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FALL 2014 • Vol. 3 Issue 3

Taking Broadway by Storm

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Asexuality & Agenderism Gay Plays & Queer Comics Broadway Babes & Trans Adults

themirrormag.com


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FALL 2014 •

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Fall 2014 | Vol 3 | Issue 3

Table of contents

Chief Executive Officer PIER ANGELO GUIDUGLI

EDITORIAL

Publisher’s Message | 5 Why Queer Bombs Are Needed | 12 Trans in the Workplace | 8 - 9

Art Director BRENDON LIES artwork@sfgn.com Web Producer DENNIS JOZEFOWICZ dennis.jozefowicz@sfgn.com Social Media Director SERGIO CANDIDO sergio.candido@sfgn.com

News Features Parks Department to Preserve Gay History | 10

Queer Bombs! The New Revolution | 6 - 7 Trans in the Military | 14 - 15 A Look Back: Gay Marriage | 16 - 17

Special Sections Asexuality & Agenderism | 18 - 21 Comics | 22 - 26 Broadway: People & Shows | 28 - 33

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Publisher NORM KENT norm.kent@sfgn.com Associate Publisher JASON PARSLEY jason.parsley@sfgn.com

Opinions & Columns

rom Corbin’s new book “2014: All American” featured in Coffee Table on page 46 - 48

2520 N. Dixie Highway | Wilton Manors, FL 33305 Phone: 954.530.4970 Fax: 954.530.7943

Interview Tyler Curry: HIV Activist | 34 - 35 Conner Habib: Not Just a Gay Porn Star | 36 - 37

Graphic Designer BOB REILLY Staff Photographer J.R. DAVIS

CORRESPONDENTS Christiana Lilly Gary M. Kramer J.W. Arnold BIL BROWNING DENISE ROYAL

SASHA RAZUMIKHIN Terri SchlicHenmeyer John McDonald David-Elijah Nahmod MARK MOON

SALES & MARKETING Director of Sales MIKE TROTTIER & Marketing mike.trottier@sfgn.com Sales Manager JUSTIN WYSE justin.wyse@sfgn.com Advertising Sales Assoc. EDWIN NEIMANN edwin.neimann@sfgn.com Sales Assistant JASON GONZALES jason.gonzales@sfgn.com

Lifestyles Fitness: Squats Away! | 38 - 39 Fashion: Blue Jeans | 40 Cars: Pride Rides | 42 - 44

Essay

Distribution Services BRIAN SWINFORD J.R. DAVIS Printing THE PRINTER’S PRINTER National Advertising RIVENDELL MEDIA 212-242-6863 sales@rivendellmedia.com Accounting Services CG BOOKKEEPING

My Pink Panther Tattoo | 50

Short Story

The Mirror is published quarterly. The opinions expressed in columns, stories, and letters to the editor are those of the writers. They do not represent the opinions of The Mirror or the Publisher. You should not presume the sexual orientation of individuals based on their names or pictorial representations in The Mirror. Furthermore the word “gay” in The Mirror should be interpreted to be inclusive of the entire LGBT community. All of the material that appears in The Mirror, both online at www.themirrormag.com, and in our print edition, including articles used in conjunction with the Associated Press and our columnists, is protected under federal copyright and intellectual property laws, and is jealously guarded by the newspaper. Nothing published may be reprinted in whole or part without getting written consent from the Publisher of The Mirror, Norm Kent, at Norm@ NormKent.com. The Mirror is published by the South Florida Gay News. It’s a private corporation, and reserves the right to enforce its own standards regarding the suitability of advertising copy, illustrations and photographs.

One Dog Day Night | 52

Coffee Table 2014: All American | 46 - 48

Cover

Copyright © 2014, South Florida Gay News.com, Inc.

Associated Press Florida Press Association National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association

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David Vance


Publisher’s Message

The Good We Do Shines Forward Norm Kent Once again, the Mirror is proud to showcase a cross-section of gay life on our pages. Once again, these pages are populated with credible content and a serious commitment to in-depth LGBT journalism. As we continue our march to social equality, we need foot soldiers. Not everyone has to be a Neil Patrick Harris or Rickey Martin. As Pericles wrote of ancient Greece, it’s glories were won by good people simply doing their duty each and every day. In our very first issue of the Mirror, in 2010, then named SFGN.com, we featured an emerging gay lawyer named George Castrataro- undertaking the defense of Mike Verdugo, a distinguished gay Hollywood cop, who was unjustly fired from his job because of an inconsequential porno shoot he had filmed years before. Today, the omnipresent Castrataro is one of our community’s most dependable and dedicated advocates for social justice. Down the block from the offices of SFGN, entrepreneur Mike Verdugo, owns and operates Body Tek, one of just three fitness enterprises bearing his stamp, hard work rewarded. In this issue, writer Nicole Wiesenthal profiles how HIV activist Tyler Curry uses his status to empower others. In a previous magazine, we ran an article profiling Will Spencer, a local philanthropist who underwrites Camp for Health, and is now a Vice President for Kids in Distress. I remember another piece where we illuminated Dr. Howard Cunningham’s mission, along with his partner, to adopt an Eastern European child. Though this very issue features a marvelous essay by Christiana Lilly on the history of same sex marriage, Florida’s present governor and attorney general are in court this month fighting marriage equality. What have they learned? Foolish they are. We will not be denied. Law, history and a group of distinguished lawyers, straight and gay, are in our side. Like Elizabeth Schwartz in Miami, they are simply good people doing their duty. You don’t have to publish a newspaper or host a radio show to make a difference. You can volunteer at Stonewall, contribute to Poverello or run a benefit for the Pet Project every summer. You can counsel in a rehab, work a booth for Pride South Florida, or help set up the next Broward House ‘Bare-a-Thon.’ We make a difference by caring and commitment, volunteering and participating in the lives of our community, whether you are sitting on a zoning board or riding a bike for the Smart Ride. You see, even if you are sitting on your ass, you can still be serving the public good. It gives your life meaning.

FALL 2014 •

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[ Feature ]

Queer Bombed!

There’s an LGBT revolution brewing in Texas…

Christiana Lilly

T

here’s a gay revolution brewing in Texas, and it’s against an unlikely foe: the Pride Parade. Back in June, a nod to the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, gay activists in Dallas planned a celebration of their own, the political march, QueerBomb Dallas, in response to the Pride Parade they say has become sanitized and corporatized. They were inspired by the original QueerBomb celebrations in Austin, which celebrated its fifth one, earlier that month. “We really wanted to take that movement back to the roots and to the cause of why it started on a national level,” said Sym Coronado, one of the founders of the QueerBomb event in Austin. The LGBT community in Dallas was inspired by the success of Austin’s alternative gay pride festival, which includes a rally, march, and after party -- all funded by donations. In its fifth event this year, they drew a crowd of more than 6,000 people. The mainstream Pride Parade in Dallas is an annual event held in September and will be in its 31st year. In an effort to please sponsors and make the event more family friendly, drag queens have been asked to tone down their acts and fetish groups have been excluded. They’ve also gone above and beyond city nudity laws and don’t allow men to wear tight boy shorts and women must have their breasts completely covered — no pasties. Also, smaller groups can barely afford the cost to be a part of the parade. Throw in corporate sponsors and advertisements, and everything Pride has been washed away. “You don’t see Martin Luther

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King day, brought to you by GoGurts Squirts,” Daniel Cates, an organizer of QueerBomb Dallas, said. “It really is kind of a high holy day for our community, and we find it really disrespectful and distasteful that it’s covered in advertisements.” At a past QueerBomb in Austin, participants held up a sign that read, “Stonewall was a riot, not a trade show.” For the last few years, some of the gay community has lashed out against the parade with the changes that were being made. Some were also unhappy that Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings blocked LGBT resolutions but still was invited to participate in the parade, which he has. He has since changed his mind and voted in March to pass an equality resolution. Cates also noted that Pride in Dallas is racially segregated, to the point that there is a separate black pride event, Southern Pride. “What happened at Stonewall was not a bunch of folks wanting to fit in; it was a bunch of radical queens and twinks and gay men and dykes who were sick and tired of being oppressed and denied the right to be who they were,” wrote Hardy Haberman in the Dallas Voice, the city’s LGBT newspaper. “It is a travesty that the spirit of Stonewall is now completely lost in the corporate sponsorships and marketing opportunities the parade and ‘festival’ now offer….We should be wearing our leather, our feathers, our rhinestones and our skin, as far as is legal on the street.” QueerBomb Dallas wants to take it back old school to the days of Stonewall, when gay men and women stopped dressing up in suits and dresses to “look straight” during


marches and were themselves. With no sponsors, the organizers instead held fundraisers throughout the community to raise money to hold their very first QueerBomb. The day of the march, as they like to call it, groups from all over were invited to participate in what Cates says is “not a spectator sport.” “We want you to put your feet in the streets with us, marching hand in hand, celebrating who you are, celebrating our accomplishments, celebrating the entire experience in honesty and completely unashamed,” he said. Coronado worked with the planners of QueerBomb Dallas to give advice on hosting the event, and to also make sure that they were throwing it in the spirit of what QueerBomb is all about -- keeping sponsors out, being inclusive of everyone in the LGBT community, and for an all around good time while remembering why we celebrate Pride in June. “It’s not really about working against other organizations, it’s not about separatism as many people have made that kind of assumption,” he said in regards to the traditional Pride events. “It’s about providing people the opportunities to embrace their own lifestyles in a way that they usually can’t even within their own community, but it’s also given a lot of opportunities to show what we’re capable of and the fact that we really want to make the changes for our community.” Cates added, “We are different just by our very birth, by our very experiences in this life, being marginalized people. Our world view is different, our lives are different, and there’s nothing wrong with that and we should be celebrating that rather than trying to show the world how just like them we are.” Do you think that South Florida’s Pride celebrations are going the way of those in Texas?

Photos: QueerBomb Facebook page

FALL 2014 •

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[ Opinion]

Trans in the Workplace

Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got Rebecca Juro

I

f you’re of a certain age, you’ll probably recognize the title of this column as the opening line of the theme song from the classic television comedy series “Cheers.” Even in the economic boom times of the 1990’s when “Cheers” was at the top of the television ratings, those words held a lot of resonance for many Americans, and that’s just as true today, especially if you happen to be transgender. When I came out and began living as a woman fulltime in 1997, even giving it everything I had didn’t help very much. I was pretty naïve at the time, and never really believed that something as relatively inconsequential to my work

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performance as changing my presented gender from male to female would be a problem for me on the job. I was a well-liked, experienced, and reliable retail worker, and on the management promotion short list. Not once did it occur to me that it could all just disappear just because I told my boss I’d soon be wearing skirts and pumps to work instead of ties and oxfords. And yet, that was exactly what happened. Once I told my boss that I’d be transitioning and beginning to live my life as a woman, his attitude toward me changed as if someone had flipped a switch. Suddenly, I could do nothing right in his eyes. By the time he fired me a few days later, I’d learned my first lesson in what it is to be a trans woman in the modern American workplace. It was six years after I’d been fired from that job that I was finally able to get hired as a woman. I worked as a cashier in a pet store, a significantly lower position than I was accustomed to after working in retail for almost twenty years. I wasn’t happy of course, but I’d resolved that if what it was going to take to rebuild my career in retail as a woman was to start from the bottom again and work my way back up I was going to do it. Unfortunately, my employers had other plans. When I began looking for work as a woman, I was blindsided by the sudden loss of male privilege and credibility that simply being perceived as a man had afforded me all of my adult working life. It wasn’t long after I began living and working as a woman that I discovered that that loss of male privilege was actually a double-whammy: Not only did men now see me as less capable and intelligent because I was a woman, but in many cases I also wasn’t afforded even the basic respect a nontransgender woman could expect in the workplace. I was almost always the last hired and the first fired, never seriously considered for promotions, and


sometimes even openly mocked and insulted by fellow workers, managers, and customers. While it did get a little easier over time to get hired in retail, keeping those jobs didn’t. In New Jersey, legislation was passed into law in 2006 which added gender identity and expression protections to the state’s Law Against Discrimination, which already outlawed discrimination based on a wide variety of factors, including race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation. Companies were put on notice that refusing to hire based on no other reason than an applicant’s status as a transgender person was now unlawful and could subject them to a lawsuit as well as sanctions imposed by the New Jersey State Division on Civil Rights. The new law did have a positive impact in being fairly considered for entry-level employment, but it didn’t do much for my career advancement once I’d been hired. One glass ceiling had indeed been broken, but only to reveal another, even thicker and more durable version installed right above it. As hard as it was for a trans woman have a gainful career in retail then, once the economy began tanking a couple of years later it quickly became next to impossible. With so many out of work and applying to the retail jobs that were once my bread and butter, no one wanted to hire a trans woman when there were so many “normal” options available. This began another six-year stint of unemployment for me which ended only recently when I decided to seek work as a freelance journalist and began taking on assignments in LGBT commercial media (like this one, for example). For all of the progress trans people and trans women especially have made recently in terms of our acceptance in the culture, the workplace and other areas of American life and society, it’s still pretty tough out there. Not everyone has the time, skill, or financial space to do what I did and leave behind a career they invested almost their entire adult working life in to take their chances as freelance journalist. It’s even tougher when those trans workers have families that depend on their paychecks. Just as my ability to do this work depends on the willingness of forward-thinking editors and publishers to hire me to write for them, so too could many other trans job applicants benefit from support of those who will judge them on their demonstrated skills and abilities in hiring and offer the opportunity to prove themselves. If you’re one of those people, or have influence with someone who is, I hope you’ll consider it. Not only do trans people have the skills and experience employers are looking for, we tend to be very loyal to those who give us a chance to shine. Invest in trans workers and make us part of your team. We’ll return that investment with interest.

