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CONTENTS JUNE 6, 2018 VOL42 NO5
20 HOW INCLUSIVE IS PRIDEFEST? 22 SISTERS DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES: PULSE QUEENS REBUILD IN DENVER, STRONGER THAN EVER 28 THE GAY JOYS OF AGING 30 WHERE THE WOMEN AT? A LOOK AT WOMEN-LED PRIDE EVENTS 36 YAYSH AFFIRMS WOMEN AND SEXUALITY WITH HER RAPS 40 DANCE TO THE BEATS OF DJ BARRY HARRIS 42
CRYSTAL WATERS CELEBRATES ANOTHER PRIDE WITH HER TRIBE
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SERVING THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS SINCE 1976 PHONE 303-477-4000 FAX 303-325-2642 WEB OutFrontMagazine.com FACEBOOK /OutFrontColorado TWITTER @OutFrontCO INSTAGRAM /OutFrontColorado FOUNDER PHIL PRICE 1954-1993 ADMINISTRATION firstname.lastname@example.org JERRY CUNNINGHAM Publisher J.C. MCDONALD Vice President MAGGIE PHILLIPS Operations Manager JEFF JACKSON SWAIM Chief Strategist EDITORIAL email@example.com RYAN HOWE Editor ADDISON HERRON-WHEELER Associate Editor SARAH FARBMAN Copy Editor BRENT HEINZE Senior Columnist INTERNS: Arianna Balderamma, Kate Dooley, Madeline Espinoza WRITERS: Yvonne Wright, Rick Kitzman, Alysha Prieto, Denny Patterson, DavidElijah Nahmod, Veronica Holyfield, Caitlin Galiz-Rowe, Lacy Bursick, Sean Gonzalez, Spencer Korey Duncan, Mike Yost ART firstname.lastname@example.org DESIGN2PRO Graphic Designer COVER: Photography by Charles Broshous, Mike Bomberger, Bread + Milk, Anna McCree Photography Model Christian Vasquez CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS Charles Brohous, Jeremiah Corder MARKETING + SALES email@example.com HARRISON SCHAFFER Director of Sales & Marketing BRENNAN GALLAGHER Marketing Executive QUINCEY ROISUM Marketing Executive National Advertising Rivendell Media 212-242-6863 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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COPYRIGHT & LIMIT OF LIABILITY
Reproduction of editorial, photographic or advertising content without written consent of the publisher is strictly prohibited. Advertisers are responsible for securing rights to any copyrighted material within their advertisements. Publisher assumes no responsibility for the claims of advertisers and reserves the right to reject any advertising. Publication of the name or photograph of any person or organization in articles or advertising is not to be considered an indication of the sexual orientation or HIV status of such person or organization. Publisher assumes no responsibility for the loss or damage of materials submitted. OPINIONS EXPRESSED are not necessarily those of OUT FRONT, its staff, or advertisers.
RESERVATION OF RIGHTS
Q Publishing Group, LTD is the owner of all right, title, and interest in the OUT FRONT brand and logo. No person or entity may reproduce or use (or authorize the reproduction or use of) the OUT FRONT brand and logo in any manner other than expressly authorized by Q Publishing Group. Unauthorized use of the OUT FRONT brand and logo is strictly prohibited. OUT FRONT is published by Q Publishing, Ltd., a Colorado corporation and is a member of: NEPA, Denver Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and Denver Drama Critics Circle.
WHAT WE FEEL, FOR YOU TO READ
FROM THE EDITOR
THE MEANING OF PRIDE Pride is becoming a little like queer Christmas. Every time the season rolls around, everyone breaks out the rainbows, the flags in every color combination to represent all the identities of the rainbow. Events are planned, parties are thrown, drinks are had, and the perfect Pride outfits are thrown together.
individual person and his, her, or their identity, and also the community as a whole. This is why it has been so important for those besides just gay and lesbian folks to get involved and show their Pride as well. Part of the reason the event is growing in popularity is because a lot more people are taking part.
Usually in June, but really all throughout the summer months, cities and towns everywhere are painted rainbow. This doesn’t just happen through a lot of volunteer activities, but also by a lot of businesses and organizations collaborating and making Pride happen.
In this tense political time, with so many threats facing queer people, this sense of unity is even more important. Having a special time set aside to honor and recognize how far LGBTQ people have come, and how much togetherness we have, is essential. There may be a lot of dark clouds on the horizon when it comes to queer rights, but that is exactly what makes Pride so important.
For queer businesses like OUT FRONT, Pride is becoming a lot like the retail season that starts in November. Instead of one week or weekend of festivities, there are weeks and weeks of planning to be done, events to be set up, and organizations to be interviewed. Putting on Pride, and coming out with this magazine, takes a lot of effort. But, also much like Christmas, in all this excitement and color, or the hustle and bustle of working during Pride, it’s easy to get lost in the money to be made, fun to be had, drinks to be poured, and parties to be attended. It’s easy to forget the true meaning of Pride. Pride means a lot of things to a lot of different people, but above all, it’s about owning who you are, coming out and showing it, and demanding respect. It’s not a selfish thing, though. It’s also about sharing that sense of self-respect with everyone else out there, both honoring each
By Addison Herron-Wheeler
So, while Pride may be a commercialized holiday now, and while there may be a lot of planning, or partying, to do in conjunction with this holiday, Pride is important. And it’s not about the money made during Pride season, or the outfits or events or Pride swag given out and bought. It’s about the love and community everyone feels, the way people connect, the rights we have won, and the struggles still yet to be faced. This year, don’t just focus on going out or looking your best, and do more than march, attend PrideFest, or go to a party. Do something to help another queer person, or talk to a family member or friend about your identity. Pride may be growing in popularity and commercial appeal each year, but the spirit is the same. And regardless of your feelings about how Pride is celebrated, it’s a spirit worth saving.
Being sure is
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TRUMPDATE: LGBTQ Rights Under Fire
Removes Transgender Student Rights
By Yvonne Wright While there is much to celebrate this Pride season, there is also much to fear. Pride began as a political movement to fight for LGBTQ rights. We’ve come a long way since that first Pride in 1970. We can legally marry. We can adopt children. And more people than ever are visibly queer. But make no mistake. These rights are under attack. Since taking office, President Donald Trump has appointed many judges and cabinet leaders who are anti-LGBTQ. He’s removed discrimination protections in health, employment, housing, data-collecting, and public accommodation. The following is a timeline of what many are calling an unprecedented modern-day attack on our community:
Transgender Rights Revoked in Employment and Housing
License to Discriminate? 02/22
The Justice Department withdraws federal protections for transgender students. The Obama-era guidelines allowed students to use bathrooms and facilities corresponding with their genders. Despite several setbacks the ACLU continues to challenge this in court.
Call for Transgender Military Ban
Removes LGBTQ Data Collecting
LGBTQ people begin to be removed from data collecting. This information is used to identify and track issues and needs. Data collection and guidelines for LGBTQ youth are withdrawln. Then surveys of our nation’s elderly stopped identifying LGBTQ members. Finally, the LGBTQ community was removed from the 2020 Census Bureau data. In the past, this data uncovered information like the fact that LGBTQ people have higher rates of poverty, homelessness, suicide, and sexual assault than the general population.
In a series of tweets, the president calls for a ban on all transgender people serving in the armed forces. This includes the 15,000 transgender men and women already serving. Federal judges later block the motion, calling it unconstitutional.
A Department of Justice memo announces the Trump administration is reversing an Obama-era ruling that found the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protected transgender individuals from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation.
Jokes About Hanging LGBTQ People
“No LGBTQ People Allowed” Signs 10/16
In The New Yorker, Trump jokes that Vice President Mike Pence wants to hang LGBTQ People. Pence has spent his career attacking the LGBTQ community in Congress, in the Governor’s Mansion, and now in the White House.
Trump signs a religious liberty 2017 executive order the Human Rights Campaign calls a “sweeping license to discriminate.” It offers to protect religious people, associations, and institutions from federal government interference. An earlier draft reportedly specified federal contractors could refuse to hire LGBTQ employees. That did not make it into the final draft. Still, the language is vague enough, it could allow discrimination based on religious belief.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders admits that Trump agrees businesses should be allowed to hang signs that say they won’t serve LGBTQ customers. His solicitor general articulated this position before the Supreme Court during arguments in Colorado’s Masterpiece Cakeshop case.
Proposal to Remove Transgender Healthcare Coverage
Prison Protections for Transgender Convicts Rescinded
The health secretary tells a federal court he is reworking an Obama provision that requires states to cover transgender care through their Medicaid Programs. In the meantime, the administration says it will not enforce the law. Several states respond by refusing to pay for sex-confirming medical care. Colorado is not among them.
Transgender Soldiers Trampled Again
Allowing Healthcare Workers to Refuse Care
The Trump administration launches a new branch of the Department of Health called the “Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom.” It is part of a multi-pronged approach to allow healthcare workers to refuse services to LGBTQ people based on religious beliefs. Later, an International Religious Freedom Ambassador is appointed, the U.S. senate introduces a “Religious Freedom” bill, and a campaign begins around the country to introduce local “Religious Freedom” bills. Colorado’s bill is rejected.
Testifying before Congress, Housing Secretary Ben Carson admits delaying resources to LGBTQ people in homeless shelters. HUD removed training materials to prevent LGBTQ discrimination. This becomes the center of a lawsuit later filed against the Trump administration demanding the release of documents concerning reported changes in federal policy toward LGBTQ people, according to a statement by the group suing.
The word “Transgender” is Banned from CDC
The Bureau of Prisons is told to use biological sex as the “initial determination” for housing designation. This means transgender women can again be housed with men. Transgender inmates face the highest rate of sexual assault. The Obama administration put policies in place to try and stop this. President Trump ordered those policies removed. This also means inmates may no longer receive hormone therapy or other gender-confirming medical care.
Unable to ban transgender soldiers from the military, the White House says the Pentagon could require soldiers to serve under the gender of their birth. LGBTQ rights activists vow to fight this.
Resources Denied to LGBTQ Homeless
“Transgender” is one of the seven words the Centers for Disease Control is no longer allowed to use in its research or public information. Trump bans the nation's leading public health agency from using the words “transgender,” “diversity,” “sciencebased,” “evidence-based,” “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” and “fetus.”
Trump Guts Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS
Trump fires the remaining 10 members of the council, following the six members who resigned in June in protest of Trump’s health policies. The commission has been in place for 27 years and has advised both democrat and republican presidents. No new members have been announced. There is still no word if the council will be officially eliminated.
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Peak Digital Marketing Helps You Come NATIVE CONTENT Out of the Internet Closet There’s no denying that the internet has officially taken over how we do things. It has changed the way we communicate, retrieve news, sell products, and even present ourselves to the world. While many of us use the worldwide web to socially scroll through friend’s life updates, or shop for a new loofah shaped like a turtle, some of us need the internet to help grow our business or personal brand. That’s where Peak Digital Marketing comes in. “We really help people ‘come out of the closet’ on the web,” owner David Finberg said. “We sit down and figure out what it is you are trying to do, and who you are trying to reach, and we help you build that and then push you into the right markets.” It’s a comprehensive journey that Peak goes on with their clients. By understanding your unique needs, they can help build a custom roadmap to help you burst out of that closet door. They help with website design, logo design, branding, and even social media, while working on SEO and managing ads across targeted networks. “Our mantra is to ‘make the web a better place,’” Finberg said. “The enjoyment we get out of helping people on their journey is what sets Peak apart from everyone else. Everyone has a
different ‘coming out’ experience, and we all had those few people who helped us through it. That’s what we do with our customers.” It’s that commitment that Peak offers to each and every client. The web is always evolving, and it is often hard for business owners to keep up with the internet’s fast pace. But Finberg and the team at Peak are quick on their feet. Not only do they keep up-to-date on trends and SEO optimization, they will tackle any problems with a fast turnaround rate. Andrew Kwan at Prairie Debut, a client, said this about Peak: “Thank you Peak Digital Marketing for providing our organization a personalized, yet professional, service. Your expertise filled the perfect niche for Prairie Debut by getting our word out and helping share our story to new followers and new audiences out in the digital world. In these times of instantaneous news, you are quick to respond to our needs and ensure that our information and activities get out.” Peak is here to help you come out of that internet closet. They’ll hold your hand the whole way, and make sure that your business is visible in the right markets. “When you thrive, we thrive,” Finberg said.
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By Yvonne Wright
TRANSGENDER HEALTHCARE CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE “I
f there was a correction for diabetes, would you not correct it? This is real. The pain is real.”
Rebecca Mills is one of the thousands of transgender Coloradans caught in a crossfire. While President Trump works to roll back Obama-era healthcare gains, Colorado is at work becoming a regional base for sex-affirming medical care. Mills said she will be among the first transgender women to undergo vaginoplasty at Denver Health, a “bottom” surgery the hospital began offering in May. She can afford it because Obamacare requires Medicaid to cover doctor-recommended medical transitions. Right now, the Trump administration is working to change that. If you’re one of the people questioning whether genital reconstruction surgery should be covered by Medicaid, consider this. Forty percent of transgender adults report attempting suicide at least once in their lifetime. That’s nearly half of the entire community. It’s nine times higher than the general population. The figures are mind boggling. And they speak volumes about the need for a supportive community. The surgery, Mills said, will finally put all the pieces of her long and difficult
struggle together. “All my life I tried to run from this.” She said she tried to run by becoming competitive. She thought if she excelled in traditionally masculine areas, no one would know who she really was. At 17 years old, the Colorado native got her pilot’s license. She became a flight trainer in college, and was a Lear Jet captain by the time she was 23. Mills will turn 42 in July. She hopes to celebrate her birthday fully transitioned. “I circled the globe seven times and I was just miserable,” she said. “Now I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life... I will finally have that last little piece that makes me feel whole.” Like most transgender individuals, her road to happiness was not easy. In deciding to transition, she lost her job and not one, but two, families. She said when she came out, her birth mother no longer wanted anything to do with her. Her adoptive family then rejected her, too. “They prayed for four years for a blueeyed, blonde-haired boy. I could only be two-thirds of that,” Mills’ voice cracked as she explained how good her family was to her growing up. Then everything changed. “My father told me specifically ‘not in this house.’ I love them. I miss them greatly.”
Now, with Medicaid benefits in place, she is ready to step into her future. Last month, Denver Health became the first hospital in Colorado to offer vaginoplasty surgeries. “Denver Health has a number of surgeons working to improve access to gender confirmation surgeries for our transgender and non-binary patients,” said Kari Kuki, the administrative director of their new LGBT Center of Excellence. Dr. Marci Bowers took over the nation’s first genital reconstruction clinic in Trinidad, Colorado between 2003 and 2010, before moving to Los Angeles. She came back to Colorado to train surgeons in the male-to-female “bottom” surgery procedure. “Denver Health will be the only hospital in Colorado and surrounding states offering these services,” Kuku said. When Sable Schultz began her medical transition in 2015, there were no laws requiring insurance companies to pay for sex-affirming medical care. “Insurance didn’t cover hormones. It didn’t cover anything. At that time people often had to leave the state, or even the country, to get care,” she said. OUTFRONTMAGAZINE.COM
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Determined not to see the clock turned back, Schultz is now the transgender program manager at Denver’s GLBT Center. “Trump is saying we can treat people differently because of their gender. I don’t think that’s a value Americans have pushed for,” she said. For now, Colorado does have some protections in place. Any insurance company that works with the Colorado Health Exchange must cover most transgender medical care. But, Shultz points out, “there’s still concerns about private employers based outside of Colorado.” She is also worried about Trump’s push to institute new “religious freedom” guidelines that would allow any doctor to refuse care to transgender patients based on religious beliefs. “In the past,” Schultz said, “transgender people have been denied basic medical care, even for colds or flues.” One Colorado is about to embark on an updated, comprehensive look at healthcare disparity. Their last review found transgender people experienced discrimination in healthcare more than
any other arena—including housing and employment. Further research into figures from the Centers for Disease Control found that fear of discrimination led to some serious delays in seeking healthcare— even for minor health issues. People reported being afraid to tell their doctors they were transgender. Programs in Colorado are working overtime to ensure people feel welcome and receive the care they need. Schultz said people from the region are coming to Denver for medical care they can’t get in Kansas, Oklahoma, Montana, or Wyoming. “Providing a full range [of healthcare] helps transgender individuals have more productive lives and lowers the cost of healthcare long-term,” she said. Schultz also pointed out surgery is often necessary to update legal documents. But, more importantly, she emphasized the need to provide life-affirming medical care. “Every person deserves to be recognized for the complex, amazing human beings they are.”
