December 6, 2018
So You Think You’re AN LGBTQ ALLY
inform | inspire
’Tis The Season To STOP FEELING GUILTY
Queer Categories Pit LABELS VERSUS LOVE Misconduct Alleged at LOST N FOUND YOUTH
SOUND OFF New releases put queer spin on seasonal music
The Weekly Print Publication of Project Q Atlanta
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EDITOR’S NOTE Q Q MAGAZINE THE WEEKLY PUBLICATION OF PROJECT Q ATLANTA PUBLISHERS INITIAL MEDIA, LLC MIKE FLEMING PUBLISHER & EDITOR MIKE@THEQATL.COM MATT HENNIE PUBLISHER & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MATT@THEQATL.COM RICHARD CHERSKOV PUBLISHER & GENERAL MANAGER RICHARD@THEQATL.COM ADVERTISING SALES RUSS YOUNGBLOOD SENIOR SALES REPRESENTATIVE RUSS@THEQATL.COM ART DIRECTOR JOHN NAIL JOHN@THEQATL.COM PROJECT Q ATLANTA PATRICK SAUNDERS EDITOR PSAUNDERS@THEQATL.COM CONTRIBUTORS IAN ABER LAURA BACCUS GABRIELLE CLAIBORNE BUCK COOKE CHARLES E. DAVIS JON DEAN BRAD GIBSON JAMES L. HICKS TAMEEKA L. HUNTER MARK S. KING HEATHER MALONEY ERIC PAULK KYLE ROSE JAMES PARKER SHEFFIELD VINCE SHIFFLETT ALEXANDRA TYLER VAVA VROOM NATIONAL ADVERTISING RIVENDELL MEDIA SALES@RIVENDELLMEDIA.COM 212-242-6863 LOCAL ADVERTISING SALES@THEQATL.COM 404-949-7071
To the BEAT
LGBTQ movement marches on through the holidays and to our own drummer PA RUM PA PUM PUM. The rhythm you hear is this latest issue of Q magazine coming toward you with sounds of the season, signs of the times, everyday heroes and reminders that, for some queer Atlantans, this is the toughest time of year to keep your chin up and your head high. In our Q Music cover story, LGBTQ artists from Chely Wright to RuPaul, Levi Kreis to Pentatonix and beyond, offer holiday albums to rock around the proverbial Christmas tree this month. We give the best of them a listen alongside a few other allied artists queer fans love. As our thoughts turn to tidings of great joy, it’s important to acknowledge dark thoughts for many in MIKE FLEMING our readership. Especially if ostracized from family EDITOR & PUBLISHER or pressured to fit in, the holidays can be hard going, and our Q Thoughts piece offers some solutions. Professional therapist Alexandra Tyler empowers you this year and sets the stage for an even better future. Speaking of brighter futures, trans activist Toni-Michelle Williams is working on one in this week’s Q&A profile. She opens up about her work, including activism and advocacy through SnAP, like working with Atlanta Police Department on LGBTQ relations. Advocacy is also on our minds in 10 Queer Things this week, wherein we lay some ground rules for straight folks who would be our allies. It’s a great reminder for everyone that assisting communities we’re not part of means listening more than talking. In Q News, who needs enemies with friends like these? Meet the fair-weather Atlanta gay turncoats who dumped Clinton on Election Night and are planning a $5 million fundraiser for Trump. We also learn the possible fates of LGBTQ institutions Cowtippers and the Model T. Every single week, you also know you can turn to us for Q Shots photo galleries, the Queer Agenda calendar of events and The Q advice column. This week’s entries don’t disappoint. You also know you can reach out to us any time using the e-mails in our staff box, and that we brew fresh content daily on our Project Q Atlanta homesite at theQatl.com. theQatl.com
INSIDE THIS ISSUE VOLUME 2 ISSUE 4 DECEMBER 6, 2018
10 QUEER THINGS Good Intentions
Queer seasonal sounds
29 Remember Them
Meet Toni-Michelle Williams THOUGHTS
32 Brunch Bunch
â€˜Tis the season for LGBTQ self-care
FEATURES Q Voices
Queer Agenda The Q
34 Giving Thanks theQatl.com
How categorizing humans leaves little for falling in love with actual people WHERE DID LABELS COME FROM? LABELING contributes to some of the deepest problems that we face.
