EMBRACE MAGAZINE — THE ARTS ISSUE 2022

Page 1

EmbraceMedia.us

J U LY 2 0 2 2

T H E

A R T S

I S S U E

Hollywood’s most famous scenes get dragged by famous Queens

COMING OUT ON TOP

Billy Flanigan documentary

EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE

Equality Florida St. Pete Gala

GO AHEAD, MAKE MINE GAY Compilation of LGBTQ+ movies

2022 AWARDS

Embrace’s 34 wins (and counting!)


WE’RE WORTH YOUR VISIT. Are you ready to experience a dealership that puts you first? That ’s what you’ll find here at BMW of Ocala. Whether you’d like to explore our fine selection of new BMW models or schedule a ser vice appointment for your current vehicle, we’re committed to meeting your automotive needs and exceeding your expectations. We love the BMW brand and would love to help you choose a vehicle that suits your lifest yle. We’re always happy to discuss any model in further detail and answer any of your questions. We also provide a variet y of convenient perks that you’re sure to love. These include X press Shopping (our exclusive program that allows you to shop and buy from home), BMW of Ocala To Go (a ser vice that delivers your new purchase to your home or wherever is most convenient) and a three-day exchange polic y to ensure that you’re completely satisfied with your new BMW.


And when you need to schedule a service appointment, you can rely on us to deliver the highest level of care for your vehicle. We work on all makes and models and even offer a valet ser vice, so you won’t even have to leave your home. From our showroom to our ser vice center, our team looks for ward to ser ving you. We invite you to come tr y our White Glove E xperience today.


Discover a dealership unlike the rest. At Porsche of Ocala, our customers come first. We’re committed to your satisfaction, whether you’re searching for the perfect Porsche or need to schedule an appointment for service and repairs. No matter what brings you here, you can always rely on us to take care of your automotive needs. We offer our exclusive Xpress Shopping program, which allows you to shop and buy from wherever you prefer, as well as our home delivery service, which brings your new Porsche straight to your door. We even offer a three-day exchange policy, in case you change your mind. After all, we want you to be completely satisfied with your new Porsche.


Not only do we offer a stunning lineup of luxury vehicles, but we’re also dedicated to keeping your Porsche in the very best condition. We provide a convenient valet service when your vehicle needs maintenance or repairs. We’ll pick your vehicle up and drop it back off when service is completed, so you won’t have to leave your house. You can rely on us to deliver the highest level of customer service every time. We call it the White Glove Experience.

Let us exceed your expectations today.




Now More Than Ever, Live the Life You Want… IRONWOOD FARM “This is simply one of the finest estates I’ve seen in my career. The backyard overlooking the pond is so beautiful that it looks like it is straight out of the movies.” — ROB DESINO

Offered at $7,900,000 This magnificent 119 acre estate is located in Central NW Ocala’s acclaimed horse country. Wind up the paved drive to the spectacular home site sitting high on a hill overlooking the beautiful grounds. This property is recognized as one of the most prominent estates in horse country.

WHISPERING OAKS FARM “From the road you would think this is just a cute little farm cottage, but as soon as you walk in you realize how large and stunning this home and setting is.” — CHRIS DESINO

Offered at $799,000 This beautifully kept 6+ acre farm is just what you’ve dreamed of! Located in Central NW Ocala’s beautiful horse country, where you’ll find yourself surrounded by like-minded equestrians! It’s a great location, and just minutes to equestrian venues, including HITS, Live Oak, OBS, and less than 10 miles to the new WEC!

(352) 615-8890 Chris & Rob Desino and Matt Varney


Where You Want! CHATHAM GLEN FARM

BRIDAL OAKS FARM

“This property has the perfect layout and is most certainly why the 13 acres feel more like 25! Not one inch of space is wasted. And I absolutely love the master bedroom — it’s stunning!” — MATT VARNEY

“Such a pleasure to experience, as it is nestled back into the quietest part of a lovely equestrian subdivision. It is simply one of the best values on the market today.” — LISA ROGERS, OHP BUSINESS MANAGER

Offered at $1,775,000

Offered at $1,195,000

This 13 acre farm is conveniently located in Central NW Ocala’s horse country; it’s one mile to HITS, and 15 minutes to the new World Equestrian Center! There are 2 large pastures with mature shade trees, and an additional 3 paddocks with 10-foot aisles between. woodwork; it features feed and tack rooms, wash racks, bath and efficiency apt.

This farm is located in the beautiful equestrian community of Ocala Downs in NW Ocala’s prestigious horse country. This location can’t be beat for easy access to main roads, parks and riding opportunities, and horse venues, including the new World Equestrian Center.

#1 in Ocala Farm Sales for the Past 13 Years & Counting www.OcalaHorseProperties.com


MOST ADVANCED GYM IN FLORIDA

VISIT US OR CALL 352.414.4848


G O L DSGY M .CO M /O CA L A- F L





Embrace Magazine was awarded the highest honor—MAGAZINE OF THE YEAR— by the Florida Magazine Association at the 2021 Charlie Awards! Embrace also took top honors in all four Best Overall categories. We have made history. Not only are we the first LGBTQ magazine member in the organization’s 68-year history, but also the first to win Best New Magazine, Best Overall Magazine, and Magazine of the Year in its inaugural year.

Complete List of Awards CHARLIE

S I LV E R

BRONZE

Best Overall Magazine

Best Overall: Design

Best Writing: Feature "On the Front Lines"

Best Overall: Writing

Best Overall: Digital Innovator

Best New Magazine

Best Special Theme or Show Issue The Heroes Issue

Best Advertorial: Story or Section "For Hot Sax, Call Alan Darcy" Best Writing: Department Arts & Culture Best Photography: Photo Essay/Series "Thinking Outside the Box" Best Design: Use of Photography The Arts Issue

Best Writing: Public Service Coverage "On the Front Lines" Best Photography: Single Image Love from "Thinking Outside the Box" Best Design: Department Issues & Politics

Best Design: Feature "On the Front Lines"

Best Writing: Service Feature "Refresh Your Space to Recharge Your Life in 2021" Best Writing: In-Depth Reporting "Shattering the Silence" Best Writing: Editorial/Commentary/Opinion Publisher's Letter Best Writing: Feature Headlines "A Straight Answer" "Heavy Mettle" "For Hot Sax, Call Alan Darcy" Best Photography: Cover The Premiere Issue Best Design: Cover The Premiere Issue

We are honored by these accomplishments. Thanks to all Embrace Magazine contributors and advertisers who have made these achievements possible! ADVERTISE IN THIS PRESTIGIOUS MAGAZINE Contact John Sotomayor • 352-571-0129 john@sotomayormedia.com • embracemagazine.us B O L D LY | U N I T I N G | L I F E S T Y L E S


C ON T E N TS T H E A R T S I S S U E | J U LY 2 0 2 2 | V o l . 3 N o . 1

78

J U LY 2 0 2 2

44

26

14 EMBRACE MAGAZINE

62

52

F E AT U R E S

EMBRACE YOUR WORLD

26 Icons Gone Wild: A Photo-Essay 12 famous Hollywood scenes get dragged by famous Queens

I N T E R N AT I O N A L N E W S

62 UK: Past convictions for “homosexual activity” wiped from records.

BY JOHN SOTOMAYOR AND MAGNUS HASTINGS

44 Go Ahead, Make Mine Gay From coming-out dramas to cult comedies to blockbusters, these movies reflected and represented LGBTQ+ culture on-screen. BY NILE FORTNER

52 Coming Out on Top Billy Flanigan rode miles and shared smiles to make the post-pandemic world a friendlier place. Now a documentary is going beyond his #flanigrams to tell his entire story.

TR AVEL

66 Queer history tours of Buenos Aires ISSUES & POLITICS

72

We Must Continue to Say Gay

RELIGION

78

Massachusetts church group opens home for LGBTQ+ asylum-seekers

BY MELISSA-MARIE MARKS

P R O M OT I O N A L F E AT U R E S DEPAR TMENTS

16

Contributors

20 Publisher’s Note

86

LET IT BE KNOWN Upcoming feature film shares a yet-untold WWII story

104 THE MASTER OF CEREMONIES Event planner and owner of Iconic Events: J Scott Berry


72

THE ARTS ISSUE

66

90 98

EMBRACE YOUR COMMUNIT Y

EMBRACE YOURSELF

A R T & C U LT U R E

H E A LT H

82 Review of Stephen Michael Shearer’s “Glamour and Style: The Beauty of Hedy Lamarr”

118 Mind

STYLE & TRENDS

90 The Bold Lead: A look at LGBTQ+ wedding fashion and more FASHION & DESIGN

94 The Timelessness of Tweed 98 Tweed: Revisited, Repurposed, Reinvented SEEN

107 Celebration at the Mahaffey: Exclusive coverage of the Equality Florida 2022 St. Pete Gala 114 A Merman’s Tail: Model photoshoot at GayStPete House’s Casa del Merman

15 EMBRACEMEDIA.US

82

2

120 Body 122 Soul C O M I C C O M M E N TA R Y

126 AJ and Magnus ON THE COVER Internationally renowned drag queen Alaska Thunderfuck’s take on Marilyn Monroe in “The Seven Year Itch,” wearing a hand-made dress made entirely from trash bags. Photo by Magnus Hastings

READER FEEDBACK We want to hear what you think of each issue and welcome your comments and suggestions at john@sotomayormedia.com FOLLOW US ON facebook.com/embracemagazine.us


CONTRIBUTORS The mission of Embrace Magazine is to unite LGBTQ+ and straight communities to live, work, play, and pray together. We also wish to provide a platform for LGBTQ+ people to have a voice and share their unique artistry. Therefore, our staff consists of two-thirds LGBTQ+ persons, and one-third straight persons within our 15-member staff. MEET OUR CONTRIBUTORS

and family portraits to his clients to cherish a lifetime.

The Boulet Brothers Dragula. Magnus currently lives in West Hollywood with his dog George.

active on social media @Nile_Fortner.

countries, and around 60 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Jamie Ezra Mark

J U LY 2 0 2 2

Creative Director (He/Him)

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

16

Over his 25-year publishing career, Mark has amassed a vast magazine portfolio that includes national titles such as Weight Watchers, Arthritis Today, Digital South, Sensi, and Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Latitudes. His team at Em continues to design award-winning publications, as well as brand and advertising strategies, for a variety of businesses.

Conan Segrest

Chief Photographer (He/Him)

Conan Segrest and his wife Yaisa have been the owners of Full Line Photography Studio for the last 10+ years. They have been in the Ocala area since graduating in 1998 and married since 2001. His wife got him his first camera that same year and he hasn't put it down since, now providing timeless wedding photography

Magnus Hastings

Photographer (He/Him)

Award-winning photographer Magnus Hastings is best known for his work with Drag Queens and the Queer community Relocating from his home town of London to Los Angeles in 2011 travelled across America photographing the best of U.S drag which was to become his bestselling photography book Why Drag? Published in 2016 by Chronicle books to great acclaim, it was described by Sir Elton John as “the best fucking photography book in years.” Magnus followed this up with his second book Rainbow Revolution also published by chronicle books (2020) only this time not limiting himself to drag but celebrating the entire queer spectrum. Hastings is now regarded as one of the leading lights in Drag and Queer photography. He has appeared as a guest photographer on RuPaul’s Drag Race and a guest judge on

Steve Pafford Nile Fortner

Contributing Writer (He/Him)

For various publications and online platforms, Nile Fortner has worked as a South Florida-based community writer and multimedia journalist. Nile, who is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University, is also a writer for the Sun-Sentinel, New Pelican Newspaper, M.I.A. Media Group/ Legacy, and he’s also been a writer for SFLStyle, My South Florida Today, ComicAttack, and more. His work has made the front cover of numerous newspaper editions and he is also a podcaster for BocaFirst, Cinephellas, and he contributes with a few others too. Here, Nile hopes to inform, inspire, and bring unity by providing news on cultural community topics. Nile is also a fan of movies and he’s a foodie. Even though he’s a writer, he still can’t figure out another word for Thesaurus. You may also find him being

International News Editor (He/Him)

Steve Pafford is an English journalist, actor and author of the acclaimed book BowieStyle. Having trained from the floor up in UK music titles Q, MOJO and Record Collector, he’s had his work featured in a wide variety of British, American and Australian media including the BBC, CNN, The Independent and the New York Times. Steve divides his time between Australia and the south of France.

Danielle Olivani Issues + Politics Editor (She/Her)

Danielle is a proud mom, community organizer/activist, and CEO of Lake County Pride Org. Corp; an LGBTQIA+ nonprofit which seeks to improve the lives of Lake County youth through advocacy, education, and acts of service to the community. She is a longtime resident of Lake County and currently lives in Mount Dora, Fla. She graduated from the Rollins College Paralegal Studies program and obtained her certification in 2017.

Mike Fallon Travel Editor (He/Him)

Michael “Mike” Fallon is a business professor at Beacon College in Leesburg, Fla., and an avid traveler. He spends about three months per year traveling the world, and has visited all Seven Wonders of the World. He’s been to nearly 80

Heritage Sites. Rev. Catherine Dearlove Religion Editor (She/Her)

Rev. Catherine Dearlove is Senior Pastor at Trinity MCC in Gainesville, Florida. Although a Christian minister, she has a strong appreciation

for all journeys of faith or philosophy and wrote her Masters dissertation on Inter-religious Dialogue. She is currently the Chair of the Campus Multifaith Cooperative at UF and coordinates the Alachua County Faith Leaders Alliance. Rev Catherine has lived in the UK, Australia and now USA and has spent most of her life as a social justice warrior and advocate for the integration of sexuality and spirituality. Rev Catherine believes faith is a journey and should never be static.

Fred W. Wright Jr.

Feature Writer (He/Him)

Fred. W. Wright Jr. Is a full-time freelance writer based in Seminole, Fla. A generalist, Fred writes about a wide range of subjects, from business to film, health to stress, history to senior citizens. Travel makes up about 75 percent of what he writes. His work has been published in numerous newspapers and magazines, including Tampa Bay Times (formerly St. Petersburg Times),


ADVISORY BOARD

College, is currently teaching English Language Arts in Saint Augustine, FL, specializing in gifted and exceptional education. Prior to attending graduate school, Katie plans to pursue her passion for writing while finding time to travel the world.

Melissa-Marie Marks

Donna Davis

Activism & Charity Editor (She/Her)

Melissa-Marie Marks is a freelance writer based in North-Central Florida. She specializes in writing about green business, green technology, renewable energy, conservation and sustainability,

The Men’s Classic Physique Master’s Over 35 at the 2019 NPC Viking Championship and at the 2019 NPC Masters USA in his rookie year. Cory works as a physical therapist in the home health industry.

Cory Freeman

Katie McCullough

Mind Health Columnist (She/Her)

Katie McCullough, graduate of Flagler

Body Health Columnist (He/Him)

Cory Freeman is a two-time first-place national bodybuilding champion, having won both of his first-place titles,

Soul Health Columnist (She/Her)

An interfaith minister and life coach, Donna Davis utilizes her life experiences to empower other people to overcome their struggles. Together with her wife,

Norma, they manage Your Phoenix is Rising, a transformation coaching service focused on helping others rise from the darkness of despair and embrace their true Light Nature. Donna and Norma raised three biological children and served as legal guardians to several teenaged friends of their children during their time of need. Donna is a Registered Nurse at Parralion HCA Shared Services and Performance Director at Centers for Spiritual Living Ocala. She studied RN at Rasmussen College and psychology at Florida Atlantic University.

Shane Lukas

Website Designer and LGBTQ Resource Blogger (He/Him)

Shane Lukas is the feisty ginger-haired owner and creative strategist behind A Great Idea (weareagi. com), a care and community brand communications studio. When not pushing pixels and building brands, you can find him doing grassroots organizing to advance social justice and queer liberation, studying for his MBA, or taking his puppies (and partner, of course) out to explore some mountain trails.

MEET OUR ADVISORY BOARD Justin Ayars (He/Him) Justin Ayars is a healthcare trial lawyer turned serial entrepreneur. He has extensive experience in crafting narratives that resonate with diverse demographics and cultivating communities through relationship-building and technological innovation. For five years, Justin ran a successful LGBTQ+ marketing, media and events company in the mid-Atlantic region, Q Media. Justin is now the Founder & CEO of EqualityMD, a comprehensive virtual ecosystem that provides the LGBTQ+ community with inclusive, personalized healthcare. Located in Richmond, Virginia, Ayars represents an overall POV.

Herb Sosa

(He/Him)

Community activist, historian, preservationist and freelance writer, Herb Sosa is a founding member and sitting President/ CEO of Coalición Unida, offering protection and promotion of Latino/ Hispanic LGBTQ+ rights— the only organization of its kind in South Florida since 2002. Sosa brings over 20 years of corporate and not-forprofit leadership experience in the community. Sosa also is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of AMBIENTE Magazine, the first and only LGBTQ+ publication offered in English, Spanish and Portuguese. He and his husband reside in Miami, representing South Florida inclusion.

Matthew Skallerud

(He/Him)

Matt Skallerud, president of Pink Media, has been in the LGBTQ+ digital space for over 25 years, first with GayWired. com and ShieWired.com, and now with Pink Media and the #ILoveGay network, helping companies reach LGBTQ+ demographics. Skallerud is former Board Chairman of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) and has served on Travel Gay Canada (TGC) and the LAGLCC boards. He is actively involved with the NGLCC, Out Professionals and Lambda Legal, among other notable national groups. Located in Allentown, Pa., Skallerud represents an overall POV.

