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YOUR LGBT LIFE.

ISSUE 17.03 | FEB. 4 - FEB. 17, 2010 WATERMARKONLINE.COM

USF Queer Theory class draws fire

Orlando TSA accused of gay discrimination

love in the digital age Focus on

Love Readers’ tales of finding love Valentine greetings An atypical hunt for a beau

D AY T O N A B E A C H

ORLANDO

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S A R A S O TA




| Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010


Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010 |




watermark | preview

| Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010

issue 17.03

4

THE BIG BANG 29 PG.

When two men are desperate to pitch a play spanning all of history, things are bound to turn comical. That’s the storyline of The Big Bang!, which celebrates its encore run at American Stage in St. Petersburg through Feb. 21. The play stars gay favorite Matthew McGee and the hilarious Christopher Swan.

6 | Orlando News

Time makes everything evolve, even the way we find love. Today, more and more LGBTs are finding true love through technology, and web sites are embracing same-sex relationships like never before. Illustration by Jake Stevens

The Central Florida Episcopal Diocese pass several anti-gay measures; Orlando TSA officials accused of gay and race discrimination; Local performance artist will marry any woman who shows up so he can make a statement; more.

ORLANDO NEWS

6

8 | Tampa Bay News

11 / STATE NEWS 13 / NATION+WORLD NEWS

The Florida Family Association takes aim at the University of South Florida for offering Queer Theory course; TIGLFF hires new executive

14 / TAMPA BAY MARKETPLACE

director; African-American HIV/AIDS awareness events slated for

8

Feb. 7; more.

18 / ORLANDO MARKETPLACE

11 | State

24 / MAIL

Third judge rules against Florida’s gay adoption ban; Obama visits Tampa, encourages same-sex benefits.

TAMPA BAY NEWS

13 | Nation/World Defense lawyers hoping to uphold Prop 8 in California rest their case;

34 / EVENT PLANNER 36 / TAMPA BAY OUT+ABOUT

Pentagon says it wants to lift ban on gays in the military. 37 / ORLANDO OUT+ABOUT

17 | Viewpoint SCENE+HEARD

27

WatermarkOnline editor Jamie Hyman debuts her new column to keep readers updated about our online presence. Ken Kundis talks about finding satisfaction with oneself before worrying about love; and Tom

51 / ADVICE

Dyer shares his views on the latest hit against Florida’s ban on gays adopting.

39 | Love We speak with couples who made their connection through the click

39

50 / TRANSITIONS

52 / SPORTS 53 / CLASSIFIEDS

of a mouse. Many of our readers share tales of finding their true love and freelancer Kirk Hartlage shares his tales of finding love in

KNOW+TELL

unconventional places.

54 / GOSSIP


watermark | preview

Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010 |

5

editor’sdesk I

for my willingness to remain a virgin until marriage. No lie—I actually had t seems just like yesterday that we were singing carols, lighting up the an underwear rule. We could do whatever, as long as our underwear stayed tree and celebrating a brand new year. Now, we’re looking Valentine’s put. I don’t know if I was afraid I would fall in or what. Day square in the face. No wonder she wasn’t shocked when I came out of the closet a few years Where did the time go? later. I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day. I’m fortunate enough to As we enter into February, Watermark presents its annual Love issue. have a loving partner and it’s hard for me to imagine going through my day This is always one of my favorite issues because it gives us a chance to without knowing he’s there by my side. But we’ve never really made a big shine a light on the positive feelings we have for our partners, husbands, deal out of the annual so-called Hallmark holiday. wives—or whatever title we choose to give them. All relationships are I remember the Valentine’s Day that I actually had to purchase a gift for founded in some form of love, and relationships in the LGBT community my first girlfriend. The term “girlfriend” should tell you how long ago that are no different. was. I was in seventh grade and remember walking I have many friends who are constantly asking around the store of Grandpa Pigeon’s, which was a me to find them a date. They say they are out of luck K-Mart/Wal-Mart hybrid that was quite popular in when it comes to finding love and know that there the Midwest before it closed in the late 1990s. The No lie—I actually had is no one out there for them. I’m not a psychic, so I seasonal aisle was decked out with pink and white don’t know if someone is, indeed, out there for them. crepe paper and similarly colored boxes and bears an underwear rule. But in my experience, finding love is something that lined both sides. Since I wasn’t even old enough to just happens. It’s not a wild animal you can hunt like drive, my dad was with me and he helped me pick a deer. out just the right bear for my Valentine. Love also comes in many forms. In this issue we talk about how love I recall choosing a white bear based more on price than aesthetics; the begins. Louanne Walters introduces us to two couples who met and fell in whole idea of giving a girl a gift felt like a chore rather than a celebration. love online and Kirk Hartlage shares some interesting (and funny) stories A few days later, when I gave my girlfriend her gift, I remember her about non-traditional ways to find love. giving me a kiss—not one of those big wet ones—but a peck on the lips. I We even have a really inspiring selection of first-person stories of how also remember that I only got a card. That was the only Valentine’s Day we some of our readers met. spent together and we broke up soon after that. I knew she wasn’t right for Like so many things in life, love comes in different forms and in many me. varieties. It’s not an exact science and it’s certainly not something a Of course, like many gay men, I knew I was gay long before I came politician or religious figure can tell you to feel or not to feel. out at 21. I dated a few girls after my first girlfriend but never really had It’s a strong emotion embedded in us from birth that is waiting to that deep connection expressed in so many of those red and white cards by reach out to the right person. I hope all of our readers get a chance to those geniuses writing the greetings. experience true love and if you already do, share those feelings this In high school I had a “long-term” girlfriend for nearly two years. That Valentine’s Day. | l | meant two Valentine’s Days and two years of stress. I can joke with her now about those awkward moments we spent alone and her constant praise

Steve Blanchard EDITOR

SteveB@WatermarkOnline.com

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YOUR LGBT LIFE.

YOUR LGBT LIFE.

ISSUE 17.02 | JAN. 21 - FEB. 3, 2010 WATERMARKONLINE.COM

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Focus on: Mind, Body+soul

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FunctionaL Fitness Fads HyPnotism in tHe new year PLastic surgery and gay men

Loca designers ‘make it work’ LocaL on Project runway season 7

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Art FOCUS ON

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WINTER ARTS

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It’s an PLUS MEET LOCAL CONTESTANT TYRA SANCHEZ

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A FOOTLIGHT PARADE AT P-HOUSE UPCOMING SHOWS

RUPAUL DISHES ON SEASON 2 OF HER DRAG RACE

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watermark | orlando news

| Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010

Feldman: ‘Show up and marry me’

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Orlando | Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to see if anyone shows up to marry Brian Feldman. The Orlando performance artist is inviting any woman—as long as she is a legal citizen with no legal liabilities—to simply show up at the Orange County License Office in downtown Orlando on Feb. 8 at 3 p.m. His cause is to draw attention to laws that deny committed, same-sex couples the right to marry each other. Of course, this could result in Feldman making a lifetime commitment to a woman he has never met. Feldman says he’s nervous about what could happen, but not as concerned as the attorney he spoke to before moving forward with the project. “I know that there’s some risk involved but I think it’s worth doing and somebody had to do it,” Feldman said. “At the end of the day, this is really the least I could do, and I know that’s odd to say, ‘The least you can do is get married?’” He says it was the best method he could think of to draw attention to the issue of marriage equality. If or when a potential wife shows up on Feb. 8, she and Feldman will fill out Orange County’s single page marriage application, show their photo IDs and then pay the $123.50 fee, plus $6 for a marriage certificate. Feldman says he’ll pony up this part. “They’re taking the leap just by showing up, so I’m happy to do it,” he says. The new couple will then wait the required 3-day period, returning at 3 p.m. on Feb. 12 to be married by a clerk of the court. If more than one willing wife shows up on Feb. 8, Feldman says he has a test planned to determine who gets to say “I do.” “The ultimate outcome is me showing up and there’s someone there who believes in what I’m trying to do and agrees to get married for the cause,” he says. “If no one shows up, I have to figure out a way to change the project, which I’ve done in the past. I find a way around it.” Feldman says that of the 50 or so performance art projects he’s done so far, this one has gotten the most attention and support. At this point, he’s only gotten positive feedback. “I’m surprised! I’m waiting [for negative feedback] with bated breath,” he said. Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, is the first in line. “Obviously this degrades marriage in the same way redefining marriage would degrade marriage,” Brown says. “Marriage by its nature the union of a man and a woman and if you change that, you

Performance artist Brian Feldman has invited any woman to meet him Feb. 8 to get married as part of his plan to show the ridiculousness of Florida’s gay marriage ban. Photo courtesy Brian Feldman

can change anything. I think [Feldman’s project] will highlight and strengthen the resolve of people that marriage is between a man and a woman.” When asked how exactly Feldman’s project would do that, Brown replied, “Clearly this is a PR stunt and people are going to see it as such. Also, people understand that if you have this little respect for marriage, how can people take [Feldman’s project] seriously?” In the meantime, Feldman is still thinking about the woman who might show up and why she should. “I’m a nice person,” he said. “I enjoy smiling and bicycling and I organized Pillowlando, the most fun event in Orlando history,” he said, describing the annual pillow fight held in downtown. In lieu of wedding gifts, Feldman asks that people donate to Equality Florida or the Human Rights Campaign. | l |


watermark | orlando news

Orlando TSA accused of race and gay discrimination stephen miller Orlando | Transportation Security Administration officials have launched an investigation into the use of an Orlando field office assignment board to mock minorities, women, and gays. A CNN report on Jan. 30 stated that the whiteboard was marked with a Jeopardy-style game with categories labeled “pickle smokers,” “our gang,” and “creatures.” According to the report, these terms referred to gay men, AfricanAmericans and lesbians, respectively. Another article filed with the Mother Jones web site explained the rules of this office game. A supervisor or training personnel would choose one of the derogatory categories. A “host” instructor would then describe a certain air marshal, and the others would guess which marshal was being labeled a “pickle smoker” or other disparaging joke phrase. The Mother Jones article also reports that the game had been proceeding for months. Recently, air marshal Steve Theodoropoulos sent a letter to senators Bill Nelson and George LeMieux complaining that the board was used to mock employees and create a hostile work environment. When asked about the complaints tied to TSA offices at OIA, two gay women who work within and alongside the agency say the same three words in separate interviews: “I’m not surprised.” Both asked for anonymity, and both women believe that ethics and diversity conflicts are rampant within the TSA. “January has been a rough month,” says the lesbian TSA employee, “but perhaps it will help bring about real change.” “The place has no real standards or training,” states an out Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) employee. “I would agree with that,” the TSA employee confirms at a later interview. “Management reinvents our requirements all the time, daily, it seems” Another incident landed an Orlando

TSA employee in jail on charges of molestation of a minor. On Jan. 28, security officer Charlie Bennett was arrested at his Winter Garden home by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. He was charged with sexual assault of a minor under his partial care and guardianship. Sheriff’s reports said that Bennett asked the minor to be his sex slave three years ago. The TSA has been consistently dogged with discrimination and ethics complaints since the government agency’s inception two months after 9/11. Reports include illegal hiring processes, racism, homophobia, lack of professionalism, lack of work ethic, hostility towards travelers, preferential treatment, misuse of funds, retaliation, and sexual harassment and misconduct. TSA has been named in 19 discrimination lawsuits; all were dismissed without trial because of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act. “It’s a complete circus. There’s no real oversight,” the GOAA employee says. She cites lack of leadership, lack of discipline, and even lack of work ethic. “‘TSA’ stands for ‘Thousands Standing Around,’” she asserts. The GOAA employee asked to be anonymous so she could maintain positive working relations between airport departments. The TSA employee—who is not out at work—is unsure whether she’s ever been directly affected by her employer’s alleged discriminatory activities. She doesn’t want to take any chances. “Given their track record, I just feel I might be targeted or even fired.” She looks away for the briefest moment, and then returns to her typical concentrated stare. “It’s just not the right time, economically speaking, to be looking for a new job.” | l |



Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010 |

Episcopal Diocese passes anti-gay measures jamie hyman Lakeland | The Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida passed two anti-gay measures at its annual convention in Lakeland the last weekend in January. The votes come after the national church leadership’s recent moves toward gay acceptance. In 2003, Gene Robinson, a gay man, was elected Bishop of New Hampshire. Late last year, the church officially approved the appointment of gay bishops, including lesbian Mary Glasspool as Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Los Angeles. A few days later, church officials decided to allow bishops to bless same-sex unions. Over the years, these actions have caused a number of the regional dioceses to split from the main church. Rob Michaels, who is on the vestry of a church in Fruitland Park, says these splits mean the Central Florida Diocese is the most conservative in the country. The first anti-gay measure passed on Jan. 30 condemned the appointment of Bishop Glasspool. The decision was so close that convention delegates had to stand and be counted. Still, it passed, 174 in favor and 152 against. The other measure affirmed the

diocese’s commitment to marriage being strictly between a man and a woman, in direct opposition to the national stance. It was introduced just four days before the convention and required a vote to even be considered. Many delegates rose to request more time; others spoke both in favor and against the resolution. Michaels spoke against it, calling it “pious self-righteous talk” and pointing out that although scripture also requires a single, lifetime marriage, one of the presenters of the resolution has been married more than once. Still, the resolution passed soundly, no counting required. A young female priest who wished not to be identified by name was among the “nay” votes. “The Bible has to be interpreted and my interpretation includes blessing gays and lesbians who want unions,” she said. She agrees that the Central Florida diocese’s attitude is different from the church at large. “Qe aren’t allowed to discuss it even though discussion needs to happen,” she said. “Gays and lesbians have a lot of friends here, and we are the majority in the church as a whole.” | l |

