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Making love last is Job One for gay men this Valentine season, whether you and yours are just getting in the game, been together forever, or starting over from scratch.
By Mike Fleming

If 2015 was all about marriage, and 2016 found us weathering the storm of backlashes against our relationships, it follows that this can be the year when gay men can settle in, truly define our relationships to suit ourselves and not ideals, and finally figure out how to make love last.

This Valentine’s Day, gay men can redouble our commitment to marriage as only one of the gay relationship options. But once you’ve found and embraced every iteration of monogamy, dating, open relationships, or polyamory, how do you make love stick around?

Start by setting parameters. Yes, even if for you and yours that means a distinct lack of traditional boundaries. The path to relationship meltdown is paved with crossed wires and unfulfilled expectations.

But it’s not good enough to decide where you stand and hope you’re on the same page. You need to communicate those expectations – with words, not assumptions that he surely must know how you feel. Talk about what you each want, and come to agreements about how that should look. Say what you mean and ask for confirmation, then listen to him and repeat what you think you heard. This will save hours over miscommunication, hurried texts and hurt feelings.

You might not be responsible for changing the way he feels, but you are responsible for listening to him and helping him process his feelings.

Commit to check back in on your agreements every once in a while to make sure nothing has changed. Open relationships, for example, are not in any way a mistake that guys make – it’s not agreeing on them in advance and acting indignant when one person interprets the rules differently than the other.

Once you’re comfortable with the ground rules, now you have to work on how go about sticking to them. Your mission, should you choose to accept is to balance ‘All About Me’ vs. ‘All About Us.’

Most gay men are pretty good at the “Me” part at the beginning, but somewhere between meet-cute and key exchange, you may face down the urge to be clingy – or worse, the equal and opposite reaction, to be too aloof. Balance comes as you make time to enhance what you bring to the table as an individual, while you stay abreast and respectful of his interests, as well as keep an eye out for opportunities to enjoy each other beyond the bedroom or dinner table.

So many breakups come down to one thing. No matter what you think the reason for one split or another is, the word your looking for is ‘trust,’ or more accurately, lack thereof. Practice trust. Become an expert. If you’re looking to make love last, trust is Job One.

If trust is a problem for either of you, or if trust freely given is betrayed, you may not be working with the right person. Once broken, getting trust back, while possible, may be the hardest thing you ever decide to try and do.

If communication is the key to happiness, trust is the door it opens, and balance is the living room of your relationship, then life’s hot buttons are like landmines that block your way to the bedroom sooner rather than later. That’s why it’s crucial to talk about money and sex.

If you can’t talk about the big stuff, there’s not much worth talking about at all. Don’t nickel and dime each other’s spending habits, or keep score on who picks up the most checks, but do talk about the division of resources and contributions, and how to save for things you both want.

In the bedroom, say what you want out loud. Tell each other what turns you on. Be playful and flirt. Be creative. Keep it sexy. Entertaining each other’s fantasies increases intimacy, and intimacy keeps love sticking around.

Speaking of your House of Love, most gay men will take it all the way and move in together. No one would suggest that you to rent a U-Haul tomorrow and press a warp-drive button to your final destination before you’re ready. But if you’re interested in a life together, you’re eventually going to be interested in living together. When the time comes, be brave and take the plunge.

Now, after all this great work getting things in order, it may seem so obvious that it should go without saying, but it’s crucial to the health of your relationship to put it to the test.

Every healthy relationship gets tested. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a healthy relationship. We push buttons, ignore needs, and think we’re the only one not getting the attention we desire.

Assuming your relationship is above being tested is incorrect, but viewing normal tests as dealbreakers could be worse. Think of challenges as bumps in the road and lessons learned.

When issues arise, resolve conflicts as soon as possible. Don’t stew too long, and when you do come back together after a disagreement, be ready and willing to compromise. Resentments can destroy relationships so clear the air.

As long as you both approach your relationship with integrity and good intentions, remember that there are no mistakes that can’t be fixed, only catalysts for growth as you go along. Keep an open mind, a grateful approach, and a forgiving heart, and you too can make love last.

KeepingBody

 

 

Sources: GayTherapist.com, Psychology Today, YourTango

Take the guesswork out of Valentine’s Day or any date night with our choices for what to wear and where to go based on how long you’ve been together

By Mike Fleming

 

New Romantics
Together: One Year or Less
Every night with him is just like a dream, but you’re too busy dancing to seem too serious too fast.