Christian Iles (He/Him)

Hairstylist and makeup artist to the stars, Christian Iles is known as “The Beauty Architect '' among celebrities, politicians, businesspeople, and athletes. Iles has been in the beauty industry for over three decades. His passion for beauty and his deep appreciation of his clients throughout the years went into the creation of a luxury hair care line – Christian Iles Hair Care. Iles' and his work have been featured on every major network and many cable networks; as well as many national magazines throughout the United States. Located in Dallas, Texas, Iles represents an overall POV.

THE ARTS ISSUE

and holistic health. Melissa graduated from The Florida School of Traditional Midwifery in 2012 and practiced as a Florida licensed midwife until 2018, when she retired from private practice to focus on her writing career. She spends her leisure time camping with her kids and manifesting a life she loves by utilizing the law of attraction.

17 EMBRACEMEDIA.US

National Geographic Traveler, Variety, Florida Trend, Bed & Breakfast Quarterly, and AAA Southern Traveler. He is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW).


B O L D LY | U N I T I N G | L I F E S T Y L E S

EDITORIAL

PUBLISHER/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF John Sotomayor SENIOR EDITOR Sara Giza

J U LY 2 0 2 2

DEPARTMENT EDITORS International News Steve Pafford Travel Fred W. Wright Jr. Issues + Politics Danielle Olivani Religion Rev. Catherine Dearlove Art + Culture John Sotomayor Style + Trends John Sotomayor Fashion + Design John Sotomayor Seen John Sotomayor

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

18

COLUMNISTS Mind Katie McCullough Body Cory Freeman Soul Donna Davis CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Nile Fortner Melissa-Marie Marks Mark Sullivan Todd M. Richardson Mark McWaters Connor McLeoud A D V I S O R Y B O A R D Justin Ayars, EqualityMD Herb Sosa, Unity Coalition/Coalicion Unida Matthew Skallerud, President Of Pink Media, Pennsylvania Christian Iles, Christian Iles Hair Care, Texas

ART EM AGENCY Creative Director Jamie Ezra Mark Art Director Rheya Tanner Designer Wendy Mak Designer Josh Clark CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER Conan Segrest PHOTOGRAPHERS Magnus Hastings,Fred Lopez,Nick Cardello, Ryan Williams-Jent, Julia Cohen Ribeiro, Michael P. Wickman, Stephen Whitehead, Embrace Media VIDEOS Matt Mayes, Gardner Productions, TopFILMdemo, Movieclips Trailers, ZeitgeistFilms, Julia Cohen Ribeiro, BMW of North America with Goodby Silverstein & Partners, Embrace Media O P E R AT I O N S DIRECTOR OF LOCAL SALES AND ADVERTISING John Sotomayor john@sotomayormedia.com NATIONAL ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVE Rivendell Media (212) 242-6863, sales@rivendellmedia.com EMBRACE MEDIA WEBSITE Designer A Great Idea Video Producer Alexander Sotomayor PRINTER Good Time Printing, Ocala

O U R M I S S I O N To unite LGBTQ+ and straight communities to live, work, play, and pray together.

N A T I O N A L LY C E R T I F I E D L G B T Q - O W N E D BUSINESS BY THE NGLCC

C H A M B E R PA R T N E R

MEDIA MEMBERS

The Arts Edition 2022 Published July 2022 | Sotomayor Media Creations LLC | 352.571.0129 © All contents copyrighted 2022 by Sotomayor Media Creations LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction or use of editorial or advertising content in any manner without written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited. Unsolicited material will not be returned. Publisher reserves the right to approve or refuse any advertiser or contribution for any reason. Photographs are submitted by writers of each article who assume responsibility for usage approval. Publisher is not responsible for advertisers’ claims or content of advertisements. “Sponsored,” “Paid Promotional Feature” or “Special Promotional Feature” denotes paid advertising features. The ideas and opinions contained in this publication do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of the publisher.


Follow Us on Facebook and on our Website

COMING IN HOT

HOUSED BY VERSACE

Daniel Mofor: luxury menswear’s hot newcomer

House of Versace’s resident artist Ilian Rachov

THOSE WERE THE BAES

Tampa Baes Power Couples dish on the reality series from Amazon Prime

EmbraceMedia.us

T H E

EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE

The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Back to Business Summit

FEBRUARY 2022

F A S T

A N D

T H E

F A B U L O U S

For access to digital magazines (also available on issuu.com) Announcements on radio broadcast of Embrace Magazine Radio Show on WOCA 96.3 FM/1370 AM Weekly updates and coverage on related LGBTQ+ topics

www.facebook.com/embracemagazine.us www.embracemedia.us


PUBLISHER'S LETTER

My Reflection

J U LY 2 0 2 2

in the Movie

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

20

Movie, movie, on the screen; who’s that handsome drama queen? I have seen my reflection captured in various movies so well, I could swear some overzealous scriptwriter lifted my life from my journal. I find the best movies carry us on a rollercoaster of relatability through a series of emotional turns with tears of joy and pain along the way peaking on a grand — and often unexpected — twist, resting on a conclusive finale of self-discovery. For me, that feeling is compounded after I watch a movie with a gay theme or character. Those that resonate the most with me are the quintessential coming out stories. The romcom coming out movie I related to most was the 2003 comedy-drama, Mambo Italiano. The movie was about Angelo Barnerini, the son of Italian immigrants, who shocked his parents and sister by moving out on his own without getting married then revealed he was gay. His boyfriend, also Italian, wasn’t ready to come out when Angelo did. Replace the Italian family with a Latino one and it was my story on the screen. One of the funniest moments, to me, was when Angelo first summed up the courage to reveal his personal secret to his entire family and invited guests at his high school graduation party. “I want to become a television writer,” Angelo said. He narrated, “My mother still refers to it as …. The next scene panned to his mother looking directly into the camera saying, “The day you took 10 years off my life.” Angelo narrated again, “So I went to university to study law.” The parallels to my life are uncanny. At the time, Angelo could not imagine telling his family he was gay. Later, after his childhood friend, Nino, reunited with Angelo and became his secret gay lover then moved into Angelo’s

apartment, Angelo’s parents confronted him over dinner. His father asked, “How come you prefer to live with Nino instead of with me and your mama and your sister? Why?!” Pressed relentlessly, Angelo imagined replying, “because he is my lover.” His parents screamed. That did not actually happen, only imagined as he confided to an agent on the phone at Gay Help Line. Then when Angelo’s sister Anna caught them in the act by accident, she acted like she was okay, but clearly wasn’t. “Are you okay?” they asked. “I will be once the Valium kicks in,” she replied. “Anna, I am so sorry,” Angelo said. “Sorry? Why sorry? I’m thrilled. You two are a couple. Yay. I reacted the way I did because I saw my brother naked, you know, ew.” Anna continued, “I gotta go.” “Hey, you just got here,” Angelo replied. “Did I? Gee, time flies when you’re mortified,” Anna replied. The movie took a dramatic turn after Angelo decided to tell his parents he was gay. They in turn, informed Nino’s mother. Convinced this was a phase, both meddling mothers interfered, attempting to introduce Italian single women to their lives. This upset Nino so much, he left Angelo. After a period of time, Anna asked Angelo how his writing was going. “Never better,” he replied. “I gave up.” She knew that was because he was upset about Nino so she tried to convince him to meet other gay men at a bar. Angelo hated bars. “There’s got to be one gay place in this city filled with boring people just like you,” Anne said. So, Angelo volunteered at Gay Help Line. There were other gay people there. He was terrible at it, but he did meet the agent who consulted him before, Peter.

John Sotomayor Publisher and Editor-in-Chief


PUBLISHER'S LETTER

When he gave Angelo advice on answering callers, Peter said, “Just remember that callers need to feel that what they’re saying is not falling on deaf ears, okay? We’re not here to give advice. We’re not here to judge.” “No judging?” Angelo asked. “Then what’s the point?” A little self-deprecating Italian humor. As they left for the night, Angelo said he guessed he was not “helpline material.” Peter responded, “Active listening is not for everyone.” Angelo replied, “Well, I’ve got years of non-experience. Talking and not listening is an Italian tradition.” Peter laughed. Angelo asked, “Let me ask you something. Do you really think you are helping people by going so easy on them? Peter asked, “What do you mean?” Angelo replied, “Take me for example. I came out of the closet knowing that my boyfriend didn’t want to. Now, do I need to hear, ‘Oh, your boyfriend left you?’ No. I need someone to tell me, ‘Next time, think twice before you fuck up.” Peter responded with a rhetorical question, “Angelo, if you can’t have compassion for yourself, how are you going to have it for others?” That was the takeaway from the movie. They ended up together and Angelo became a successful television writer. It was a romcom after all, where

things always worked out in the end. In the final scene of the movie, Angelo and Peter walked arm-in-arm with Angelo’s mother in between them, with Anna and dad arm-in-arm right behind them, through the Italian community vegetable garden. A neighbor couple we have seen before observed them. The husband said in Italian then in English, “What is this world coming to?” His wife replied in English, “At least Angelo could have had the decency of finding himself a nice Italian boy.” And so, the cycle of judgment for something continued. The relatability is strong in this one. My life? My Italian boyfriend and I broke up years ago. I am a successful writer though. I learned to have compassion for myself, and thus of others. That compassion is seen in my work.

A perfect fit.

Em Agency is proud to be the design team behind Embrace. We build brands we believe in—the brand you believe in can be next. emagency.com

john@sotomayormedia.com


Where you belong At JPMorgan Chase, we are dedicated to advancing equity and inclusion for LGBT+ employees, clients, partners and communities worldwide. Learn more at jpmorganchase.com/lgbt.


We Have A Vehicle For You. Here at Volkswagen of Ocala, we’re not just another dealership. Our Xpress Shopping program allows you to shop and buy entirely from home. We’ll even deliver your new vehicle straight to your door! Whether you prefer to shop online or in person, we make it easy to find the vehicle you want. Find out how Gettel’s Got It today!


And the NLGJA: Association of LGBTQ Journalists

EXCELLENCE IN PHOTOJOURNALISM award goes to:

CONGRATULATIONS TO MAGNUS HASTINGS AND JOHN SOTOMAYOR Announced from Washington DC on June 23, 2022. Awards Presented from Chicago, Illinois on September 9, 2022. Established in 1993, the NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists Excellence in Journalism Awards are the highest national honors that foster and recognize excellence in journalism on issues related to the LGBTQ community


ONLY 35 AWARDS PRESENTED, one per category. Embrace Magazine, a startup based in Ocala, Florida is in good company. Other winners this year include: NBC News • CBS News • BCC News • NPR • New York Times • Los Angeles Times • Bloomberg Businessweek • USA TODAY • them • The Revealer • Out Traveler Magazine • Modern Military Magazine • VICE News • The Reckoning • Myrtle Beach Sun News • The Pudding • Insider • TransLash Media • The Baffler • American Theatre • Pridesource.com • Spectrum News NY1 • Tribeca Film Festival On behalf of Embrace Magazine, thank you to our contributors and advertisers!

ADVERTISE IN THIS PRESTIGIOUS MAGAZINE Contact John Sotomayor • 352-571-0129 john@sotomayormedia.com • embracemagazine.us


ICONS GO A

P H O T O - E S S A Y

A daring drag photographer takes on Hollywood movie icons — with a twist.

J U LY 2 0 2 2

S T O R Y B Y J O H N S O T O M AY O R

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

26

IMAGES BY MAGNUS HASTINGS


THE ARTS ISSUE

ONE WILD EMBRACEMEDIA.US

27

TARYN BALENCIAGA TAR as PAM GR GRIER

Hastings originally enlisted Balenciaga to portray Betty Boop, in what felt like the perfect fit for the Black trans performer's animated style. But when he was unsatisfied with how his initial vision was turning out, he knew it was time to improvise. Hastings did some quick research and came across Pam Grier. Everything he found related to her famous role as Foxy Brown. Suddenly, Grier’s centerfolds popped up. Instantly, Hastings knew that was what he wanted to shoot. He had the exact same lounge chair in storage used in Grier’s infamous centerfold from Players Magazine. He offered Balenciaga to do the shoot in lingerie but Balenciaga insisted she was comfortable doing it nude. Everything pays homage to the original, barring the hand covering her breast to allow it past the censors.


J U LY 2 0 2 2

I C O N S G O N E W I L D : A P H O T O - E S S AY

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

28


ALLUSIA ALLUS as BETTE DAVIS DAVIS

Allusia suggested Bette Davis as Jane Hudson in the film, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Which was fitting as she has the same eyes. Hastings told Allusia he wanted to take Bette Davis out of context. They shot multiple photos in various settings and Allusia delivered in every take. Another good one had her eating a burger with a lite cigarette in hand. This one however, was the best. Seated by the bar surveying the room, one could imagine her thoughts as she judges everyone she sees. Classic Bette.

VANITY FAIR FAIRE as JUDY GARLAND

Hasting’s photograph of legendary drag queen Vanity Faire is his most iconic. “It was shot during my first trip to Australia where I discovered Australian drag and was there for three months,” said Hastings. “Vanity Faire is the Queen Bee of Australia.” Back then, no one knew who Hastings was. He saw Faire at a club dressed as Dorothy, walked up to her and asked if he could shoot her. She took a chance and agreed. It was shot in natural light—Hasting’s signature style at the time. “Everything just worked, down to the colors in the Vanity Fair cover on the table to her Dorothy clothes,” said Hastings.

Prints available at magnushastings.com

29 EMBRACEMEDIA.US

Embrace Magazine approached revered A-list drag photographer, Magnus Hastings, among the top in the world, with the idea of a collaboration project using drag queens to portray iconic moments in cinema. Embrace was inspired by the lyrics of Madonna’s song, “Vogue”: “They had style, they had grace. Rita Hayworth gave good face.” Embrace was also inspired by Hastings’ iconic photograph taken 20 years ago of Australian drag queen, Vanity Faire, drinking a beer as Judy Garland’s Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. What if we did a photo-essay with Hollywood iconic heroines in their most memorable movie moments—but make it drag? Hastings loved it, but wanted to take it a step further: What if we shot these icons in the least likely places combined with outrageous situations, like Bette Davis in a dreadful dive bar smoking a cigarette near a “No Smoking” sign? Something completely out of context. Like Dorothy drinking a beer. Embrace loved it, and allowed him free reign — anything he wanted to do. Seriously. There were no limits. Maybe that was a bit risky. Foolhardy even, given Hasting’s penchant of going to the extreme. No matter. What happened next were gut-busting photoshoots filled with laughter and creativity between the photographer and his muses. The outcome — legendary camp at its finest. WARNING: extremely twisted content ahead. Viewing may cause some to be gobsmacked, spill their drinks, and/or have uncontrollable fits of laughter at inappropriate times or places.

THE ARTS ISSUE

I C O N S G O N E W I L D : A P H O T O - E S S AY


I C O N S G O N E W I L D : A P H O T O - E S S AY

RHEA LITRE AUDREY HEPBURN

Hastings’ initial plan was to capture Hepburn’s innocence and sweetness in her iconic role as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, however at the time, seasoned veteran LA queen Litre had a grill on her teeth. Hastings was unsure about it, but Litre offered, “she was a party girl just like me.” Hastings thought, “well, what would Holly Golightly be getting into in 2022? In 1961, she would have been shoveling coke up her nose. These days it would be MDMA while wearing a grill. So, there is much more that feeling of decadence in the true sense of the word. It is all a bit busted, but gorgeous at the same time.”

J U LY 2 0 2 2

as

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

30

Prints available at magnushastings.com


ar ta BeatCh u suggested the infamou they shoot s scene of Ja ne the shower in the movie t Leigh in , Ps Hastings ha d the idea to ycho. make the dress out of the actual sh ower curtain; the one used ca me from Hastin g’s bathroom . The final result w as “The bloody camp at perfection. sparkled glov es and high he els said Hastings made it funnier,” .

31 EMBRACEMEDIA.US

MARTA BE ATCHU as JAN ET LEIGH M

THE ARTS ISSUE

I C O N S G O N E W I L D : A P H O T O - E S S AY


J U LY 2 0 2 2

I C O N S G O N E W I L D : A P H O T O - E S S AY

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

32

LAUREN BANALL LAUR as ELSA LANCHES LANCHESTER

Lauren Banall is a rising star in LA. Hastings and Banall knew they wanted to emulate Elsa Lanchester in Bride of Frankenstein, but the garment didn’t look right in color. It was clear black and white was the way to go. After multiple shots, including lingerie, the shroud really captured Lanchester’s essence. “It looks wonderful in black and white; it has movement,” said Hastings.


I C O N S G O N E W I L D : A P H O T O - E S S AY

HUMMINGBIRD HUMMING MEADOWS as RITA MOR MORENO (and Bernardo))

THE ARTS ISSUE

Meadows and Hastings knew they had to do Rita Moreno as Anita in the original West Side Story—but they also knew it wouldn’t have been the same without George Chakiris as Bernardo. So, Meadows got out of drag and shot his part as a man. A little editing placed Meadows beside herself as the classic duo.

EMBRACEMEDIA.US

33

Prints available at magnushastings.com


I C O N S G O N E W I L D : A P H O T O - E S S AY

GLEN ALEN as MAE WES WE ST

Hastings and Alen imagined Mae West as an S&M dominatrix. “If Mae West were around today, this is exactly what she would be like,” said Hastings. “She was so empowered sexually and way before her time.”

CAKE MOSS CAK as CARRIE FISHER FISHER

J U LY 2 0 2 2

Moss was initially envisioned as Betty Boop, until Hastings discovered that the cartoon character was a whitewashed version of a black jazz singer. It did not seem right to move forward with that knowledge. On short notice, Moss said she could instead do Carrie Fisher as a modern take on Princess Lea from Star Wars. Hard to believe this brilliant result was an impromptu alternative.