Labels are often used to identify, differentiate and separate,
often with serving to disconnect us from each other and from meaningful relationships.
ly, but man came up with the name Christian. Man came up with the name Muslim. Man came up with the names gay and straight. Labels serve mainly to divide us. When we label ourselves a certain thing, we immediately set ourselves apart from others who are not that thing. What would happen if we all starting seeing every human as natural part of creation? Not a Muslim, not a gay man, not a Catholic, not transgender, not black, not Buddhist, but a human that is part of a One Divine Source. Could it change the way we feel about others and create more love and togetherness in the world? There is so much hate in our world right now. Under the current political environment, there is so much hate and name calling using many labels. What is more disturbing is the re-posting and spreading of hate-filled comments on social media. It’s time for everyone to practice loving behaviors and stop spreading hatred. I make a commitment here and now to pause and ask myself, “Do my actions support love and inclusion, or do they promote hatred and division in any way? Am I part of a solution, or do I contribute to the problem?”
Where did the label Christian, Muslim, black, white, gay, straight, fat, skinny, rich and poor
come from? People love to label. We use other
labels such as bully, nerd, hippie, slut, good girl, bad boy and the list goes on.
But is it necessary to label people? We are all
essentially the same, but we somehow find comfort and security being associated with a group, especially when we are fearful and vulnerable, and do not feel grounded in our own skin.
Are we even true to our labels? It’s a mystery to me how a devout gay Catholic could stand by
his or her faith, knowing that the Catholic faith teaches strongly against being gay. I have also wondered how someone who calls
themselves a Christian can lie, cheat, steal, gossip, create drama, abuse their bodies or have hatred in their heart toward others when it all goes against the teachings of their faith.
How can the rich look down on someone they have labeled
poor? How can an African-American who has been the victim of racism continue to hold onto their own prejudiced ideas about other groups of people?
I commit to see all beings as a beautiful part of the whole. I make a commitment to only allow love to dwell in me. No thoughts of division. I do not subscribe to the notion that one is right while others are wrong.
What are your thoughts when you see someone of a different religion? Do you see the label or the person? What are your thoughts when you see someone of a different race? Do you see their race, or do you see another human being? What are your thoughts when you see two people of the same gender, or opposite genders, holding hands? Do you judge them based on the label, or do you see them as part of the same creation you belong to? One by one, we can make a difference in our world by simply dropping the labels and being an example of loving kindness toward everyone, regardless of the label they identify with or the one we give them.
This context gives very little meaning to labels. Too often,
they’re used to judge others associated with a different label.
After all, we’re not so different. We all just want to be accepted, understood, respected and loved for who we are.
I believe that labels are man-made. We are all created equal-
It’s time to drop the labels and simply love.
VOICES OF NOTE presents DONALD MILTON III, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR 2018 — 2019 SEASON
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10 QUEER THINGS
So You Think You’re An
10 Things Every LGBTQ Ally Should Know
Role Play Sexuality vs. Gender
They’re two completely separate things, and one can never predict the other.
In gay male couples, no one is “the woman.” In lesbian couples, “the man” isn’t there. That’s the whole point.
Our depression and anxiety isn’t because we have issues with our identity, but because others do.
Support Out Loud
In a world of societal pressure, institutionalized discrimination, and bullying, let us know explicitly that you’re on our side.
Non-Binary People Exist Some people identify with neither gender. Some identify as both. Resist the urge to force them into categories.
We Don’t Know Your LGBTQ Friend And we don’t necessarily want to date them, either.
No Sex For You
Coming Out is Forever
It’s not a one-time thing. Basically every new person we meet is an opportunity, it’s exhausting, and it’s our decision if and when we do it.
Lesbians don’t want a male third, and gay men aren’t trying to get with every straight man.
What’s In a Name?
Names, pronouns, and gender markers
are important. Using the wrong one feels like an insult.
Stop Straight-Splaining When you’re in queer spaces like our bars and parties, listen more than you talk. We don’t care what you think about it.
Lost N Found board member accused of having sex with client By Patrick Saunders
A LOST N FOUND YOUTH BOARD MEMBER AND prominent Buckhead hair salon owner was investigated after allegations surfaced that he had sex with a client of the LGBTQ homeless youth shelter. The organization is also facing accusations that it retaliated against employees who spoke up about the allegations.
Project Q Atlanta spoke to several former employees or people who have had an affiliation with Lost N Found. They requested anonymity due to fears about the organization retaliating against them. They allege that board member Steve Hightower had sex with at least one Lost N Found client in exchange for money. The organization serves LGBTQ homeless youth between the ages of 13 and 25. This client was allegedly in his early 20s.
Hightower (photo, right) is a Buckhead hair stylist and owner of Steve Hightower Hair Salon & Day Spa. He also hosts the annual Thriving Children gala that raises funds for Lost N Found.