Theme Song: New Romantics by Taylor Swift

FolkArtWhere to Eat
For your first Valentine’s Day or your first “real” date, take him to Folk Art in Inman Park. The vibe is eclectic and cool, the food is on point, and there’s plenty to look at and talk about if conversation wanes. Afterwards, head to nearby Edgewood for Joystick Gamebar and Sister Louisa’s Church.

Folk Art, 465 North Highland Ave NE, folkartrestaurant.com

 

 

ChelseaBootWhat to Wear
Dressed up, with an edge. Wear a collared shirt and sweater or jacket that says you’re taking it date-serious, but edgy boots that keep it casual.

Hints: Wear the item in your closet you’re most excited about to look and feel your best. Also consider a statement hat or bold pop color.
Topman Suede Chelsea Boots
$70

 

 

We Got This
Together: About 5 Years
You help each other get up from down, and Valentine’s Days have come and gone. You know where you stand, and you love him way more now than the first time you said it.

Theme Song: ‘We Got This’ by A Day to Remember

BeetleCatWhere to Eat
Keep the magic happening at Beetle Cat, a fun oyster bar and cocktail lounge where you can get out, kick back, and enjoy each other. Afterwards, go see ‘A Kid Like Jake’ at Out Front Theatre, or hold hands through Ponce City Market while you walk to the I Love Vino five-wine tasting at Bellina Alimentari.

Beetle Cat, 299 North Highland Ave., beetlecatatl.com

What to Wear
As you are, with a twist. Take work or workaday basics into nighttime with a statement blazer or topcoat.

AsosASOS Peacoat
us.asos.com
$84

 

 

BetaBrandBetabrand Quilted Travel Blazer
betabrand.com
$198

 

 

 

Devoted
Dating: 10 Years or More
You finish each other’s sentences, and he may know you better than you know yourself. Date night comes with security in your devotion for each other and the life you continue to build.
Theme Song: “Devoted” by Ellie Goulding

MarcelWhere to Eat
You say he never takes you anywhere, well it goes both ways. Remind each other what a lifetime of devotion feels like in the elegant surroundings at Marcel. Executive Chef Brian Horn is serving a four-course Valentine dinner with optional wine pairings. Make reservations and make a whole night of it.
Marcel, 1170 Howell Mill Road, marcelatl.com

What to Wear
A suit. Yes, really. He’s seen you at your best and worst, and this is Date Night. You still don’t have to be boring. Don’t wear a tie, lose the socks, and splurge in a signature color.

RagRag & Bone Marwood Overcoat
with Faux Fur Collar
$725

 

 

CalvinCalvin Klein Rust-Wine Suit
$895

 

 

 

ColeHaanCole Haan Wingtip Oxfords
$114

As December indulgences lead into January promises to yourself, here are the most popular New Year’s Resolutions and how to finally stick with them this year.

By Mike Fleming

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. And when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, we’ve all been there. And back.

Goliath gathered its gays to determine the most common New Year’s Resolutions, as well as the corresponding pitfalls that lead so many guys to break our January promises to ourselves as early as February.

To break the chain of breaking our resolutions once and for all, we went about finding easy ways to keep one foot in front of the other as the going gets tough. Then we uncovered some reliable resources to help you stay on track as the year progresses.

As you look toward your own 2017 and all its possibilities, take a few tips from our journey of discovery.

resolutionshealthBody Conscious
Stick To It: Whether you’re pledging to hit the gym more, join a gay sports team, or add a spin class, break your goals down into weekly, even daily, steps that are manageable, and reward yourself for each one.
Beat Temptation: Schedule your fitness time the way you do work meetings and meals. Rather than trying to fit it into your day on the fly, decide when works best in advance, prioritize it, and block off the time.
Resources: Expertise goes a long way. Consult the professionals with our preferred gyms and trainers at Gravitee Fitness (graviteeatl.com); Renkema Fitness (renkemafitness.com); and Urban Body Fitness (urbanbodyfitness.com).

