Tag Archive: GLBT

Flag Waiving

I’ve had an itch. There has been so much stuff going on in the world of politics, economics, and everything else, over the last few years – or maybe it’s just become more important to me – that I want to have my say. And hey, I already have this platform, and while this site may have been primarily a mix of published articles and critiques of restaurants and books, why not critique other stuff?

I know, I know. “You’re a chef, stfu about politics, stay in the kitchen and cook.” Yeah, well, you’re an office worker, a landscaper, a police officer, a hairdresser… so stay in your cubicle, garden, squad car, or salon, and stfu yourself. As the saying goes, opinions are like assholes, we all have one (except for the rare individual with imperforate anus or a similar medical condition, but we’re not going there… oops).

So, I’m going to pick topics that strike me as interesting, or get me riled up, or whatever it may be, and write a brief commentary on them. Plus, maybe it will breathe some life into this blog. Maybe I’ll even get a comment (nasty ones with all sorts of curse words or insults will most likely be simply deleted, unless I can find a way to make your life hell by using it in some fashion). So, onto the show….

You might have guessed from the title, this is going to be about the whole flag, Pledge of Allegiance, taking a knee controversy.

Personally, I grew up with the Pledge of Allegiance. We recited it daily, standing at attention, hand over the heart, and with gusto. It’s ingrained into me. I see people asking questions on Facebook and Twitter about whether the folk who are so riled up about the whole take-a-knee thing are standing and reciting the pledge when they’re at home watching the game. First off, there’s no requirement to do that, there’s a whole protocol for being in the presence of the flag and all that, but you know what, while I don’t stand at attention, I usually find that I’ve pretty much automatically put my hand over my heart and quietly recited the pledge to myself along with the folk on the screen. It’s so automatic I’d have to truly put a conscious effort into not doing it.

I spent a lot of my earlier years in one form or another of public service. Be it in the Boy Scouts, on into being an Explorer Scout with the Ann Arbor Police Department. Be it in Army ROTC for a year and half until being asked to resign because we were back in the days before Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Be it participating in the Michigan State Police summer programs. Be it as an EMT and later a paramedic for the ambulance services in Washtenaw County. Volunteer for the Red Cross, teaching CPR and First Aid. I was interviewed (several times) by the CIA (yes, that one, not the Culinary one) when I was working on my doctorate in psychology, for a profiler position, until I told them I was gay, at which time they offered me a job in the secretarial pool.

One of the things that was always present, and it’s been said more eloquently by many veterans, including some who disagree with the take-a-knee stance, was that part of what we were there to protect was people’s right to dissent, people’s right to free speech, people’s right to protest. That’s part of what America is all about.

And I understand the urge, the need, to protest. I’m not black, never have been, never will be. But I am gay, and I am Jewish, and I have had my share of prejudice to deal with. Setting aside being asked to leave the Army and the CIA, I’ve been fired from two jobs for it. In the restaurant business of all places. Going back to my days as a paramedic, I was stripped of being a supervisor because of it. And actually, before that, I’d worked as a security guard on University of Michigan’s campus, and I was stripped of being a supervisor there for being gay too. I’ve been physically attacked for it at least a dozen times that I can think of. I was refused admittance to Yom Kippur services at a synagogue of which I’d been a member for years, when the board of the synagogue took it into their heads to root out the homosexuals. And when it comes to verbal abuse, both for being gay and for being Jewish, I can’t remotely begin to count the number of incidents I’ve been through in my life.

And so, I’ve participated, mostly in my younger years, in protests and rallies and organizations and what-have-you that were in favor of gay rights, or against antisemitism. I don’t do so much of that anymore because I’m simply tired of having life being about a constant battle. I just don’t have the energy to invest in it, I want my energy invested in things that are positive, and creative, and yeah, I know that may be a cop out, but so be it.

So here’s the thing. I viscerally don’t like what Colin Kaepernick did that launched this whole movement. It’s automatic. I’m one of those people who when someone doesn’t stand during the Pledge, or doesn’t put their hand over their heart, nudges them to do so. But I wouldn’t force them to. I wouldn’t call them names. I wouldn’t demand they be punished. Because I recognize that regardless of my personal feelings about it, they have the right to theirs. I recognize that he, and the other players who have now taken a stand, or a knee, beside him, aren’t “disrespecting the flag”, anymore than any other person who chooses not to recite the Pledge is. They’re not “expressing a political opinion”.

They’re calling attention to the fact that after decades of supposed progress in integration and equal treatment, we just aren’t there yet. Be it in opportunities, compensation, inclusion, oppression, violence, or hey, even joke-telling, it just ain’t equal. As a friend posted earlier today on Facebook, “Thinking NFL players are ‘protesting the flag’ is like thinking Rosa Parks was protesting public transportation.”

I know this from my particular circle in the world, when here we are in 2017 and I have friends and acquaintances, many of them who claim to be bastions of tolerance and liberalism, who think nothing of telling fag jokes, or making comments about Henry’s and my relationship that they’d never make to a straight couple, or making assumptions about our relationship based on our age and cultural/racial differences (the latter brings up a whole other can of worms that has allowed me to see some disturbing racism in friends whom I never wouldathunkit of) or thinking it’s okay to comment on their imagination about what my (or other gay people’s) sex life is all about, or imploring me to “understand” why someone, at random, or an employer, or whomever, has a reaction to my being gay (usually justified by some sort of religious context).

