740 Traveling Greece 3-14-24

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outwordmagazine.com No. 740 • March 14, 2024 www.outwordmagazine.com Traveling Special Issue free To Athens and Beyond page 12-13 Justice for Nex Benedict? page 4 Spring Events & Hikes page 9 See “Dune: Part Two” page 21 Celebrate Women’s History at CA Auto Museum page 23


Believe in Better.

Better health takes more than health care.

Research shows that by taking care and innovation beyond hospital and clinic walls, we can take community health to unprecedented levels. After all, health is bigger than the medicines we take and procedures we receive. It’s having access to fresh healthy food, having the opportunity to work fulfilling careers — and supporting neighbors like family.

See all the ways UC Davis Health is making a real, impactful difference at believe.ucdavis.edu

Justice for Nex Benedict?


Julie Ebe ART


Julie Ebe

Ron Tackitt

Chris Narloch


Chris Allan

Matthew Burlingame

Diana Kienle

Chris Narloch

Lauren Pulido

Judy Saint


Chris Allan

Ron Tackitt

The island of Paros, Greece

Fred Palmer

staff writer

n a quiet town where everyone knows each other, the sudden death of Nex Benedict, a nonbinary high school student, sends shockwaves through the community. Nex was known for their bright smile and kind heart, often seen championing LGBTQ+ rights and offering a listening ear to anyone in need.

One fateful day, Nex’s joyous laughter in the school bathroom turned into a nightmare when a misunderstanding escalated into a physical altercation. Despite the conflict, there were no clear indications that it led directly to their tragic passing. An autopsy later revealed that trauma was not the cause of death, deepening the mystery and sorrow surrounding the incident.

The aftermath saw the community grappling with grief and anger. Nex’s family, devastated yet resilient, demanded justice and change, refusing to let their child become another statistic in the rising tide of schoolrelated violence and bullying. They called for a thorough investigation, insisting that every lead be pursued to uncover the truth and hold those responsible accountable.

In response to the incident and the family’s pleas, the U.S. Department of Education stepped in, launching an investigation into the local school district. The probe aimed to determine whether the school had neglected its duty to address the harassment Nex faced and whether it had violated Title IX and Title II protections, which safeguard students from sex-based and disability discrimination.

As the investigation unfolded, the school district found itself under intense scrutiny. Officials claimed their actions were justified and within legal bounds, but the growing pressure from the federal inquiry and the public’s outcry for transparency suggested a

long battle ahead.

The community rallied around Nex’s memory, with vigils illuminating the night and speeches echoing the urgent need for a safer, more inclusive environment for all students. Advocates from across the nation joined the cause, their voices uniting in a resounding call to end the cycle of bullying and discrimination that plagues educational institutions.

Through the turmoil, Nex’s spirit seemed to hover over the town, a gentle reminder of the love and acceptance they always championed. The ongoing investigation

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promised a glimmer of hope, a chance for systemic change to ensure no other family would endure such an unimaginable loss.

As the narrative unfolds, it becomes a poignant tale of a community at a crossroads, faced with the challenge of transforming grief into action, of ensuring that the light of a young, vibrant soul continues to inspire change long after they’ve gone. The story of Nex Benedict becomes not just a local tragedy but a rallying cry for a better, kinder world, where every student can walk the halls free from fear, embraced for who they are.

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Alabama Supreme Court Goes After IVF

Arecent Alabama Supreme Court ruling has sent shockwaves through the community that cast a shadow of uncertainty over the future of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments. The decision, meticulously crafted and delivered with the weight of finality, threatened to limit access to these vital services, sparking a wave of concern among many, particularly within the LGBTQ+ community.

The Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling struck like a bolt of lightning, shattering dreams with its thunderous decree. The ruling was not just a legal document; it was a barrier, casting a long shadow over their hopes, dreams, and rightful desires to become parents. This ruling seems to be particularly aimed at the Lesbian community.

So far, the community has rallied, with voices from all corners—advocates, neighbors, friends, and strangers—joining in a chorus of dissent. There have been protests on the steps of courthouses, protesters have waved banners and filled the air with their cries for justice and equality. They argued that the ruling was more than a legal setback; it was a personal attack on the freedom to build families, a fundamental right that should be accessible to all, irrespective of their gender or whom they loved.

A couple from the community, Lex and Jamie, have shared their story, not just as a tale of personal loss, but as a testament to the resilience of love in the face of adversity.

They spoke of their dreams, the plans they had made, and the stark reality they now faced, all of which have resonated with countless others in similar situations.

As this battle rages on, the broader implications of the ruling have became evident. It was a litmus test for the state’s stance on reproductive rights, equality, and the acknowledgment of diverse family structures. The LGBTQ+ community, often at the forefront of fights for equality and justice, found themselves once again defending their rights, their families, and their futures.

This should be a rallying cry, a call to action for all who believe in the power of love, the importance of family, and the fundamental rights of every individual to pursue happiness and fulfillment. It’s a reminder that the LGBTQ+ community, and its allies can challenge injustice, and advocate for a future where every person has the right to build the family of their dreams.

Trump, Truth and Your Marriage

Please take note. It doesn’t matter if Donald Trump declares bankruptcy. It doesn’t matter if he is found guilty of any of the crimes he has been accused of, and it really doesn’t even matter what any judge — including the Supreme Court — rules for or against him. It also doesn’t matter if he tells Vladimir Putin to go ahead and bomb a NATO country. His base will still vote for him.

There’s a belief that when you’re fighting for your life, you’ll fight til the death to survive. Trump’s supporters believe that their way of life — their America — is dying and they believe the only one who can save their life is Trump. Logic or the rule of law does not matter.

To his base, Trump is the person who will stop all those people from changing their view of what America is all about (“those people” meaning Black people, LGBTQ+ people, Muslim people, or any other groups that don’t look like America of 1950) and from changing the world to what it actually is today: rich with diversity.