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[ News Feature ]

LGBT Heritage:

Effort underway to preserve and protect gay history

John McDonald

J

amie Nickel spends her days telling tourists about the marvels of Glacier National Park. A native Californian with long, golden blonde hair, Nickel, 25, came to Montana for the summer to drive one of Glacier’s historic red buses. It’s a perfect match. She enjoys the outdoors and likes to hike, fish and kayak while Glacier gets a friendly face with an easygoing personality to interpret the park’s many wonders. So when word spread this summer the National Park Service is conducting a LGBT heritage initiative, Nickel, was surprised to see the agency involved. As a lesbian, she was thrilled with the news. “Gay rights have come a long way just in the last few years,” she said. “I’m surprised to see it come to this level.” The Park Service’s plan is to identify locations that are significant to the history of America’s LGBT community and protect those places for future generations to enjoy and remember. The U.S. Department of the Interior made the announcement in May at the Stonewall Inn in New York City with Secretary Sally Jewel declaring the effort to include stories of LGBT Americans in programs of the National Park Service. The Stonewall Inn, where riots exploded in 1969, is widely regarded as the birthplace of the American gay rights movement. Presently, four LGBT themed locations are included in the National Register of Historic Places. They are: the Dr. Franklin E.

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National Park Service’s Latest Initiative

Kameny Residence in Washington, D.C., the Cherry Grove Community House and Theatre on New York’s Fire Island, the James Merrill House in Connecticut and the Carrington House on Fire Island, site of where author Truman Capote penned his famed novella, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” And with the help of the National Park Service’s study, more places will soon be added. “In 2016, the National Park Service will celebrate its centennial, and our goal is to expand the stories that we tell to represent the diversity of the American experience and to make history more relevant to all Americans,” said NPS director Jon Jarvis. For Nickel, driving one of Glacier’s iconic red buses gives her a chance to tell those stories. For years red bus drivers, or Jammers, as they are known locally, were jobs that went to college-aged men. As a young woman and a lesbian, Nickel is breaking ground in a staunchly conservative section of the country. “It is challenging here (Montana) because you never really know who is accepting of you,” she said. Indeed, it is still not entirely safe to be openly gay in many parts of the world and America is no exception. When the National Park Service

• FALL 2014

announced its LGBT study, its Facebook page was bombarded with negative comments. Chad Eagleton posted, “What does it matter what someone’s sexual orientation is? We don’t need monuments to glorify these things. I chose to eat eggs this morning instead of pancakes. Where’s my monument? Ridiculous.” Others were less kind with several rants from people who obviously felt threatened by the study. Such response only proved part of the LGBT community’s painful history. “I can tell you that as I research our history, it’s not been a proud one,” said Secretary Jewell during a roundtable discussion with scholars in June. “The same could be said for the LGBT community. The same could be said for a lot of people who have struggled for their civil rights. It is very important that those stories be told. As my boss, President Obama said in his second inaugural, I’m going to quote, ‘We the people declare today that the most evident of truths, that all of us are created equal, is the start that guides us still. Just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, in Selma and Stonewall.’ So he gets it.” And what more and more Americans are getting is the LGBT

community is as diverse as the colors of the rainbow it is often associated with. Nickel, for example, left the city life where gays are much more accepted, to work in the rural Montana mountains. It is a decision she does not regret. “I love nature and the recreation here is awesome,” she said. “It’s a slower life for sure. Very chill and calming.” John Berry knows that feeling. As the United States Ambassador to Australia, Berry is counted on to calm any problems that may arise. The first openly gay man to be appointed ambassador to a G-20 nation, Berry praised the NPS effort. “(This study is) the fruits of a tree that was planted long ago, a tree tested by time, watered by tears of sadness and joy and made strong by the blood and sacrifice of countless heroes. The acorn from which this tree sprung was planted in our founding document, with the solemn promise that all are created equal, and we are endowed by our creator with inalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is a solemn promise that we continue to perfect,” Berry said. In cooperation with the NPS study, the National Trust for Historic Preservation is seeking to diversify its portfolio by adding treasures of importance to the LGBT community. To recommend an endangered American LGBT property for future research, please visit www.savingplaces.org.


FALL 2014 •

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[ Opinion ]

Why

QueerBomb Daniel Villarreal

F

ive years ago, the creative queer community in Austin got tired of their Pride parade being a sanitized showcase of corporate ads. Their city’s parade was covered in logos and promotional tchotchkes and (according to some locals) the pride organization behind it started telling drag queens to show more decorum during the parade and people in fetishwear to cover more skin. It was an impotent parade, bereft of any political might or purpose — just a marketing showcase really. This is what has become of many Prides around the U.S., the event that originally served to commemorate the rebellions at Stonewall — where drag queens, transgender people of color, homeless queer youth, prostitutes, and stone butch dykes finally took a stand against police harassment. The queers in the Stonewall Inn were the lowest of the low. Being seen with them could get you fired. They were the sort of people Jesus would have hung out with. The modern “gay rights” movement wants nothing to do with these people because they make bad optics and ruin the messaging that “We’re normal, just like you.” As we’ve won more rights, our media and political aims have become more conservative and homogenic. They regularly exclude bisexuals, trans folks, people of color, and anyone who can’t afford to buy vodka or tip a bartender. Our leaders don’t advocate for comprehensive sex education, legalized prostitution, or helping care for older, poorer, sick queers because those people don’t buy shit. In truth, the parade (and our media) largely avoid protest or celebrating our authentically whole and sexual selves, instead demonstrating the commercially viability of the pink dollar, courting corporate favor and

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Is Needed

attracting “gay rights” voters through The Three M’s: military, matrimony, and money. In the U.S., these three M’s are the avenues to securing healthcare. Apparently, we have to join the army, get married, or have a job in order to be considered worthy of keeping alive. But while all of us need healthcare, not all of us want The Three M’s, because we don’t just want gay rights — we demand queer liberation. Allow me to explain. Queers are not the same as “gay people.” Queers are different because we’re not just defined by a fixed sexual orientation or gender. We’re defined by genderexpression (the way we dress, groom and carry ourselves). We’re defined by the types of people we fuck and fall in love with and the things we do in bed. Also “queer” not only means being different, eccentric or outside of the norm, but living outside the protection of the norm. In addition to having fluid gender and sexual identities, queers are poor, they’re drug users, they’ve been rejected by their families, fired from their jobs, excommunicated from their churches, beaten by strangers and yet subsist in flaming exuberance, living in loud, colorful ways that push communities and culture forward. They can also throw one hell of a party. In short, QueerBomb is about getting our marginalized neighbors together and challenging the social inequalities that have persisted for generations. No matter your political

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One of the founders of QueerBomb shares his thoughts on the movement

affiliation or sexual proclivities, we can all agree that socio-economic inequality is unjust and unfair, and that any system that perpetuates these inequalities is corrupt. The poor go to jail in droves and get raped, the police arrest you for being homeless or hungry and the old and sick go back into the closet to die amongst strangers. If this is the best we can offer queers in our communities, we have failed. Our current Pride parades, media and “gay rights movement” are not interested in putting these people and problems front and center because they all make for depressing advertising. But these are our neighbors, our brothers and sisters, and if we do not care for them — if we hate them, ignore them or merely tolerate them — they die and we all lose out. So rather than march in parades which now champion consumerism over community, we’ve said “Enough!” and created our own celebration. Each year around the anniversary of Stonewall, QueerBomb holds an annual rally (with performance and political bite), a political march through the nongay parts of our cities, and a celebration with local queer DJs and performers. All of these events are free, open to all ages, and entirely community-funded because it’s important to show what we can do without corporate sponsorship or The Three M’s. QueerBomb Dallas (an offshoot of the Austin group that I helped found)

has committed itself to creating queer cultural events throughout the year so we can bring people together to discuss the local policies that perpetuate queer inequality. We’ve committed ourselves to including the deaf, blind and wheelchair-bound; non-English speakers; poor, old and mentally ill queers who aren’t welcome in gay bars to let them know that they are welcome and that their struggles are our struggles. And lastly, we’re committed to creating ways to make Dallas a world-class city for queer art and politics, even if it means we must take mobilized, direct political actions against our local Pride event, corporate businesses, hate-mongering churches, or city hall. QueerBomb Dallas thinks gender roles are antiquated bullshit, young people deserve comprehensive sex education, prostitution and drugs should be legal, healthcare should be universal, everyone should have easy access to HIV medications, and that society should help care for its weakest most marginalized citizens. But in order to change these things, we need queer people to get out of the bars and onto the streets. Sure, we embody the sometimes filthy or non-“family friendly” parts of our life experiences. But we queers are here to challenge our communities, even the LGBT community, and to talk about all the things we’re not supposed to talk about — misogyny, racism, classism, ageism, ableism, slut shaming. Facing up to these uncomfortable and even embarrassing realities actually creates gateways to understanding the harder more personal issues that could actually heal our communities and the world at large.


The Holidays are around the corner and the Poverello Center is in need of new canned goods and nonperishable food items to provide Holiday meals to feed thousands of low income Broward County individuals and their families.

Sign up and place a food donation box in your business today or make your contribution online at w w w.p o ve re l l o.o rg For More information Stop by the Poverello Center at 2056 North Dixie Highway, Wilton Manors, FL 33305. or call (954) 561-3663 FALL 2014 •

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[ Profile ]

Military Trans

in the

The fight goes on for the Ts

P

Christiana Lilly

etty Officer Landon Wilson had been in Afghanistan for three weeks when he was suddenly sent back stateside. A dominance warfare specialist, the sailor provided combat support for Special Operations members on the ground and the front lines. With an exemplary record, he was up for a promotion when a leader in Hawaii, where Wilson was based out of, saw something in his paperwork: female. Within hours, the transgender sailor was on a plane back to the United States.

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“My main concern was the fact that nobody was trained to replace me on my job. I was really more worried that it would be a huge vulnerability for our guys. That’s the thing I remember asking over and over again: Who’s going to do this? Who’s going to take care of this job?” Wilson remembers. “Other than that, I really wanted to believe that it wasn’t happening. Wilson, 24, enlisted in the United States Navy at 21 out of Warner Robins, Ga. as a female, eager to serve his country. Also, confused about his gender identity, he thought the masculine world of the military was a perfect fit for him. When he came to terms with being transgender, he decided to undergo hormone treatment with his own money. “DoD regulations don’t allow transgender individuals to serve in the U.S. military, based upon medical standards for military service,” said Lt. Commander Nate Christensen, a DoD spokesman, citing the department’s manual. According to the Williams Institute, about 15,500 active duty service members in all branches of the military, including reservists and National Guard, are transgender. When including veterans, the number shoots up to 134,300. For Wilson, who always presented himself very masculine, it was a fairly seamless transition. Sailors refer to each other by their last name, military fatigues are unisex, and he had his hair cut short, so no one seemed to notice. Those who did know didn’t say anything. When his commander broke the news to him that he had to go, he called him “brother.” Some have sided with the military, saying that Wilson knowingly broke the rules of the Armed Forces when he enlisted. “To say that I was even really able to admit that I was transgender at the time that I enlisted would be wrong,” Wilson said. “It wasn’t until I realized that I was


Photos by Rhys Harper transgender and by beginning my transition that I would be a better sailor and a better service member that I began the transition.” SPART*A (Service members, Partners, and Allies for Respect and Tolerance for All) serves as an advocate for LGBT soldiers in all branches of the military. The group’s goals are to gain equal opportunity protections for LGBT service members, ensuring that same-sex spouses are treated fairly, and revising military regulations that disqualify transgender service members from joining the Armed Forces. While the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was celebrated, transgender service members were not included. The asterix was added to the T as a symbol of solidarity for transgender soldiers who are unable to openly serve. “We feel that we made a commitment not to leave anyone behind,” said Sue Fulton, a chairwoman. However, there may be changes coming. A major win came earlier this year when Sec. Chuck Hagel said publicly that he is in favor of

reviewing the military’s current standards on transgender service members. “I’m open to those assessments because, again, I go back to the bottom line: every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it,” Hagel told ABC’s “This Week” program. He added that “the issue of transgender is a bit more complicated” because of medical needs and that not all locations where service members are assigned can accommodate that. Commanders are reacting differently to transgender sailors, soldiers and Marines. Some quietly accommodate the transgender person while others out them. Some transgender members simply live in the closet. Fulton also noted that during wartime, commanders tend to overlook it. With troops being pulled back, it’s the reverse. “Commanders are reacting in many different ways. This is one of the reasons we are eager to see the Pentagon review their policy,” Fulton said.