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watermark | tampa bay news

| Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010

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Florida Family Association rallies against “Queer Theory” steve blanchard Tampa | David Caton has rallied his troops again. The president of the Florida Family Association asked his members to flood the University of South Florida with e-mails protesting the spring semester course called “Queer Theory.” Caton, who has spoken out against LGBT rights at countless government meetings, said the course has no educational value and wastes money. “The content, I just see that as inappropriate for a tax-funded university to be involved in,” Caton told the St. Petersburg Times. “For allocation purposes, I think this is a very, very bad choice.” In all, USF received more than 2,500 e-mails protesting the course, taught by out assistant professor Sara Crawley. Crawley has taught the elective, seniorlevel course at USF for four years. She contends that the word “theory” in the title means students can expect a lot of reading and writing. Queer Theory has been taught on university campuses around the country for nearly 20 years. According to a syllabus for the course, queer theory takes apart the idea that sexual orientation is innate. It also questions the categories of “male” and “female” along with how society builds those categories up. “Most importantly, it questions the way in our culture that we tend to understand the world in binary terms,” Crawley said. “So it questions male-female as a binary. It questions masculine-feminine. It questions

straight-gay and wants us to think about the degree to which it’s actually social control in our everyday lives that produces the effect of these categories as binary.” Despite the flood of identical form e-mails to the university, the course will remain intact, according to USF vice Provost Dwayne Smith. He said that the university respects intellectual diversity. According to reports, Caton first became aware of the course after seeing fliers advertising it and depicting male impersonator and entertainer 6-Pak, who has been featured in Watermark and now lives in Las Vegas. The photo shows him dressed in white pants, white hat and black suspenders with a caption that reads, “Drag performance of local gender illusionist, 6pak, a physiologically unaltered female-bodied trans guy.” Caton says the flier indicates that the course will include a drag show with the performer in the photo. Crawley said a drag show is not part of the class, which has 31 students enrolled this semester. 6 Pak, also known as Andy Citino, read the story in the Times and was upset about the issue. He also expressed support for the class and for Crawley. “When I was there I spoke about trans issues and not about performing,” Citino said. “The controversy that is out there baffles me. You would think I would be less affected by now but to keep fighting the fight is all I can do.” | l |

Central Florida Black Pride returns to Tampa steve blanchard Tampa | The Breath of Life Fellowship Church will once again host Central Florida Black Pride from Thursday, Feb. 11, through Sunday, Feb. 14. The annual gathering of AfricanAmerican members of the LGBT community celebrates diversity and the specific struggles same-gender loving men and women encounter. To celebrate in 2010, Central Florida Black Pride will screen Silence is Death: Unleashed Voices, a documentary by Lorenzo C. Robertson. “It’s extremely important that we keep other generations safe from HIV,” Robertson said in a 2009 interview with the health site TheBody.com. Robertson is the state health department’s coordinator for sexual health among black men who have sex with men. Diagnosed with HIV in 1997 after being infected through unprotected sex, Robertson said he refuses to remain

silent and is channeling his energies into advocacy. The film will be shown twice during Central Florida Black Pride—Thursday, Feb. 11, and Saturday, Feb. 13. Both showings are at 7 p.m. On Friday, Feb. 12, Central Florida Black Pride will present RED, a GrownGurls Event, at Valentines Night Club at 7522 N. Armenia Ave. The Valentine’s Day-themed event encourages red attire and prizes for the best red outfit. There is no cover before 10:30 p.m. and there is a $12 sink or swim special. The celebration continues on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 4 p.m. with the Literary Café, featuring authors and poets like Winston James, Skyy and Fiona Zedde. Sunday wraps up the weekend with services at the Breath of Life Church at 2210 E. Third Ave., in Tampa. For more information on Central Florida Black Pride events, call 813-391-6776. | l |


watermark | tampa bay news

Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010 |

TIGLFF introduces new executive director

Montrese named Miss Gay America

steve blanchard

St. Petersburg | For the first time in more than three decades, a Floridian holds the Miss Gay America title. Organizers of the Miss Gay America pageant have named CoCo Montrese Miss Gay America 2010. Montrese was handed the title after Alyssa Edwards was stripped of the title for “conduct unbecoming to a titleholder.” Montrese, who performs at The Flaming Resort in St. Petersburg, will be officially crowned in late February. More details will be released soon. “It is an honor and privilege to represent the title of Miss Gay America 2010,” Montrese said in a prepared statement. “Becoming a part of a legacy and history within the oldest

St. Petersburg | Rosie Stallman sees a lot of magic in the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. The new executive director of the 21-year-old organization has only been on the job for two weeks, but she has big plans and even bigger respect for the institution. “I went to the festival last fall and I absolutely fell in love with it,” said Stallman, who previously worked for the NCAA in Indianapolis. “I fell in love with the whole atmosphere, the interaction from the streets to the theater. In my mind, the entire experience was magical.” Less than a month after the close of the 20th TIGLFF, Stallman said she learned about the opening for its executive director, which was vacated by Chuck Henson. Henson held the position for three years and recently became the full time traffic reporter for Bay News 9 on Bright House Networks. “I was still on a high from the festival when I learned about the position and I was like, ‘This is perfect,’” Stallman said. “I knew this is where I would love to be and to have the opportunity to be a part of something so special.” Stallman said that she and Henson have worked closely since she took the position and she appreciates his contributions to TIGLFF. “Chuck has connections and his social networking, media and outreach skills are awesome,” Stallman said. “He’s a kind guy who has made so many people aware of the film festival. The difficulty is following Chuck. He’s really good and everyone knows him. He’s so accessible and helpful.” Stallman said that when she met Henson the first time, she insisted on a photo with him. “I was star struck,” she laughed. Stallman was born near Shreveport, La., but lived most of her formative years in Minnesota. She graduated from St. Cloud State University with degrees in teaching and coaching. She received her masters in

administration six years later from the same school and served as athletic director for Texas Wesleyan and Eastern New Mexico University. “A part of all that life is recruitment and Tampa International Film development,” Festival Executive Director Stallman said. “I Rosie Stallman enjoy building relationships and I see that as a bridge from the film festival to branch out and build relationships that may not be typical.” Stallman said she has always been a fan of art and remembers the Eastern New Mexico University president approaching her while she was admiring some art on the campus. “He said he never had seen an athletic director so interested in art,” she said. “I’ve always had one foot in sports and one in the arts.” Stallman and her partner of five years, Sue Sears, live in Palm Harbor. She said her first love is her relationship, but as the new face of TIGLFF, she plans to reach out to past and current donors, fans and sponsors of the film festival. “My strength is to share the message of the festival with those who have never attended or may not feel connected,” she said. “I plan to find those people and blend them in. I have a few ideas in the planning stages and I’m excited about them.” Stallman said she remains a fan and is excited to meet other fans in her new role. “I love how technology and the internet make films and art so accessible so fast,” she said. “But there’s something very different about the energy level of being around those experiencing the same film at the same time. It’s contagious.” To contact Stallman, visit TIGLFF.com or e-mail her at Rosie@TIGLFF.com.. | l |

briefs St. Pete Pride plans Valentine’s fundraiser

Lady in Red Dance returns Feb. 13

Island Seafood Market in St. Petersburg will hold a Valentine’s Day fundraiser for St. Pete Pride. The restaurant at 2057 Central Ave. will offer a 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 14 brunch for $40, with proceeds benefitting the 2010 promenade in late June. RSVPs are requested. For more information or to reserve a seat, visit IslandSeafoodMarket.com.

The annual Lady in Red Sweetheart Dance returns to the St. Petersburg Coliseum at 535 Fourth Ave. N. on Feb. 13. The LGBTthemed dance benefits the Sonia Plotnick Health Fund and runs from 8 p.m. to midnight. Tickets are $25 in advance and $20 at the door. Singles are encouraged to attend as well as couples. For more information and tickets, contact Linda Garrabrant at 727-686-8294 or e-mail Linda-Robert@hotmail.com.

steve blanchard



female impersonation pageant around was a dream that became a reality for me.” Montrese said she is unable to elaborate at this time on the controversy surrounding Edwards, but is thrilled to represent the pageant over the upcoming year. “I don’t expect the road ahead to be easy,” she said, “as there will be challenges and obstacles to overcome. With the strongest support of the sisterhood within the former Miss Gay America’s, Contestants, Promoters, L and T Entertainment, Friends and Family, I plan to successfully represent and promote the Miss Gay America System with humility, respect and unwavering dedication.” Montrese said that with the crown she no longer just represents herself, but the entire Miss Gay America System.. | l |

Health Dept. recognizes National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day staff report St. Petersburg | The Pinellas County Health Department has partnered with The Flamingo Resort and AIDS Service Association of Pinellas to heighten awareness of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Feb. 7. The national day is designed to encourage African-Americans across the

country to get educated, tested and treated regarding HIV/AIDS. The health department will offer free H1N1 vaccines, Hepatitis B vaccines, syphilis screenings, and rapid HIV testing at The Flamingo Resort at 4601 34th St. S., on Sunday, Feb. 7, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call the Pinellas County Health Department HIV/AIDS Program at 727-824-6900, ext. 11453. | l |


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| Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010

watermark | sarasota news

‘Be My Valentine Ball’ focuses on T-community steve blanchard Sarasota | For the first time ever, transgender people living in the Sarasota area will have an opportunity to celebrate Valentine’s Day openly and honestly with their significant others. The first-ever “Be My Valentine Ball” focuses on the transgender community and is organized by the Florida West Coast Transgenders. “We provide transgenders, their families and their friends with support groups, one-on-one counseling, family counseling, monthly gatherings and events,” said FWCT executive director Bryon Endy. The first annual ball is slated for 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13, at the Homewood Suites Hilton at 3470 Fruitville Road in Sarasota. The $89 rooms include breakfast, according to a press release. Tickets to the ball are $15. The ball will last until midnight and will offer dinner, hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. All attendees must be 18 years old to enter. There’s also a dress code. No t-shirts or jeans are allowed. “We want to offer a nice event for the

community that we’ve never really had before,” Endy said. “This is going to be a fun night with a chance for people to meet others in similar situations.” Endy said he expects a large crowd, but he didn’t have any specific numbers as of press time. “We do have limited tickets so we’re encouraging people to buy in advance,” Endy said. “And this is more than just a dance. We’re offering commitment ceremonies as well.” But those will actually occur before the doors open to the ball. According to Endy, Rev. Lisa Heilig will perform the commitment ceremonies upon request beginning at 6 p.m. The ball itself will feature several different contests, including a King and Queen competition. For more information on the ball and the Florida West Coast Transgenders group, visit FlaWestCoastTransgenders. Webs.com or call Endy at 941-879-4888. To book a room at the Homewood Suites, call 941-365-7300. | l |

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Third judge rules against gay adoption ban staff report Miami | A third Florida judge has ruled against the state law prohibiting adoption by gays and lesbians. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Maria Sampedro-Iglesia approved the adoption of a one-year old by Vanessa Alenier, 34, who took custody after child welfare workers seized the child from one of Alenier’s relatives. With the blessing of her extended family, Alenier told the truth when ďŹ lling out adoption papers because she didn’t want to begin her life as a parent with a lie. Sampedro-Iglesia’s ruling said: “There is no rational connection between sexual orientation and what is or is not in the best interest of a child. The child is happy and thriving with [Alenier]. The only way to give this child permanency...is to allow him to be adopted.â€? The judge also declared the 32-year-old Florida law unconstitutional.

Florida Department of Children and Family administrators, who opposed the adoption, are said to be considering whether to appeal. The ruling was made in early January and DCF has only 30 days to make its decision. The state offered no witnesses or evidence in the case, simply relying on the law stating that adoption by homosexuals is illegal in Florida. Sampedro-Iglesia’s order also addressed that matter by arguing that the law could not be enforced.

“The permanent interests and beneďŹ t to all members of the adoptive household will be promoted by the adoption,â€? SampedroIglesia said in the order. “[Alenier] is a ďŹ t and proper person to adopt the child and has adequate resources and facilities to care for the child.â€? Alenier lives in Hollywood, Fla. with her partner Melanie Leon, 31. Other rulings against the antiquated law have occurred over the past two years. On Aug. 29, 2008, Monroe Circuit Judge David J. Audlin signed an order declaring the law unconstitutional, clearing the way for Wayne LaRue Smith, a Key West lawyer, to adopt a son he had been raising in foster care.

Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010 |

11

The next month, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman allowed Frank Martin Gill, a North Miami man who also declared himself as gay on adoption papers, to adopt two half brothers. Like Smith, Gill had been raising the boys in foster care. The DCF did appeal that case, and it’s currently under review by Third District Court of Appeal in Miami. In the meantime, Gill has embraced activism, partnering with the American Civil Liberties Union on a 3-year campaign trying to get Florida’s gay adoption ban overturned. | l |

Obama pushes for more same-sex partner benefits wire report Tampa | President Barack Obama called on Congress to pass a law extending beneďŹ ts to same-sex partners a day after he renewed his support for repealing the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. Obama was responding to a question during a town hall meeting Jan. 28 in Tampa. He noted a pending bill that would extend domestic partner beneďŹ ts such as granting Social Security survivor payments and allowing hospital visitation. “My hope is we can get it done,â€? Obama said at the meeting. Obama has acted administratively to extend some beneďŹ ts to federal employees with same-sex partners. He has called for a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of gay unions and the granting of beneďŹ ts. | l |

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Defense lawyers rest case at gay marriage trial wire report San Francisco, Calif. | Testimony ended Jan. 27 in a historic federal case challenging the constitutionality of California’s ban on same-sex marriage. The trial included nearly 12 days of wide-ranging testimony on the meaning of marriage, the nature of sexual orientation and the role of religion in shaping attitudes about both. Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker heard the case without a jury and has said he will take time to review the evidence before hearing closing arguments, probably sometime in March. His verdict is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Lawyers for the sponsors of Proposition 8, the state’s voter-approved ballot measure, have asked Walker to reserve their option to present more documents based on subpoenas they have issued to gay rights groups that opposed the measure. The defense called just two expert witnesses during the trial. More than a dozen witnesses appeared for the plaintiffs, including sociologists, legal experts and gays who talked about the effect of the ban on their lives. Lawyers for the two gay couples that filed the lawsuit agreed that the U.S. Supreme

Court recognized marriage as a fundamental right and that denying gays the right to wed causes them harm. They also argued that extending marriage to same-sex couples would not undermine heterosexual unions. The defense countered that limiting marriage to a man and a woman serves a paramount social function that outweighs civil rights concerns. The last witness to testify was David Blankenhorn, president of the New Yorkbased Institute for American Values, who said the rights of same-sex couples should come second to preserving the cherished social institution of marriage. Under cross-examination, Blankenhorn conceded there were many valid reasons for allowing gays to wed, but the considerations are outweighed by the likely damage it would cause the already weakened state of heterosexual unions. He acknowledged, however, that allowing gays to wed would have positive consequences for same-sex couples and society, such as scoring “a victory for the worthy ideas of tolerance and inclusion,” reducing anti-gay prejudice and hate crimes, and creating a higher standard of living for same-sex couples. | l |

Pentagon starts clock on lifting gay ban wire report Washington, D.C. | The U.S. Defense Department started the clock this week on what is expected to be a several-year process in lifting its ban on gays from serving openly in the military. On Feb. 2, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced a yearlong study into how the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy can be repealed without causing a major upheaval in the military. Gates, appearing with Mullen before the Armed Services Committee, announced plans to effectively loosen the policy by reducing “instances in which a person is outed by a third person,” which he said could be done

under the current law. Mullen, told the Senate panel it was a matter of integrity and that it is wrong to force people to “lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.” “I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens,” Mullen said. While the review is likely to take the better part of this year to complete, its initiation will advance President Barack Obama’s goal of repealing the ban. Between 1997 and 2008, the Defense Department discharged more than 10,500 service members for violating the policy. | l |

