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The End is Near!
Stop. Pause. Reset. Start Over. Press Play!
an you believe it has been a year since this pandemic entered all of our lives and has devastated people throughout the world? But now there are signs of hope.The end is near! The first day of spring is Saturday, March 20. While most spring sports have paused, kickball is alive and well playing at Chaparral Park in Scottsdale. The Varsity Gay League spring open play is Sunday, March 21. Check out the cover feature on page 24 to find out how you can join.
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Live drag performances are returning, too. Our friends at the Breakfast Bitch announced two weekly events hosted by two bitches we love: Lola and Savannah Stevens! If you’re feeling bougie, come to the Breakfast Bitch at the Cambria Hotel for Bougie Bitch Bash starting Friday, April 1 and Bougie Bitch Bingo Sunday, starting April 3. See their ad on page 3. Good things come to those who wait. The 40th anniversary of Phoenix Pride will have to wait ... again! In order to do it right, and right they always do, Phoenix Pride has decided to postpone for the third time. Assuming the pandemic will be behind us, look for the Phoenix Pride Parade and Festival this November. Keep checking PhoenixPride.org for more information. Last month Lady Gaga’s dogs, Koji and Gustav, were kidnapped. I think most of you would agree we would pay anything to get our best friends back. (Gaga offered $500,000) This is your last chance to be in our annual “Pet Pride” feature in our next issue. Send a photo of you and your pet (dog, cat, mouse, parakeet ... you get the picture) to IONarizona@me.com. These are just a few things happening as we reopen our community. Remember, until its behind us, please wear a mask, social distance and have some fun! We all deserve it! 8
Jack M. Tesorero Pandemic Survivor MAR/APR 2021
one•n•ten Fresh Brunch Be part of this popular signature fundraising event from the comfort of your very own home! one•n•ten continues to provide services for today’s LGBTQ+ youth, and tomorrow’s future, and you can help! Get your tickets and info at OneNTen.org March 21 11 a.m.-12 p.m.
“Legends of Tomorrow” The glamorous Desirée DeMornay is your crownwinning hostess for this competition. Who has the most talent? Winners get a chance to win $100 cash and two paid “Opulence” bookings! Find out every fourth Sunday of the month at 7 p.m. at Stacy’s @ Melrose, 4343 N. 7th Ave. in Phoenix.
Bougie Breakfast Bitch! Savannah Stevens and Lola rub elbows with diners and drinkers every Friday starting April 1, 6-8 p.m. for “Bougie Bitch Bash” and every Saturday starting April 3, 6-8 p.m. for “Bougie Bitch Bingo.” The hijinks happen at The Breakfast Bitch at the Cambria Hotel, 222 E. Portland St. in Phoenix. No bitching allowed!
A Tribute to Kiki Andrews Now we have a chance to honor our friend and entertainer who always made parties pop. The irrepressible, late (in a few ways! C’mon! She’d laugh at that!) Kiki Andrews will never be forgotten. Join us for a Celebration of Life and Tribute on Wednesday, March 24 at 9 p.m. at BS West, 7125 E. 5th Ave. in Scottsdale. 10
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Get Your Kicks Varsity Gay League Kickball: Phoenix’s Spring Season to Begin. Photography by Fernando Hernandez Text by Deon Brown Creative Direction by Kevin Bushaw On the Cover: Storm Sharp & Justin Philip Pictured here: Kyle Hale & Wes Scruggs (League Managers)
varsitygayleague MAR/APR 2021
Pictured: (left) Tiffany Meier, (middle) Daniele Duarte, (right) Aleah Roseen
arsity Gay League Kickball is the first kickball league in the country with a LGBTQ+ focus since they started in 2007. Will Hackner started and helped build the Varsity Gay League empire, now representing over 20,000 athletes nationwide. “VGL Sports was founded to create more opportunities for the Queer/ LGBTQ+ communities to socialize outside the bars in meaningful ways.” He knows that sports can feel scary to those who were bullied in gym class. “Games like kickball and dodgeball remind us of being kids which allows us to be open to the experience, open to fun—and not afraid we may not be perfect. Kickball is an amazing way to capture the fun of youth with your queer best friends.” And you got to have friends, right? Last year was VGL Phoenix Kickball’s first season in Phoenix with over 200 players. Thanks to the enthusiasm of General Manager of VGL Kickball Phoenix, Kevin Bushaw, fun on the fields is going full tilt. “VGL” is often the initialism for “Very Good Looking” in personal ads. “That’s the intended doubleentendre,” laughs Kevin. “But it is it’s a beautiful league, I have to say.”
