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Make Your Reservations Now


JANUARY 15, 2020

V4-02 PEACH ATL MEDIA, LLC 925b Peachtree St. NE #168 Atlanta, GA 3030



OPERATIONS Jeff Anderson Sales and Development Director



EDITORIAL Mikkel Hyldebrandt Editorial Director

From the Editor

Brian Sawyer

It is impossible to ignore the importance of a federal holiday like MLK Day in the turbulence of the current political and social climate. The life and accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr., as a civil rights hero, pose a momentous counterbalance to what we are immersed in right now. Whether you choose to volunteer your time for a community project, participate in the rally and march, attend the commemorative service at Ebeneezer Church, run a 5K, or simply educate yourself about the history and legacy of the MLK civil rights movement, I hope you do so with the resolve to foster a more respectful, intellectual, and mature environment in our city, state, country, and world. Happy MLK Day and Weekend - and I hope you enjoy this issue of Peach!


Jessica Watson Graphics


CONTRIBUTORS Kevin Assam Chris Azzopardi

Mikkel Hyldebrandt Editorial Director Follow my IG @hyldebrandt

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The content of Peach ATL Media is for your general information and use only. It is subject to change without notice. The opinions expressed by any writer, advertiser, or other person appearing in the Peach ATL Media are not necessarily those of this publication, its management or staff. The information and materials appearing in the magazine are not guaranteed or warranted as to accuracy, timeliness, performance, completeness, or suitability of the information and materials found or offered for a particular purpose. It shall be your responsibility to ensure that any products, services, or information available through Peach ATL Media meets your specific requirements. Peach ATL Media is not responsible for claims made by advertisers, content of information, changes, events, and schedules. The magazine contains information and material which is owned by or licensed to Peach ATL Media, including but not limited to articles, advertisements, design, layout, graphics, and logos. No part or portion of Peach ATL Media may be reproduced in any way without the prior written consent of the publisher. Unauthorized use of Peach ATL Media may give rise to claims for damages and or criminal offenses. Your use of the information or materials in Peach ATL Media is strictly at your own risk.

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By Mikkel Hyldebrandt Photo:, Adobe Stock This year, The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on January 20, 2020, marks the 25th anniversary of the day that celebrates the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy. MLK Day is also the only federal holiday that is considered a national day of service that encourages Americans to volunteer in their communities to preserve and further his legacy. Here are a few events that, in each their way, celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. The King Center & King Holiday Observance The King Center is a top destination, and several events are planned to celebrate the holiday. A 10-day celebration of the life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that includes receptions, performance art, lectures, and workshops. Go to for a full schedule and more information. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Commemorative Service As the hallmark of the holiday, the service is held in the Horizon Sanctuary of the Ebeneezer Baptist Church on Monday, January 20, at 10 am. The service is free to the public. King Week Holiday March & Rally The march is held on Auburn Avenue from Peachtree Street to Jackson Street. The Rally is held on Auburn Avenue. The march is mobilized to create a lasting impact and honor those who have come before us. Both March and Rally is free to attend and assembles after the commemorative service at approximately 1 pm.  

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MLK Day 5K Run Celebrate Martin Luther King Day in fellowship and fitness by taking a fun run in Piedmont Park, where a drumline will line the entire 3.1 miles of the racecourse. The fun starts at 8 am in Piedmont Park (drum run begins at 9 am sharp). Go to to register. Atlanta History Center The Atlanta History Center and the Margaret Mitchell House offer free admission on January 20, in honor of Martin Luther King Day. Special programming will highlight the contributions and stories of African Americans in Atlanta, and Atlanta History Center guests will enjoy immersive museum theatre performances and inspiring activities for all ages. Visit for more. MLK Day of Service Observed as a day ‘on’ and not off, there are numerous ways for you to provide service to your local community. Organizations like Hands On Atlanta and United Way will mobilize thousands of volunteers on this day, and HRC Atlanta has teamed up with Project U First to create hygiene kits and sack lunches for Atlanta’s Homeless population. Check HRC Atlanta’s Facebook for further details, and seek out the volunteer project that will make a difference in your local community.