One source with a past affiliation with the organization said the then-wife of a Lost N Found client told them about Hightower having sex with her husband. “She came and told me that her husband had left her because he was sleeping with a board member who was giving him money and taking care of him,” the source said.
The allegations, which are apparently more than a year old, reemerged this fall. That’s when two people affiliated with Lost N Found said the organization fired them after they raised questions about the accusations.
One former employee knew the identity of the client Hightower allegedly had sex with. The now-ex-wife of that client confirmed the allegations with that employee. That employee said they notified Lost N Found management about the allegations on Sept. 19. “I was going to talk to [the client and his wife], interview them and launch an investigation. I told [management] it was going to happen, and I needed a private room, or I could take them off-site if that was needed,” the former employee said.
The former employee said that, after meeting with the client and his wife, they expected to evaluate whether to notify Atlanta police. The former employee said they were fired the next day for an unrelated matter. “They wanted to protect Steve. Because of his money and his influence,” they said. “Without him, they would be nothing. They decided that money would be more important than lives.” 12
Steve Hightower, on right
Another source said they were also fired by Lost N Found after speaking up about the allegations.
“The retribution thing is just unbelievable. It’s really insanity,” said a source with a past affiliation with the non-profit. “They’ve been denying everyone unemployment. They’ve been saying maybe we’ll allow you to get unemployment if you don’t talk bad about us to people.” The first source cited said they notified Lost N Found’s then-executive director, Rick Westbrook, when the allegations first surfaced. Westbrook told Project Q this week that he only learned of the allegations after leaving the organization in May. LNF BOARD MEMBER CALLS ALLEGATIONS ‘BULLSHIT’ Hightower denied the allegations against him and said he’s never had sex with any Lost N Found clients. “We have dealt with that with our attorneys. It is totally untrue,” Hightower said. “It was fully investigated by a third party and everything was found to be false. They interviewed the youth — everything.”
Robert Ross, Lost N Found board chair, denied that the organization retaliated against people who brought up the allegations, and added that the organization hired Atlanta law firm Taylor English to conduct what he called a “third-party investigation.” Lost N Found board member Melissa McMorries is a partner at the firm. Ross said the two-week investigation found “no basis of truth to the claims and there was no need for us to take any action whatsoever.” Lost N Found board member Marci Alt called the allegations “bullshit.”
“I take those allegations very seriously. So seriously I hired one of the largest law firms to do an independent study,” Alt said. “We had an investigation done, and in that investigation, it showed that it wasn’t true. What pisses me off the most is that it takes money away from the kids that I have to take care of.” Ross said he doesn’t know why several people would tell the same story about the allegations.
Read the full story and daily LGBTQ news updates from Project Q Atlanta at theQatl.com.
Male Atlanta couple to throw $5 million fundraiser for Donald Trump A GAY ATLANTA COUPLE WHO ONCE STRONGLY supported Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are now planning a $5 million fundraiser for Donald Trump and crowing about having the phone numbers of the president’s sons on speed dial.
But as the couple rushed to say hello to the candidate, a staffer blocked them. “This was about because we didn’t write a $25,000 check” in the f inal stretch of her campaign, Mr. Eure said. Ms. Clinton’s campaign rejected the claim. White said he saw Chelsea Clinton at a Manhattan bar earlier this year. Offended that she failed to acknowledge him, Mr. White said, he whipped out his phone and dialed Donald Trump Jr. “He said, ‘Do you want me to come over? I’m at the off ice, do you want me to?’” Mr. White added: “Trump picks up on the first ring. If you want to get to Chelsea Clinton, you have to call through five people.”
Bill White and his husband Bryan Eure also attended a Trump rally for Brian Kemp in Macon in November and spoke out about Stacey Abrams’ “radical extreme socialist agenda” after she lost the Georgia gubernatorial election. “He’s not a politician,” White (photo, second from right) told the New York Times about his support for Trump. “He’s not going to configure himself as anything other than what he is. I think that he has an authenticity.” The couple — who split their time between a Buckhead home in Atlanta and New York City — said they flipped their support from Clinton to Trump on Election Night in 2016 as soon as they realized Clinton would lose. The genesis of the couple’s reversal can be timed to about midnight on Nov. 8, 2016. Inside the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, at Ms. Clinton’s election night event, Mr. White stood watching the returns in an increasingly funereal atmosphere. He got in his Chevrolet Suburban and drove to the New York Hilton in Midtown, where Mr. Trump was celebrating his win. “I didn’t want to be part of that misery pie; I’m not a wallower in self-pity,” said Mr. White, who now runs Constellations Group, a strategic consultancy firm. “I really believe that once that decision is made, you have to get behind your president.” But they also point to a pair of slights by the Clinton family as motivation to switch their support, according to the New York Times. Eure said the couple borrowed a friend’s helicopter and traveled through a windstorm from the Hamptons to watch Hillary Clinton speak at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Bill White (second from right) and husband Bryan Eure (left) with President Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr.