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

34

Prints available at magnushastings.com


THE ARTS ISSUE

I C O N S G O N E W I L D : A P H O T O - E S S AY

EMBRACEMEDIA.US

35


I C O N S G O N E W I L D : A P H O T O - E S S AY

MEATBALL MEAT as DEMI MOOR MOORE

Hastings and Meatball wanted to shoot the iconic shot of a pregnant Demi Moore on the cover of Vanity Fair because “it is easily recognizable,” said Hastings, “while at the same time, wonderfully weird with a hairy man belly.”

PENNY DR DREADFUL

as GLORIA SWANSON

J U LY 2 0 2 2

Hastings and Dreadful wanted to have fun with clever elements added to the costume. “At first, it appears straightforward but on closer examination, she is covered in film roll from her headdress to her gown,” said Hastings.

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

36

Prints available at magnushastings.com


THE ARTS ISSUE

I C O N S G O N E W I L D : A P H O T O - E S S AY

EMBRACEMEDIA.US

37


J U LY 2 0 2 2

I C O N S G O N E W I L D : A P H O T O - E S S AY

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

38


THE ARTS ISSUE

I C O N S G O N E W I L D : A P H O T O - E S S AY

EMBRACEMEDIA.US

39

DULCE DE LECHE as TIPPI HEDR HEDREN

Hastings saw Dulce De Leche portray Tippi Hedren in The Birds on stage in San Francisco. Silhouettes of birds in cages would rise up off the floor. Hastings and De Leche thought they could duplicate it. “She arrived with fake birds, we shot her for an hour with [them]. It was good for theater, but it just did not work on camera,” said Hastings. “With the last 10 minutes of film, I said ‘pretend you’ve got birds’ so she did it and I added them in later. It was really successful.”


J U LY 2 0 2 2

I C O N S G O N E W I L D : A P H O T O - E S S AY

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

40

ALASKA THUNDERFUCK THUNDERFUC K as MA MAR RILYN MONROE

For the cover of this magazine, Alaska wanted to recreate the truly iconic Marilyn moment from The Seven Year Itch. “The expression is very Alaska,” Hastings added, which takes the otherwise exact pose of Marilyn standing over the subway grate to a campy, edgy place. Alaska’s expression is not the only campy element; for the cover and the feature, Alaska made a precise duplicate of Marilyn’s iconic dress out of white plastic trash bags. “Making dresses from plastic trash bags is her thing. I have never seen anyone pull this off [like this],” said Hastings. “You would never know [the dress] was made of white trash bags.”


2022 AWARDS BY THE NUMBERS

17 Awards in the 2021 Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Competition, including 9 first-place awards. PRESENTED JANUARY 2022

3

13

National awards in the Associated Church Press’s 2022 Best of Church Press Awards!

Finalist categories in the Florida Magazine Association’s 2022 Charlie Awards.

PRESENTED APRIL 2022

FINAL PLACEMENTS TO BE ANNOUNCED AUGUST 2022

79

TOTAL AWARDS

Across 2021 and 2022 from four statewide and national organizations. Thanks to all Embrace Magazine contributors and advertisers who have made these achievements possible!

ADVERTISE IN THIS PRESTIGIOUS MAGAZINE Contact John Sotomayor 352-571-0129 john@sotomayormedia.com




EMBRACE MAGAZINE

44 J U LY 2 0 2 2

GO AHEAD, MAKE MINE GAY


BY NILE FORTNER

THE ARTS ISSUE

45 EMBRACEMEDIA.US

From comingout dramas to cult comedies, to blockbusters — a list of movies that reflected and represented LGBTQ+ culture on screen


G O A H E A D , M A K E M I N E G AY

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

46

While gay characters were frequently used for laughs, stereotypes, or not explicitly stated to be gay in a majority of early mainstream Hollywood movies, the last few years have brought LGBTQ+ films and stories further into the mainstream. They’ve also dominated awards seasons and found commercial success. In 2017, “Moonlight” made history as the first LGBTQ+ movie to win the Oscar for Best Picture. The move featuring an allBlack-cast was one big step toward making LGBTQ+ cinema a staple. Depictions of queer and trans people have been present in the film industry since its inception more than 100 years ago, but because of censorship and prejudices against the LGBTQ+ community, onscreen representation has a long, complicated, and often coded history. Although LGBTQ+ representation was present in 1970 films such as “The Rocky Picture Horror Show,” LGBTQ+ films were no longer limited by ’90s low budgets. Films with gay and lesbian stories have flourished in the first two decades of the 21st century. The New Queer Cinema was a major influence on the indie film boom of the ’90s and set the bar high for the many queer films to follow. From coming-out dramas to cult comedies, to blockbusters, this is a list of movies that reflected and represented LGBTQ+ culture onscreen giving stories as complicated, sensual, soul-searching, and unique as the queer experience itself.

Also known as “The Gay Brothers,” this short black-and-white film showed two men dancing together. In his 1981 book “The Celluloid Closet”, film historian Vito Russo’s name for the film grew popularity online. There isn’t any evidence for the title he gives the film and that the word “gay” was not generally used as a synonym for “homosexual” at the time the film was made. Also, there isn’t any evidence that Scottish inventor William Dickson wanted to pursue the men—presumably employees of the Thomas Edison studio—as a romantic couple. According to Russo, “given the lyrics of the song Dickson plays, which describes life at sea without women, it is more plausible that he intended a joke about the virtually all-male environment of the Black Maria”. Still, this may be seen as one of the earliest examples of same-sex imagery in motion picture history.

1996: BOUND

Before the Wachowskis had the financial pull for their big-budget dreamscapes like returning to “The Matrix” franchise, there was their $6 million budget directorial debut, “Bound.” The filmmakers also refused to submit to studio pressure on erasing the lesbian romance at the film’s center. The neo-noir following a mobster’s girlfriend, played by Jennifer Tilly, and her ex-con lover, played Gina Gershon, conspire to steal a small fortune from the Mafia. “Bound” may seem to walk the line of exploitation and that may be because of the directors bringing on feminist writer Susie Bright as a consultant on the movie’s sex scenes. A film that’d traditionally be through a straight and male perspective, finds new life in this genre through a distinctively queer perspective.

1996: THE WATERMELON WOMAN

The film features Black women leaning against a retail counter and talking about women. It’s the ‘90s, so they are wearing overalls, baggy clothes, enormous silk shirts, chokers, and chunky hoop earrings. Writer, actor, and filmmaker Cheryl Dunye’s “The Watermelon Woman” stands as a landmark and classic of the ’90s boom, New Queer Cinema.

IMAGE CREDIT

J U LY 2 0 2 2

1894: THE DICKSON EXPERIMENTAL SOUND FILM


G O A H E A D , M A K E M I N E G AY

THE ARTS ISSUE

The makers of “Bound” refused to submit to studio pressure on erasing the lesbian romance at the film’s center. A film that’d traditionally be through a straight male perspective finds new life in this genre.

1997: CHASING AMY

The third movie in writer-director Kevin Smith’s New Jersey trilogy, following on from “Clerks” and “Mallrats,” “Chasing Amy” stars Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, Jason Lee, and follows a comic book writer finding the love of his life, only to discover that she is gay. When “Chasing Amy” was released over 20 years ago, both lesbian and mainstream

culture were wracked with battles over identity, politics, and political correctness. But working as a drama, romance, and comedy, the film redefines the boy-meetsgirl formula. Smith’s edgy tone and style make for a good antidote to gender roles to a formula genre. “Chasing Amy” was a commercial as well as a critical success, grossing over $12 million on a $250,000 budget. The movie has won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male and Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay. The film was more than a turning point for Smith’s career — it coincided with a major shift in media and popular lesbian culture. Just weeks after “Chasing Amy” was released, Ellen DeGeneres of the sitcom “Ellen” saw her character come out of the closet — kicking off DeGeneres’s legacy as one of the world’s most well-known lesbians.

2015: CAROL

Based on the 1952 romance novel, “The Price of Salt,” “Carol” had been in development since 1997, when Phyllis Nagy wrote the first draft of the screenplay. “Carol” tells the story of two women in early 1950s-New York who form a secret sexual and romantic affair with each oth-

47 EMBRACEMEDIA.US

The film works as a seminal work of “autofiction” where a young Black lesbian filmmaker named Cheryl, played by Dunye, searches for the identity of a beautiful Black actress who played a mammy character in a 1930s drama. In the credits, the mysterious actress is listed only as “The Watermelon Woman,” complicating Cheryl’s mission. Cheryl has told multiple sources such as Vanity Fair and SlashFilm that her movie is clearly based on herself and she also tapped friends and family members, like her mother, Irene Dunye, to make appearances in the film. The director has a range of works like this, which she dubs “Dunyementaries.” Upon its release, “The Watermelon Woman” made history as the first narrative feature to be released by an out Black lesbian filmmaker.


G O A H E A D , M A K E M I N E G AY

OSCARS 2022

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

48

With outspoken actors, trending hashtags, and news stories, it’s no secret that the award shows for movies have had a lack of diversity and representation. In recent years, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences which is the organization that votes on the Oscars has made efforts to improve its membership. In addition to creating new milestones, the 2022 Academy Awards and Oscars are breaking some new ground with LGBTQ+ cinema and the community. Actress Ariana Debose scored a nomination and win for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Anita in 2021’s “West Side Story.” DeBose identifies as queer and came out to her grandparents in 2015. DeBose took home the Golden Globe for her performance. As winner at the 2022 Oscars in March, she became the second actor to win in this role, as Rita Moreno earned an Academy Award for her performance as Anita in the original 1961 film. Kristen Stewart received her first Oscar nomination for her work in “Spencer,” Pablo Larraín’s thriller about Princess Diana and the oppressed environment that led to her downfall. Stewart has earned critics’ awards for her previous roles such as in “Personal Shopper” and “Clouds of Sils Maria.” But “Spencer” finally led to her first Oscar nomination. Incidentally, the film explores queer themes in both subtle and fanciful ways. Front-runner for Best Picture was widely considered to be “The Power of the Dog” – a neo-Western movie that explores

the queer dynamic in a relationship between two men, both played by non-LGBTQ actors. The 12-time Oscar-nominated Netflix film works as a slow-burning drama and as a study of masculinity. Based on the 1967 novel by Thomas Savage, The Power of the Dog” tells the story of three men all who relate to their masculinity in different ways. Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Phil Burbank in the film, explained to “People Magazine,” that “The character's toxic masculinity made him project hate on the world, and for the world, hate on him, and I think his sense of loneliness is exacerbated by that and his sense of jealousy." Metaphors are sprinkled throughout “Power of the Dog” such as in a darkened barn in 1920s Montana, a handsome young man named Peter slowly inhales a cigarette (a phallic symbol). He carefully places it in the mouth of an older man – Phil, a cruel cowboy - but doesn't let it go. Phil, looking Peter in the eye, takes a long, hard drag. Cumberbatch also added, "I think it speaks to a time of intolerance and a lack of acceptance where people couldn't live any kind of their authentic self." The 94th Academy Awards aired on ABC on March 27, 2022. LGBTQ+ movies have come a long way from the stereotypes and laughs mainstream Hollywood thought everyone wanted. Whether it be the history of LGBTQ+ films or recent award shows, representation in cinema has and continues to excite.

IMAGE BY CAGRIDATA VIA ADOBE STOCK

J U LY 2 0 2 2

I SEE GAY PEOPLE


G O A H E A D , M A K E M I N E G AY

2015: TANGERINE

Shot on an iPhone 5, an indie film called “Tangerine” managed to gross nearly a million dollars on a $100,000 budget and wowed film festival crowds. The official synopsis for the film is “After hearing that her boyfriend/pimp cheated on her while she was in jail, a sex worker and her best friend set out to find him and teach him, and his new lover, a lesson.” “Tangerine” does hit tragic notes in its plot; however, it transports the viewer directly into the realities of Black and Afro-Latinx Trans sex workers. The movie also serves as a message for how mainstream films can have a better approach to telling real and honest stories, especially from the Trans community. “Tangerine” shows how this kind of resolve doesn’t have to be costly — just compassion, self-reflection, and creative

respect to valuable voices and listening to them when they tell their stories.

2019: BOOKSMART

“Booksmart” follows students Amy and Molly thinking their academic overachieve selves gave them a leg up on their high school peers. But on the eve of graduation, the best friends suddenly realize that they may have missed out on the special moments of their teenage years. Determined to make up for lost time, the girls decide to cram four years of fun and wild parties into a chaotic one-night adventure that no amount of book smarts could prepare them for. One of the first conversations we hear between Amy, played by Kaitlyn Dever, and Molly, played by Beanie Feldstein, in Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut is about lesbian sex. Amy is just a teenager with a crush, and that crush happens to be on a girl. Amy’s story differs from other lesbian characters in mainstream teen movies. Her story is not focused on coming out – she has already been out for a couple of years – and her sexuality is never the joke or a punchline which would be the case in a lot of comedies. The film also doesn’t indulge in cheap tragedy, as so many movies about young LGBTQ+ people tend to do. Lesbianism is never made to seem like a fetish or a “hot scene”. Amy’s sex scene is clumsy, funny, and not at all sexy and not filmed for the typical straight male gaze.

THE ARTS ISSUE

“Tangerine” shows how this kind of resolve doesn’t have to be costly — just compassion, self-reflection, and creative respect to valuable voices when they tell their stories.

49 EMBRACEMEDIA.US

er, and then deal with the consequences that follow. Therese, played by Rooney Mara, is working retail at a department store. There she meets an older, yet glamorous wearing bright-red nail polish and fur coats woman, Carol, played by Cate Blanchett, who is looking to buy a Christmas present for her young daughter. Therese and Carol form a bond and friendship causing Carol’s soon-to-beex-husband to become suspicious of the nature of their relationship, as Carol has had an affair with another female friend in the past. It’s a queer movie directed by a queer filmmaker, director Todd Haynes seems to let the camera linger on many shots on how Carol and Therese look at one another. Their scenes are sometimes wordless but speak volumes because the two actors communicate with their bodies and faces telling the story. Haynes frames a lot of scenes through doors and windows looking at Carol and Therese suspiciously as though he (and the spectator) can only see them through the dominant culture’s perspective, skewed, to one-sided and remote until they’re fully together. The same goes for when he shoots them in mirrors. They look at themselves and one another even when they’re alone together, as though the relationship is always framed. “Carol” was nominated for six Academy Awards and in 2016, the British Film Institute named Carol the best LGBT film of all time.


2020 ANNUAL EMBRACEMAGAZINE.US

18

L2R STEPH LANDOROVA, BRYAN WILLIAMS, TYLER SCHRAGE, CHRIS WILLIAMS


2020 ANNUAL EMBRACEMAGAZINE.US

19

CONGRATS TO THE POPWRAPPED TEAM, ON HAVING OVER 100-MILLION VIEWS ON THEIR PLAYLIST LIVE 2020 COVERAGE! FROM YOUR FRIENDS AT SOTOMAYER MEDIA.


Billy Flanigan rode miles and shared smiles to make the world a better place. Now a documentary is going beyond his #flanigrams to tell his entire story.

J U LY 2 0 2 2

BY MELISSA-MARIE MARKS

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

52

COMING OUT ON TOP


PHOTO BY FRED LOPEZ; EDITS BY JOSH CLARK

EMBRACEMEDIA.US

53

THE ARTS ISSUE


EMBRACE MAGAZINE

54

CALLED TO SERVE

It all started with a bike ride and a smile. During the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, Billy Flanigan, like thousands of other so-called “non-essential workers” in the United States, was temporarily sent home from his 40-year career as a performer at Disney. Luckily for Flanigan, Disney continued to pay his full salary for the five weeks he was out of work. The money was much appreciated, but it wasn’t enough to fill the empty space in Flanigan’s heart—the space usually filled with smiles, hugs, and laughter. The space reserved for human connection. Flanigan wasn’t the only one feeling the weight of social isolation. A friend and fellow Disney performer shared that she, too, was struggling with loneliness and uncertainty about when she would be allowed to return to work. Her young son didn’t understand why he couldn’t go out as much as usual, and why he and others needed to wear face masks when they came into contact with people. Flanigan decided to alter his normal bike route and visit his friend in hopes of cheering her up. Why? Because making people smile is his life’s mission. “In 1982, I saw ‘The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas’ and Dolly Parton said that if you see someone without a smile, give them

“Dolly Parton said that if you see someone without a smile, give them yours. That’s been my motto ever since.”

one of yours,” says Flanigan. “That’s been my motto ever since.” When Flanigan arrived at his friend’s doorstep, she immediately started crying. “I stayed and chatted for a long time. I met her son and talked to him, too. It was so heartwarming for me. So fulfilling.” Flanigan knew he was on to something. Something big. Something essential. “I started out by riding my bike around Florida to visit my fellow cast members from the “Finding Nemo” musical. And then I began visiting the technicians and other people I had worked with at Disney.” Whenever he’d ride his bike to visit someone, Flanigan would often perform for them in the front yard, singing about how many miles he rode to get there, all in hopes of spreading a little joy and cheer. Friends began to take photos and videos of Flanigan’s visits and share them to Instagram. Someone created the hashtag #flanigram and word began to spread. Friends of family, family of friends, and eventually acquaintances and strangers began asking to be “flanigram’d.” “And then one day the entire “Finding Nemo” musical cast was on a Zoom call and one of the performers, who now lives in California and is an actress on “Blue Bloods,” asked if anyone knew of any companies that

PHOTO BY FRED LOPEZ; EDITS BY JOSH CLARK

J U LY 2 0 2 2

COMING OUT ON TOP


AN AUTHENTIC LIFE

Before coming out, Billy Flanigan had been happily married for 30 years. “I knew I was different when I was just five years old. I didn’t necessarily know back then that I was a homosexual, but I knew that I had different feelings than my siblings. And I was very apologetic from such a young age, trying to hide everything and pray it away. And I struggled because I really wanted to be a husband and a father.” Flanigan never met a girl that he thought he could be in a romantic relationship with until he met Karen.