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By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

In October, Peach spoke to Chad Wick just before he and a team of volunteers embarked on a trip to Thailand with his organization More To Love to work on community projects there. Now the trip is over, and they are all back to tell us more about it.

We got to live with and commune daily with the villagers - a highlight for the entire team. With the money raised, we purchased all supplies, fed us and the village for the time there, and were able to make a significant financial contribution at the end to the local organization we partnered with, The Mirror Foundation.

Chad, at the end of October, you went on your volunteer trip to Thailand to work on a community project – How did the Atlanta community help you get there?

Who went with you on this volunteer trip?

We could not have done this trip and left the impact that we did if it wasn’t for our amazing Atlanta community. Whether the support came from attending our fundraisers, giving financially, or encouraging us through the entire process, we felt the love, and we contribute a lot of this trip’s success to all of you! A sincere and humbling thank you! What did the project in Thailand specifically entail? For this specific project, our team focused on the community center and school. The Hill Tribes are made up of multiple tribes, and this was a central facility used by many. In the morning, we spent time with the children: teaching, loving, and giving the teachers a much-needed break. In the afternoon, we refurbished furniture and gave everything a fresh coat of paint. 10 | follow us @peachatlmag

There were nine of us for our first global outreach project. It’s interesting to sit down and talk with each one because even though we all did the same project and had similar highlights, we all grew differently- we all have different stories. What’s up next for More To Love? We will ABSOLUTELY do another global outreach trip! We are looking into Peru for 2021. However, this year, 2020, is all about our home, Atlanta. We have Community Care Days (where we volunteer for a day at a local charity/business) and our big, immersive charity experience event mid-year. If interested in any of these events (volunteering or you need our help), please shoot us an email at moretoloveatl@ or follow us - updates coming soon.


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Even More To Love (continued) The volunteers played a huge part in the success of the More To Love trip to Thailand. Here are a few personal accounts from the people who went on this experience with More To Love.

The most memorable moment for me was the tribal ceremony of thanks the villagers did for us at the end of our stay. First, eating a special meal together with us, then chanting and dancing around a fire, the women dressed in their ceremonial regalia. But the children whose school, desks, and chairs we painted were the ones who stole my heart every day.

Alfons Dovana

Brian Pollard

Designer & Stylist When Chad originally told me about the idea, I already knew this would be a trip of a lifetime. I started doing volunteer work over 15 years ago teaching English to ESL kindergarteners, and the idea of going international was even more exciting since I love to travel and experience other cultures.  There were so many special moments. On our last night in the hill tribes of Chiang Rai, we danced with the Akha tribe around a pit fire under a full moon while they chanted. We got to see them in their traditional costumes, eat dinner, and drink their local handmade whiskey. 

Marcos D Rodriguez Bartender/Server

When I was younger, I used to work for the church on retreats and spiritual weekends, as well as many other volunteer jobs through the community. So when our friend Chad Wick asked how we felt about volunteering to help villages in the mountains of Chiang Rai, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. I immediately saw the opportunity to reconnect with that part of my life that I used to be very involved with, not to mention personal growth and the opportunity to help others with people close to me.

Assistant Community Manager for Skyhouse Midtown I really have enjoyed raising money and contributing to our community thee last few years with More To Love. Giving back has been extremely rewarding on so many different levels. When Chad suggested that we do something on a broader scope and wanted to start in Thailand, I didn’t hesitate. The thought of being a part of this and making our mark just for a moment in time was exciting and would give me the experience to look at things in a whole new light and perspective. My most memorable moments would be with the children and their little smiling faces and the host family we stayed with while there. It gave me a look into their every day and the way they live. For people that have very little, we were only met with hospitality and generosity. They were always so happy to see us and eager to learn and to interact. We got to teach with them every day, and we were able to give a fresh coat of paint to their schoolhouse just before we had to leave. The opportunity to step far beyond our comfort zone and to contribute to a community that really needed us provided me with an experience that fills me with happiness. This trip is one I will never forget.