Let’s be clear. Most of you reading this are not Trump supporters, and are baffled by those who support Trump. You may even know a Trump supporter. Rather than try to reach them with logic, make it personal. Ask them if they want to take your rights away. If they want to take your right of marriage away. Then explain to them that if they support Trump, that’s exactly what they are doing. They’re voting against you.

As I stated earlier, people who are afraid of losing their way of life will fight til the death to survive. Trump is in the fight of

his life. The only way to stop all the legal action against him is to win the presidency. That is why he’s using every legal tactic to run out the clock and he’s hoping that we’ll all take note of that rather than the issues at stake in this election: immigration, banning of books, women’s health issues, parental rights, marriage equality and so much more. And then there’s democracy! Let’s make it simple. Unless something happens, the race for president will be Biden vs. Trump. Let me ask you the question I suggested you ask your pro-Trump friend: Would you trust Trump with your rights, your marriage?

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California Reaffirms Individuals’ Right to Contraceptive Care

California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Governor Gavin Newsom, California State Board of Pharmacy President Seung Oh, and California Department of Managed Health Care Director Mary Watanabe are taking action to ensure that all Californians are informed of their right to access contraception. The statewide efforts include reminders to pharmacists, major pharmaceutical companies, health plans, and Californians, that current California law requires contraception access, including for minors.

“As we continue to face unprecedented attacks to reproductive freedom nationwide, we must double down on our commitment to protect the fundamental rights of all Californians,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “Together, our statewide efforts emphasize the right given to every young person to access timely emergency contraception without any barriers. At the California Department of Justice, we remain

surveyed reported that teens could purchase emergency contraception over-the-counter. Another report by the same Center recommended raising awareness among pharmacists of hormonal contraception options.

Across our country, we have seen unprecedented attacks to reproductive healthcare. Today’s statewide efforts build on the State’s clear commitment to expanding

“Health plans regulated by the DMHC must provide coverage of over-the-counter contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration at no additional cost to members,”

unwavering in our commitment that our state continues to be a safe haven for all individuals seeking reproductive healthcare services and medication.”

“While some states are seeking to ban emergency contraception, California is proud to provide comprehensive protections and expand access to all forms of reproductive health care,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “We are making sure health care providers are following the law and that Californians know their rights when it comes to contraception and reproductive health care.”

“Pharmacies are lifelines to the health and well-being of all Californians,” said Board of Pharmacy President Seung Oh. “The launch of today’s education campaign reinforces the important role pharmacies play to ensure all Californians – including minors – have access to contraception.”

“Health plans regulated by the DMHC must provide coverage of over-the-counter contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration at no additional cost to members,” said California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) Director Mary Watanabe. “This expansion of coverage will without a doubt provide more equitable access to reproductive health care by removing barriers such as cost.”

A recent report, authored by the UCLA School of Law Center for Reproductive Health, Law, and Policy, revealed that a significant percentage of California pharmacies either required parental consent or entirely withheld emergency contraception from minors – a clear violation of California’s law. Only 50% of the community pharmacies

access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, including emergency contraception. Now, California issued:

A letter to the corporate offices of the major pharmacy chains reminding them that emergency contraception does not require a prescription or parental consent.

A consumer alert informing minors of their ability to access emergency contraception without a prescription or parental consent.

An alert to all California pharmacies reminding them of their obligation under California law to provide minors access to emergency contraception.

An alert to all Board of Pharmacy licensees reminding licensees of their obligations under state law.

An All-Plan letter reminding commercial health plans regulated by DMHC of their legal obligation to cover over-the-counter FDA-approved contraceptives with no cost-sharing to members.

From joining forces with states across the nation on briefs in the Fifth Circuit appeals court and the U.S. Supreme Court to reminding Californians of the laws that protect their access to medication abortion and other reproductive care, Attorney General Bonta is unwavering in his commitment to support, expand, and protect reproductive freedoms. He also led nationwide fights to push for increased access to birth control coverage, protect Americans’ access to abortions during life-threatening medical emergencies, and support stronger protections for reproductive health data privacy.

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Call-Out for Participation: Photography Month Sacramento

Photography Month Sacramento is scheduled for April 2024. With a new “Anything Goes” theme this year, the annual photographic celebration offers a diverse and collective experience of the visual arts.

First launched in 2018, the month-long event is highlighted by a variety of diverse and eclectic events that include special exhibits, receptions, photo shoot meet-ups, workshops, lectures, photo shoot gatherings, and more. Photography Month Sacramento creates a shared platform for galleries, museums, educational institutions, libraries, retail establishments, photographers, and patrons to celebrate and elevate the art of photography. Interested participants are encouraged to create and/or highlight their own activations to help showcase the art of photography.

Led by Viewpoint Photographic Art Center – a non-profit organization located in Midtown Sacramento – and in collaboration with many involved partners including the City of Sacramento, Inside Publications, Sacramento County Board of Supervisors Office of Phil Serna (District 1), and Sacramento365.com,

Thus far, a number of museums, businesses and educational institutions from throughout the region have already signed up to participate in 2024, including: Casa de Español, Crocker Art Museum, Granucci Gallery at the Center for the Arts in Grass Valley, Nevada County Camera

Club based in Nevada City, Sacramento History Museum, Sacramento State University Department of Photography, Viewpoint Photographic Art Center, and YoloArts in Woodland.

How to Get Involved: Businesses, Museums & Organizations

Involvement in Photography Month Sacramento for businesses, museums and organizations is free and simple to do. The regional showcase offers a turnkey way to highlight visually enticing photographic programming already in place (possibly by incorporating a fresh visual element or hosting a special activation), introduce a concept in the planning stages, or create something unique to engage enthusiasts and connect with new audiences throughout the region.