“[[The producer of my documentary]] wanted to use my story to help and support closeted homosexuals and people and kids who were bullied. So they ended up doing that, and they did a really beautiful job telling the story.”

“We met and flirted, and I really fell in love with her. We had such an amazing friendship and relationship, and years of children and busy-ness and work, and that was my life. Our marriage was real, we had four kids. I love her. I truly, truly loved her. But I always had that underlying feeling, always thinking, you know, that I’m still attracted to men. I wasn’t being authentic and true to who I was. And it wasn’t fair to her.” But during his marriage, Flanigan didn’t want to be attracted to men. He was raised Catholic and was taught that homosexuality was a sin. “But I also knew that God makes no imperfect people. I’m this way for a reason, not because I chose to be this way.” So Flanigan made the decision to come out publicly. “When I left Karen, she went into a deep, deep depression. She really thought she was not going to be able to survive.” And for eight years following their divorce, Flanigan felt the full weight of his decision to come out. It was clear that there was still sadness surrounding the divorce. Then the Covid-19 pandemic came along and changed everything. “My daughter is a Type 1 diabetic and was living with me at the time. It was just she and I, and then Karen started coming over. She was the only one we allowed inside. We’d have meals together and watch movies together. We really reconnected and got to just be silly and chat about things and look at pictures and

55 EMBRACEMEDIA.US

could get her car from Florida to California. And I said, ‘Well, I could just drive it to you.” So Flanigan put his bike on the back of his friend’s car and drove across the country, stopping in every state along the way to ride his bike at least 20 miles and #flanigram those in need of a smile. Sometimes he’d sleep in hotels. Sometimes he’d sleep in his car. Visits were outdoors and socially distanced to keep everyone safe during the pandemic. Riding up mountains and down into valleys, Flanigan pedaled his way across Texas, Arizona, California, and then after flying back to Florida, he journeyed up to Massachusetts to #flanigram his family. “On my way back, I visited the people I missed on my way up, the people who said, ‘Hey, you visited someone right by me! I want a visit, too!’ And it was around that time that I got a message from “People Magazine” and another from “Good Morning America,” then messages from friends who had heard my story on the radio. And then, somebody reached out and asked if I’d be interested in starring in a documentary. The producer happened to live in Atlanta, so I got his address and biked to his house and knocked on his door, and he had no idea who I was. So, I did my [#flanigram] thing and told him who I was, and I met his family and they were hooked.” Originally, the documentary was set to be a short feel-good story about Flanigan’s #flanigrams. “But after meeting me and talking to me and hearing about my career at Disney and my coming out story, they decided to do a whole feature on me. It’s called ‘Billy Flanigan: The Happiest Man on Earth.’ And they said that they wanted to use the story to help and support closeted homosexuals and people and kids who were bullied. So, they ended up doing that, and they really did a beautiful job telling the story without hurting my family, without hurting my ex-wife.”

THE ARTS ISSUE

COMING OUT ON TOP


PHOTO BY FRED LOPEZ; EDITS BY JOSH CLARK

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

J U LY 2 0 2 2

COMING OUT ON TOP

56


THE ARTS ISSUE

COMING OUT ON TOP

shared memories. It all became very normal. She became my emergency contact again. And she knew that I still loved her.”

GRATITUDE EVERY DAY

Flanigan says that if he had to live his life over again, he wouldn’t change a single thing. “I am so, so abundantly blessed. I have healthy kids and grandkids now. I have so much, how can I not be the happiest man on earth? I have such an incredible life. I love what I do! I’m celebrating 40 consecutive years as a Disney performer—I’m the only one who’s ever had 40 consecutive contracts in a row.” When asked if he’s got any advice for those wishing to choose happiness in today’s uncertain world, Flanigan shares two gems. “The first is to love the person you’re looking at in the mirror every day. Take responsibility and have remorse for the bad things that you do in life. Learn from it. And be proud of how you came through it.” “The second thing is to listen. When you pray for something, or ask the universe for

Credits

“The inspiring journey of Walt Disney World legend, Billy Flanigan, from his daunted childhood to a life free of fear, shame, and secrets, all while brightening lives — one Flanigram at a time.” —EXCERPT FROM IMDBPRO

Director: Cullen Douglas Writer: Cullen Douglas Executive Producer: Randy Goodwin Production Company: 12th Angel Productions Expected 2022

something, listen. Listen because messages are coming at you from every direction. It could be on a radio show or a motivational quote on your phone. A lot of these things just come to me at the perfect time. Once, when I was going through a very hard time, I asked a question because I was feeling like I was never going to be enough, and I got this motivational message on my phone that literally said ‘You are enough.’ And I just put my phone down and thought, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I made it the background on my phone so I can remind myself.”

LOVE WHAT YOU DO AND DO WHAT YOU LOVE

Will Billy Flanigan retire from performing any time soon? Not yet. He says he’s just not ready. “I just love performing. There’s nothing like going out there, you know? And people say, how do you do the same show five times a day? And I say, because there’s always somebody different in the audience. Like the old saying goes, ‘Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.’”

EMBRACEMEDIA.US

57


“We envision ourselves as designers, artisans, and visionaries, providing diverse solutions to complex building challenges.”

1823 E Fort King Street; Ste 102 Ocala, Florida 34471 352-620-0944 www.sosarchitect.com


2020 ANNUAL EMBRACEMAGAZINE.US

15

CONGRATS TO TYLER SCHRAGE ON 1-MILLION FOLLOWERS! FROM YOUR TEAM AT POPWRAPPED & TIKTOK



EMBRACEMEDIA.US

THE ARTS ISSUE

World

Your

61


G LO B A L G AY N E W S

INTERNATIONAL J U LY 2 0 2 2

NEWS

Repealing Back the Years United Kingdom: Past convictions for “homosexual activity” to be wiped from records. BY STEVE PAFFORD

B

oris Johnson’s UK government has announced it is determined to “right the wrongs of the past” as a long-delayed disregards and pardons scheme is set to be expanded, and would remove all past convictions for consensual homosexual activity between adults. The Home Office at Westminster in London has stated that any historical conviction that was imposed in Britain purely due to consensual same-sex activity under thankfully now-abolished laws will be included in an attempt at

“righting the wrongs of the past”, the Home Secretary has said. Anyone convicted of a crime under laws that were only repealed under Tony Blair’s Labor government of two decades ago. Anyone that falls under the remit can appeal to have it removed from their criminal record. Those who have convictions to their names and have passed away or those who may pass away for up to 12 months after the scheme is introduced will get a posthumous pardon. The Home Secretary, Priti Patel of the Conservative Party, said in an official statement that “It is only right that where offenses have been

STEVE PAFFORD is an English journalist, actor and author of the acclaimed book BowieStyle. Having trained from the floor up in UK music titles Q, MOJO and Record Collector, he’s had his work featured in a wide variety of British, American and Australian media including the BBC, CNN, The Independent and the New York Times. Steve divides his time between Australia and the south of France.

PHOTO BY SYDA PRODUCTIONS VIA ADOBE STOCK

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

62


abolished, convictions for consensual activity between same-sex partners should be disregarded too”, and that “I hope that expanding the pardons scheme will go some way to righting the wrongs of the past and to reassuring members of the LGBT community that Britain is one of the safest places in the world to call home”. Rather less good, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill included controversial illiberal policies such as anti-protest measures, and increased police stop and search powers. Most alarmingly, it also presented the potential to criminalize traveler communities. The bill, however, is being reassessed as the House of Lords upper chamber rejected the amendments put forth. If reassessed successfully, it would include the aforementioned pardons scheme that would remove past convictions for consensual homosexual activity.

63 EMBRACEMEDIA.US

Currently only nine former offenses are included on a list that the Home Office said “largely focused on the repealed offenses of buggery and gross indecency between men”. Gross indecency was the catch-all offense used to prosecute men who were found performing sex acts in places such as parks and public toilets, even if they weren’t observed by other members of the public, and often as a result of entrapment by undercover police officers. In America, the closest equivalent would have been the “lewd act” that George Michael was found guilty of in a restroom at the Will Rogers Memorial Park in Los Angeles back in 1998. More so-called “victimless crimes” to be revoked will be added as part of the new amendment proposed in the United Kingdom. This amendment will make it possible for ordinary civilians and military personnel to have their convictions stricken off the record, should these offenses be due to consensual homosexual activity over the age of consent as it currently stands. Those already covered under this scheme will get automatic pardons. Patel thanked her peers, the non-affiliated former Eastenders actor Lord Cashman and the Conservative Lord Lexden for raising the issue. The two of them, along with Professor Paul Johnson, have been working on this inclusion for over half a decade. The Home Office said that there would be certain conditions in place when removing a conviction. If these conditions are not met, a person would still have the charges on their record. These conditions are that all the parties involved must have been 16 years old or above and that the offenses convicted for should not be an offense today.

THE ARTS ISSUE

INTERNATIONAL NEWS


EMBRACE MAGAZINE

64

Lord Lexden had pointed out that it was an “affront to gay people” that the scheme had not been extended. Eagle-eyed readers may recall that the pardons scheme effectively kicked off with a posthumous pardon for the legendary World War 2 codebreaker, Alan Turing, which I covered in Embrace’s Heroes issue back in 2020. Cashman added grist to the mill in November 2021 when he complained, quite rightly, that “the disregard and pardon schemes in England and Wales are significantly flawed because they encompass only a small fraction of the laws that, over the decades and centuries, have immiserated the lives of gay and bisexual people”. Nevertheless, Cashman, Lexden and Prof Paul Johnson welcomed the news and said “For five years, the three of us have been working together on behalf of gay people in the armed forces and in civilian life, who suffered grave injustice because of cruel laws which discriminated against them in the past.”

“We are delighted that our long campaign will at last bring many gay people, both living and deceased, the restitution they deserve.” However, it comes at a tricky time for relations between Johnson’s right-wing Conservative administration and the LGBT community. The long-established Stonewall charity recently announced that “Due to the Prime Minister’s broken promise on protecting trans people from the harms of conversion therapy, we regret that we are withdrawing our support for the UK Government’s Safe to Be Me conference. We will only be able to participate if the Prime Minister reverts to his promise for a trans-inclusive ban on conversion therapy.” Johnson was said to be unavailable for comment.

PHOTO BY JAREK KILIAN VIA ADOBE STOCK

J U LY 2 0 2 2

INTERNATIONAL NEWS


because... It provides a welcoming, safe space — an inclusive home that celebrates, nurtures and empowers the LGBTQ+ communities and our friends and neighbors in South Florida. + 1,000 to 2,000 people use the 5 acre Equality Park campus daily + Over 65 support, recovery, education and social groups meet regularly + Popular, inclusive events like Wicked Manors, the Rainbow 5k, Diversity Honors, Active Aging Health Expo, and more + Fast, free, and confidential HIV testing, condom distribution, and PrEP referrals

+ Free 12 week LIFE program for gay, bisexual, and same-gender-loving men living with HIV + Innovative programming for the LGBTQ+ community and our allies + Rental opportunities including weddings, business meetings, life celebrations, trade shows, office space, and much more + Largest weekly gathering of LGBTQ+ active agers in the nation

www.PrideCenterFlorida.org 954-463-9005

2040 N. Dixie Hwy, Wilton Manors, FL 33305


FA R AWAY G AY H O L I DAY

J U LY 2 0 2 2

TRAVEL

Tour de Fierce First Ever in Argentina: The Queer History Tour of Buenos Aires is a tour de force to be experienced. BY FRED W. WRIGHT JR.

PHOTO BY BY ALEKSANDAR TODOROVIC VIA ADOBE STOCK

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

66


PHOTO AND VIDEO BY JULIA COHEN RIBEIRO

The tour was created by the founder of the agency, Mariana Radisic Koliren, who said, “I wanted to tell people from other countries that there is a path forward. It’s a story of resilience and pride and it has literally transformed our lives: it needs to be out there to inspire people around the world. To me, it’s important to share this story.” The tour starts at Plaza de Mayo, a city square and mall that serves as the foundational block of the city, where a member of the local LGBTQ community explains how different indigenous peoples perceived gender and sexual orientation, and how all of that was erased to favor hetero-conformity after the arrival of the Spanish Conquista. That same square would eventually become the gathering spot for Pride demonstrations, attended by hundreds of thousands of Argentineans. The tour explores the time periods, events, landmarks and people that helped forge Buenos Aires into the inclusive community it is today, according to a Lunfarda Travel spokesperson. Some of the principal players throughout history may seem surprising. One of those is Eva “Evita” Peron, the second wife of former Argentina dictator Juan Peron. The Evita Peron Museum tells the story in film, photographs and memorabilia collections of the couple’s impact on Argentina society and long-established caste system. The tour also visits the first subway station to commemorate a Gay Rights activist and invites a bit of awe at the National Congress, the

67

FRED. W. WRIGHT JR. Is a full-time freelance writer based in Seminole, Fla. A generalist, Fred writes about a wide range of subjects, from business to film, health to stress, history to senior citizens. Travel makes up about 75 percent of what he writes. His work has been published in numerous newspapers and magazines, including Tampa Bay Times (formerly St. Petersburg Times), National Geographic Traveler, Variety, Florida Trend, Bed & Breakfast Quarterly, and AAA Southern Traveler. He is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW).

EMBRACEMEDIA.US

V

isitors to Buenos Aires may feel overwhelmed in Argentina’s largest city of 13-million, with a great range of places to see, venues to explore, sounds to hear, food and drink to sample. And a member of the LGBTQ community may feel slightly shy in this predominantly Catholic and traditionally conservative South American country. Fortunately, Lunfarda Travel, a boutique agency offering niche tours for more than 10 years, now offers the first and only Queer History Tour of Buenos Aires. The 5-hour leisurely tour covers the story of the emerging LGBTQ community from pre-Colonial days to now. Since early in this century, Argentina has legalized egalitarian marriage, non-binary IDs, state-paid gender-affirming surgeries, and in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments. So how did this country get so far in just a couple of decades? The Queer History Tour explores just that with stops at the Evita Peron Museum, state government building, the Carlos Jáuregui subway station, the Rose Gardens, the Queer Cultural Center, LGBTQ-focused community centers, a café or two and other venues, all narrated in English (with options for French, Portuguese and, of course Spanish, if desired). This first-ever tour involves both history, culture, and community as it builds up to the current state of LGBTQ life in Buenos Aires and last year’s massive Pride demonstrations.

THE ARTS ISSUE

TRAVEL


J U LY 2 0 2 2

TRAVEL

place where members of the Argentina LGBTQ community “cemented our rights for future generations,” the spokesperson said. “In this tour, you’ll also get to visit a community center to have drinks, make new friends and check out some of the cool artwork and culture led by locals. “Evita is a fascinating historic character who had a great relationship with Queerness, but it’s an aspect of her life people never discuss. We talk about her queer friends Paco Jamandreu, Pierina Dealessi and others, and how Peronism related to queerness beyond Evita herself.” Lunfarda Travel specializes in shedding light on the previously untold stories of Buenos Aires through an intersectional scope. The boutique incoming agency is proudly made of over 75 percent of women, people of color (POC) and members of the (LGBTQ) community, and “has a commitment to fair trade wages and environment preservation. Join Lunfarda Travel for the only tours in the city of Black History or on its Jewish Heritage Walks, Graffiti and Foodie Outings and family friendly tours. The agency also organizes tailor-made itineraries across Argentina, and actively welcomes all human beings,” the agency states on its website. “I wanted to find a long-term way to incorpo-

rate the trans and binary communities,” Koliren said. “This tour is honoring our past and more importantly, how we can change the future.” As an inbound agency, Lunfarda Travel provides a great deal of information for out-ofcountry visitors on how to manage the country’s currency-exchange rules to recommendations for gay-friend hotels as well as many of the traditional points of interest in Buenos Aires. There are many other LGBTQ Argentina touchstones to explore in Buenos Aires before or after The Queer History Tour. Among them are such iconic areas as La Boca, considered by some

PHOTOS AND VIDEO BY JULIA COHEN RIBEIRO

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

68


69

PHOTOS AND VIDEO BY JULIA COHEN RIBEIRO

EMBRACEMEDIA.US

the birthplace of the tango and its artistic and multi-cultural history. This city neighborhood, noted for its colorful homes, can often provide a few moments of spontaneous music and dance. Elsewhere, Maricafe, a LGBTQ-friendly bar and bookstore, invites visitors to pause and read. It’s a venue with an eclectic menu of activities, from Tarot card readings to a RuPaul style drag show. And a “Rainbow Cake” is always on the menu. The Queer History Tour also includes local events that reflect the contemporary LGBTQ community. The annual Pride festivities each November are an example of the city’s celebration for diversity, culminating with the Pride Parade on a Saturday. Last year’s Pride Parade drew an estimated 100,000 people from all over the world. And many local clubs and bars have their own Pride events. “Many of us in Lunfarda are Queer and proud of what our country has achieved through our activism,” a Lunfarda staffer said. “Let us share it with you. We are the first ones in the continent to run a ‘gay tour’ that...explores the history of Queer activism from a multiple perspective.” Cost of The Queer History Tour is $320 in U.S. dollars per person. Ten percent of the profits go to Mocha Celis, a school in Buenos Aires that caters to trans and gender non-conforming people.