Without a doubt, the most memorable experience was the time spent with the kids day after day doing educational activities and the last night saying goodbye to the families that welcomed us into their homes with great hospitality. That night we submerged even deeper with their culture and village traditions - something will never forget.

Tim MacCallum Actor

I wanted to volunteer for this Thailand trip because I had good experiences years ago volunteering with the US Peace Corps in Africa. I like the way it feels to help people in remote places of the world, learning about different cultures. You walk away with a greater perspective of how others exist, and a renewed appreciation for your own life. I had no idea what to expect from this experience and super low expectations. I’m glad too because we had the bare minimum in terms of shelter and bathroom, but we adapted and had an amazing time. 12 | follow us @ peachatlmag

If you would like to volunteer or if you would like to nominate your business or organization for Community Care Days, please email You can also get updates and more information by visiting



By Chris Azzopardi Photos courtesy of Netflix

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Dolly was there, almost, holding court despite her lack of humanness, as queer writers on assignment huddled giddily in front of her, awe-stricken by the realness of a fake Dolly. I stood, out of body, piled into the country legend’s Chasing Rainbows Museum as the tech magic that is Dolly Parton’s hologram welcomed me to a Dolly shrine, perhaps the most holy site I’ve seen since my parents took me to church as a kid. A regular experience at the museum, the 3D image of our honky-tonk goddess dove-coos about holding onto special memories and keepsakes; then, she asks you to remember one thing, breaking out some a cappella lines to let you know “that I will always love you.” She blows kisses and bids farewell: “I’m outta here,” she says. And poof, there she goes, melting into the most magical cloud of blue fairy dust, falling to the floor. Dolly transforms into a soaring butterfly. Because... Dolly Parton. When human Dolly descended upon a conference room at her DreamMore Resort in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, it was like she’d just stepped out of a Saturday-morning cartoon – or out of that holographic screen. She whooshed into our room of journalists with a hearty, “Well hello eve’ybody!” and zinged up to the front of a throng of already-seated journalists, making an astute observation on her jolly way: “Y’all like a bunch of kids: quiet, waiting for Ms. Dolly, Ms. Teacher, to come in.” Then Ms. Dolly got down to business, talking about her new Netflix anthology Heartstrings, where lessons are carefully taught with a steady hand and her unique ability to unify America, a topic recently explored in depth by Jad Abumrad on his podcast Dolly Parton’s America (having experienced Dollywood, including some of its otherworldly cinnamon bread, I can also say he’s spot on in coining her universe the “Dollyverse”). Expanding her ditties into full-on mini movies, the eight episodes produced for the series extend hearty lessons inspired by a mixture of both iconic and more obscure Dolly Parton songs; they gently and sneakily school the ignorant, the blissfully unaware and the downright bigoted, all told in Ms. Dolly’s preferred socio-political manner: through her stories. The “Jolene” episode tells the tale of the