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New Sex-Positive Medical Clinic is Here for All of Us Going to the doctor regularly is essential for sexual health, but it can also be one of the hardest things to do. Often, those wanting to stay safe and take care of themselves end up neglecting their health because of the stigma and shame associated with sex-related doctors visits. At Colorado Health Network’s new sex-positive health clinic, that doesn’t need to be a worry, and health can be first priority. At this new clinic, set to open soon at the Colorado Health Network’s East Colfax location, the patient and their needs are the focus. This new location will offer PrEP for HIV prevention, nPEP (NonOccupational Post-Exposure Prophylaxis), HIV/AIDS care, and Hepatitis C care. There is no shame in getting help for sexually transmitted diseases, or being proactive in preventing contraction or spreading diseases to others. In fact, it’s responsible to tend to this kind of health when sexually active. The sex-positive clinic will make you feel welcome and able to discuss your needs and get the treatment you want. “The opening of the CHN medical clinic is an exciting step that completes the organization’s transition to a health services organization serving people living with HIV and other health conditions,” said 1 8 \\ J U N E 6 , 2 0 1 8
Colorado Health Network CEO Darrell Vigil. Colorado Health Network’s location on East Colfax Avenue provides a one-stop-shop for clients and patients seeking services ranging from case management and supportive services to oral health care and medical services.” In addition to making it easy for sexually active folks to get great healthcare, the clinic will go out of its way to be inclusive to all. Transgender and gender nonconforming people will feel at home here, as providers at the clinic will be specially versed in how to treat those who are outside of the cisgender margins. All these services are already huge for the community, but there’s more. The clinic will also offer primary care for those who are LGBTQ and more comfortable in a queerfriendly clinic, or for anyone who wants to get care there. They will also offer mental health and substance use counseling for those who need it, and medical case management. This will be a safe space for anyone looking for help. Thanks to the new sexpositive health clinic though the Colorado Health Network, sexual health and personalized, attentive care will be possible for those who need it. Look for the clinic to open sometime in the next few months.
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Photo by Charles Broshous
By Kate Dooley
ride season is here, and that means it’s time to show some love to some groups within the community that might get overlooked through all the madness at Civic Center Park.
Every June since 1976, queer individuals have flocked to downtown Denver to sport rainbow colors, leather, and glitter. In the midst of this two-day celebration there’s partying, performances, and the seventh-largest parade within the United States. While inclusion is meant to be at the epicenter of the rally, after nearly five decades since the first festival in New York, festivals have become more and more profitable for big-name sponsors. This year Denver PrideFest’s benefactors include Coors Light, Xfinity, Walmart, and Wells Fargo—among many others. And this speaks to other Pride festivities that will take place
across the nation throughout the upcoming months, such as New York City’s Pride, which hosts more than two million people, and has corporations like Target, Nordstrom, and Macy’s funding various events. With huge companies such as these, there comes inevitable competition for smaller, lessknown organizations to cater to their community during Pride. Denver’s festival has included some advantages for non-profit organizations to compete with national sponsors. For the Coors Light Parade, the corporate entry costs are nearly double compared to the non-profit organizations, with for-profit organizations landing in between these prices. Despite this, local groups within the community still have faced difficulties participating in this year’s events. This includes Colorado Ace Space, a Denver group for anyone who identifies along the asexuality spectrum (asexual, grey-asexual, demisexual, etc.) and friends and allies.
“The parade, as well as any materials, require a sizeable fee, so we won’t be participating in either of those,” Ace told OUT FRONT. “We would love to be able to do a booth, but it’s too expensive, unfortunately.” Additionally, on top of the entry payment, the parade charges another distribution fee. And as these different payments continue to accumulate, local groups are burdened with having to raise money to create supplies and then pay extra for involvement. The festival’s site redirects protest or demonstration activities to the free-speech zone near Broadway Street and 14th Avenue, but for groups unable to afford spaces within the festival, this means leaving the grounds in order to highlight their visibility. Another Denver-based organization, PAVES, was founded after becoming frustrated with PrideFest in 2015. Through outreach and awareness campaigns, the group ensures individuals that they are not forgotten by adding visibility and support for polysexual (bisexual, pansexual, etc.) people. The president, Codi Coday, said, “There was absolutely no representation of bisexual colors, no floats representing bisexuality, and nothing being sold for bisexual awareness… I asked a vendor if they had bisexual shirts because all I saw were lesbian, gay, and trans pride shirts. The vendor actually got angry and cursed at me for asking.” In a lot of ways, Pride has become mainstream—and unfortunately this has worked to erase some groups within the process. The movement behind Pride began as an incitement to action on behalf of the LGBTQ community: for equal rights and for an end to the violence after the Stonewall Riots. But today, the PrideFest that so many queer Coloradans have held dear to their hearts has become less of a political statement and more of a space for overpriced queer memorabilia. “There was more representation for straight allies then there was bisexuality. Even communities who are not fighting for rights or exclusive to the LGBT community were represented, like the leather or BDSM community. The only acknowledgment of bisexual existence in Denver Pride was the “B” in LGBT,” Coday said. What does it say that a festival that was meant to be about getting people’s voices heard now excludes some communities from participation through financial barriers? And how can we show love for all queers at PrideFest if there’s little to no representation for local groups that are vital to the Colorado LGBTQ framework?
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Luckily, admission to the festival is still free—but as the events continue to gather corporate sponsors it may become difficult for people within the LGBTQ community and their allies to be an active part of. This year, among the craziness of the celebration, make sure to give attention and support to the groups that may seem at the fringe of the festival, or find a way to support your community by hand-making t-shirts and signs, or just interacting with everyone at the event. Corporate sponsors may not scream inclusivity, but we can.
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Themselves: Sisters Doing it for
Pulse Queens Rebuild in Denver, Stronger than Ever By Addison Herron Wheeler
Photos By Anna McCree Photograph and Bread + Milk
mages of the Pulse shooting victims flash across the screen, and a lone queen in a gold, sequined dress walks on stage. As the music picks up, she lipsyncs her heart out to Rihanna’s “Stay.” For the first time in Denver, Karma Kouture is showing the audience all her love, all her pain, all her sorrow. And they know instinctively that this queen knows more about Pulse than can be found in news reports or videos or social posts. She feels the pain of the people that night at Pulse. Specifically, the name and face of one of the victims, Stanley Almodovar, is highlighted on the screen. In addition to images from the news, she plays a personal voicemail from Almodovar, left to someone close to him just before he went to Pulse on that fateful night. There is love in his voice, a little concern, and a note of expectancy about the future. Then, the music changes to Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” as stars and beautiful landscapes flit across the screen. Karma perfectly conveys the message that each life is precious, and she chooses to love and embrace every moment of the life she has. As the song ends, an #OrlandoStrong banner flashes on the screen behind her. In that moment, she is Pulse. “I don’t think when I first meet someone I’m like, ‘Hi, I’m Karma from Pulse,’ but I had an amazing opportunity this season during Ultimate Queen All Stars to touch on it,” Karma, street name Derrian, explained regarding this performance. “We had the chance to do a Pulse tribute; we had a slideshow including everyone that passed, played Stanley's voicemail, performed one of his favorite songs. That made me so much closer to Denver, because at that point it wasn’t me having to introduce myself.” Karma Kouture and her drag sister, Kahlea, weren’t at Pulse when the shooting happened, but they got their start as queens, and as out, visible people in the LGBTQ community, at Pulse. Kahlea lost Stanley, her former partner, to the shooting, someone both sisters were close to, and together, they lost a lot of close friends. Although they aren’t actually related, and they only identify as women in drag
form, Karma and Kaleah are definitely sisters. The two got into drag together and supported each other, so much so that they took the same drag last name—Kouture. They cut their teeth in the same scene, and then experienced the ultimate test of sisterhood; they went through a horrible tragedy together, helped each other through it, and ultimately relocated to Denver together.
A Vibrant Community The two got their start as queens performing at Pulse's weekly Twisted Tuesdays open mic drag competition.
Like many queens, they started out just pulling different looks that emulated established queens, trying to get noticed. “I think Pulse was such a big family,” explained Karma. “On any given night, there was something going on. You might go to other clubs, but Pulse was such a family atmosphere; there were different nights, but one core group of entertainers.” Around the same time the queens started going to Pulse, they also both came out to their families at home. Since this was their first time out and in the world as gay men, Pulse's queens became a family to the sisters. OUTFRONTMAGAZINE.COM
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“I really appreciated the heavy hitters, how welcoming they were to us as far as being baby queens,” added Kahlea Kutoure, known by day as Don. The sisters were well-respected in the drag world at Pulse, happily greeted by queens who accepted them with open arms, and talked to them every time they passed at shows or in the dressing room. Drag helped them foster a sense of community with those they looked up to, and with each other. The very first night the sisters performed at Pulse, Karma won the Twisted Tuesdays competition. From then on, every Tuesday, the two were at Pulse. They got to know Axle Andrews, who hosted the night, and met a lot of other queens they looked to in the community. Karma recounted how the two were able to “be young and gay and in drag,” experiencing a sense of liberation the sisters hadn’t found before. Although they may have been baby queens when they started performing at Pulse, they quickly grew into a sense of style and grace as they gained more and more experience performing.
Tragedy Strikes On June 12, 2016, the unthinkable happened. Both Karma and Kahlea had left Orlando. Karma was already in Denver after a stint working on a cruise line, and Kahlea had temporarily moved back to Houston. Karma was trying to start a new life in a new city, and Kahlea was trying to plan the next move. Then, Pulse happened, shaking up both of their worlds. When Kahlea first found out about the shooting, it was from 3 a.m. phone calls about how her recent ex, Stanley, whom she was still very attached to, was involved in a shooting. Confused, Kahlea at first thought her ex was perhaps involved in a fight at the club. Then, details started coming in. “People were sending me links to what was going on, and I was like OK, he was at a club where there was a shooting, and I was getting more and more info as far as what it was, that it was an attack. I was getting a little bit more scared, but
I was also thinking, ‘No, he’s fine; he’s good; he’s good,’ until finally I was told he was one of the first four who passed.” Karma didn’t lose a lover, but she lost plenty of close friends. Like Kahlea, at first she couldn’t believe what she was reading online and assumed that a fight or something else fairly minor had broken out at Pulse. “I was going through my facebook and saw there was a shooting at Pulse, and immediately you don’t think a massacre; maybe someone got shot; someone got mad; there was a fight; that’s not uncommon. But, as I was continuing to scroll, people were like ‘Have you seen so and so; has anyone heard from this person.' So, at this point, I was like, ‘This is a little bigger than a club shooting; something big is going on.’ Going back and forth between her boy page and drag page, Karma saw a feed full of news articles on one, personal pleas for missing queens and friends in the scene on the other. Instinctively, once they heard the news, the two ended up on the phone together, having a moment for those they had lost. Once they heard the final reports of numbers, and were able to speak to the survivors who were there that night, they realized how truly horrifying it was. “A lot of the survivors went into a dressing room and hid behind the clothes,” Kahlea explained. “The shooter went in and saw there was no one there, looked in the
door and then closed it and left. There were actually a ton of people hiding behind the drag clothes. They were the people who communicated with the police in order for them to bust the shooting.” In addition to processing the horror of losing friends and loved ones, the two had the jarring revelation that if they had still been living in town, if they had been in Orlando on that night, they probably would have ended up at Pulse. Kahlea admitted that she had to dig into Almodovar’s timeline, retrace his steps. She found out that he was supposed to meet a group of friends there, but almost everyone ended up flaking or making different plans. Still, Almodovar showed up that night, presumably because he just wanted to hear Salsa and dance. Apparently, he also left the club ten minutes before the shooting, but then went back in to say hello to a friend and take a shot. Almodovar was still inside the building when the shooter struck.
Picking Up the Pieces in Denver Shortly after losing his ex in the shooting, Kahlea moved to Denver to join Karma and start a life in the Rockies. “I moved here and I started the Ultimate Queen competition about a year after I first got here,” explained Karma. “I learned so much, because in Orlando we didn’t really have an aesthetic; we wanted to look like this person, liked the way this person does this, so when I started Ultimate Queen it really forced me to not have these idols and find me as a performer, to find an aesthetic, how I look and act and dress. It really shaped me as a performer; it shaped me as a queen.”
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Never Again Now, the two live life a little harder, a little more passionately. Kahlea pursues a musical career when in boy form as well and has been much more moved to work on music now that life feels more precious. They both push the envelope when it comes to drag and take their careers seriously. They also both have strong opinions on safety now. For the sisters, that means appreciating police presence and pushing for gun control. Now, when the two hear the voice of a police officer at a club, see the flashing lights, hear a police radio, or see cops posted at the door of an event, instead of feeling anxious, they feel grateful. While they realize this may not be the same experience other people have, they are thankful for the protections afforded them by police.
Denver caused both queens to get outside their comfort zones and try new aesthetics, and they were suddenly experiencing a whole new world of competition. Instead of just vying to be the prettiest girl or the fishiest queen, they were introduced to a city full of queens with differing aesthetics.
Kahlea explained. “It happened; it sucks that it happened, but they died for us. I don’t think people really understand unless they were in it and got to see what happened after it. If you heard the crazy things that were happening for the people that were involved. It was insane.”
“Orlando taught us how to conduct ourselves, Karma acknowledged. “It’s so much about professionalism; so many hosts in Orlando are your more polished queens, but here you have someone who is a baby drag queen and they are hosting. To have that humbleness is why we’ve been so successful in Denver; moving here and being a resident places, hosting nights, all that stuff is dope.”
“I remember there being tributes here when it happened, but thinking no one here can fully understand what I’m going through, what my sister is going through,” Karma added. “Now Denver has a connection to Pulse, to Florida, and I think that’s what’s shaping us.”
Remembering Pulse In spite of the happiness they’ve found here, the two will never be able to forget what happened at Pulse, and they now carry that bagage everywhere. Although the sisters don’t wallow in it, they also want to be sure never to take their lives for granted, and never to forget. “We definitely don’t just bring it up, but I can say I do love talking about it because I can let them all know they died for us,”
“I don’t really know about digging into gun control, but I think when you look into other countries that have stricter laws, like you get interviewed, take a psychological test, get interviewed again, take a test on the gun, I think you need to make it harder for people to have a gun, make sure they are sane, and using it for something, either sport or house protection, make sure they are psychologically there,” Karma explained. While their futures as entertainers aren’t set in stone, two things are for sure: their sisterhood, and their newfound appreciation for all that life has to offer.
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Aging by Rick Kitzman
The Gay Joys of
a reine est morte!
I grieve for Eric Engles, queen extraordinaire. My dancing buddy from our gay-glorious days in 70s/80s New York tripped his last light-fantastic on May 9. Eric was blessed and cursed with a plethora of idiosyncrasies: utter disdain for authority, numerous addictions, steadfast loyalty, and uncommon generosity. His sense of humor—rapidfire, salacious, low, or highbrowed—was peerless. Fueled by world travel and voracious reading, his brilliant intellect— caustic, swift, merciless, cruel—cut hypocrisy to the quick, and could pivot upon you in a fiery flash. A debate was like a barbecue: opponents skewered, grilled, burned. Eric embodied the personas of court jester, fishwife, a debauched Catholic cardinal, a heretic destined for burning at the stake. Perhaps “Ding dong, the witch is dead” is a more accurate epitaph. Witch or queen, wherever Eric’s soul lounges,
I have no doubt my dear friend is claiming the Oz reference, stoically amused, the regal reference, his due. Pride fests loom worldwide, and thankfully, I can celebrate another year of gay joys. As denizens of Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, and Villages East and West, Eric and I marched down Fifth Avenue for many Gay Pride Parades, two Colorado boys discovering and experiencing life as gay men. My friend’s death has accentuated my gratitude. I live a fabulous life! That declaration did not occur easily. Fears of coming out of my closet festered into a painful desire to be someone I was not: straight, athletic, smarter, richer, prettier, taller. But oh, those relentless urges to express the real me conquered my fears until all I desired was to be gay. (Taller? Really?) I cannot thank God enough for my rich life, all the gay men and women I met along the way, and myself for the courage to be who I am. We do not grow unaided, and we do not give ourselves enough credit for our courage to be authentic.