The couple brushed off condemnations from LGBTQ people who note Trump’s rolling back of LGBTQ protections since taking office. “I don’t like identity politics,” Eure (photo, left) told the New York Times. Eure also pointed out Trump’s appointment of Richard Grenell, who is gay, as ambassador to Germany. The couple got pictures with President Trump backstage after Trump’s rally for Kemp in Macon on Nov. 4 — just two days before the gubernatorial election. The day after the election, Eure congratulated Kemp on Instagram, saying, “So proud of @briankempga and his family for running a tireless campaign against outside interest groups/ Oprah/Hollywood/Obama and beating Stacey’s radical extreme socialist agenda — grateful to Georgia for making the ‘right’ choice.” The couple told the New York Times that they will host a $5 million fundraiser for Trump this winter. theQatl.com
Atlanta gay bar Model T closes after 26 years
Model T bartender Rebecca Sauer said
Darmer is “on a mission” to find a new location.
By Patrick Saunders
“It’s definitely going to
ATLANTA GAY BAR MODEL T CLOSED ON NOV. 24. The bar’s owner blames the landlord for forcing them out of their longtime home near the Beltline in the Old Fourth Ward. “Yes it’s true. Right now I’m moving things out,” Model T owner Jill Darmer told Project Q Atlanta on Nov. 27. “You can thank Mr. Don Lippman for that.” Lippman owns the Ford Factory Lofts building where Model T resided on Ponce de Leon Avenue next to Ponce City Market. Darmer said she plans on opening up a new spot for Model T, but would not go into specifics. “I don’t want to jinx it,” she said.
be something coming up soon,” Sauer said. “She’s real excited about it.”
Darmer told Project Q in June that the bar was on
a month-to-month lease
and that she expected to be pushed out during the summer.
She said the bar was a victim of 725 Ponce, a $155 million project now under construction next to the bar. The development
will include a 12-story office building, a redeveloped Kroger and new commercial space in Ford Factory Lofts, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
Georgia legislature gears up for new ‘religious freedom’ fight THE STATE SENATOR BEHIND A FAILED ANTI-LGBTQ adoption bill went after the Georgia Chamber of Com-
merce and “global business elites,” calling their opposition to anti-LGBTQ “religious freedom” bills a “charade.”
“The Georgia Chamber seeks to deceive Georgians that economic liberty and religious liberty are incompatible. However, the history of our nation proves otherwise. If this had not been the case, our nation would never have become the economic wonder of the world.”
State Sen. William Ligon (photo), a
Republican from Brunswick, was the
lead sponsor on a bill that would have
allowed faith-based agencies receiving public funds to ban LGBTQ people
from adopting children or becoming foster parents. The bill passed in the
Senate earlier this year but failed to get
a vote in the House and died before the session ended.
In a statement to The Brunswick News,
Ligon signaled his intentions to take up a new fight for “religious freedom” legisla-
Sen. William Ligon
tion in the upcoming legislative session starting in January. “After several years of enduring attacks of the Georgia
Chamber of Commerce and global business elites against religious liberty, I hope everyone sees through their charade,”
Ligon said in a statement late Friday afternoon. “Last year, (Chamber CEO) Chris Clark stated that ‘the Chamber 14
is working hard to quash any religious freedom bills that might come before the Georgia legislature in 2017,’ just as it had done the previous three years, and which it continued to do in 2018.
Supporters of such legislation are emboldened by Brian Kemp’s win in the gubernatorial election, since he has long vowed to sign such a bill into law. Kemp reiterated his stance in a post-election interview with the AJC on Nov. 19, saying he would support a bill that mirrors federal law. But LGBTQ activists said the bill he supports is still discriminatory and sets a dangerous precedent. Supporters of the legislation signaled their intentions to hold Kemp to his promise. State Sen. Josh McKoon said the legislation is “finally going to happen” now that Kemp will be governor.
Cowtippers may be closed, demolished to make way for bank By Patrick Saunders HERE WE GO AGAIN. COWTIPPERS — THE ICONIC LGBTQ-popular restaurant once slated to close earlier this year — may close for good, be torn down and replaced by a Chase Bank branch.