eponymous misunderstood woman that Dolly fears will take her man in the song (played by Julianne Hough), though the episode concludes that it’s the cheating men who are the real problem. Forbidden love is the crux of “Down from Dover,” centered on a young black soldier and a white reverend’s daughter during the Vietnam War. The lesson of the “Two Doors Down” episode is classic Dolly because it’s the gay one. If you’re a queer Dolly-head, you won’t be surprised to discover her introduction to the episode, which spotlights a same-sex love story. But your homophobic uncle might be – in fact, he might even finally learn what non-binary means and that transgender people are real people, all thanks to Ms. Dolly’s Queer 101 classroom introduction. The “Great Unifier,” as she’s been called, introduces every episode – and it is always the best part of each installment. Here, she explains that even when she couldn’t be with her blood family on the road, she was with “a whole new family, with bands and crews that were made of all kinds of people who were different colors, gay, lesbian, transgender and all different faiths. But it didn’t matter as long as we all loved each other and got along. And we did. And we still do. Because what it all comes down to is love is love, in road families and in real families. Now life might not always be a party, but you are better off if you can just enjoy yourself, have fun and accept and love the people around you.” What a wise teacher we have in Ms. Dolly. She reiterated a similar sentiment that day in the conference room, talking about the “golden rule” – that is, once she reached the stage. “I’m gonna need another lift,” she chirped. “These are not the kind of shoes you want to take chances in. These boots aren’t made for walkin’.” She stomped the floor, then we were off. According to Ms. Dolly, that rule is treating people right – and that if know your values, your morals, and you know what to sacrifice and what not to, “you’ll be all right.” (When asked about goddaughter Miley Cyrus, she further illustrated this point by saying: “People say you need to talk to Miley; I say, no, I don’t need to talk to Miley. Let Miley be Miley, I’ll be me and everybody needs to do their own thing.”) Heartstrings practices the golden rule, and like her brand emblem – the butterfly, which is everywhere at Dollywood and at |


the DreamMore (even the toilet paper in my hotel room was butterfly embossed) – happy endings are also ubiquitous in the Dollyverse. And so it’s no surprise that Heartstrings is an extension of that world. A world Netflix knew the streaming population needed more of, a series that Ms. Dolly said “really did tug at your heartstrings.” In her mind, her songs are already movies anyway: “I grew up way back in the mountains, and early in my early days we didn’t even have electricity and we listened to the Grand Ole Opry on a battery radio.” She didn’t watch movies, and there was no TV, so to pass the time she would “paint pictures in my songs and tell stories,” she said. “So it was just a natural fit, I thought, to do a series based on songs that I’ve written.” Ms. Dolly could’ve tapped into her most well-known songs for Heartstrings – you may have noticed there’s no Heartstrings episode centered on “I Will Always Love You” (maybe next time, she says) – but aside from featuring a few of her biggest hits, “we wanted to pick songs that are also different.” She loves Westerns and dressing up in Wild West get-ups, so since she’s Dolly Parton and she can, she did a “J.J. Sneed” episode. Also, she loves dogs and “so I had a little song I had written years ago called ‘Cracker Jack,’ so we wanted to get one of those in as well. We

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wanted to cover all the emotions.” At one point during the press conference Ms. Dolly sneezed, which is a non-story except that this was Dolly Parton sneezing, so it was an event. She asked for a tissue and whooped a laugh, teaching us all another lesson: even honky-tonk goddesses are susceptible to seasonal sickness. “With this weather changin’ and all that,” she explained, before a man who was, I believe, a journalist – but looked like he could’ve easily been in one of these Heartstrings episodes – passed her a tissue. She thanked him, calling him “cowboy.” Like she was throwing the “Cracker Jack” dog a bone, she dangled the tissue out in front of our group of journalists, joking that she was going to fling it out so someone could sell it on eBay. Non-holographic Ms. Dolly, extraordinarily human at this point, called it “star snot.” -As editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBTQ wire service, Chris Azzopardi has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Cher, Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, GQ and Billboard. Reach him via Twitter @ chrisazzopardi.