Eric and I made it to our 60s, no mean feat considering we survived the AIDS plague. Last year, I turned 64, and during a musical segue on NPR (where else?) I heard the jaunty ditty “When I’m 64” by The Beatles. I smiled because I had reached the countdown to zero calculated with junior high buddies in 1967, the year of the song’s release. We goofy teenage boys were 14, joked and giggled about, well, everything, imagining the year 2017: flying cars, moon colonies, time travel, SEX! Our futures promised endless tomorrows. Old age was inconceivable. During the plague years I had wondered not about WHEN I’m 64, but IF I’d ever be 64, hell, 34. AIDS smashed the gay world into a billion splinters. Shame, stigma, and death shadowed its shibboleths: sex, drugs, dancing, disco, fashion, theatre, the gym. Their excitement and pleasure mutated into shallow clichés. Perhaps they already were, but Eric and I were having too much fun to notice. Those who have experienced the ineffable joy of dancing with our tribe know what I mean. It’s a joy I have never replicated. Our creed? Party ‘til you drop. Many partied into their graves. But the gay community rallied. Therein lies good grief, not as in everyman Charlie Brown’s melancholy cry, but as in the gay community’s ability to transform unfathomable grief into something good: art, compassion, health, and social reform. The pandemic may be considered as old, tired, and boring as those who lived it. Regardless, it is our story, our shared history, a holocaust that should never be forgotten, a devastation far from resolution. No matter the story or achievement, we stand on the shoulders of our foremothers and forefathers wearing combat or cowboy boots, stilettos or ballet slippers, cleats or wingtips, ice skates or flip-flops. Our youth forge new stories, new achievements. We stand on their shoulders already. Everyone in our community is a rebel; we challenge the status quo. Eric was in-your-face gay, a purposeful rebel; I was on-the-fence gay, an unwitting rebel. In 70s New York, as the love child of the zeitgeist of the 60s sexual revolution, gay life exploded. It was defining itself, its nature secretive and seductive, an allure I was compelled to experience body and mind, heart and soul.
And live I did and do, privileged to experience aging. At 50, I awoke to overflowing nose and ear hair, as though my body had whimsically decided to produce nasal and aural Rogainelike hormones. At 60, my feet, already size 11, grew an inch, and my ears seemed to be in a race to match them. My nose swelled to the size of an avocado pit, and my neck skin sagged like a Thanksgiving turkey’s wattle, threatening to reach my nipples. Well, that’s what it felt like. No need to call me a WHAAA-ambulance. Investing in tweezers and trimmers, shoes and v-neck T-shirts, is a small price to pay for life. In 2005, Eric and I parted ways and rarely spoke. It happened in Bangkok, like an Asian Casablanca. Eric played Ilsa, Ingrid Bergman as a drunk Divine. I played, well, Rick/Bogart, but our beautiful friendship ended. Friendship divorces are as sad as marital. Lyrics from the 30s classic "Thanks for the Memory" reveal my ambivalence: “You may have been a headache, but you never were a bore.” To retain a thin thread of contact, I occasionally sent Eric postcards, the last delivered the day before he died. On the back of a garish cover of a 50s pulp novel, Office Sluts, I wrote, “Ah, the good ol’ days.” Gone is another member of my dwindling tribe who remembers them. Good new days abound. I have a loving and incredible partner. I can still touch my toes and comb a full head of gray hair. Aging grants me the privilege of considering myself a silver fox. This summer, The Boys in the Band—Mart Crowley’s iconic dissection of 60s gay life, a play that epitomizes gay clichés— celebrates its 50th anniversary, with a Broadway premier featuring A-list gay stars. How’s that for progress? And how I wish the Eric I had loved and adored could accompany me and my partner when we attend the show, because that is how Eric and I met. In a 1974 college production, he played Emory, the Connie Casserole femme; I played Larry, the artistic slut. Our futures do not promise endless tomorrows. This PrideFest, let us each celebrate our joys—gay, lesbian, queer, bi, straight, pan, trans, two spirit, drag, you name it. However you live your fabulous life, rebel, and rejoice!
The irony is, our fight for acceptance cost us our invisibility. Progress comes with a price. Explosions like gay parades down Fifth Avenue tend to be noticed. I do not want to return to the past, but when I scrolled by a headline about homosexuality becoming homogenized, I could not read it. First, my life style became a cliché, and now, I am like everyone else? Quelle horreur! As American humorist Dorothy Parker wrote: “Heterosexuality isn’t normal. It’s just common.” Who wants to be normal? And we are certainly not common. Every life is unique. But gay lives? Oh my Lord and Taylor, Needless Markup, and Sex Tits Avenue! If gays had ruled the world, the only wars fought would have been over whose toga draped better. Imagine Project Runway as Project Appian Way. Instead, for millenia, gays had to fight for their right to live. OUTFRONTMAGAZINE.COM
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By Alysha Prieto
Women t? Where the
A Look at Women-Led Pride Events
n June 28 of 1970, New York’s Central Park hosted the nation’s first Pride parade. In the 48 years since, there have been a myriad of events throughout the country recognizing LGBTQ folks of all colors, shapes, sizes, and identities. Acknowledging this diversity within the community is imperative. Without it, the unique issues that affect such a multifarious population could go untouched. This year, Denver’s PrideFest and beyond will host a number of events led by women and in celebration of women in the queer community. Created to “break away from typical PrideFest form,” the Denver Dyke March and Rally will celebrate its ninth year. Festivities will take place Saturday, June 16. The event has always tried to offer an inclusive environment, and this year will be no different. While the event has been held at Denver’s Blush & Blu in the past, the rally/march will move to Colorado’s State Capitol this year. Jenn Vaughn, the event’s organizer, emphasized that the organization will continue to work with the bar, but needed a more accessible venue. The event is free and open to all ages. “Lost Voices, Missed Faces” will focus on speakers from both
underserved and underrepresented communities. The Capitol’s West Steps will play host, and the event will run from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Through their theme and call to action, the organization spotlights the importance of visibility. Visibility is a versatile tool. It has the power to inspire the acceptance and ownership of identity. After altering the way we see ourselves, it can then change the way we view the world and our place in it. Babes Around Denver (BAD) has been connecting queer woman in the community for almost two decades. Dede Frain created the organization in hopes to fill the queer women’s venue void in Denver. Beyond “providing social and recreational opportunities for the lesbian community,” (their First Friday is the longest-running monthly women’s party in the nation) they partner with local charities and nonprofits in the metro area. BAD has been a supporter of Denver’s PrideFest for many years, and the organization’s contributions have designated it the official women’s party. Past themes include “Neverland: Lost Girls” and “Stargayzer.” Frain said that 2017’s party brought out 1,900 people. This year the theme will be Paparazzi and will take place Friday, June 15, at Tracks. “Basically it will be decorated like a (Hollywood) studio lot,” Frain said. There will be a room set up to look like an Italian restaurant from a mob movie. She dubbed another room
“toon town” and said the VIP tables will be made to look like starlet dressing rooms. The party will run from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Admission will be $10 before 10 p.m. and $12 following. The event is strictly 21 and up. As for the PrideFest downtown festivities, you can find plenty of women representing on the event’s center stage. Most notably, Crystal Waters will be performing on Sunday June 17 at 3 p.m. Her 2017 release, “Testify,” hit number 10 on the iTunes Dance Chart. Supporting women-led events, as well as their leaders, is important. Not only does it encourage other woman to follow their dreams, it also creates a safe space to come together and make plans and moves that change the world—or to just dance the night away. Denver’s PrideFest events offer the women of the city a chance to see themselves reflected in the community. While the Women’s Pride Party and Dyke March and Rally were created to support and celebrate LGBTQ women and issues, they both stress how important it is to have allies in attendance, too. As the Denver Dyke March and Rally call to action declares, they want to see everyone represented. “Self-identified dykes, femmes, butches, queers (with cheers), studs, stems, AGs, lesbian and other feminists, tomboys, womyn of color, bi-dykes, boi-dykes, trans folks of all flavors, labia lovers, supporters of any and all types... WE WANT YOU!”
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By Denny Patterson
Skating With Pride:
Slides Into America’s Heart
lympic figure skating bronze medalist Adam Rippon is not just an athlete. He’s an artist, an activist, and has quickly became a queer icon.
Winning the heart of America and the world at the 2018 Winter Olympics, Rippon is known for his candor and wit, and his rise to fame on the global stage has provided him with a platform to speak out in support of LGBTQ rights and the freedom to be oneself. His charm and passion has made him an inspiration to the young and old alike. The oldest of six children from Scranton, Pennsylvania, Rippon rose through the skating ranks and claimed the world junior title twice before winning the U.S. men’s title in 2016. In addition to his win at the 2018 Winter Olympics, he was recently named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People and was honored by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) with their Visibility Award. He is working with the GLAAD Campus Ambassadors Program through an online fundraising
campaign and received the Best of the Best Champion Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Want even more? He is currently touring the country with Stars on Ice, most recently won Dancing with the Stars, and will be hosting the upcoming Trevor Project gala, TrevorLIVE in NYC on June 11. Rippon does not plan to slow down any time soon, and OUT FRONT chatted with him a bit about LGBTQ youth, confidence, and his mom.
THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME OUT OF YOUR BUSY SCHEDULE TO CHAT WITH ME TODAY, ADAM. My pleasure! I’m just out here on my balcony eating M&Ms.
I LOVE M&MS . IF YOU WERE AN M&M, WHICH COLOR WOULD YOU BE? My answer to that is, I think I would either be the red one because he’s iconic and the most famous, or the green one because she’s like kind of slutty and I love that about her. Photos provided by Adam Rippon
EXCELLENT CHOICE! NOW, LET’S START OFF BY TALKING ABOUT THE OLYMPICS. WHY DO YOU THINK BEING AN OPENLY GAY OLYMPIAN MADE SUCH A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT? Besides the fact that I’m openly gay, I may be a little more flamboyant, but I’m being myself. I feel like a lot of people say I have this take-it-orleave-it sort of mentality, and I do, but I think what really resonated with people and connected with a lot of people is that I don’t feel like I have ever asked anyone to like me. I always assumed that people would. When I assumed people would like me, I wasn’t asking for their approval. I was presenting myself to the world— telling them 'you are going to like me'. I wasn’t expecting the attention, but I was ready for it because when you go into the Olympics, anything can happen. I think more than anything, more than being an out athlete, it’s important to speak up for things you think are important.
YOU HAVE ALSO BEEN LABELED AS THE FIRST OPENLY GAY OLYMPIAN. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU? There have obviously been other gay athletes before, but I don’t think they were comfortable to come out and compete at the same time. Those athletes have given people the confidence that they can be successful no matter who you are. I wanted to show that you can be successful and out—it doesn’t matter. Being the first was just the luck of the draw. Gus Kenworthy and I competed at the same Olympics but being one of the first openly gay men to compete at the Winter Olympics, I hope it makes those in later competitions embrace who they are as athletes. You can do anything; it’s self-empowerment. It’s incredible. I can’t tell you what a big difference it was for me pre-coming out and post-coming out. I wouldn’t have the confidence to do crazy things and push myself. I’m not afraid of what other people think of me. I don’t care. I’m doing things I think are cool, and that’s important to me. That’s what I need to focus on.
WHERE DOES THAT PASSION COME FROM? My passion and my drive to pursue goals come from my mom. When I was young, my mom taught me that if you want to do something, you must do it at 100 percent. It didn’t matter if we were bad; we just had to give it our best. My mom reminded me of that all the time. She reminded us that hard work would pay off and she instilled in us that anything is possible if you dream it. Go after your dreams.
I think that a lot of people who come from small towns sometimes think it’s hard to see out of that world. My mom never for a second made us feel like the world ended outside our town. She made it feel as if the whole world was for us and it wasn’t that big. Having that sort of mentality made me feel like anything was possible and crazy dreams like the Olympics weren’t impossible. The mentality my mom reinforced in us as kids set us up to have successful lives.
BEFORE GOING OUT ON THE ICE TO SKATE, OR EVEN TO DANCE ON DANCING WITH THE STARS, WHAT DO YOU DO TO GET INTO THE ZONE? ANY PRE-COMPETITION ROUTINES? One of my role models growing up was Michelle Kwan. About 10 years ago, I had the chance to do a show with her. I was telling myself to watch Michelle skate and to watch every single f*cking thing she does, because she’s Michelle Kwan. Well, she’s hanging out with everyone backstage, and before the show is about to start, she removes herself from the group. She then closes her eyes and takes two to three deep breaths. She doesn’t say anything; she’s very quiet. She then opens her eyes and returns to the group. She’s exactly the same as she was, but I could tell in that moment, she harnessed her energy. She got it together and harnessed all those butterflies and the adrenaline. After years of closing my eyes and taking a few deep breaths, I feel like I’m connecting to my true self. How I am going to use this adrenaline and bring it and focus. Before I have any sort of performance, I take that moment. I have fun with everybody and joke and try to make people laugh all the time, but I take a moment before every performance to close my eyes and take a few deep breaths and remind myself that I am powerful and strong. I use the adrenaline to my advantage and as a secret weapon to push myself further.
I KNOW YOU HAVE MENTIONED THAT DANCING WITH THE STARS WAS OUT OF YOUR ELEMENT. CAN YOU TALK MORE ABOUT THAT? When I was asked to do Dancing with the Stars, I immediately withdrew from the idea of doing it because it was something out of my comfort zone. What I discovered was, being a competitor, and being pushed out of my comfort zone, made me feel the most alive. Like I was getting the most out of myself. So, every time I did something that was completely out of my element, it was exhilarating. When you step out of your comfort zone, you learn more about yourself. You learn more about how you deal with different situations. I am so glad I took the time to do the show even though it was a crazy time. It was so fun and rewarding.
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YOU ARE ALSO WORKING WITH GLAAD TO HELP RAISE AWARENESS AND FUNDS FOR LGBTQ YOUTH PROGRAMS. WHAT HAS THAT EXPERIENCE BEEN LIKE? WHY IS HELPING LGBTQ YOUTH SO IMPORTANT TO YOU? I work with a youth ambassador program called the GLAAD Campus Ambassadors Program, and this program is for young people across the country. GLAAD gives them the tools and resources to go back to their communities as ambassadors, like counselors, for young LGBTQ youth in their community. After a Stars on Ice performance, I met someone whose college roommate was a youth ambassador at their campus. Through GLAAD, I’ve had the chance to meet a lot of these ambassadors and hear what they are able to do for the community. It’s so empowering, and I think that when you have role models like that growing up, it shapes your world and gives you confidence. To have a voice, it changes your outlook on a lot of things. It changes your world, your light, and I think that’s important. For me, coming from a small town, I didn’t have those role models who were openly gay. That’s why I think it’s important to share my story and get to work with GLAAD and work with these people who are younger than I was. It’s so awesome to see this, and that’s why I am happy and honored to be working with GLAAD. The stuff they do is inspiring.
WHAT ARE SOME OTHER WAYS WE CAN SUPPORT THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY, ESPECIALLY LGBTQ YOUTH? I think the best thing an ally can do is find people they think are inspiring or impressed by and share their story. No matter who they are, if they are part of the LGBTQ community or not, we need to find young people who we find inspiring and embrace them and we should highlight what they do.
I have been talking with my brothers and sister who are in high school or recently graduated and the amount of
people and kids they are around who identify as LGBTQ is crazy to me. When I was young, not many did. I’m 28, but to see kids who are 18, 16, 15 years old be comfortably gay in school, it’s still a bit foreign to me, but it’s awesome. Being gay is awesome, but it’s not special. Being gay is not special. What you do is special and what you do for other people is special. To be able to help and empower other people, that is special. An ally who notices someone within the LGBTQ community doing that and sharing their story is important. Our straight friends should also learn more about our community and about who came before us.
THE MIDTERM ELECTIONS ARE COMING UP SOON. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR THE QUEER COMMUNITY TO COME OUT AND VOTE? Oh my god, it is so important to come out and vote. I think that is what’s really inspiring now. Given the current administration, it has inspired a lot of people to speak up. I never thought I would be one of those people that would go to marches or go to protests, and all of a sudden, here I am at 11 p.m. right before a march or some protest making some random poster. It’s crazy. I never felt like I needed to go out and do that, but I think there are so many people out there, especially young people, who are inspired. I think back to the young kids in Florida who started the March for Our Lives. The kind of response and attention they garnered because they immediately spoke out and called for change. It’s amazing. Right now, seeing the social climax and people coming together to rally is mind blowing. I think the result of the last election was a lot of people not acting. Right now, they are speaking up about things they do not think are right and speaking up against things that aren’t correct. They are speaking up for people who they feel aren’t being treated the way they want to be treated, and I think that is so important that we keep this fire in our bellies.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO SPEAK ABOUT AN ISSUE BUT IS AFRAID OF BEING SILENCED? I have definitely received my fair share of 'stay in your own lane' comments, but it’s important to say what you think is right. Say what you believe in. I also think it’s important to be factual. Do not just say whatever the first thing is that comes to mind. Think about it. My advice to people who want to speak out is if this is an issue that is true to who you are or something you truly believe that isn’t right, then it doesn’t matter what other people think. It needs to come from your heart. No matter what it is, people can always tell if you are genuine. That’s when they will listen to you. If it’s off and weird and not from the heart, people will ignore you. If it’s something your truly believe in and it’s something you are truly passionate about, go after it. It doesn’t matter what other people think because the backlash is minimal. More importantly, at the end of the day, you will feel like you did something to better the world or help someone. That’s what matters. If people have a problem with that, then that’s their own problem. They are resisting change and afraid of something. If you are confident in what you are saying and believe in what you are saying, your point will come across. So, my advice, be confident and be sure that it comes from the heart. At the end of the day, you are doing something you believe in and are passionate about.