Tomorrow’s News Today reported that “an applicant working
on behalf of Chase Bank” appeared before the Beltline Design
Review Committee in November to propose plans to construct a new bank branch to replace the restaurant near the corner of Piedmont Avenue and Monroe Drive.
“The scope of work includes the demolition of the existing build-
ing, and the construction of a new 3,470 SF Chase Bank building with 28 parking spaces on a 0.66 acre site,” TNT reported.
The applicant also reportedly asked for at least one variance to accommodate the bank.
Metrotainment Cafes — which owns Cowtippers and several
other restaurants popular with LGBTQ Atlanta — announced
a closure of the restaurant in January. The property was going to be sold to make way for the construction of a high-rise apartment building, TNT reported at the time.
But Metrotainment said an “outpouring of support” con-
vinced them to delay closing the restaurant. In February, they said it would remain open “for the foreseeable future.”
A representative for Metrotainment told Project Q Atlanta on Nov. 28 that nothing is a done deal.
“I spoke with the CEO last week and he informed me that
no decisions have been made or finalized at all,” said Metrotainment spokeperson Tori Allen. “The property is for sale, and has been, but nothing has been finalized or decided.” Cowtippers celebrated its 25th year in business this year. theQatl.com
Q&A You gotta
GIVE THEM HOPE
SNaP Co’s Toni-Michelle Williams stays positive in the face of the fight By Patrick Saunders TONI-MICHELLE WILLIAMS’ TWITTER BIO SAYS IT all: “LGBT activist and advocate, entertainer, community mobilizer and motivationalist!” The multi-tasking Williams is best known as the leadership development coordinator for social justice group Solutions Not Punishment Coalition (SNaP Co). The Atlanta native chats with Q about her organizing origin story, the Atlanta Police Department and trans relations, advice for aspiring organizers and how she finds peace during crazy times. How did you get into organizing? My Gurlz — my village and tribe of black trans women and queer friends — witnessing and experiencing homelessness, domestic violence, police and employment harassment, sexual assault and death. Since then, I have been committed to building the power of black trans people through embodied leadership practices and transformative campaigns that move us toward self-determination, acceptance and wholeness You released the 2016 report, “The Most Dangerous Thing Out Here is the Police.” What has Atlanta Police Department done since then to fix that relationship? The Atlanta Police Department collaborates with the Atlanta/ Fulton County Pre-Arrest Diversion Initiative, a program that offers alternatives to arrest. It prides itself for having a queer police chief and an LGBT Liaison. We are not talking about one good officer or one bad officer — we are talking about a culture shift in the ways that officers over-police and target our communities and neighborhoods.
than struggle to survive and care for themselves.
Release federal dollars to Housing Opportunities for People Living With HIV providers and serviced-based institutions. This has caused a hold on beds for many black, trans and queer people living with HIV. As we know, homelessness increases your chance of a police interaction that could be justified or not. Provide resources so that trans and queer communities are able to partner with universities like GSU, Emory and Georgia Tech to tackle homelessness. What’s your best advice for someone looking to get into organizing? My top five greatest lessons that I have learned and am still learning about organizing are to: Commit to your own healing journey towards wholeness and integration so that you can find the ones that are looking for you. Remember that “it is not about me.” In order to meet people where they are, I have to be comfortable with where I am. Take care of yourself. The work may not be about you — but you are worthy of care, healing, love, time and space. Stay grounded in the people who you are fighting for and fighting with. Stay away from the celebrity and tokenism that comes with leadership. A true leader is emotionally intelligent, accountable, perceptive, responsive, open, connected, vulnerable, authentic and true to self and their commitments. It’s hard to be a transgender woman of color. What gives you hope? At almost every turning point of our lives, we are met with rejection and isolation. My hope is for all of us to lean into our knowing of what our magic truly offers the world.
The city and department can do more, like:
What gives me hope is the limitless possibilities of transformation for all of us. The babies of the world give me hope. My family and their work to transform their hearts and minds so that they won’t miss out on my brilliance and my love gives me hope.
Close down the city jail so that working class black and brown won’t sit in a cage so that the city can profit from traffic violations and accidents.
Community, the movement, my partner and friendships sustain my hope and prepare me for all of the love that is to come for me and my sisters.
Deprioritize arrest for sex work or “prostitution” so that trans, queer and cis women, people and femmes could thrive, rather
Find the SNaP Coalition online at rjactioncenter.org/snap. For more of this interview, visit theQatl.com
Photo by Russ Youngblood theQatl.com
THE QUEER AGENDA The Best Queer Things To Do in Atlanta This Week
MONDAY, DEC. 10
December 6 - December 12
Holiday Game Night
Brent Star puts his hilarious energy into
THURSDAY, DEC. 6
hosting duties while you munch and play
Waffle Palace Christmas
@ Cowtippers, 8 p.m.