resolutionsvicesVersed in Vice
Hang in There: If you are trying to cut down or quit addictive behaviors like smoking and drinking, stop binge shopping, or lose weight on a diet, consider a system of accountability, including groups or professional counseling.
Beat Temptation: Environment is the most likely distractor when forming new habits, not willpower or self-control. Deliberately change your situation to avoid temptations, and don’t “white knuckle” through them.
Actively re-channel your thoughts. Think not about how it would feel to take a drink, but about how you acted the last time you drank. Think about what an extravagance those shoes are instead of how pretty they are.
Resources: Call the Centers for Disease Control’s LGBT Smoking Quitline at 800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669), and consult the gay-specific Health & Human Services program at thisfreelife.betobaccofree.hhs.gov.
Gay men can find other counseling and caregiver resources like Atlanta’s Brett Rozen (brettrozentherapy.com); statewide gay advocacy group The Health Initiative (thehealthinitiative.org); and for HIV-positive patients, Positive Impact (positiveimpacthealthcenters.org).
Find gay substance abuse meetings in Midtown including AA, NA, CMA and ACA at galano.org.

resolutionstravelGo Global
Get Up, Get Out: Committing to “travel more” doesn’t get you to the airport. Set aside time to plan your trips for the year, including setting dates, determining costs and logging savings deposits to get there.
Making it Happen: Excuses are going to crop up. You’re busy. Things at work are crazy. Finances are tight. Those things will always be true. Force yourself into it if you have to: Make reservations, even put down deposits and buy flights way in advance so that you can’t back out. When the time comes and you’re setting sail or lifting off, you’ll be glad you did.
Resources: Start your gay and gay-friendly vacations just clicks away. For cruises, consult Atlantis Events (atlantisevents.com) and RSVP Vacations (rsvpvacations.com) with Atlanta-based agents, or try the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association for destination-specific travel agents (iglta.org).

Debt Relief
Become Solvent: The pledge to save more and pay off recurring debts is the second most common New Year’s Resolution after fitness and dieting. Makes sense, but it makes longterm stability sense too. Commit to small steps instead of fat stacks.
Doable Goals. Make specific budget-friendly rules rather than overarching commitments. Eat one dinner out a week, take a sack lunch to work most days.
Shop around for the best price on everything from cars to underwear to insurance, and actively bargain for lower interest on credit cards or switch to one with lower rates.
Have a percentage automatically taken out of your check and put into savings. Can you spare an extra $50 or even $20 a month toward savings, mortgage or other loans? They add up.
Resources: Financial planners are all over the internet with advice, from Atlanta’s favorite son Clark Howard, to gay and gay-friendly accounting firms that will help you manage your money, like the Robby Group (therobbygroup.com).

New Attitude
You & Improved: New Year promises to “be less stressed” or “learn something new” are understandable, even admirable. The problem is they are too amorphous to do you much good. Set goals you can visualize to attain the so-called “new you.”
Be Specific: If you’re looking to reduce stress, take up a hobby that requires creativity and contemplation and takes you out of your normal headspace. Find classes or online instructions on video. Commit to meditation, and seek out training or advice on how to do it best.
Want to learn a language? Which one? Which method will work best for you? Buying Rosetta Stone? Taking a class? Find it and do it. Schedule the time each day or week and prioritize it for yourself.
Want to spend more time with your boyfriend or partner, or your family? That’s nice. When? Will it be a monthly gathering? Will it be dinner? Game night? How will it look, and what needs to be done to make it happen?
Volunteer work strike your fancy? For whom? Call them. Today.

DEVEN GREEN is an award-winning comedy performer. You know her from “Welcome To My Home” parodies, as the satirical Betty Bowers: America’s Best Christian, OCCmakeup ads, “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and performing live music shows in brothels across America. DevenGreen.com

Would you like her to read this column to you? Press play to listen and read along!

Dear Deven: I’m aging and not happy about it. – “Dorian Gray”
Then grow old youthfully.

Dear Deven: Why did I have such a hard time when I was younger with relationships and stuff? – “Hansel”
Because you allowed others the luxury of poor behavior. As we get older, we have less tolerance for “stuff” that doesn’t fulfill us.

Dear Deven: My folks are getting older. How do I apologize to them? I put them through a lot. – “Charlie”
Just say the words in any way, shape or form. You know, they put their parents through a lot, too. I admire you for needing to resolve this in your family. You are doing the right thing.