I KNOW YOU HAVE DECLINED THE OPPORTUNITY BEFORE, BUT WOULD YOU EVER WANT TO MEET FACE TO FACE WITH TRUMP OR PENCE? I mean, ideally no. I really have nothing to say. I think Donald Trump says enough for himself. He does all the talking anybody needs. Regarding Mike Pence, I don’t have anything to say to him either. I have been really lucky that what he has pushed and the people he has gone after and the different causes he has stood for have not affected my life. It’s not a conversation for me. It’s a conversation for those people whose lives have changed or who felt like they don’t have a voice. OUTFRONTMAGAZINE.COM
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Photos Provided By Yaysh
By Addison Herron-Wheeler
Affirms Women and Sexuality with Her Raps
uddhist, queer, and unapologe tically sexual, Yaysh is bringing wisdom and swag to Denver, one rhyme and beat at a time.
“A lot of my stuff is very sexual, inspired by sex,” Yaysh, birth name Sonia, explained to OUT FRONT. “I just think I’m a pretty sexual person and I don't wanna hold that back. Most people can say their sex life is not what they’d like it to be, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we are very shy.” Despite taking her music very seriously,
Yaysh makes it no secret that her main goal is to help people get down. Spending her entire life rapping, whether she was going back and forth with friends or killing time at parties, Yaysh always had a knack for words and rhyme. She spent a while on Buddhist studies at Naropa University, and then realized that she needed to drop out and temporarily move to L.A. to find an agent. She is now dedicating herself to her musical craft full-time. As a queer-identified woman, Yaysh says that she would identify as pansexual in a pinch, even though she is mostly
attracted to women. Overall, however, queer identity to her means being open with sexuality and comfortable in one’s skin. This is a lot of what she deals with in her lyrics. “To me, the whole queer thing comes from people wanting to have sex or being and identifying with who they are based on how they feel, and in our culture we have created such a hypercriticism and an idea of what is right and wrong, and it’s not accurate,” she explained. “If you actually do what you wanna do and don’t harm other people, it shouldn’t matter. Love is love
and sex is sex, and it can be experienced, same sex, opposite sex, by shifting how you name people. But me personally, I feel like my songs are about being free and not judging. The point is just to not harm, and kind of to encourage people to be more confident in who they are, because that makes life a lot more fun and exciting.” Yaysh describes her music as a mix of pop and hip hop, and hopes that in her songs, there is something for everyone. Rather than seeking to be accessible or only pushing her own artistic agenda, she tries to make music that is danceable and fun for everyone, but also stays true to her lyrical concepts. And if she casts a sexual spell with her music, she considers that a fortunate side effect. “Something is going on with sexual energy in the U.S.,” she claimed. “It just needs to be turned up. We are so stressed out and angry and unhappy because of the current political situation, and there is something about sexual energy that needs to be ramped up, so I think that’s a good thing. My music makes people want to f*ck, and I’m happy to be doing something to make people want to have more sex instead of keep criticizing each other.” Yaysh definitely recognizes that the personal is political, as well. While some rappers sing about women only being sexy if they conform perfectly to beauty standards, or talk about disrespecting them, Yaysh is all about positivity, selflove, and never objectifying women, even though they are the objects of her attraction. “I listened to so much hip hop growing
up and just bounced to the beat, and now, listening to the lyrics, I’m like ‘holy shit,’” she admitted. “I feel that by treating myself as equal, somehow it does something to gender as well as the perspective of the person viewing me that normalizes it. I am not trying to be misogynistic; I’m a woman, but I use humor. There’s a difference between me saying it and a man saying it. I say ‘I like my ladies with titties and ass,’ and I’m allowed to say that, but I’m not disrespecting women; there is some kind of irony in it. There’s also like an aspect, especially in hip hop, where it’s more about flow than what you mean, and how you say it.” Yaysh currently has a lot of exciting projects in the works, including a music video, live performances this summer, and some music soon-to-be-released. She hopes that people will give her music a chance if they are hip hop fans, queer, or just anyone who likes a catchy beat. And overall, she wants to help people feel liberated. “One of my big messages is, I just want to help people feel free. We have such an issue with body image hypercriticism and not feeling like we fit in, being afraid to be attracted to someone and hit on them and have a good sex life. Ideally, a happy life involves all those things, and I want to help people have more fun again. Some of my stuff is introspective, but a lot of it is helping people just turn up. When people come to my concert they are going to be dancing; girls are gonna be twerking; it will be a judgement-free zone. I’m gonna cut through a lot of shit, and people will start having a little bit more fun.”
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By Denny Patterson
The Bodybuilder Barbie:
s one of the stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10, Kameron Michaels has done much more than compete in challenges and lip sync for her life. She has broken down a barrier for muscle drag queens. While thriving on both sides of the gender spectrum, Kameron loves to dance and lift weights. She is known as the ‘Bodybuilder Barbie;’ she blurs the line between masculinity and femininity, and audiences cannot get enough of her. Originally from Nashville, Kameron is traveling coast to coast, bringing her unique blend of muscular glamor to the masses, and she will soon be here for Denver Pride. OUT FRONT had the pleasure of chatting more with her.
IS THIS YOUR FIRST TIME PERFORMING IN DENVER? Yes, it is! I am super excited about it. I am looking forward to meeting more of these incredible fans who have changed my life.
WHAT CAN AUDIENCES GENERALLY EXPECT FROM A KAMERON MICHAELS PERFORMANCE? A great lip-sync and my own unique spins.
YOU MENTIONED ON DRAG RACE THAT THERE WAS A PERIOD IN YOUR LIFE WHERE AN EX-BOYFRIEND MADE YOU GIVE UP DRAG. WHY DID YOU GO THROUGH WITH THAT, AND DO YOU REGRET IT? I do regret it, and I did it because he was not comfortable with it. I cared for the guy, and I didn’t want my drag to be a problem, so I threw it all in a dumpster. He clearly had a masculinity problem.
YOU ALSO TALKED ABOUT HOW YOUR DRAG SISTERS DIDN’T THINK HAVING A MUSCLE BODY WOULD BE GOOD FOR DRAG. HAVE THEY CHANGED THEIR OPINIONS ON THAT NOW? Yes, they have, and I am continuing to change the opinions of many.
HOW WOULD YOU SAY DRAG RACE CHANGED YOUR LIFE? For one, I get recognized in bathrooms now, which is odd, but also, so many people have been so amazing with telling me their stories and making me feel like I have made a huge impact.
WATCHING EPISODES NOW, IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY? Woulda, coulda, shoulda—I try not to regret things!
YOU ARE QUIETER AND MORE RESERVED THAN ANY OF THE OTHER QUEENS. HAS THAT CHANGED? It is true to who I am, so not really. I am working on being more outgoing, and the fans have helped a lot with that.
WHY IS THE CHER CHALLENGE THE CHALLENGE YOU WANTED TO WIN THE MOST? It’s Cher! Who would not want to win for Cher?!
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO KNOW THAT YOU HAVE BROKEN DOWN A BARRIER FOR MUSCLE QUEENS? I hated that there were barriers in the first place.
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By Denny Patterson Photos Provided By Barry Harris
Dance to the Beats of
anadian producer, songwriter, and DJ Barry Harris is considered to be a legend in the Toronto and American club scenes. He is one of the creative masterminds behind the hit synthpop act Kon Kan and the dance club sensation Thunderpuss, who dominated the Billboard dance chart with more than 40 hits. Throughout his career, Harris has performed at several queer venues, clubs, and luxe events, and he is now going to make a grand appearance at Denver PrideFest on Sunday, June 17. Those who attend the Smirnoff Dance Wolrd stage at 5 p.m. are guaranteed a queer and memorable experience. No one plays like Harris, and OUT FRONT caught up with him to chat more about his music and what we can expect from him at Denver Pride.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN MUSIC? WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO PURSUE THIS AS A CAREER? I have always been musically inclined. I was told that at a very young age. When I was seven, I learned to play the piano, and guitar and bass when I was 13. I came out when I was 16 and went to my first gay club. My life changed that night permanently and I was addicted to club music ever since.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR AESTHETIC AND STYLE OF MUSIC? I prefer to go with ‘feel good’ and ‘hands-in-the-air’ dance music. We go to clubs to escape from this messed up world we live in. I love to make music, DJ, and remix to escape as well. I like to make music you can feel in your heart and soul. I also like to go with the flow of the musical trends year after year.
This works out great for me because eventually I get bored of the same sound and love to change it up with the times. Currently, I am into 90s-inspired house. I believe we are in a new “what’s old is new again” era right now in 2018.
YOUR SKILLS ARE CONSIDERED LEGENDARY. WHY IS THAT? Really? That is quite a compliment. Thank you! I have no idea why I would be perceived that way. Perhaps because I may take a break every now and then, but I have never given up? I love to do what I do, and if my gut tells me to stop or go, then that’s what I do. Just follow my instincts. Guess I also have a lot of experience, and perhaps wisdom now.
WHAT CAN AUDIENCES EXPECT FROM YOUR PERFORMANCE AT DENVER PRIDE? Fun, energetic, hands-in-the-air celebration of life and music!
WHAT ARE YOU PERSONALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO THE MOST ABOUT PLAYING AT DENVER PRIDE THIS YEAR? Pride is always a great time! Denver is another great U.S. city and I am thrilled to return! I have never played Pride in Denver, nor the outside stage. I am looking forward to that!
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY HAS BEEN THE MOST MEMORABLE PARTY YOU HAVE EVER PLAYED? There are too many to mention. Perhaps when I played the Roxy NYC and Cher came to perform. Also, when I debuted
“Dive in the Pool” for the first time DJing at Twilo in NYC. The entire room exploded at the “Let’s Get Soaking Wet” moment!
SINCE YOU ARE A VETERAN OF THE TORONTO DJ SCENE, HOW DOES THAT SCENE DIFFER FROM AMERICAN DJ SCENES? Toronto has always been very NYCand London, U.K.-influenced over the decades musically, and that’s no exception in the gay scene. I never really realized that at first until I started playing all around the U.S., and that’s been since 1999. The U.S. has traditionally had a bigger Latin influence on its dance scene over the years.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE MOST REWARDING PART ABOUT BEING A DJ? Playing feelgood music and having a great time with everyone. Life is short; you must have fun and shut out the real world for a while. Like the Seal song goes, “We’re never gonna survive, unless we get a little crazy.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY UPCOMING RELEASES OR PROJECTS WE SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR? I am always working on music, bootlegs, and remixes. I have a few original song ideas, but I’m not in a rush to make them. I love doing remixes, old and new, and now I am just having fun. I refuse to get caught up in the politics of dancing. It’s all about good times and fun now. Focusing on smiles and lighting up these days. This is the time, in my opinion.
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By Addison Herron-Wheeler
Crystal Waters Celebrates Another Pride with her Tribe
PrideFest 2018 is going to be all about the party, and one of the headliners this year is house DJ and vocalist Crystal Waters. But not only does Waters know how to sing, make music, and party, she also knows how to honor the Prides that came before. When she first started playing Pride events, there were still protests lining the streets during parades, and her fellow musicians wouldn’t perform for fear of stigmatizing their careers, or even contracting AIDS. But Waters wanted to perform for the queer community, and they wanted her—so much so that they helped her do her makeup and gave her places to perform. Now, the Pride looks very different, and Waters is right there by our side. OUT FRONT called her up to ask her a few questions about the big event and her love for the queer community.
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO LATELY WITH MUSIC? WHAT ARE YOU
WORKING ON? I just released a song in February called “I am House;” it just went to number one on the Billboard dance chart. I’ve had a number one hit every year for the last five years; I’ve been touring; I’m working on an album; I also launched a skincare line for men called Boyface, so I’m actually getting ready for a big trade show in July, where I will be pitching to buyers. That’s going to be something new for me, so I’m trying to get ready for it.
THAT’S AMAZING! WHAT EXACTLY IS BOYFACE? It’s a cream, a plant-based product. We make an exfoliating daily cleanser, vitamin C serum, which firms and brightens your skin, a daily moisturizer. We also have a cool little eye firming serum to help you depuff, and it comes in a little roller ball, so guys don’t have to dip fingers in cream. The last thing is a foaming beard mouse, which actually cleanses and shines the
beard. I’m also developing Girlface. I did Boyface first, because I have a large male fanbase, but now I’m working with chemists on Girlface.
YOU BROKE INTO THE MUSIC WORLD FROM BEHIND THE SCENES, WHICH IS PRETTY UNHEARD OF. HOW DID YOU FIND SO MUCH SUCCESS, AND DO YOU HAVE ADVICE FOR OTHERS WHO ARE CHASING THEIR DREAMS? What I did was actually, to make a long story short, I had a demo; at the time I mostly wanted to be a singer, and me and my partner went to a group called Modern Art in Washington D.C. It was a music conference, and last minute we snuck in, handed the cassette to them, and that night they called me. They loved my songwriting, and wanted to sign me for the songwriting; that’s when I wrote two songs, including the first dance songs that I wrote. They gave it to another artist, but they really liked my voice on it better, so they put those songs on my demo. I also got my start before that doing background vocals.
YOU’VE ALWAYS FOUND THE TIME TO GET INVOLVED IN THINGS LIKE AIDS BENEFITS AND OTHER CHARITY WORK. WHY IS THIS KIND OF THING IMPORTANT TO YOU?
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY SHOULD BE REFLECTING ON THIS YEAR DURING PRIDE? WHAT STRUGGLES ARE THEY FACING?
You have to remember, back in the 90s, it wasn’t so cool to be gay.
Not only the big presidential elections, but all the little tiny ones. It’s all about coming together, making sure everyone gets to the voting booth, no matter what kind of election it is. I don’t think people realize that they have a voice.
Today I do all these Prides and everybody thinks it’s all about the party, and it’s like, you have to remember how this all started. People were getting killed for being gay; AIDS was a big epidemic; I remember reading that if the ambulance attendees found out you were gay, they wouldn’t even come into your house, and I thought that was the most horrible thing.
I think they should reflect on voting.
Call your congressman, write a letter. They listen. It’s time to take a stand.
I would do all these Prides, especially in New York, and the streets would be lined with protesters. People wouldn’t do the Prides; I was one of the artists who would. When I first got to New York and got signed, the gay community took me in. At the House of Milan, I learned a lot about performing. A drag queen taught me how to do my makeup. Ten years later, I remember doing New York Pride again, and there was like one protester left. We laughed so hard to see how far it had come!
WHAT CAN PEOPLE EXPECT FROM YOUR PERFORMANCE THIS YEAR AT PRIDE? There is going to be a lot of engagement with the crowd. I’ll have my dancers with me, and I always try and give them more than what I’m asked for. Expect to have fun!
HAVE YOU PLAYED IN DENVER BEFORE? WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT THE CITY? I’ve been on the road for 25 years, so trust me I’ve been everywhere! I always like meeting the people; it’s the personalities that stick with me more than anything. I love meeting new people, and if I have time, also exploring the city.
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MARY'S IS THE PLACE TO BE PRIDE WEEKEND! HAPPY HOURS: Mon-Fri 3-7PM
FRIDAY Pride kickoff happy hour 3pm with DJ WILYUM Dining with Divas dinner show 8pm Pride Allnite Show 10:30pm
SATURDAY Divas Brunch 11am starring Jessica L'Whor Backyard BBQ with DJ 2-7 Yaas Queen with Khloe Katz 8pm Mary's After-dark Show 10:30pm
SUNDAY Divas Brunch 11am Backyard BBQ featuring DJ DUGAN 2p-7p Queen of the Mountain 5pm Chocolatina & Guests- Sunday Night Live 7pm Last Call for Pride Show 10pm
1336 E 17th Ave Denver, CO 80218
RES U T A E F K DRIN for the D: WEEKEN &
y Vodka s d d E p e e D ll Cooler u B d e R n Froze m Shots a e r C e c I l Firebal Glasses g e L s u o m Mary's Fa en on RPDR As se
Monday-Thursday 11:00am to - 11:00pm Friday 11:00am - Midnight (or later) Saturday 10:00am - Midnight (or later) Pride Sunday Open 9am - 2am
By Addison Herron-Wheeler Photos Provided By Park Hill United Methodist
United Methodist Park Hill
Welcomes All Into the Fold
estled cozily into the Park Hill neighborhood, an ethnically diverse, mixed-income area just out of downtown Denver, sits Park Hill United Methodist Church. Like many churches, the building is stately and expansive, the windows elegant with stained glass. Church bells ring on Sunday to announce worship, children go to Bible study, adults file in for weekly service. But there is one thing that sets Park Hill United Methodist apart from other places of worship: the welcoming community inside that calls all races, ethnicities, identities, and orientations into the fold.