How to Get Involved: Photographers

Photography Month Sacramento is open to everyone – professional and amateur photographers alike – and offers wonderful opportunities to launch and/or exhibit photographic work, or to create a grassroots collaborative exhibit with friends interested in the visual arts. Those interested are encouraged to get creative and plan individual activations and/or

contact favorite local coffee houses or restaurants to see if they might host an exhibit or reception in April 2024.

Once any photography-related concepts are confirmed by businesses, organizations, museums or individuals, Photography Month Sacramento participants are asked to post information details about any upcoming

events here, a community curated calendar that is connected to and supported by Sacramento365.com.

To explore available sponsorship opportunities or find out more detailed (and continually updated) information about Photography Month Sacramento 2024, please visit www.photomonthsacramento.org.

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Little Activisms by

Lyft Personal Tour

If only Rachel Maddow was my neighbor… Oh, you’re here! Sorry, I was daydreaming… OK. Today’s Little Activism is fun and experimental! Fun details follow, but first a word from our sponsor:

“Do you suffer from NKWTD? New research shows 4 in 5 distressed social media followers could use IRL to combat this affliction. NKWTD (“Not Knowing What To Do”) afflicts the frustrated social media follower with lethargy, depression, and even anger. IRL helps you communicate In Real Life (IRL) to remove you from today’s distressing anonymity of social media. Side effects may include home cooked meals, walks, book clubs, and evenings together. Ask your doctor if IRL is right for you.” Now, back to our show.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever hired a Lyft driver for a whole day. Not kidding, a whole day!

Imma tell you about the best tour day ever for my wife and myself, all because we took a chance with a stranger. When traveling to Boston for the Freedom From Religion Foundation convention, we called Lyft to take us to our hotel. Our driver happily pointed out sights along the way, including the Cheers pub where everyone knows your name! She was so fun and knew the area so well that we asked Sandy, our Lyft driver, if she had a day free later in the week. And she did! We asked if she would dedicate her entire day to driving us around Boston for a flat fee to become our personal tour guide for a whole day. She accepted!

We beamed from the back seat as she took us past the old neighborhoods, the Tea Party ship, MIT, civic sights and more, but we really (metaphorically) squealed when she took us to our most exciting three destinations: The Satanic Temple, the Salem Witch Museum, and a beautiful lunch spot overlooking a marina that she knew about.

We insisted that she was now a family member, so we paid her way into all these fun spots and provided her meals, to make sure she joined us for every adventure. We had a ball. So did she.

We got to know Sandy, and Sandy’s Boston. In turn, Sandy got to know a real life gay

couple in the wild. That’s why I’m calling this a Little Activism. Getting to know a lesbian couple in real life surely gave her pause at her religious and conservative teachings as we all enjoyed the best day in Boston ever!

An author on a talk show recently proclaimed that the best antidote for misinformation and disinformation, the best antidote for the vile hatred being fomented the last few years, is to get off of the anonymous social media sites and talk with people we meet or already know face to face. Talk. In real life. Like people. Like adults. About anything.

That, and staying informed, he said, are the cure for propaganda and hate. This was done effectively in Poland, by the way. They have much less problem with disinformation because their populace entrenches itself with accurate information and isn’t afraid of interjecting “Actually,…” mid-discussion when someone tries to pass along fake information. Poland did it. They are winning the misinformation war. We can, too.

Coming out of the anonymity sewers of online trolls, talking instead one-on-one with Lyft drivers, neighbors, and coffee shop patrons sitting next to you, goes a long way to combating the NKWTD affliction of seeing the world crumble but not knowing what to do.

Stay informed and talk with people in real life. Even if it’s about the Boston Tea Party, it opens doors. It helps others accept your positions when you add a correction to something they’re saying. It helps others listen when you fact-check them middiscussion. And vice versa, of course.

Little Activisms encourages readers to consider small changes we can make to help social causes, and to feel good about ourselves for taking small risks. Judy Saint is President of the Greater Sacramento Chapter of Freedom From Religion Foundation and author of The Pleasant Atheist Adult Coloring Book available on Amazon. She and her wife live in Roseville, CA.

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American River Conservancy: 2024 Spring Events & Hikes

Plein Air Paint-Out At Wakamatsu Farm

Saturdays, April 20th & May 18th 8:30am-12pm

Join artist David Yapp for a time of plein air painting at Wakamatsu Farm. “En plein air” is a French term meaning “in the open air” and refers to painting outdoors (normally a landscape or townscape) on location. This was a very popular approach of the French Impressionist painters, who incorporated the natural light, color, and movement of the outdoors into their paintings. Bring your own paints and equipment for a time of selfguided painting. You supply all your own materials and equipment (easel, canvas, oils, acrylics, watercolors, etc.), choose your subject, and enjoy the camaraderie of painting outdoors with other artists. Instruction not provided. We encourage meeting together for picnic lunch after the session. Rain cancels. All painting levels welcome. Responsible children 12+ welcome (w/adult supervision). Meeting location Gold Hill/Placerville area. Cost: $15/members, $20/non-members. A detailed email will be sent once you register online. ARConservancy.org/events

Wakamatsu Open Farm Days

Saturdays, March 16th, April 20th, & May 19th 10am-2pm

Site of the first Japanese colony in America, your self-guided walking tour of Wakamatsu Farm may include a stroll to Okei-san’s 1871 gravesite and Charles Graner’s original 1850’s farmhouse. Take a trip around the lake on the 1.5-mile wheelchair-accessible trail. Bring a picnic and chair to sit and relax. On-site interpreters can share information and answer questions about Wakamatsu Farm’s human and natural history. This visit is suitable for all ages and capabilities. Points of interest are mainly outdoors, reached by dirt trail or unpaved road over generally flat terrain. Seasonal produce may be available for purchase. Amenities are limited, so plan for rugged outdoor leisure. Please manage your own trash and leave the land better than you found it. Steady rain or temperatures over 100 degrees will cancel. Check ARC’s event calendar for updates. Cost: $10 per vehicle. Buses and large vans are $5 per person. All proceeds directly benefit Wakamatsu Farm. For private tours, please call 530-621-1224. Find out more at: ARConservancy.org/Wakamatsu. A detailed email will be sent once you register online. ARConservancy.org/events