FALL 2014 •

15


[History ]

Tying the Kno ot

The first same-sex marriage case was in the 1970s I

Christiana Lilly

n the early 1980’s, Stuart Gaffney’s first serious boyfriend wrote love letters in the form of design. An architecture student, he would create neighboring homes for the two of them, secret passageways connecting them so they could see each other in secret. “It was very romantic, it was sweet, but I could sense it was this visual portrayal of an idea that marriage is not an option for us. We would officially have to be single for the rest of our lives,” said Gaffney, who is now the communications director with Marriage Equality USA. The far off idea of marriage between same-sex couples has come a far way since Gaffney’s college days — today, he’s been married to his husband since 2004, a man he met in 1987 and declared a week later “I met my future husband,” not realizing his statement would one day come true. The fight for marriage equality has been in full force for the last decade, with Massachusetts breaking down the barrier as the first state to

legalize gay marriage in 2004. However, many are unaware that gay men and women in love have been fighting this battle for decades. The first recorded case goes back to 1970 in Minnesota when Jack Baker and Michael McConnell applied for a marriage license and were denied — Baker argued that the law did not state that marriage was only between a man and a woman, and that they were afforded the right to marry. The couple took the case to multiple courts, all citing that marriage was between a man and

Photos by Stuart Gaffney a woman. At one point, they were granted a marriage certificate and were married by a Methodist minister. It’s still under debate to this day if the document legally bound them as a married couple because, according to an attorney, the license was required to be issued in the bride’s county of residence. Even with Baker and McConnell standing up for gay marriage, it would take decades before their LGBT brothers and sisters would actively join the fight. “There wasn’t a

marriage movement, an organized movement until the 1990s. They were incredibly courageous people, but we just weren’t far enough along in the LGBT movement overall to get any traction back then,” said Marc Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom to Marry. Today, 19 states and the District of Columbia recognize gay marriage and more states are overturning their current marriage laws. A series of court cases opened the floodgates in

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the gay marriage fight, giving the LGBT community the courage to demand equality. Solomon says that the biggest shift in attitude on the subject came in 1993 when three gay couples sued the state of Hawaii for the right to marry. The state Supreme Court found that denying them the right could be seen as sex discrimination, however, no laws were changed regarding marriage. The state did pass a law that made it easier for unmarried people to care for one another, encompassing gay and straight couples. “Most people in the gay community still thought it was a pipe dream, or certainly wasn’t within the realm of possibility within the next few years,” Solomon said. “At its heart, it’s about same-sex couples telling their stories about why marriage matters to them.” Public opinion has also been helping the cause. According to polls by Gallup, in 1996, only 27 percent of participants were in favor of gay marriage. This year, the number is almost double that at 55 percent. Also, in 1977, only 13 percent of people polled believed that homosexuality was a born trait. Now, it’s at 42 percent. Gaffney also points to the importance of the Supreme Court’s June 2003 decision to overturn remaining antisodomy laws in the United States. Even if gay marriage was legal, the consummation of it was illegal (some states even broadly considered anything outside of vaginal intercourse, including oral sex, to be sodomy). “It doesn’t do us much good


to be married if we could be arrested on our wedding night as criminals,” Gaffney said. “The success of the marriage movement has depended on the 2003 Supreme Court case that overturned all the remaining sodomy laws.” On Feb. 12, 2004, Gaffney and his husband, John Lewis, joined Marriage Equality USA at San Francisco City Hall to rally for gay marriage. Little did they know that then-Mayor Gavin Newsom would order the city clerk to give marriage licenses to the thousands of gay couples surrounding the building. It’s estimated nearly 3,200 couples were married in nine days, many waiting for days outside of City Hall for their chance to say, “I do.” “We always tell people, always show up to the rally, you never know, it might be your

wedding day,” Gaffney said. “It was just a dream come true to find out in fact we were being handed the paperwork to fill out to get married. It felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity at that moment.” Newsom told CNN at the time, “if that means my political career ends, so be it.” Finally, the biggest win came in 2013 when the Supreme Court overturned a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, leading to a domino effect of judges around the country ruling that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional. “We have a real shot of winning within the next year nationwide,” Solomon said. “We certainly haven’t won yet, but we’re winning. So we just need for people to keep at it, keep their foot on the accelerator and finish the job.”

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[ Feature ]

Asexual What

it means to be

Nicole Wiesenthal

Asexuals represented themselves at World Pride 2012.

W

hen Christine Preimesberger was asked to take photos of people she found attractive and then rate them, she realized she couldn’t. “I was like, I don’t know how to do this. I don’t see anything at all. I just put them in some arbitrary order,” she said. “So that’s when I realized fully that how I think was different from everyone else.” Exactly how different? Preimesberger identifies as asexual, meaning she doesn’t feel sexually attracted to people. It was during that class assignment that Preimesberger, 19, realized how different she was from the other students. Preimesberger struggles daily because her sexuality is so largely unheard of and underrepresented in the LGBT community. Did you know that though all asexuals are uninterested in having sex, most are capable of feeling romantically attracted to others? People who identify as asexual can be romantically attracted to a spectrum of people, just like sexual people. They can be panromantic (attracted to all people), heteromantic (attracted to genders not their own), homoromantic (attracted to their same gender) and biromantic (attracted to their gender and other genders). Morgann Ramirez, a 22-year-old University of Southern California student, realized her romantic attraction after she began identifying as asexual. “I found out that I didn’t want to sleep with women, and I didn’t have to sleep with men, so I’m romantically attracted to all genders, and I only realized this after I realized what asexuality was,” Ramirez said. And then there are demisexual people — meaning that sexual attraction only comes after they form a strong emotional connection with a person.

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“I’d say most of my attraction is aesthetic,” said demisexual 21-year-old Brent Stanfield. “It’s a lot of appreciating how a person looks the same way you might think a piece of art looks. There’s also romantic attractions, looking at someone and being like I’d like to take them on a date and really like to get to know them better, but nothing sexual or physical.” Asexual and demisexual people constantly face problems in a society that places so much emphasis on sexuality and sexual attraction. They combat stereotypes, assumptions and criticism. “As a Latina, there’s a racial stereotype of being very sexual,” Ramirez said. “Because I’m not, I’ve gotten odd jokes and looks. Stereotypes don’t define people. I definitely identify as asexual, and I’m totally Latina.” Preimesberger, who identifies as aromantic (meaning she does not feel romantically or sexually attracted to others), also has to deal with the preconceived cultural attitudes towards relationships. “In pop culture, romantic relationships are the most important thing, or you should be in a relationship,” Preimesberger said. “It’s so prevalent, and it gets really annoying. I make friends pretty easily, and I’m very close with my friends and family. I get my attachments from that and feel like I don’t need any romantic relationships” Romantic asexuals and demisexuals also face judgment because of the unconventional way they express themselves within relationships. “I am open to open relationships because I know if I’m with a sexual person they might not be getting something from me that they need,” Ramirez said. “A polyamorous one for me would be nice. I would have two people to be comforted

and loved from and they would be able to be sexual and happy by themselves.” The most important problem demisexual and asexual people face, though, is that of others not believing them about their sexuality. Preimesberger recalls a time when she came out to a friend about her asexuality, and he outright dismissed her. “He said that wasn’t a thing,” Preimesberger said. “I was also kind of scared when I thought my mom didn’t believe me when I told her.” Stanfield, as a demisexual, said others often dismiss their sexuality as well. “It’s not really an identity that a lot of people think makes sense as its own identity,” Stanfield said. “A lot of people I know will say that’s just being regularly sexual. They don’t think it makes sense as an identity or sexual category, especially in religious communities. For me, it’s been very important because the narrative for demisexuality is very different from what society has told me that sexuality has to be like.” Asexuality and demisexuality do exist though and deserve to be recognized. “It’s important to realize it’s all on a spectrum,” Ramirez said. “A sexual person can be aromantic; an asexual person can be romantic. It’s a lot of gradients that people can choose from.” But should the LGBT community include asexuals and demisexuals? “I think I would really like to see more inclusion particularly because I think asexuality does have a very helpful framework and very helpful concepts around sexuality and attraction that would really help discussion within the LGBT community,” Stanfield said. Asexuals and demisexuals also hope to be more recognized within society in general. “I don’t want to have to worry about people telling me that’s not a thing,” Preimesberger said. “You can have comfortable relationships with people of different varieties.” To learn more, visit asexuality.org.


Glossary of Asexual Terms Terms from Anagnori, at anagnori.tumblr.com List compiled by Nicole Wiesenthal

1. Ace - short for asexual 2. Ace of Hearts - a symbol or nickname for asexuals who experience romantic attraction 3. Ace of Spades - a symbol or nickname for asexuals who are aromantic 4. Acephobia - prejudice or discrimination against asexual-spectrum people 5. Allosexual - a person who experiences sexual attraction to other people; a nonasexual person 6. Amatonormativity - the social force that treats romantic relationships as intrinsically superior, more valuable, or more necessary than friendships and non=romantic relationships. A problem for everyone, but especially aromantic people.

14. Compulsory Sexuality - The cultural force that expects all people to be either sexually available or in a sexual relationship, and which expects sex to be an important value or goal for people. Heterosexuality is especially valued. A major problem for asexual people. 15. Demiromantic - a person who can only feel romantic attraction to someone they have established a close emotional connection with. 16. Demisexual - a person who can only feel sexual attraction to someone they have established a close emotional connection with

24. Lithromantic - a person who feels romantic attraction but does not need their feelings to be reciprocated, or who does not like receiving romantic gestures. 25. Lithsexual - a person who feels sexual attraction but does not need their feelings to be reciprocated, or who does not like receiving sexual intimacy. 26. Nonamory - a lifestyle choice or relationship style that does not include intimate, long-term partnerships, whether romantic or platonic 27. Nonlibidoist - an asexual person who does not feel any desire to masturbate, or who has no sex drive 28. Panromantic - the potential to experience romantic attraction to someone of any gender

7. Anthony Bogaert - Currently the most prominent researcher of asexuality. Author of Understanding Asexuality.

17. Gray-asexual - a person who is somewhere between 100% asexual and allosexual; they might only experience sexual attraction on very rare occasions, or feel sexual attraction but not desire sexual relationships, or experience a feeling somewhere in between platonic and sexual. Gray romantic is the same, but with regards to romantic attraction.

8. Antisexual - ideologically opposed to sex, or having negative views of other people’s sexual lifestyles.

18. Heteroromantic - romantically attracted to people of a different gender than one’s own

9. Aromantic - a person who does not experience romantic attraction

19. Heteronormativity - the cultural force that expects all people to be cisgender, heteroromantic and heterosexual. Major problem that affects all queer identities, including asexuals. Closely linked to homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and acephobia.

30. Polyamory - intimate relationships that are not exclusive. Non-exclusivity may be romantic, sexual, neither, or both. May be a lifestyle choice or an intrinsic part of someone’s sexuality, depending on the person.

10. Asexual Flag - a flag of four horizontal stripes: black, gray, white and purple 11. Asexual Triangle - a downwardpointing triangle that is mostly white, but shades into gray and then black at the bottom tip. Represents the asexual spectrum. Originated as an expansion of the Kinsey Scale. 12. AVEN - Asexual Visibility and Education Network, asexuality.org. The most prominent website and forum dedicated to asexuality. 13. Biromantic - Potential to feel romantic attraction to two or more genders.

20. Homoromantic - romantically attracted to people of the same gender as oneself 21. Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) - controversial medical disorder; used as evidence that asexuality is pathologized by the medical community 22. Kinsey Scale - a model that categorized human sexuality as a spectrum between heterosexual and homosexual, with bisexuals in the middle. Asexual people were classified as “Group X” and not included on the scale. 23. Libido - sex drive, which may or may not be targeted at a person. Asexual people may have libidos despite not feeling sexual attraction.

29. Pansexual - the potential to experience sexual attraction to someone of any gender. Opposite of asexuality, but some asexual people go through a period of wondering if they are pansexual.

31. Pomosexual - 1) a person’s decision not to identify with conventional orientation labels, or the belief that such labels do not apply; and 2) the belief or philosophy that conventional orientation labels are not useful for people in general, and can, or should be, disregarded 32. Romantic Orientation - the group of people or genders to which a person can become romantically attracted, if at all. This concept does not work for all asexual people 33. Sensual Attraction - attraction that involves a desire to touch or be physically close to someone, but not necessarily in a sexual way 34. Sexual Attraction - a feeling of attraction to someone’s physical appearance with a sexual component, or desire to touch someone sexually. Difficult for some asexual people to define and recognize.