A History of Open Doors “Park Hill has a long, rich history of inclusion and diversity,” explained Angie Kotzmoyer, associate pastor at Park Hill United Methodist. “Back in the 50s and 60s, the neighborhood started changing. African Americans were being gentrified out of another neighborhood and started moving in. At the time, the church was white, and the pastor said,
‘We are going to be a church of our neighbors.’ There was some resistance, but they went door to door and asked people to come and welcome the new folks to the community. About half the congregation was upset and left, but the church gained that membership back through the African Americans coming to church, so eventually it was about half white and half black.” While this may not seem like such a milestone now, Park Hill was one of the first Methodist churches to adopt such a policy. As the neighborhood continued to change even more, becoming populated with folks from different countries, more Hispanic people, refugees, and LGBTQ folks, the church kept its doors open.
“We are just trying to spread the word so people know no matter who you are or where your’re from, who you love, you’re welcome here and we will make sure you feel welcome,” Kotzmoyer assured. “If we need to work on changing some embedded theology, we will do that.”
Out of the Closet and Into God’s Service
This refreshing take isn’t something that Kotzmoyer just stumbled on by herself. She grew up in the church, knowing that the love and acceptance promised by God in the Christian faith was what she was called to. She also realized that she was a lesbian, something that conflicted with the love and acceptance good Christians would supposedly receive. While she always wanted to be a part of the church, she couldn’t reconcile the two sides of her life, and went to school far from her Nebraska hometown, in San Francisco, so she could pursue theatre. Once there, however, she felt an even stronger calling to religion, even though she was still very much in the closet and not completely comfortable with herself or her role in a religious setting. She began worshiping while at school, and met her friend and mentor, Bishop Karen Oliveto, who has also been the subject of an OUT FRONT story. Oliveto is an out, lesbian member of the clergy, and meeting her changed Kotzmoyer’s life. OUTFRONTMAGAZINE.COM
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Although she didn’t come out right away, just being friends with a queer clergywoman was enough to change Kotzmoyer’s mind about what she wanted to do. She stopped going to school for theatre, something that was never really her calling, and enrolled in theology school in Denver. This started her on her path to self-acceptance, as well as her path to God.
identity, but instead of calling her out, they patiently answered her questions, and let her come out in her own time. Finally, she became comfortable with being an LGBTQ woman in the Christian church, and she was lucky enough to be surrounded by folks in her professional life who supported this. But coming out to her very conservative family wasn’t so easy.
“Bishop Karen once made a joke that most gay clergy come out in seminary, because we are finally learning doctrines and Biblical references that allow us to own our interpretation of the Bible and experiences of God,” she explained. “Before that, I didn’t know any gay people in my life, didn’t know what that meant. I didn’t really have anyone else’s experiences to learn from and just assumed that it was wrong, that you couldn’t be christian and be gay, and so when I got to seminary, and my first two friends were actually a gay man and a lesbian woman, I started asking them questions.”
Kotzmoyer didn’t speak to her father for almost a year after coming out, and some of the things he said to her once he found out still hurt to this day. Finally, however, their relationship, and her overall relationship with her family, has been mended.
Her friends immediately recognized that Kotzmoyer was struggling with her own
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“I think they are seeing me live into my family and morals, and seeing that being gay didn’t really change me at all, that the daughter they love and know has not changed, they were OK with it,” she said. “So now we have a really great relationship. I just got married in December, and it’s been a really fun and transformative time. It’s still hard, and I think it’s hard for a lot of gay people, but I wholeheartedly believe
that’s why God has called me into the ministry, because he is calling me to be this voice that is often missing from the church, calling me to speak up for gay people, inclusiveness, affirmation, because the church has been hurting people for too long.” Seeing this calling in Kotzmoyer, Oliveto appointed her to work at Park Hill United Methodist last July. This will be her first Pride as associate pastor, and she is determined to make the church as inclusive and welcoming as possible. “All the pastors who have been here have been opening our doors and adding leaves to the table,” Kotzmoyer explained.
A Way Forward One major step for Park Hill was when they became a reconciling congregation, essentially a church that openly says they don’t agree with the discriminatory language the church uses to talk about LGBTQ people. She is the third lesbian pastor to serve at the church, and the pastor she serves with is in an interracial
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marriage, so it is common sense for the clergy in charge to create a welcoming atmosphere. And they aren’t just focused on queer issues or making established folks in the community feel welcome. They also voted to become a sanctuary church, meaning they house people who have fled other countries and need to seek asylum. All of this may just sound like things that a church, or any other place of community, should be doing. But for the United Methodist Church, the road to love and acceptance hasn’t been that easy. In fact, there is much debate going on right now within the church as to whether or not they should accept LGBTQ folks. “The church delegates created a special group called the Commission on a Way Forward, and have been meeting for two years about the future of the United Methodist Church. What is on the table is, are we going to take the discriminatory language about clergy out of our law? There is also language about marriage being between a man and a woman in our church law. They just gave the Council of Bishops their plan, and the Council is going to be discerning and discussing this plan, and will have a special meeting next year, to vote on the Way Forward.” There are many in the church who would like to see things stay as they are, discriminatory and unwelcoming for anyone who doesn’t fit a perceived idea of Christianity. But there are also many who would like to see the church change and become more welcoming to queer folks. Whether this will manifest in a schism within the church, or a positive move
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into the future together, remains to be seen, but it is clear that whatever happens, Park Hill United Methodist will lead the way when it comes to love and acceptance within their walls. *** This year, Park Hill United Methodist is going to be involved in PrideFest. On Sunday, June 17, at 8 a.m., the church is offering a special Pride service. PHUMC will also be marching in the PrideFest Parade with the Reconciling Congregations of the United Methodist Church. If any individuals or churches would like to join the other Reconciling United Methodists in the march, please contact Angie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Durango Pride By Madeline Espinoza
Celebrates Queers in Southwest Colorado
he rugged San Juan Mountains cover southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico. They tower over the little towns sprinkled across the area that were established for mining, but now known for their tourism. In these mountains is the town of Durango. Home to the Fort Lewis College Skyhawks, Durango is nestled in La Plata County. Amidst the towering trees and rushing Animas River are the San Juan National Forest and Mesa Verde National Park. Durango is an outdoor lovers’ paradise, abundant in rafting, hiking, and skiing.
Additionally, there are monthly OUT-ings, which promote LGBTQ involvement and congregation.
The area’s natural beauty and access to modernity are what enchant locals and visitors. For tourists, there are a plethora of things to do and see. If you find yourself in this corner of Colorado during their pride festivities, you are sure not to be disappointed. The Four Corners Alliance for Diversity's mission is to serve the LGBTQ community. “From youth to seniors, the organization’s collaborative, grassroots efforts provide both support and advocacy to campaigns that strive to affect positive change,” their mission statement explains.
Ryan Garcia, chair of the Four Corners Alliance for Diversity, said, “In an area so potentially isolated, we work to combat loneliness by working with resources, even though we are a small town. [The center] has connected with Planned Parenthood, The Rainbow Youth Center for LGBTQ children and adolescents, and the Western Colorado AIDS Project.”
In areas that may be geographically segregated, the need for a place of community and comfort is pertinent. The center provides many resources and events year-round that give the area a unique sense of solidarity. Though the town is small, the events are quarterly and incorporate the natural scenery of the area. Whether it’s a drag show or a fundraiser for the Durango AIDS benefit, there are many ways to participate.
The largest and most popular event is the town’s Pride Week. This year, the Pride Festival will be June 21-24. The festivities begin Wednesday and continue through Sunday. In previous years, former stars from Ru Paul’s Drag Race have attended, including Kennedy Davenport and Latrice Royal. Durango’s unique event includes a Pride water parade, where participants raft the Ammes River, donning their rainbow garb and enjoying the outdoors.
The Western Colorado AIDS Project serves 22 counties to benefit those who are HIV positive and their families. WCAP provides their services at no cost, and they are guaranteed confidential. “We are trying to make connections with LGBTQ people to get the word out and to get their input and a community HIV testing day. We are able to get that done through our partnership; this is all in the works," Garcia said. Durango has Pride all year long, but especially this time of year. Their event not only brings in people that want to visit the mountains, it also honors the citizens that live in Durango.
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Thursday, June 7
Friday, June 8
Saturday, June 9
Monday, June 11
Tuesday, June 12
Wednesday, June 13
Friday, June 15
Saturday, June 16
Sunday, June 17
WELCOME TO PRIDE SEASON! Featured
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Sunday, June 10
THURSDAY JUNE 7
Mile High Hamburger Mary’s Pride Kick-Off Lunch 1336 E. 17th 303-993-5812 hamburgermarys.com/denver Gladys: The Nosy Neighbor Weirdo Pride Kick-Off 10:30 p.m. 500 Santa Fe Drive 303-893-6112
FRIDAY JUNE 8
Thursday, June 14
Mile High Hamburger Mary’s Pride Lunch 1336 E 17th 303-993-5812 hamburgermarys.com/denver Tracks Deviant | Discotheque 9 p.m. 3500 Walnut St 303-863-7326 tracksdenver.com
SATURDAY JUNE 9
Monday, June 18
Trade Hey! Denver Beer Bust 3:30 p.m. 475 Santa Fe Dr 720-627-5905 facebook.com/Tradedenver/ Syrup GrindHer 7 p.m. 1875 York St 303-284-6117 Tix: https://goo.gl/PEu2UB
SUNDAY JUNE 10
PRIDE CALENDAR brought to you by:
GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR
PRIDE PULL-OUT CALENDAR
Wrangler Beer Bust 4-8 p.m. 3090 Downing St. 303-837-1075 denverwrangler.com Charlies's Denver Pre-Pride KiKi 2.0 10 p.m. 900 E Colfax Ave 303-839-8890 charliesdenver.com
MONDAY JUNE 11
Mile High Hamburger Mary’s Charity Bingo 8 p.m. 1336 E 17th Ave. 303-993-5812 hamburgermarys.com/denver
TUESDAY JUNE 12
Mile High Hamburger Mary’s Big Gay Trivia @ 8 p.m. 1336 E 17th Ave. 303-993-5812 hamburgermarys.com/denver
WEDNESDAY JUNE 13 The Triangle Bar OUT FRONT Night @ 8 p.m. 2036 N. Broadway 303-658-0913 triangledenver.com
THURSDAY JUNE 14 Pride & Swagger Drag Race Viewing Party 4 p.m. 450 E 17th Ave #110 720-476-6360 prideandswaggerco.com Tracks SPOTLIGHT: Erika Jayne, Alex Acosta & Nina Flowers 7 p.m. 3500 Walnut St. 303-863-7326 tracksdenver.com
FRIDAY JUNE 15 Pride & Swagger Swagger Night 4 p.m. 450 E 17th Ave #110 prideandswaggerco.com Charlie’s Denver Pride Neon 9 p.m. 900 E. Colfax charliesdenver.com
SATURDAY JUNE 16 TRADE Pride Beer Bust 3:30-8:30 p.m. 475 Santa Fe Drive 720-627-5905 Tracks ACTION: Erika Jayne, Alex Acosta & Nina Flowers 7 p.m. 3500 Walnut St. 303-863-7326 tracksdenver.com
SUNDAY JUNE 17 Wrangler Pride Beer Bust 4-8 p.m. 3090 Downing St. 303-837-1075 Charlie’s Denver Pride KiKI 2.0 10 p.m. 900 E. Colfax charliesdenver.com
MONDAY JUNE 18 Elitch Gardens Gay Day 10:30-9 p.m. 2000 Elitch Circle elitchgardens.com OUTFRONTMAGAZINE.COM
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Old Major Celebrates The Community with Plates for Pride GIf you love Pride season, promoting equality, and damn good food, you won’t want to miss Plates for Pride, a special event put on by beloved local restaurant Old Major. On Wednesday, June 13, from 5 to 10 p.m., Old Major invites you to this special dinner to help ring in the Pride season. A portion of the proceeds go to One Colorado and The Gender Identity Center of Colorado. For just $45, guests at the special dinner will be treated to a delicious four-course meal. For only $25 more, there will also be special wine pairings. “For me personally, I grew up with a gay uncle, and being from Asheville, NC it’s really liberal and I was close to a lot of LGBTQ people, so I think it’s really important to support those people and push forward in their lives with whatever we can do,” explained Nohe Weir-Villatoro, chef with Old Major, and one of the minds behind the dinner. “As a restaurant, we want to try and create an environment where people know they can come dine here because it is a welcoming place where people know they can be who they are.”
AUG 10 + 11 ANDREW BIRD
WITH NEYLA PEKAREK OF THE LUMINEERS
THE WEEPIES WITH MIPSO
AUG 22 ZIGGY MARLEY
REBELLION RISES 2018 TOUR
The theme of the dinner will be the Pride flag, with each course representing a different color of the rainbow. In addition to highlighting the beauty of the rainbow, it will also draw attention to all the culinary possibilities from the Old Major kitchen. “My sous chefs [Brad Yard and Sarah Khosravani] are doing a dish that is red and orange,” explained Weir-Villatoro. I will be doing a green and yellow vegetable dish; someone is doing purple and blue, so we are basically doing the colors of the rainbow for the whole dinner.”
SEP 8 ANDREA GIBSON
For dessert, guest chef Zach Meier of The Nickle will be creating a rainbow dish, representing all the colors in one place. Fans of The Club at Flying Horse will rejoice, as chef Celena Stone will be contributing to the meal as well. Also, surprisingly, the menu as of now focuses more on fish and vegetables than it does on meat. “So far, it looks like we have a pretty vegetarian-forward menu going on right now, or at least pescetarian,” said Weir-Villatoro. “I’m doing a vegetable dish and the desert is vegetarian, and the second course is going to be a fish dish.”
SEP 7 MOUNTAINFILM ON TOUR
SEP 13 SYMBOLS OF RESISTANCE
TICKETS: chautauqua.com SENIOR LIVING
This will be an amazing chance to give back to the community and have some great food. Those interested in attending the dinner should call 720-420-0622 or reserve online at oldmajordenver.com.
MOUNTAIN VIEW MEMORIAL PARK
900 BASELINE ROAD • BOULDER CO | 303.440.7666 coloradochautauqua
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PRIDE CALENDAR JUNE 7
PLAYING FOR CHANGE The Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., Denver Playing for Change is a movement that started with street performers and became a national tour featuring artists from all over the world. The theme is unity and connection, and showcasing the wide array of talent that is a part of music. If you’re looking for a unique experience, the show starts at 8 p.m.
TRAFFIC LIGHT PARTY Charlie’s Nightclub Denver, 900 E. Colfax St., Denver If you’re not familiar with the concept behind a traffic light party, red means off limits, green means go for it, and yellow means proceed with caution. Dress in your colors and come out to Charlie’s to party it up. The party starts at 10 p.m. and ends at last call.
TRASH FASHION SHOW Exdo Event Center, 1399 35th St., Denver If you love fashion but also like to keep it trashy, don’t miss the annual trash fashion show, happening just before PrideFest. This fundraiser pits fashion designers against each other to see who can create the very best look, only using found materials. The show starts at 6 p.m., followed by a party at 9 p.m.
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are also welcoming in all religions. The event takes place from 6-7 p.m.
ALL-FAITH BEARRACUDA: AFFIRMING PRIDE GAY PRIDE 2018 CHURCH SERVICE Summit Music Hall, 1902 Blake First Baptist Church, 1373 Grant St., Denver Are you a person of faith, any faith, who wants to worship during Pride? If so, you’re in luck! First Baptist Church is a place of worship that’s all about rethinking religion and inviting in folks of all types. In honor of Pride, not only are they welcoming of all orientations, they
St., Denver One of Denver’s beloved parties is celebrating for Pride with a night of music, dancing, good times, and, of course, bears! DJ Wayne G. from the U.K. will be spinning, and there will be laser lights and go-go bears for your entertainment. Admission is $10 in advance, $15 after 9:30 p.m. The show goes from 8:00 p.m. until midnight.
DENVER DYKE MARCH Colorado State Capitol, 200 E. Colfax Ave., Denver If you want a more feminist-centric Pride experience, meet up with the lovely dykes of Denver for the annual Dyke March! This isn’t just an event for lesbians; bi and pan women, and any folks looking for a more womenfocused Pride, are welcome to attend. The Dyke March is also intersectional and trans-affirming. Meet the other ladies, femmes, faeries, and queers at 2 p.m. if you want to march!
For more events, visit OutFrontMagazine.com/Events
GIRL PRIDE Lincoln St. Station, 776 N. Lincoln St., Denver If you’re looking for an awesome way to celebrate women during Pride, try Girl Pride! This is the tenth year the party will be thrown, and everyone is looking forward to a night of DJs, dance floors, sexy ladies, drinks, and great entertainment. There will even be special prizes, like trips to exotic locations. Doors are at 8 p.m.