A raucous show calls Gays for Plays to party before and after @ Horizon Theatre Company, 6:30 p.m.
THURSDAY, DEC. 6
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 12
Make a donation to sit in Santa’s Clue union-suited lap. Benefits Wussy screens
Ethel Merman Disco
AIDS Vaccine 200
@ Woofs, 7 p.m.
With a title like that, what
could possibly go wrong
@ Out Front Theatre,
classic @ Plaza
Atlanta, 10:30 p.m.
8 p.m. outfronttheatre.com Amen: Holigay Edition
Ben Dela Crème & Jinkx Monsoon
Queens love a theme, and this venue loves to twist
Two queens are better than one in
it @ Sister Louisa’s Church, 10:30 p.m. sisterlouisa-
To Jesus, Thanks for Everything!
@ Center Stage 8 p.m.
FRIDAY, DEC. 7 AGMC Holiday Concert
Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus takes
for its 38th annual Christmas
her holiday album of original songs
8 p.m. Performance on Saturday
@ Crimson Moon in Dahlonega. See
on a “Holly, Jolly & Gay” theme
The lesbian singer rocks a set behind
show @ Cathedral of St. Philip,
@ Eddie’s Attic, 8 p.m. Thursday too,
as well, 6 p.m.
our Sounds of the Season preview in this issue of Q. eddiesattic.com
A Better Buzz Holiday Pop-Up
This popular t-shirt designer hocks his wares to benefit Lost N Found
Find even more LGBTQ events in
the Queer Agenda each Thursday at
Youth @ Woofs, 4 p.m. abetterbuzzbrandgoods.com
It’s the “Jingle Balls” jock-party edition of the popular dance party, this time with DJ Drew G @ Heretic, 10 p.m. hereticatlanta.com
SATURDAY, DEC. 8 Drag Queen Storytime
In the holiday edition of
this popular pastime, Terra Cotta Sugarbaker reads to
children for the amusement of
SATURDAY, DEC. 8 Atlanta Santa Speedo Run
Local gays and gals don
Speedos and run through
Midtown for a good cause
@ Hudson Grille Midtown, 2 p.m. atlantasantaspeedorun.org Photo by Amanda Coker
adults @ Ponce Library, 3 p.m.
SUNDAY, DEC. 9 Party with Impact
Positive Impact Health Centers hosts its annual art-and-cocktail benefit @ Summerour Studio, 7 p.m. positiveimpacthealthcenters.org
A LWAY S A PA R T Y B U
1492 Piedmont Ave NE • Atlanta, GA 30309 • 404-343-651
U T NEVER A COVER!
Friday, December 7 @ 7 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 9 from 4-7 p.m.
T DANCE with
DJ Nick Landon DRINK SPECIALS TO FUEL YOUR PARTY SPIRIT! 4 • KITCHEN HOURS: Mon-Sat 4 -10 p.m. • Sunday: 3-10 p.m.
Queer GU ‘Tis the season to stop seasonal shame and holiday contrition By Alexandra Tyler
oliday guilt can take many forms. People can feel a responsibility to give gifts, visit with people, or attend gatherings when we don’t really want to.
In an ideal world, we like our family members and relish the thought of gathering during holidays to show the love we have felt for them all year. In reality, many people find the holiday season to be a minefield of guilt and responsibility, and a difficult time for protecting their mental health. What is “family” anyway? Is family the people who raised us? The people with whom we share DNA? Or the people who love and support us in our daily lives? For many, these groups do not overlap. So whom will we choose to call “family” during the holidays and the rest of the year? In my practice, I have suggested before that if spending time with our family-of-origin is damaging for our mental health, then it is helpful to acknowledge that we have choices, but actually choosing to act differently can be difficult. Last year, I wrote some suggestions for overcoming guilt and for responding to guilt-trips presented by others. This year, I’d like to add some thoughts. It’s OK if changing your behavior during the holidays is a multi-year project. If the thought of rocking the boat this year fills you with anxiety or dread, use this year to think about what you might want to change in the future, and to simply observe what your current way of doing the holidays is like for you. Let yourself brainstorm! Write out everything. Nothing is
too absurd. Then go through your holidays as usual and observe your real experience.
