOCAL MAPS. Most major cities, even smaller European destinations like Brussels, Dresden and Vienna, often have free locally made maps. These aren’t the ones you’re going to find at a Hilton or a Starwood property; rather, they’re often available at boutique and independent hotels, electronic music bars, gay groups, co-working spaces or youth hostels. These amazing maps help you to orientate and discover places that locals love. FIND THE RECORD STORE! Before visiting a new place, I’ll often do a quick Google Maps search for record stores in the city. Once you find the

place where people get their vinyls, you’ll often find yourself in an interesting neighborhood. All those cool kids who collect vinyl records are often the same types to drink espresso, to wear beards and shop for trendy sneakers. It might sound like stereotyping, but once you’re in a record store you can usually orient yourself to other similar places. Plus, if you’ve got a bit of a passion for music, you’ll find record store employees often eager to make local DJ recommendations. By Adam Groffman

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Dunes Resort

continued from page 22

A Gay Vacation Destination for All Walks of Life

The resort offers a kaleidoscope of entertainment, from raucous to romantic. From go/go to live entertainment and cabaret to great DJs to a quiet romantic weekend, The Dunes makes it happen for their guests. The variety of offerings tailored to varied tastes, is among the many reasons people return year after year after year, and find the Dunes as one of the best gay vacation destinations in the country.

In addition to being considered a gay institution in the Midwest, The Dunes Resort is also a family affair, providing a comfortable gay vacation destination for the whole family. Sharon, Mike’s mom, is Head of Housekeeping, and makes certain good order is kept and the premises immaculate. Celebrating 36 Years – Of course, all the time beaming with pride over what her Our Biggest Party Yet! son and his partners have accomplished. Jones, with a ready smile and enthusiasm shining from behind his eyes, The Dunes Resort kicks off its 2017 season—its 36th year— sums it up simply by saying, “It all works.” in early April with Mr. Dunes Leather Contest, TG Prom, and Bear Weekend, followed by the Anniversary Weekend Almost 80 percent of the clientele is gay men.  During the and the 3rd annual HoeDown in The Dunes in May. Every upcoming annual women’s weekend “GoGirls”, the mix weekend in the sunny summer months create a reason to changes and the resort become about 90 percent women.  be at the Dunes.  For those looking for the biggest crowds, All in all, the normal mix is 50 percent singles, 50 percent the big three include Memorial Day weekend with DJ Matt couples.  And, yes, that includes straight, gay-friendly Consola and Susan Morabito,  followed by the annual Red customers—especially since The Dunes regularly hosts White on Blue Star event, held over Independence Day events for various LGBTQ communities, including leather, weekend, which features appearances by DJ’s Roland lesbian, bears and transgender. Belmares, Joe Gauthreaux, Ralphi Rosario, Jalil Z, Alain Jackinski and Barry Harris. Lastly, the Summer’s Going To Guests at The Dunes are truly a rainbow with every Come Again party over Labor Day weekend will incorporate flavor represented: circuit kids, couples, retirees, twinks, Phil B and Tony Moran.  However, every weekend bears, lesbians and so many more. “At the end of our first throughout the Spring, Summer, and Fall guarantees a summer, I got emotional.  I was looking around, everyone good time. was having fun and then I thought, ‘Wow, this is ours.’ That was a little overwhelming,” Jones said. It’s a really great place where life is lived and enjoyed without pretense.  Speaking for the partners, Jones truly “People from all walks of life come here to find themselves, believes that “everyone who comes here feels good lose themselves, but most importantly, to be themselves. and feels comfortable. You can be sitting at the bar with You can be gay, straight, old or young, and feel comfortable lesbians on one side, a cross-dresser on the other side and here,” Jones commented. everyone is just having fun.” He went on to say that “This is a very welcoming place, regardless of what you like, what “We have a lot of stories of people who have met their you don’t like, how much money you make, how much partners here and now plan their vacations here on an money you don’t make, what you’re wearing, etc.” annual basis,” Jones said. “Whether you’re 21 or 85, it’s home, it’s welcoming and anyone can come to The Dunes Today’s Dunes Resort is rich with history from the original and have a good time.  For the local gay community The Douglas Dunes which was opened in 1981 by Carl Dunes is Ground Zero, it’s home.” Jennings and Larry Gammons to welcome curious gay