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JAN 30–FEB 15, 2020

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OCT.10-12,2020 |

By Kevin Assam Richard Scot Forste is the co-owner of one of Key West’s recently relocated The Flaming Buoy Filet Co. Armed with his wit, new digs, and Star Wars memorabilia, Scot talks paper straw alternatives, the usefulness of hate sex, and not billing John Waters for that bout of viral plague. Was Julia Child or the works of Sigmund Freud more influential on your earliest culinary creations? Another motherfucker of a question. I’d have to say Freud. I was exposed to Freud at a very Jung age and it involved not time travel, but astral projection. Quid pro quo, Clarice. You will let me know when those lambs stop screaming, won’t you? Are hard individual pasta noodles better alternatives to paper straws? Did you know, according to me, there are more than one type of pasta worldwide? Curiously, all but one, end in a vowel. Unless you suffer from celiac disease, in which case, pasta ends with something else. [Insert bad “vowel movement’ joke here] My point is, this could be a very long, if not tedious, answer. I will, however, spare your readers a rather thorough and well considered response and, simply suggest glass to mouth as an adventurous alternative. Were your parents believers in having dinner together every night? We very nearly ate dinner together every night. No TV. But, like a lot of kids during the 80s, there was a time my brother and I ate at our leisure. It was during this time that I learned to cook. How did Key West get on your radar? Did the queers have anything to do with it? My straight friendly best friend from Cincinnati used to visit Key West. One year he left for vacation and never came back. Naturally, I got to visit. [Pause] I just realized that answer sounds like my friend disappeared while in Florida. I want to be clear. It’s true. How did the concept for The Flaming Buoy Filet Co. arise? Can you clear up the pronunciation of “Buoy”? A brazen display of audacity. And by “audacity,” I mean hubris, overweening pride. We pronounce it “boo-ie”, but Webster’s says “boy” is acceptable if you don’t know any better.

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You and your partner Fred were aware of the probability of failure in the restaurant business. What pushed you to do it anyway? We were blissfully unaware. It wasn’t until after we were up and running that friends and family told us that opening a new restaurant was the worst idea ever. That and snitching on the same cell mate that taught you how to make shivs out of toothbrushes in the yard. And we were, like, “What!? You’re [telling] us this now?” How did you choose to divide responsibilities for the restaurant? You’ve particularly taken on the role of being the face of it. Lots of hate sex. Why was the 424 Eaton Street location so attractive? The blocks around where Eaton and Duval Street meet is this wonderfully vital cultural intersection unlike any other in downtown Key West. The Tropic Cinema is an absolute treasure for movie lovers. The Studios of Key West’s support and showcasing of art, music, and theater is indispensable. I failed on the stage of The Key West Theater. The same stage that hosted John Waters. I got to meet John Waters. In Key West. Think about that for a minute. I think he gave me the flu, but that’s another story. Having spent more than half my life in the book industry, Books & Books and Key West Island Books — my first job in Key West — hold very special places in my heart. I beg all of you, please read a book! Uva Wine Shoppe on Fleming is the closest place Key West has to a salon. The most multifaceted collection of local characters can always be found perched in front of–and behind–the bar. We’ve shared a great relationship with The Saint and Banyan Tree Resort for many years. Eaton Street felt familiar. It felt right. Did you send a bill to John Waters for that bout of viral plague? Of course not. He warned me not to touch him, but I couldn’t resist.

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Taylor grew up in Palmetto, Georgia, as the youngest of four siblings raised only by his mother, who he is very close to. You may have seen Taylor at Woofs where he works, and he loves working there because of the people he works with and the people he meets. Taylor loves to sing, so you can find him anywhere there’s karaoke sipping a tequila drink. His zodiac is Pisces, which means he loves to swim, and he is very compassionate. As a real social butterfly, another place where you can meet him is on the dancefloor on a Saturday night.




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January 15 – January 22

The G8yties: Madonna Power Hour Field Day Beer Bust “Get into the Groove” with an all 80’s MADONNA Join Action Cycling and Woofs for the annual power hour from 10-11 pm, followed by a full start-up beer bust benefiting Atlanta Field Day. night of all your favorite 80’s dance hits. Donate and start putting together your team now! Friday, January 17, 10 pm – 3 am The Heretic STAFF PICK!