The VGL Phoenix Kickball season lasts for eight weeks with 10 games. “Currently we have14 teams, normally we get 18, but there’s no cap on how many teams we can accommodate. We can have 25 teams and still make a really enjoyable league because we can split up into divisions: one for the more competitive players, and a recreational division for people who’ve never played before or want to get to know the rules better.” Worried? Don’t be. “People of all ages and all different skill levels play,” Kevin promises. “We try to make it a learning experience. That’s why we have the captains and umpires who really bring some good practices together, plus we have clinics to improve the game.” Winter season in action, but VGL Kickball is preparing for Spring season. Kevin explained how it works: “We do what’s called a ‘snake draft.’ Everyone plays all at once the first day, then the captains get together and privately pick teams. Essentially it’s like a playground where some people get picked first and other people get picked last—but the players never know who that is, so nobody feels like the last kid selected, MAR/APR 2021
getting that terrible feeling that a lot of us had traumatizing us in our youth. We try to set people up for success and to have fun—we don’t want people to walk away afterward and never want to play any sports ever again. If anything, they play with us and then they want to get more involved with other sports.” The goal: “By the end of the season they’re greatly improved, having a blast and feeling confident. It’s really cool to see people discover something in themselves that they thought wasn’t there.” VGL Kickball Phoenix is welcoming, open, and inclusive. Don’t be worried about your prowess on the field. Everyone from every skill level is welcome in the league, no matter what your ability. Players run the gamut from beginners to veterans. “We have a player, Noah Altman—we call him ‘Daddy Noah’—who was so nervous when he started, and by the end of the season he was going for the ball and making very difficult catches,” Kevin relates. “When we were in a playoff situation and he got the third out on the last inning there was a huge celebration! It was a perfect cap 28
for him to just know he turned into a great player; that’s my favorite part: seeing people improve and get excited!” In a digital world where introductions often start online with, “’Sup, dude?” VGL Kickball Phoenix is a very real way to meet people in real life, outdoors, and in broad daylight! Imagine that! “This is a better opportunity to meet people rather than using an app,” Kevin pointed out. “There are some people playing who are living sober, and some who choose to do something that’s athletic, outdoors and still social outside of a bar,” he says. “There’s also people who want to get out in the park and party, so we have permits for beer and wine. You can be outside, playing and drinking with your friends at the park—it’s a blast—but you just have to be 21. It’s easy to come and join and just drink water if you like, and be athletic—or not athletic and not coordinated if you just want to chase a ball around with your friends.” Of course, there’s the requisite drama on (and off) the field every now and then. True love blooms, withers, dies, and hearts are broken. “Sometimes it’s awkward when boyfriends join the same team,
varsitygayleague Pictured: Keyser Santana MAR/APR 2021
then they break up mid-season—which has happened several times,” Kevin said. Love hurts, right? We all know that everyone loves to be recognized for their accomplishments— even the dubious ones. “We have awards at the end of the season, like ‘Most Improved,’ ‘Best Kick,’ ‘Best Throw,’ ‘Best Capture,’” Kevin promised, “plus there’s fun awards like ‘Miss Congeniality,’ ‘Best Team Spirit,’ and the ‘Busted Gut’ award, which is the player who shows up every week just for the beer.” The reigning champ from kickball leagues of the past is always Chris Tong. (If there’s any future contenders, join VGL and see if you’ve got what it takes to beat him.) VGL has heightened awareness about social distancing. “People want to get out and socialize. While respecting COVID protocols and safety precautions, VGL follows the strictest COVID protocols. “All players must wear masks throughout the games. We’ve never had teammate to teammate or team to team transmission,” Kevin assured. 30
Find out more when you join the Facebook group ‘Varsity Gay League: Phoenix. “We’re always looking for new captains, because they’re really the stewards and the creators who create a culture where it’s very social. They often meet up outside of kickball and make lasting friendships,” Kevin said. Anyone want to start a VGL league in Phoenix? “VGL does more than kickball,” Will Hackner highlighted. “Nationwide there’s dodgeball, soccer, bowling, tennis, beach volleyball, indoor volleyball, darts, beer Olympics and other rec activities, too.” “People are having such a good time they want more, which is why we’re launching our Outdoor Dodgeball League soon,” Kevin announced. “We’ll play on tennis courts and basketball courts; it’s super fun to play outside and it’s still very safe because we remain socially distanced.” So kick it up a notch this spring with VGL Kickball Phoenix.