DENVER PUNK JUNE 16–JUNE 17 ROCK FLEA MARKET 2018
SCULPTURE BY MIKE WHITING
THROUGH SEPTEMBER 23 Experience pixelated sculptures playing in the Gardens’ natural landscape. #DBGPixelated
Fox Street Compound, 725 W. 39th Ave., Denver Back again just in time for summer, Denver’s Punk Rock Flea Market is the perfect excuse to spend some of that cash that’s been burning a hole in your pocket. Featuring a full bar, live music, special events, food trucks, and of course, a ton of cool stuff to buy, the $5 cover charge or $7 weekend charge is a steal. Come get some records, local crafts, and snacks! The market runs 11 a.m.-6 p.m. both days.
PRIDE WORSHIP SERVICE Park Hill United Methodist Church, 5209 Montview Blvd., Denver Another affirming place of worship, Park Hill United Methodist is a church that welcomes everyone who walks through the door. If you want to attend a Christian service that honors Pride and all that the celebration means, they are holding a special one in honor of Pride at 8 a.m. Those who want to march in the parade with PHUMC can stick around after the service.
COORS LIGHT PRIDEFEST PARADE Cheesman Park, 1599 E. 8th Ave. One of the yearly highlights of PrideFest, the annual parade takes the city by storm. Marchers start in Cheesman Park and make their way down Colfax. You can either come to march with your peeps, ride on the float of your choice, or watch the parade and cheer the marchers on. Don’t miss out this time around! The magic happens from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
10th & York Street | botanicgardens.org WITH SUPPORT FROM
Image credit: Buck by Mike Whiting, 2007. Paint and steel. Oak Grove, Denver Botanic Gardens. Photo by Scott Dressel-Martin. On loan from Brigham Young University Museum of Art.
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Pride & Swagger By Caitlin Galiz-Rowe
Takes Over Uptown
photos by Charles Broshous
ptown has historically been one of Denver’s gayborhoods, hosting bars like JR’s, M Uptown, and the Wrangler, but some of that has started to slip away in recent years. JR’s and M Uptown have closed their doors, and The Wrangler moved to a new location—and will soon close its doors permanently. As these locations started to disappear, some of the neighborhood’s history seemed to be going with it. That’s why Scott Wedor decided to open new bar, Pride & Swagger, on east 17th Ave. and Pennsylvania Street.
“I’ve always wanted to open a bar,” he said. “Denver has always had a great LGBT scene, and in the past few years I’ve noticed it’s needed some new blood, per say. Plus, this area used to have so many great LGBT bars and I really wanted to bring that back to the area again—I love this part of Uptown.” Like the bars that used to be in Uptown, Pride & Swagger aimed to be more of a traditional bar than a club. It has definitely succeeded. It’s in a modestly sized venue with ample seating. Patrons can order food, and there’s a killer all-day happy hour special to get your evening started without breaking the bank. “I really wanted to bring back a bar. A true bar. Similar to what JR’s used to be. It was a great place to meet up for drinks, have some fun before going to your next destination,” Wedor explained. There are also weekly events like a Broadway musical sing-a-long night, a RuPaul’s Drag Race viewing party, and a brand-new drag king show geared towards mentoring new drag kings. From its drag king show to its overall attitude, Pride & Swagger is trying to evolve with the queer community and become a truly welcoming space.
“We wanted to make sure we opened a bar that truly welcomed everyone. We stand behind being an LGBTQIA bar, and welcome all and everyone to our bar.” Drag queen shows are fairly popular in Denver LGBTQ bars, but the inclusion of, and explicit goal to help mentor, new drag kings is a way to support those who are sometimes overlooked in the community and attempt to make the space more welcoming to folks across the spectrum. Wedor also wants to be supportive of the other queer bars, especially since several new ones have opened recently.
“Most importantly, we want to encourage everyone to support all their local gay bars,” Wedor said. “It is so important, especially in this time, we stay united and support one another and the great community we have. Go out, come visit Pride & Swagger for sure, as we’d love to have you here, but go and visit all the bars. Get out there and have some fun.” To help Denver’s queer folks get out and have some fun, Pride & Swagger will be hosting a variety of Pride events in June. For more info on the current events schedule, and the upcoming Pride events, head over to the Pride & Swagger Facebook page. OUTFRONTMAGAZINE.COM
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Photos By Mike Bomberger
Gladys: By Veronica L Holyfield
The Nosy Neighbor Knows Best
n the heart of the Art District in Denver, Santa Fe Drive is lined with galleries, performance spaces, and dining digs for blocks. At the entrance of it all, there is a new home for the queer community that offers diverse performances and theatrics with a bar-next-door vibe. Gladys: The Nosy Neighbor, better known as just Gladys, has revitalized a location that was once a failing bar. Gladys now promises a unique rendering of entertainment every night of the week.
The proud rainbow flag acts as a marker as it waves above the front door, the landing place and entrance into a
different world. On the northeast corner of 5th Avenue and Santa Fe Drive, it could be easily missed, as it is nestled between auto part shops and busy restaurants, but once you step foot inside, Gladys is unforgettable. “Gladys brings new life into this space,” said Vivica Galactica, the host of Gladys’ weekly underground drag battle, Weirdo. “We call it the gay Cheers: it’s a queer space with a hometown vibe.” People come in and out, and are met with hugs and kisses. Some stay for a while to grab a drink, and some flutter away and are on to the next stop. “It’s very open and accepting; you will be
respected for who you are,” Vivica said. That’s exactly what you get upon entering the throwback 70s lounge: a warm and welcome greeting combined with a flare and zest for life. There is a combination of two worlds seamlessly colliding inside, a dimly lit ambiance coexisting beside bold and brightly colored neon illuminations from signs and light fixtures. Low-hanging sconces create miniature spotlights along the bar, and the full liquor selection is lit like a trophy wall. The high-top tables sprinkled throughout are perfect for close and private conversations and are in high demand for reservations on show nights.
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The main room is open and allows space to easily move around as it fills up on the big event nights. Skee ball and dart boards are available for play, and the energy in the room is light and lively as laughter permeates and fills the joint. In a second room, more tables and games line the walls, but there is one single standout that beckons. The stage, where the magic at Gladys lives. “When we opened Gladys, we talked a lot about what it’d be,” explained Chris Newell. Owner of Gladys, as well as the leather bar Trade across the street, Newell knew that he would potentially be competing against himself. “We definitely played off the idea that it would be Trade’s neighbor.” In trying to create something different than what his already-popular bar had to offer, there was an obvious potential and direction already installed. “The bar had a stage already, so it lent itself to doing more shows,” he said. He explained how the space would be perfect to execute a much more traditional cabaret style of performance, and that’s exactly what he has done. “Gladys is known for its live shows,” Galactica explained, and from a simple glance at the Facebook page, she’s not kidding. Almost every night of the week, there is an event or stage performance of some variety scheduled. This is what Gladys is doing to stand out from the other gay bars in town: nights of karaoke and showtune singalongs hosted by DJ Craig, Zipper Club’s burlesque show, Drag Queen bingo, Fauxxxy Fridays, and the weekly Weirdo. James Sueling, podcast co-host of 80 Minutes of Gay Yelling, lives in the neighborhood and is a frequent visitor of Gladys. He agrees that it brings something special to the community that is unlike anywhere else. “I love this bar; it’s the old-school bar our generation didn’t have and doesn’t remember,” he said. “It’s really good people; it’s a really encouraging bar, which sounds cheesy to say,” he admitted. He comes for the artists and the performances, and stays for the friendships and conversation.
While the bar offers enough entertainment to bring in folks ready to party, both Sueling and Vivica are certain that what makes the place thrive is the leadership from above. Newell’s two spots don’t compete with one another because they provide very different things for patrons, but it’s his style of management that makes both spots successful.
Bringing in crowds organically from the First Friday Art Walk draw, Vivica admitted that most nights, getting out to Gladys is a commitment.
“Chris is a beacon in an unexpected way,” Sueling said. “He busts his ass for our community.”
“Every time we go somewhere else, by 11 p.m. we’re like, ‘Let’s go to Gladys,’” says Sueling. He thinks it’s a great idea to have the leather sister-bar Trade so close. “You don’t have to go across town to get something different if you want.”
Vivica emphasized the fact that Chris is always open to trying new things; he allows the creativity of the performers to shine through their own ideas and concepts. With a “why not” attitude, he opens up the stage to performers that want to push their limits and test out a new character or theatrics in front of the packed house. “Weirdo may be the most underground thing in the city,” Sueling said. “It’s half drag and half performance art.” The eccentric and bizarre are welcome, and everything is up for interpretation. They allow performers as young as 18 years old on stage, and anyone who is interested in drag is welcome to try it out. But Gladys isn’t only a spot for new performers; it is also a place where wellestablished queens can get up and push themselves out of the box. They can test out something odd or explore a side that they may not feel empowered to on a “normal” stage.
“It’s a destination bar, for sure,” she said. However, Sueling finds that he often ends his nights there, regardless of where it starts.
In addition to the usual week of performances, Gladys has some special events planned for Pride this year. Vivica will be hosting her Best of the Month Weirdo competition, with the best of the best vying for the coveted winner’s prize. Friday night is Blow Pony: a partycentered, dirty, gritty drag show with performers still to be announced. Saturday night is a special Pride edition of Fauxxxy Friday, and Sunday is going to be open for relaxation and recovery. With everything that Gladys has to offer, it is still the friendly, neighborhood bar atmosphere that people ultimately come for. Come as you are, whatever gender, kink, or sexuality, and know that someone at Gladys will make you feel at home. Sueling lays it out in just one simple phrase: “Gladys is a reminder that we’re all a community.”
CrossFit Verve Offers Inclusivity
As you walk through the doors of CrossFit Verve, you’re immediately greeted by a large, open space with an assortment of workout equipment lining the walls. It’s big, and for some, a little intimidating. Filling the space, however, are groups of people either using the equipment, cooling down, or socializing.
movements reflect the best aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing, and more. The more work you do in less time, or the higher the power output, the more intense the effort. By employing a constantly varied approach to training, functional movements and intensity lead to dramatic gains in fitness.
“If you talk to any of these people they are all going to say the same three things, ‘It’s all about community, support, and inclusivity,” gym member Frank said after a class. “They aren’t lying, though. Verve is wonderful. It’s hard, but you know when you walk through those doors you are supported and the people around you are looking out for you.”
“I’m in the best shape of my life,” gym member Anna said. “I was an athlete all through school playing soccer, and I was used to someone telling me what to do when I was working out. When I was done with school, I would go and sit on the elliptical. Here the trainers really guide you; they make sure that you stay safe and make people check their egos at the door.”
It’s something that Eric Clancy, Courtney Shepherd, and their team at CrossFit Verve in the RiNo area strive for. Whether it is physical or mental hardships, the team is there to help you. Even the mission statement stresses that importance: “To cultivate a fit community that transforms lives by providing elite, functional fitness, so that people may live happier and healthier.” The website goes on to say, “We want to inject fitness into people’s lives. We want to foster a community that supports each other. We want to increase self esteem by providing a strength and conditioning program that gets people silly strong.” They’re damn good at it, too. CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. All CrossFit workouts are based on functional movements, and these
CrossFit is a great fitness program if done correctly and learned under the watchful eye of a qualified trainer. CrossFit Verve's entire training staff makes sure that their member's stay within their limits, focus on form with each movement, and get a great workout. Even though members work out in large classes, each member is treated as if he, she, or they are in a personal training session. For Anna, who recently obtained a shoulder injury, this is especially important, but it’s not the only reason she comes back. “It’s mostly about the culture,” she said. “I met my fiancé here and some of the people here are in the wedding. I’ve met so many amazing people here. It’s hard as an adult to find friends, so to be in a room with likeminded people who have your back feels amazing.”
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Daddy’s Bar & Grill By Veronica L Holyfield
Open and Ready for Change
Photos By Charles Broshous
ompetition is steep in Capitol Hill in the industry of libations and eateries, so what can a new hot spot do to stand out from all the rest? Daddy’s Bar and Grill has been in full swing for six months and the owners feel they are doing things totally differently. While they have experienced the ups and downs as a small business inside the big city, the LGBTQ-focused hangout, located at 6th Avenue and Downing Street, is pushing boundaries and bridging gaps within the queer community.
“The concept of it is was to be a chill place, to be all-inclusive,” explained owner and co-manager Kevin Yardley. “We don’t feel that our community is represented as a whole in our bar scene. We wanted to change that a little bit in Denver.” Yardley and his partner and restaurant co-manager Bill Magnuson combined their collective experience in the bar and restaurant industry and opened the doors of Daddy’s in November 2017. Named after the fact that both Yardley and Magnuson are dads, they wanted to see something else in the Denver LGBTQ nightlife, so they focused their attention on drawing in crowds by delivering an alternative to the current offerings.
beginning of their relationship eight years ago. They imagined it would need to be in a place like Montana, where Yardley is from, or even that they would need to relocate to Seattle in order to make this dream a reality. Little did they think it would be happening right now, and right here in Denver.
“When I moved to Denver 15 years ago, I missed the heydays of The Carousel, Broadways, the old Triangle... The Fox Hole closed literally two weeks after I was here,” Magnuson said. “It seems like Denver has had this gap in it, so we wanted to bring some of this back. Daddy’s is more of a community bar versus just a gay bar.”
After taking possession of what used to be My Other Bar on November 1, the two quickly transformed the rugged and rundown establishment and opened November 15. They say there was a team of people that put in a lot of hard work, and there was a lot of cleaning that had to be done in order to turn the place into the bar they had always dreamed of.
Yardley and Magnuson dreamed of owning a place like Daddy’s from the
“The only thing that’s the same is the bar area’s license plates,” Yardley said. “That
was one of the things that we liked about the bar. Drawing off of that, we went with a garage theme. The day we got to open was the coolest day.” Hard work pays off; the place feels like it has had a breath of fresh air and a new liveliness brought inside its walls. The openness of the main room feels industrial, garage-like, and lends itself to a floor fit for dancing just as much as a casual place to meet with good friends for a couple drinks. The license plate-covered bar top is not only an homage to My Other Bar but also to the fact that Denver has become such a transplant city. The full food and drink menu is also a standout from most of its competition, perfect for a quick bite for lunch or a leisurely dinner with a date. OUTFRONTMAGAZINE.COM
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Yardley went on. “We have a lot of the Denver Gay Professional Men’s Club, along with younger people, too. We sponsor gay leagues, we’re sponsoring the Colorado Gay Rodeo Association, all kinds of that stuff.” Besides weekends, Daddy’s has seen some of its biggest crowds on Wednesday nights: Ladies Night. With happy hour going all night long, the place is packed during the all-inclusive “Girl’s Night Out.” Bringing another spot to the lesbian and non-binary community was something that was important to them from the beginning.
“A lot of the people have loved seeing the change, the renovation of the space,” Yardley said of the response from the neighborhood. “It’s a good thing for Cap Hill in the long run. We had the opportunity to take a location that was rugged and has been run down and revitalize it for the community.” “We’re also bringing a lot of older clientele out who have been out of the scene,”
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“I really don’t feel like the ladies in town have a place other than Blush & Blu, and I feel that’s a real shame,” Magnuson said. “Some of that has been perpetuated by other bars, which is one of those cycles we wanted to break.” Magnuson said he experienced animosity and negativity during his time in the food and beverage industry, and specifically within the gay bar and club scene. “We don’t want the hostility; we’re trying to stifle that,” he said. “The community here has become its own worst enemy
and I don’t like that, so I’m offering opportunities for other options.” As the business prepares for its first Denver Pride, they have a lot planned and are looking forward to celebrating along with the rest of the city. Kicking off the weekend with a big Wednesday “Girl’s Night Out” event, things will be in full swing all weekend. Friday night there will be live music by jazz singer Humphrey Cobb and Saturday they will host Trash Drag with Ginger Cilantro. Strap Up Custom Gear is going to set up a harness display, go-go boys will be serving shots, and they are excited about the soon-to-be-announced food and drink specials for each night. “Eat! Drink! Be Yourself!” is the motto at Daddy’s, and they are hopeful that they are representative of what the Denver gay scene could blossom in to: one spot where all worlds collide. “It’s a struggle daily, but that comes with any business,” Magnuson noted. “We have a great community here and we have an opportunity to make it even better, and that’s what we wanted to do.”