Saturday, January 18, 2 – 5 pm Woofs Atlanta

Ho Sho Atlanta The once-a-year show brings out the talents of Atlanta’s live-singing drag queens that raise funds for the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus .After party featuring DJ Brian Rojas (Deep South). Tickets at Saturday, January 18, 8:30–11:30 pm

Smith’s Olde Bar

Sanctum XIII Queers On Film: All About My Mother Sanctum XIII is a newly crafted group of Atlanta The monthly series of LGBTQ+ centric arthouse DJs determined to make a positive impact in the films returns to Plaza Theatre with Almodovar’s community. While there is no cover charge, this masterpiece, All About My Mother followed by a is a fundraiser where all donations will go to the discussion featuring Out On Film’s Jim Farmer. Alzheimer’s Association. Monday, January 20, 7 – 10 pm Saturday, January 18, 6 – 10 pm Atlanta Eagle Plaza Theatre 30 | follow us @ peachatlmag


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. NE

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Stop overthinking things No more living in the past

Don’t be afraid of change

Don’t ever think you’re not good enough

Don’t chase being a perfectionist

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TEN THINGS TO GIVE YOU 2020 VISION Leave these things in the past and move on!

Your happiness should not be sacrificed for others Don’t try to please everyone

Embrace being different

Never doubt that you have a purpose in this world

Don’t let old habits hold you from new and better ones

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Text your Peach Pits to 540-30-PEACH, or e-mail

Me: What is all this?

Him: Our lewks for the party on Saturday

Let me guess; you’ll be more focused on your relationship, your career, and fitness in 2020? Groundbreaking…

Me: Ok, how about this over here?

Him: Those are wigs that need to be cleaned

A real act of terrorism would be killing Google. I know 6 maybe 7 things

Me: I love being gay!

2020 may have started rough, but remember that rejection is the universe’s way of protecting you

Have you ever considered that your crazy rants about not getting hired are, in fact, the reason why you’re never hired?

I figured out what my toxic trait is: I need to get an iced coffee every time I leave my house

This working five days a week shit is rough!

DADDY JOKE ALERT I wanted to go on a diet, but I feel like I have way too much on my plate right now.

ASKING FOR A FRIEND Is anything’s possible without coffee – and mascara?

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GEMINI (May 21 - Jun. 20) Your financial situation may be good, but make sure you have some tucked away for a rainy day. Right now the skies are sunny and you may be in a mood to spend. But don’t go crazy, or once the rains start you won’t even be able to afford an umbrella.

CANCER (Jun. 21 - Jul. 22) Watch how you snap those claws today, because there could be someone out there that’ll snap right back. It’s always interesting when two crabs meet; it can be like throwing gasoline on a fire. But, oh! The passions ignite once the lights go out.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22 - Jan. 19)

LEO (Jul. 23 - Aug. 22)

Idiot coworkers will have you wishing you were somewhere else today, like on a beach in Puerto Rico, getting a massage and sipping a drink as you wonder what your idiot coworkers are up to.

You’re usually persistent in your attempt to meet and woo attractive new guys. This often works to your advantage, but it can also make you look even more pushy than usual. Be subtler in your approach today. And get rid of the baseball bat you use to club them over the head with.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20 - Feb. 18)

VIRGO (Aug. 23 - Sep. 22)

Be aware of developing health issues today. It’s easy to let your well-being slip in these busy times. But you’ve only got one body, and there are no exchanges. Start with a physical and dental checkup. Then develop a fitness routine that works for you. Your body and mind will thank you.

You may have to care for a sick friend today. So whip up some chicken soup and bust out the can of sympathy. Most of us no longer live with our mothers, so we rely on the support of our friends to get us through. Be one such friend today. Besides, you’ve got the legs for that nurse’s outfit.

PISCES (Feb. 19 - Mar. 20) You find the absurdities of life to be entertaining, but you don’t have to be one of them. Acting the buffoon or behaving outlandishly may be a hoot to you, but others find it embarrassing and childish. Does that matter to you? It should.

ARIES (Mar. 21 - Apr. 19) You may not be feeling particularly good today. Could it be a physical manifestation of a mental ailment? That’s a distinct possibility, given the way you stress out. Take a few days off next week if you can, and then see how you feel. But keep your therapist’s number handy, just in case.