Meet The Lichens Of The Sierra Foothills: A Guided Walk

Saturday, March 16th 9am-12pm (rain date March 30th)

Lichens are all around us, once we learn how to see them! Allie Weill will lead this one-two mile walk in search of lichens in the Auburn State Recreation area. You’ll practice noticing and studying lichens, distinguishing them from mosses and other fungi, learn about basic lichen types, and learn the names of some common California species. Allie will also talk about what lichens are, what makes them special, and how they act as bioindicators for healthy ecosystems. Come be “enlichened”! Allie Weill is an ecologist, science writer, and lichenology instructor. She teaches Lichens of the Bay Area at Merritt College and has co-led lichen workshops since 2018. Quiet 8-year-olds+ welcome. Wellbehaved dog on-leash OK. Exact location TBD (Auburn State Rec Area. FREE. A detailed email will be sent once you register online. ARConservancy.org/events

Tai Chi-Qigong & Year Of The Dragon

Saturdays, March 23rd & April 6th 10:00-11:15am

Learn selected Tai chi-Qigong movements that celebrate the flexibility, strength, and upright spirit of the dragon. East Asians wish each other to have the “dragon-horse spirit” especially during the year of the dragon. Movements and poses will also pay tribute to the stability and dynamism of the horse as we renew our qi for the new year. Dr. Tze-yue Gigi Hu is a semi-retired Asian Studies educator and author. She teaches therapeutic Tai Chi and Qigong to selected communities. See her website, calmhappytaiji.com Ages 8+ welcome. Meeting location Placerville/Gold Hill area. Suggested Donation: $5/members, $10/nonmembers. A detailed email will be sent once you register online. ARConservancy.org/events

Double-Feature Movie Night

(Auburn Dam: The Dam That Never Was & Visions Of The Lost Sierra)

Friday, April 12th 6:30-8pm

ARC is partnering with our neighbors at the Gold Trail Grange in Coloma for this special movie night. The Auburn Dam is still a hot topic that is discussed and debated in our small community. The film’s creator, Steve Hubbard, will introduce the movie and stay for Q&A. Steve’s film includes footage, documentation, interviews, and maps of his search to learn about “The Dam That Never Was.” Our second movie is Visions of the Lost Sierra,“ a look into the legacy of conservation that flows through the Middle Fork Feather river.” Preregistration encouraged. Snacks and beverages will be sold (bring your own cup). Free parking behind the Grange Hall. Cost: $5. A detailed email will be sent once you register online. ARConservancy.org/eventsGrange Hall. Cost: $5. A detailed email will be sent once you register online.

For more events go to ARConservancy.org/events

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To Athens and Beyond

words and photos by Chris Allan

Though I’d been seduced by nearly 40 countries, the “Land of Helen,” had long been on my country-crush list. Many of us LGBTIQ travelers have long been fascinated by Greece’s ancient history of celebrating same-sex relationships. Queer content is found in mythological couples like Achilles and Patroclus, parts of Plato’s ponderings and of course, in all that lesbos Sapphic lore. It’s also hard not to get excited by the draw of iconic sites like the Acropolis and its curvaceous caryatids, and the crystalline waters of the Aegean sea. When you further consider the region’s vibrant cuisine and the ubiquitousness of aperol spritzes and ouzo, it’s a love affair waiting to happen.

Get thee to Greece

We finally found our way to Athens in late August of 2022. Having done our usual background check, we knew that while gay marriage was not yet legal in the birthplace of democracy, the Republic does offer many protections for civil partnerships, and Greece is very popular with queer tour groups.

Honestly, we were not prepared to be so charmed. The “City of the Gods” offers a lot to visitors. It’s not the most elegant or beautiful European capital, but the seriously major archeological sites, full-bodied neighborhoods packed with bars and cafes, and the soldiers that wear pom-poms on their shoes make up for it.

We stayed at Inn Athens, near Syntagma and Plaka districts and walking distance to bustling Monastikiri. Monastiraki is the historic district of confusing cobblestone streets, souvlaki stands galore, and a “flea market” made up of eclectic storefront shops. Gazi is the area with more of a gay scene, but we were perfectly at home as a queer couple, and were super central to all the major sites.

Our adventures were fueled by gastronomical encounters that were positively Dionysian. From sleepy pasta joints with super fresh Greek salads, to tavernas with mouthwatering moussaka, to cocktails fit for an Olympian, we enjoyed it all. And yes,

12 outwordmagazine.com March 14, 2024 - March 28, 2024 • No. 740 Outword Magazine Food Beverage and More

there is a proper way to drink ouzo!

After three full days of delicious exploration, we gathered our garb and slipped away for the Port of Piraeus.

An island for the gods

While Santorini and Mykonos are the more traveled of the Cyclades isles, we chose Paros because we wanted a lesser-known experience. Paros has a romantic reputation, with its bouganvilla-lined streets, charming villages, and some of the most breathtaking stretches of sand this side of Mount Olympus.

The Greek ferry system is an easy and affordable way to access the island. It docks on the southern side, near Parikia. It’s one of just two major towns on the island, although there are plenty of resorts and lodgings in other parts.