FALL 2014 •

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[ Feature ]

Genderless

The

As more awareness for trans issues comes to light, agender people are coming out of the shadows Nicole Wiesenthal

B

en Schwarts is neither male nor female. The 23-year-old identifies as agender and uses the pronoun “they” instead of he or she. But what is agender? It doesn’t appear in dictionaries. You can’t find agender bathrooms, or aisles in stores. Hidden nooks in the online world exist for those who identify as agender, but for much of the world, the word and the people remain a mystery. Schwarts plans on going to the store, and on the way sees billboards plastered with women in bikinis advertising perfume, or with male models in suits selling men’s watches. For the agender person, who doesn’t identify as either male or female, everyday life poses a problem. Even seeing gender divides in advertisements can be isolating. “So much of the modern world and society is built around structures of gender,” said Schwarts, a graduate student at Simmons College in Massachusetts. “So many things are targeted based on gender. It’s more than looking at another culture, but another species.” When Schwarts gets to the store, another problem arises; there are only two choices for clothing: male and female. “I do occasionally feel frustrated by how gendered clothing marketing and branding is, especially the

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connotations that go with clothing that they default to being read as male or female,” Schwarts said. “Clothing like dresses and skirts are coded female even when worn by non-female people, whereas jeans default to masculine. The sure pile of headaches and conversations just strikes me as absurd.” Even attendants in the store label Ben as “him” not considering the possibility of another gender, or no gender at all. “I don’t feel connected to any attempts to gender me,” Schwarts said. “All that just feels wrong. Gender is an alien concept, one that has never made sense except in a purely academic way.” And there are other people in the world who face the same problems as Schwarts, but the biggest dilemma is that most people don’t know what agenderism is or that people are capable of being genderless. “It’s hard to find information,” said Micah, a 28-year-old agender person who started a blog to document the transition to agender and bring awareness to the subject. “The information isn’t available if your gender is non-binary. Everything is gender identifying

• FALL 2014

trans people. Until a little while ago our identities weren’t acknowledged in any ways. We’re still fighting that.” Jack Qu’emi, a 23-year-old University of Central Florida student, understands firsthand the difficulties of explaining a genderless identity.

“’That’s made up.’ ‘That’s not a real thing.’ ‘Special snowflake syndrome.’ ‘You’re just looking for attention.’ What does that even mean?” Qu’emi said. “People’s reactions are usually negative, or they just don’t have any. I’ve never had any explicitly positive reaction.”

Qu’emi, like other agender people, has trouble living in a world that is so strongly divided by gender. “Everything is so split to the point that there are some classes I can’t take. There’s a self-defense class for men and women so where would I go? They’re just going to put me in a corner for how I present that way,” Qu’emi said. “We’re all socialized to understand men and women so if you’re transitioning from one binary to another, even if that’s not how you see yourself living your life, there’s still an outline for this is what a man is and a woman is.” Starting from a young age, agender people face problems understanding gender roles. “In first grade it was always well understood that boys went on one side of the room, and girls went on the other, and Ben was just on his own, Ben was just there,” Schwarts said. “I definitely wasn’t male, but I certainly wasn’t female either.” Qu’emi’s differences became evident in middle school. “I still went by gender pronouns people gave me, but I was very


Gender Terms From GenderQueerid.com Compiled by Nicole Wiesenthal

Agender:

“not identifying with any gender, the feeling of having no gender.” (MTQWI) “a term used to describe a person without gender. This person can be any physical sex, but their body does not necessarily correspond with their lack of gender identity”

nonconforming in the way I presented, acted and spoke to people. Like, if you had a choice to be a different gender when you were born, what would you choose? Born or assigned, I would pick the opposite binary or the other part of the binary.” For agender people, the lack of verification can be harmful and difficult to deal with. “It’s a very hard feeling to describe, but you really don’t see yourself, or you see how other people see you, and you just get this nagging feeling that it’s not who you’re meant to be and there’s a lot of emotional issues that go into that,” Micah said. The concept of being genderless is so unheard of that many agender people might live their entire lives without realizing they are agender. “I think if I had grown up in a different place and lived with different people, I might not have made these realizations about myself,” Schwarts said. “People told me I was male so why would I question otherwise. What few agender people exist in fiction tend to be robots or aliens or both. There are few examples in media and few public agender figures.” Many agender people are reaching out to create awareness; whether its creating a blog or becoming a fiction writer to spread the word, they hope that someday the concept of being agender will be as well known as that of being transgender.

Androgyne - “1. A person whose biological sex is not readily apparent. 2. A person who is intermediate between the two traditional genders. 3. A person who rejects gender roles entirely.” (MTQWI) Bigender - “To identify as both genders and/or to have a tendency to move between masculine and feminine gendertyped behavior depending on context, expressing a distinctly male persona and a distinctly female persona, two separate genders in one body.” (MTQWI) Crossdresser - “A person who, regardless of motivation, wears clothes, makeup, etc. that are considered by the culture to be appropriate for another gender but not one’s own (preferred term to “transvestite”). This gender non-conforming behavior should not be conflated with queer sexualities. Many cross-dressers are heterosexual and conduct their cross-dressing on a part-time basis. Cross-dressing might also be termed gender non-conforming behavior.” (MTQWI) Demigirl - “Can be used to describe either someone assigned female at birth who feels but the barest association with that identification, though not a significant enough dissociation to create real physical discomfort or dysphoria, or someone assigned male at birth who is transfeminine but not wholly binaryidentified, so that they feel more strongly associated with “female” than “male,” socially or physically, but not strongly enough to justify an absolute selfidentification as “woman. Demiguy - “Can be used to describe either someone assigned male at birth who feels but the barest association with that identification or as someone assigned female at birth who is transmasculine but not wholly binary-identified, so that they feel a vague association with social or physical “masculinity” but not one strong enough to justify an absolute selfidentification as a “man.”

Epicene - “The term epicene literally means “common to both sexes.” It sometimes refers to individuals who have characteristics of both genders or someone who cannot be classified as one sex or the other. Most often, it refers to effeminate males.” Gender fluid - “Referring to a gender identity that changes with time and/or situation as opposed to a fix sex-role or gender queer expression” Intergender - “A person whose gender identity is between genders or a combination of genders.” (MTQWI) Neutrois - “An identity used by individuals who feel they fall outside the gender binary. Many feel Neutrois is a gender, like a third gender while others feel agendered.” Pangender - “A person whose gender identity is comprised of many gender expressions.” (MTQWI) Pomosexual - “the queer erotic reality beyond the boundaries of gender, separatism, and essentialist notions of sexual orientation”. Generally used conceptually rather than a stand-alone identity term. Third gender - Term often used in anthropological studies to set apart identities other than man or woman that appear across different cultures. Can have colonial connotations, use with caution. Trigender - “People who feel they are neither male nor female, but not androgynous either and construct their own gender.” (MTQWI) Trigender may also be used to refer to one who moves between three genders, as bigender is used to refer to those who move between two genders

To learn more about the agender community, visit neutrois.com.

FALL 2014 •

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[ Special Section: Comics ]

It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s a

Gay Superhero! LGBT comic book characters going mainstream Nicole Wiesenthal

W

hen the loveable redheaded Archie of Archie Comics died this year saving his gay best friend Kevin Keller it was a turning in the history of LGBT characters in mainstream comics. It’s one thing to let your gay best friend do your hair, quite another to take a bullet for him. But LGBT characters aren’t new to comics, Northstar, the first major superhero to come out, came out back in 1992 even though some would say it was poorly done. “It was a terribly written story in which Northstar finds an HIV positive baby in the trashcan, and it motivates him to come out publicly as gay,” said Evan J. Peterson, author and professor of creative writing. “He was not in a very popular book.” Trina Robbins created the first comic featuring a lesbian in 1972 in an underground a n t h o l o g y. For her, she just felt she was writing a story about her roommate. “It was a feminist

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underground anthology and the first issue had ten women in it, and I did a story called ‘Sandy Comes Out’ about my roommate deciding or discovering that she was a lesbian,” Robbins said. “It was the first comic about a lesbian ever done, but when I did the Sandy story, it didn’t occur to me that I was breaking ground.” Robbins still insists that underground comics provide the most accurate LGBT representation with cartoonists like Alison Bechdel and Joan Hilty, creator of the Bitter Girl series, noting that while mainstream companies have tried to increase LGBT presence, they still lack any realistic elements. She uses Batwoman as an example. “It’s hard not to notice that she, and all of her girlfriends are babes,” Robbins said. “I don’t see one butch woman like Lea DeLaria.” Andy Mangels, best-selling author and the first openly gay comic book guy and cofounder of Prism Comics, agrees with Robbins that LGBT presence has been on a rise, but still needs work. “When I was co-writing Star Trek novels for Paramount, and we wrote the first novel that featured, in a major way, a gay character and his partner, it

broke a lot of passive taboos in the Star Trek franchise,” Mangels said. “I often say to other people, ‘Why have you not included GLBT characters in your work? What is stopping you?’ Several writers are saying, ‘You know what? The only thing that’s stopping me is I haven’t thought about it.’ And that asking has led to now gay characters in the Star Wars universe.” North Star was the first major superhero character to “come out” as gay, but most comic book fans agree he didn’t have much of an impact on the mainstream community. He was first introduced to society in 1979 and “came out” in 1992. Creative writing professor Peterson said Milestone Comics by DC are a good example of diversity within the main superhero companies. “Most of the superheroes were people of color, and a lot of them lived in intercity environments and faced poverty and crime and things like that from a 90s perspective,” Peterson said. “This wasn’t Batman; it was the 90s comic book version of gang violence etc. [There were] a lot of superheroes of color and queer superheroes, and I suspect it was just too much to have gay black superheroes in the 90s, and it could have really taken off but it was more like an experiment that ran its course.” Diversity has been hard to come by in comics, even with characters like Ms. Marvel. “Marvel has trouble keeping sales of diverse-character-led

books up,” said 23-year-old Sean A. Guynes, a master’s student in American Studies. “Ms. Marvel is a series about a teenage, female, Pakistani Muslim American shape-shifting superhero. It’s number 86 on July’s sales chart, which is admittedly higher than mainstays like Captain America and Daredevil, but it is certainly not impressive.” Mangels believes that major companies should hire more gay comic book creators, artists and writers, in order to increase the amount of accurately portrayed LGBT characters. He recognizes the need for a reflection of oneself in the characters. “Almost everybody who’s GLBT working in comics, creating stories, is doing so for smaller independent companies,” Mangels said. “They aren’t working on major franchise material like at DC or Marvel or Archie. Little by little creators are being hired again by those companies, and that’s the biggest problem: They need to work on featuring more women working in their books, people of color and GLBT creators.” Rachel Edidin, comics writer, editor and journalist and coeditor of Beyond, an anthology of queer SFF comics, views the emphasis on the LGBT status of the character as the issue at hand. “The most significant milestone we have yet to reach, I think, is a state in which queer and trans characters are normal. Instead of DC going ‘look how progressive we are — there’s a minor supporting character in Batgirl who’s trans,’ we expect


Image submitted from Marvel Comics

that representation to be part of the normal spectrum we see — in protagonists, as well as supporting cast.” Most characters in comic books are too perfect and unflawed because writers don’t want to offend LGBT characters “so it’s resulted in GLBT characters that have no flaws and part of what makes the character interesting to read about is that they have flaws, and it can make it a little bland at times which is one thing that makes Batwoman really stand out,” said Mangels. Batwoman came out as a lesbian in 2006 and has had multiple girlfriends within her story, serving as one of the most progressive LGBT comic book characters. Still, she faces her own problems like when DiDio (DC’s Co-Publisher) announced at the 2013 Baltimore comicon that superheroes can’t get married, “conveniently just months before the issue of Batwoman in which Kate Kane was supposed to marry her girlfriend,” Guynes said. With regards to who includes more LGBT diversity, most comic book fans will agree that Marvel does it better, regardless of the fact that DC has the only comic with an

LGBT lead, Batwoman. “At the moment, Marvel is doing it better; but I think the real test is going to be how much sticking power they give those characters— whether they end up erased in five years for another reset, or whether, when that reset inevitably happens, they’re the characters who endure through,” Edidin said. It’s important to remember that artists and writers have less power in mainstream comics which results in the lack of LGBT portrayal. “You have to realize that DC is owned by Warner Brothers and Marvel is owned by Disney,” Mangels said. “They have a lot of things they’re concerned with like how will it work in the South, will we get boycotted by one million moms by this book or that book.” Both have managed to remain progressive though. “Given the heteronormative, the big two companies are making great strides in the right direction,” said 31-year-old comic reader and mass media major Nicholas Yanes. “DC comics introduced their first transgender about a year ago; the Green Lantern character turns out to be gay. More companies

are becoming comfortable about having LGBT characters in the background as characters.” Archie is a good example of a comic that accurately depicts diversity. Though the world of Archie may seem pristine, it features diversity with regards to gay characters and multiracial relationships. “I felt uneasy about the whole comic, and the whole Archie world, which felt like this somewhat-liberal utopia where everything is perfect and diverse enough to say, ‘hey, this is diverse,’ but only in a superficial sense,” Guynes said. “Yes, Archie dies to save Kevin Keller, his gay best friend, but I think what’s more interesting is Kevin Keller’s story, which you can read in his own comic.” Luckily for Archie fans the death took place in an alternate universe, which means Archie will continue on. Despite the improvements, comic book companies still have a long way to go with regards to including bi and trans characters in comics, including gay villains, and having more LGBT characters as single title characters in comics.

“I think we’ve gone far enough ahead that we can have a malevolent queer villain in the same way they love Joker or Mystique or Bullseye or someone like that,” Peterson said. While LGBT comic books are going mainstream in print they haven’t quite taken on the big screen yet. The only known ones are Scott Pilgrim and Watchmen. “I’m guessing if it happens, it’ll be an independent though— the queer and trans characters in big franchises don’t so far tend to have the star power and name recognition it takes for a company to gamble on them for a feature film,” Edidin said. Regardless the future looks bright for LGBT comic book characters. “I think the future is full of extreme possibilities; the characters will become more accessible,” Mangels said. “Within three years no one will even bat an eye if there’s a GLBT character in any comic book. The stigma will have dissipated so much that no one will care in a bad way. We’re in a world accepting GLBT people, and comics, thankfully, are in the forefront.”