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Triangle Bar By Lacy Bursick
Brings an Urban, Chic Aesthetic to Denver’s Queer Nightlife
Photos By Charles Broshous
ean O’Grady looked for several months in search of the perfect building to house his own bar, which is not an easy task in the current Denver market. What he stumbled upon was an old, vacant building with an illustrious history—the perfect place to house his dream. Sitting on the corner of N. Broadway and Stout Street, the building has a unique triangle shape aligning with the block. Back in the 70s, the building was home to one of Denver’s most popular gay bars, The Triangle. For decades, queer people filled the building with dancing and debauchery until it closed its doors in the early 2000s. The building was completely remodeled in 2014 from the foundation up. The only thing that still remains from the original Triangle are the exterior brick walls. O’Grady went back and forth about resurrecting “The Triangle,” and decided to honor the building’s history. “I loved that it was able to flourish in a time when it was illegal to be gay, or it was not an easy time to be gay,” O’Grady said. “This was such a big part of history, and we're happy to turn the building back into another gay bar.” In only six weeks, they transformed the space into a warm lounge design. Leather couches are scattered throughout the bar with LED lights, giving it a sexy, modern, chic aesthetic. Outside is a patio lined with contemporary fireplaces and stairs that lead to a rooftop that overlooks the city. “The first week we were open, all the 70-, 80-year-old gay men came out and
were like, ‘I remember Triangle back in the day.’ It was awesome that the community was excited,” said Adam Perkowski, a bartender and barback who helped open The Triangle. But Triangle is not just another gay bar. During the day, they have a coffee shop that offers on-the-go food options like breakfast burritos. Then, on the weekends, the bar transforms from a classy cocktail lounge to an energized dance floor with local DJs. “The very first day of training with the staff, we just talked about how important it is that people aren't coming to buy a drink. They don't go outside to drink.
They don't go out to buy food. They come out for experience, and that's really what we're selling." They even offer wine and cocktails on the tap. It keeps the service flowing, while allowing customers to still experience fresh wine and delicious craft cocktails beyond the typical whiskey sour. “In Denver, there are so many worldclass bartenders and bars like Williams & Graham, but I don't know why it hasn't hit the gay scene yet. And so we kind of got lucky, and one of our bartenders who's really well-versed in that scene just worked out a really cool cocktail menu for us,” O’Grady explained. OUTFRONTMAGAZINE.COM
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The menu offers farm-to-table food that isn’t the typical fried bar menu. There are locally sourced, offering unique options like wagyu meatballs. They get their liquor just three blocks away at Mile High Spirits, and all their baked goods come from Harvest Moon. “We're also super proud of the fact that we are trying to be more sustainable,” O’Grady said. “We compost and recycle. We divert about 78 percent of our waste from the landfill.” Their elevated menu matched with modern decor isn’t the reason they have received all their raving reviews. It’s their engaging customer service from the staff, a lot of whom are friends and previous coworkers. “We're always empowering our staff, saying ‘Whatever you have to do to make somebody happy, we trust you.’ They've done such a good job, and they're all really fun and friendly people,” he said. Not only did Sean O’Grady, the managing partner, have positive things to say about his team, but his attitude towards them is reciprocated. Adam Perkowski said it’s his favorite place he’s worked. He spoke highly of O’Grady’s background and previous work history, and was excited to learn he was opening his own business. “The style is great. The owners all know what they are doing,” Perkowski said. There are four investors in Triangle. Sean O’Grady is the managing partner, and his partner, Roger Kerns, who still works for Root Down at the airport, supports the food side of
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the business. Scott Coors, who is the openly gay grandson of the Coors Brewing founder, and Dave Hurt, are also investors. “I couldn't ask for better partners on this, and we couldn't do this without them,” O’Grady said. Future plans include participating in the Pride parade, unveiling a bar on the roof just in time for summer, and finishing the basement to create another lounge area that will host more music. “The basement will be more underground, but also have a more premium feel. More black and more leather. It will be open for Pride,” he said. “We also have some fun DJs booked for the summer. We are excited to push the envelope a little bit and just let the DJs play how they play.”
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Photos By Charles Broshous
# By Ryan Howe
Hits Broadway & Offers a Place for All
There’s a bar nestled on Broadway between 10th and 11th Avenue, that accepts you as you are. No matter what you look like, where you came from, where you are going, there’s a spot for you at #VYBE. That’s what owner Joey
Miranda set out to do since day one, which was July 17, 2017. Residing in the same space that housed Broadways, #VYBE is one of the six new queer bars that have found residence in Denver. And, although they each cater to the queer community, #VYBE is offering everyone a family.
“People are drawn here because of the vibe we give off,” Miranda said. “It’s family-run, and people pick up on that atmosphere. I mean, my mom works here; she’s behind the bar right now. My dad, brother, and sister all work here with me, and that’s what makes this place so special.”
We’ve really made this place our own,” Miranda said. “I’m really proud of everything we’ve accomplished. Miranda, a Colorado native, has been in the queer bar industry since he turned 21 years old in the early 2000s. Hopping from bar to bar, and working with so many people in the community, Miranda decided to break away and finally open his own bar. He clearly knows what he's doing. When you cross through the front door, you’re immediately greeted by dance music, and a massive bar with liquor bottles neatly organized behind it. A few tables litter the spacious, indoor dance floor. The DJ booth sits in the corner above the crowd. But, #VYBE’s main attraction is the multistory patio set up. The top story is a wooden deck with many lawn tables and chairs offering patrons a relaxing place to sit, socialize, drink, and smoke. The lower part of the patio is an even larger dancefloor complete with a main stage where both local and national artists play. “We’ve really made this place our own,” Miranda said. “I’m really proud of everything we’ve accomplished.” Even though he broke away to fulfill his dream, he still has strong bonds with those that he has worked beside for
nearly two decades—many of whom now own their own bars around town. Utilizing his relationships and desire to bring the community even closer, Miranda organized The Big Gay Onesie Bar Crawl. On April 28, hundreds of queer people travelled around Denver via one giant bus, hitting five LGBTQ bars—#VYBE, Triangle Bar, Trade, Lil Devil’s, and XBar. “I used to bartend alongside some of those bar owners, so we still have strong connections,” Miranda said. “It’s crazy to think that so many of us that worked behind the bar became the bars. Why wouldn’t we utilize that?” It’s something that Miranda is looking to do again. “No matter how crazy or tired it makes me. It’s important for us to come together as a community— especially right now.” The next time around, Miranda wants to get a few more bars in on the action, but that’s the only information available right now. With a prime location, delicious drinks, plenty of space to dance, socialize, or flirt, and friendly faces behind the bar, #VYBE is looking forward to another year in Denver. OUTFRONTMAGAZINE.COM
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Photos by Charles Broshous
Firefighters The 2019 Colorado Firefighter Calendar tryouts were held at the EXDO Event Center on May 12, and our publisher, Jerry Cunningham, got to moonlight as a judge! Looks like he had fun!
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By Caitlin Galiz-Rowe
If You're Going to Denver Comic Con
You Need to See These Three Queer Creatives
omic Con, once again, falls on the same weekend of PrideFest. So, if you find yourself in the air conditioned convention center, make sure to celebrate Pride by showing love to these queer artists.
Kat Leyh Leyh is a freelance comic book artist and writer currently living in Chicago, Illinois. She’s done two series previously, Supercakes and Bird Witch, but her credits also include BOOM! and KaBOOM! comics such as Adventure Time, Bravest Warriors, Munchkin, Steven Universe and the Crystal Gems, Goldie Vance, Coady and the Creepies, and, recently, Lumberjanes. Lumberjanes takes place at Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, and follows five “lumberjane scouts”—Mal, Molly, Jo, April, and Ripley—through their fantastic adventures. The series has a supernatural vibe reminiscent of Disney’s Gravity Falls but creates its own style and mood through the personalities of the girls and their exasperated counselor, Jen. On Lumberjanes, Leyh has been a co-writer since issue 18, and the cover artist since issue 24. Leyh says that one of her favorite things about Lumberjanes is “the unlimited scope of the world. These girls learn to roll with
the weirdest situations and have fun doing it!” Leyh has been attending Comic Cons in some capacity since 2012, but this year will be her first time in Denver. “I’m excited to see what makes it unique,” she said, “and it’s a chance to meet a whole group of fans I maybe haven’t encountered before.” With all the great work she’s been doing, Denver fans should definitely be excited to meet her.
Annalee Newitz Newitz is a writer of many talents. She was the founding editor of io9, editor-in-chief of Gizmodo, and is now editor-at-large for Ars Technica. She also has two published books: Scatter,
Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction, and a debut novel, Autonomous, and is currently working on another novel and another nonfiction book. She has also worked as a freelancer for magazines and newspapers, a policy analyst, and a lecturer at UC Berkeley. Autonomous, set on Earth in 2144, is about military agent Eliasz, and his robot partner, Paladin, during their pursuit of Jack, a rogue anti-patent scientist whose latest drug has left behind a string of people who have become addicted to their work, to the point of madness or harm. On the way, Eliasz and Paladin develop a relationship neither really understands, and the question of freedom is uncertain in a society where anything and anyone can be a possession. “I just love talking about queer robot sex,” Newitz said when asked about her favorite part of touring Autonomous.
“Now I have an excuse to do it!” What is Newitz excited for this DCC? “My favorite part of any convention is always Artist’s Alley, because I find incredible artists and crafters whose work I’ve never seen before.” She’s looking forward to some of the other guest authors who will be appearing at the con. “I’m also excited that Christopher Priest is a guest; I’m hoping I get to see him speak, as I’ve read his work and think he’s crazy amazing,” she said. “Another writer I’m hoping to see is R.F. Kuang, whose new novel, The Poppy War, is informed by her scholarly work on Chinese military history. I love authors who work in fiction and nonfiction.” If you like Newitz’s work, here’s what she wants you to know: “Tor and Tor.com publish a ton of great authors whose books you should check out when they visit the booth!” Be sure to swing by her booth to talk about robot sex and the other great work she and others have coming out soon.
Charlie Jane Anders Anders is the very accomplished, awardwinning writer of several novels and pieces of short fiction. She has won a Lambda Literary Award, an Emperor Norton award, a Crawford, a Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, a Hugo, and a Nebula. Beyond fiction, Anders is also the former editor-in-chief of io9, and has had her journalism published at outlets such as Salon, The Wall Street Journal, and Mother Jones. Anders’ latest novel, All the Birds in the Sky, is set in a near-future San Francisco where war is breaking out between an established coven of witches and a trendy tech start up, all in the name of saving the world. Trapped between the factions are lovers Patricia, a witch, and Laurence, a genius engineer. They both must choose sides, but those choices will have more impact than either can anticipate. Not only will Anders be at a booth, she’ll also be speaking about her upcoming collection, Six Months, Three Days, Five Others, at DCC this year. There will be plenty of ways to catch this great writer at the con, so don’t miss out!
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Charlie Jane Anders By Sean Gonzalez
Celebrates Pride at Comic Con
enver Comic Con is a gathering of all sorts of people. From comic book enthusiasts to TV show guests and know-it-alls, avid readers or authors to cosplays from a variety of universes, the annual celebration is host to a plethora of fanatics. Charlie Jane Anders, known for her works Six Months, Three Days (2011), and her latest All the Birds in the Sky (2016), is one of the many talented guest authors paneling at the event. For those unfamiliar with Anders’ work, her novels blend science fiction and absurdism with poignant check-ups on the current society on earth. Interwoven within the commentary are narratives of relationships asking big questions and challenging the ethos of modern love. In Six Months, Three Days, one member of the relationship can see the future while the other can see many futures; bringing about the difficult conversation of determinism vs. free will. All the Birds in the Sky pits a witch together with a scientific techno-geek, as diversified philosophies put a strain on their outcast relationship.
While each book has won multiple awards, Anders is a frequent contributor to the blog io9, which was started by her partner, Annalee Newitz. Anders is transgender, incredibly imaginative and full of epic, heart-twisting tales. OUT FRONT had the chance to chat with Charlie Jane Anders in preparation for Denver Comic Con 2018.
HOW HAS THE COMMUNITY SURROUNDING YOU HELPED YOU CONTINUE TO CREATE? I'm incredibly lucky to be part of several communities that nurture me as a writer and as a person. The larger community of science fiction and fantasy writers and readers is a wonderful group of people who love stories and new ideas, even if everybody doesn't always agree on everything. And I've been incredibly fortunate to join the community of writers who are marginalized because of their sexuality, gender, or a whole host of other reasons. The rise of intersectionality in science fiction and fantasy communities has been giving me life. And then, here in San Francisco, there's a ton of great literary communities, of all types, supported
by a ton of great bookstores. I've been organizing a reading series called “Writers With Drinks” here, and felt incredibly lucky to be part of a really exciting scene of local writers and book fans. Hearing other people read their work, or talk about what they've read or written, keeps me going.
IN PARTICULAR, HAS THE CONTINUING AWARENESS OF LGTBQIA ISSUES IN TODAY'S SOCIETY BROUGHT MORE SOLACE TO YOUR WORK OR LIFE? There has been a fantastic emergence of trans and nonbinary writers of science fiction and fantasy in the past four or five years. The annual series of Transcendent anthologies, collecting SF by trans/nb authors, is required reading. There is so much great writing going on right now.
YOU'VE ACCOMPLISHED SO MUCH IN THE PAST YEARS WITH YOUR WRITING; WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR WRITERS WANTING TO BUILD THEIR REPUTATION? Don't be a jerk. Treat everyone with respect, and try to remember that
you're surrounded by other people who are insecure about their writing or their reputations. Writers are a neurotic bunch, and there are lots of little opportunities to get competitive or compare yourself to others; try not to.
HOW MUCH OF YOURSELF BLED INTO PATRICIA AND LAURENCE FROM ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY? I always end up drawing on my own experiences when writing characters like that, to some extent. Growing up, figuring out who you are and who you want to be, dealing with young friendships and people's expectations, those are all super personal experiences. But I also try to listen to lots of other people, and I'm an inveterate people-watcher. I try to draw from everywhere in creating characters who feel like they have real emotional and psychological lives.
WHEN WRITING A NOVEL, WITH THE AMOUNT OF DEPTH IN CHARACTERS, SETTING, PLOT, IS THERE A FORMULATED PROCESS FOR WORLD BUILDING? I don't have a formula for anything. Every single time I have to come up with a new way to do it, and it always gets messy. I usually have a blank document where I'm just writing down bits of backstory or details about the world, and a few other docs where I'm trying to figure out other aspects. But sometimes I'm just writing longhand and seeing where it gets me. I always seem to have a worse process for each writing project than for all the ones before.
WHAT'S THE MOST ABSURD THING ABOUT TODAY'S SOCIETY, THAT IF IN A NOVEL WOULD READ LIKE SOMETHING STRAIGHT OUT OF SCIENCE FICTION? I think everything right now feels like a Philip K. Dick novel, crossed with some of Octavia Butler's work.
ARE THERE EVER MOMENTS IN YOUR WRITING WHERE YOU THINK "THAT IS SO META"? I really, really try to avoid being meta, if at all possible. I try to make every joke or piece of humor or reference actually illuminate something about the story or characters. It's so easy to fall into being
clever for its own sake, and it's always the slow death of story.
WHAT IS THE MOMENT YOU KNOW YOU HAVE FINISHED A PIECE? IS THERE A SIGH OF RELIEF OR A TEAR SHED? I almost always have a nagging feeling that I could be doing more, or that there are parts I could try to rework one more time. Usually I know I'm done when I can't see any stuff that makes me nervous or uncertain, and I just can't keep poking at it anymore.
YOU'VE BEEN TO DENVER COMIC CON BEFORE; DO YOU HAVE SOME FAVORITE SPOTS THAT YOU ENJOY IN THE CITY TO VISIT WHILE HERE? Yeah, I love Zoe MaMa. I also love to
sit and write in Blush & Blu, where everyone is so friendly. There's a lot of fantastic coffee in Denver. I really loved walking around the River North Arts District last time I was there.
ANY LAST WORDS? I'm terrified of the red-eyed horse at your airport. But you probably get that a lot. Charlie Jane Anders is a prolific writer, with pieces all around the internet. To stay up-to-date with the author, check her out on Tumblr or look out for the writer paneling at Comic Con! OUTFRONTMAGAZINE.COM
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By David-Elijah Nahmod
That Will Fill You With Pride
appear in it, even to go see it. David (Robert Joel) is an ex-monk and a schoolteacher. He meets Mark (Curt Gareth) in a bar and the two move in together. They quickly learn that they're not looking for the same things: David wants a monogamous relationship, while Mark continues to sleep around. He even goes so far as to try to involve David in his activities. This leads to their breakup.
groundbreaking production like A Very Natural Thing, which was made by a hearty band of folks who dared to kick the closet door open more than a generation ago. They're all people we can be proud of.
Now alone, David attends the 1973 Gay Pride parade in New York City. There he meets the handsome Jason (Bo White), who shares his values. Will the two find happiness together?