We rolled our rollies right off the ferry and over to the local Alamo car hire. The streets in the towns are narrow and often one-way, but driving is on the right and it’s the best way to go exploring. The landscape is dotted with white-washed buildings, blue-domed Greek orthodox churches, traditional windmills, and those luscious sandy beaches. We opted to stay on the north side of the island in Naoussa. It’s a completely fetching little fishing village, with a walkable town center and festive inner harbor. As of presstime, there are at least two gay bars in

town: Persona (newer) and Jordi, which had a late-night drag show going when we were there.

We stayed at the cute and unpretentious Zoumis Studios, which had a lovely courtyard pool and tasty on-site bar and restaurant. Agioi Anargyroi Beach is just around the corner, with food service and sunbeds available for savoring the seashore.

There are numerous beach clubs on the island, and the biggest decision of the day was usually which ones to visit. Of the nearly 50 beaches on the island, our favorites were Molos, Golden, and Santa Maria, which has a fantastic oceanfront restaurant.

Aside from cabana time, we spent a half-day in the sleepy inland village of Lefkes. It’s filled with traditional Cycladic architecture and Byzantine streets, and it’s very easy to chat with locals here in any of the numerous cafes and shops. Lefkes has the best shopping on the island, with local pottery, artwork, textiles, olive wood products and oodles of evil eye jewelry. You also can’t miss the beautiful Agia Triada Church, which is classified as a monument of special cultural significance.

Paros had a timeless feel to it that sealed with a kiss our Greek odyssey. The land of Homer and Anthony Quinn did not disappoint!

13 outwordmagazine.com March 14, 2024 - March 28, 2024 • No. 740 Outword Magazine Food Beverage and More

La Pelle – Quality Being Made

And Expressed

hat I believe is most important to the wine aficionado is quality in the bottle. Does what is in my glass represent the varietal and is it well-crafted to enjoy slowly with thoughtfulness and great pleasure? The label is La Pelle and the winemaker is Maayan Koschitsky and the answer is yes on all counts.

My first experience with Maayan was at a wine event hosted at a local restaurant in St. Helena. The wines that day were fresh and expressive. He created a beautiful Cabernet and what I would call, a standout Sauvignon Blanc. Maayan himself was as bright and expressive as the wines themselves. His answers to questions were astute and insightful. Engaging with him was a pleasure. It was clear to me why his wine was so well-crafted.

I continued to buy wine offerings from La Pelle and was fortunate to purchase an auction event that included lunch with Mayaan himself and tasting his wines through the meal. I was able to host five of my friends who thoroughly enjoyed the time and bright conversation. These are the wines that we all enjoyed through-out our lunch with an extremely intelligent and engaging winemaker.

2021 Bien Nacido Chardonnay Block I- $65 a bottle in 3 packs.

2021 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc - $55 a bottle in 6 packs.

2021 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon - $85 a bottle in 6 packs.

2019 Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - $185 in 3 packs

We are not the only ones who have a great regard and respect for his wines. Jeb Dunnuck has rated his wines in the mid 90’s and higher since the inception of his label since 2016. Jeb is a highly regarded wine critic who formerly worked for Parker’s Wine Advocate. Worthy of note is the price of each bottle. These are wines to enjoy in the moment and will age beautifully.

It is important to appreciate Maayan’s journey. He is from Israel and initially was in engineering as a career. That is an exact science that I believe led to his ability to deliver with discernment. He began winemaking in his homeland. He worked in wineries in Israel and continued to hone his craft at wineries in New Zealand and Australia. In coming to the US in 2011, he first worked at Screaming Eagle and Dalla Valle. He worked there and then joined Phillipe Melka’s consulting firm Atelier. From there he became a part owner of Atelier as well as starting his own label, La Pelle in 2016

Additionally, in 2019, Maayan was named one of the 40 Under 40 Tastemakers as published in Wine Enthusiast Magazine. He has created a name and gained respect in the Napa Valley with his vision. He is quoted as stating “I’m trying to make a wine that is a winemaker’s wine. I’m not looking for high price points, but a fun, fresh wine. A more approachable, day to day wine.” I would say he has achieved that outcome.

To gain access to his wines, please go to https://www.lapellewines.com I encourage you to check out his wines for yourself.


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Visit A Foreign Country Without Leaving The U.S.

Everyone Welcome in Historic San Juan

Beaches, great food, a friendly welcoming culture, and lots to see and do in a city founded five hundred years ago make San Juan, Puerto Rico perfect for a holiday. Best of all, it’s so easy: no passport needed, your phone and phone plan work, and everyone speaks English as well as Spanish. Did I mention the good coffee and rum?

I was in town for the 40th Anniversary Convention of the IGBTQ+ Travel Association along with almost seven hundred other travel professionals. Among the many panels, one discussed how to make the other Caribbean islands as welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community in Puerto Rico. Details at iglta.org.

Getting There

I took Southwest to San Juan (SJU) via Fort Lauderdale on the way there and Orlando on the way back. I paid just $317 round trip from Indianapolis and hopped on an earlier flight on the way back thanks to their new free stand by policy. Spirit and Jet Blue are also extremely popular choices to get to the island.

Where To Stay

I stayed at the Coqui Del Mar Guest House in Ocean Beach (2218 Calle General Del Valle). The lodge features a great cooked to order breakfast with a side of fresh local fruit (and fresh tropical juices),as well as Puerto Rican coffee which is quite strong. A pool and hot tub, free use of several bicycles also makes for a great visit. On weekends they serve brunch which was home made paella the Saturday I was there They offer tours of Old Town as well as of the Yonqui rain forest You can walk or bike to nearby Ocean Beach. Details at coquidelmar.com. The property also has VRBO rentals nearby.