FALL 2014 •

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Queer Comics [ Special Section: Comics ]

A few of comic books’ more groundbreaking LGBT characters David-Elijah Nahmod

1. Kevin Keller The sagging fortunes of Archie Comics changed dramatically in September 2010 when Kevin Keller moved to Riverdale in Veronica #202. First introduced in 1941, Archie was, for more than fifty years, a peek inside the lives of all American small town teenagers. By the turn of the 21st Century, the formula had grown stale. Archie and the gang seemed out of place in our post-Obama, marriage equality world. Veronica quickly fell in love with Kevin, the blonde and pretty new boy in town. Kevin quickly told Jughead that he had no interest

2. Batman and Robin Are the Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder an item or aren’t they? People have been arguing that point for decades. The answer depends on who you ask and which incarnation of the boys you’re reading or watching. The facts are simple: Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, two men who show little interest in allowing women into their lives, live together in a beautiful, antique filled

mansion. They are absolutely devoted to each other. You do the math. The 1943 movie serial Batman presents the boys as having no interest whatsoever in women, even as reporter Vicki Vale tries in vain to get Bruce’s attention. Yet there has been, over the years, an obvious attraction between Batman and The Catwoman. Then there’s a 1954 Batman panel, which shows Bruce and Dick waking up in the same bed as Bruce suggests they shower. Is Batman bisexual? Could be. The jury is still out on the mysterious sexuality of Batman and Robin.

3. Marcie Many mistakenly believe that Peppermint Patty and Marcie from Peanuts are a lesbian couple. Look closer. Though they are indeed an inseparable twosome, butch tomboy Patty obviously has a crush on Charlie Brown, whom she calls “Chuck.” Marcie, on the other hand, follows Patty around like an obedient puppy, dutifully calling Patty “Sir” at all times.

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in Veronica because he’s gay. The revelation made front-page news in the real world, but to the teens at Riverdale High it was no big deal. Kevin has since starred in his own ongoing mini-series and was prominently featured in the Life With Archie books, which speculated as to what the characters adult lives might be. Kevin’s Life With Archie wedding was the fastest selling Archie comic in decades. Although certainly not the first gay comic book character, Kevin Keller is perhaps the most groundbreaking. For changing the fortunes of an iconic franchise that had seen better days but has since bounced back, Kevin gets the number one spot.

Marcie’s lesbianism has in fact been obvious for decades. It’s clear, in many Peanuts panels, that Marcie only has eyes for Patty, and this was a very courageous move for Peanuts creator Charles Schulz to make. Look at the girls closely — don’t they kinda look like Charlie Brown in drag? In many interviews, the late Schulz (1922-2000) stated that the Peanuts characters, male and female alike, are variations of himself, and that all the characters were drawn around the same face.


4. Batwoman Reintroduced in 2006 after being dormant for years, Batwoman’s alter-ego Kate Kane, was revealed to be a lesbian. The character’s relaunch was a brand new version of the Batwoman, with no connection to the woman which was often seen in Batman books of decades past until her 1976 disappearance from the franchise. While there have been other gay characters in the LGBT universe, the new Batwoman was the first to star in her own series. She was embraced by readers. In Batwoman #17, published in 2012,

Kate/Batwoman became engaged to her girlfriend Maggie. Controversy exploded in the Fall of 2013 when Batwoman writers JH Williams and W Haden Blackman resigned from DC Comics amid allegations that they were being forced to drop and/or rewrite story arcs, which included not allowing the ladies to marry. The authors felt that DC was compromising Batwoman’s character and the series. According to a story by Helen Lock of the Telegraph UK, DC claimed that the changes they asked for had nothing to do with the character’s sexual orientation, but the writers weren’t convinced. They departed after completing issue #26.

5. Green Lantern In June 2012, DC Comics introduced Earth Two, a new series written by James Robinson and drawn by Nicola Scott. The book’s premise was the relaunch of a concept the comic book company had done before: parallel worlds in which different versions of heroes such as Superman, The Flash and Green Lantern led lives which differed considerably from their established histories. When first seen in issue #2 of the new series, Alan Scott, AKA Green Lantern, is

6. Northstar A Canadian super hero, openly gay Northstar made history when he married his partner Kyle Jinadu in Amazing X Men #51, published June 27, 2012. Introduced onto the Marvel Comics canvas in 1979, Northstar came out in 1992, after a proposed storyline in which he was revealed to have AIDS was rejected.

presented as an out gay man. “He doesn’t come out, he’s already a gay man,” James Robinson told CNN. “Alan Scott is superheroic, super gallant, he’ll die for the earth, he’ll die for its people, he’s everything you want in a hero. I imagine he’s such a type A character that when he realized he was gay he was like, “OK, I’m gay, now I’m just gonna go on with my life.” As she developed the character’s look, Nicola Scott told CNN that Alan “had to be a big, strapping handsome man that everyone would instinctively follow and love.” Sounds like our kind of guy.

Instead, the character’s alter-ego Jean Paul adopts a baby girl who’s dying of AIDS. Her death a few weeks later inspires his coming out in the hope that his celebrity will increase public awareness of HIV awareness. When Northstar and Kyle tied the knot, right wing media watchdog group One Million Moms staged one of their many failed boycotts.

7. Alysia Yeoh The unthinkable happened in Batgirl #19, published in April 2013. Alysia Yeoh, roommate to Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) reveals that she is a bisexual transwoman--this was the first trans character in a mainstream comic book. Done with sensitivity, Batgirl writer Gail Simone was careful to differentiate between Alysia’s sexual and gender identities. Alysia is also Asian. Historic indeed.

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Bentcon [ Special Section: Comics ]

I

n this era of a rapidly spreading marriage equality movement, it seems that out proud LGBT people can now be found everywhere. This includes at unexpected places like comic book shops and on the pages of the comics themselves. Now entering it’s fifth year, Bent Con is an annual convention in Los Angeles where LGBT identified comic book writers, artists, readers, and yes, even nerds, can gather for a celebration of all things Superman, Batman, Kevin Keller and beyond. This year’s Bent Con takes place on November 7-9 at the Los Angeles Burbank Marriott Convention Center in Burbank, CA. Participants this year will include Anne Rice (Interview With the Vampire) and her openly gay novelist son Christopher. As always, costumes are encouraged — no doubt attendees might encounter a hand-holding Batman and Robin! SFGN spoke to Viktor Kerney, Bent Con’s Director of Outreach. We also chatted with comic book aficionado Brian J. Patterson, who’s also an actor. Patterson’s many credits include an upcoming Batman film that he’s directing with the blessing of DC Comics. Can you explain to the uninitiated what Bent Con offers? Kerney: Bent Con is a celebration of the LGBT creators, writers and artists within the overall comic book/sci-fi/film world. Patterson: Bent Con to me is like Comic Con for the LGBT community. In this era of marriage equality, gay weddings at the Grammys, etc, do we need a separate comic con? Kerney: Yes, because our community needs to see and understand our place in the creative realm. Many in our community do not know how to express themselves or how to be completely free in a creative space. We hope through Bent Con that we inspire people to be

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Get Your Gay Geek On

themselves and create some fantastic work. Our attendance has been mostly male, however over the past couple of years the female and trans attendees have increased. One of our goals is to strengthen our women and trans attendance. Patterson: I believe there is a very strong LGBTQ presence in the comic book community, and I believe it is continuing to grow and that this is representative of society in general. It’s well known that our society has seen a clear evolution of LGBTQ presence through the ages. It’s no mistake that in the 1940s and 50s gay bars, magazines, or television representation was either underground or practically non-existent from the general population. Yet today they permeate an approximate 10 percent of said genres and are continually climbing. Voila! Common sense at it’s best! I have seen a very big mix at this event. While every event in America is heavily represented by men, specifically Caucasian men. Thanks to President and Founder Sean Z’s inclusion of diverse materials, I have seen this event frequented by what can only be described as a melting pot. It’s a really great accomplishment and he should be incredibly proud. Any thoughts on the out LGBT characters appearing in comic books now? Kerney: We are happy to see more LGBT characters in comics, however, we would like to see them in more leading roles, acting as leaders of teams and carrying their own comic books. Patterson: I really appreciate how diverse comics have become and are continuing to become even more so as time passes. Although .

David-Elijah Nahmod

I have always been a huge DC fan, in my opinion, Marvel has continually been a leader in paving the way for diversity. Their approach to discrimination and equality via the mutant and their “X-gene” has always seemed to be very pragmatic, common sense and ahead of their time. I am particularly fond of the way they handled NorthStar’s no apologies way of coming out in 1992. Brian, can you tell us a bit about your upcoming Batman film? Patterson: I began putting together a film of my own called Batman: Battle For the Cowl, which brought to life the 2009 DC Comics storyline. I even premiered the trailer at Bent Con a few years ago. My Batman film has already ruffled some feathers due to it’s nontraditional casting which included different races in traditionally Caucasian cast roles, and even a transgender actor. But what caused waves the most is that I made Robin gay in the film and showed him in an intimate moment with his boyfriend. According to IMDB, Patterson’s Batman: Battle For The Cowl will be released as a short film in 2015. More information on Bent Con: http:// www.bent-con.org.


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[ Special Section: On Broadway ]

Broadway Babies The gay white way’s gayest stars David-Elijah Nahmod WHAT? Gay people in the theater? Who knew? The Mirror takes a look at some iconic LGBT broadway stars.

Lea DeLaria B

efore Ellen, there was Lea. In 1993, four years before Ellen came out, DeLaria did her stand-up act on “The Arsenio Hall Show” as an out, lesbian comic. In 1998, she became the first out lesbian (that we know of) to star in a Broadway musical. Her performance as the loud, brassy Hildy in the revival of the 1940s musical “On The Town” (the 1949 film version with Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly is a Turner Classic Movies staple) was hailed as a showstopper and a star-making turn. DeLaria later donned male drag for her roles as Eddie and Dr. Scott in the Broadway revival of the gender bending “The Rocky Horror Show”. DeLaria’s varied career has included comedy albums with titles like “Bulldyke in a China Shop” and recordings of jazz/pop standards. She’s had many film roles, often playing lesbians in major Hollywood releases. Out, loud, proud and sometimes foul-mouthed, DeLaria’s sexuality appears to have helped her career. She currently has a recurring role on the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” and was also a recurring player on the soap opera “One Life to Live.”

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Cherry Jones One might be able to argue who came out first, Lea DeLaria or Cherry Jones. Both made their mark on Broadway as out, proud lesbians, though their careers have been decidedly different. Jones is an intense dramatic actress with many awards on her mantle. Before Meryl Streep starred in the 2008 film “Doubt,” Jones had won a Tony Award for her 2005 performance in the play. It was her second Tony. She also won an Emmy for her long running role on the TV series “24.” She’s been seen in many major films including “Erin Brockovich,” “The Perfect Storm” and the Lifetime movie “What Makes a Family” in which she and Brooke Shields play a lesbian couple who have a child. Shields must fight for custody after Jones’ character dies. Always open about her sexuality, Jones, even as a Tony nominee walked the red carpet with her then-partner.

Nathan Lane When asked by a reporter whether or not he was gay, Nathan Lane famously replied, “I’m forty, I’m single and I work a lot in musical theater. You do the math.” The winner of two Tony Awards, he has more than a dozen Broadway credits to his name including his role in the musical version of Mel Brooks’ “The Producers” which he later reprised in the film version of the same name. His other Broadway roles include the groundbreaking AIDS drama “Love! Valor! Compassion!” the 1990s revival of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”and the 2005 revival of Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple.” Lane has appeared in many films, most notably opposite Robin Williams in “The Birdcage” (1996), the screamingly funny Hollywood remake of the French drag farce “La Cage Aux Folles.” He also appeared in the 1996 AIDS themed film “Jeffrey.” Lane has received numerous Emmy nominations for his guest starring roles on a variety of TV shows. Lane lives in New York with his partner, where he remains one of Broadway’s brightest stars.

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[ Special Section: On Broadway ]

Neil Patrick Harris

Harris rose to prominence as the child star of the TV series “Doogie Howser MD.” He made an easy transition into adult roles and now moves effortlessly between Broadway and TV, with an occasional film role thrown in for good measure. Harris has an extensive resume in musical theater, which includes touring the country in the counter-culture AIDS musical “Rent.” He appeared on Broadway as the Master of Ceremonies in the musical masterpiece “Cabaret,” a dark look at Germany as the Nazis began their ascent into power. First produced in 1966 and made into an Oscar winning 1972 film, “Cabaret” daringly featured a gay character and a bisexual one. Harris recently completed a stint on Broadway in the trans-themed rock musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” He’s also one of the most popular hosts of the Tony Awards in history. Harris recently completed a nineyear run on the popular sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” in which he played a womanizing heterosexual. Even his 2006 coming out didn’t diminish his TV character’s popularity. Harris lives with his fiancé, David Burtka. The couple has two children.

Victor Garber Garber first came to prominence as Jesus in the musical “Godspell” repeating his stage role on film. Though he’s best known to mass audiences as ship builder Thomas Andrews in James Cameron’s “Titanic” (1997), Garber has spent a good deal of his career on Broadway. He also starred in the TV series “Alias” and has had numerous other film and TV roles. Garber has been nominated for four Tony Awards and has a total of fifteen Broadway credits. He prefers not to talk about his private life, but is honest about being gay when the subject comes up. He’s been with his current partner for more than ten years.