THE ARTS ISSUE

TRAVEL


EXPLORE LGBTQ FLORIDA The Beauty. The Weather. The Fun. The Love.


For insider tips, scan the QR Code now!

www.outcoast.com


PHOTO BY ANDREY POPOV VIA ADOBE STOCK

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

J U LY 2 0 2 2

LG BTQ + L E G I S L AT I V E L E A P S

ISSUES&POLITICS

72


ISSUES & POLITICS

We Must Continue To Say Gay With the passing of the Parental Rights in Education Bill, also referred to as the "Don't Say, Gay Bill," Florida is currently embroiled in yet another culture war controversy by setting a precedent and making waves, but not in a good way. BY DANIELLE OLIVANI

THE ARTS ISSUE

T

73 EMBRACEMEDIA.US

he recent passage of the Parental Rights in Education Act, HB 1557, otherwise known as The Don't Say, Gay Bill, penned by Representative Harding and endorsed and touted by Senator Baxley and other prominent Florida politicians in both the Florida house and senate is meant to bar the “instruction” of sexual orientation or gender identity in classrooms from kindergarten through third grade. The bill's most vocal and ardent democratic opponent, Florida House Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, notes, "HB 1557 does absolutely nothing to prohibit conversations about sex, sexual activity, or sex ed with young children, despite its proponents' claims. The bill's intentionally vague language leaves teachers afraid to talk to their students and opens up school districts to costly and frivolous litigation from those seeking to exclude LGBTQ people from any grade level. Even worse, #DontSayGay sends a hateful message to our most vulnerable youth who need our support." The Don't Say Gay Bill is a direct and pointed attempt to villainize and dehumanize the entire LGBTQIA+ community, making it easier to discriminate and prohibit civil liberties openly and a flagrant move to legislate us right out of existence. Governor DeSantis’s message is clear; it is an attempt and his ultimate goal to assault and blatant erasure of the LGBTQIA+ community, especially queer and transgender youth here in Florida, in full swing and seems to be gaining momentum. Subsequently, almost immediately after HB1557 became law, a litany of retaliatory lawsuits began. Equality Florida, the largest LGBTQIA+ advocacy organization in the state, joined The National Center for Lesbian Rights in a lawsuit opposing the bill, with the law firm Kaplan Heckler deciding to take this case on and ready to argue and refute it in a court of law. They are prepared to challenge and deny this predilection to eliminate the stigma, isolation, and cruelty that this bill will undoubtedly cause. The negative ramifications of Don't Say Gay and copycat legislation is catastrophic. Although proponents of the bill state that it will only affect those who are in kindergarten to third grade, the effect that is prohibiting the discussion of ALL aspects of sexuality and gender expression will undoubtedly cause a litany of lawsuits against

DANIELLE OLIVANI is a proud mom, community organizer/activist, and CEO of Lake County Pride Org. Corp; an LGBTQIA+ nonprofit which seeks to improve the lives of Lake County youth through advocacy, education, and acts of service to the community. She is a longtime resident of Lake County and currently lives in Mount Dora, Fla. She graduated from the Rollins College Paralegal Studies program and obtained her certification in 2017.


J U LY 2 0 2 2

ISSUES & POLITICS

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

74

the state of Florida, school boards, and potentially educators who choose to reject it and stand rm in their affirmation of LGBTQIA+ students, regardless of the grave consequences they might face. The level of uncertainty and uneasiness within the LGBTQIA+ populous in Central Florida and across the country intensifies with exclusionary, unconstitutional, and intolerant "red meat" legislation, such as the ANTI Woke Act the egregious Fifteen Week Abortion Ban. These draconian, myopic, and duplicitous bills are being brought forth and codified into law to galvanize and unify the fundamentalist conservative Christian base of the republican party. Subsequently, many states follow Florida's bigoted, biased and unconstitutional lead. This type of legislation is essentially a dog whistle to those politicians and individuals who are offended and reviled by the mere existence of LGBTQIA+ individuals. In an attempt to combat the litany of fear-mongering and misinformation pushed by the bill's proponents, Representative Smith emphasizes that "HB 1557 does absolutely nothing to prohibit conversations about sex, sexual activity, or sex ed with young people children, despite its proponents' claims. The bill's intentionally vague language leaves teachers afraid to talk to their students and opens up school districts to costly and frivolous litigation from those seeking to exclude LGBTQ people from any grade level. Even worse, #DontSayGay sends a hateful message to our most vulnerable youth who need our support." Representative Smith states that "By signing #DontSayGay into law, DeSantis is attempting to censor and exclude an entire community of people from our public schools for his political gain. This law doesn't solve any problem that exists. Instead, HB 1557 has been weaponized by the Governor's office to launch a bigoted smear campaign to attack and defame LGBTQ Floridians

The bill's intentionally vague language leaves teachers afraid to talk to their students and opens up school districts to costly and frivolous litigation from those seeking to exclude LGBTQ people from any grade level. —FLORIDA HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE CARLOS GUILLERMO SMITH

with baseless accusations of grooming and pedophilia." Its gross, offensive, and downright harmful accusations and assertions made by Governor DeSantis and his supporters are causing stereotypes and lies about the LGBTQIA+ to persist and flourish. It has proven to be much easier to be bigoted and hateful to a particular social group if they are deemed evil, perverted, immoral sexual deviants as some of the conservative Christian right segment of the Florida most extreme republicans are so desperate to want you to believe. Now, in an even bigger twist, Disney's decision to remain silent regarding the bill's direct attack on the LGBTQIA+ community, which a significant segment of workers is a part of, as well as Disney's support of anti-LGBTQIA+ candidates who support Don't Say, Gay, has surfaced, Disney had to take a strong stance; outwardly opposing the bill and calling out Governor DeSantis. Because of this, DeSantis, in an attempt to punish Disney for pushing the so-called woke liberal agenda and California politics, has stripped Disney of its protected class. Taking these special privileges; legal autonomy to self-govern, and financial breaks from Disney in the way of tax breaks and incentives, invariably, the citizens of Orange County, specifically The Reedy Creek Improvement District, will now have to foot the bill, thus causing a myriad of financial catastrophes and raise local taxes for may who work and frequent Disney. So many LGBTQIA+ children, youths, adults, and allies are asking themselves what's next, what can we do to help overturn this legislation? There is one thing for sure: the fight against Don't Say Gay is far from over, and it will continue to be debated and hotly contested for the foreseeable future. LGBTQIA+ youth in Florida and worldwide who struggle to find support know that you are loved just the way you are, and we will fight for you every day because your lives are worth fighting for.


Bradley Moore REALTOR®

Call 321.206.1777 Email: Bradley@MrListerFL.com

500 W Caroline Street Tavares, Fl 32778

(352) 729- 9260


So, Now You Know

parents and Friends of Lesbians, Gays and transgendered

PFLAG Ladylake Fl. http://www.pflagladylake.net/ https://www.facebook.com/pFlagladylake PFLAGLadyLake@gmail.com 352-693-2173


soul essentilas.pdf 1 4/10/2020 10:59:00 PM

CRYSTALS CANDLES

BOOKS

JEWELRY

YOGA CLASSES MEDITATION

LAUGHTER LIGHT LOVE PEACE

PSYCHICS TAROT RUNES OILS MUSIC ENERGY MEETINGS INCENSE of Ocala

CLOTHES

TUE - SAT 12PM - 8PM

C

M

Y

CM

MY

GIFTS

PEACE, LOVE & LIGHT

352-236-7000

JOY

ART & MORE

Please find us on:

805 E Fort King St, Ocala, FL 34471


LG BTQ + R E L AT I O N S H I P S W I T H G O D

J U LY 2 0 2 2

RELIGION

Providing Refuge A church group in Massachusetts opens a permanent home for LGBTQ+ asylum seekers. BY REV. CATHERINE DEARLOVE

In

the current climate of polarization and hostility towards the LGBT community and asylum seekers, it is unusual to see anything being birthed that would support either of these disenfranchised groups of people. However, the LGBT Asylum Task Force (LGBTATF) has had a ministry that helps LGBTQ asylum seekers from all faith groups for 14 years. LGBTATF is a ministry of Hadwen Park Congregational Church, UCC in Worcester, Massachusetts that welcomes LGBTQ asylum seekers of all faith traditions.

This program started in 2008 with a welcome to one Jamaican gay asylum seeker who was referred to them by someone who had heard this church supported marriage equality. The community set about providing him with support, housing, clothing and other things that he needed to settle into the community until he was able to support himself. It has now leapfrogged into helping over 400 LGBT asylum seekers from more than 20 countries in the past 14 years. A new asylum seeker is not allowed to work in the USA until all their paperwork has been approved which can sometimes take longer than two years. This means they are on their own from a governmental perspective once they are

REV. CATHERINE DEARLOVE is Senior Pastor at Trinity MCC in Gainesville, Florida. Although a Christian minister, she has a strong appreciation for all journeys of faith or philosophy and wrote her Masters dissertation on Inter-religious Dialogue. She is currently the Chair of the Campus Multifaith Cooperative at UF and coordinates the Alachua County Faith Leaders Alliance. Rev Catherine has lived in the UK, Australia and now USA and has spent most of her life as a social justice warrior and advocate for the integration of sexuality and spirituality. Rev Catherine believes faith is a journey and should never be static.

ILLUSTRATION BY TAI111 VIA ADOBE STOCK

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

78


JURISDICTIONS

JURISDICTIONS

JURISDICTIONS

criminalize private, impose some form criminalize private, consensual, same- of death penalty consensual sexual for private, consensual sex sexual activity. activity between same-sex sexual activity. The majority of these women jurisdictions explicitly criminalize sex between men via ‘sodomy’, ‘buggery’ and ‘unnatural offenses’ laws. Almost half of them are Commonwealth jurisdictions.

At least 6 of these (Iran, Northern Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen), death is the primary sentence. In Afghanistan, Brunei, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar and UAE, the death penalty is a possible sentence.

allowed in the country. When asylum seekers flee their country, while they may feel safe from the dangers of their home country, they are then faced with new concerns such as how to start again, how to navigate a new country and sometimes in a language that is not their first. This is where LGBTATF steps in. This program offers support on different levels including a stipend, links to healthcare, legal and other resources in the community to those who have had to flee their countries because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

using laws against ‘lesbianism’, ‘sexual relations with a person of the same sex’ and ‘gross indecency’. Even in jurisdictions that do not explicitly criminalize women, lesbians and bisexual women have been subjected to arrest or threat of arrest.

JURISDICTIONS

criminalize the identity and/ or expression of transgender people

using so-called ‘cross-dressing’, ‘impersonation’ and ‘disguise’ laws. In many more countries, transgender people are targeted by a range of laws that criminalize same-sex activity and vagrancy, hooliganism and public order offenses.

According to humandignitytrust.com, there are still 71 jurisdictions that criminalize private, consensual, same-sex sexual activity and at least 11 jurisdictions in which the death penalty is imposed or at least a possibility for private, consensual same-sex sexual activity. This does not include where it is criminalized for being transgender or the number of countries where violence is the only response to people who are LGBT. [See Sidebar] The program used to cost about $32,000 a month to lease apartments around town and the

LGBTQ+ CRIMINALIZATION, VISUALIZED

This map provides an overview of the countries across the world where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are criminalized. Source: humandignitytrust.org/lgbt-the-law/ map-of-criminalisation

79 EMBRACEMEDIA.US

71 11 43 15

THE ARTS ISSUE

RELIGION


RELIGION

“Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” Proverbs 19:17

“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

J U LY 2 0 2 2

Matthew 25:35

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40

program was becoming more and more expensive. After a huge fundraising push with private donations, grants and the LGBTATF’s annual gala, they were able to purchase their own building in August 2020. Renovations started in January 2021 and while there is ongoing work needed, the house is in full use. This purchase has reduced costs and gives them a greater opportunity to not only offer housing to asylum seekers but also a sense of community. There are rooms for 9 occupants and each room was fitted out by donations. When asylum seekers come to the USA, they have often lost their connection with family and friends, who along with police, have demonized them. While financial and practical help is critical, having a community to settle into that is safe, with others who have gone through a similar experience, can be the balm that is needed to help with the emotional trauma each person has gone through. “This house is proof of the possibilities that exist when thousands of people do more than just offer thoughts and prayers and choose to step

forward in their care for society’s marginalized communities,” said LGBTATF Ministry Director Al Green in “Harvey: A tour of the house that love built” by Janice Harvey, published in Worchester Magazine. “From realtors to community supporters, there have been thousands of folks who have played integral roles in getting us to this point.” When we welcome our neighbor, it is like giving someone a fish, if we do not teach them to fish, then they will keep needing fish and never be independent. This ministry, through workshops and the right support, helps asylum seekers to establish their identity in the USA and teaches them what their rights are so they can become independent and build their life anew. A welcome to a stranger is so much more than “hello” and this ministry is the epitome of how to live into the Golden Rule “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” When you have nothing, your need is for more than a hello; LGBTATF recognized that and stepped above and beyond the plate bring optimism in a time where it is very difficult.

PHOTO BY MUMEMORIES VIA ADOBE STOCK

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

80


EMBRACEMEDIA.US

THE ARTS ISSUE

Community Your

81


S E N S O RY ST I M U L AT I O N … F O R T H E E Y E S A N D E A R S

J U LY 2 0 2 2

ART&CULTURE

Beauty Icon Immigrant. Inventor. Icon. A look at the life of Hedy Lamarr, Hollywood’s reigning queen of film and fashion in the 1930s and 1940s. BY FRED W. WRIGHT JR.

S

he was a Hollywood publicist’s dream client. She stepped off the train in Los Angeles already proclaimed “the most beautiful girl in the world.” In five days of railroad riding, Hedy Lamarr had transformed herself from “well-dressed Euro-chic” emigre from Austria to a contract actor for Louis B. Mayer. While turmoil was building in Europe, Lamarr took the U.S. by storm. It was 1933 and while her

command of English was still poor, her control of her looks and her ability to give photographers, fashion designers, and stage and film directors a look unrivaled were already in place. She arrived, ready, she thought, for a Hollywood career as a “smartly dressed, attractive young woman wearing a light-colored, conservative, threequarter-length skirt and matching jacket, bearing a small corsage of flowers. On her shoulder-length dark tresses, she wore a stylish, late-1930s beret.” So writes Stephen Michael Shearer, the author

FRED. W. WRIGHT JR. Is a full-time freelance writer based in Seminole, Fla. He writes on a wide range of subjects, from business to film, health to stress, history to senior citizens. His work has been published in numerous newspapers and magazines, including Tampa Bay Times, National Geographic Traveler, Variety, and Florida Trend, among others.

PHOTO FROM GLAMOUR AND STYLE

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

82


Buy the Book

PHOTOS FROM GLAMOUR AND STYLE

Glamour and Style - The Beauty of Hedy Lamarr By Stephen Michael Shearer

Lyons Press 2022 Size: 81/2 x 11 328 pages; 320 photos Hard Cover: $50.00

83 EMBRACEMEDIA.US

of his second book on the Hollywood celebrity, Glamour and Style – The Beauty of Hedy Lamarr. This lush look at the woman who came to be known for her beauty as much, if not more so, as for her acting, is published by Lyons Press as a true coffee table project. There are more than 300 photographs, mostly black and white, scattered throughout the 395 pages. Nearly every page has a photograph of the actress; some pages have several. Many are head shots, showing the unsmiling pose of a woman who speaks with her eyes rather than her lips. Each image is carefully identified and annotated. In fact, there is an abundance of end notes at the back of the volume reflecting Shearer’s passion for sourcing all his facts. He often quotes from his previous book on the star, Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr (2010) and from the actress’ own supposedly tell-all memoir, Ecstasy (1966). This is not to say that Shearer’s book is not rich with tasty tidbits of the 1930s and 1940s, both in Europe and in the U.S., for anyone living a lavish and privileged lifestyle. These are the people others gossip about and, as Shearer notes, “In the era of Hedy Lamarr, facts belie fiction in many ways… Facts, fiction and legend all blend together.” That is what makes the many facets of Lamarr in this book so compelling. They can be judged on face value, from the numerous color cover images from such bygone celebrity magazines as Click, Pic, Silver Screen, Photoplay and even Match. Many images are very posed, but there are also candid shots from her pre-Lamarr days and other shots paired with one of her U.S. costars like Charles Boyer. We see the changing styles of dress, makeup, fashion, jewelry and even the tilt of her head, all echoes of the era. They all speak of Lamarr’s chameleon-like nature, her ability to not only look the part in a film or stage play but also in life. A Minneapolis author, also an actor and former model, Shearer has penned two previous highly regarded film biographies: Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life (2006) and Gloria Swanson: The Ultimate Star (2015). Even after writing his first book on Lamarr, Shearer said, “I realized there was much more to her.” But bringing this second Hedy Lamarr book to

THE ARTS ISSUE

ART & CULTURE


EMBRACE MAGAZINE

84

print was a journey– and a lesson to writers not to give up. Times change. Shearer’s first proposal for a coffee table look at Lamarr was rejected, he said. He was told she did not have a Gone with the Wind-type film, so there wasn’t enough interest. But a few years later, Shearer participated in a PBS documentary on Lamarr and fashion of the 1930s and 1940s. “A whole new wave of interest grew for Lamarr,” Shearer recalled. The publisher now “wanted me to do this glamour book project I wanted to do all along. “She wasn’t a fashion icon or Audrey (Hepburn) in a little black dress,” Shearer said. All anyone has to do is look at Lamarr’s U.S. film, Algiers (1938). “One can be very impressed how Hedy wore fashion and also the fashion that was designed (for her) by studio fashion designers.” The persona of Lamarr’s marriage to fine fashion design came to an apex in the 1949 Cecil B. DeMille production Samson and Delilah, when costume designer Edith Head won one of her eight Academy Awards for dressing Lamarr and co-star Victor Mature. Between 1938 and 1958, Lamarr made more than 20 films in the U.S. Some have stayed available through streaming media services and even a few rerun cable channels. Titles that stand out include Boom Town (1940), Comrade X (1940),

Also by Shearer

Time has been kind to another of Shearer’s works. A portion of his Patricia Neal book has been turned into a British-produced feature film, To Olivia. It’s the story of Neal, her husband Roald Dahl and the tragic death of their 7-year-old daughter to measles. The film, released earlier this year, is directed by John Hay and stars Hugh Bonneville as Roald Dahl, Keeley Hawes as Patricia Neal, Sam Heughan as Paul Newman and Geoffrey Palmer as Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher. (This is Palmer’s last film; he died a month after completing his role.)