To sum it up, while I personally will probably always stand and recite the Pledge, and the flag is something that holds a place in my heart, that’s emotional. As a thinking person, and as someone who believes in democracy, I will also always respect the right of any of my fellow citizens to not to do so. I may not like it, but I get it. And that’s the key point I want to make. It doesn’t actually matter why Kaepernick, or anyone else, chooses not to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Even if there were no racism, no oppression, even if it was all, as the saying goes, rainbows and unicorns, for people of color, it’s irrelevant. We live in a democracy and they don’t have to stand or pledge. That’s their right.

And yes, sure, an individual team owner could choose to fire them for it, legally – First Amendment rights don’t apply to employment situations (unless your employer is the government). And I’d support the right of that employer to do so, even if I don’t think they should, morally – the issues are too important in this day and age. And you know what, it’s a minute at the beginning of a football game. Stand, pledge your heart out, let the players (and spectators) who choose not to, have their moment too, and then get on with the game. And then after the game, let’s get to work on the issues they’re protesting so that one day, hopefully soon, no one feels the need to take a knee.


The Book Stack #6

jumbled books
Continuing with some more fantasy, and a bit of other….

My Tender Matador / Tengo Miedo Torero, Pedro Lemebel, September 2002, Translator: Katherine Silver

Let’s start outside the realm of fantasy. I actually don’t remember how this one came to my attention – it’s the story, basically, of the end of the days of Augustin Pinochet’s rule over Chile, focused on the events leading up to an attempted assassination. The book goes back and forth between Pinochet’s viewpoint, and that of an aging drag queen, the latter of whom has befriended a young, handsome man who turns out to be involved in the assassination attempt. It’s extremely well written, and the characters are well defined. It was a little slow reading for me as I initially started reading this in the original Spanish version, but the constant use of colloquial terms and street slang made it near impossible, and what I ended up doing was reading the two versions more or less side by side (learned a lot of Chilean street slang!). ☆☆☆

Code of Conduct, Brad Thor, July 2015

Over time I’ve read through the entire previous series (15 previous books) of the “Scot Horvath” novels. These are sort of Jack Bauer/24 on steroids if you can imagine that. They’re thrillers. They’re fast paced, they require some level of suspension of disbelief – they’re not totally out of left field, they’re basically, “what if?” scenarios that any of us could imagine given the state of the world right now, even if highly unlikely. And Thor makes them completely believable as potential scenarios. For me, given that I like thrillers of this sort, they’re entertaining as well as thought provoking. Fast reads. And, this one fits right in with all of that. There’s now a 17th novel out, Foreign Agent, and it’s on my reading stack! ☆☆☆☆

The Ronin Trilogy, Travis Heermann

Another trilogy, this one consisting of Heart of the Ronin (2010), Sword of the Ronin (2013), Spirit of the Ronin (2015). I stumbled across this one when I was looking for some martial arts books for study, and it looked interesting. Since the first volume was available for free on my Kindle Unlimited account, I gave it a spin, and rapidly went on to the sequels. Although set in feudal Japan, and following the story of a ronin, a masterless samurai, the writing style is very “western” in its approach, which gave them an interesting flavor – sort of like watching a completely foreign culture and concept develop from an outside observer’s eye. The author has a nice little quip on his site, “Writing fiction set in a far different time and place is challenging. The key is cram as much background information into your brain, let it percolate for a while, and see what bubbles out.”. And, no question, that’s what he’s done – creating a real image of a very different world than I’m familiar with, and at the same time, letting it develop in a way that I could actually visualize it, without feeling lost. I loved it. ☆☆☆☆

The Inheritance Trilogy, N.K. Jemisin

And, yet another trilogy! The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (2010), The Broken Kingdoms (2010), The Kingdom of Gods (2011). This one took me a little bit to get into. I can’t even tell you exactly what it was about it – it’s certainly well written, and an interesting concept. I think that it was that the protagonist in the first volume just didn’t resonate with me, and I initially found her viewpoint to be sort of a bore, or maybe it was just that the development of the story started out too slowly for me. But, the book picked up, and I ended up enjoying it enough to go on to the other two volumes, which take place from the viewpoints of other characters, and I liked both of those volumes much more. I mean, what’s not to like about a world where humans, gods, godlings, and demons, all live together and interact on a daily basis? In the end, highly recommendable. And, a nice perk that you can buy the entire trilogy in one volume. ☆☆☆☆

The Price of Retribution, Christopher Cartwright, March 2015

For such a small book (okay, 370 pages), it’s a pretty sweeping epic story, that starts with a jewel heist in long ago London and then jumps across the oceans to Australia, and back again. Another sort of “gentleman thief” – I guess those sort just attract me – it’s a great story, with romance, revenge, and a bit of rampaging. I found the writing to be quite good – at times it wandered a little, and I felt like for a moment that I, or the author, was losing the plot, but then it came back on track. The characters are interesting, though I felt that while the central ones are really well developed, that those who were not directly a part of the main storyline were a little greyed out by comparison, as if they didn’t really matter that much. ☆☆☆