LIBRA (Sep. 23 - Oct. 22) You’ll need to be flexible today. People may not be on the same wavelength as you, and they’ll disrupt your chi. There’s not much you can do other than go with the flow and be adaptable. Work with that philosophy and you’ll get through the day without going ballistic.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23 - Nov. 21) Today’s a good one to get the things you want, especially with guys. Start with a subtle approach and try to go in through the back door. But if that doesn’t work, gather all your energies and charge full steam ahead until you emerge victorious.

TAURUS (Apr. 20 - May 20)

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22 - Dec. 21)

Today would be a wonderful one for a dinner party. Nothing chases away the blues better than socializing with friends. So whip up a quick and easy meal, pop open some wine and invite some of the guys over. They may need the release as much as you do.

Follow your moods today. They may be like the sea: Unpredictable and forever shifting. But they’ll take you to new and exciting ports of call where you might find a first mate to help you navigate.

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By Mikkel Hyldebrandt Trouble in the love department? With sex? Or just people in general? Send us your queries, questions, and problems, and you’ll get answers served straight up and with a little ice.

So, I have become THAT guy… I have been secretly hooking up with a guy behind my boyfriend’s back. Yes, that makes me a cheater, but I also know in my heart that our relationship is breaking apart and that it’s just a matter of time, but I still feel bad for doing this behind his back. He’s a good guy, but things just aren’t working out, and I want him to remain a friend after we break up. How can this happen? Sincerely Secretly Moving On Dear Secretly Moving On The reason why you’re not honest with your boyfriend is that you know damn well you’re a jerk whether or not the relationship is drawing its last breath. You cheating on him like that makes it very unlikely that he would want to be your friend after you inevitably break the f**k up! Which is what you need to do right this second. There’s no easy way out here: you need to own up to what you have done and to your feelings! If you want to have any hope of salvaging the relationship so you can be friends down the line, you need to be honest with him starting NOW. And you know what; even though he decides never to see you again, at least you won’t be that guy anymore, and you will get a chance to regain a little bit of your integrity.

I have been HIV-positive for more than ten years, and at this point, I’m undetectable. I have watched with wonder how stigmas surrounding HIV and AIDS have become less prevalent because of efficient HIV treatment and the emergence of PrEP. I had this great sense of moving forward and positivity until recently where I met this guy, who I was really into, and when I thought the time was right, I disclosed my status to him. He completely turned on a dime and accused me of dishonesty, and when I tried to explain, he became defensive and when leaving he even yelled that I was filthy and was trying to give it to him. It destroyed me. I’ve spent the past few days processing, but I’m so shocked – both over the incident but also that I could have misjudged him so badly. He wasn’t at all what I thought he was. How do I turn off his accusations in my head? Sincerely Bruised Fruit Dear Bruised Fruit Having a person you thought was special turn out to be both judgmental and ignorant is a toxic combination that not only hurts but can affect you deeply emotionally. You may have seen a positive change in how people deal with stigmas surrounding HIV and AIDS, but the fact that you still need to seek the right moment to tell someone about your status speaks volumes. Your crossing paths with this particularly ignorant individual is heartbreaking and makes you feel like damaged goods. But you know what? You’re not damaged; he is. Someone like him who lets fear run their life that way and even to become abusive has got to have more issues than what’s mentally sound. You are not your illness, it is not what defines you – it is something in your blood that is under control and undetectable, which means you take good care of yourself! In that light, you can use your status as a filter that effectively sorts out those bad seeds before they can grow on you. This guy may have seemed great, but by any means, he was an a**hole, and you dodged a bullet. So, keep witnessing the change, know there is a long way to go yet, and continue being honest with yourself and others. NEED ANSWERS? REACH OUT TO US, AND YOU WILL GET THEM! SEND YOUR BURNING QUESTIONS TO OUR EDITOR AT MIKKEL@PEACHATL.COM.

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