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As the Online Editor for Watermark, I clearly favor the latter interpretation. Before I moved to Orlando, I lived in Fort Lauderdale, where LGBT residents enjoy something found in many—but not all—American cites: a living, breathing gayborhood. Wilton Manors is a strip of gay bars and gay-owned businesses surrounded by gay residents. Simple, reliable, and arguably limited in Orlando and Tampa Bay. Obviously, LGBT-friendly pockets exist, Improve but there isn’t that publicly-known, rainbow flag-dotted community where people can your online say, “We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re… experience just hanging out.” Back when WatermarkOnline.com re-launched in May, I wrote a column Jamie Hyman announcing our intentions to create an online editor online gayborhood that would bring Jamie@WatermarkOnline.com together LGBTs from St. Pete to Orlando to Daytona and foster that type of gayfriendly space. Eight months later and the neighborhood is buzzing. There is new stuff to see and read every day and WatermarkOnline users are connecting while talking about all of it. Of course, there’s always room for neighborhood improvement. I don’t want to give away too much, because we’re still working out some of the bugs and potential problems. But I will say that Watermark users love Facebook and I would like to seamlessly connect the two, allowing users to merge their two accounts and use both sites at the same time. Sneak peek: I’m currently investigating the best way to make that happen and hope to have ccording to astronomer Frank good news for you in the next issue. Drake—the world’s leading expert We’re also working on some on the search for alien life—we improvements to the look of the site, as humans are making it harder for aliens to well as automating some functions that make contact. Drake became the world’s previously required email and/or a phone leading expert on the search for alien life call. by spending the past 50 years scanning the So what about right now? What can skies, seeking radio signals broadcast from users do today, to improve their use of alien civilizations. WatermarkOnline? He theorizes extraterrestrials are doing I have some ideas. the same thing: looking for signals from 1. Get a Gravatar. An avatar is the little TV, radio and radar broadcasts, historically image that appears next to your comments. transmitted from huge ground stations at thousands of watts that travel easily through WatermarkOnline uses a third-party site—Gravatar. space. The problem com—to create these is that we earthlings images. Simply go now transmit most We humans of Earth to the Gravatar site of our programs and link an image digitally from are isolating ourselves, to the email account satellites that use forever destined to be you used to register about 75 watts and with Watermark. point straight back a lonely pinpoint in the Gravatar will send to earth. This creates Milky Way. an activation email a sort of noise and then that’s cocoon, undetectable it—your photo will to potential alien automatically appear, making you more eavesdroppers. recognizable to your Watermark neighbors. There are two ways to look at Drake’s 2. Join Watermark’s Facebook group findings. Either we humans of Earth are and become a fan of Watermark. I know, isolating ourselves, forever destined to be it’s kind of a hassle to do both, but don’t a lonely pinpoint in the Milky Way. Or, blame me—blame Facebook. The social we are building a bubble that contains networking behemoth created both Groups a massive number of connections, and Pages and they both have different creating unprecedented opportunities for functions. Group members get reminders communication and community.

A

Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010 |

and breaking news alerts in their Facebook inboxes. Fans of Watermark see updated links on their news feeds. Both are good, and we make an effort to only post the really important stuff so we don’t clog up your screen with noise. 3. Sign up for Watermark’s e-Newsletter. Again, we don’t abuse this—I know what a privilege it is to be invited into our readers’ inboxes. In one complete message, Watermark readers can find out what’s new, what we’re covering and what amazing prize we’re giving away. We also send quick breaking news emails for the big stuff. Signing up is easy. If you’re logged into the site, simply click the “Subscribe” button

in the e-Newsletter box, located on the lower right of the homepage, just below the image of our latest issue’s cover. If you’re not logged in, just type your email address into the e-Newsletter box located at the top right of every single page on the site, then click the orange “sign up” button. It’s that simple—no verification emails, nothing else to do. 4. Make suggestions. I can be reached at Jamie@watermarkonline.com and I love feedback, both the good and the bad. Who knows? You might see one of your suggestions implemented on the site. Just don’t send me so many emails that the aliens get wind of your business. | l |

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provide for, of which they are the sole, or decidedly dominant, bread-winner. Their concerns, as we commiserate with one another, of insurance for their children and caring for their elderly parents made me feel both a little guilty and a little thankful. If I can afford dog food and a gym membership, I’m pretty much good to go. In a situation like this, that provides a real advantage. Also, after making the big move from my ancestral Orlando home to NYC two-plus years ago after 41 years, no geographic change seems such a big deal. You got a great job for me in Denver? Loss Sure, why not. But that’s the bright side of things. It is inevitable in a situation like this to wonder Ken Kundis – despite the company’s stated reason to Ken@WatermarkOnline.com the contrary—If I had somehow failed. Perhaps this is a good process, to question what one could have done differently. But after a blow to your ego, it’s easy to internalize that and make losing one’s job a referendum on your self-worth. For me, my job has only ever been a part of my identity (along with the lifestyle it has afforded me, if I’m being thoroughly transparent). I was taught by my parents to regard myself first and then everything around me second. It certainly helps in this situation to have a strong sense of self. But it is challenged by new rhythms of life: not having to get up to go anywhere; having to be self-motivated without a to-do list staring you in the face each morning; growing more accustomed to verything comes and goes/ a quieter existence where seeing people marked by lovers and styles is something you seek out, instead of of clothes/things that you something you escape from at the end of held high/and told yourself were true/lost the day. or changing as the days come/down to In those quieter moments, I have you.”—Joni Mitchell, Down to You had the first chance in some time for Last fall I became a New York statistic. serious introspection. I expected to be I joined the 600,000 people in the greater more freaked out, to be honest. This was New York City area to lose their jobs in mollified some by a number of very good the last 12 months. In my case, it was opportunities in different sectors for some a “corporate restructuring, strategic exciting jobs. I was fortunate enough repositioning, not performance related, to pick up some great contract work blah, blah, blah.” In short, I was a big title almost immediately, have incorporated, and a big salary in the wrong office at the am seeking new opportunities of all wrong time. It happens. complexions and So after 13 am hopeful about years of sometimes what lies before me. frustrating, mostly Those hopes dry up blissful employment, I am not the clothes I and I’m left with I embark on a wear, or where I live. I nothing, however, chapter which will and we’ll see the either be a wild am not my friendships, effect on my freakdown-turn in my or my lovers. out-meter. fortunes, or an It helped that opportunity for so many friends something better. sent me over-theThat’s the nice way top encouragement and pronouncements of saying I’m unemployed and looking for of my talent that provided a real tonic work. Don’t cry too hard for me. The company in those first days. Family and closer friends, obviously, have done even more. treated me well and I am enough of a corporate animal to have seen this coming. They’ve been more attentive. They’ll call “just to chat” more than they ordinarily Actually, a situation like this is one where would. A few key friends have offered it feels that being a gay man is a blessing. some absolutely invaluable advice. Around me I see others who got let go at But eventually, everyone has their own the same time, but with large families to

“E

Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010 |

briefcase to carry, and all the well-wishes, while helpful to the ego and the soul, don’t do any of the necessary work in front of me. For now, the work I have to do feels like an opportunity, if for nothing other than a status check on how my career and life are going. Letting go. It seems the lesson in it all. Turns out, I am not my job. My body. My hair. (With apologies to India.Arie) I am not the clothes I wear, or where I live. I am not my friendships, or my lovers. The last two years of my life have been all about challenging my boundaries, and taking some chances. In that time, I’ve lost more than I thought I would and gained more than I thought available. Through

23

that experience, I know now that I can challenge whatever truisms and support systems I thought existed in my life. They can fall down. In some cases they can crumble away in the blink of an eye. But I’m still me. I’m still here. I’ll be fine. Everything good you have in your life came from you. The people you love, the things you’ve achieved, the lessons you’ve learned. Our lives, whether we except it or not, are in our hands to run. You can depend on other people along the road, lean on them when necessary, but at the end of the day, Joni’s right. It all comes down to you. | l |

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24

watermark | viewpoint

| Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010

What do you think will be the outcome of the ongoing federal trial challenging Prop 8? Prop 8 will be overturned, bringing same sex marriage back to California.

77%

Prop 8 will stay put, same sex marriages still be banned in the Golden State.

23%

Head over to WatermarkOnline.com to tell us your stance on threesomes. A new poll will be posted to the homepage this week. Be sure to visit WatermarkOnline.com and let us know what YOU think!

top web comments On Erik Caban’s Fire Down Below blog post about Dealbreakers, Part II: “I would say that bad breath is a deal breaker—not the temporary morning kind, but the kind where it always seems like the guy just got done eating someone’s dirty ass and it never goes away! Yuck!!” —Greggy “My number one deal breaker is when I hear the phrase ‘I only date men who are real men.’ Even if I qualify to them as a ‘real man,’ it’s still pretty offensive. It’s bad enough to get that attitude from ignorant straight people. It also really shows how insecure they are about their sexuality vs. the gay stereotype.” —Jake On Tom Dyer’s Publisher’s Perspective about Tim Tebow’s decision to appear in a SuperBowl ad for Focus on the Family: “I posted to Tim’s Gator Zone page basically the same sentiment, and that I was appalled that he would even be affiliated with Focus on the Family.” —Jimmy Don’t be left out of the community conversation! Head over to WatermarkOnline.com, register and start telling us what YOU think!

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Thank you, Obama

President Obama, in his State of the Union address on Wednesday Jan. 27, said, “This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.” American Veterans for Equal Rights thanks President Barack Obama for his courage and commitment in calling upon Congress to “repeal the law” that currently prevents LGBT military personnel from serving openly in the United States military. AVER, the oldest and largest gay Veterans Service Organization in the United States, strongly commends the President for his moral stand against prejudice and discrimination, and his obvious willingness to put the safety and security of the American people above divisive politics by removing a policy that jeopardizes our national security. Danny Ingram AVER President

your kids, we would’ve known we were being lied to. Back then, we recognized that the problems Obama inherited as President wouldn’t go away overnight. Right after Obama’s election, we seemed to grasp this. But today, the President is being attacked as if he were a salesman who promised us that our problems would wash off in the morning.” As you can guess, it wasn’t the letter’s origin that got under the Malkin's skin. I’d say it was the content. Ellie Light Via E-mail

Alcohol is a drug

The use of alcohol, as a drug, is a historically ageless. Alcohol has been part of our culture since its beginning with fermented drinks coming from nearly every fruit, vegetable and grain available. It is easy to assume that the tendency to escape from reality rather than confront and solve problems is —DAnny IngrAm part of the human condition. Today, alcohol accounts for more direct and related ills and deaths than any other drug or activity, yet more money is spent on alcohol Gannett Wisconsin Media has officially promotion than that of any other product. apologized for publishing my letter. Anyone can see the danger of alcohol Michele Malkin’s web site, based in abuse and dependence, yet, as a culture, Washington DC, objected to my letter’s we collectively condone and support publication in Wisconsin media, because “acceptable” forms of drinking and allow it wasn’t written by a Wisconsin resident. the alcohol industry to promote and Here is the letter, in part, that I wrote indoctrinate our youth into believing that that Gannett felt so ashamed for running: you must drink to have fun. “A year ago, if we had read in the paper Author Clark Carr that employers were hiring again, that Via e-mail health care legislation was proceeding without a bump, that Afghanistan suddenly became a nice place to take

“We thank Obama for his courage and commitment to repeal DADT.”

Fox didn’t like content

Send all correspondence to Editor@WatermarkOnline.com. Letters may be edited for space or clarity. Opinions expressed in reader mail do not reflect those of Watermark’s staff.

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PUBLISHER’S

I

Rosenwald, “That victory was the best day of my life.” But it was short-lived. Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum appealed the next day, and oral argument was held Aug. 29. The decision is pending. Both sides have vowed to appeal an unfavorable ruling to the Supreme Court of Florida. The state placed the boys with Gill and his partner because of their unique qualifications as foster parents, and it has now spent more than a half million dollars to remove them for no circumventing reason. The irony has not been lost. According to Rosenwald, state staffers avert their eyes in court. When an appellate judge asked what would become of the children if the state prevailed, a state’s attorney looked down before mumbling that they would

25

get “new parents.” The audience gasped. Both Gill and Rosenwald were in Orlando recently to participate in an Adoption Training Workshop that moves to Tampa Bay in May and July. They know that a favorable ruling will likely create a backlash, and they want skilled advocates ready. “If you win at the ballot or in the courts but not in the hearts and minds of the people, you lose,” Rosenwald said. To find out more about Adoption Training, visit ACLUFl.org/Training. In the meantime, join Martin Gill at 3dca. FlCourts.org/Opinions every Wednesday morning between 10:30 and 10:45. Something tells me he’ll know you’re there with him. | l |

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lesbians recruit children to replenish their ranks. Amazingly, and despite decades of raised consciousness, the ban still exists. Appallingly, there is no chance that it will be repealed by the Republican-controlled state legislature any time soon. At any given time there are thousands of children awaiting permanent placement in stable Florida homes. The state allows gays and lesbians to serve as foster parents for the most challenging minors in their custody. And the Department of Children and Family (DCF) admits that the blanket Family on hold Services exclusion of gay people from adopting does not promote the best interest of the state’s children. Tom Dyer Offensively, the adoption ban means that Tom@WatermarkOnline.com children who have lost their parents could be placed with strangers rather than with close, loving family members who happen to be gay. And it means that gays and lesbians are unable to adopt their partners’ children, thus depriving them of the financial, legal and emotional stability that comes with having two legally recognized parents. Gill and his partner were introduced to the boys they want to adopt in 2004, just before Christmas. They had fostered more than a half dozen children before, and this was an emergency placement at the request of DCF. The siblings had been virtually on their own in a household of drug addicts. Both were bone thin, hostile, unresponsive, and had ringworm. The six-year-old was the primary caregiver for his two-year-old little brother. t sounds like the impossibly dark premise With patience and love, the boys are now for a Twilight Zone episode or Stephen thriving. They call Gill “Poppy” and their King short story: every week at the exact other father “Daddy.” They have also bonded same time, caring parents must submit to the with the couple’s extended family, which decision of a tribunal with power to remove includes two doting grandmothers. their children permanently. As loving bonds When the state sought to remove them for grow, shared experiences are tinged with the permanent placement, and likely split them up heartbreaking realization that the family may in the process, Gill sought legal counsel. The soon cease to exist. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had But such is the case for Martin Gill, his been scouting around for a suitable plaintiff to partner, and the two infant brothers they took into their North Miami home as foster parents test the constitutionality of Florida’s adoption ban and accepted the after pleading by the case. They assembled State of Florida. They a crack legal team and became a family, introduced mountains closer than most, and [The judge rejected] of scientific evidence when Gill sought the state’s assertions to demonstrate that to adopt the boys there was no “rational that there is a in 2008, a Miamibasis” for the ban. The Dade Circuit judge “supposed dark cloud trial lasted a week, made it legal. But the and when it was over hovering over the state then appealed, Circuit Judge Cindy arguing last summer homes of homosexuals Ledermen issued a 53that the boys should and their children.” page opinion rejecting be removed from the the state’s assertions home because Florida that there is a bans adoption by gays “supposed dark cloud and lesbians. hovering over the homes of homosexuals and Since then Gill has logged onto the third their children.” District Court of Appeal web site every “It is clear that sexual orientation is not Wednesday morning between 10:30 and a predictor of a person’s ability to parent,” 10:45, when rulings are routinely released, to Judge Ledermen wrote in her 53-page see if he still has a family. opinion. “A child in need of love, safety and Florida passed its sweeping ban on stability does not first consider the sexual adoption by gay people more than 30 years orientation of his parent.” ago, while orange juice queen Anita Bryant According to ACLU attorney Rob was spreading propaganda that gays and

Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010 |


26

| Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010

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Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010 |

Phantom Sculptor K I R K VA U G H N - R O B I N S O N L I V E S A LIFE FILLED WITH ART AND MUSIC john sullivan

O

rlando | After 22 years on Broadway, more than 100 million people have seen The Phantom of the Opera, which has been produced in 14 different languages. It’s not only the longest running show on Broadway, but it’s also the longest running Broadway tour. In late January, Phantom rolled into Orlando’s Bob Carr Performing Arts Center for a three-week run during which it celebrates its 7,000th performance. Along with hundreds of costumes, elaborate sets and a musical score loved by the masses, Phantom brings with it dozens of talented actors including Kirk Vaughn-Robinson, whose creative endeavors reach beyond the theater and into the realm of another ancient art form—sculpting. When he’s not performing the role of Gollywog/Fireman in the show with which he has spent almost 12 years touring, he works in a mobile studio he sets up in hotel rooms and creates sculptures that run the gamut from mythical to homoerotic. Shortly after arriving in Orlando, the out actor and artist sat down with Watermark to talk about being a part of one of Broadway’s most beloved shows, how he made the transition from opera to Broadway and where he finds the inspiration for his awe-inspiring sculptures. Watermark: Which came first, your desire to sing and perform or your love for creating art? Kirk Vaughn-Robinson: I don’t know that as a child I really knew what I was going to do, but I felt more drawn to being a performer. We had this wonderful hearth in our house that was actually a two-way fireplace with one side in the family room and the other side in the living room. My sister and I used to put on shows on this hearth and we would do little tap numbers and my parents would get the biggest kick sitting on the other side and watching our feet and whatever we were doing to be creative. Were your parents supportive of you choosing a career in the arts? That’s where a lot of my inspiration came from. My parents have always been very supportive both in my pursuit of music and also in art. My mother never let me take art lessons because she said, “I want that to be the thing that you do for you and not something

Acting is Vaughn-Robinson’s main love, but sculpting scenes like The Variations has provided him opportunities to share his art in galleries around the country. | Photo courtesy Kirk Vaughn-Robinson

Continued on page 32 | uu |

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| Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010

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watermark | theater

Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010 |

29

sure to be a blast The Big Bang! exPlodeS again at american Stage steve blanchard

S

t. Petersburg | Matthew McGee and Christopher Swan both say they would dress up and put on shows for family members as children. The two actors believe it’s a natural way to express themselves and are now using that impromptu dress-up style in The Big Bang!, which runs at American Stage through Feb. 21. “I don’t think it’s a gay thing or a straight thing to dress up and entertain when you’re a kid,” says Swan, who is straight. “Even dressing up as a woman isn’t a big deal. It’s about portraying the character.” In The Big Bang! Swan and McGee play two budding off-Broadway writers as they perform highlights of their impending extravaganza—an epic musical that spans the history of the world from the Big Bang to the present for potential backers, played by the audience. Their play is budgeted for $83.5 million with a cast of 318 performers, 6,428 costumes, and a running time of 12 hours. “The play is almost like hanging out with your friends and acting out your favorite movies,” says McGee, who was in American Stage’s original production of the play in 2006. “We’re using parts of the set for our outfits and grabbing things off the walls for hats. It’s crazy and it’s a lot of fun.” McGee, who is gay, says the play has a Carol Burnett Show feel to it because of the staging, outfits and audience interaction. He says the production plays especially well to gay audiences. “Gay people are really smart,” he says. “There are a lot of pop culture references in this play and gay people tend to be on top of things like that. That’s not to say that our straight friends won’t enjoy this. It really encompasses everything.” And when McGee says “everything,” he means it, according to director Steven Flaa. “This is a funny show that literally covers everything from Adam and Eve to Pocahontas and Jesus,” Flaa says. “It’s done in such a way that it really feels improvised, even though there is a lot of rehearsal time needed for a production like this.” In all, 18 songs, provided by musical director Todd Lindamood, are presented to the audience and each one is used to tell a historical tale. McGee and Swan use their comedic timing to make each one unique and

more memorable. “For example, I’ll play characters based on other characters,” McGee explains. “When I’m ‘Nefertiti’ I play her as Jennifer Holliday. ‘Josephine’ is a version of Cher and ‘Attila the Hun’ is a lot like Frank Sinatra.” One of Swan’s favorite moments in the comedy is the duet he and McGee sing as the Virgin Mary and Gandhi’s mother. “We sing about the difficulties of raising children,” Swan says. “It’s just so campy and fun. The audience will eat it up.” It’s that campiness, McGee says, that has made The Big Bang! such a big hit with gay crowds. Both McGee and Swan live in the Tampa Bay area and have appeared in numerous American Stage productions. This is the first time Swan has been affiliated with The Big Bang! but he has worked with McGee before. The two starred in Moonlight and Magnolias and Swan recently finished his one-man show This Wonderful Life. “I’ve been the lead guy and I’ve been in serious plays, musicals and comedies,” Swan says. “This show is just great and I laughed hysterically when I saw it in 2006. It can be a bit overwhelming learning so much material and so many songs, but everyone has been supportive and great.” Surprisingly, appearing on stage in a bevy of strange outfits and appearing briefly as “Eve” seems to be the least of Swan’s worries. “The changes and dressing up are what make the show so much fun,” he says. “Eve with a beard and a hairy chest—you can’t help but laugh.” McGee is the artistic director of the Show Palace Dinner Theater and is on numerous television and radio spots for Amscot Financial. Throughout his career the openly gay actor admits he has worn more dresses than the average man. “It seems every show there seems to be the conversation of ‘let’s see, is there a dress in a size 20 for Matt?’” McGee told Watermark when he was preparing for the Show Palace’s Nunsense A-Men last fall. “But I enjoy all the work. I love being on stage and I take every opportunity to perform. I enjoy it and I’m a ham.” The Big Bang! is part of American Stage’s After Hours program and all tickets feature

(L-R) Matthew McGee and Christopher Swan star in the return of American Stage Theatre Company’s highest attended musical comedy of all time, The Big Bang!, running Jan. 29 thru Feb. 21 as part of the After Hours series. Photo courtesy American Stage

pay-what-you-can pricing. “Even if you’ve seen this production before, you’ll want to come see it again because each show is a little different,” says Flaa. “You never know what the guys will throw into the mix and sometimes something may go wrong. The guys may use the error to create a laugh or ignore it. You just never know.” The important thing, however, is to support the theater and its After Hours programming, according to McGee. “The theater really wants After Hours to take off and so do we,” McGee said. “It’s a chance to support the theater after maybe

spending a long dinner with friends or going out for a cocktail or two before. I’m half naked in some of this play, so maybe if you come to the show after a few drinks I’ll look

see+hear What: The Big Bang! When: Fridays and Saturdays at 11 p.m.; Sundays and Mondays at 7:30 p.m. through Feb. 21 Where: American Stage Theatre, St. Petersburg How: AmericanStage.org

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watermark | film

| Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010

screened out A WAR TO THE WISE

stephen miller

Stephen@WatermarkOnline.com

The Messenger

(Starring Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton)

★★★★★

T

he Messenger is a wonderful little drama that shows that the more specific a story is, the more universal it feels. Two men have the difficult task of telling soldiers’ families that their loved one has died in Iraq or Afghanistan. These two hard-bitten soldiers provide a window into the emotional damages of America’s nine years of war. More importantly, we get to glimpse how these characters—strong but flawed— build coping mechanisms to get through extraordinary emotional strain. After being injured in a violent battle, Foster has been branded a hero and sent home. Through a combination of his Army training and personal history, he

buries the mental damage of his tour of duty, appearing to be the perfect soldier. Back in America, Foster is given one last assignment on the Casualty Notification Team. His partner is Harrelson, a crazy womanizer and recovering alcoholic who is secretly just as damaged as Foster. The Army has a specific process to informing the next of kin; it’s a heartless, step-by-step method. It does the job while protecting the messenger’s hearts, or so it supposes. Because he’s frustrated, angry and deeply hurt, Foster starts to go against standard operating procedure. The Messenger doesn’t have a fancy camera or effects. The plot could be considered aimless (kind of like a badly planned war.) The brave, tightrope performances of tough-guys Foster and Harrelson, though, are quietly amazing and unforgettable.

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Soldiers Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster give powerful performances delivering bad news in The Messenger.

Daybreakers

(Starring Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Claudia Karvan, Sam Neill)

★★★★★

ON DVD The Hurt Locker

(Starring Jeremy Renner, Anthony Daybreakers isn’t necessarily a bad film, Mackie, Brian Geraghty) just an inconsistent one. Some moments are ★★★★★ lively, but it’s mostly a violent vacillation In Malcolm Gladwell’s best-selling book from horror to social commentary, from Outliers, we learn about people whose life lecture to battle, from style to pathos. experience and intuition provide them an A viral vampire outbreak has overtaken almost mystic ability in a given field. The Hurt the entire world. Ten years into the future, Locker is a brilliant film about one such group bloodsuckers like Neill and Hawke rule the of experts: the specialists who diffuse bombs. planet, farming humans for blood. Even At the center of the story is an though corporate boss Neill has abrasive, bravado-filled soldier in the past made great profit, (Renner). He and his team his company is running out take insane, nerve-wracking of supplies. So hemoglobin risks almost on a daily basis. expert Hawke sets out to All the while Renner’s find a blood substitute protective sergeant (Mackie) before everything sinks is squawking in the headset into war and chaos, and the about protocol and standard vampires turn demonic from operating procedure. starvation. Instead of finding Otherwise, this gritty, fake food, Hawke locates a action-filled flick has very Genius nut-job Jeremy Renner group of rogue people who diffuses bombs in The Hurt Locker. little dialogue. Yet it’s still may have a way to reconvert totally suspenseful, sometimes the world back into humans. sad and often funny. Daybreakers is a nifty premise that So what happens when there are no bombs starts with a noir style. Things turn a to diffuse? Genius action director Kathryn little weird, quickly, because the film Bigelow (Point Break, Strange Days) and combines horror gore with the all-out acting journalist/screenwriter Mark Boal challenge gravitas of Hawke, Neill, and Dafoe. Also, us to ponder such questions with the very first certain things don’t make sense; Hawke’s shot of this action flick. The screen says, “War discomfort with feeding on humans doesn’t is a drug.” | l | explain how he survived for 10 years as a vampire. Most vitally, this slick-looking flick ★★★★★ Overflowing uncontrollably with glittery fabulousness never decides if it wants to be a battlefilled gore-fest or a meaningful movie ★★★★★ Pretty damn good, but it’s no Sunset Boulevard about corporate greed. As entertainment, it ★★★★★ An entertaining enough flick with lacks a pulse of fun and humor. As a social perhaps a few gaping holes message, it peddles the uncomplicated Ever so slightly watchable, even if it ★★★★★ and stale cliché that all corporate types are is just because of that hot actor bloodsuckers. In the end, Daybreakers is Two hours of your life you’ll ★★★★★ neither alive nor dead. never get back


Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010 |

Where do you pick up

Watermark?

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| Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010

watermark | art+performance

| uu | Phantom Sculptor from p.27

that you do for a grade or for a paycheck—but just so that you keep the joy.” What was the transition from opera to musical theater like for you? I think it was one of those meant to be situations. I have a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from Converse College in South Carolina and I got a scholarship from the Music Guild of Boca Raton to go study at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Austria for a summer. Then I had an opportunity to audition for the summer opera course in Cincinnati, and from there I auditioned for what they call their Opera Outreach, which takes opera to kids in schools for 34 weeks a year. I had a friend who I hit it off with and when he had an extra ticket to see a Broadway show that was coming through Cincinnati I would go. Funny enough the first Broadway show I ever really saw was Phantom of the Opera as it was touring through Cincinnati. What was your initial reaction to the show? I thought it was really great. As someone who comes from an opera background you think you have seen all the emotion of opera, but at the end of Phantom I had a couple of tears rolling down my face. It brought out all these emotions. It is a really powerful show that I think speaks to so many dynamics in human relationships that we all can identify with.

Out actor Kirk Vaughn-Robinson appears in the touring production of Phantom of the Opera, but he also does sculpting in a mobile studio set up in his hotel room.