The Book of Strange New things, Michel Faber, June 2015

The writing itself was fine, the author is excellent at drawing out characterization and visuals that many would find difficult to imagine. And the overall arc of the story is interesting and was enough to keep me going through to the end. However, the protagonist, and his wife, who we basically don’t meet other than briefly at the beginning and then through a series of letters, are some of the most unpleasant, unsympathetic “good guys” that one could care to encounter. Misogynistic, racist, religiously intolerant, judgmental, and constantly spouting stereotypes about everyone and everything around them – it was just plain unpleasant to read. (Honestly, given the time period I was reading this in, it was like trying to listen to Donald Trump talk about anyone who isn’t American, White, Male, and Christian.) And it was made worse because it was cloaked in a sort of pious righteousness. ☆☆


Lo que pasa en Buenos Aires

Passport Magazine
February 2009
pgs 34-40

Lo que pasa en Buenos Aires

This exciting and inexpensive South American city is well known for its historic landmarks, beautiful parks, and excellent art museums. It is also an easy-going culture, where stopping to chat with friends, lingering over a coffee in a sidewalk café, or enjoying a glass of one of the country’s great wines at a local bar, all take precedence over any business appointment or preplanned event. Despite being located in a very conservative, Catholic with a capital C, country, the city of Buenos Aires itself is a bastion of liberality. Same-sex domestic partnerships have been legal since 2003, with a proposed full marriage ill up for debate. Gay bars abound, and restaurants that cater to our set are scattered throughout the various neighborhoods. Meanwhile, curious travelers will discover a plethora of entertainment, shopping, and nightlife options to rival any of the world’s great cities.


Among the most popular spots for gay travelers are the gay owned bed and breakfasts. the two principal ones are Lugar Gay in the historic San Telmo neighborhood, and Bayres in Palermo, the former being men-only, the latter mixed gender. Another favorite, Posada de Palermo, in Palermo, has wonderfully comfortable rooms, great prices, and one of the best breakfast spreads in the city. For those on a budget, the End of the World Gay Hostel, on the border of San Telmo and La Boca, is a relatively new option. It’s a somewhat seedy neighborhood, but the place is clean and well kept, and transportation is easily available to other parts of town.

Celebrating its first anniversary this year, the self-proclaimed “five-star” Axel Hotel, located just outside of San Telmo in Monserrat, is becoming the new in-spot for the upscale gay traveler. A gleaming architectural triumph of glass and steel, it houses four dozen rooms, two pools (including a completely glass one located on the roof, hovering over a six story open lobby). The Axel’s one drawback is its location on a deserted (at night) industrial street, but then, anyone staying at the Axel is likely to have no problem springing for a taxi to more interesting zones.

Other gay-friendly options include the Art Hotel in Recoleta, which offers up quite nice, if slightly small, rooms at a very reasonable price, and boasts an excellent multilingual staff. On the fancier side is the Faena + Universe, situated on the far side of the refurbished warehouse and dock area known as Puerto Madero. It’s a fair hike from the rest of town, and sort of like taking a room at the South Street Seaport in New York or Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. It’s one of the finest hotels in the city and it features two excellent restaurants, a couple of delightful bars, and its own art galleries.

Meanwhile, the new Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt is attracting jet setters to its converted mansion packed with amazing artwork, several restaurants, and one of the few true wine bars in the city. Smaller boutique hotels that offer more personalized service are springing around the city as well. The two most well known, and among the best options, are the Home Hotel and the Bobo, both located in the heart of Palermo’s trendy design district.


Porteños (port dwellers), as the local citizens call themselves, seem to spend more time in restuarants and cafés than they do at home or work. It does help that the North American/European penchant for “turning tables” is non-existent in Buenos aires; once seated, the table is yours until you care to leave, whether you order anything past your first coffee, cocktail, or appetizer…or not. It would be unthinkable of a restaurant to even suggest that you might order more, or free up the space for a more spendthrift customer – it’s just not done. With free Wi-Fi access in most of the central part of town, whiling away the day at a table is de rigeur.

Among the spots in the city where you can enjoy a quiet dinner, Desde el Alma in Palermo is considered by many to be the most romantic in town. A converted home with small tables and comfortable chairs stuck in various nooks and crannies, this hot spot offers creative takes on Argentine cuisine, and you can count on virtually every customer being paired up for date night.

On the gay front, the petite La Olla de Felix, located in the heart of Recoleta, can’t be beat. Here you will find simple, classic French food at a great price from the former chef of the Ritz-Carlton in Paris. Empire Thai, located in the heart of downtown, is home to some of the better Asian food in the city. Owner Kevin Rodriguez, a former banker, fell in love with this restaurant while visiting Buenos Aires on a business trip. When he heard the owners were selling it, he quit his bank job and bought the place.

For those who want truly exquisite culinary experiences, the modern Argentine stylings of various chefs await your discovery. These include: Germán Martitegui’s trendy and expensive Casa Cruz in Palermo where an ever present bevy of cute youngsters brings some of the best food in town to your table; Martin Molteni’s amazing cuisine at Pura Tierra is served up in a beautiful old home in Blegrano; Rodrigo Ginzuk’s stunning French-Argentine fusion cuisine at Maat, a gorgeously restored palacio in Bellgrano – officially a private club, but open to the public when not filled with members; and Fernando Mayoral’s borderline “molecular gastronomy”style served up at Thymus, in Palermo. All are don’t miss spots.

If you find yourself in need of English-speaking company, Amaranta Bistro in Recoleta prepares an odd mix of US, Mexican, and Italian cooking in a café environment with virtually all customers speaking English in one form or another. They also offer one of the better brunches in town.