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Harvey Fierstein While it’s arguable which lesbian made it to Broadway first, Cherry Jones or Lea DaLaria, there’s no denying that Harvey Fierstein was Broadway’s first out gay man. His groundbreaking play “Torch Song Trilogy” won a number of Tony Awards in the 1970s. A touching drama about a drag queen’s search for love and acceptance, Fierstein, who wrote and starred in the play, admitted that much of it was based on his own life. Over the ensuing decades, Fierstein has appeared in many Broadway shows and in films. He’s written other boundary-breaking works, including the riveting AIDS drama “Tidy Endings” in which he and his dead partner’s ex-wife make peace with each other at their former lover’s gravesite. He’s also written for musical theater, and, to show his versatility, starred as Tevye in a revival of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Out, loud and proud every step of the way, Fierstein has been a champion of gay rights, though his deep, gravelly voice might become what he’s best remembered for.

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[ Theater ]

PLAYBILL melodies

Five of Broadway’s GAYEST Musicals & Biggest Hits! David-Elijah Nahmod

Rent “Rent” is a brilliant, Tony Award winning musical, about a closeknit group of radical bohemians living in downtown New York City, in the early 1980s. Jonathan Larson, who wrote the music and lyrics, loosely based “Rent” on Puccini’s opera “La Boheme” but never lived to see the huge success the show would become. On the morning of “Rent’s” first preview in a small, off-Broadway theater, Larson died unexpectedly of an aortic dissection. He had been feeling ill for a few days and was misdiagnosed with the flu. Had he been properly diagnosed, Larson, who was 35, would have lived. “Rent” moved to Broadway’s Nederlander Theater a few months later. Larson was posthumously awarded a Tony Award for best musical and a Pulitzer Prize for drama. “Rent” follows a group of struggling artists as they deal with the then escalating AIDS crisis while trying to dream up new and creative ways to pay their rent. The ensemble piece features eight leading roles. Prominent storylines include a poignant love story

between Tom and Angel — a drag queen who’s dying of AIDS. Roger, a straight rock musician, also living with AIDS, finds comfort and solace with Mimi, an HIV positive go-go dancer, while Mark, an aspiring filmmaker, struggles to maintain a friendship with ex-girlfriend Maureen, who left him for a woman. Their stories intertwine as the characters grapple with the harsh realities of the AIDS crisis and the coming gentrification of their beloved, if somewhat run down, neighborhood. The score illustrates these struggles and accentuates the character’s deep affections for one another.

La Cage Aux Folles French for “birds of a feather,” “La Cage” is based on the classic, massively successful French film from the 1970s. The wildly outrageous story follows George, who owns a popular drag club. When George’s son becomes engaged to a girl from a conservative religious family, George and his “lover” Albin have the happy couple over for dinner. They hide every last vestige of their gay life as Albin dons drag to masquerade as George’s “wife.” Hilarious mayhem ensues, with occasional serious moments added for good measure. The now openly gay Broadway legend, Jerry Herman (Hello Dolly), wrote the score. Gay superstar Harvey Fierstein wrote the book. Albin’s number “I Am What I Am” in which he refuses to apologize for who he is, brought the house down and both the original 1983 production and the revival two decades later won Tony Awards.

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Victor/Victoria Oscar winner Julie Andrews, a top box office star of the 1960s, was coming out of a serious career slump when she signed on for the raucous movie musical “Victor/ Victoria” in 1982. The then daring comedy told of how failed opera singer Victoria (Andrews) becomes a star by pretending to be a gay man who gets a job as a singing drag queen. Through humor, the film raised many fascinating questions about sexual and gender identity roles in society. Victor falls in love with a handsome, straight gangster (James Garner), who returns the attraction, suddenly questioning his own sexuality. He’s at first unaware that he’s actually falling in love with a woman. Robert Preston shines as Victoria’s flamboyantly gay best friend, who literally teaches her how to become a gay man and a drag queen. Ex-football player Alex Karras has a role as the gangster’s rough and tumble bodyguard who eventually comes out himself. It took balls to make “Victor/Victoria” in 1982, but the film was a big hit and revived Andrews’ career. A decade later she reprised her dual roles on Broadway. The show was almost identical to the film and enjoyed a long run. When Andrews left the Broadway version, she was replaced first by Liza Minnelli, and then by Raquel Welch.

Falsettos A side-splitting musical about a group of neurotic Jews in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, a well to do neighborhood where people are “culturally Jewish” but often don’t practice their religion. The show’s screamingly funny — if envelope pushing — opening number is even called “Four Jews in a Room Bitching.” This charming, comical tale is about an upscale Jewish family dealing with their father’s homosexuality and his relationship with his boyfriend. Most of the characters in “Falsettos” are unable to get through a day without calling their therapists. “Falsettos” is not a well remembered show, but it’s an engaging charmer filled with lovable characters who struggle to define themselves. Memorable numbers include “My Father’s a Homo,” in which 10-year-old Jason wonders if he’s gay too, while the long suffering mother steals the show when she flips out on stage to the memorable tune “I’m Breaking Down.” “Falsetto’s” poster art was designed by the acclaimed gay artist Keith Haring, who died of AIDS in 1990, two years before the show made it to Broadway.

Hairspray John Waters’ 1988 film “Hairspray” should have made iconic drag queen Divine a movie star. Divine, alas, died a few weeks after the film’s hugely successful release. Decades later, “Hairspray” came to Broadway with gay superstar Harvey Fierstein as Edna Turnblad, Divine’s former role. It’s 1962, and Edna’s daughter Tracy wants to dance on “The Corny Collins Show,” an “American Bandstand” type TV series. Rejected by Collins’ regular dancers because of her obesity, talented Tracy teams up with the local black community, and appears on the Collins show during it’s weekly “Negro Night.” She becomes the show’s star dancer

and breaks the show’s — and the city’s — color barriers. “Hairspray” is a brilliantly written show filled with show stopping numbers and great humor. Through music and dance, it offers insightful commentary on race relations in the U.S., and harshly condemns the segregation, which ended not so long ago. As with Waters’ original film, Edna Turnblad is a female role played by a man in drag. And of course, Waters has been out, loud and proud his whole life. When the musical “Hairspray” was filmed in 2007, superstar John Travolta donned a dress, and a fat suit, for his role as Edna.

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[ Profile ]

From

Positive to Positive HIV activist Tyler Curry uses his status to empower others Nicole Wiesenthal

T

yler Curry has a smile that radiates life and a body to match. He’s healthy, happy and seems, for the most part, carefree. You wouldn’t think the gay 30-year-old deals with any difficult life struggles, and if you asked him, he would probably tell you he doesn’t. He might share with you that he sometimes deals with hateful responses to his editorials or that it’s sometimes difficult to remember to take a pill every morning, but he will also explain to you that the hateful responses inspire him to create new discussions and that having to take a pill is nothing compared to the ways he’s been able to help people because of his acceptance of his own HIV status. Curry, the HIV activist who started The Needle Prick Project, has learned to embrace himself and live life to the fullest and is helping others realize that their lives don’t need to end because of HIV either. Curry reacted to his HIV diagnoses like most others would; he recalls being shocked and terrified to tell his family. “I think that I was kind of in the same bubble that a lot of other people in that atrisk case range, like early twenties, are in, when they think as long as they’re not hooking up all the time and using condoms and not sleeping around, they’re safe,” Curry said. Curry kept the secret for a long time, but then slowly began to tell his friends. He began by telling

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his boyfriend at the time, who had also been diagnosed with HIV. With the support he received from his boyfriend, he told his sister and began to tell more of his families and his friends. Something changed after that. “Once I started talking about it, I got really angry and decided to come out publicly, and I came out in the Huffington Post. That would be my first essay,” Curry said. “The positive feedback was overwhelming because I didn’t expect it. I didn’t even think I would publish it; I was a marketing writer. I wrote the first thing and because of how many positive and negative people responded, I kept writing more.” Curry became inspired by the positive responses to create The Needle Prick Project, and the negative replies motivated him to keep writing as he hoped his message would change the minds of those around him. The Needle Prick Project is an editorial and visual campaign in which every week, Curry profiles someone who has been diagnosed with HIV or has had an experience with it and shares their story and features photos which he said act as pledges for people “to have a conversation about HIV awareness, stigma and testing.” “I remember several [responses] that inspired me


to start The Needle Prick, and those were these young men who had been HIV positive for three or four years and had not told anyone. They still looked at themselves as used up and trashed. They had such bad self-esteem, and the fact that the column I wrote made them feel they had worth and could be happy, that was probably the biggest catalyst to continue writing,” Curry said. “I wrote three pieces as a series, and then I started a profile series. People seemed like they wanted to participate in some kind of forum or dialogue; a photo campaign was the most natural thing to encourage or create that.” Curry saw immediate positive responses to the project. It gave people more opportunities to engage in discussions that make a difference and more opportunities for people to think of HIV as not just an after-thought that can impact their life. “I think the HIV is a virus of human condition,” Curry said. “It really is called an STD, but it really is about human interaction and human flaws and human nature. Unfortunately so many people view it as a moral STD. If you keep viewing it that way, you’ll continue to push this battle up hill.” While Curry might once have believed that he was a lesser person for contracting the virus, his views have changed greatly. When asked what message he’d give his recently diagnosed self if he could go back in time, he responded with, “I think I would just laugh. I was freaking out so much and panicking and just now, it’s just like, ‘Dude, chill out. It’s going to be fine.’ If I had seen me the day of or the next day of, I would be like, you got this.” Curry views the entire experience he’s had after getting diagnosed as a positive one. “It’s not about being

diagnosed,” Curry said. “It’s about being public with HIV that has created such a positive outcome. I have met wonderful people, activists that have been doing this kind of work for years; they were my mentors. I worked at a summer camp for people with HIV. To really connect with this community that has been stigmatized to be so awful has become something beautiful.” He shared that the most difficult thing he has to deal with is seeing people who believe in the negative stigma associated with HIV, that they’re worth less or they’re not as valuable. “You have to think about a pill every morning, but other than that nothing has to change,” Curry said. “It can actually get better, and I hate seeing someone defeated by this because it’s always in their head. It’s like anything else, like being overweight, dealing with an accident, battling a disease and overcoming it. You have the choice on how you react to a situation, and I hate when people give up. If you hold it in and internalize it, it’ll just eat you up.” He noted that there’s a big divide in the community between the older generation and younger, but feels that as a community they can develop a solution. Curry knows that he will never let the virus get the best of him and continues to live every day to its fullest. When asked about the future, he reacted with enthusiasm. “My future is going to be amazing if I keep a positive attitude,” Curry said. “As long as everyone else keeps a positive attitude, nothing is going to change. I’m just like everyone else; I just stay on top of what keeps me healthy.” To view Tyler Curry’s Needle Prick Project, go to facebook.com/ getpricked.

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[ Profile ]

Not Just a Pretty Face Conner Habib shows you can have a life outside of porn Gary M. Kramer

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C

onner Habib may have attracted a loyal following of fans as a porn star, but he’s also a whip-smart blogger who unabashedly discusses sex and sexuality, as well as everything from music to medicine to health. While he hasn’t made any films thus far this year, Habib has been finishing up his forthcoming book The Sex Book: Myths, Positions, Taboos, and Possibilities (Disinformation Books, 2015)

What interests you about the way porn is created and consumed?

Mirror chatted via Skype with Habib about sex, his work, and sex work.

I think for me the most interesting part of pornography — though I find it everywhere I look — is the line between what’s real and imagined. It’s an amplified version of where does our imagination stop and reality begin? People are having real sex, but they are not having real sex. Someone is watching images of sex but having pleasure and feeling by watching others having sex. That blending is really exciting to me.

You seem to have established a niche as both a porn star and someone who deconstructs the industry. Why play both sides of the fence?

I read that you thought porn stars were like rock stars. How have you created your image as a porn star/ rock star?

I wanted to do porn for most of my life. Thinking about it and writing about it is who I am. I could be a firefighter or a banker and write about that. It’s a natural activity for me to do both. More to the point, I don’t want people to think sex and thinking are two different things. I wanted to present myself publically and be an integrated person.

I’m not quite sure. I’m not really conscious of how I try to construct [me]. It’s less a calculated thing; it’s more “be myself.” I think at first I was creating a persona, but then I realized it wasn’t anymore of a persona than any other part of me. We have lots of different roles in our lives: sons, fathers, brothers, lovers, teachers. There was an aspect of me that was a porn star. I had to get into it, but it wasn’t really a persona, more part of who I am.

Most folks find it difficult to talk about sex. How do you make it seem so easy? If we just approached sex with what we’re comfortable doing, then no progress will be made because everyone is uncomfortable with it. My experience talking about sex — at a university lecture, or with people you don’t know, or your friend’s mom — is that I find more often than not, people are relieved to talk about it because they don’t often have an outlet. It requires boldness because it’s taboo. But gauge the individual, and don’t push people too hard; have respect for their humanity and individuality. There’s a way in which being too roundabout when it comes to talking about sex plays into the silencing that’s already going on. I think that sex in general is problematic for people in our culture.