Other lodging options include the chain hotels in the Condado district including the LGBTQ friendly Tryst Hotel which sits right on the beach. The Miramar neighborhood includes the Dan Rafa Boutique Hotel (601 Avenida Miramar) which has a nice bar in the lobby and is in a cute neighborhood with a lot of shops. The Fairmont in Isle Verde near the airport also features a casino, several pools, and a fun bar. Be sure and be on the

lookout for about resort fees and other sneaky junk charges (aka destination fees, property fees, etc.). They vary widely but many hotels now have them and not just here.

What To Do

San Juan is a city of historic, interesting, and colorful safe neighborhoods and I explored many of them. The Condado neighborhood is right on the beach and has interesting shops and many higher end hotels. The beach is beautiful and features a gay section (Atlantic Beach). You can rent chairs right on the beach. Plan on a day at the beach.

The nearby Santurce neighborhood is up and coming. Stoll down Calle Loiza for the most popular cafes, galleries, and murals. The Santurce Mercardo is a farmer’s market in this up and coming arts district of Santtucre which is known for a lot of murals. Buy a Puerto Rican hat at the hat store.

Old San Juan is the highlight of my entire trip and focuses on this area founded in 1508 by Ponce de Leon. I took a walking tour of the gay monuments of Puerto Rico Gay Tours (www.PuertoRicoGayTours.com) which focused on historic Old San Juan. You will also want to visit Fort Morro (Castillo San Felipe del Morro) in Old San Juan now run by the National Park Service. Built in 1539 by the Spaniards to fortify San Juan, they needed the Island for supplies for ships en route to the America’s from Europe and Africa. El Morro was built to protect San Juan Bay’s deep harbor from attack by the sea and sits at the end of the city which also had a wall built around it. The Spaniards ruled until 1898 when Puerto Rico became a U.S. Territory.

The Distrito T Mobile near the

Convention Center is the new entertainment and dining destination. They had La Bamba dancers at the opening night of ILGLTA when I was there. (LaBamba is a dance native to Puerto Rico.)

Rio Piedras is another neighborhood to visit. I took the Tren Urbano (metro or subway) to the Rio Piedras neighborhood for lunch at the Plaza del Mercardo (farmers market) and had a fresh juice smoothie (papaya, guava, pineapple, coconut) and a meat roll from the Dominican Republic. A local band played while a dancer accompanied them at the Plaza.

Nearby is the beautiful University of Puerto Rico campus which features Spanish architecture and lots of tropical trees. The Spanish architecture reminded me of the Stanford University Campus in California.

I then took the Train (Tren Urbano) out to the last station, Bayamon, and walked around this historic suburban city which is over 250 years old. Have something to eat or drink at the food trucks which are parked in shipping containers. There are two small museums in the small suburban village which is very walkable. The train system is safe, modern and graffiti free. Take an Uber to the Sagrado Corazon station to catch it as it does not run into the popular neighborhoods nor the airport, convention center, nor Old Town. Day passes are just $5. It is a perfect way to explore the area.


San Juan has the best nightlife in the Caribbean. Tia Maria’s in the Santurce neighborhood is a lot of fun and features a friendly local crowd. Oasis is close to the gay beach in the Condado neighborhood right on the beach. Head to La Placita, the Santruce fruit market by days but is packed on weekends. The Circo Bar is popular as is Kweens Klub with its huge dance floor.

Where And What To Eat

Lots of food options with interesting dishes define this city The food uses lots of local spices.

For a splurge, Marmalade Restaurant in

Old San Juan features fourteen course meals

. The beef tenderloin was excellent. Nearby I also had a rum cocktail at La Factoria (148 Calle San Sebastian).

While in Puerto Rico, enjoy the local fruits (mango, papaya, pineapple, coconut). The bread is particularly good. Rice and beans are a staple. Many restaurants also feature paella (the Spanish rice dish with seafood and vegetables). Expect alof of Island spices including cilantro in many dishes.

Bacardi makes rum right on the Island and the Pina Collada was invented here. Rum is produced from sugar cane which is produced on the island.

For a snack, try the local candies like the coconut ginger bar.

Travel Tips

This is a Spanish speaking island although most people also know English. Street signs are in Spanish. They use the metric system (gas is $1.00 a liter) but the speed limits are in miles per hour.

Skip the rent a car and take Uber. It’s fast and cheap.

Although it sometimes does not feel like it, you are in the U.S. Which is why I liked to 345pm Welcome: Bill Sweeny-A great way to meet in person the GA expert team.

Introduce Directors and GA staff (go around room). Introduce Jenn and other VPs.

‘Live Boricua” (live Puerto Rican) referring to the spirit, flavor, and rhythm you will feel in every part of the island. The locals are a proud and happy people living on a wonderful island. This was my first visit to the commonwealth, but it won’t be my last. This is an easy to visit,LGBTQ+ welcoming tropical paradise that has not been over-run with tourists like Puerto Vallarta and other destinations have.

The Discover Puerto Rico website features a LGBTQ section full of travel tips including nightlife ideas.

You owe it to yourself to visit, especially given you don’t need a passport and the airfares are so cheap. Live Boricua!

Bill Malcolm is North America’s only syndicated LGBTQ+ value travel columnist.

19 outwordmagazine.com March 14, 2024 - March 28, 2024 • No. 740 Outword Magazine Food Beverage and More

Destin Conrad Brings His “Submissive Tour” to Town

The sultry, young soul singer Destin Conrad brings his provocatively titled “Submissive Tour” to Sacramento’s Ace of Spades this month, and there were still tickets for sale last time we checked.

Conrad is a 23-year-old, queer singersongwriter of Jamaican descent who hails from Tampa, Florida. The artist started his social media journey as a Vine star and has since collaborated with his good friend, Kehlani, as well as Musiq Soulchild.