There’s no one district in the city that is particularly gay, though there’s been a push to declare historic San Telmo as the heart of the gay community. This is an odd choice, given that outside of one B&B (and the nearbynew hostel and hotel, both mentioned above) and the odd business here and there, there’s no gay nightlife to speak of here.

Most nightlife, gay or straight, begins late in Buenos Aires. It’s not unusual for a club to open around midnight, with bars opening not much earlier. Drag and stripper shows are popular in many venues. One of the few places open for an earlier drink is Flux Bar, located in Retiro near to downtown, where an after-work crowd gathers in an underground space hosted by owners Jamie Taylor and Ilia Konon.

A hotspot for gathering (locally called a punta de encuentro) is the area in Recoleta near to the intersection of avenues Pueyrredón and Santa Fé. Here you’ll find the casual café El Olmo, a spot to meet with friends before heading out for a night of drinking and dancing, as well as a place to pickup local taxi-boys, or hustlers. Within a few block radius are several gay bars, including the ever popular Search for its late night shows, Km Zero for its dancers, and Angel’s Disco for its transvestite and rough-trade crowd. On the far side of Recoleta, bordering on Palermo, the city’s largest barrio, are the large clubs Amerika and Glam. These p;laces are generally packed with boys who want to dance the night away, and/or disappear into the “dark rooms.” Just a few blocks away is the new kid in town called Sitges, with a mix of young gay, lesbian, and straight folk in a large lounge-style space that rivals Amerika in size, though with a focus on drag shows and lots of drinking.


After a few late nights of drinking, dining, and dancing (not to mention sightseeing packed days) you’ll probably need to relax and rejuvenate a bit. Full spa treatments are available at almost all the luxury hotels, regardless of whether you’re a guest of the hotel or not. A few hours spent at the popular Markus Day Spa in Recoleta will set you feeling right as well. Inexpensive massages are available throughout the city: most hotels have someone on call or at least someone to recommend. If you’re in or near Recoleta, the Centro Cultural Chino along Santa Fé doles out deep-tissue acupressure-style massages. The same is available at any of several locations in Belgrano’s small Chinatown neighborhood.

When it comes to working out, porteños, for the most part, aren’t into the whole muscle building world. Gyms are social spots, and working out is more for simply keeping healthy and looking good rather than developing large biceps. Most gyms, and they’re all over the city, offer up daily or weekly rates that are quite inexpensive. Amongst the gay set, the friendly and fairly “hot” gym is the American Hot Gym in Recoleta. The one real “chain” gym in the city is called Megatlon, a very sleek, modern group with spaces in multiple locations. They cater to the expat and wealthy crowd, with a large number of gay men in attendance, and their prices are pretty much the same as you’d pay in the States.


While most travel guides will send you off to the famed pedestrian mall that is Calle Florida, the truth is, you won’t find anything there that you can’t find back home, including the same brands, and probably at the same price. Where Buenos Aires stands out is with its legion of young, hip designers.

For the designer set, head off into the aptly named Palermo SoHo. Here, you’ll find the streets lined with one shop after another, interspersed with enough restaurants and cafes to give you a spot to rest while you shop. For the guys, start off along Gurruchaga, in the 1700 block (near Costa Rica Street) at the well known El Cid, the best spot for anyone into the preppy look. Some of the hottest sweater designs, sport jackets, and classic style shirts line the racks here. For the gals, the neighboring Vietnam: Moda offers up some trendy local takes on Asian design.

If you’re a bit more informal than the preppy type, visit the completely hip and casual Antique Denim shop just a block away, where new takes on old jeans and vintage clothing makeovers are the order of the day. A mere block further on you’ll find yourself at Bolivia, which somehow manages to combine gay style and equally intriguing designs for women as well.

Moving over to the parallel Armenia Street, women discover trendy suburban and country style looks at Awada, or edgy, urban designs at Janet Wise . For those missing out on their high end skin care products, Kiehl’s of New York has just opened up a Buenos Aires branch on the same block, bringing in their whole range of products direct from the Big Apple.

There are plenty of other shops to poke your head into along the way, but there are two musts to end your neighborhood stroll. For the obys, there’s simply no gayer design shop than Garçon García. Here the clothes are beyond trendy and you may need to use a fire extinguisher on the staff just to cut back on their flaming.

Meanwhile, the lesbian set, especially those with a true shoe fetish, have to end their walk at Lucila Iotti where some of the hottest designs in multi-textural footwear are on display in the teensiest of shops.

Outside of designer clothes, Buenos Aires is, of course, famous for its leather. The heart of the leather world, offering everything from clutch purses to full length dusters, is the three block wholesale leather district along Murillo Street. This is where you’ll find not only the best designs, but the best prices. Probably the best known shop for visitors is 666, conveniently located along the street at that same address.

If you’re looking for home furnishings and décor, by far the best spot to head is the Buenos Aires Design Center, located in the heart of old Recoleta. The design center is a two story complex containing a couple dozen shops, each specializing in one form or another of objets d’art for the home. If you reach the end of the shop till you drop day here, the upper level has a selection of restaurants, from the very casual Hard Rock Café to Primafila, one of the better Italian spots int eh city and a renowned spot for celebrity watching.