Was it necessary to make adult films to gain the following you have cultivated? Totally, It could have been through something else. I went to grad school for creative writing and biology. There are plenty of people who are academics and write books and they remain ensconced in that world, and get trapped in it. I wanted to live in the world in a way you can’t if you’re only an academic. I wanted to do something more interesting than being an English professor — not that that can’t be a serious or noble pursuit, but it wasn’t interdisciplinary enough for me. Porn is an interdisciplinary thing for me, and what I want to explore and understand. My fan base could have come from my being a singer or an

undertaker or a janitor or a police officer — not that I would ever be a police officer. People are interested in what I do because I’m not just an academic or a writer. It brings different eyes to what I’m doing. I’m writing a lot more. Can you discuss your way of interacting with fans? It’s really great to have people encouraging you as you’re doing things because there’s an entire culture discouraging you. Porn performers and sex workers are grateful to interact with their fans. You are plagued with discrimination. It’s awesome to have people care about what you are doing. If I cared so much about what others thought, I wouldn’t venture out to do anything new. Or only write about sexual topics. I have a lot of other things I’m interested in. I have gratitude but also focusing on what matters to you. Speaking of which, can you discuss your upcoming book The Sex Book? My book is about the history, sociology, science, and psychology of sex; where we got things wrong, how we developed our cultural attitudes towards sex, and how we can do it better. So that’s what you would expect from me. In the meantime, I’m writing about medicine and health and music. I’m branching out. We’ll see what happens. I’m just following where my interests lead. Since you mentioned your other interests, what is something folks would be surprised to know about you? Gosh. One of the things maybe is that when I was 18, I started a punk rock record label. That’s not a part of my life I’ve talked about. Follow Conner at @connerhabib on Twitter. Visit ConnerHabib.wordpress.com to learn more about him. FALL 2014 •

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[ Fitness ]

Squat

Your Way to

Ripped! Mark Moon

L

EGS are the biggest, strongest muscle in the body! They have the ability to activate a large amount of muscle fibres and burn heaps of calories, which will help improve overall strength, size and definition. Building lean muscle should be a priority for everyone, no matter what sex, how old you are, or what your overall goals are for that matter. So having said that, this article is written to explain the importance of incorporating legs into your training program for overall strength, definition and performance. The other aspect of this article is to bring your attention to the hormonal effect that comes with training big muscle groups, especially the legs. The hormonal effect or the metabolic effect as you may have heard it referred to, is where the getting ripped comes into play. You can make the most of the hormonal response to exercise by some clever workout design that uses high exercise volume. This means using a moderate repetition range (812) with heavy workout loads (80 percent or above) with short rest periods between sets (45-90 seconds). Keep in mind that the hormonal response to exercise is related to the amount of metabolic stress that is created during the workout, so be sure to choose compound exercises that recruit a large amount of muscle fibres. This is where the term “metabolic effect” comes from, and simply means that workouts which are structured using a high volume and intensity with short rest periods will maximize the body’s natural ability to stimulate a hormonal response. Front Squats, Back Squats, Split Squats (lunges) Deadlifts and varieties of these movements performed at a high intensity are essential for stimulating a hormonal response. Designing your leg workouts to include these exercises using heavy dumbbells or barbells with a variety of repetition ranges and super sets with plyometric jumps will get best results. Numerous studies have been performed to demonstrate the relationship between an increase of circulating anabolic hormones in the bloodstream and gains in muscle strength. Obviously the

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The following leg workout uses a combination of isolation and compound exercises. You can find a PDF of workout variations at my website www.MarkMoonFitness.com/Legworkout

more muscle strength you have, the greater you lean muscle will be, therefore your ability to train harder will increase. The following is an extract from an experiment performed by a group of scientists in Denmark (Hansen et al.2001). To start with, the scientists tested the arm strength of a group of subjects, and then divided the subjects into two groups. Group one (A group) trained only their arms, while group two (AL group) trained both arms and legs. Across the study, both groups spent the same amount of time training their arms; however the AL group also spent extra time training their legs to increase the amount of circulating anabolic hormones (testosterone and growth hormone) in the bloodstream, due to larger muscles being exercised. At the end of the experiment the results showed that group A had an increase in arm strength by nine percent while the AL group that trained both arms and legs had an increase in their arm strength by 37 percent. Therefore the study clearly shows the importance of recruiting a large muscle group into your training to activate the anabolic response. Therefore the greater your overall strength, the harder you can train. The harder you can train, then the greater your results. The take away from the article is to appreciate the value in leg training to not only help deliver and increase overall strength, but to appreciate the hormonal or the metabolic effect that can help increase circulating testosterone and growth hormone levels in the body. This in turn will help increase lean muscle and reduce body fat to reveal great definition, the product of your hard work. As with any training program it’s important to keep variety constant so your body isn’t adapting to the workouts. This doesn’t always mean using different exercises, but simply changing the order you perform your exercises and the repetition range you use can make a huge difference. Mark is one of today’s leaders in health and wellness, with more than 15 years’ experience from across the globe. As a celebrity trainer with a continued national and international presence, Mark promotes his well-balanced, holistic approach to fitness and lifestyle through media platforms worldwide. Mark has created his own online health, fitness and lifestyle brand Get Fit Fast The

1a. Seated Leg Extensions 15 reps Rest 15 seconds 1b. Dumbbell Front Squats 10 reps Rest for 60 seconds, and then repeat four sets through. Recover for a total of three minutes at the end of all four sets, before moving onto the next set of exercises. 2a. Seated Leg Hamstring Curls 15 reps Rest 15 seconds 2b. Stiff Legged Deadlifts 10 reps Rest for 60 seconds, and then repeat four sets through. Recover for a total of three minutes at the end of all four sets, before moving onto the next set of exercises.

Complete Workout System with workouts, meal plans and workout schedules available for download at www.markmoonfitness.com Mark is also a resident trainer on USA digital workout platform Fit Fusion, USA based iPhone application Go Flaunt It, and his home workout DVDs range is distributed through the USA by Watch It Now Entertainment at www. markmoonfitnessusa.com.

FALL 2014 •

39


[ Fashion ]

The Swinging Blue Jeans Pier Angelo

Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis patented their riveted design on May 20, 1873. The date is referred to as the birth of jeans. But the iconic American garment has its origins and roots in old Europe. The word “denim” comes from “de Nimes” a French town where the fabric was first made, while the word jeans comes from Genoa, Italy, Where, in the mid 1500s, sailors started wearing indigo-dyed clothes made with this strong, cheap and durable fabric. In the U.S. they were first designed as work wear for laborers on the farms and mines of America’s Western states. Jacob Davis, a Nevada tailor, was asked to make a pair of sturdy trousers for a local woodcutter; he struck upon the idea of reinforcing them with rivets. They proved extremely durable and were soon in high demand. His only problem was that he could not afford to patent them. He contacted his fabric supplier, a San Francisco merchant named Levi Strauss asking for help. The rest is history. Cowboys, carpenters, miners, shore hands, farmers, immediately adopted them. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency became known as the “New Deal” because of the promises he made to the American people. This deal consisted of ideas to get the country and people back on their feet. Soon, millions of Americans were working again. One of the programs was called the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC. Young men from all over the country lived in work camps. In Florida alone 40,000 Floridians participated in the CCC. They received food and clothing and their paychecks were sent home to their families. Jeans were a prominent item of these packages and their popularity took hold. By the Second World War women were wearing them in factories and US soldiers overseas wore them around the liberated towns while off duty. The trousers represented an easier, happier American way of life, which Europeans wanted to buy into after years of war and destruction. In the 50s they were banned in schools, which naturally added to the fervor with which teenagers embraced them, fueled by movies featuring Marlon Brando In “The Wild One” and James Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause” among others. In the 60s jeans took on a political and cultural turn. They became associated with opposition to the status quo, the system and the establishment. At Woodstock they were the ubiquitous uniform of the hippies and anti war movement. Torn, decorated, dyed, dirty, frayed, it didn’t matter. Bell bottom jeans ruled the 70s. In 1973, an Italian line named Jesus Jeans sparked a

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• FALL 2014

controversial morality storm launching sexually charged ads with the lines “He Who Loves Me Follows Me” and “Thou Shalt Not Have Any Other Jeans But Me.” The brand, despite initial strong opposition, successfully registered the name Jesus in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, France, Italy, and Spain. (By 1997 the Patent Office had no problems in approving French Connection’s application to register FCUK as a brand for its jeans). Gays also got into the action. The Hanky Code is a traditional form, not as widely used these days, of signaling to others what your sexual preferences and interests are. Gay men used this code to communicate with each other in the noisy and distracting environment of gay bars. It started in New York City in late 1970 or early 1971 when a journalist for the Village Voice joked that instead of simply wearing keys to indicate whether someone was a “top” or a “bottom” it would be more efficient to subtly announce their particular sexual focus by wearing different colored hankies from the back pockets of one’s jeans. In the 80s jeans took a sharp turn. Calvin Klein was the first to launch an advertising campaign where jeans were featured as fashion items that could be worn with jackets and ties. They were soon paraded down catwalks by high priced models and celebrities. Jeans, once more, had reinvented themselves. This time as a designer, expensive, stylish item. Jeans are also a symbol of democratization; they put different classes on an equal playing field. They are relatively affordable and hardwearing, look good worn as well as new, and, Best of all, don’t have to be ironed at all. They have become man’s best friend. The perfect sartorial object for all seasons. Ask a dozen people why they wear them and you might get thirtysix answers. For some they’re comfortable, durable and easy - for others they’re sexy and cool. They are the easiest and most intimate thing you can wear, they adhere to the body and become a second skin. One of Levis most telling catch phrases is “Started by Us. Finished by You.” The other is “You Live in Jeans.” Their chameleon quality, their ability to become all things to all people, is the secret to jeans’ survival as clothing staple. And after more than a century they do not seem to age, they endure, unfazed and preferably faded.


FALL 2014 •

41


[ Cars ]

Pride Rides: Five Cars We Oug Steve Siler

W

hat are the LGBT community’s most popular cars? Miatas, Wranglers, BMWs, Fiat 500s? None of the above, actually. Yep, according to an IHS survey of three million self-reported LGBT consumers conducted in 2013, we buy basically the same automotive appliances everybody else buys, with our top 5 list comprising of: 1) Ford F-150; 2) Honda Accord; 3) Chevy Silverado; 4) Toyota Camry, and 5) Honda Civic.

2015 VW Golf GTI/E-Golf Base Price*: $18K

Hands down, the hottest ride of 2014 is the radical new BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car. With its swan-wing doors, glassy cabin, and floating, aero-sculpted body panels, the i8 looks like nothing—I mean nothing—you’ve ever seen before on the road, unless you were riding shotgun with Tom Cruise on the set of Mission Impossible — Ghost Protocol. It’s also an all-wheel-drive

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Disappointed? Me too. While I’ve tested the Camry and the Hondas and the fine trucks on that list—and they’re all quite lovely—I think we can do better than that, can’t we, boys and girls? So I’ve put together a list of the five cars that I think reflect our well-known penchants for creature comfort, high-tech innovation and trend-setting style. And I wouldn’t put them on this list if they didn’t drive well, too. We’re proud of who we are, after all. Shouldn’t we be proud of our cars, too? If the Mazda 3 is the Audi A3’s spiritual kin, VW’s all-new, seventhgeneration 2015 Golf is the A3’s fraternal twin—the twin that didn’t go for the money job yet is no less accomplished anyway. Since Volkswagen owns Audi, the Golf shares much of its bones with the A3, and the refinement shows in form of remarkable quietness, solidity, and Teutonic road manners. Even the base model is excellent, but spend a little more and the rewards are great in terms of creature comfort and technology. If you want more performance, the hopped up GTI is downright fast, has a tremendous amount of cache, and best of all, plaid seats—yes! But the diesel Golf, or TDI, in VW-speak, might be our favorite, offering stratospheric fuel efficiency when you go easy on the go-pedal and a solid rush of acceleration when it’s time to really boogie. There’s also an electric version called the E-Golf that brings Golf goodness, sans gasoline, though its limited range compared to gas-powered cars may require some lifestyle adjustments. Regardless of which you choose, all said goodness is wrapped in a package that looks just as clean and elegant as the Audi. You can’t go wrong with any.

plug-in hybrid that’s made mostly out of carbon fiber and aluminum that can travel 20 miles on electricity alone before the gas engine kicks on. Kick it into sport mode and the i8 will vault you from a standstill to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. Here’s the sad part: the sexalicious four-seater is eye-wateringly expensive—roughly $135,700— and for that kind of money, there are plenty of

faster cars out there. But few cars at any price contain this kind of brag-worthy technology (and sure beats your partner’s brother’s stupid dronecopter). And nothing short of a Lamborghini Aventador packs the knockout punch of its futuristic styling. If you’re an early adopter and want to reward yourself with an absolute dream ride, this is THE car to drive in 2015 and beyond.


ghta

Be Driving For 2014

2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe & Roadster

2015 BMW i8 Base price: $136K

Base Price*: 66K As Jaguar likes to say in its ads, it’s good to be bad. But I’d like to add that it’s only good to be bad if you look good being bad. And look good you will if you find yourself being bad while at the helm of Jaguar’s heavenly F-Type coupe. Naughty extroverts may prefer the equally gorgeous roadster that allows you to be bad topless (which is always more fun) but you really can’t look bad no matter what. Now, it’s a proper sports car, which means it only has two seats and a small trunk that can barely handle a weekend’s worth of soft luggage (I can attest to this). The base F-Type comes with a powerful V-6, which will be enough for most people, but I vastly prefer the V-8 with the optional, orgasmic variable exhaust system. Trust me, you’re going to need to wipe down after you hear it. Either way, however you’ll enjoy fabulous steering and true sports car handling. At $66K—$100K loaded, the F-Type is less expensive than most comparable Porsche Carreras, yet with the V-8, the F-Type is quicker and far less commonplace. Make mine bad boy orange.