The “Submissive Tour” is Destin’s first U.S. trek as a headliner. For tickets to his Sacramento show this March 27, go to: www.aceofspadessac.com/shows

“Flame Con” Set to Heat up NYC

If you’re looking for some very cool, artsy travel this summer, consider “Flame Con,” created and produced by the LGBTQ+ non-profit Geeks Out as a celebration of queer comics and queer fans of comics.

Featuring a comics, arts and entertainment expo and showcasing creators and special guests from all corners of the LGBTQ+ community, the two-day venture will include thoughtful discussions, exclusive performances, queer cosplay and more.

“Flame Con” celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, and the expo will take place this August 17-18 at the Sheraton Times Square Hotel in New York City.

To celebrate the anniversary, Fireball: The Official Flame Con After Party will be held on Saturday, August 17 at Hell’s Kitchen’s Industry bar. That event will be hosted by Megami, cast member in the current season 16 of “Rupaul’s Drag Race.”

For more information, please visit: www.flamecon.org

20 outwordmagazine.com March 14, 2024 - March 28, 2024 • No. 740 Outword Magazine Food Beverage and More

See “Dune: Part Two” in IMAX

Plus, Three New Tower Movies

The big news at the movies this month is, of course, the release of a sequel to “Dune.” That blockbuster is far from being the only film currently in theaters, however. Read on for more of my movie reviews, including titles now playing at or coming soon to Sacramento’s Tower Theatre.

Dune: Part Two

I have never read any of Frank Herbert’s popular sci-fi series, but I have seen the two previous attempts at filming “Dune,” and in my opinion, director Denis Villeneuve finally got it right with the new sequel to his 2021 movie. (The less said about David Lynch’s much maligned 1984 “Dune” the better.)

This time out, Villeneuve amps up the action and has almost half a dozen terrific villains, including a scene-stealing Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, who is simultaneously sinister and sexy as played by actor Austin Butler. The director also wraps up this installment in a far more satisfying way.

“Dune: Part Two” is truly epic, and I recommend you pay the extra money to see it at Sacramento’s Esquire IMAX Theatre, where it will be playing through at least March 20.

Perfect Days

The latest feature film by the great Wim Wenders is another homerun for the 78-year-old director of “Paris, Texas,” “Wings of Desire,” and “Buena Vista Social Club,” and the movie deserved its nomination for Best International Feature at this year’s Oscars.

This film also won the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival, for Koji Yakusho’s sublime portrayal of a simple man who cleans public bathrooms for a living in Tokyo, where he lives very simply and happily, listening to his favorite music in the car and taking pride in his less-than-glamorous work.

“Perfect Days” is the opposite of an action film – it’s quiet and not a lot happens – but as a portrait of a man who appreciates the simple things in life, the movie sneaks up on you with a deliberate, elegant power. The film was still playing at Tower when we went to press.


One of my greatest pleasures as a film critic is seeing what wild movie the great British actress Tilda Swinton will turn up in next, and in this wacky comedy she dazzles with another bat shit-crazy role, as an unbelievably egomaniacal boss from hell who has a total persecution complex. (I wouldn’t be surprised if Swinton modeled her character after Donald Trump.)

This is the first feature film by the very funny actor, writer and now director, Julio Torres, who plays an aspiring toy designer from El Salvador. He takes a job in New York City as the assistant to an extremely demanding art-world outcast (Swinton), who promises to help him stay in the country.

“Problemista” is well-worth seeing for the performances by Swinton and Torres alone, but the film is also a successful (and often surreal) satire of the crazy bureaucracy that is the American immigration system. The movie is scheduled to open at Tower this March 15.

Io Capitano

Like “Perfect Days,” this stunning movie, about the perils of migration between West Africa and Europe, was nominated for an Oscar in the Best International Feature category this year. Based on many real-life situations, it tells the fictionalized story of one such young man from Senegal who endures horror upon horror as he attempts to get to Italy by crossing the Sahara and then the Mediterranean Sea with his cousin.

Seydou Sarr, a Senegalese actor, gives an outstanding performance as the determined dreamer whose journey from trafficked slave laborer to migrant ship captain at the age of sixteen is incredibly moving. Last I heard, this movie was still scheduled to open at Tower on March 15.

21 outwordmagazine.com March 14, 2024 - March 28, 2024 • No. 740 Outword Magazine
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Celebrate Women’s History at Sacramento’s CA Auto Museum

Sacramento’s California Auto Museum might seem like an odd place to celebrate Women’s History Month, but this March it’s the perfect place, as the museum puts women behind the wheel for an automotive tribute to the contributions of women in the lowrider community.

Explore the fascinating world of “Rucas y Carruchas:

Ladies in Lowriders” at this special exhibit, and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of lowriders, where elegance meets automotive artistry. This unique showcase celebrates the women in the lowrider community, highlighting their creativity and passion for customizing these iconic vehicles.

From meticulously detailed paint jobs to hydraulic systems that make these cars bounce, witness the skill and dedication of these female enthusiasts. “Rucas y Carruchas” invites you to appreciate the intersection of automotive innovation and cultural expression, showcasing the powerful connection between women and their lowriders.

Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind exhibit that captures the spirit and style of these remarkable ladies in the world of classic automobiles. Visit: www.calautomuseum.org

Calling All Dreamers to Dreamland Cinema

Meet the 2023-2024 Calling All Dreamers Winner: Sacramento’s Dreamland Cinema. Produced by the Downtown Sacramento Foundation, Calling All Dreamers is a business incubator boot-camp that brings in industry professionals to mentor entrepreneurs for the chance to open a downtown storefront and earn a coveted business start-up package.

Tish Sparks and Lauren Hess are currently the sole owners, managers, and employees of Dreamland Cinema, an adorable micro-cinema in the basement of a lovely, green Victorian at the corner of 19th and P Streets that was formerly the home of the Thistle Dew Dessert Theater.