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men and women to Douglas (Saugatuck) Michigan. What grew into The Douglas Dunes was an idea that took shape at what was the drive-in Amity Motel. Today’s Dunes, a continuation of the good memories, is much different than the original 22 hotel rooms,  restaurant, and lobby bar with summer-only outside dancing. The current partners hold Carl and Larry in high esteem and believe it was their love for the area combined with a desire to have people explore and visit this beautiful little community that was one of the basic reasons for creating The Dunes LGBTQ Resort. Jennings and Gammons still reside in the Douglas community. Throughout the years, under their guidance, entertainers in fields spanning  every format from pop and

porn have appeared. Answering varied tastes has resulted in a nightlife that defies eclectic and a dance floor running the gamut from progressive to hard-rock music. Expressing the thoughts of his partners,  Jones said, “Our guests are very important to us, they are the backbone of our business and because of them our business has grown every year.  We listen to what they tell us and use their thoughts to make our product better every year. Absolutely, it can still be stressful at times, but it’s still so much fun. I wake up every morning and just think that I’m so blessed.” And with one last thought, Jones commented, “Come join the party… it’s a Celebration. 269-857-1401 or dunesresort.com

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Submission Guidelines Submissions welcomed for the following departments: FEATURES Stories and photos of interest to travelers about destinations, adventures or events. (1,000-1,300 words)

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FEAST Stories about a food or foods unique to the destination, with photos of the dish

MY BIG ADVENTURE Short stories of when, why and how you caught the travel bug (500-1,000 words)

NO YOU DIDN’T! Short stories about common and OUT N ABOUT uncommon travel-related mistakes and Stories from LGBTQ travelers from resolutions (500-1,000 words) around the globe. (750-1,000 words) THERE’S THIS PLACE... POSTCARDS & GAYCATIONERS Stories on a hotel or resort, especially Photos from your gaycation showing off one with unusual or unique features, the great time you had while traveling; describing the property and amenities. include your name(s) and location of Must include photos of the interior, your trip. (Photos should be jpg email exterior and special features. (750-1,000 attachments) words)

Any articles, photos or information submitted to Gaycation Magazine become the sole property of Gaycation Magazine. Views and opinions of contributors are their own and not necessarily the views and opinions of Gaycation Magazine. Gaycation magazine and its affiliate will not knowingly publish or advertise information which is fradulent or misleading. The Publisher reserves the right to edit, limit, revise or reject any submission without cause. Gaycation and its affiliates assume not financial responsibility for typographical errors. If any errors are found, please notify Gaycation Magazine immediately. Materials in thei publication may not be reproduced in any form without written permision from the Publisher. Send hi-res images and articles to editor@gaycationmagazine.com.

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Photos from our readers

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BRETT SCHMIDT, continued from page 48 music videos. Animated loops appear at various festivals as Schmidt’s computer animated clips have been sold and shared in the VJ community all over the world. In 2016, he completed interior comic book art for Tommy Refenes’ (Super Meat Boy Designer) story in Betsy Ross #1.  This marked the first time Schmidt’s vector art was used for sequential storytelling.  Brett currently divides his time among Eagle NYC projects, developing future comic book concepts, commissions, freelance design and animation.  When asked about his process, “A lot of my work begins in pencil or pen drawings in my sketchbook.  Either I’m developing an idea from my head or doing some prep work with the overall composition.  I’ll scan the sketch work and place it in Adobe Illustrator and build the figures using vector shapes.  At this point I usually have a mood in mind and that determines the colors I use.  I’ll touch on flesh tones, but I prefer to push the color in order to catch the eye.  My audience is usually a Eagle NYC patron looking at a poster in the bar or someone flipping through club ads, so I feel it’s important to attempt to make someone stop and take a look.  With this is mind, I build the figures using different color shapes by creating vectors and layering them to translate the environment’s lighting.  In other spots I’ll

manipulate the shapes in order to bring the eye’s attention to a certain feature. From here I have a figure that can be imported into Adobe Photoshop.  At this point I take my artist hat off and put the designer cap on.  I usually have a fixed space and determine the final placement my illustration on the page.  Balance is my biggest consideration here when as text and other elements come into play.   Overall, I like to keep my images somewhat grounded.  The mass of the figures may be enhanced a bit, but I rarely Hulk out a figure because you will never see a man of that size at the bar.  I love it when guys see the images and think it resembles one of their friends.  The reality is they are often a merging of multiple faces of reference and ideas from my sketches. I tend to further edit a face until I can feel it to draw me in.  I prefer to build shapes that have an organic edge to them.  They are usually larger shapes rather than the sharp exact points of light you see in digital photographs.  I also like to leave some negative space where less information is needed to give more attention to the heavily worked areas that usually contain the desired expression and mood of the art. “