*Prices rounded to the nearest $1,000 Los Angeles-based automotive journalist Steve Siler pioneered automotive writing for the LGBT community in 1998 and currently contributes auto news and reviews to Car and Driver Magazine, Yahoo Autos, AOL Autos, The New York Daily News, Autoblog and more. You can follow his adventures on Twitter and Instagram with the handle @silerroad. FALL 2014 •

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[ Cars ] 2015 Mazda 3 Base Price*: $20K

Think of the Mazda 3 as the Audi A3’s “brother from another mother.” With sedan or hatchback versions, each as handsome as the other, the Mazda 3 is one the best-looking compact cars on the road. Beyond that, it’s light weight and steers with precision, giving it excellent handling and a frisky, playful demeanor. Just like the twink next door that endlessly flirts with you when you take the dogs out for a walk. The 3’s innovative engine technology not only makes it responsive to your right

foot’s commands, but also makes it very easy on gas, so you can afford to take that twink out for a date. Inside, you (and perhaps the twink) will enjoy near-Audi levels of refinement, complete with a Euro-style controller for the infotainment system and slick contrasting stitching on the seats. The Mazda 3 is the kind of overachieving automobile that makes Civics and Corollas seem even more cheap and dull than they are.

2015 Audi A3 sedan Base Price*: $31K

If dapper dudes in dapper duds turn you on, especially when horned-rimmed glasses are part of the package, Audi has created the new A3 just for you. It’s essentially everything that makes Audi one of our favorite brands—technology, class, clean design, and premium brand cache—shrink-wrapped into a compact sedan that’s as easy to park as it is to look at. The A3 was also the first car to market with 4G 44

• FALL 2014

LTE connectivity, which turns your car into a high-speed hotspot and makes possible the use of 3-D Google Maps in the navigation screen. Performance-oriented folks like me will prefer the quick S3 version, due sometime fall, at which point a perky A3 convertible version will also appear. This is the hot nerd of automobiles, and anyone would be smart (and look smarter) if they snatch one up.


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45


[ Coffee Table ]

Corbin Fisher Celebrates 10th Anniversary With

“2014: All American”

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• FALL 2014


from the book:

In an industry where so many brands and companies seem to come and go, celebrating a 10th anniversary is quite the achievement. When Corbin Fisher began in a modest home basement in 2004, our focus was on making it through to the next month; while we certainly worked toward establishing something that would thrive and last, we were not so presumptuous to even think about where we might be 10 years down the line. Here we are, though - marking our first decade online, looking forward to our next, and both thrilled and humbled these years have been shared with so many incredible performers, fans, friends and partners.

FALL 2014 •

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[ Coffee Table ]

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About the Book Photo Book Pages: 144 Size: 10.25 x 13.5 inch Format: Hardcover with dust jaket ISBN 978-3-86787-757-2 US $ 75.99 48

• FALL 2014


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49


[ Essay ]

My Pink Panther

Tattoo C

artoons are wonderful. Mother Culture feeds us various characters involved in outrageous situations. When I was growing up in rural Indiana, I would rush home daily after school to watch everything from Mickey Mouse and GI Joe, to the Smurfs and ThunderCats. Saturday mornings were heaven. I would sit mesmerized by the flickering TV screen watching the anvils drop on the coyote and the moose pull a lion out of a hat. None, however, made as big of an impression on my little mind as the Pink Panther. From his suave strut to his lazy looks, the Pink Panther oozes swank. He consistently tries to stay afloat in the pool of drama his creators toss him into for the requisite five to seven minutes. Spawn of the movies and named for a diamond, the unspeaking panther has served as a constant source of identification for me. I can’t remember the first time I saw inked skin on another human being, but I can remember always wanting to morph into Pink’s slinky body. It was as if shedding my own personality and donning a pink groove would somehow allow me to feel cool or in control. I announced to the world at age twelve that I was going to have a Pink Panther tattoo. What better totem than having Pink’s poise and laissezfair attitude permanently gliding over my body? My mother was less than thrilled at my inspiration. The University of Evansville was as far from my rural Indiana town as I could get while still staying in the state. Now that I lived in the “big city,” I quickly discovered other queers and spent most of my year at school submerged in gay culture and drama. I dropped out the next year at 19. I’ve cursed that decision ever since — it was an idiotic resolution made by a child who should have been home watching cartoons instead of a man about to face the dreaded “real world.” Bill Clinton ran for president that year against the notoriously anti-gay George H.W. Bush. Clinton was touring the nation with a cavalcade of busses. He stopped in Evansville and having nothing better to do, I went to the rally. “WHAT ABOUT AIDS?” screamed signs at the assembly. Curious as to why gays were picketing Clinton, I threaded my way through the crowd to the protestors from ACT UP. They explained their mission to get him to simply

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• FALL 2014

Bil Browning

talk about AIDS to the American public at his campaign stops and asked if I’d like to join them on the campaign trail for the next few stops. Without a dollar in my pocket, I took off. A few weeks later the bus tour ended in St. Louis and I headed back to Evansville and a really pissed off roommate. (Well, I did leave a note!) After a couple days of “Where have you been?” and “Where is your rent?” I was extremely relieved to get a telephone call from New York right after Clinton announced his intention to campaign the same way through the Midwest. As a bonus, the bus tour would end close to Houston, Texas — site of the 1992 Republican National Convention. ACT UP had a large demonstration planned for the convention. Just about every gay rights, abortion rights, women’s rights, civil rights, animal rights and religious right group had a protest of some sort in Houston that week. I signed up for a full tour of duty right away. Jason Westmoreland was one of many people running helter-skelter around the ACT UP headquarters, but he was the first to ask me on a date. After a wild night of drinking and sightseeing on top of weeks of constant protesting, my rebelliousness and testosterone levels were peaking. Houston hosts several tattoo parlors and when I announced my goal of being inked, Jason knew just where to take me. Around the time we pulled up out front, panic set in. I didn’t want to look like a coward in front of my date though, so, taking a deep breath and swallowing a prayer, I walked in. The first sketch I saw was a huge Pink Panther someone had down their back — tail running down a leg. Horrified and fascinated, I had to inspect further. I found a few other smaller designs — but most were rather crass. Pink with a liquor bottle. Pink on a Harley Davidson. Pink doing things to other cartoon characters that you usually only see in magazines with brown covers. The only halfway decent depiction was of Pink in a tuxedo with a walking stick. Thinking it was now or never, I chose the tux. Jason paid the man a decidedly small amount of money and suddenly the man was facing me with a razor in one hand and a pair of rubber gloves in his other. My drinks had worn off rather quickly. Coincidentally, it seemed to happen at about the time it sank into my liquor fogged mind

that I was really going to have needles thrusting into my skin. I was excited, terrified, and sober. As the man prepared his inks and needles, Jason quickly shot me the “peace” sign. Before I knew it, my arm was being held steady and the process had begun. Surprisingly, it didn’t hurt nearly as much as I thought it would. The only way I can think of to describe the feeling is to imagine a cat scratch with pressure behind it. I relaxed soon enough and began to enjoy watching the design take shape. An hour and a half later, I had a rakish Pink Panther, sporting a top hat and tails, on my right arm. I left ecstatic. For months after I came home I would step out of the shower forgetting I had been inked and shocking myself every time I looked in the mirror. My friends all thought my tattoo was “cool” and very “me.” However, to me that little spot of ink on my skin had become a turning point — a “coming of age,” if you will. I was a man now with the capabilities to look after myself. It still is a symbol of something more — of a feeling, an attitude. Even if things go wrong, just find a way through it and keep your cool. It’s a totem of swank and a source of identification. It is a permanent part of me. I immediately wanted another tattoo. Five years later, I got a black and green tribal anklet. Now I want another. Mom’s still not too excited.


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51


[ Short Story ]

One Dog Day Night in the

Himmarshee Zone Norm McLean

T

hey call them the ‘dog days’ of summer…you know, the way man’s best friend has of just lying around in the shade doing nothing from about June to November. For us humans it’s like waking up hot in the morning because the sun is seeping in through the blinds and is making you sweat even though your air conditioner is set at 75 degrees. The sheets feel kind of clammy and your skin feels about the same as the sheets. You don’t want to get out of bed and go to work, assuming that you’re the kind of person who has a job to go to. Or if you’re idle, like me, you don’t want to get up because you have no schedule. Here in Fort Lauderdale, the ‘dog days’ can go on for six months and the only thing that gets you moving is either the threat of a hurricane or that rare cool snap that promises to stir your enervated sex drive. It’s a great life down here on the whole and the wintertime is paradise. But, the summertime is the ‘mean season’ and that’s what I want to talk to you about, what happened to me one day and n i g h t during the middle of summer, back one July sometime ago. I would be 45 that fall but that day in July I felt much younger. I was single, in the way that some of us are. I had spent the day doing nothing and wondering if I could turn the air conditioner down to 70

52

degrees and still pay the FPL bill at the end of the month. As the sun began to set I thought about going down to my favorite gin joint in the Himmarshee “zone.” I slipped into some loafers without benefit of socks and admired myself in the minor. I looked maybe forty and with a little help from the dimness of bar light, who knows, could pass for 35 and holding. There was a spring in my step and a whistle in my mouth as I entered the bar on Himmarshee. The bartender looked familiar and friendly like he was happy to see anybody step out of the heat and into his place. I ordered a Tanqueray and tonic and surveyed my surroundings. There was just me, a young couple oblivious to the rest of the world and the bartender. In the middle of my second gin and tonic, the door opened and a striking woman in a white tube top and red mini skirt came in. She sat one stool from me and crossed her long legs. She was neither shy nor coy, I soon learned. “Been here long, handsome?” she asked. “Waiting for you seemed like an eternity,” I said. It had been a lifetime since I used a line like that on a woman. I wondered if I could still blush like I did in the old days. She rose from her stool and took the one next to me. She pushed her little black purse next to my glass and gazed at me. “Can a girl buy a guy a drink in

• FALL 2014

this place or would the guy think the girl too bold?” About an hour or so later and with the addition of a couple more gin and tonics I wasn’t exactly at my best. She however, seemed to be just hitting her stride and she was decidedly hitting on me. She told me her name was Jones, Destiny Jones and that in this age of equality between the sexes she thought it was perfectly all right to come into bars and pick up a man. She asked me if I had a problem with that and I answered honestly, I had no problem with that, at all. Live and let love and let live and love, etc. The Tanqueray had made me brilliant beyond my phony forty years. I was beginning to feel a little sticky even though I was sure that the temperature in the bar was a low 70 degrees or less. I knew what was shaping up with Destiny’s comeon and I doubted that she’d be too pleased with my response. Her sultry voice whispered, “What’s your name, handsome” “No guy’s name can compare to a name like Destiny. So, let’s pretend that I can be whoever you want me to be. Your choice, Destiny, what shall my name be, at least for tonight?” She was quiet for only a moment and then she smiled some more. “Jeremiah, Jeremiah Jones. Destiny and Jeremiah Jones. Now we’re a couple. How does that suit you?” “Jeremiah suits me fine. Sounds like something out of the Bible. Maybe you should be Delilah.” “Destiny describes me too well to change it. Who knows, maybe I could be your destiny of the week, Jeremiah, or at least for one hot,

lonely night in July in a little bar on Himmarshee street.” I knew it was time for the truth game. “Look Destiny, you’re a beautiful woman with more sizzle than McDonald’s grill at rush hour and there’s no place I rather be right now than be seated on this bar stool next to you, getting loaded on gin. But I’m not the guy you think I am.” “Don’t be modest, Jeremiah. I like what I see and what I don’t see, I can guess. I love a man with a handsome face and you sure got that... I see the outline of a hairy chest and probably great pecs. How about it Jeremiah, do you have great pecs to go with that hairy chest and package? “As a matter of fact, I guess I do have those physical assets. But the truth is, well... I kind of fall for men with those attributes, myself.” Destiny Jones and I have moved in together. He’s stopped shaving his chest and doesn’t get into that drag stuff outside the apartment. Destiny keeps saying that we need to go back to the bar on Himmarshee and replay our first meeting. But I don’t think we should tempt fate. Between you and me, I get a little restless some nights. After all, maybe a guy named Destiny and a guy named Jeremiah aren’t meant to last into the cool season...could be it was fate that brought us together but this romance is not our true and final destiny. Anyway, I’ll catch up with you again...say next June? Fill you in on it all…hey, why not? Come around the next “Dog Days” of summer, we’ll bump into one another in that little gin bar on Himmarshee.


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Profile for The Mirror Magazine

Mirror Fall 2014  

Taking Broadway By Storm

Mirror Fall 2014  

Taking Broadway By Storm