Buenos Aires is known for its art and architecture, and there are wonderful museums and galleries throughout the city to explore. For those who simply want a taste of what the city has to offer, there’s a convenient strip of museums, sort our own Museum Mile, that begins at the Palais de Glace with its photo and plastic arts exhibits, generally with a historical and political bent; the Recoleta Cultural Center, a free multi-space museum cum gallery that hosts a regularly changing array of works by contemporary and classic Argentine artists; the Bellas Artes, or fine arts museum, with its stunning collection of 17th- to 19th-century European art; the Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo, a beautifully restored palace with each room decked out from a different colonial period, showing off the changing fashions of home design over the last two centuries; and MALBA, one of the finest private collections of modern and contemporary Latin American art. If you only have time to visit one museum, I highly recommend the Xul Solar museum – they say there’s a fine line between genius and madness, and this artist’s work may be one of the most amazing demonstrations of that truism.

Of course, you may prefer art that will end up on your walls at home. While there are galleries throughout the city, there is also one spot where some of the best are concentrated, the short, two-block Arroyo street on the edge of hte downtown area. Centered around the Sofitel hotel, this duo of blocks hosts galleries that contain everything from centuries’ old classic European art at places like Santo Stefano and Renoir, to contemporary galleries such as Palatina, Aldo de Souza, and the Holz that showcase local artists.

If antiquing and flea market wandering is more your style, you can’t miss the weekly Sunday afternoon outdoor market in San Telmo, centered around the Plaza Dorrego and stretching out along the main street of Defensa. During the week, the same Defensa street is home to some of the finest antique shops in the city, and an afternoon of browsing will likely net you something for your collection.

Passport magazine is a relatively new, ultra-slick, ultra-hip gay travel magazine. My friends Don Tuthill and Robert Adams, respectively the publisher and editor-in-chief, who have owned and run QSF magazine for many years, launched this publication recently. It has received industry accolades. They asked me to come along and write the occasional article for this venture as well.


The Domestic Partner Analysis

agreementUniversity of Florida has opened its benefits plan to domestic partners, gay or straight. The application for benefits requires that the two people swear to the following:

1.We are each other’s sole Domestic Partner and intend to remain so indefinitely;

2.We reside together in the same principal residence and intend to reside together indefinitely;

3.We are emotionally committed to one another, share joint responsibilities for our common welfare, and are jointly responsible for each other’s financial obligations as demonstrated by the presentation of two of the following:

– a. joint ownership of real property;
– b. common ownership of an automobile;
– c. joint bank accounts;
– d. a will, retirement plan, or life insurance policy designating the other as primary beneficiary;
– e. a rental agreement showing both parties;
– f. driver’s licenses showing the same address for both parties; or
– g. IRS tax returns showing the same address for both parties
– h. durable property or healthcare power of attorney granted by either party to the other

4.We are each at least 18 years old and mentally competent to consent to a contract:

5.We are not related by blood closer than would bar marriage in the State of Florida;

6.We are not legally married to anyone else and are not involved in any other Domestic Partnership.

7.We have been in a non-platonic relationship for the preceding 12 months.

First off, I’m all for domestic partnership benefits, and I totally understand that any organization granting them wants to avoid situations like a couple of friends or roommates deciding to apply for them just to save money. But, a couple of thoughts…

#1 & #2 – the word indefinite means: “unclear, vague, lacking precise limits, uncertain, undecided.” Although in common speech people often use it to mean “forever” or “a really, really long time,” that isn’t what it means, and this is a legal document.

#3 – I know married couples, especially those where both people work, who couldn’t qualify with two of those, though I do think it’s a reasonable list.

#4 – If someone happens to be mentally incompetent to consent, but consents, how does that affect the contract? Not being a lawyer, I haven’t a clue.

#5 – Though on the face of it completely sensible, it brings to mind a wide array of jokes, many of which are often told about folks in the south…

#6 – Shouldn’t there be some way of phrasing this in the singular for each person?

#7 – Already the butt of internet jokes making the rounds on this one, and selected out for particular taunting by Randy over at This Is True this week. As he pointed out, many married couples swearing to that would be lying. As I pointed out to him in return, the statement doesn’t require them to swear to being in a sexual relationship with each other, nor does it require they be monogamous, merely that they state, in essence, that they’ve been engaged in sexual activity during the preceding year…


The Gay Bomb

Gay Bomb 2The Gay Bomb
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. That’s our national military’s policy on homosexuality. (By the way, I was in ROTC back in college in the mid-70s, I told when asked, it didn’t stop them from admitting me to the program – though, of course, that was before the policy, it was during the “no way you’re getting in” era. I was also once interviewed by the CIA, originally for a position in psychological profiling, but then was offered a position in data analysis – they asked, I told, they still offered. Who knows?)

Regardless, the policy is clearly for our military, not our enemies:

“Category # 3: Chemicals that affect human behavior so that discipline and morale in enemy units is adversely affected. One distasteful but completely non-lethal example would be strong aphrodisiacs, especially if the chemical also caused homosexual behavior.”

This from the Wright Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, part of a 1994 study paper entitled “Harassing, Annoying, and “Bad Guy” Identifying Chemicals. The paper came to light this week as a result of efforts from the Sunshine Project, a biological/chemical warfare watchdog group. According to the officer in charge of such things, neither this nor any of the other silly ideas in the paper were pursued, they were merely proposed and discussed.

There’s clearly not enough detail in the paper released to figure out things like: How did they plan to test this one?

“Conduct tests to determine safety/toxicity for humans, then conduct field trials to determine initial and lasting effectiveness in various climates and conditions….”