SMALL CRUISES, continued from page 37 beachfront lounge chair with your name on it and a frozen cocktail awaiting. You want to get physical and raise your heart rate, there’s a hilltop hike calling to be conquered. And then there’s everything else in between, like swimming in caves, stand-up paddleboarding, shopping, abundant snorkeling, river tubing and kayaking to name just a few options. Yet windjammer guests all tend to have similar favorite activities like gathering on deck at night as the captain heeds their request of shutting off the lights as the ship sails under the stars. The top two activities, by far, on every Outings & Adventures Caribbean cruise are swinging by a rope tied to the mast of the ship and plunging into the crystal blue water. (The ship’s host has even been known to dress as a gay superhero while leaping off the deck screaming.)

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And the most popular activity, and it too is exclusive to small ship sailings, is floating on noodles with the ship just feet away while anchored off shore as if the ocean were your own kiddie pool, with playmates and water toys in abundance. With shipmates in the water, waving from above on the ship’s deck and beautiful island views in the foreground, you’ll understand why there’s no experience quite like small ship cruises. Whether you cruise small or big, vacationing is about the food and small ship cruises do not disappoint! Each night after happy hour and appetizers dine al fresco with the sun setting in the foreground. The onboard chefs prepare regionally inspired three- or four-course cuisine — the best setting to come together with your fellow shipmates and share your adventures of the day. By Robert Geller


KEY WEST, continued from page 29 outrageous. These events contribute their own measure of rhythm to life here on the island. One particular event that locals still talk about is Key West Pride 2003, when the world’s longest Gay Pride Rainbow flag was unfurled the entire 1.25 mile length of famed Duval Street, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. The creator of the original rainbow flag, Gilbert Baker, flew from San Francisco to Key West and for seven months supervised the fabrication of this fabulous flag. On the morning of June 15, 2003, more than 3,000 volunteers organized by the Key West Business Guild. They held and pulled and hoisted the enormous flag all the way down Duval Street. And today, it is still one of the most iconic images of Key West, seen by millions around the world. After Key West Pride 2003, the famous flag was cut into 100-foot sections which were then sent to nearly every city in North America that sponsored a gay Pride celebration. Conchs are proud whenever visitors make a point to thank them for sending a part of their remarkable flag to their

city’s celebration. It is the island’s way of spreading the message of “One Human Family!” And the rhythm continues. With the gentle breezes from Cuba, the fragrant explosion of the Royal Poincianas, and the night harmonies of the tiny rain frogs comes Key West Pride, next scheduled for June 7-11, 2017 (www.keywestpride.org). Time again to unfurl our island hospitality and show our friends old and new that they are not just merely accepted here, but truly embraced. When we say “Come as you are!” we mean it. Key West is indeed “close to perfect, far from normal.” Bring your T-shirt and flip flops, order a proper island drink, listen to some fabulous live island music, gaze at the astonishing southern night sky. And get into the rhythm. When you do, you will not want to leave. It’s that kind of place! By Guy Ross

ISLAND HOUSE, continued from page 30 There is also a full bar, which offers a free happy hour every evening for guests. Seeking something a little more adventurous? There is an erotic video lounge open 24 hours. Island House has something for everyone, visit and just

be yourself. Island House is gay owned and managed, with an allmale staff. For more information visit islandhousekeywest.com.

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Profile for Gaycation Magazine

Gaycation Magazine Issue 22 Jun-July 2017  

Gaycation Magazine, Summer Edition featuring the best gay campgrounds, Saugatuk Michigan, PrideFlight 2018 and more.

Gaycation Magazine Issue 22 Jun-July 2017  

Gaycation Magazine, Summer Edition featuring the best gay campgrounds, Saugatuk Michigan, PrideFlight 2018 and more.

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