Pictured: (left) Kevin Bushaw (right) Mike Anglin
Regular Spring Season VGL Kickball Phoenix Join as now and pay $55. Late registration of $65. Sign up, and if you decide you it’s not for you a week before, you can get a full refund. Currently VGL Kickball Phoenix is playing at Chaparral Park in Scottsdale. When Phoenix Parks and Recreation re-opens their city parks, Encanto Park will be the home turf.
IMPORTANT: You must sign up in advance and go to Open Play on Sunday, March 21. Games are on Sunday mornings starting, March 28—May 23
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It’s A Sin Picture it. London. 1981. A bunch of plucky, happy go lucky kids with youth, ambition and (they hope) time on their side move in together. Unfortunately, the grim specter of AIDS moves in, too. This emotional, five-part series from the creator of Queer As Folk is a “must see” about a fading nightmare that should never be forgotten.
So My Grandma’s A Lesbian! Eva is about to be married. Her fiancé’s family is conservative while her own kin are quirky. Eva’s grandmother, Sofia, is about to be married, too … to Celia. It’s a cute, screwball comedy despite subplots bogging down the more interesting senior lesbian love story. Sofia’s heartwarming philosophy, “You have to live life fearlessly. It’s the only way to be happy,” is the lesson learned in this Spanish flick with English subtitles.
I Care A Lot Vicious Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) is the sinister (yet wickedly hot) lesbian grifter who feasts on the fortunes of the elderly with the help of her girlfriend in this neo-noir Hitchockian thriller. When these shady ladies tangle with wealthy senior Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest) and a Russian mafioso (Peter Dinklage) they fly over a cuckoo’s nest they didn’t bargain for. Netflix calls this a “comedy.” It isn’t. But it’s sure riveting.
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The Ex Factor: How to Forge a Friendship From a Bad Romance
orging a friendship from the extinguished flames of a formerly romantic relationship is no easy task, but shutting him, her or them out completely isn’t always necessary—especially if you’d both like to separate amicably and remain on good terms. We break up for lots of different reasons, but there’s often plenty in common that can keep us connected to each other in one capacity or another—you were once inseparable for a reason—even when love and sex are no longer part of the equation. Here’s how. Be honest with your ex about your intention and desire to become friends. You can say something like, “I really value your opinion, friendship, energy, sense of humor, point of view, and I would really like to be friends in some way”, or “We have too much history to not be friends,” or “You’re the only one who makes me LOL.” Don’t beat around the bush. Let them know what you’d like from them moving forward. If building a friendship is a mutual goal, move forward. If it’s onesided, however, move on. Give your ex (and possibly yourself) time to grieve the loss of what you had or expected the romantic relationship to be. It’s okay to be angry and express that anger as long as you express your anger in a healthy way. Refrain from saying anything hurtful. Keep angry statements to how you feel—“I” statements—and not about your ex being a bad person.