(Some commentators have suggested that San Francisco’s Castro district and New York’s Greenwich Village might have been test sites…)

If homosexuality is a combination of “nature and nurture”, as is generally believed, just exactly what sort of chemical was going to convert heterosexuals to homosexuals? Did someone really think that just by making soldiers super-horny (aren’t they already?) they would drop their weapons, stop listening to their orders, and jump each other in the foxholes… so to speak?

On the flip side of this, and in a clearly clairvoyant moment, Weekly World News reported way back in August of last year that:

“Extremist Muslim scientists are developing a bomb that turns anyone within a 30-mile radius of its blast into a homosexual, say U.S. Intelligence insiders.”


Exploring South Australia

Passport Magazine
Issue 15 – April 2003

GLOBETROTTING – Exploring South Australia

thornpark1If your idea of an Australian vacation is hanging out at the 24/7 gay bars of Sydney’s Oxford Street then South Australia is not for you. For my money, a vacation means getting away from the hustle and bustle and need to constantly do things, and the wine and hill country of the Clare and Barossa Valleys is a great option. I’m seriously into food, wine, and true relaxation, so I naturally put South Australia on my “must do” list. Exploring wineries, small farms, wildlife parks, and the countryside are just a few of the things that await the intrepid traveler.

I started my vacating by winging my way into Adelaide. Flights from the United States tend to connect through Melbourne or Sydney. You can also arrive by rail from either of those stopovers. The city proper is a square mile of only about 40,000 people, ringed by a manicured parkland. Just across a small river, North Adelaide is half the size and is the center of the main historic district with many beautiful homes and buildings worth exploring. Overall, Adelaide’s suburbs take up 140 square miles, populated by over a million people.

There are many places to stay in Adelaide, from small boutique hotels to modern luxury towers. Two places that exemplify this spectrum are The Embassy, a new luxury apartment tower on the North Terrace (www.pacifichotelscorporation.com.au), and the quirky Fire Station Inn in North Adelaide. The latter is a converted firehouse that rates five stars in most travel guides with huge, well appointed rooms, and, for the ground floor unit, a restored antique fire engine parked in the bedroom (www.adelaideheritage.com/firestation.html). This conjured up some interesting fantasies for me, as I never outgrew wanting to be a fireman.

A day or two to explore this city with its beautiful art museums, lively pub scene, and many fine dining restaurants gets the ball rolling. I spent a morning wandering the Central Market and its many food shops, including “Stall 55” that sells reasonably authentic “bush tucker” (indigenous Australian foods). I also viewed some of the more fascinating indigenous peoples’ exhibits at both the South Australian Museum and the Tandanya Art Gallery. If you’d like a truly personalized tour of the city and its bounty, touch base with Tourabout Adelaide where they can set you up with an individual guide. (www.touraboutadelaide.com.au)

Before long it was time to drop in at the Universal Wine Bar and have a glass or two of the local vino. One of Australia’s most famous chefs works the range at The Grange, a haute cuisine establishment that serves a unique tasting menu of love it or hate it fare. If you’re interested in a modern take on many of the unique ingredients of the Australian outback, drop in for dinner at Red Ochre, a floating restaurant on Torrens Lake, just off the North Terrace.

Perfect timing would have your visit coincide with Adelaide’s famed Feast. This is a gay and lesbian extravaganza of cultural, political and social events that takes place over a month-long period in late October and early November. Whether it’s a discussion group on gender identity, a picnic in the park, an evening of music, or a stunning drag show, everything and everyone is included. (www.feast.org.au)

natwinecenterBefore heading out to the countryside, a mandatory stop is the National Wine Centre of Australia which features a fascinating interactive museum dedicated to fermented grape juice and the people who make it. While there, drop in for a glass or two and a bite at de Castella’s, the Centre’s delightful restaurant. In a fun reversal of typical menus, this one lists the wines available by the glass and offers some suggested pairings of dishes that the chef can whip up.

When visiting the wine country you will need to rent a car, and keep in mind that whole driving on the wrong side of the road thing. My introduction to some of Australia’s finest white wines, especially those made from Riesling, begins in Clare Valley. Most wineries here have tasting rooms, and some even have organized tours. I found some of the more fascinating happenings at the smaller venues like Mount Horrock’s, Grosset, and Knappstein, but don’t neglect the bigger wineries where there might be a chance to sample a bigger selection.

thornpark2There are two absolutely delightful places I recommend for accommodation in Clare Valley. The first, gay owned and operated Thorn Park Country House, is located in the Sevenhill area. Long-time partners David Hay and Michael Speers have put together one of the coolest guest houses at which you’ll ever stay. Beautifully furnished and appointed private rooms are located in a century and half old homestead on 65 acres of rolling hills. Here you can kick back and relax, or take advantage of art and cooking classes offered on site. Deliciously prepared breakfast and dinner are included in the package. (www.thornpark.com.au)

The second place is the gorgeous 19th century Martindale Hall. A perfectly restored and maintained museum home, the rooms are available for rental packages for individuals or small groups. As an active museum, you’ll have to vacate the premises during the day (your belongings safely stowed away), but come evening, dinner is served in formal manor style, and the classic rooms are prepared for sleeping like a nobleman or noblewoman. (www.martindalehall.com)

After enjoying some of the pleasures of Clare Valley, take a short drive over the hills to the Barossa Valley. Here Shiraz is king, and some of Australia’s best examples are available. I wouldn’t dream of missing the tasting rooms at Peter Lehmann, Henschke and Kilikanoon for award winning representatives of the class. Lunch at the famed Bridgewater Mill affords samples of some of the best modern Australian fare in the South. For a Mediterranean-Australian fusion, the Vintner’s Bar & Grill is a great choice.