If no one would have any unhappy feelings about it, what would I want to do with my holiday time? What experiences would I like to have? Are you missing your partner or one of your partners because they are not present? Are you gritting your teeth and tolerating poor or offensive treatment because your mother refuses to tell your bigoted uncle that he or some of his behavior is not welcome? Are you stressed about money because you feel obligated to give gifts to every single niece, nephew, grandchild and cousin? Are you feeling resentful because you get one vacation each year and maybe you’d rather spend it in a tropical paradise rather than driving 26 hours for a week with relatives?
In polyamory relationship counseling, I often suggest to people that they focus more on what they do want and less on what they think they don’t want. Focusing on what you do want is helpful with family-of-origin, too. Often people don’t change their holiday patterns because what they really want is a better, more loving relationship with Mom, Dad or whoever. They fear that choosing to not attend “family” gatherings will upset Mom or Dad or whoever, and the relationship will be damaged and become less loving. That seems to move things in the wrong direction related to your goals, right? Allow yourself to imagine what this more loving relationship would look like. Would this person accept you as you are? Would they accept your same-sex partner? Your gender identity? You partner’s gender identity? Your pagan beliefs? Your absence of religious belief? Your political views? Both or all of your partners? Would they feel compersion for you if you skipped a year with them so you could have a once in a lifetime vacation to Greece?
Recognize the moments in which you feel distance between yourself and others. Notice the moments that your relationship with one or more people is not the close, loving relationship you want it to be.
So, as you go through this holiday season observing what your actual experiences are during these holiday gatherings. Recognize the moments in which you feel distance between yourself and others. Notice the moments that your relationship with one or more people is not the close, loving relationship you want it to be. You may recognize those moments as pain, when they open the door and have a negative response to your purple hair, your black nail polish, or any expression of your personal style or self. You may feel it as anger when someone says something offensive and you feel obligated to hold your tongue rather than respond. You may feel it as a numbing when someone who abused you in childhood is welcomed into the home and you are expected to act as though nothing happened. You may feel it as loneliness because someone you love isn’t there. Write the experiences down. During the next year, you can work toward using these experiences to slowly build toward the experience you would like to have next year. Let’s say you want to have a more loving relationship with someone. What often feels missing is to feel that love and generosity coming from them and flowing toward you. Is it because they don’t feel it? Or is it because they don’t know 24
what would truly make you happy? How can they know if you are not honest with them? You might consider simply telling them what you feel, what it is like for you, to not be with your partner on that holiday, or to be around that one terrible relative, or what it would mean to you to go on that trip. This can set the stage for you to tell them that next year you plan to do something different. If you predict they are the kind of people who will lay on the guilt trips, prepare for that in advance like you are preparing for a job interview. Imagine all the things they might say, and plan how you would like to respond. Ask your friends and partners to role play with you or to help you come up with constructive responses. And take your time! You have all of 2019 to ease them into expecting new behaviors from you. Alexandra Tyler is an LGBTQ, poly, kink, sex worker supportive mental health therapist in Atlanta. Find her on Twitter and Facebook. Read her full columns on her website, cultivatingjoy. net. One-time reprint in Q magazine and on theQatl.com with permission.
Sounds of the Queer and allied singers put out new holiday music for 2018
SEASON By Buck C. Cooke
ach year, a diverse array of artists releases their holiday albums. Some are traditional and safe while some are wildly experimental. Here are just some of the queer and LGBTQ-friendly options
to freshen up your holiday playlists.
Out country singer Chely Wright swung for the fences
with Santa Will Find You, a five-song EP with all-original
RuPaul, this week’s Q cover girl, released Christmas Party,
an album with remixes from “Slay Belles” and some spoken word interludes. “Hey Sis, It’s Christmas” provides an an-
them to get your crew pumped as you hit the holiday party scene, and “Christmas Queen” tops a few other tracks sure to be featured in Ru’s “Holi-slay Spectacular” Christmas special airing on December 7.
Speaking of Mama Ru, the Ghosts of Drag Race Past
holiday music. The lesbian singer/songwriter/author/activ-
assemble for Christmas Queens 4 (photos, left), the annual
nostalgia to create instant classics.
show. Other volumes skewed more towards parody songs
ist mined domestic tranquility, loneliness, heartache and
Her lyrics are descriptive, powerful and evocative, whether of a time gone by, an emotion once felt, or the child-like
holiday album featuring alumnae from the popular reality set to holiday tunes, but this one features mostly straightforward (pardon the pun) takes on holiday classics.
anticipation of the holiday season. Richard Marx, a fre-
Jinx Monsoon shines on “Jungle Bell Rock,” and Alaska
“Christmas Isn’t Christmas Time.” Wright plays Eddie’s
in “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Don’t worry, the
quent collaborator of Wright, duets on both versions of Attic in Decatur on Dec. 12.