Although the theater has been doing solid business since opening in June of 2022, the Calling All Dreamers prize money means that Sparks and Hess can begin to look for a larger location than their current 26-seat auditorium. (Dreamland Cinema will receive $20,000 cash and a generous package of in-kind services that will allow the theater to realize its full potential.)

Hess shared the couple’s happiness with Outword via email:

“We’re so excited to be the 2024 Winners of Calling All Dreamers! Although the win was a bit unexpected, we are stoked to see where it will take us. With this win, we can expand into a larger space and double our seating capacity. We’re also looking forward to having a more spacious lobby where we can host movie trivia nights, bring in guest filmmakers, have pre-show DJ sets, art shows and more.”

It’s not too late to check out Dreamland Cinema’s groovy, original theater; a new location will take months to find and refurbish. In the meantime, fans of cult and queer cinema can enjoy edgy programming such as “Safe” (a fascinating film from 1995 starring Julianne Moore, by the great, gay director, Todd Haynes) which is being shown later this month. For the full calendar of this month’s movies, go to: www.thedreamlandcinema.com

23 outwordmagazine.com March 14, 2024 - March 28, 2024 • No. 740 Outword Magazine Food Beverage and More

HPlease Support the Outword Rainbow Fund

For 28 years, we have been Sacramento’s resource for LGBTQ+ information, politics, entertainment and we have helped connect and maintain our community.

Because of the continuing trauma being caused by COVID, many of our advertisers are doing everything they can to stay afloat - that includes Outword Magazine. At the onset of the pandemic we changed our distribution model to an online-only affair. at helped us weather the storm, but we have since returned to both online as well traditional, printed copies. ankfully, the responce we have recieved after returning to print has been fantastic!

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appy Ostara! Spring is here, the election season has begun, and the desire to get out and about and start enjoying all the amazing events and celebrations. Here are a few things to get the season started.

Don’t miss this opportunity to connect and engage with LGBTQ professionals and allies at this month’s Rainbow Chamber Networking Mixer on Tuesday, Mar. 19 from 6-7:30 p.m. The event will be at the Willamette Wineworks, 824 Sutter St. in Folsom. As always it’s free for members, $10 for non-members. Registration is required for this networking event. Rainbowchamber.com

Immerse yourself in the captivating world of Zora & Langston, a masterpiece by local talent Imani Mitchell. Featuring an exceptional cast, including Imani Waweru, Xzavier Beacham, and more. Showing until Mar. 17 at Celebration Arts, 2727 B St. Celebrationarts.net

Experience the exhilarating “Countess Cabaret” starring Luann de Lesseps, renowned for her captivating performances on The Real Housewives of New York. Directed by Broadway’s Richard JayAlexander, join us for an unforgettable evening filled with great songs, laughs, and surprises. Date: Saturday, Apr. 20, 8 p.m. Venue: Crest Theatre, 1013 K St. Crestsacramento.com.

This month’s ArtMix at Crocker Art Museum, 216 O St. takes us back to our high school days with the theme “Prom” on Thursday, Mar. 14 from 6-9 p.m. Don your formal wear and capture hella tight glamor shots while enjoying a corsage workshop and live music by Girls Who Rock Sacramento. Crockerartmuseum.org

Belly laughs abound at the STAB! Comedy Showcase at STAB! Comedy Theater, 1710 Broadway Blvd., on Friday, Mar. 22 from 9-10 p.m. Hosted by Spenser and Joey, this showcase highlights the hottest rising star comedians discovered at STAB! mics. Don’t miss your chance to grab the spotlight! Stabcomedytheater.com

Join us for a celebration of business and community excellence at the free expo on March 22 from 10-11:30 a.m. Stay for the awards ceremony and lunch from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. honoring outstanding leaders and organizations serving the LGBTQ community. Location: Hilton Arden West. Don’t miss this inspiring event!

Don’t miss “Fiddler on the Roof” at Davis Musical Theatre Company (DMTC), 607 Pena Dr, Davis, CA, 95618. Performances run through March 24. This timeless tale of tradition and change in a Russian village captivates audiences of all ages. Directed by Jan Isaacson, choreographed by Jan Isaacson, with musical direction by Ken Kim. DMTC. org

On Friday, Mar. 15 at 7:30 p.m., join us for “Murder, You Wrote” at Sacramento Comedy Spot, 1930 J St. This comedic improv show features a murder mystery unfolding on stage, solved by a detective and sidekick. The twist? The audience selects the murderer from an array of unusual suspects. Don’t miss this interactive whodunit experience! Saccomedyspot.com

Join Placer County Supervisor Suzanne Jones and the Agency on Aging Area 4 for an Aging and Disability Services Network Town Hall at Maidu Community Center, 1550 Maidu Dr., Roseville, on Friday, Mar. 15 from 10-11:30 a.m. This community meeting aims to address the needs of older adults, individuals with disabilities, and family caregivers in Placer County. Supervisor Jones invites your insights to collaboratively develop solutions for our community’s concerns. Your participation is vital in shaping efforts to support seniors, individuals with disabilities, and family caregivers.

Join the Trans Support Group at The Sacramento LGBT Community Center, 1015 20th St., on Tuesday, March 19, from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM. This peer-led small group provides a supportive environment for individuals identifying under the trans umbrella. For details contact andy.cha@ saccenter.org

Join us at Crest Theatre, 1013 K St., for a screening of the epic 1992 movie “Wayne’s World” on Wednesday, Mar. 27 at 7 p.m. Follow two slacker friends as they attempt to promote their public-access cable show in this iconic film. Don’t miss out on this blast from the past!

Do you have events, birthdays, or announcements to share? Feel free to send them to matthew@hengemedia.com.

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“Countess Cabaret” starring Luann de Lesseps. Photo courtesy of Luann de Lesseps.
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