Dear Deven: I get tired quicker, can’t drink as much, have to watch what I eat and can’t stay out all night. What is a good activity for me? – “Tremayne”
Sleeping.

Dear Deven: I suffer from baldness. – “Elmer”
Figure out how to give others pleasure from it.

Dear Deven: I’m getting more negative the older I get. I hate being like this. – “Waldorf”
I consider defeating thoughts an indulgent luxury. The positive energy that you carry with you is infectious. The more clarity you have in finding one nice thing will transfer to others. When you change your attitude, you will no longer use the word hate.

Dear Deven: I’m mad at myself because I keep forgetting where I left my phone. This is happening more often the older I get. Help! – “Rumpelstiltskin”
But you know you are forgetting it, so at least you are aware that you are forgetful! Keep your mind active by being curious enough to explore new experiences. This kind of learning will keep your mind high and tight.

Dear Deven: I want a tattoo. Is it too late? – “Popeye”
I think they close at 9p.m. No, it’s not too late. Careful about spur-of-the-moment ink though. You have lasted this long without one, so I suggest you create a temporary one first. If you still love it and want it after a month, then go for it.

Dear Deven: I’m afraid of my next act in life because I don’t know what it is. – “Merlin”
None of us do. There is no set manual for you. Everything you have done in your life has lead you up to this point. You are not starting over, you are moving forward with the knowledge that you have. How exciting!

Dear Friends: This column is for entertainment purposes…mostly mine. Send me your questions: DevenGreen@gmail.com

Sit this one out with blood relatives, and start your own tradition with friends right here at home.

By James Parker Sheffield

This time of year can challenging when it comes to decisions about where to go and who to see. Whether family relationships are strained, we don’t feel like traveling multiple times during the holiday season, or we just need a break from Aunt Linda asking when we’re going to find a husband, sometimes doing Thanksgiving with friends is the right choice.

Some people call the Wednesday before or the Friday after ‘Friendsgiving,’ but we say you can make the whole long weekend your own.

Regardless of your skill level in the kitchen, we’re certain you have what it takes to put on the perfect dinner party for your local gay family-of-choice, and we’ve gathered these helpful hints to get you started. 

Share the Load: Thanksgiving Potluck

Potlucks lessen your workload and give your friends a chance to contribute. This doesn’t mean that there’s no effort on your part. As the host, take care of the main dish and nonalcoholic drinks and mixers. Whether you purchase a pre-cooked option or labor over the perfect bird, have that part handled.

Hosting a potluck doesn’t mean a free-for-all menu, either. Unless you want three bowls of mashed potatoes and 14 pans of rolls, give your guests guidance on what to bring, including drinks. Don’t be afraid to request something specific, just ask with plenty of advance notice.

Best of Both Worlds

You don’t have to take an “all or nothing” approach to Thanksgiving Dinner. If you don’t have time to cook a full meal, but don’t want your guests to bring anything other than themselves, order items from your favorite grocery store deli or local restaurant. It eliminates stress and time crunch, put you get the opportunity to focus on the dishes that mean the most to you.

Create your ideal menu. Split the list into items you plan to purchase and those to cook. For dishes you plan on purchasing, there is no such thing as ordering too early. In fact, early ordering strengthens the chance of selecting a pick up time that works with your event schedule.

As Seen on TV

For those of you who stay glued to the Food Network, don’t be afraid to unleash your inner Martha Stewart. From homemade cranberry sauce to spectacular centerpieces, this is your time to shine.

To make your holiday dining as fabulous as you’ve seen on television, live by one important rule: Success is in the prep. Your friends may make fun of your lavish spreadsheet, but it’s worth the ridicule of your gay inner-circle after they splash images of your handiwork across social media.

And Don’t Forget

Make a master list. Map out cook times based on stove and oven space, and knock out as much chopping and measuring in advance as possible. Don’t wait until the last minute to hit the store and, for the love of all things holy, do not forget to thaw the turkey.

Have a strong plan for your décor that allows you to finish it before the day-of. Trying to do it while cooking is how we burn the dressing and forget about the sweet potatoes. With proper planning, lighting candles, placing flowers, and cleaning the kitchen can all be done before guests arrive.