By Mikey Rox
“Being angry is part of the process,” says David Strah, a Los Angeles-based psychotherapist and author. “Bad things happen to good people. We don’t always understand why a relationship fizzles. But not understanding can lead to feeling helpless and angry. Sometimes it’s better to accept that we are disappointed and can’t control the outcome. Break plates, punch pillows, scream, take a MAR/APR 2021
boxing class—let out your anger in a healthy way.” Take responsibility for your part in the relationship ending. Taking ownership and responsibility can be healing for both you and your ex. You don’t have to rehash the past, but you can say things like, I feel badly about how I behaved, what I said, what I didn’t do, how I reacted, how things ended. This will help both of you move forward toward a positive, healthy relationship that leaves the past where it belongs. Ditch the blame game. Forgive your ex and forgive yourself for anything that you regret doing or that you believe was done to you. If you’re not completely over that trauma, it’s probably not wise to start a transition to friendship; resentment is not a solid foundation on which to begin. Show appreciation for your ex. Tell your ex how appreciative you are of them in both small and big ways. According to Strah, “Examples might include ‘I am really appreciative of all the fun vacations we had together,’ or ‘I really appreciate all the support you gave me when I was going through a rough time at work,’ or ‘I really appreciate your willingness to help.’ If you have an on-going relationship with your ex that involves pets, kids, or financial support or investments, it’s important to show your appreciation for the positive ways your ex shows up—as a good parent, responsible pet owner, or provider.”
there when you sense they need your support. But, like, not in a stalker-y kind of way. Don’t get all Fatal Attraction about it. Make an effort to do things with your ex. In the beginning, shorter visits together are usually better because there is less opportunity to fall into old patterns and start pointing fingers, Strah says. “If you enjoyed going to the movies or working out together, suggest you workout together or go to the movies,” he continues. “If your ex doesn’t want to get together, try calling or sending a text. Something like, ‘I want you to know that I’m thinking about you and care about you’ or ‘Thinking about you and hope you are having a great day’ can go a long way.” Speak to a therapist. Sometimes family and friends just can’t provide the support and clarity that a mental health professional can— especially if a break up necessitates significant and overwhelming changes in our lives.
Forgive your ex and forgive yourself
Be there emotionally for your ex. Let your ex know that you’re available in case of an emergency, if they ever need to talk, or need someone to walk or feed their pet on a busy day. Even better, don’t wait to get a call from your ex—just be
“Consider seeing a therapist to explore and identify negative behavioral patterns and negative, selflimiting beliefs, like trying to convince yourself that you’re not good enough to be in a relationship or that you’re unlovable—that are self-sabotaging and keeping you from being in a healthy, romantic relationship,” Strah concludes. “Don’t think of therapy as something you need to do to change, but rather an investment in yourself that will reward you 100 times over.” Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyroxtravels MAR/APR 2021
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Dearest Phoenix A Love Letter
submitted by Rodney Lofton
I hope this letter finds you well during these challenging times we face during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Along with you, many have had to adjust to the changes and challenges we have all faced. But I wanted to take a moment and reach out to you, Phoenix, and share some truly deep feelings I’m having about our relationship. It was only four years ago that I fell in love with the thought of being with you. I shared with my husband of entertaining the thought of making you a part of our lives. Fast forward two years later, my husband and I began the process of a new journey. The anticipation of running into your arms and embracing all aspects of you motivated me. I was reminded of the expansive nighttime sky and the beauty of the stars that illuminated throughout the valley. I welcomed the warmth of your summer evenings, the dry heat caressing our bodies as day made way for night. It was upon our arrival that the love affair began to wane. But I was finally here with you and there would be other opportunities, possibilities, where I could show you the very best of me. 54
Coming from a community where racism is steeped in its history, you, dear Phoenix continued to remind me of the sometimes subtle and blatant racism that is pervasive across this country. I am Black, gay and HIV positive. In some form, I am reminded every day that I am Black. During this love affair with you, we have seen racial unrest across the country, and it heightens the fears of being with you. I go through this anxiety every day. My greatest success, unfortunately, is making it to and from work every day and safely home. As if the challenge of being Black was not enough, finding a sense of “community” within the greater LGBTQ community here has been equally challenging. It is challenging to walk into a room of fellow community members and you are the only one that looks like you. You are expected to speak for all “folks of color,” as if all of our experiences are the same. And as I write this love letter to you, I am hopeful. Like the mythological story of “Pandora’s Box,” I hold onto the hope that remained after the other societal ills were released. I hold onto the hope that you will embrace me, as I have embraced you. I long for you to see what is in my heart and so that hopefully we can share this journey together. I will not give up on you!