To arrange an individually planned tour of the region, with a focus on food and wine, contact A Taste of South Australia (www.tastesa.com.au). Whether it’s driving, cycling, hiking or even a private limousine, you can’t beat having people who know the right connections on your team.

If you have the time and feel adventurous, there are other wine regions to explore, including McLaren Vale and the other “Southern Vales“, the Adelaide Hills, Coonawarra and many more. For more information about South Australia visit www.southaustralia.com

Passport magazine is a relatively new, ultra-slick, ultra-hip gay travel magazine. My friends Don Tuthill and Robert Adams, respectively the publisher and editor-in-chief, who have owned and run QSF magazine for many years, launched this publication recently. It has received industry accolades. They asked me to come along and write the occasional article for this venture as well.


Great Wines For the Discerning Connoisseur

Q San Francisco
September 2002
Pages 44-45

greatwinesdiscerningIt’s hard to be the arbiter of fashion. But somebody’s got to do it. When the question of fashion is not Yohji Yamamoto versus K-Mart, but wine, the average consumer takes one of two well-defined paths. Either leads to the same result.

The first, I shall call the “pansy,” defined by my dictionary as “a man or boy considered childish or unassertive”. There are other definitions, but I’m sticking with this one. A pansy announces, with practiced timidity, a complete lack of knowledge of wine. He then proceeds to order the same wine that he has ordered at every dinner, at every restaurant, for as long as any of his friends can remember. It’s the same wine to be found in his home. Always.

Now, this same individual would never take the same approach to his wardrobe fashion. If so, he’d still be wearing brown Farrah corduroys that are just a little too short, a white shirt buttoned to the throat, and, no doubt, a pocket protector.

The second, I call the “narcissus”, only because I’m in a floral-print mode. This is that person in each of our lives who is in love with the timber of his own voice. He has an opinion on everything, and, regardless of whether soundly based, is going to share it with you. He will order “an amusing little wine which shows great promise.” It will no doubt be the same wine he has ordered at every dinner, at every restaurant…

Now, he wouldn’t be caught dead still wearing his blue blazer with gold buttons and the white shirt with the monogrammed pocket that he used to wear in debate club. Would he?

When I go out shopping for clothing, I’m the first (well, one of the first) to admit that I’m vaguely clueless. I’ve learned to ask for help, usually from whomever is the current boyfriend. They always tell me they have better fashion sense than I do. Maybe they do. All I know is that other than having heard them endlessly discussed, I basically don’t know the difference between D&G and H&M.

So that’s how I end up here, offering up the latest in wine fashion. Because hopefully, somewhere out there, one or more of you will decide not to take the pansy or narcissus fork in the road. You will strike out in fresh directions, creeping over boundaries, taking over the winelist and trying something, new.

For those of you willing to explore, I give you new wines. Trust me, your friends will stare at the new you in awe; much like when you showed up to that soiree in lime-green capri pants and a teal fishnet tank. At least you’ll be drinking good wine.

Over the past few years it has become completely acceptable to drink South African wine. Yet, for most consumers, these wines are still unknown. The grapes are not all that unusual: Chenin Blanc (the main white wine of the Loire Valley in France) and Sauvignon Blanc are the mainstays of the whites and Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Pinotage (South Africa’s unique red crossing of Pinot Noir and Hermitage, the local name for Cinsault) make up the bulk of the reds.

The wines you shouldn’t miss: Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc and his dessert wine “T”; Martin Meinert Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend; de Trafford Chenin Blanc and Shiraz; Fairview Pinotage “Primo”; Spice Route “Flagship” Pinotage and Shiraz; Hamilton Russell Chardonnay and Pinot Noir; Glen Carlou “Grand Classique”; Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc; and Fleur du Cap “Noble Riesling” for dessert.

Everyone has heard of Beaujolais, especially in the context of Nouveau when it’s released in late November. And we’ve all drunk our share of these simple, fruity wines made from the Gamay grape. How many of your inner circle know that the Beaujolais region has ten “crus” or declared top-quality vineyards? How many know that there is Beaujolais Blanc and Rosé?

Here is one from each of the crus I know you and your guests will enjoy. On the lighter side, try Domaine Berrod Fleurie, Bernard Santé Chenas, Pascal Granger Julienas, and Christophe Pacalet Chiroubles, Raymond Mathelin et Fils St.-Amour. On the medium to full bodied side, pull the cork on a bottle of Alain Michaud Brouilly, Bernard Dalicieux Moulin-à-Vent, Château Thivin Côte-de-Brouilly, Domaine des Souchons Morgon, Château de Pizay Régnié. And just so you can look especially chic next time you want a Chardonnay, turn to Terres Dorées Beaujolais Blanc.

Q San Francisco magazine premiered in late 1995 as a ultra-slick, ultra-hip gay lifestyle magazine targeted primarily for the San Francisco community. It was launched by my friends Don Tuthill and Robert Adams, respectively the publisher and editor-in-chief, who had owned and run Genre magazine for several years prior. They asked me to come along as the food and wine geek, umm, editor, for this venture as well. In order to devote their time to Passport magazine, their newest venture, they ceased publication of QSF in early 2003.


Shaping Up For Summer

Q San Francisco
May 2001
Pages 42-43

Shaping Up For Summer
The key to success is a positive attitude and healthy food!