And now here you are having spent 12 years with the show. What is it exactly that you think keeps bringing in audiences? It is a well crafted show and a well told story through the eye of Hal Prince, the director. What you see in our show is the

Vaughn-Robinson’s sculpture Man in the Moon shows the actor/artist’s detail to the male form. | Photo courtesy Kirk Vaughn-Robinson

exact same thing that you see in the Broadway show, except our show picks up and moves. Same costumes, same music, same set pieces. It’s those elements and music that you leave the theater humming and singing. I think that Phantom has such name recognition that people prick their ears up when they hear it. You have only been sculpting for less than two years, yet you are already being shown in art galleries across the country. What attracted you to this art form and how did you get your start? Where I’m from in Indiana, Muncie, there’s a huge lawn sculpture of an Indian chief in full headdress, bare-chested and in a loin cloth. They call him “Chief Muncie” and everyone in town has an affinity for it. Oftentimes we would drive by and I was so captivated by that sculpture and it always stuck in the back of my mind I think. Sculpting always seemed like a magic process. Being out on the road for going on 12 years, I was feeling just a little bit stuck, just wondering what the next thing or creative outlet might be. My job seems very creative and sometimes when you’ve traveled so much it doesn’t feel as creative. So I was just feeling a little bit stuck. I went to bed one night thinking, “What is next?” The next morning I woke up at 5:30 a.m. having had a dream about this sculpture Pan that was life size and outside of my house in Colorado up in the mountains and in the woods. It was such a profound dream that I woke up and I sketched it and I said, “I’m going to sculpt this someday.” How do you know when it is speaking to the art and not just a crazy dream? I think that sometimes you don’t know, but

I think that dreams and daydreams are worth recording. In my case, I get a visual and I sit and sketch it. I have my sketchbook in the car so that I’m not far from being able to put down an idea. So it really requires a bit of a discipline, when something comes to me, to sketch it out even if it’s just a rough sketch, just so that I have the idea. What’s the hardest part of the whole process? It’s all very meditative for me. I will come home from the show at 11 p.m. and be up until six in the morning sculpting sometimes, and it feels like a half hour has gone by. It’s also just a time of losing myself and problem solving. Creating the piece isn’t really difficult because my mind figures it out. There is a saying that, “The eyes teach the hands.” I think that there is an ease that I feel about the whole process. It’s difficult to have to pick up and move every month and have to move my on-the-road studio. It consists of a collapsible table that looks like a very big briefcase but has legs that extend out and a folding chair and some lights. There is a difficulty in picking that up, breaking it down, moving it and setting it up in the next city. | l | For more on Watermark’s conversation with Vaughn-Robinson, visit John Sullivan’s Blog Beautiful Wickedness at WatermarkOnline.com.

see+hear What: Phantom of the Opera Where: Bob Carr Performing Arts Center, Orlando When: Through Feb. 4 Tickets: OrlandoVenues.net or 407-849-2577


Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010 |

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watermark | event planner

| Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010

Wicked

DRIP Dance group DRIP will create a culinary performance at Cameo Theatre in Orlando on Feb. 14.

The Broadway smash Wicked returns to Tampa’s Straz Center for the Performing Arts through February.

Joan Rivers The legendary Joan Rivers makes a one-night appearance at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota on Feb. 16.

art [ST. PETERSBURG] A Test of Faith

The St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts will present A Test of Faith: William Blake’s Illustrations for the Book of Job, beginning Saturday, Feb. 6 and running through May 30. One of Britain’s most significant artists, Blake comprised the intellectual focus of his writings to inspire his art. The artist used engravings and watercolors to interpret the biblical story of Job’s undying faith in God despite the torment he endured. For more information visit Fine-Arts.org or call 727896-2667

[ORLANDO] Fresh: Big Gay Brunch

Enjoy a culinary performance art event at Cameo Theatre showcasing a fantasy world of visual, dance and food art presented by a renowned dance group DRIP, including a Big Gay Brunch at noon on Valentine’s day. There are also evening events for couples Feb. 4-6 and Feb. 11-13. Tickets range from $55 - $107.50. To reserve tickets or for more information, visit ILoveDRIP.com or call 517-449-3765.

Nude Nite

Central Florida’s most risqué art event comes to Orlando on Feb. 11–13. Nude Nite is a juried art exhibition featuring hundreds of artists who celebrate the body through a variety of mediums. Many of the pieces are interactive, including body painting, live sculpture and other experimental installations. Tickets are $20 for an evening and available at NudeNiteOrlando.com or at the door. Nude Nite is held in a warehouse at 503 Brookhaven Dr. There is a Tampa version of the event planned for March.

[WINTER PARK] Queer Quills: The Drag by Mae West

The Drag is Mae West's lesser-known play which examines the idea that there is a cure for being gay. Readings from The Drag will be presented in the next installment of Queer Quills, a series that explores the LGBT journey through readings from theatre. The event is 8 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 7 at Breakthrough Theatre in Winter Park. Queer Quills is produced by Kangagirl Productions and Heidi Dog Productions. Chris Robinson will direct The Drag.

comedy [SARASOTA] Joan Rivers

[TAMPA] Black Eyed Peas

Fergie wants more gay love, at least that’s what she told Cosmo in its December/ January issue. The singer and her Black Eyed Peas will perform at the St. Pete Times Forum on Sunday, Feb. 10 and will no doubt perform several of the dance tracks from their new album. Tickets purchased through the Metro Charities Web site benefit the LGBT organization. For more information, visit MetroCharities.org.

[ORLANDO] Snoop Dogg

Drop it like it’s hot at the Snoop show on Tuesday, Feb. 9. Doors open at 7 p.m. at Hard Rock Live. Tickets range from $35$55 at TicketMaster.com.

She’s been through it all, marriage, parenting, a husband’s suicide—yet Joan Rivers seems to only get better with age. The legendary comedienne will perform for one-night only at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota on Tuesday, Feb. 16. From her self-depriciating plastic surgery jokes to her embracing of the LGBT community, Joan Rivers is an America icon that should be seen at least once in your life. For tickets and more information visit VanWezel.org or call 941-953-3368.

A M.A.D. Theatre Fabaret

music

[SARASOTA] Life of Galileo

[CLEARWATER+MELBOURNE] Harry Connick Jr.

The New Orleans-bred singer-turnedactor-turned-singer secured a large LGBT audience when he played Leo on the long-running NBC sitcom Will & Grace. The jazzy performer has returned to his roots and will perform at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Friday, Feb. 12 and at The King Center in Melbourne on Saturday, Feb. 13. For tickets, visit RuthEckerdHall.com or KingCenter.com.

The M.A.D. Theatre Fabaret singers will host a special fundraiser at Streetcar Charlie's on Feb. 12 and 13. The performers will take diners down memory lane while performing songs about love and the struggles contained therein. For more information or to reserve seating call 813248-1444.

theater Science and faith have battled throughout history—including in recent elections. So a story about Galileo’s passion to unearth truth through science seems fitting for 2010. The David Edgar drama follows the astronomer’s observations through his telescope and the discoveries he made on a universal and personal level and is presented by the Asolo Repertory Theatre through Feb. 23. For information and tickets visit Asolo.org or call 931-8000.

Hairspray

Hairspray, the play-turned-movie-turnedBroadway musical-turned movie comes to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on Feb. 9. The story of a plucky teen in the 1960s striving for a spot on the local TV dance show has catchy tunes, awesome dance numbers and at least one performer in drag. For more information and tickets, visit VanWezel.org or call 941-9533368.

[TAMPA] Wicked

Gays have flocked to the side of Elphaba in the Tony Award-winning musical Wicked, which returns to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts all month long. The back story of the Witches of Oz tells the story of struggle and acceptance and has even had its music featured on the uber-gay Fox series Glee. For tickets and information visit TBPAC.org or call 813-229-7827.

special events [ORLANDO] Book Signing

Enid Jackowitz will sign her book The Rest of the Way: A Coming Out Story for Parents and Children at The Center from 6:30–8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11. Jackowitz’s book tells the story of her son’s coming out, but is also about the author’s journey of self-discovery, from convention-bound Maitland housewife to spirited activist and counselor to hundreds of LGBT families in crisis.

[WINTER PARK] Rollins College Market & Street Party

The second go-round of the combination farmers’ market, concert and street party will benefit relief efforts in Haiti. The Organic Gardeners of Rollins have invited more than 50 local businesses, artists, and organizations to sell their stuff alongside music and games. To see what the market offers, head to the center of the campus between the cafeteria and Olin Library from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Feb. 11.

Got an event you’d like to see listed in Watermark? At least two to four weeks in advance, send all pertinent info—date, time, place, cost, contact information for readers to get more details, and what the event is about—to Editor@WatermarkOnline.com, and we will feature it in the paper on a space-available basis.


Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010 |

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watermark | tampa bay out+about

| Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010

shot on site

Photography | Nick Cardello, Suzanne Noe and Carrie West

1- (L-R) David Schauer and Stanley Solomons share a laugh during the St. Pete Pride wine tasting fundraiser at Gemini Lounge on Jan. 29.

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2- Director Evgeny Afineevsky kneels in front of the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival board of directors before the screening of his film Oy Vey, My Son is Gay at Muvico Baywalk on Jan. 20. 3- Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor was the featured speaker at the Jan. 16 meeting of Silver Threads, an organization that celebrates lesbians over the age of 50. 4- Out comedienne Lily Tomlin meets with fans after her Feb. 13 show at the Lakeland Center. 5- Mark Bias and Steve Moss, center, celebrate the two-year anniversary of Steam Fridays at The Honey Pot in Ybor City. 6- Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio cuts the ribbon for the grand opening of Hamburger Mary’s in Ybor City as Hamburger Mary herself applauds.

tampa bay overheard

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For a complete listing of St. Petersburg businesses that distribute Watermark, Please visit:

WatermarkOnline.com

Club for sale We couldn’t get 100% confirmation on the identity of the club listed for sale on Craigslist, but it sounds an awful lot like a club that was at one-time known as Chiq Bar. According to the posting, the St. Petersburg club is about 15 minutes from the beach and even has a “private room” with a stage that seats 100. The “newly remodeled” club is on the market but two prices are listed in the ad. At the top of the page it says it’s been reduced to $330,000 and at the bottom it says the asking price is $230,000.One thing is for sure, though, the reason for the sale is that the owner recently got married and wants to start a family. If it is the club currently known as Nautico, we hope it remains an LGBT destination.

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According to our good friends Mark Bias and Carrie West of Dishing, Xaviera Hollander will be visiting the Chelsea Night Club on Friday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. The Amsterdam resident played the part of “The Happy Hooker” in the adult film

classic Deep Throat. Hollander is now a writer and a television talk show host and is expected to sign copies of her books at Chelsea. The boys at Dishing also report that the diva could make an appearance at Hamburger Mary’s in Ybor City.

Oh the pageantry! Speaking of divas—they were out in full force for two pageants held at The Honey Pot in Ybor City last month. The Miss Florida U.S. of A pageant and the Miss Florida U.S. of A. Classic brought out crowds to cheer on their favorites. The Miss Florida U.S. of A. tiara went to Amy Demilo and Danielle Hunter was crowned Miss Gay Florida U.S. of A Classic. Rumor has it that this year’s Florida State Fair, which runs through Valentine’s Day, will feature some female impersonator performances this year. Hopefully, Demilo and Hunter will make appearances.

Got juicy gossip or amazing event photos? E-mail the dish or your photos (with full names of everyone pictured and event details) to Overheard@WatermarkOnline.com


watermark | orlando out+about

shot on site Photography | Tom Dyer, Omar Hasan, Jamie Hyman, Jason Lowe, and Mauricio Pinetta 1- Martin Gill, a gay man fighting in court to adopt his two foster sons, spoke at the Gay Adoption campaign training on Jan. 23 while ACLU attorneys Robert Rosenwald, Jr. and Shelbi Day look on.

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2- Local actor and blogger Mark Baratelli enjoys some hors d’ouvres with two other theatre fans at the Broadway Across America season announcement party last month. 3- (L-R) Scott Guthrie and Randy Ross were fully painted by Jason Berges at Parliament House’s Jan. 30 Black Light Party. 4- Dana and Kristi Richardson (seated) and their mothers, Patsy Takken and Carolyn Richardson (standing) enjoyed their baby shower Jan. 23 at the Paramount Clubhouse. The Richardsons are expecting twins on March 31. 5- (L-R) Party Favors Custom Cakes decorators Lorena Marsh, Tiffany Compton, Anna Echols and Richard Gregory compete in TLC’s “Ultimate Cake-off,” which airs Feb. 15. 6- The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence stump for change at a Jan. 24 fundraiser, hosted by Parliament House, that raised more than $1,600 for the Red Cross to aid Haiti.

orlando overheard Frank talk about Grayson

Tyra turns it on

Last November, more than 100 LGBT and friendly locals RSVPed to attend a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson featuring openly gay U.S. Rep. Jarid Polis from Colorado. The event was canceled when a vote to pass health care reform was scheduled for the same day. Grayson returned to Washington and the bill passed by a single vote, sending health care reform to the Senate, where a different version also passed by a single vote. It now languishes in reconciliation between the two chambers, with little chance of final approval by the newly reconstituted Senate. But at least the fundraiser for Rep. Grayson is back on… and this time with even more star power! Rep. Barney Frank, the powerful—and openly gay—chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, will be the featured guest. With issues like the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” pending, Frank is expected to underline the importance of sending Democrat Grayson back to Congress for a second term. The Friday, Feb. 6 event will once again be at the home of Ted Maines and Jeff Miller at The Sanctuary in downtown Orlando. Those interested in attending can contact Grayson’s campaign office at 1-800-403-0303.

After what seemed like months of promotion, the new and improved second season of Rupaul’s Drag Race finally premiered on Logo this past Monday night, Feb. 1. The pacing was better, the challenge was more fun and original, and guest judge Kathy Griffin was a slice of D-List perfection. Ru had packed on some pounds and looked healthy and engaged. And local Pulse performer Tyra Sanchez acquitted herself very nicely indeed. She looked great, even if she did say so herself. (“I do think that I am the prettiest one.”) In the “Gone With the Window” challenge, where contestants had to create outfits out of curtains and home accessories, a stunning Sanchez was one of the strongest entrants. The winner was Morgan McMichaels, who looks great out of drag, too. Drag Race producers set up loser Shangela LaQuifa Wadley with a sappy story line: she’d only been dragging for five months. Orlando’s other current reality contestant, Project Runway’s Jesse Lenoir, got lots of camera time last week and fared well even though paired with adorably eccentric Ping Wu, who was deservedly eliminated. Stay tuned!

Got juicy gossip or amazing event photos? E-mail the dish or your photos (with full names of everyone pictured and event details) to Overheard@WatermarkOnline.com

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Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010 |

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| Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010

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Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010 |

That DIGITAL Connection MORE LGBTS ARE FINDING LOVE ONLINE louanne walters

F

rank Clemente is a celebrity in his own right. As the co-founder and director of Event Design at Concept Bait, a national event planning company based in St. Petersburg, he meets a wide variety of men in all walks of life. He’s had his share over the years of “sex hook-up” web sites and bar meanderings, but when he was ready for the real thing, he turned to Match.com. “I wanted something more, and from someone who wanted something more,” Clemente says. “I was ready for something real and substantial. The fun had its time, and it was time for reality.” Clemente met Toby, his partner of

three years, shortly after registering at Match.com, Chemistry.com and Gay.com, three well-known web sites billed for their love and relationship matching versus sex partnering. He took the time to answer each of the sites’ built in compatibility questions, and says he kept it straightforward and to the point. “I didn’t want to play around, and I didn’t want to settle,” he says. “I have a lot to offer someone.” Toby was not his first compatibility match. Clemente says he had several matches offered as suggestions by the web sites, but after a few e-mails back and forth, he knew the men were not right for him. And then Toby reached

out to Clemente. “He didn’t have a profile picture, but he explained his job situation to me and why he didn’t put his photo online, and suggested we e-mail,” Clemente remembers. “Then, if I liked he would e-mail me his photo.” Those e-mails intrigued Clemente, and once he saw Toby’s photo, that cinched the deal. “When I saw his picture, it was icing on the cake,” he says. The two men agreed to meet, and that first date stretched into dinner, then into planning their second date. Clemente credits the initial e-mails between them for sparking a variety of topics in good conversation.