Tortilla Flat (1942), Copper Canyon (1950) and My Favorite Spy (1951). There were other motivations beyond fashion and style to produce a second book on Lamarr. As a child, she was taught several languages by her mother, Shearer writes, but English was not one of them. But by the 1940s, with her adopted country in the throes of a world war, after years in the U.S., Lamarr was on the road participating in U.S. War Bond drives. “She sold more war bonds in one day than any star in all four war bond drives, Shearer stated. “She spoke from the heart,” Shearer said. “No script.” Lamarr had learned English by 1943. Newsreel footage of the bond drive, with her candor and passion of purpose, makes her “more beautiful than she would ever be in film because of her sincerity. There’s a warmth, a glow.” There was another fascinating aspect of Hedy Lamarr – her brains. She was always curious, always tinkering with technology. She nurtured new and innovative technologies that would prove the seeds for such 20th century everyday devices as Bluetooth, GPS, cordless phones and cell phones. Thus, with Hedy Lamarr’s film career virtually over by the 1950s (and she would live until 2000), Shearer ends his homage to Lamarr with a final chapter on the milestones her mind brought to the world, not her body.

TOP LEFT AND CENTER PHOTOS BY MICHAEL P. WICKMAN. TOP RIGHT PHOTO FROM GLAMOUR AND STYLE

J U LY 2 0 2 2

ART & CULTURE


Luxury is not to be Forgotten in the World of Design.

WWW.DAVIDCALLDESIGNS.COM DALLAS. LOS ANGELES. NEW YORK CALLONDESIGN


PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

Let It Be Known

In his upcoming feature film, Executive Producer Stephen Gardner tells the heart-wrenching story of Dutch duo Willem Arondeus and Frieda Belinfante, brought together by their shared homosexuality and fierce desire to save as many lives as possible in Nazi-occupied Netherlands during World War II. By Melissa-Marie Marks

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

86

“WILLEM AND FRIEDA AND THEIR COHORTS ARE NOT EXPERT COMMANDOS. THEY ARE NOT TRAINED SABOTEURS. THEY ARE NOT EVEN BATTLEHARDENED SOLDIERS. THEY ARE A GROUP OF QUEER AND ALLIED ANTIRACIST ARTISTS WITH A DESIRE TO FIGHT FOR JUSTICE AND RESTORE HUMANITY.” —STEPHEN GARDNER

FROM ARTIST TO WAR HERO Willem Arodeus was born on August 22, 1894. Due to his sexual orientation, he was forced to leave his family home at just 17. He was an artist and achieved some success as a painter, but eventually stopped

painting to pursue a career in writing poetry and articles for publications. When Germany invaded The Netherlands, Willem joined the Dutch resistance, and in 1942, he published Brandarisbrief, an illegal periodical encouraging others to resist the Germans. In 1943, the Brandarisbrief periodical merged with another resistance periodical called De Vrije Kunstenaar (The Free Artist). The editor of De Vrije Kunstenaar, Gerrit van der Veen, specialized in forging documents, and thus, Willem became involved in forging Christian documents for Jews. “I first learned about Willem when a friend of mine shared something on Facebook, saying he [Arondeus] was openly gay and had been recognized as a war hero for saving Jews during the German occupation of The Netherlands,” Gardner recounts. “I’m Jewish and I just came out two years ago. So, when I learned about Willem, it was my inspiration to come out and be proud of who I am. And that is kind of what the inspiration for [this film] was.” AN UNEXPECTED YET HARMONIOUS PARTNERSHIP Born on May 10, 1904 in Amsterdam, Jewish open lesbian Frieda Belinfante was 36 years old when the Nazis invaded The Netherlands. Coming from a musically-talented family, Frieda began playing the cello at age 10 and made her professional debut at Kleine Zaal recital hall at age 17. In 1937, Frieda founded Het Klein Orkest (The Chamber Orchestra) and held the positions of both artistic director and conductor. She was the first woman in Europe to ever hold such titles. After witnessing the capture and removal of fellow Jews, Roma-Gypsies, homosexuals, and anti-Nazi activists, Frieda decided to join the underground Dutch resistance movement and began assisting Gerrit van der Veen with his document forging operation. It was at

DONATIONS WELCOMED Donors can make a real impact in terms of helping us share this amazing story that hasn’t been told before and really speaks to the gay, Jewish, feminist, and human rights communities. freestate-justice.org/donate-2/let-it-be-known

PHOTO BY STEPHEN WHITEHEAD

J U LY 2 0 2 2

It

is a dark day on May 10, 1940 when Germany invades The Netherlands and takes complete control. World War II is already well underway, darkening skies across Europe and ending countless lives. Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Maria, queen of The Netherlands, is forced to flee to London while her daughter, Princess Juliana and Juliana’s two daughters, escape to Canada. Queen Wilhelmina organizes a Dutch government-in-exile stationed in London where she oversees and funds the Dutch resistance movement in The Netherlands, along with the help of Dutch resistance banker Walraven “Wally” van Hall. The goal of the government-in-exile, besides keeping the royal family safe until they can return to The Netherlands, is to make sure the Dutch resistance movement has the funds needed to continue to fight the Nazis until their eventual defeat. This is the beginning of Stephen Gardner’s upcoming feature film, “Let It Be Known,” set to hopefully begin filming in two years. The film follows the intertwined stories of openly gay artist and Dutch resistance member Willem Arondeus, along with prominent lesbian orchestral conductor and Jewish woman Frieda Belinfante as they organize resistance activities to help end Nazi-occupation in The Netherlands. “This is a version of a Holocaust story that we simply haven’t heard before,” Gardner says when asked why this story needs to come out. “These people [members of the Dutch resistance] were just incredible. They lost everything just to be who they were. They were war heroes, and they saved thousands of Jews.”


A STORY RELEVANT TO OUR TIMES Gardner stresses the importance of getting this story out into the world. The script was written, and filming was due to begin two years ago, but then Covid-19 put production on hold. “Right now, we’re working in collaboration with the Human Rights Campaign and also the Free State Justice organization in Maryland; these are our working sponsors. We’re working on setting up some town halls in Washington DC, hopefully this fall, to meet major donors and create some strong buzz.” Gardner states that production is contingent upon significant donors stepping up to the plate. “Hatred and antisemitism and racism doesn’t end; it doesn’t just go away. History repeats itself,” says Gardner. “We see it repeating itself right now. That’s why this film is so important. We have to keep educating ourselves.”

THE ARTS ISSUE

A MESSAGE OF HOPE The Gestapo eventually became aware of the Dutch resistance movement’s document forging operation, and they began checking the forged documents against existing registration lists at the Municipal Office for Population Registration in Amsterdam. On March 27, 1943, the Dutch resistance, led by Willem and Frieda, carried out a planned explosives attack on the Municipal Office, successfully destroying about 800,000 identity cards and saving thousands of Jewish lives. “Willem and Frieda and their cohorts are not expert commandos. They are not trained saboteurs. They are not even battle-hardened soldiers,” said Gardner. “They are a group of queer and allied anti-racist artists with a desire to fight for justice and restore humanity.”

Willem and 13 others from the resistance were captured about a week after the attack. To help spare his co-conspirators, Willem arranged for Frieda to go into hiding. She disguised herself as a man and lived with friends for three months before eventually escaping through Belgium and France, crossing the Swiss Alps on foot until finding her freedom in Switzerland. On July 1, 1943, Willem Arondeus was executed by the Gestapo. His final words before his death were, “Let it be known that homosexuals are not cowards!”

87 EMBRACEMEDIA.US

this time that Frieda Belinfante met Willem Arondeus. “The relationship between the two main characters [Willem and Frieda] is a type of love story—he sacrificed his life to save hers,” says Gardner. “In the beginning, they kind of butt heads, but they eventually develop this beautiful working relationship. And they’re very successful in what they accomplish. They actually blew up Nazi buildings. When one of the buildings was on fire, the fire department in Amsterdam were already alerted and told to move very slowly to let the building burn in order to destroy the registration documents inside--everyone was in on it.”


Your one-stop local neighborhood health shop for over 31 years!

Your Guide to Better Health! Let our friendly staff guide you through our large selection of supplements, healthy foods, and skincare products.

“You can make a difference in your health!” (352) 854-4577 | 8449 SW Hwy 200 #139, Ocala, FL 34481 | MonDAY - SATurday: 9 am - 6 pm.

#13761 - 10/20

Enjoy Senior Discounts and ask us about our Frequent Buyer program! Your one-stop local neighborhood health shop for over 31 years!



Q UA L I T Y N E V E R G O E S O U T O F ST Y L E

J U LY 2 0 2 2

STYLE&TRENDS

The Bold Lead When it comes to latest trends in LGBTQ wedding fashions, the conservative follow, the bold lead. BY J O H N SOTO M AYO R

PHOTOS FROM LEFT BY INNAREVYAKO, ANTON, DMITRY TSVETKOV VIA ADOBE STOCK

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

90


THE ARTS ISSUE

STYLE & TRENDS

PHOTOS BY LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS VIA ADOBE STOCK

F

rom the time the Maison Redfern fashion house, founded by English tailor John Redfern in the 1800s, introduced sportswear and tailored suits to women’s clothing, to the time Billy Porter defied fashion norms by wearing a tuxedo gown to the 91st Academy Awards in 2019, gender-bending fashion choices became the signature for the bold fashionista. Nowadays, outdoing others with attention-getting fashion trends has made its way from the red carpet to the wedding aisle. This is especially true for LGBTQ same-sex weddings. Here are some combinations that have garnered the attention of the experts — designers and fashion bloggers. Let’s begin with the ladies. One of the premier stylists for genderless attire is The Tailory New York. Launched in 2013, they cater equally to men, women, and non-binary individuals. Founder Shao Yang said, “As a pantsuit aficionado and lover of men’s fashion and tailoring, I was always drawn to tailored clothing and strived to create fashion [for women] that conveyed the same message of confidence that a perfectly custom-tailored suit did for men.” Three of the top lesbian and non-binary wed-

ding outfits that The Tailory New York recommends right now are: The tailored three-piece suit. Considered a classic that never goes out of style, the three-piece suit worn by both brides sends an eye-catching statement, especially when custom-tailored for the suit that fits the body to a fault. Rocker tuxedo and sheer blouse. The Tailory recommends, “the modern tuxedo look merits an unconventional shirt. Inspired by women who rock, [their] sheer tuxedo blouse is destined to be worn by a bold and daring bride … For maximum impact, wear your sheer tuxedo blouse with a subtly patterned tuxedo in a dark and glitzy hue — think glossy blacks, midnight blues, and rich burgundies.” Silk slip dress and beaded blazer. For those who want to “strike a perfect balance” between masculine and feminine, as well as fans of both wedding dresses and suits, The Tailory recommends mixing both. “We recommend going with a form-fitting slip dress in ivory or blush silk that will flatter your body to perfection. Pair it back to a delicately beaded blazer for a dramatic, structural statement piece that will wow everyone in attendance.” Now for the men. One of the hottest new menswear “designed to pave the way for luxury fashion” is Sebastian Cruz Couture. Also launched in

EMBRACEMEDIA.US

91

JOHN SOTOMAYOR is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Embrace Magazine. With nearly 20 years of experience as a journalist for magazines and newspapers, he has written on a board range of topics and subject matter. Specifically on Styles + Trends, Sotomayor has written for numerous publications including, Ocala Magazine, Lake & Sumter Style, Elevate Magazine, Florida Travel + Leisure, and Florida Trends.


EMBRACE MAGAZINE

92

2013, Sebastian Cruz Couture states they do not follow trends, they pave the way for them. Their credo is: the conservative follow, the bold lead. Here are some of the leading styles for men’s wedding attire, according to Sebastian Cruz Couture: Bold color and pattern combination. The traditional black tux is boring. It says the wearer has no imagination. To stand out, Sebastian Cruz offers a series of memorable eye-catching jackets that commands attention. Try the Navy-Blue Paisley, Champagne Oro Fiore, S by Sebastian Zar Reale, or Zar Mezzanotte jackets. Assertive accessories. Match the jacket of your choice with a waistcoat. Double breasted or Ciottoli waistcoats command the room. Add a butterfly bowtie or Canestro necktie and signature cufflinks to complete the look. One of the best guides to LGBTQ+ wedding suits and wedding attire comes from Jennie Crate Photography. Jennie met her wife when she was 21 and a senior in college. They were met by challenges from the people around them. When it came time to plan their wedding, Jennie says they “were purposefully very intentional about the people they invited.” They built a guest list “with the people who were there for us, who answered the phone when we needed it, and who showed up to celebrate US and the beautiful life we had created together.” Realizing the importance and uniqueness of LGBTQ+ weddings, Jennie comprised a list of resources to help others plan their best wedding. Here are some that stood out for wedding attire: Custom Suits. “Bindle & Keep has been at the forefront of suit making for all body types for close to a decade. After a horrifically uncomfortable suit fitting appointment in a men’s suit shop, co-owner Rae Tutera realized there was a

huge need for a suit experience for people whose bodies weren’t cisgender male. Shortly after, Tutera met suit maker Daniel Freidman, and Bindle & Keep was born. Check out the 2016 HBO documentary, ‘Suited’, about their business.” Also on the list, “A queer-owned company based in Hollywood, Sharpe Suiting now has extension sites in Charlotte, Houston, Tampa, and Chicago. Through their passion to serve the community, they’ve donated nearly 100 suits to LGBTQ youth centers, non-profit fundraisers, colleges, and queer prom students across the country.” Online Options. Little Black Tux is a father-daughter owned company that serves “the growing market of women and non-binary customer looking for high-quality tuxedos. Tired of seeing customers stuck with boxy, masculine styles that were never designed for them in mind, they took on the formal wear market with a vengeance. They named the company Little Black Tux in homage to both the classic ‘little black dress’ and the LGBT community whose needs, styles, and bodies deserve to be included in formal wear design. They source fabrics and create designs that are built for women and gender fluid shoppers.” Casual. Wildfang is female-founded; woman-run. “In 2013, we set out to create a home for bad-ass womxn everywhere. It started with the ‘radical’ belief that a womxn has the right to wear whatever she wants and be whoever the hell she wants.” Non-traditional, yet feminine. House of Ollichon offers “luxury bridal jump suits and separates for the dress-less wedding. Based in the UK with online ordering options for fun, feminine, non-traditional wedding looks.” These are only a small sample of options. Look around. The choices are as diverse and limitless as we are.

PHOTOS FROM LEFT BY VICTORIA CHUDINOVA, MAXFROST, ANATOLIYCHERKAS VIA ADOBE STOCK

J U LY 2 0 2 2

STYLE & TRENDS



B O U N DA RY - B R E A K I N G B E AU T Y

FASHION&DESIGN The Timelessness of Tweed In his new book Homespun, Fashion journalist J. Joseph Pastrana proves that tweed is the once and future fabric

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

94

J.

Joseph Pastrana is a man on a mission. In his new book Homespun: True Tales of Tweed, the New York Citybased fashion journalist wants to convince you of three things about a fabric whose history goes back a few hundred years (and probably much more): First, tweed is modern. It’s a material that’s having its moment right now, with a durability that lends itself well to upcycling. Designers can transform an old-fashioned sport coat into a sleek messenger bag. Second, tweed is stylish. Fashion-forward designers — think Vivienne Westwood’s punk aesthetic or Alexander McQueen’s edgy takes on the classics — have used it to make strong statements. Today, Bodega uses tweed in its trademark kicks. Third, tweed can be transgressive, whether it’s Coco Chanel’s pushing of gender roles or Bindle & Keep doing away with them altogether. We talked to Pastrana about his inspiration for the book, designers who are doing innovative things today, and where tweed will be in 100 years. I WONDERED WHY A FASHION JOURNALIST WOULD CHOOSE TO WRITE ABOUT TWEED, WHICH SEEMS ABOUT AS FAR FROM STYLISH AS YOU COULD GET, BUT YOU PROVE EARLY ON IN THE BOOK THAT DESIGNERS HAVE ALWAYS LOVED IT. COCO CHANEL REALLY HAD A THING FOR IT.

Admittedly, the subject was entirely my publisher's idea. It took me a week to really think about it and see if it was a topic that merited examination. While I was aware that the fabric continues

©JAMES NORMAN, COURTESY OF LINTON TWEEDS

J U LY 2 0 2 2

BY MARK SULLIVAN


THE ARTS ISSUE

95 EMBRACEMEDIA.US

PHOTOS (CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT): ©GUYS HILLS; COURTESY OF TARTAN SILK PUBLIC RELATIONS; ©GUYS HILLS; COURTESY OF MAGEE1866; CHRIS MOORE

FASHION & DESIGN

to elicit respect from fashion traditionalists, even I was taken by surprise by how relevant it still is among the most cutting-edge designers. It wasn't until I really immersed myself — not just in its history, but its present — that I truly appreciated how much it matters to so many to this very day. At this point, Chanel is the house that tweed built.

debut was there was nothing quite like his collection in American menswear at that time. Back then, everything looked very structured and consciously corporate. He truly does have a unique eye for color combinations and textures — aspects that happen to be hallmarks of tweed. It was practically karmic.