I love going to the gym. I really do. I’m not a body-builder, far from it. I enjoy working up a little sweat and feeling like I’m doing something constructive with my body, but I’m not in it for pain and gain. I like the people watching.

Everyone is getting ready for summer. 24-7-365, they’re getting ready for summer. Doesn’t matter if it’s January 2nd and they’re working off that New Year’s resolution, or it’s Labor Day and they want to look good for the last weekend tea dance.

Mostly, I love the routines that people have worked up for themselves. I’m not talking about the hardcore body-builders, though even some of them have fascinating workouts. I’m talking about the average guy or gal like you and me.

I have a friend who goes to the gym every day – to read the New York Times online. He sits on one of these new high-tech exer-cycles with an Internet hookup and pedals his way through. He manages to get in an hour and a half of bicycling a day. He covers a simulated five miles. He doesn’t pedal too fast, because he wouldn’t be able to read the screen.

Recently, I listened in as two guys talked about doing crunches. One was so proud of his abs, which indeed were rippling away. He told the other how he was managing to make it through a hundred crunches each day. The other, whose abs were somewhere lost beneath a layer of too many doughnuts, decried his genetics. “I do between 500 and 1000 crunches, and look – nothing!

His friend exclaimed in disbelief, so he set out to demonstrate. Somewhere around 50, the youngster with the six-pack murmured that perhaps the crunches would work better if his shoulders actually came up off the mat.

The diets people talk about at the gym are also amusing. I have listened in on tales of Pritikin, Atkins, mastering zones, grapefruit, Fitonics, Suzanne Somers, 5-day Miracles, Beverley Hills, low-fat, high-fat, low-carb, high-carb, low protein, high protein, and cabbage soup. I’ve heard tales of weight loss that range from a pound a month to five pounds a day. Of course, none of them came from people who you’d want modeling in the latest swimsuit issue.

I recently returned from a vacation where I stayed at a clothing optional resort. During the first couple of hours, I couldn’t help myself. Guys who, in my mind at least, shouldn’t have taken their clothes off alone in a dark room were wandering around in the buff. Meanwhile, other men who should have been bronzed and placed on a pedestal were under wraps.

Before long I realized that there was a mix of body types in all categories. As I spent my vacation chatting with and getting to know a good number of these men, I discovered that it really didn’t have a whole lot to do with what they looked like. Some guys are comfortable with little or no clothing, regardless of what their body looks like, others aren’t.

Some of the men who clearly spent hours daily at the gym were obsessed with every perceived flaw that someone might notice. Others were perfectly content to lay it all out in the sun. Men who probably spent gym period in the cafeteria were as likely to heave themselves glistening onto the pool deck or drape their torsos in a caftan.

So here’s the long and short of it. I think it’s all about attitude. You have to be relaxed and happy with who you are. When you’re tense and obsessed, everyone around you knows it. Now, perhaps that means long hours of therapy, deep meditation, spiritual retreats, sensory-deprivation tank time, or a facial at Elizabeth Arden. If, however, you’ve paid any attention to my columns over the past many years, you know that I’m about to recommend food. And why not? If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, that should include your own heart. If friendship is promoted by good food and good drink, shouldn’t that start with making friends with yourself? We should put things in our bodies that make us feel good all over. And I don’t mean a tab of ecstasy washed down with mineral water.

As for me, the ultimate “get ready to go out and face my adoring public” meal would probably be a big bowl of hot fudge sauce and something, oh, maybe just my finger, to dip in it. How could you not go out and have a fabulous night after that? But running an awfully close second is a bowl of homemade soup and fresh bread. There’s nothing better for aligning my stars, synching my biorhythms, and just plain gearing up for a night out or a day at the pool.

Here is one of my favorite springtime soups. It is extraordinarily simple to make. It is served cool, not chilled. It is filling, nourishing, and completely sensual in texture.

Cantaloupe-Yukon Gold Soup

1 ripe cantaloupe
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
1-2 dried chipotle peppers
1 cup plain yogurt
salt to taste

Unless you’re opening a can, it doesn’t get much easier than this. Boil the potatoes and the chipotle peppers in water until the potatoes are tender. Drain and reserve a little of the cooking liquid. Cut the cantaloupe open, remove the seeds and scoop the melon flesh into a food processor. Puree and then add the potatoes, peppers and yogurt. Process until smooth, if you need to thin it out a little, add some of the reserved cooking liquid. Add salt to taste.

Cool in the refrigerator until it’s a refreshing temperature – a bit colder than an air-conditioned room is just right. You could sprinkle some of your favorite chopped herbs on it – if you can get epazote, a delicious Mexican culinary herb, use that. Serve with flatbread, I like the kind with all sorts of seeds on it…

A note on the bread – if you’re not going to make it yourself, at least go to a bakery and get freshly baked bread. Plastic wrapped slices of preserved, baked flour just don’t cut it in my book. Remember, we want to enjoy the meal!

Q San Francisco magazine premiered in late 1995 as a ultra-slick, ultra-hip gay lifestyle magazine targeted primarily for the San Francisco community. It was launched by my friends Don Tuthill and Robert Adams, respectively the publisher and editor-in-chief, who had owned and run Genre magazine for several years prior. They asked me to come along as the food and wine geek, umm, editor, for this venture as well. In order to devote their time to Passport magazine, their newest venture, they ceased publication of QSF in early 2003.