“It was wonderful, we had a great time talking; it was so good we didn’t want it to end!” he says. Clemente’s story is a familiar one to Patrick Perrine, Founder and CEO of MyPartner.com, a previously exclusively gay national web site with a service tag-line of “Find Your Perfect Partner.” In an e-mail interview with Watermark, Perrine points to the compatibility matching questionnaire as an essential component for a successful match. “As a boutique matchmaking service catering to the gay community, most of our success stories tell us that it’s Continued on page 48 | uu |

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| Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010

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watermark | love

Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010 |

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a minute with...

Nicki Drumb

outright love-iN orgaNizer

erik caban

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rlando | There are plenty of news stories out there about gay activists, but what about our straight allies? Nicki Drumb with her partner, Rachel Gardiner, has found a way to celebrate not only their love for one another but also the love of our heterosexual supporters. To celebrate Valentine’s Day 2009, Nicki got a “wild hair” and began asking friends and acquaintances to join in, what she called a “heArt installation.” Her goal was to have as many people as possible gather at 2:14 pm on 2/14, and form a huge heart in Loch Haven Park. After just two weeks of spreading the idea, 97 people—and two dogs—attended. In conjunction, a Unitarian Universalist Church in Georgia held one as well. As Nicki and Rachel gear up to do it again this year, we thought it would be a good idea to get the story behind The OUTright Love-In. For more information on the event, visit HumanHeartLoveIn.com What prompted the idea for The OUTright Love-In? I started wondering what to do for Rach for Valentine’s Day. I thought of all the nice things I’d like to give her and what I really wanted to give her was, well, me as a wife—legally. I became hurt and angry about the anti-equality-for-gays-and-lesbians laws passing. But then I thought about how many wonderful LGBTQ and hetero people work so hard for human rights and how nice it would be if we could all get together for a moment of healing, away from all the hate and defeat. We could just take a moment to claim, express and celebrate what we have in common (love), and have a little fun!

Unitarian Universalist church, which I was drawn to because of its advocacy on many social justice issues.

How did you and your ex-husband become involved in a public gay and lesbian wedding ceremony? While attending the Unitarian Universalist Church in March of 2004, The Rev. Dr. Marni Harmony asked the First Unitarian Church of Orlando congregation if we wanted to take a stand for marriage equality. A resounding “yes” lead to three same-sex couples applying for marriage licenses at the courthouse, while the rest of us stood supportive outside. After the couples’ denial, Marni performed a public union ceremony at Lake Eola Park for the three couples and invited all other willing couple to stand along with them and renew their vows in —Nicki Drumb solidarity. We were one of several.

When did you first notice the lack of gay and lesbian rights? The first glimmers of realization came from the lack of information growing up in a small Florida town. The secretive, taboo nature of it all was my first clue to oppression. There was simply no information about sexual orientation or gender identity anywhere. I ultimately met and married a very sensitive man. Shortly before we were got married in 1996, I became aware that gays and lesbians couldn’t, so I suggested to him that we shouldn’t, either—not until everyone could. We did, however, but we continued to work for social justice causes. The more obvious and specific lack of LGBT rights came to my attention about 15 years ago when I started attending a

“good grief, this inequality thing is such a pain in the ass!”

How did you meet your partner, Rachel? We met during simultaneous readings of The Lysistrata Project on March 3, 2003. Our church held a reading of the ancient anti-war play, which was done all over the world in an effort to stop Bush’s preemptive invasion in Iraq. Rachel and I both participated in the reading, and shortly after that she started coming to church regularly. During the “Love Not Hate” March in 2005 I had to face the reality that people are beaten—and worse—just for being gay.

Nicki Drumb, left, and her partner Rachel Gardiner organized the second OUTRight Love-In. | Photo courtesy Nicki Drumb

As we marched, I kept saying that over and over in my head, trying to "scare myself straight" I guess. But it didn’t work. By the end of that evening I finally admitted to myself that—despite the risks—I was falling in love with a woman. Have you and Rachel gotten married? We live in Florida; there is no civil marriage for us here. I took for granted filing joint tax returns, family membership, holding hands in public without fear. Good grief, this inequality thing is such a pain in the ass! I had it all before, and I want it all now— with someone I love, who gets me, carries tampons and remembers I don’t eat spicy food. But, yes, we did have a ceremony. We had a lovely faith-based commitment ceremony at our church, with family from

both sides, and dozens of friends—lesbian, gay and hetero folk. Do you feel the “Human Heart” made an impact last year? Yes. Several “hearticipants” who considered themselves non-activists enjoyed doing something both fun and meaningful. My own experience was overwhelmingly positive. While my family embraces me as a lesbian and Rachel as family, I get the feeling they’re not crazy about me being so outspoken. But when my mom read about the event in the paper, she called me to say, “I’m proud of you.” That is one of the best moments of my life. Yes, it’s about the bigger movement, yet sometimes tolerance-to-progress-to-equality actually happens one proud mom at a time. | l |


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| Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010

watermark | love

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I-4 billboard advertising it last year. If you ournalism can take on many forms. introduce a gal-pal to him who becomes his As the fourth branch of government, long-term girlfriend, he’ll pay you $1,000 political reporters keep a watchful for the referral. eye on elected officials. Some journalists When I first heard about this it reminded cover crime, while others investigate and me of my similar decade-old standing expose corruption; all of this done to find offer. But while Smith’s an inventor and “the truth.” entrepreneur and I’m—not— the going rate My latest assignment? To locate the for my m2m LTR go-between is $500. highly fragile, extremely elusive and most Smith, 41, is already experiencing better precious essence of life itself: Love. And I luck with his lira-for-love search than I had to find it on deadline for a love-themed have. He’s received an onslaught of media issue, naturally. attention, including appearances on both Spoiler Alert—I didn’t find it—yet. Dr. Phil and an Australian TV morning Finding a partner has long been a talk show and has had over 18,000 hits on goal, but never has it been mandated. But HelpJohnFindLove.com. here was a possibility—and it certainly “It wasn’t that long ago that online wasn’t the first time—that I might have to dating was seen as desperate,” says Smith. incorporate undercover work for the good “Now it’s the norm.” of getting the story. He’d grown Frankly, it tired of internet shouldn’t be that dating sites, so he difficult—even created his own. my mom thinks “When you The billboard was I’m a catch. There suppress your needs, conceived with “a have been guys the truth eventually little bit of creativity, I’ve mistakenly and a whole lot of seen as my knight bubbles up and bites chutzpah,” qualities in shining armor, you in the ass.” that Smith thinks the but in most cases right woman will find they turned out to —RAY CASTRO, WHO JUGGLES attractive. be tin foil-covered MULTIPLE RELATIONSHIPS “I might be seen packages of shit, as a pioneer,” Smith albeit beautifully says. “But you have gift-wrapped. to have pretty thick skin if you’re putting I’m not ready to abandon the allegedly your mug up on a 55-foot billboard.” tried-and-true methods of finding Mr. Smith is letting his new-found fame help Right—meeting at a bar, gym, or even the community. He’s organized an eBayonline. But at 44, it’s time to explore based bachelor auction fundraiser for the outside the box if I’m to be struck by, if Mustard Seed, which provides furniture not force a head-on collision with, Cupid’s and clothing to families in need. The 10 arrow. Because what might be seen as bachelors available are a diverse lot, and at desperate measures by some could very press time the guy with the most bids was well be the romantic story someone else gay personal trainer and bartender Tony tells when asked how they met their better Edge. half. At 33 years old, 6’ 2” and 220 lbs, with a beefy build, killer smile and genuinely Advertise, baby warm personality, Edge is not at a loss for Florida straight guy John Smith—and dates. He’s participating in the auction yes, that’s his real name—created a web site for prospective dates and then rented an primarily to help a local charity, but he’s


watermark | love also seen a spike in interest in his fitness business. While never a bachelor-for-bids, per se, I was once a Watermark “Catch,” the paper’s now deceased annual ritual of highlighting local gay singles. While Edge is certainly being philanthropic in his endeavor, my agreement to be a “catch” was solely selfserving, which might help explain why I’ve gone un-caught both then and now. But what if sparks fly on Edge’s charitable rent-a-date? “You never know,” Edge says. “The universe works in mysterious ways.” Edge won’t rule out a second date, unless a woman is the highest bidder. “People are drawn into your life for a reason; we all deserve to be happy.” True that, even if we have to pay for it. The more the merrier If I was to find love, perhaps I needed to turn to a real expert, someone who’s had multiple successes with relationships—because he’s involved in multiple relationships. Jacksonville artist and gallery owner Ray Castro gives new definition to non-monogamy. Though his primary relationship is with Devin—a gay tattoo artist—Castro also has committed relationships with a girlfriend, a bisexual couple, a slave, a slave student, and let’s not forget Patty, his best friend and wife of 20 years. No wonder I can’t meet anyone, not when Castro and other polyamorous folks like him are hoarding all the relationships to themselves. Still, he must be doing something right, and I wanted to find out what it is. “You have to start a relationship right off with expressing what you want and what you need,” says Castro, 40. He’s a big believer in courtship, saying it’s important to get to know a person before rushing in to a relationship. “You have to teach the other person who you are. Don’t suppress your needs, the truth eventually bubbles up and bites you in the ass.” Twelve years ago when Castro and Devin began dating, Castro said he’d be “one of the most radical fags to come down the pike” that Devin would ever meet. He also warned Devin that “that passive-aggressive crap doesn’t wash with me.” It probably helped that their relationship was also rooted in the BDSM world, where open, honest communication is a must. “If I’m going to use a whip on you, there has to be a lot of trust going on,” says Master Cecil of The Woodshed Orlando, a kinky community center dedicated to the practice of social nudism and the expression of the BDSM arts. He’s in the final stages of finishing the club’s new home, a 6,000square-foot dungeon in South Orlando, and plans on incorporating a weekly gay night on Fridays starting in March. It’s been Master Cecil’s experience that relationships based in BDSM develop very deep, very fast and typically last longer than standard

relationships, and it’s because of the “incredible amount” of communication that has to happen. Oh my stars Remixing everyone’s advice, I creatively sought some open and honest communication with the Universe, and enlisted the help of tarot card reader Liz Langley. With my Sagittarian luck fully at play, I pulled the card that symbolized what I’d forever been visualizing: the Knight of Swords. “That card is an omen of true love,” Langley says of the card showing a knight on a white horse. “But it’s positioned here in the past, so this would be about someone

you might have been attached to and maybe over-romanticized a bit; someone you might have parted ways with before the reading.” Falling perfectly into place, I had indeed been dating someone last summer and had broken up with not long before the reading. While I’ve consistently been holding out for a hero, recently I’ve considered the possibility that perhaps I’m intended to be the knight in shining armor for someone else. Langley says that interpretation could also be true, and at this point I’m buying anything she’s willing to sell me. The rest of the reading was work and creativity oriented. The cards said my identity was very much tied up in my job—and considering I have four of them,

Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010 |

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that was no shock—but Langley says I need to be more than willing to reinvent myself to improve my prospects. Alas, there should be some work/creative victory in the near future, and it will be the first step in a long string of wins. And once I feel better situated and happy professionally, Langley says I’ll be much more ready to move forward romantically. So, at least in the short run, I’m destined to be married to my jobs. I guess I better learn to love them. | l | Kirk Hartlage is an Orlando freelance writer, DJ, group fitness instructor and waiter. To take advantage of his $500 offer, please send any and all referrals to DJCapnKirk@aol.com.


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| Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010

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watermark | love

expressions of love Watermark readers offer Valentine’s day greetings to significant others

W

e invited readers of WatermarkOnline.com to share Valentine’s Day greetings with the special people in their lives—and boy, our readers responded. Readers from all over Florida—and some from out of state—offered words of love, encouragement and empowerment to partners, loved ones and friends. Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to share your love. My Dearest Nick You’ve been the love of my life, my soul mate, companion and biggest supporter for 30 wonderful years. Thanks for always being there when I needed you most. My life would be empty without you a part of it. —Zeke Ever since you came into my life Rick, everyday has been amazing! Love Ya! —Donnie Laurie Hudson You’re the best thing that ever happened to me. My life is truly a blessing now that you’re in it. I love you more than anything. —Victoria White Matt, Thanks for making the last nine years better than I could have ever dreamed. I LOVE YOU!!! —Kevyn To Bill, The love that I have waited a life time for. Thanks for everything —Jay Alvin, Thank you for being the best friend any one could ask for! Happy Valentine’s Day. —Jim Jolynn, Some things in life are really worth the wait. Here’s to our reunion. Jolynn Miller I LOVE YOU!! —Carla Vaughan Ed Leonhard, Happy Valentines Day Baby! This is the year I marry my best friend on 10-10-10. —Anthony Barros To my Juannie, my Bunnies, my Movie Star, Happy Valentine’s Day, Love and Kisses Chilly Willy XOXO —Jay You know you are in love when you see the world in her eyes, and her eyes are everywhere in the world. Happy Valentine’s Day, Finley! —Lamerial Jacobson To Sue, the love of my life. Happy Valentine’s Day! —Rosie

Mercedes, I love you with all my heart. Happy seventh anniversary baby I will be home soon! Love your Mami —Sherry, AKA Reggie

Brendan, Thanks for being my partner in wacky projects and life. My love, my best friend, my biggest surprise. —Scottie

Oh best beloved, Nicki, Your devotion and passion exemplify the illimitable reach of the human heart. You have mine. —Rachel Gardiner

To my Keith Kelly, My long distance love, thanks for always being supportive and being the love of my life. Love Always. —Michael Kelly

John, As we celebrate our first anniversary I can say that this year has been amazing with you. I adore you. —Love, Bob Happy Valentine’s Day, Patrick! ILY! —Christopher Hey J1, Six months and counting and I’m excited to spend our first Valentine’s Day together! Love, J2—muah, muah, muah! —Jason Holstein Donnie, Thank you for being in my life. See you in my dreams baby! Happy Valentine’s Day. —Rick Dear Kirk, Thank you for 23 wonderful years, and here’s to 23 more ! And maybe Watermark will remember to put it in their Transitions page every January 1st! Love, —Jimmy Laura, I couldn’t imagine trusting anyone else with my heart. I’m all yours to deal with! I love you. —Nikki To Stephen, my love! —Sonny Sharon Scott I love you sooooo! “Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be” —Jen Drake To RedHeadBoi: Thank you for a wonderful time. You rock! —Michael ISIS: Please tell your Dad that I think I could like him a lot! —Scott