A Very Natural Thing (1974) Director: Christopher Larkin 90 minutes Eyebrows were raised back in 1974 when this tale of a gay man searching for love played in mainstream movie theaters. Though the fight for gay rights was already underway, no equality laws had been passed, and most straight people of that era had a uniformly negative view of homosexuality. It was therefore an act of courage to make A Very Natural Thing, to
The parade sequence was shot on location at that year's actual parade. Director Christopher Larkin breaks the fourth wall, interviewing parade attendees who speak on camera about what being gay means to them. A Very Natural Thing is a film that was many years ahead of its time. Shot on a low budget, it might be the first to feature gay characters who were comfortable and happy with who they were. It's an uplifting film; David is a likable character and Robert Joel, who only had a small handful of acting credits, is quite good in the role. In our era of marriage equality and Will & Grace, it's fascinating to look back on a
Pedro (2008) Director: Nick Oceano 90 minutes Pedro recalls the life of Pedro Zamora (1972-1994), one of the most extraordinary gay activists who ever lived. Zamora, a refugee from Cuba, was one of the stars of the hit MTV reality series The Real World:
San Francisco. When he auditioned for the series, Zamora was quite honest with the producers about being gay and about his AIDS diagnosis. He was cast on the series. The film, written by the openly gay, Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk), underscores the magnitude of Zamora's courage. He talks about being gay and having AIDS in front of The Real World cameras. Keep in mind that this was 25 years ago. In one memorable episode, Zamora marries his boyfriend Sean. At the time, The Real World had a huge audience. Millions were educated about HIV and about homosexuality thanks to Zamora's efforts.
COLORADOâ€™S LGBTQ MEDIA
Sadly, Zamora never got to enjoy his fame. He became very ill while his episodes were airing and passed away soon after, at the age of 22. Alex Loynaz offers a wonderful performance as Zamora. The actor paints a vivid portrait of Zamora's determination to make his mark upon the world in a positive way, even though he must have known that his time on earth would be short. And Zamora indeed made quite an impact; his efforts attracted the attention of then-President Bill Clinton, who participated in the making of the film. Pedro is a haunting story that viewers won't soon forget.
Tennessee Queer (2012) Directors: Mark Jones, Ryan Parker 90 minutes Tennessee Queer is a sweet comedy about Jason (Christian Walker), a gay man in New York who returns to his small hometown in Tennessee, where he organizes the town's first gay pride parade. He finds himself up against a local preacher and a city councilman who pretend to support him. In reality they want to see who's going to march in the parade so they can get the participants into conversion therapy. The film offers hilarious satire on the hypocrisy of the religious right, including a gut-bustingly funny video for a so-called conversion therapy camp. But when the parade finally happens, it's actually quite touching, as a small but hearty band of queers march through the center of the town, ignoring the protesters who tell them what "sinners" they are. Tennessee Queer ultimately stands as a lovely example of how an independent film can transcend its low budget by telling a good story with a lot of heart. OUTFRONTMAGAZINE.COM
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Dueling Depression: It Can’t Rain Every Pride
Column & Photo by Mike Yost
I feel odd. What else is new? It feels as if I blinked, and it’s suddenly Pride again. Well, time keeps on slippin’ into the future. Thanks, Steve Miller, but that’s not entirely what I meant. Feel free to enlighten me... free as an eagle to the se— Two years ago I had one of the best Prides of my life. Oh really? Do tell! I spent the day holding my boyfriend’s hand while walking down Colfax with the Parade. And I’ve been fortunate enough to have that wonderful experience on more than one PrideFest. With two different boyfriends. Those were good days. Two boyfriends at the same time? No. Not at the same time. Pay attention, will you?
with Last year’s Pride was just me and my camera. Still a beautiful, sunny day capturing snapshots of one of the largest Pride fests in the nation (all while mind-blowingly high on a mouth-full of edibles). But... But... I was swimming in an abundance of reminders, Denver landmarks that anchored happy memories of shared experiences from previous relationships. And these memories grow more and more stonewashed with each Pride, like vivid colors fading from a cherished photograph that you can never reprint.
Then it rains! These are all valid experiences. But mulling over which experience is better, or ruminating on past Prides, seems a waste of time. Time that keeps on slippin’ into the future.
This isn’t making me feel any better.
Sometimes Pride is full of sunshine and holding hands with a lover. Sometimes Pride is full of rain and solitude. Just go to Pride anyway.
You can’t love someone without opening yourself to possibility of having your heart cracked in half. And I know of absolutely no one who hasn’t, at some point, had to slowly pick up jagged bits of a broken heart from the floor. Yes, yes. I wouldn’t know what love feels like unless I flung myself into the fray and blah, blah, blah... And yet you went to Pride anyway. I almost didn’t. Surrounded by hundreds-of-thousands of people. Okay, that’s not helping those who struggle with social anxiety.
But maybe that’s a good thing. You’d make a horrible therapist.
I love that word.
I’m just saying that you went to last year’s Pride anyway, all by your lonesome, while carrying around your camera and a broken heart no one could see, exacerbating an underlying depression
But isn’t Pride a chance to gather in solidarity with strangers and just—at least for a day—sidestep all that hurt and loss and weighty emotion? A day to forego adult social conventions and dress
I wore headphones last year to drown out the crowd noise, and what if it rains this year?
that so often gets inflated by life’s frequent misfortunes.
And thousands of those people were also carrying around loss that no one could see: Maybe grief from the death of a friend, maybe a recent divorce, maybe a falling out with family members after coming out, or maybe just a general sense of ennui.
Well, that sounds depressing.
in sexy hot-pink spandex with matching flip-flops, or drink cold beer in the hot sun surrounded by friends while cheering on the passing floats, or get higher than the Mile High City itself and just wade through the collective energy of the crowd with the sun warming your back.
And dance in the rain like Gene Kelly. Exactly! Reminding yourself that it can’t rain all the time. You stole that line from The Crow. It’s a great flick. So you’re saying whether you’re at Pride this year with just yourself, or a friend, or a group of friends, or a lover— Or a group of lovers! It’s just about experiencing the day, despite all the deficiencies that drag us down into the muck. Because surrounding yourself in all that solidarity makes that muck a bit less mucky. Since when did you become the sensible voice in these articles? I’m just a nuanced voice in your head with countless expressions. Or maybe you’re one of countless voices in my head with only one— You really do sometimes think about thinking too much. Stop analyzing and just go to PrideFest!
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My name is Joseph Boyle. I’m a 27-year-old gay man, with a Master's in counseling, and I fell in love with a married couple. Don’t worry, I’m going to gloss over the melodramatic retelling of 50 Shades of Gay and jump straight to point. What this crazy ordeal taught me is, you have to love the part of you that will lead you into making some of the dumbest decisions of your life. Loving
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By Vivica Galactica
Reach For the Stars:
Reflects on Another Stellar Year
“The universe is under no obligation to make any sense.”–Neil DeGrasse Tyson
’ve walked across the stage in Civic Center park dozens of times. When I first moved to Denver, I wanted to get a better grasp of the “big” city, so I embarked on a photo journey where I captured nearly a thousand photos of the entire city and displayed them in a photo exhibition called “Denver City Limits.” That’s when I took my first deep breath, hoping that someday I’d be on the stage in front of hundreds of people. I started doing drag around Pride season two years ago, and now I’m on the brink of finishing another year of becoming Vivica Galactica.
In my first year, I was a national delegate for Bernie Sanders at the National Democratic Convention, started a show at a non-queer venue in downtown Denver, and performed in a different state (Wyoming). I saw my skills get better, got a whopping eighth-runner-up in Track’s annual Ultimate Queen competition, and had high hopes for the future. Now, I’m about to make my first main stage appearance in front of hundreds of people in my community at PrideFest. In my journey to step on as many stages as possible, one of the first defining experiences of my second year of drag was the opportunity to travel to the Big Apple to perform. It was a whirlwind trip where I got to experience New York City drag for the first time—and it was a thing to behold. OUTFRONTMAGAZINE.COM
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I used my time to perform on as many stages as I could, and I discovered a plethora of competition shows that were just different enough from Ultimate Queen back in Denver. They were weekly, and they were first come first served. I experienced Look Queen, hosted at the time by RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10 queen Dusty Ray Bottoms at the Manhattan Monster Bar, and Drag Wars with Shequida Hall at Pieces. These were two new stages that I could add to my portfolio. Denver, as beautiful and creative as it is, has a bad rap for Drag. Or, we aren’t known nationally enough to have any sort of identity in the Drag world. When I first started, I thought the scene was filled with fishy, dancing queens primarily doing top 40 dance numbers, and boy, I was wrong. One of the main things that I have learned is that drag is for everybody. It doesn’t matter if you are AFAB or AMAB; the genitalia that’s between your legs doesn’t dictate the story that you desire to share on the stage. Drag has evolved, too, becoming this queer performance art that acts as a form of self expression. This is where Weirdo comes into play. Weirdo has become a place for everybody to come and feel like they have a place in the queer community to be seen and to celebrate queerness. It gives an opportunity for the drag performers in this city to be celebrated if they find solace in out-of-the-box drag, but in the same vein, it provides a stage for folks to step out of the box and try something new. The community has a say in who wins, and seasoned performers and audience members can give feedback in order to help the performers keep moving forward in their careers. While drag in Denver has started to create a lot of competitive shows, I think Weirdo has become a nurturing space; at least that’s what I’ve tried to make. Halfway through the year I felt really good about my momentum in the community. Good things were happening, Weirdo was taking off; I was being booked in reputable shows around town more often. I was able to quit my retail job and do drag as a full-time gig, while doing a few bartending shifts at Gladys and Trade on the side. Things were looking good! On the afternoon of February 5, everything came to a screeching halt. While crossing Colorado Blvd. on foot, at a place where there wasn’t a crosswalk, with my headphones in and my head in the clouds, I was hit by an SUV. The brain does strange things when it experiences trauma. I don’t remember getting hit by the SUV. I don’t remember being blown out of my shoes. I don’t remember being put on the back brace or the ambulance ride to Denver Health. I don’t remember the CAT scans or the x-rays or seeing my family arrive in the ER. The only thing that brought me back was my mother, who lovingly held a small vial of essential oils to my nose while the ER nurses weren’t looking. I walked away the same day I got hit, with only a concussion, and four hours missing from my life. Those four hours were the biggest wake-up call I could have ever gotten. I realized that while good things were happening, I
was living my life in the future or the past. I wasn’t living in the present: every idea or hope or dream was a “what if,” “I wish,” or “if only.” It was time to take my life into my own hands. That whole experience also made me crave tater tots and chicken fingers, and I knew the best place to get those in the city was Mile High Hamburger Mary’s. In all honesty, I have always wanted to be a part of the Mary’s family. It would be incredible not only to be part of a very well-known community here in Denver, but also the national Mary’s brand. I had this idea for a concept to have a lip-sync based show in Denver, and a great producer/drag mom, Khloe Katz, to help me co-produce and develop Queen of the Mountain, a lips sync battle-based show that spotlights up-and-coming performers in the Denver community. After being in Denver for six years, I felt recently that my expiration date, at least for now, was coming. After manifesting that I wanted to take part in a drag festival in New York called Bushwig and attend the next DragCon in NYC, I realized that the only thing keeping me in Denver was the finale of Weirdo. So, upon its completion on August 30, a Mx Weirdo 2018 will be crowned, and along with that, the reins of Weirdo will be passed on. Then, on Monday, September 3, I’ll be on my one-way flight to New York City with sequins in my eyes, new stages calling, and a new adventure to embark on. This Pride, you’ll be able to see me on Thursday at the Mx Weirdo June, Friday at Blowpony at Gladys, Saturday on the MainStage at 1 p.m., and Fauxxy Saturday at Gladys later that night, Sunday at Queen of the Mountain at Mile High Hamburger Mary’s, and closing out Pride weekend during the Kai Lee Mykels show at X Bar.
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HEINZESIGHT: By Brent Heinze
Why Change is Difficult
a significant amount of effort. You cannot expect to undo something you have grown accustomed to doing in your life by focusing on it for a few short moments. Over the past year, I have worked really hard with my therapist to change many aspects of my life. I'm pushing myself to be more social and gain some new friends to hopefully make me feel happier. I just get frustrated that things are not happening as quickly as I want and I am having to face the fact that I may never hit my goals. Why is this so frustrating, and what can I do to keep my motivation up so I can be more successful in achieving what I want? In the society of instant gratification, of course most of us struggle with feeling impatient. We want what we want when we want it, and it needs to be as soon as possible. I don't think anything ever really happens fast enough for us. Although often unrealistic, we want our efforts to accomplish something to be quick, easy, and painless. Even if it is somewhat absurd, these are normal desires. Of course, it would also be illogical to want to overcomplicate things. It wouldn’t make sense to cause our intentions to become more difficult to achieve than they need to be. Unfortunately, there are times when we become frustrated because things are not happening in the way that we want them to unfold or progressing during our accelerated timeline. When we get frustrated or try to rush through a process, we may also risk some potentially undesirable outcomes happening to us. These strong negative emotions or shortcuts may decrease our rates of success or motivation to keep working towards us achieving our wants or desires. It may also cause us to throw an adult-sized temper tantrum about how unfair life is and lead us further into just wanting to give up. The most important thing to keep at the forefront of your mind is that the process of change generally takes a while, and usually longer than we want it to take. Working to change perspectives, modify behaviors, and improve situations that have been in your life for many years requires time and
You don't get buff after working out for a week, and you don't learn how to be an amazing snowboarder by only watching videos about it. You must act to make something happen and keep working at it until you are successful. It takes dedication, focus, consistency, and unfortunately, time for the change process to unfold. Each day that you work on modifying something, consider it a success. You are working to convince yourself that doing something in a different way is preferable to the way it's always been done before. It takes practice, patience, and a lot of energy. We get so comfortable with doing things in particular ways. It’s so easy for us to do these over and over. It’s basically a well-ingrained process that we have played out many times before. These can be so deep-seeded in us that our actions just seem to be instinctively drawn to them. That’s why sometimes when we drive the same way to work daily, there are times when we really don’t remember doing it. It can be so automatic. Compare these repetitive patterns to tire tracks when driving through the snow. These trenches get so packed down in the middle and built up on the edges that it is easier to remain in the rut than to drive out of it and change lanes. Doing things differently or changing the way we think, feel, or act has little difference to driving in these pre-existing tracks. Many times, it is simply more comfortable to remain doing the same things in the same ways so that we don’t feel uncomfortable doing things differently. Changing it up can make us feel that we are doing something unnatural. It is also not uncommon to revert back to old patterns because we know them. They're comfortable for us, even if we don’t always like the outcomes. There are often multiple ways to successfully engage any problem that we want to solve. It’s about finding the right solution that will get us what we want with as little disruption as possible. Changes in our life are no different. Consider a
variety of ways to address some elements that are causing us to feel unhappy or unfulfilled. If one way of attacking these issues doesn't work, try something else. Try a bunch of other things. Talk to trusted people in your life about what may have worked for them in the past. Gathering information can be helpful so you don’t have to be the only one developing possibilities. Be creative in your planning, but feel free to utilize the experience of other people as well. Since there is not one right way to do almost anything, don’t worry about finding the perfect method to accomplish your aim. Just keep trying and working towards being successful. The worst thing you can do is to give up. Admitting defeat only serves to reinforce ideas that you won't or can't change something you want. For the most part, we are able to be successful and accomplish most things that we truly desire. Maybe you won’t be an astronaut when you grow up or make a zillion dollars, but it's important to continue working towards your goals relating to personal growth and improving your life. Most of these are attainable, but it’s important to make sure they are realistic. Also, don't be afraid to change your goals, the order of their priority in your life, or the timeframe in which you hope to achieve them. Hopefully you’re not on a huge time crunch or feeling desperate. Be careful about telling yourself that things need to be accomplished quickly. Deadlines are important when you are working on a special project for your boss, but many life changes take the adequate time required to modify those things you want. You are not always able to forecast how long it will take or foresee every potential challenge. Remember that we don’t have a fast-forward button on our lives, and things may take longer than expected. There is nothing wrong with setting a desired goal to achieve something, but allow yourself the ability to modify it if you need more time. There is no need to cause yourself more frustration or bash your self-esteem unnecessarily. You may also choose to focus on different things and reprioritize what you want to work on. Feel free to place some things on the back burner and just let them simmer for a little while you work on cooking something else. You can always come back to them later. Just don’t forget about them. To summarize all of these ideas and perspectives into one cohesive thought, consider this. Change is not easy, so get over it and quit expecting it to happen without difficulties. This statement may seem a little harsh, but it challenges ideas that often only serve to demotivate us. Don't expect your progress to come quickly or feel effortless. Most likely, you will become frustrated at times. However, through successfully navigating this process, you can expect that the more you truly put your heart into your efforts, the better progress you will make. You can walk away from the struggle with feelings of pride and accomplishment that you have worked your butt off to achieve your goals. Don’t forget to surround yourself with positive, helpful people, use the tools that you have at your disposal, and have faith that things can be different in your life. You are strong enough to cause those changes. Never give up. Never surrender. OUTFRONTMAGAZINE.COM
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