AND NOW CHANEL’S ENTIRE FALL/WINTER 2022 COLLECTION IS DEDICATED TO TWEED. IS THIS EVERYTHING COMING FULL CIRCLE?

WHAT DESIGNER TODAY WOULD YOU SAY USES TWEED IN THE MOST OFFBEAT WAY?

Talk about serendipity! My book was among the hundreds of projects that were delayed by the pandemic. It came out this year just before the Tweed collection was unveiled at Chanel. But again, that's the enduring quality of tweed. It will never lose relevance. The new collection is as magical yet as modern as anything out there. MENSWEAR DESIGNER JOSEPH ABBOUD — YOU INTERVIEW HIM FOR THE BOOK — KICKED OFF HIS FIRST COLLECTION WITH PHEASANT’S EYE TWEED. HOW DID HE CHANGE OUR IMPRESSIONS OF TWEED?

What was truly remarkable about Mr. Abboud's

As I did mention in the book, Junya Watanabe once created a coat in neoprene-bonded tweed and faux-leather sleeves. Then there's Dashing Tweeds, which blends tech yarns into tweed. There are many truly groundbreaking designers who take tweed and craft it into something futuristic. CATHERINE AITKEN — ANOTHER DESIGNER WHO SPOKE WITH YOU AT LENGTH — TRANSFORMS OLD TWEEDS INTO GORGEOUS HANDBAGS. WOULD YOU PUT HER AT THE FOREFRONT OF THE RECYCLED CLOTHING MOVEMENT?

Upcycling — as they're now calling using recycled materials and remaking them into something

MARK SULLIVAN'S writing about pop culture has appeared in InStyle, Interview, and other magazines. As a travel expert, he has edited or contributed to 200 books at Penguin Random House.


FASHION & DESIGN new — has really become an important movement in fashion today. With concerns about how much damage we're causing to the environment, brands are finally coming around to adopting production models that limit their carbon footprints. Because tweed is such a durable material, it lends itself well to being upcycled in amazing new items like Ms. Aitken's bags.

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

96

I had heard about Bindle & Keep before, but I honestly hadn't thought about them until I was already more than halfway through writing the book. Because I had spent enough pages writing about Savile Row, I did want to spotlight an American tailor. It occurred to me that Bindle & Keep not only exemplifies a new era of more inclusivity in fashion, but by catering to the specific needs of a community that is often misunderstood and marginalized, it illustrates the power of fashion with regards to identity and expression. With a majority of its clientele members of the LGBTQ community, it truly is among the pioneers of a growing number of companies that understand why it matters to have brands that speak directly to their needs. WITH THE RISE OF SO MANY MODERN FABRICS, WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL HAPPEN TO OLD-FASHIONED TWEED?

Actually, modern fabrics are currently at a distinct disadvantage because more consumers understand that most are nonbiodegradable and only end up stockpiling in landfills. Tweed, cotton, and natural fibers have less impact on the environment, and more brands are finding ways to upcycle old materials and make them new again. In that regard, you can see that tweed is forever.

Buy the Book

Independent literary imprint house Thane & Prose launched “Homespun – True Tales of Tweed” by J.Joseph Pastrana; its much-anticipated fashion title for 2022. A must-read for true fashion fans or anyone and everyone with an interest in history and style, the non-fiction book delivers a comprehensive and entertaining look at the rich legacy of tweed while exploring contemporary use of the fabric in fashion, costumes for film, television and stage, accessories and interior design. The book is available to order in hardcover at Thane & Prose.com or Amazon.com

PHOTOS (CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT) COURTESY OF JOSEPH ABBOUD; THANE & PROSE; BY BRIAN DALTHORP WEAREPOPSTUDIOS.COM

J U LY 2 0 2 2

TELL ME ABOUT BINDLE & KEEP, ONE OF THE FASCINATING NEWER COMPANIES YOU PROFILE. HOW DID YOU FIND THEM? HOW ARE THEY CHANGING FASHION?


LOCAL FINE DINING MADE

Winner of 2020 Golden Spoon 352-528-CORK katyavineyards.com 101 East Silver Springs Blvd. Ste. 102, Ocala, FL 34472 Reservations Recommended OpenTable or 352.497.5077

Mention this ad to receive 10% off your first glass of wine!


FASHION & DESIGN

Tweed: Revisited, Repurposed, Reinvented Tweed the versatile fabric: it served well during the early ascents of Mt. Everest and still serves well in the fashion houses of the global community. BY CONNOR MCLEOUD

J U LY 2 0 2 2

O

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

98

ne of the time-tested champions of performance fabrics is tweed. In the book “Homespun: A Tale of Tweed”, author J. Joseph Pastrana takes the reader on a journey from the humble beginnings of tweed as a outdoor laborer’s fabric of choice to the goto fabric of modern designers for outdoor casual wear, semi-formal wear, and non-traditional uses such as shoes, accessories, and home interiors. Those who have worn tweed before would be familiar with the warmth and water-resistant qualities of wool that can keep the wearer warm even when wet. For the uninitiated there are benefits to wearing natural fibers over modern synthetic fabrics. The differences are more prominent when one considers the fashion and design elements in tweed patterns and tailoring. The central character of “Homespun” is Will who makes the decision to have a suit commissioned and chronicles his inspirations and choices in fabric and design. Along the way we are introduced to manufacturers, influencers, designers, haberdashers, and entrepreneurs in fashion. Pick your experience. You would be posh if you travel to the Isle of Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland to inspect and choose Harris Tweed fabric — then travel to Saville Row in Central London to have a bespoke suit made by expert tailors. You can be economical and find a local haberdasher in your city to create a madeto-measure suit for you. Or you can buy readyto-wear. A modern alternative to buying in a retail store is buying and submitting your measurements online. Pick your fashion statement. If you are of Celtic heritage, you may want a suit or kilt made of authentic Harris Tweed or Irish Donegal Tweed. If you want a British retro look once popular in outdoor sporting events like hunting, fishing, and golf your kit should include: an eight-panel flat cap, plus fours, waistcoat, and coat. If you want the 1980’s power suit look, a statement that says, “power, seduction, and money”, made famous by the Gordon Gekko character in “Wallstreet” (1987) your kit should include: a well fitted suit with clean lines, contrasting collar and cuff shirts,

expensive accessories and of course the braces. If your goal is to look well dressed like James Bond, just about every actor in the franchise has worn tweed. The options are more plentiful choosing the custom-made route since the designer may be willing to do work others will not. The design should fit the use. The season for tweed falls primarily between October and March. Geographic regions where the fabric is more comfortable to wear include the United Kingdom, northeastern USA, northwestern USA, Europe and Japan. Tweed fabrics are also categorized by function. The function should definitely match the design. Functional tweeds include: gamekeeper, sporting, thornproof, and super-soft tweeds. Tweed can be popular for heritage, or themed, places and events. Themed places and events can include weddings, restaurants, bike rides, cosplay, or steampunk gatherings. Tweed Runs, organized bicycle group rides, have become popular all over the world. The first Tweed Run was in London in 2009. Participants wear tweed outfits and vintage bicycles are encouraged. The general consensus from conservation organizations and from the fashion industry is that natural fiber fabrics like wool and cotton are the most eco-friendly. Tweed, which is made from tightly woven wool, is long lasting and durable. Tweed serves the slow fashion movement, that started in the late 2000’s, as a fabric that can be repurposed into something else that it was intended to be. The slow fashion movement started in opposition to fast fashion which critics blame for poor working conditions in developing countries and polluting the earth with non-biodegradable materials. The drive is encouraging social responsibility to move towards sustainable and ethically produced fashion. Designer Catherine Aitken created her second collection of bags entirely from upcycled Harris Tweed jackets and kilts. Her current line of backpacks and messenger bags combine the past with the present by using heritage fabrics to carry modern laptops. The markets for tweed have expanded beyond traditional men’s and women’s wear. They have been reinvented to include gender neutral wear, interior design products, footwear, and upholstery. Bindle & Keep is a LGBTQ+ friendly

CONNOR MCLEOUD developed an appreciation for well tailored suits while working in New York City in the securities industry during the 1990's U.S. economic boom.


PHOTO COURTESY OF MAGEE1866

EMBRACEMEDIA.US

THE ARTS ISSUE

FASHION & DESIGN

99


J U LY 2 0 2 2

establishment in Brooklyn NY that can make bespoke suits for anyone, however, they have a specialization in transgender clients. They have an understanding of the unique needs of their clients, their different body types, and are willing to redefine what is considered masculine, feminine, or non-binary. Glant Textiles, located in Seattle WA, is a textile house that serves the interior designer market. They make tweed fabrics that can be used to make furniture upholstery, wall coverings, curtains, carpeting, runners, and walkways. Tweed footwear is sometimes released as limited-edition collections. Bodega Store, in Boston MA, collaborated with designer Mark McNairy to create the Country Brogue Shoes made of tweed and leather. Nike released a set of sneakers called the Air Royalty Harris Tweed “Vach Pack” in 2010. In 2009 there was a collaboration between Harris Tweed, Isabel Wong, and Alpha Romero in the launch of the MiTo car. The interior car seats and door panels were upholstered in tweed and a model wearing Isabel Wong’s tweed outfit stood next to the car. Tweed fabrics started out as a necessity for fishermen and farmers in Scotland long ago to perform their work in cold damp climates. The characteristics of warmth and water resistance has made it popular in outdoor sports and activities. The colors and patterns of tweed have made it popular in fashion. Even if one is just looking for a simple Ivy League casual look — a tweed sports jacket looks good with jeans, a casual button-down shirt and leather shoes.

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

100

Buy the Book

Independent literary imprint house Thane & Prose launched “Homespun – True Tales of Tweed” by J.Joseph Pastrana; its much-anticipated fashion title for 2022. A must-read for true fashion fans or anyone and everyone with an interest in history and style, the non-fiction book delivers a comprehensive and entertaining look at the rich legacy of tweed while exploring contemporary use of the fabric in fashion, costumes for film, television and stage, accessories and interior design. The book is available to order in hardcover at Thane & Prose.com or Amazon.com

PHOTOS (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT): COURTESY OF JOSEPH ABBOUD; ©GUYS HILLS, ©THANE & PROSE; COURTESY OF REEBOX; COURTESY OF CATHERINE AITKEN

FASHION & DESIGN


WWW.DAVIDCALLDESIGNS.COM DALLAS. LOS ANGELES. NEW YORK CALLONDESIGN


EMBRACEMAGAZINE.US

16 ANNUAL

2020


2020 ANNUAL EMBRACEMAGAZINE.US

17

L2R CHRIS WILLIAMS, DARIUS SNACK, TYLER SCHRAGE, BRYAN WILLIAMS

CONGRATS TO THE BOYS OF POPWRAPPED ON 25-BILLION SOCIAL MEDIA IMPRESSIONS! FROM YOUR FRIENDS AT SOTOMAYER MEDIA


PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

The Master of Ceremonies

If event planning were an artform, then Iconic Events would be the Vienna Philharmonic, owner J Scott Berry would be Leonard Bernstein, and your event would be iconic. By Mark McWaters

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

104

“THERE WILL BE SEQUINS.”

Defining his business area for Iconic Events as the continental United States, Berry works with the best vendors from all over the country—Chicago, New York, South Carolina—and he can work anywhere. It depends on the budget and the time frame. An event for a smallsized business takes a ten-week commitment, minimum. Larger events might require six months or more. “We are only limited by two things – budget and imagination,” Berry said. Berry has crafted a strategy that he has executed meticulously for more than 20 years, so that the smallest details are not overlooked. He lists four key elements that go into producing a successful, Iconic Event: 1.) Attention to detail. Berry works with a multipage checklist of important items to keep track of, which he has developed over the years. “Nothing is too small,” he said. 2.) Focus. Berry attests that every business event should have a business goal and stay focused on that, which should include increased revenue, growing a customer base, celebration, vendor or employee appreciation, and increased donations. “Never lose sight of the goal,” he said emphatically. 3.) Audience retention. Berry has been involved with theater for many years. Event goers are a very particular type of audience and he knows how to read them. “I know what they want, what they will take and more importantly, what they won’t,” Berry said. 4.) Fun. “I’ve had several people tell me, after coming to one of my events, ‘I knew this was a J. Scott Berry event!’ Because they had fun.” Do that and you can be sure that, as J Scott Berry says, “There will be flash, flare and focus. Goals will be achieved in a memorable way. Oh, and there will be sequins – always sequins!” Let Iconic Events build an event for your Iconic Brand.

FOR MORE INFORMATION about Iconic Events and the many services they offer, visit them at iconicevents.life, Facebook:@IconicEventsFL Instagram:@iconiceventsfl Email: scott@iconicevents.life

PHOTO BY FRED LOPEZ, PHOTO EDITING BY JOSH CLARK

J U LY 2 0 2 2

T

o observe J. Scott Berry orchestrate an event is to witness an artist create a masterpiece. In 2015, an attendee at the Black & White Ball which benefited the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lake and Sumter Counties, had the opportunity to observe Berry in action. The onlooker saw Berry take command; maneuver seamlessly from minor tasks that required his attention to problem-solving full-blown catastrophes ready to happen. When most would be too frazzled to face an audience, Berry took a breath, composed himself, then walked onto the stage to emcee the event like a champion. As Berry would say, “Your guests should not see the work, they should only experience.” What impressed the onlooker, who is openly gay, the most, was how Berry, who is also openly gay, entertained the full-house crowd of conversatives with hilarious gay humor to the point they were roaring with laughter. “The guests are the key factor in building your event,” said Berry. “I have a unique ability for staying in tune with an audience, and knowing what that audience wants.” Berry has taken his 35+ years of event production, 14 years as a business owner, and five years as the executive director of a non-profit, into the creation of his new event consultation and management company, Iconic Events. The goal of Iconic Events is to produce and manage events customized to your iconic brand. “I know how effective events can be successful for a business, organization or non-profit,” said Berry. “Events that launch a new product, announce a new scope of service, educate, celebrate, or just provide excitement about your brand, can really add to the bottom line of businesses large and small.” The Black & White Ball Berry created to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Lake and Sumter County raised $2.5 million during the five years under his direction, supervision, and management. His signature event became the “must go” event in everyone’s datebook.


EMBRACEMEDIA.US

105

THE ARTS ISSUE



G A L A S F O R DAY S

THE ARTS ISSUE

SEEN

PHOTO IN PRINT EDITION BY NICK CARDELLO; VIDEO IN DIGITAL EDITION BY MATT MAYES

EMBRACEMEDIA.US

107

Celebration at the Mahaffey 2022 Equality Florida St Pete Gala shatters records and tackles turbulent topics. BY TODD M. RICHARDSON, PINELLAS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR, EQUALITY FLORIDA

T

he 2022 Equality Florida St Pete Gala 25th anniversary celebration was a smashing success, breaking a 25-year fundraising, and attendance record! 675 supporters helped raise over $711,861! The evening started with a VIP party that allowed our guests to reconnect after a two-year hiatus. David Fischer and his amazing team from ZaZoo'd, Cocktail, The Saint, and Wetspot, turned the beautiful Mahaffey Theater into a festive and fun space for our guests to celebrate.

He hung “GAY AF” over rainbow fabric and our guests laughed, took photographs, and posted them on social media. It was a creative way to tell our oppressors that we will not be silenced. Catering by the family catered our Gala back in 2019, and they knocked it out of the park again this year with their delicious appetizers and dinner. Our guests continue to rave about their catering. Our program in the main theater was powerful and empowering. The lovely and talented Sunde performed as our guests took their seats. Spectrum Bay News 9’s Chuck Diaz-Henson did

TODD RICHARDSON is the Pinellas County Development Director for Equality Florida. He is a graduate of the University of South Florida College of Fine Arts, and a veteran of the United States Air Force.


SEEN "State of the State address.” She ignited the crowd with her passionate and empowering speech about the work of Equality Florida over 25 years, and asked our community to do everything they could during these turbulent times to get people out to vote in the upcoming elections. We will be posting her entire speech soon. Once the program was over, our guests returned to the main lobby for a wonderful dinner and dance. We will continue this Gala format moving forward. DJ L Mo (Luis) kept everyone on the dance floor with his fun upbeat music. It was wonderful to see our friends together again, having a fun time for a great cause. Thank you to our donors, volunteers, steering and host committees, Equality Florida Staff and board, and guests who came together for our very special evening!