Rick, I love you so much! We’ve been through so much together, and you’ve helped me learn so much! I Love you and will always love you. No words can express how in love I am with you! —John Soltis You swept into my life with your killer grin, you swept me off my feet when you became my pen pal, and you melted my heart when you asked me to marry you. Scottie Campbell, I love you, be my Valentine. —Brendan O’Connor To my dear husband whom I will love, worship, cherish, and adore, whoever you might be. NoW acceptiNg applicaNts. —WANZIE Nonalee, I followed my heart when I found you. Follow your heart back to me! I love you! —Shannon My dearest Gabri, Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you forever!! Yours always. —Nan To Bill, You were the man of my dreams and then you made my dreams come true. You are my love, my man, my husband, my life, ‘til death do us part. My Dear, you are my one and only. —Love, Randy Joe, I’m still hot for you after all these years! Happy Valentine’s Day, honey. Hugs. —Tom Jacob, You are the love of my life, my best friend and my soul mate. I love you “mostederest”! —Chris

Sherry, My Forever Love, I’m the most fortunate person on the planet with you by my side for whatever the universe sends our way. Thank you! —Kim To Tucker, You’re the best thing to happen to me. I love you so much! —Matt My Beloved Michael, U R all I need, my love, My Valentine LOVE U 2 Eternal! —Victor Dear Me, No man has ever treated me as well as you do. It’s clear to see you are the man of my dreams. —Love, Me My Dallas Rob, I’m so happy that you are with me for life! My love for you will always show! —Stephen Cory, I love you with all my heart. Happy Valentine’s and 6 year anniversary. —Rob Keith, Happy 1st Valentine’s Day, Handsome! —Love, Louie Phil, For almost 12 years we’ve weathered every obstacle life has thrown our way. We’ve come a long way and I can’t wait to see what’s next on our journey. I love you. —Steve

Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010 | To the love of my life, Brian. Thanks for being my sweetheart for 19 Years! I Love You! —Kevin To the group, you know who you are. Until I find the one, you’re stuck with me! —Much Love, Matty To my beautiful Lisa, my true love, best friend and soul mate. Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you more than everything. —Amanda Paul, The last eight years have flown by like a whirlwind, crazy, zany, never a dull moment. But over the past two years we have found we are solid as a rock. Here’s to waking up next to you for the rest of my life. I love you with all my heart. —Danny Matt, After a lifetime of questionable decisions, I know I got one thing right. Saying “yes” to you was the best choice I have ever made. Thanks for always making me certain of that, every single day. Love you. —Jamie Dale, I just want you to know how amazing you truly are. You are my world, my love, and my inspiration. You will have my heart forever! —David

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Happy Valentine’s Day Freddyhead XOXO —LOVE U, D Dearest Mike, There’s so much to say, and I can’t find the words, except for these—I love you. —Brian Str8s, You know the smiles are real and i promise to try to wow you forever! —Miss u, Pezz Drew, Every day with you is filled with music and lots of “olive juice.” —Love, Jack Waters To my Fishstick, Dallas, Happy Valentines Day! —Your Futch, Bridget Shane Philips, My Yogi. Luvs You More! You’re the BESTEST Dammit! Lotsa luv. —Nick (your Boo-Boo) Norm, You are my confidant, my teacher, my ally and my best friend. There’s no one else I’d want to spend my life with. It won’t be easy, but I look forward to our journey together. —Love, Erik Charlie, Ever since I brought you home from the shelter it's been one magical day after another. P.S. Please stop peeing on the carpet. —Jake | l |


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watermark | love

| Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010

finding love Watermark rEaDErS SHarE tHEir StOriES OF rOMancE

compiled by steve blanchard and jamie hyman

F

First comes love, Then comes marriage... on stands

March 4th

watermark’’'s

issue To advertise: Call (407)481-2243 or (813)655-9890

inding that love connection can sound pretty difficult at first, but sometimes it just takes being in the right place at the right time. We asked readers to share their love stories and you responded with enthusiasm. We received so many responses, in fact, that we had to edit them down to fit within these pages. To read the full stories, or to share your story of love, visit WatermarkOnline.com. Personal ad finds soul mate I came out at the age of 52, after 20 years of marriage, and then spent three and a half years with my first lesbian partner. I spent the next eight years enjoying single life. In early 2000, at the urging of friends, I placed a personal ad in Creative Loafing. One of the two responses I got was from Anne (Mickie) Howell. We talked on the phone, and planned to meet for dinner and a movie, in Tampa’s Old Hyde Park. She walked into the restaurant using a cane, and I learned that she often relied on a wheelchair. She asked me how I would feel, being seen with a “crip.” After assuring her that her disability didn’t bother me, we ordered our dinners and talked some more. During the movie, she reached for and held my hand. I was startled, but thought, “Oh—okay; this is nice!” And then, after the movie, she drove me from her handicapped spot near the theater to my car in the parking garage a block away, and before I got out of the car she kissed me. I found myself returning the kiss. It was two days before Valentine’s Day. In June, 2000, on her 60th birthday, we celebrated our Holy Union at Christ the Cornerstone Church. I was 63. Had she not passed away in 2004, I know we would still be friends, lovers, and soul mates. —Eunice Fisher, St. Petersburg

Staged interest I walked on stage to sing with a band at an outdoor pub when Mike saw me. He later sent me a message online asking if it was me that he saw. I wasn’t too interested because his picture wasn’t so great. But, I invited him to a concert. He

brought a date, who was someone I had been sort of dating too. However, when I saw him I thought, “He looks better in person!” He ditched his date and came back to see me. We became friends, started dating, fell in love and more than two years later we still get the giggles and make our friends gag with our loveydovey antics.

—David Lee and Mike Hollis, St. Petersburg

Status unimportant My friend Debbie wrote a one act play and asked me if I would be interested in being one of the characters, since I was one of the only actors she knew. She said that it would be her and one other guy. He was this skinny, adorable, dorky, guy that seemed really shy, and I crushed on him immediately. She told me that he was HIV positive. I told her that that doesn’t change my feelings. When we started rehearsing I would flirt, non-stop, and it seemed like he liked the attention. When it came to performance night, there were some poetry readings after our little play, and he read a very emotional story about how contracted HIV from his ex. After he did his reading, I went up to give him a hug, and he said, “Are you still interested in me now that you know?” I said “I already knew, and I have always been in to you”. We have been together for 11 years now. —Shannon Snyder, Orlando

Parallel marchers During the March on Washington I was living in D.C. on Capitol Hill. I had about 10 people staying in my apartment that weekend, one of whom was dating Ed’s best friend. I even had a party during that weekend that Ed attended but we still did not meet until the march itself. He was standing by himself and I was trying to get away from some people, so I went over to Ed and pretended to know him. We found out that out of the million people there we actually had a lot of the same friends and had been running parallel all weekend without ever meeting. —David Schauer, St. Petersburg


Persistence pays off Gary met me at Sawmill Campground and asked me out nine times before I said yes. He was very persistent. After I stopped working at Sawmill he found me online and asked what I was doing on my birthday. He took me out for my 19th birthday and I never left after that. It’s been about 2 1/2 years now. —Scott Peterson, Tampa

Right place, right time I moved back to Ohio in January 1993 and shared a house with my ex-lover. The closest gay bar was an hour away in West Virginia. I met Mike there one night and we seemed to hit it off. Mike lived 30 minutes from my house in Ashland, Ky. I gave him my phone number and when he called my ex never gave me the message. He started dating my ex and a month later my ex dropped him for a friend of mine. Mike came to the house to talk to my ex and talked to me instead. Almost 17 years later and we are still together.

myself drawn to her. I would stop in on my days off and bring her lunch. We began spending more time together out of work. I stayed away from home more often, and in June I finally moved out and into my own place. After that, things happened the way they were supposed to: We bought our first house; I came out to my family and dragged her kicking and screaming out of the closet. Now here we are 2010. We own another house, and two businesses, and while there were hard times, I know that she is and will always be my best friend. —Erica Franco, Orlando

Trains and automobiles My boyfriend Branden and I have a unique story. We met on OkCupid.com about a year ago. He was living with his family in Clearwater and I was with my red dapple dachshund near downtown Orlando. Branden and I clicked immediately—I could feel our hearts synchronize the moment we began talking. Initially, we said —Dale Micha, Orlando we were just going to be “e-friends” due to the distance, but being a highly intuitive Don’t miss the license person, I knew that arrangement wouldn’t We met at an AIDS benefit in Wisconsin last long. I eventually asked him to come in 2002. We were seated in a large room and to Orlando to meet me. But our first date spotted each other across the room. We met almost didn’t happen. and we eventually went over to Subway. The weekend prior to the big day, He finished and we walked around town Branden’s car was stolen while he was talking to get to know each other. Everyone shopping at a Tampa Bay Area mall. we met that day thought that we had been While others might have buckled under a couple for some time. We eventually met these circumstances, Branden and I saw at my hang out and an opportunity to he talked to some of show each other my so-called friends how much we were that filled him full capable of loving. “More than two years of bullshit about me. He promised me a later we still get the He never bought it. date and he intended He saw through their to deliver. giggles and make our crap, but never told The following friends gag with our me about the stories weekend, he arrived until years later. lovey-dovey antics.” for our first date We went to smiling and with a —DaviD Lee, St. PeterSburg Dubuque, Iowa, in box of chocolates. August 2009 and Every weekend got married with our after that day for youngest sons as our witnesses. We have three months I would pick Branden up at our marriage license framed on the wall for the Orlando Amtrak station to spend the all to see—and if someone doesn’t see it, weekend together. It was our train station we point it out. romance; something straight out a classic —Randy Bahr and Bill Edwards, film or a Nicholas Sparks novel with a gay Florida twist. In September, he moved to Orlando Electronic attraction so we could begin building our lives I was a freshman in college walking together. Each time I look at him, I can’t through the mall with my friend and help but think about those first dates and looking for a job. We walked past Radio the work we were both willing to pour into Shack and saw the giant “Now Hiring” sign. cultivating something real. Train stations It was Oct. 31, 1997. will always have a special place in my I asked to speak with the manager and heart. out of the backroom walks a confident —Jessy Hamilton, Orlando | l | and very serious woman. I got the job, and started working there part time. We survived the holiday season and our friendship grew stronger. She was in the Go to WatermarkOnline.com to read closet and I was living with my boyfriend more love stories from our readers! at the time, but for some reason I found

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| uu | Online Love from p.39

not about the quantity of guys they can be matched with, but the quality of guys they have met,” Perrine says. “Many of our testimonials express a sincere appreciation for our questionnaire process, a more thought-provoking tool to help them find what they are looking for, and that while we address sexuality as a very important part of compatibility, it’s not the sole component to finding a match. “What we have done is create an environment for like-minded gay daters to meet, fall in love, and develop a happy and healthy long term relationship. And that appears to be resonating in the success stories.” This year, MyPartner.com was nominated in 3 of 11 categories at Miami’s iDate Conference, including Best Matchmaker, Best Dating Service, and Most Innovative Company, one of the only exclusively gay and lesbian gay dating services to be nominated. This success has spurred Perrine to launch a lesbian matchmaking component now available at MyPartner.com. And there were many special considerations taken to open the website to women. “Just as there are many differences between gay daters and lesbian daters, I get asked this question more often than any other, ‘What makes dating between gays and straights so different?’” Perinne says. “When you consider not only the key criteria lesbians use to find a partner, there are vastly different cultural behaviors between gay men and lesbian women. While there are many similarities between partner selection to our heterosexual brothers and sisters, it is the few intricacies that make the search and dating experiences so different.” Nancy Sher understands the differences Perrine describes. Now age 72, she had her first experience with online dating 12 years ago with a smaller, local lesbian matchmaking service, and eventually she chose to register with Match.com. “I wasn’t meeting people in public, but through Match.com I met many new friends from many parts of the United States,” Sher

watermark | love says. “We would get together and many became close.” In addition to new friends, she also met two partners through Match.com. Sher says in both cases the in-depth compatibility matching and profiles helped, but it was really in the subsequent e-mails that she found her real connections. “You can warm up to each other without having to physically meet,” she says, “and by the time you meet you feel more comfortable than being set up, or on a blind date, and you can carry on a conversation. It’s a prelude as to how the other person is inside. If you’re not comfortable online, you’re certainly not going to be [comfortable] in person.” Sher says she and her first online match, Peggy, knew after three and a half months that they were falling in love. Peggy moved from the West to live with Sher in St. Petersburg, where they shared two years before Peggy passed away. Sher decided to begin again, and while searching a few web sites, found Carol at Match.com. It was Carol’s appearance that drove Sher to re-register and begin an online courtship. “The first thing I looked for was a wholesome image,” Sher recalls and emphasizes that physical attraction is key to developing a relationship. “I never thought appearance was important before, and I did try it from the inside out, but it didn’t cover all the aspects I needed in a substantial relationship.” Perrine agrees that attraction is a key component in compatibility. “Even as successful as our matchmaking algorithm has been for our online user and for our private matchmaking clients, it still comes down to chemistry between the matches,” Perrine says. “The difference is, as compared to meeting some throughout the course of the day, is that when you meet you already know you are compatible and that you have a high likelihood for chemistry. When you meet someone at say, a bar or a coffee-shop, there may be the initial physical attraction or chemistry, but you have no indicators about true compatibility or the potential for a dating experience that could ‘have legs.’”

Find love with the right search tool Here is a sampling of tHe most popular, national love/online dating services available to lgbts:

Gay.com

Associated with Here!Media (Out, The Advocate) and based in Los Angeles, billed with millions of users. Community Guidelines state “It’s Okay to Watch”—for users who don’t want to launch right into e-mails, but prefer to visit chat rooms and just listen for a while. The site offers both free and premium memberships. Premium memberships include add-ons like more photos, unlimited e-mail, a one-year subscription to Out and enhanced group chat access. Choices are Men Seeking Men, Women Seeking Women, MTF and FTM.

eHarmony.com

After a lawsuit, the popular matchmaking site created Compatible Partners, available through the eHarmony. com site. A disclaimer states that the new site is not specifically designed for same sex couples. There is an initial onetime charge with possibility of recurring charges.

While both Sher and Clemente had success with Match.com, they encourage anyone looking for a love relationship to register at several sites. Clemente says he also registered at eHarmony.com, but says he was immediately “thrown out” as eHarmony.com did not allow same sex matches at that time. In 2005, a gay user in New Jersey filed a complaint citing the state’s antidiscrimination law. As a result, eHarmony. com launched Compatible Partners, a same sex matching service. However, a disclaimer on the site states that “the matching system was specifically designed using research for married heterosexual

Chemistry.com

Chemistry.com is owned by Match. com and has categories devoted to Men Seeking Men and Women Seeking Women. There is an initial one-time charge with membership and a possibility of recurring charges.