Out singer Levi Kreis posted for months about the fun he had in the studio making Home for the Holidays, his first
Christmas album. The Tennessee native and former Atlanta Pride performer mined his roots in country, gospel, rocka-
Thunderfuck delivers “Santa Baby” as if she’s a character queens want you to move for the holidays. Dance ver-
sions of Christmas favorites come from Blair St. Clair
and Kameron Michaels, so you can shake your booty as
you deck the halls. Likewise, Bebe Zahara Benet puts her
… unique … vocal spin on “The Little Drummer Boy” (“I
billy and blues for the album.
bring the beats, I bang the drums/ Ram-pa-pa, ram-pa-pa-
The effort reunites the Tony Award winner with fellow
version of “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” that’s
Million Dollar Quartet cast member Eddie Clendening.
Kreis originated the role of Jerry Lee Lewis in the Broadway musical, and Clendening originated the role of Elvis
pum”). A very autotuned Eureka O’Hara performs a dance as bizarre as you think, but kind of like tacky Christmas decorations — a guilty pleasure.
Presley. The pair channeled those alter egos for a rollicking
In female singers gays love, Katy Perry released a poppy,
into the musical.
mas,” and Jessie J. puts her huge vocals atop jazzy, big band
Queer-led acapella group Pentatonix released Christmas is
singer/songwriter/actor Ingrid Michaelson creates a classic
version of “Run, Run Rudolph” that would have fit right
Here! for their third holiday album. It includes Kelly Clarkson on “Grown-up Christmas List” and Maren Morris on “When
You Believe,” but the quintet’s signature arrangements take the focus on the other tracks, including the inventive “Waltz of the Flowers” from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker.”
peppy Amazon-exclusive holiday song, “Cozy Little Christsounds with the full album, This Christmas Day. Feminist
Christmas album on the beautiful Songs for the Season, fea-
turing lush orchestrations that would fit right into a playlist with Nat “King” Cole and Rosemary Clooney.
Visit theQatl.com for even more holiday music selections. theQatl.com
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If you think that queer is flirting
every legal standpoint on his 18th birthday. On the other,
ethics and morals vary from guy to guy, and yours may say that it’s still wrong to play ball on this particular field. Since you’re asking the question, you may fall into the latter category.
As the more mature player, it’s your obligation to ask your-
self the hard questions and think things through from both your perspective and his. Things to consider include the
with you, step up to the plate
power dynamics that handicap the game: Chances to take
to him. Plus, his emotional maturity — or lack thereof —
The first time I saw this beautiful human was as I walked by a baseball field outside the high school near
my gay gym. I noticed him noticing me, but of course I also
knew my place. I’m not one for most younger guys in general, and definitely not if they’re possibly underage.
advantage or hurt a rookie are increased, and that’s not fair could create more issues than you bargained for.
Whether you’re considering an extra-inning hookup or
making it a regular thing, talk to the guy. Actual maturity
and experience can vary widely at his age, so communicating
Well, that was two years ago. Recently, the same guy
to find out in advance is the best game plan. Chat him up to
definitely checking me out. He’s definite-
playbook at the first signs of mismatched expectations.
wandered into my gym looking sexier than ever, and he’s
avoid trouble for you or heartache for him, and scrap your
ly legal, but I still feel guilty about my
attraction to him.
I could be his dad, but I kinda want to be his daddy. But the guilt! How young is too young? Dear Daddy: Fantasy is the spice of
life. In the vast majority of scenarios, don’t deny the thoughts between
your ears. You ask if it’s OK to look
guilt-free, and I say Baseball Boy was always fair game within the confines of your mind.
When it gets to real life, things get
dicey. If you’re actually asking if it’s
OK to engage with this man, there are two schools of thought. Both are valid depending on the individual in question. 38
On the one hand, he’s an adult. Your guilt can disappear from
I’m recently out and have transferred my workouts to the gay gym in my neighborhood. I’m loving the
brotherhood and the eye candy. There is this hot older guy who I’ve noticed for
years and tried to get him to notice me, and I think he’s interested, but I’m not
sure how to get his attention. Dear Boy: Since your intended wasn’t
born yesterday, believe me (and
the Daddy letter above), he already
knows. Rather than just checking
him out and flashing the goods, be
man enough to strike up a conversa-
tion and see where things go.
The Q is for entertainment purposes
and not professional counseling. Send
your burning Qs to firstname.lastname@example.org. ILLUSTRATION BY BRAD GIBSON
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