1 Shelly Loos & Leah McRae 2 Dawn Kosterlitz & Echo Sheppard 3 Dr. Keesha Benson 4 Jim Phillips, Julien Clark, Jessica & Douglas Thoren 5 Todd Richardson & John Sotomayor 6 Edwin Gonzalez, Jennifer Bolivar & Marc Kuiper 7 Greg Stevens & Brittany Covarrobias 8 Angie Bowerstock & Kel Bowerstock 9 Richard London & Derek Wolfe 10 Randy Lee, Vladimir Polyakov & Abby Alveri

J U LY 2 0 2 2

1

2

3

4

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

108

6

5

8

7

9

10

PHOTOS BY EMBRACE MEDIA

a fantastic job as our Emcee, moving our presentation along so that our guests could have more time to dance! PNC Bank’s Stephanie Frye took to the stage to state how proud her organization was to be the Presenting sponsor of all Equality Florida Galas. St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch took to the stage with thunderous applause, and he stated in his speech that “St. Petersburg is one city, one community, and one voice for equality.” Equality Florida’s Todd Richardson presented Jennie O’Leary with her “Voice for Equality Award,” and former Mayor Rick Kriseman presented the second Voice for Equality Award to Brian Longstreth. These two volunteers brought the crowd to their feet for their outstanding contributions to the LGBTQ community. Many of our guests were in awe of Equality Florida’s Executive Director Nadine Smith’s


SEEN

THE ARTS ISSUE

2

3

4 6

7

5

109 EMBRACEMEDIA.US

PHOTOS BY EMBRACE MEDIA

1

1 Bob Sanders, David Campbell, David Denton & Rick Myracle 2 Bradley Runyan, Steve Nelson, Phil Dinkins & Ed Lally 3 Sharon Fergang, Sara Busacca, Clare Lynch & Carrie Auerbach 4 Christian Sidwell & Edson Abadia 5 MIchael Griffin & Tony Loeffler 6 Michael Rozum, Esq., Jonathan Cambouris & Clive Crew 7 Ed Kupsche, Ivan Vasquez, Adrian Pritchard & Scott Armstrong


SEEN 10

3

4

J U LY 2 0 2 2

2

6 5

1 7

9

8 12

11

10

1 Chase Moore, Regan McLellan & John Kaneklides 2 Dustin Becker 3 John Gascot & Ron Diana 4 Equality Florida President Nadine Smith & Carol Mickett 5 David Rule with his art contribution 6 Christopher Clawson Rule & David Rule 7 Jennie O'Leary 8 Dr. Stephanie Kern & Chelsea McCree 9 Justin Acord 10 Sam Xatan & Brian Lognstreth 11 St Petersburg Mayor Kenneth T. Welch & Pinellas County Commissioner Rene Flowers 12 John Vrabel, Alexis De La Mer & John Lullgraf

PHOTOS BY EMBRACE MEDIA

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

110


2

3

1 Singer, musician Sunde 2 St Petersburg Mayor Kenneth T. Welch 3 Brian Lognstreth 4 Equality Florida President Nadine Smith 5 2022 Equality Florida St. Pete Steering Committee 6 Audience at 2022 Equality Florida St. Pete Gala

5

PHOTOS BY NICK CARDELLO

4

6

111 EMBRACEMEDIA.US

1

THE ARTS ISSUE

SEEN


EMBRACE MAGAZINE

J U LY 2 0 2 2

SEEN

112


SEEN

9

THE ARTS ISSUE

Celebration during the after party and art items for the silent auction

EMBRACEMEDIA.US

PHOTOS BY NICK CARDELLO AND RYAN WILLIAMS-JENT

113


SEEN

A Merman’s Tale STORY AND PHOTOS BY J O H N SOTO M AYO R

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

114

IMAGE CREDIT

J U LY 2 0 2 2

C

asa del Merman at GayStPete House — a cozy Bed & Breakfast with a clothing optional swimming pool located near the heart of gay Central Avenue — held a multipurpose photo and video shoot with three gorgeous male models as mermen. Embrace Magazine was invited to capture the moment with behind-the-scenes footage. Models Frank Piscopo and Ramsés Corpes were provided by photographer, Morgan Le Shade, owner of Black Rose Photography. Model Sam Xatan is Casa del Merman owner, Brian Longstreth’s husband. Longstreth entered photos and video of his mermen at the bed & breakfast pool for consideration in a commercial for Visit St Pete/Clearwater, part of Visit Florida, the state’s official tourism marketing corporation. A casting director from Mark Mullen & Associates Casting, Inc. on behalf of Visit St Pete/Clearwater contacted Longstreth seeking people to audition for the commercial, either solo or as a group. The second purpose was to create promotional material for social media and the Casa del Merman website for both the St Petersburg, Fla. and the Montanita, Ecuador locations. The latter is known as Casa del Merman at GayMontanita House. Casa del Merman announces that mermen tails are now available for guests to be photographed in or simply wear for fun. For more information about Casa del Merman at GayStPete House visit Casadelmerman.com. For more information on photography by Morgan Le Shade, visit Blackrosephotog.com.


THE ARTS ISSUE

SEEN

EMBRACEMEDIA.US

115

JOHN SOTOMAYOR is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Embrace Magazine. With nearly 20 years of experience as a journalist for magazines and newspapers, he has written on a board range of topics and subject matter. Specifically on event coverage, business, and travel, Sotomayor has written for numerous publications including, Ocala Magazine, Lake & Sumter Style, Elevate Magazine, Florida Travel + Leisure, and Florida Trends.


Targeting entrepreneurs in West Ocala, Marion Oaks, and Silver Springs Shores.

Free technical assistance to assist with business plans and more.

FastTrac classes are available for those considering starting or growing a small business. Contact Cherrietta Prince at 352-629-8051 x 123 or Cherrietta@OcalaCEP.com to inquire

Carlos Nieto

Licensed Professional. Hablo Español. 2437 SE 17th St, Suite 202 Ocala, FL 34471 352.368.7534 or 386.479.8111 Carlos@asbfinancial.com

MEDICARE | LIFE | RETIREMENT PLANNING

www.carlosnieto.myasbfinancial.com


EMBRACEMEDIA.US

THE ARTS ISSUE

Self

Your

117


T H E 3 P I L L A R S O F LG BTQ + H E A LT H

HEALTH

J U LY 2 0 2 2

MIND B O DY SOUL

MIND

Emotional Reset Button BY KATIE MCCULLOUGH

I

avoided seeing a therapist regularly until about a year ago when two of my students were involved in a murder case - one of them the victim. I was buried under waves of confusion, grief, desperation and fear that had me eventually thinking, “okay, this scenario is ~bad enough~ for me to find a therapist.” It wasn’t growing up queer and being outcast from my church, struggling with anxiety, or being an out-and-proud-avocado-toast-eating-millennial (ha) that sent me seeking help when I surely needed it…NOPE, I waited until I was uncontrollably crying at work and paralyzed by insurmountable anxiety. If I am being honest, I did not make the call until the number for a counselor was placed in my mailbox and I let it sit in my desk for a couple weeks. At the time, I felt I only had enough bandwidth to focus on the well-being of the 150 students I see every day who do not have the same tools I have to combat trauma. I was putting the oxygen mask on everyone else before myself, so to speak. While I realize this scenario will not apply to everyone, I sense most people

can identify with the unexpected, spontaneous nature of life. It. Is. Hard. Excuse me while I call my mom… Okay but seriously, if you’re not sure what to do about life’s ebbs and flows, but have an inkling you might want some guidance…try going to therapy! If the cost is a concern, there are counselors available that charge on a sliding scale. If you are worried about awkward silence or not knowing what to say, don’t worry…that is inevitable! It is certainly not unique to your sessions. I am speaking as an introvert, so perhaps I have more experience with this particular phenomenon, but still! Why are you putting it off? Speaking to, as TikTok would say, the girls, gays and theys…we are living in a cis-gendered, heterosexual, patriarchal paradise. It is unavoidable unless you are living on a queer commune, which in that case…call me! But if you are like me, stop putting off prioritizing yourself. Statistically, LGBTQIA+ folks are more likely to struggle in this area than their cis-gendered, straight counterparts. But no matter who you are, allow me to comfort you with the fact that your life is bad enough to prioritize your mental health. Everyone’s is!

KATIE MCCULLOUGH, graduate of Flagler College, is currently teaching English Language Arts in Saint Augustine, FL, specializing in gifted and exceptional education. Prior to attending graduate school, Katie plans to pursue her passion for writing while finding time to travel the world

PHOTO BY FIDAOLGA VIA ADOBE STOCK

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

118


COMMIT TO YOUR HEALTH NOT A CONTRACT Say that you heard about us in Embrace and we will waive your initiation fee!

• Nautilus One, revolutionary strength technology • FreeRunner Treadmills, superior cushioning and responsiveness • Recently renovated warm water indoor pool • Group Fitness programming to accommodate all fitness levels • The Ranch observes social distancing guidelines and thorough sanitation practices throughout each day • Virtual Fitness workouts at RanchOcala.com • No long term contracts

GROUP FITNESS

• Cardio • Strength • Cycle • Yoga • Aqua • Zumba ®

• Membership options to meet individual needs 8385 SW 80th St. • Ocala, Florida 34481 352.861.8180 • RanchOcala.com

www.Facebook.com/TheRanchFitnessSpa THE RANCH FITNESS CENTER & SPA is registered with the State of Florida as a Heath Studio. Registration No. HS6841

#13755 - 10/20


EMBRACE MAGAZINE

120

BODY

BODY

Consistency is Key BY CORY FREEMAN

I

magine yourself walking into a gym or fitness center after a long break from exercising. The atmosphere is familiar with the sounds of cardio machines humming, the sounds of weights clanking, and in the distance, you can hear the muffled soundtrack to a spin class happening in another room. The front desk staff greet you with a smile, and you look across the open space and observe a sea of unfamiliar faces. You begin to feel somewhat intimidated and wonder inside yourself for a moment if you really want to do this. You take a deep breath then remind yourself that you are here for you and to achieve your health and fitness goals. You move towards your machines that you are familiar with, and go through the motions of what you know or have seen others do with those machines. You feel yourself sweating a bit and breathing harder, but nothing intense. Once again you question yourself silently, “What am I doing? Is this even doing any good for my body?” You allow those thoughts and questions to move through you as you push on through the remainder of your workout. Upon completing your workout, you feel better for doing so, but still wonder if what you did is helping you work towards your goals. When it comes to achieving our fitness goals, the single most important factor is consistency. Showing up

and putting in the work week after week, month after month. Your training sessions do not need to be intense; they do not need to be exciting or unique. They need to be consistent. There are many days after working 10-hour shifts and little sleep the night before I’d really like to skip the gym. What I tell myself is that I am at very least going to show up and pedal for fifteen minutes on the recumbent bike. Sometimes on those days that is all that happens, but more often than not, I get going and my energy and motivation finds me there. As the habit sets in, even with a poor to moderate exercise program and technique, you will still see progress to your goals just by being consistent. I have also found that having a supportive workout partner will help with consistency. Whether training with my son, age 10, or my boyfriend, we rely heavily on each other to encourage and support each other in getting to the gym consistently. We hold each other accountable to our fitness goals and both understand that at very least we need to get to our training sessions. As you can commit to consistent exercise you can begin to focus more on mastering the fundamentals of exercise to accelerate your results.

CORY FREEMAN is a two-time first-place national bodybuilding champion, having won both of his first-place titles, The Men’s Classic Physique Master’s Over 35 at the 2019 NPC Viking Championship and at the 2019 NPC Masters USA in his rookie year. Cory works as a physical therapist in the home health industry.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CORY FREEMAN; BACKGROUND PHOTO BY TAWANLUBFAH VIA ADOBE STOCK

J U LY 2 0 2 2

HEALTH



SOUL

EMBRACE MAGAZINE

122

SOUL

How Great Thou Art The art of being spiritual BY R E V. D O N N A DAV I S , R N ( Y P I R )

W

hat is art? It is in the eye of the beholder. Deciphered and poured through that person’s influences and judgments. Art for me, is how the Spirit speaks through us. However, people see different messages when they look at art through their own bias. I remember thinking that my job as an exotic dancer was art. I would lose myself in the music and movement on stage and my family especially did not understand my choice of dance. I did theater and modern dance in college and a friend asked me if I would consider this mode of art expression for financial gain. I never felt ashamed or reduced. In fact, allowing myself to be expressed through this kind of expression, allows me to silently take back my own sexuality that was stolen as a young girl. It allowed me to accept love from an amazing woman who saw the scared girl under the fierce performer. The scarred child under the Diva in heels.

I watch pride shows and sometimes it seems outrageous. However, that expression of baring our sexuality in splashes of color and feathers is very liberating. Art gives us back that which was taken by force. Our youthful joy and connection to our bodies. The Spirit made in human form is perfect, no matter how much others may want to not look at it. Boys who love boys, girls who love girls, boys who love girls, and everything in between is beautiful. I believe that the Spirit of life is everywhere. That life is what I have called God in the past. I still do call it God from time to time but the pain around it is gone. The shame with my human canvas is gone. The human form is one of the best canvases that has been gifted by God to us. Some adorn it in jewels and tattoos. Others choose beautiful, empowering, sexy clothing. All of life is art. My life is a masterpiece and so is yours. Let that rainbow flag fly! Take back your body and your freedom of expression. Know that Divine love is what created us all. No matter if we are in a thong, uniform, full dressed, boyshorts, feathers or bikini. It doesn’t matter, the true art is you.

DONNA DAVIS an interfaith minister and life coach, utilizes her life experiences to empower other people to overcome their struggles. Together with her wife, Norma, they manage Your Phoenix is Rising, a transformation coaching service focused on helping others rise from the darkness of despair and embrace their true Light Nature. Donna and Norma raised three biological children and served as legal guardians to several teenaged friends of their children during their time of need. Donna is a Registered Nurse at Parralion HCA Shared Services and Performance Director at Centers for Spiritual Living Ocala. She studied RN at Rasmussen College and psychology at Florida Atlantic University.

PHOTO BY RA2 STUDIO VIA ADOBE STOCK

J U LY 2 0 2 2

HEALTH


L I F E | H E A LT H | S P I R I T U A L P E R S O N A L EMPOWERMENT COACHING

MIND | BODY | SPIRIT DAY-SPA WITH MASSAGE, FACIALS, WAXING, REIKI AND TRANSFORMATIONAL LIFE COACHING RE V D O N NA DAV IS R N, R S cP Reik i Mas ter 352-816-366 1 N O RMA A N D ERSO N LMT, R S cP Reik i Mas ter 352-2 82-8151


S m i l e Ti m e, L Ocala, FL

Michele Spata’s 5 star goo ESMIRNAS NOTARY ACCOUNTING review: & TAX SERVICES, LLC We loved our pictures! Gre

quality pictures and so man Costumes provided for us. such a blast and couldn't s laughing! Thank You Smile T

• ACCOUNTING SERVICES • SPANISH/ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS Time, LLC is a family • MOBILESmile NOTARY owned mobile event photo • ALL DOCUMENTS SERVICES booth servicing North central FL. Our photo booth • TAX PREPARATION

is a beautiful, open-air booth that will allow more CEO/Owner than just two people to get BEST ACCOUNTANT 2020 216-688-8173 in the shot! Smile Time is the Best of the fun Bestprops by Lic#A53090 “KING” of super GG# 134903 Ocala Star Banner andthe customization. The Tax ERO# 11380E Smile Time experience from Collections Lic# CCA9904420 beginning to end is sure to #followthebutterfly please you and entertain your guests during your event or ! • Member of the National Notary Association • Member of BNI Chapter • Partner of Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economicparty Partnership Esmirna Caraballo

• Affiliate of the Diverse Small Business Enterprise • Board of Director Member of the Better Business Bureau • Executive Vice Chair of Finance for the BBB • Founder and President of the Hispanic Business Council Inc

Ti m e, LL C

cala, FL

S m i l e Ti m e, LL C Ocala, FL

s 5 star google

Michele Spata’s 5 star google review: pictures! Great our pictures! Great s andWe soloved many quality pictures and so many vided for us. We had Costumes provided for us. We had nd couldn't stop such a blast and couldn't stop k Youlaughing! Smile Smile Time! Time, a family Thank LLC You is Smile Time! owned mobile event photo booth servicing North central FL. Our photo booth is a beautiful, open-air booth that will allow more than just two people to get in the shot! Smile Time is the “KING” of super fun props and customization. The Smile Time experience from beginning to end is sure to please you and entertain your guests during your event or party !

S m i l e Ti m e, LL C

Monica Wager’s 5 star googl

You won’t be disappointed!!! W

Time is a family-owned mobile event Ocala, FLSmile photo booth servicing North Florida. them at Central my daughter's wedd Our beautiful, open-air will hit. allow They more are a was abooth huge than just two people to get in the shot. of energy. Pictures looked

fu am Michele Spata’s 5 star google a photo book w Smile Time is thethey “King”even of superdid fun props review: and customization. The Smile Timeaexperience could leave message for th from beginning to end is sure to pleaseuse you and groom. Would them again We loved our pictures! Great entertain your guests during your event or party. event. quality pictures and so many

Costumes provided for us. We had such a blast and couldn't stop laughing! Thank You Smile Time!

Smile Time Photo Booths, Photography & Selfie Studio 2186 East Silver Springs Blvd Ocala, FL 34470 smiletimellc.com / 352.450.5099 @ocalaphotobooth / @smiletimellc info@smiletimellc.com *INSURED*

SmileTimellc.com


Integrity • Respect • Service Our Mission is to help all members of the local small business community to grow, network, learn, support, engage, and advocate for each other and the community at large.

Our Vision is to foster and develop relationships between the local small businesses and the community which will result in long term sustainable economic development, growth of entrepreneurship, and creation of strategic partnerships while giving back to the community.

HispanicBizCouncilOcala • hispanicbusinesscouncil.com


EMBRACE MAGAZINE

J U LY 2 0 2 2

COMIC COMMENTARY

126


The Center Orlando exists to promote and empower the LGBTQ+ community and its allies through information, education, advocacy and support.

Locations The Center Orlando 946 N. Mills Ave, Orlando, FL. 32803 (407) 228-8272 Health & Human Services 1200 Hillcrest Street, Suite 102, Orlando, FL. 32803 (407) 412-6513 The Center Kissimmee Learn more by scanning the QR 17 W. Monument Ave, code with your smart device or visit Kissimmee, FL. 34741 https://linktr.ee/TheCenterOrlando (407) 201-2544


BE B

Designed from your vison. built for your life

www.jhocala.com | (352) 648-9234 CGC1526285