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Friendly bars, clubs & restaurants: PHOENIX METRO
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thunderbirdloungephx 710 W Montecito Ave.
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xpect a trippy month of transformation. March 20 at 2:37 a.m. Arizona time heralds the Vernal Equinox and spring begins. This spark will ignite our dreams, so get ready. March 20 the Sun aligns with elusive Neptune, who takes a deep dive into our subconscious, bombarding us with delusions, brainwashing, and other freaky stuff. The zany planet also encourages faith in the unknown and compassion. Neptune also offers glamour, seduction and fantasy. It’s often about image, not reality with this guy. Refine your communication and listening skills. You hear? The stars are waiting for your answer. ARIES Mar. 21 - Apr. 20 Cosmic energy is making you feel paranoid. Relax. Nobody’s talking about you behind your back. Really. Birthday babies will glow when Venus boosts your charm, aligning with the Sun and you’ll vibe with your tribe. Step into power, but be nice to everyone who helped you along the way. TAURUS April. 21 - May 20 This is a perfect time to share ideas. It’s all about creativity and unity for you. Mercury meets Jupiter this month and suddenly you’ve got big news to share. Just don’t exaggerate. Well, not too much. GEMINI May 21 - June 21 There’s a whole of “you” in the stars these days. The Sun, the New Moon, along with Neptune and Venus trot out awards and accolades for you. Expect a creative project to pay off. Tell the truth: is it an OnlyFans page? CANCER June 22 - July 22 Hone your psychic boundaries and release your crab-like grip on things beyond your control. Quit dwelling to things that happened in the past, like that time you got crabs. Remember? 62
LEO July 23 - Aug. 22 You’ve been dreaming a lot; now you decide to take action. The New Moon on the 13th points to a lifestyle change. You confront a sticky situation with someone. Maybe with an old trick? VIRGO Aug. 23 - Sep. 22 You’ve got some sorting out to do with career, family, friends, and (ugh!) finances. Your sheer determination, momentum, and style give you superhero abilities to get shit done! LIBRA Sep. 23 - Oct. 22 It’s all about gratitude. Feeling overwhelmed? Do one thing at a time. Someone from your past who hurt you looks for your forgiveness. Do you? Hell, no! They don’t deserve it. This is your karmic vindication. SCORPIO Oct. 23 - Nov.23 Astral combinations benefit you. Well, Mercury is problematic, but what else is new? The last half of the month the stars will exploit your natural charisma and dynamic personality. SAGITTARIUS Nov. 23 - Dec. 23 Venus starts mingling with Uranus and things get a little exhilarating. Expect your daily routine to have an extra pizazz to keep you on your toes. Expect a celebration of … something. CAPRICORN Dec. 23 - Jan. 20 Expect a lot. A lot of everything, frankly. Socializing (at a safe distance), getting involved, maybe even a little nookie. It’s all a little excessive. But it’s all fabulous! You can thank Mars. AQUARIUS Jan. 21 - Feb. 19 Venus showers you with abundance. This makes you horny. Really horny. Don’t hold back with your copious affection. Ask for love if you have to. Nobody has time for games, child. PISCES Feb. 20 - Mar. 20 Intuition blends with reason. Examine your budget and streamline expenses. Birthday fishies get a burst of energy and domesticity as you build the life of your dreams! Oh. And clean the house.
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The Mar/Apr 2021 Issue of Ion Arizona Magazine Featuring The VGL Kickball Spring League.