Match.com

Just as with its sister site Chemistry. com, Match.com features a section for Men Seeking Men and Women Seeking Women. An initial one-time charge with membership includes a possibility of recurring charges.

MyPartner.com

The site offers both free and premium memberships. Premium memberships can span from one month to 12 months and include profile customization, invitations to mixers and a double-your-money guarantee.

couples. The Company has not conducted similar research on same-sex relationships.” “I would recommend it,” Clemente says of registering at several sits. “It really helped us, and [love/relationship web sites] have a great guarantee. If you are reading between the lines, and you are open to all the possibilities, then be open. Know yourself and don’t settle,” Clemente advises. It all boils down to truly wanting a deep, meaningful relationship and a will to explore all opportunities, he adds. “All we need is to really want it and be open,” Clemente says. “There is someone out there for everyone.” | l |


Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010 |

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| Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010

watermark | transitions

(L-R) Tampa attorney Kim Byrd and Equality Florida Communications Director Brian Winfield celebrate their 23rd anniversary on Feb. 12.

transitions www.squirt.org HOOK UP ANYWHERE, ANYTIME, WITH ANYONE.

congratulations Disney cast member and St. Petersburg entertainer Coco Montrese has been named Miss Gay America 2010. Orlando’s DC Graphix’s Derek Cavilla and partner Terry Roberts celebrate their anniversary on Feb. 11. St. Pete’s Gypsy Productions’ president/ artistic director Trevor Keller and Gypsy business manager and spin class instructor Daryl Epperly celebrate their anniversary on Feb. 13. Orlando’s Shelbie Press celebrates its 17th year in business this month. Congratulations Debbie and Michelle! Orlando realtor David Dorman was named the no. 1 agent in Central Florida for all Century 21 offices. He also just returned from a Professional Realty Council conference, for which he is Florida’s regional director. Ted Bradford has been appointed senior vice president and chief lending officer of the First National Bank of Central Florida.

passings Longtime All My Children actor James Mitchell died Jan. 22 in Los Angeles. He was 89. Mitchell is survived by his long time

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partner, costume designer Albert Wolsky. St. Petersburg Times editorial assistant Alicia Olazabell passed away suddenly on Jan. 21 after suffering bleeding in her brain. She was 57. She is survived by her partner, Deborah Peters and her brother. One of St. Pete Pride’s original organizers and major fundraiser Robert Victor died unexpectedly on Jan. 31. Details surrounding his death were not known at press time.

local birthdays Tampa Sister of Perpetual Indulgence Monica MuffDiver, AKA Scott Ryan (Feb. 4); 1st Dance Studio owner and St. Petersburg dance instructor Julia MeyerovichNeighbors (Feb. 8); Co-owner of Orlando’s Hamburger Mary’s, Mike Rogier (Feb. 9); Creative Tile Design of St. Petersburg owner Tom O’Keefe and St. Petersburg hair stylist Ric Castro (Feb. 10); Xia Adonis from the House of Adonis, LaToya Little, Tampa schools media specialist and activist Bart Birdsall and Suncoast Hospice Executive Director Mike Bell (Feb. 11); USF Vegetarian Society President and St. Pete Resident Mark Weber (Feb. 13); gorgeous O-Town dancer, choreographer, DJ and nightclub impresario Blue and Tampa activist Chris Goldsmith (Feb. 16); Come Out With Pride’s entertainment director, John Bearse (Feb. 17).

Send news about birthdays, passings, anniversaries, promotions, commitment ceremonies—and whatever you commemorate—to Editor@WatermarkOnline.com.


dothis!

watermark | advice

Internalizing feelings is dangerous ADVICE FROM

The Truth

Truth@WatermarkOnline.com

M

must admit you left some space open there. I’m not sure, depending on the way you said it her, if she should have magically known it would be a full-time partying weekend with the friends. When she realized her alone time with you would not merely be shared with others, but rather, be completely absent, she had a bad reaction. Your issue is one of communication. The Truth is a lovely shade of blue in the face (not royal blue, or dark blue, but cerulean) from saying this: If you’re not sure what to do in the context of a relationship, your first thought should be “adult conversation.” Sit down with her, and ask her directly what the problem is. When she tells you that she was hoping for more time with you, apologize for not setting the right expectation and tell her that you two will be clearer about things next time. Here comes the Truth, baby: The whole thing is a little silly, and surely, it’s not the end of the world. Talk to each other!

Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010 |

51

yesterday, and that was true yesterday, too. Of the greatest importance is a growing social environment where being anti-gay is seen as ignorant. That hasn’t always been the case. The fact that you’re internalizing what is essentially a political issue, albeit one close to your heart, lets me know there is something else going on with you personally. Political realities like this shouldn’t really interfere with your daily mood, and if they do, it is time to seek a therapeutic solution. Feelings of cynicism and depression—no matter the reason—need to be addressed as soon as possible. Chin up, young person. It will all be okay. | l |

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Dear Truth, I am a 40-something gay man with a great family and a close circle of friends. Typically, I am an outgoing, fun-loving guy and I’m really good at finding the positive in every situation. But since the passage of Proposition 8 in California and Amendment 2 in Florida, I have started feeling depressed and cynical. I internalize every defeat of an LGBT rights issue (like the repeal of gay marriage in Maine) to the point that I can’t think about anything else. Normal gay conversations don’t interest me anymore; I find them frustrating and inconsequential. All I want to do is shake people and scream, “How can you care about this crap when they’re taking away our civil rights!” I know that I dwell on this too much and that it’s affecting my relationships, but I don’t know how to fix it. Any suggestions? —No Sun in Sarasota

Dear Truth, y girlfriend and I are having an argument. When we met in 2008, we both lived in Orlando, but she now lives in South Carolina. She recently came to Orlando for the gay softball tournament weekend. I play on a local team and we both have a ton of friends from all over who were playing in the tournament. Before she got here, I told her that I wanted to hang out at the fields and see people; she agreed. Once she got here, however, she threw a hissy fit and refused to stay and party with me Sarasota Sunny, and our friends at the fields. Oh Sunny, they aren’t taking away our Instead, she went back to my place civil rights. We never had any in the first and bitched about me to my gay roommate. We ended up fighting the rest place! Look, I understand that these things are of the weekend (and since), and she’s depressing. It’s easy for us to see the moral still accusing me of disrespecting her imperative in providing gays and lesbians and not “putting her first.” I say that with equal rights. But she knew the deal you do understand beforehand and that not everyone she’s acting like a agrees, right? We’d selfish child. What Sit down with her, and like to think that the do you think? ask her directly what mere fact that we’re —Too Much right to be enough, but Drama the problem is. it’s not. Here comes the Truth, baby: As Dear Mary J Blige, frustrated as you Why do I get the might be, despite recent political setbacks, sense that I’m not hearing the whole story? gays and lesbians in the U.S. have more to Her about-face does seem suspicious. be encouraged about than ever before about Maybe she didn’t fully understand what our place in society. you meant when you said you’d want to We are in a better place today than hang out at the field and see people. You

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watermark | sports

| Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010

Tebow ad raises eyebrows

briefs

steve blanchard Miami | Tim Tebow’s television ad hasn’t even aired, yet it is already stirring controversy among LGBTs and abortion rights advocates. The star quarterback for the Florida Gators announced earlier this month that he is appearing with his mother in a Focus on the Family-funded ad to air during the Super Bowl on Feb. 7. While details have not been released, many speculate the ad will be an anti-abortion message. Tebow has said before that doctors encouraged his mother to have an abortion when she was pregnant with him because of an illness she contracted while on a mission trip. She refused and Tebow was born healthy. Now, several groups have called for CBS, which is carrying the broadcast of the big game, to pull the ad, saying it should not support political advertising. LGBT advocates are crying fowl because of Focus on the Family’s substantial history of anti-gay politicizing. A protest letter from the Women’s Media Center suggested that CBS should have turned down the ad in part because it was conceived by Focus on the Family. “By offering one of the most coveted advertising spots of the year to an anti-equality, anti-choice, homophobic organization, CBS is aligning itself with a political stance that

will damage its reputation, alienate viewers, and discourage consumers from supporting its shows and advertisers,” the letter said. However, CBS officials say they carefully examined Focus on the Family’s track record and found no basis for rejecting the ad. “We understand that some people don’t think very highly of what we do,” Focus on the Family spokesperson Gary Schneeberger told the Associate Press. “We’re not trying to sell you a soft drink — we’re not selling anything. We’re trying to celebrate families.” Tebow said he knew his decision to appear with his mother, Pam, in the 30-second ad for Focus on the Family would not be universally accepted, but wasn’t going to shy away from an issue that was important to him. “I know some people won’t agree with it, but I think they can at least respect that I stand up for what I believe and I’m never shy about that,” Tebow said. “I don’t feel like I’m very preachy about it, but I do stand up for what I believe and at least you can respect that. “Unfortunately in today’s society not many athletes tend to do that, at least stand for something.” The major television networks have previously declined to air polarizing advocacy ads. In 2004, CBS and its competitors rejected an ad by the United Church of Christ, welcoming gays and others who may have felt

Tampa gears up for annual Gasparilla Tournament

Gator quarterback Tim Tebow is slated to appear in a Focus on the Family-funded ad during the Feb. 7 Super Bowl.

snubbed by more conservative churches. At the time, CBS was heavily criticized. It says that in recent months, it has run more issue-oriented advertising, such as ones for health care. But a national coalition of women’s groups is calling on CBS not to air the ad. “This campaign is about holding CBS and the NFL and the other Super Bowl advertisers accountable,” said Jehmu Greene, president of the Women’s Media Center, “for inserting an exceedingly controversial issue into a place where we all hope Americans will be united, not divided, in terms of watching America’s most-watched sporting event.” The New Orleans Saints play the Indianapolis Colts. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. with opening ceremonies starting at 6 p.m. | l |

So many teams have registered for the 16th Annual Gasparilla Softball Classic Tournament that both the C- and Ddivisions are now closed. Both have reached the maximum 26 teams. There is still room, however, in the A- and B-divisions, which have a cap of 10 and 16 teams, respectively. The tournament opens Thursday, Feb. 11, with preregistration at Club City Side in Tampa from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. and runs through Sunday, Feb. 14. For details and a full schedule, visit SuncoastSoftball. com/GSC.

Charity golf tourney eyes HIV/AIDS services Three organizations have posted their resources to present the annual 18 Fore Life Golf Tournament slated for Saturday, Feb. 20. The charity tournament will benefit the Metropolitan Community Church of Tampa, Metro Charities Inc. and the Francis House. Money raised will help fund HIV/AIDS services provide by each of the nonprofits. For more information on the tournament, visit MCCTampa.com or call 813-239-1951.


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watermark | gossip

| Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010

billymasters

54

“I had five guys looking at my shriveled, burned penis. It was the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my life. I’m good...now. Now my penis is fantastic; 100% percent recovered. Put me back in the game, Coach.” —Channing Tatum tells Details magazine about a mishap on the set of The Eagle of the Ninth which included a wet suit, cold temperatures, and a kettle of boiling water.

L

Traveling Companions Billy Masters Billy@BillyMasters.com

ast time I told you how a few celebs rang in the New Year. As we went to press, we hadn’t yet heard about the Rivers Family celebration. As I’m sure many of you have heard, Joan Rivers ran into a snafu at the Costa Rican airport—let me put on my surprised face. Auntie Joan states that although she got through four checkpoints without incident, she was not allowed to board the Continental flight because the gate agent could not understand why her passport said “Joan Rosenberg—AKA Joan Rivers.” Of course, Rosenberg is her married name and Rivers is her performing name. While all of this is true, it appears that the two names on her passport were not why she was barred from boarding. Apparently, her boarding pass was made out in the name of “Joseph Rosenburg.” Wrong name, wrong sex! Obviously this was not Joanie’s fault, and surely one of the earlier checkpoints should have noticed this error. But, rules are rules and if the boarding pass doesn’t match the name on the ID then the person can’t board—period. On other side of the spectrum, alleged insiders are speculating that Kathy Griffin

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has been banned from CNN after using the “f-word” on New Year’s Eve. Trust me—CNN knows exactly what they’re getting with Kath, and they’re not all that concerned. Cher is finally back at work on a film set. She’s playing a madam of a burlesque house. Of course, “burlesque” is a fancy word for a hooker who can carry a tune! In this case, the tune is being sung by Christina Aguilera, who stars alongside Cher in Burlesque, a film written and directed by our own Steve Antin. Pics from the set have surfaced showing Cher and Chrissy looking fabulous. You know who else looks good? Cam Gigandet, who was so hot in Twilight. In the pics we’ll post on our web site, Aguilera is sitting on a motorcycle and is grabbing him from behind—something I’d enjoy doing! The flick also stars Stanley Tucci, Kristin Bell, Julianne Hough, Eric Dane, and Alan Cumming. Kristin Chenoweth is going forward with plans to play Dusty Springfield in a biopic which she will co-produce! Lest you think Dusty’s lesbianism will not be included, think again. Chenoweth even has someone in mind to play her onscreen lover—Kerry Washington, who is currently starring in David Mamet’s Race on Broadway. Washington is all for the pairing. In fact, she ran into Kris at a restaurant and exclaimed, “I would love to be your lesbian lover.” She continues, “It’s very exciting. I feel like I’ve been waiting to make out with her forever.” That makes one of us. Logo has announced a slate of new shows including the show everyone is talking about—Kept. Kept. No, not that train wreck where Jerry Hall tried to find a boy toy. This is a different train wreck altogether. It’s a reality show about older, rich gay men in New York, and the young, cute boys who aspire to live off them. Why didn’t they just call it The Real Houseboys of Chelsea? This week’s “Ask Billy” question comes from Justin in Miami: “Have you heard about these twin guys who had sex with each other in gay

Kristin Chenoweth plans on playing gay when she portrays Dusty Springfield in a biopic that she’ll produce.

porn? I don’t remember their names, but I saw them at a club and they were really hot—making out and grabbing each other. Do they really have sex in the film? And are they really brothers?” I’m assuming you’re talking about Milo and Elijah Peters, known as the Peters Twins (a last name I somehow doubt shows up on their Czechoslovakian birth certificates). The 19-yearolds were scooped up by Bel Ami and have turned up in a number of DVDs. While I’m settling back into my Hollywood life, I’m still around to answer all your questions. So, until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible. | l | Perhaps the biggest gay icon in history, Cher, will return to the big screen in Burlesque, where she plays a madam and co-star with Christina Aguilera.


Feb. 4 - Feb. 17, 2010 |

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Watermark issue 17.03  

Featuring celebrity interviews, news, local politics, and more!

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