Finally, there’s one tradition that should remain: Giving thanks. Whether pot luck, buffet style, or sitting around a dining table, remember and express to your chosen family how grateful you are for them.

From sexy to funny to topical, these surefire themes will help put you in the running for Best Gay Halloween Costume this year.
By Mike Fleming

Gay men can raise Halloween costumes to an art form. Whether that’s you or not, the fun and frivolity can quickly turn to serious business when you begin thinking about dressing up without resorting to tired pirates and cops.
In Atlanta, Halloween may be the biggest gay holiday second only to Pride. There are dance parties and fundraisers galore that start early and keep going through Halloween proper, so you have plenty of options to show off your efforts.
Half the costume battle is coming up with the perfect idea. The best ones are smart, sexy, and of course, gay. We help you check all those boxes by offering sure-bet themes to help you create this year’s most clever conversation starters and contest winners.


drumpfPlaying Politics

Since you’re already pulling your hair out every time you check social media, you know it’s an election year. Gay male couples can bring a drag twist to doing the Clintons, the Obamas or the Trumps, or any number of scene-stealing characters from their circuses.

 

 

jackassMaking Headlines
News and celebrity are ripe with costume ideas that weren’t on the radar last year. Put on antennas and a black t-shirt that says Zika, and voila. Or take inspiration from Simone Biles, Ryan Lochte, Pokemon Go, or a team costume as popular emojis or the Starbucks Rainbow Drinks.

 

 

beyPop Culture
Jerusalem House goes Broadway this year, and that’s a good tip in itself. Stage, TV, Music and Movies change constantly, so you’re good to go for the gayest versions of Suicide Squad drag, Hodor servitude, Beyonce a la Lemonade or Formation, or characters from gay favorites like Ghostbusters, Empire, Orange is the New Black or Stranger Things. What’s your current pop obsession? Make it your alter ego this year.

 

 

bowieWe See Dead People
This is the year to pay homage to the dearly departed we already miss. With plenty of gender-bending material to work with, serve your best iteration from the long careers of Prince or David Bowie. And yes, it is too soon to add zombie makeup to their looks, you twisted bastard. Nope, doesn’t matter how hard you slay “Little Red Corvette” at parties.

 

 

marioSexy That Look
If you work hard for that body, chances are we couldn’t stop you from showing it off, even if we tried. You know what’s up. Take any of the above ideas, put the word “Sexy” in front of it, and take off your shirt. Done and done.

LGBT progress is as pressing locally during Atlanta Pride as it is nationally in the upcoming general election.
By Matthew Holley

This year’s convergence of Atlanta Pride with the national election creates a particularly charged climate to talk about what Pride really means. The beauty of gay culture unifies our differences, even as it highlights our individual struggles.

There’s no other time than Pride to celebrate those differences and our unique position in history. In an uncertain year ahead with unknown futures in the state legislature and White House, four influential Atlanta voices come together exclusively for Goliath Atlanta to illuminate Pride as they see it.

 

jeff“Pride is the one opportunity when we gather as a full community to celebrate our victories large and small and talk about the work that lies ahead. Being an election year, Pride comes at a crucial time in the days before the voting registration period ends and the early voting begins.

I hope everyone will take advantage of the opportunities to register, learn about the issues and candidates that will affect your life over the next few years and mobilize to vote for equality!”

– Jeff Graham, Executive Director Georgia Equality

 

ryan“Pride is about people coming together. It’s about solidarity. It’s about LGBT friends and allies walking hand-in-hand to say that LGBT people have a right to happiness and equality. Pride also helps educate folks on the history of the movement.

What we are doing here is just beginning in some parts of the world. Pride events are a barometer of how far LGBT rights have progressed in other countries. It’s about being thankful and recognizing that we have a lot more work left to do to ensure our rights are maintained and our lives are valued.”

–Ryan Roemerman, Executive Director of LGBT Institute at National Center for Civil & Human Rights

 

jamie “One of the primary roles of Pride is to convene and connect members of our community across our differences. Pride should be a space where all of us can come to be ourselves, feel safe and supported.

We should also be pushed to grow and continue the fights for equality and justice, as those are the clarion calls for our movement. Sometimes people get caught in rainbows and celebrations – which are gorgeous things we deserve – and forget that Pride has always been a call to action. All of the voices in our community are important in protests and elections and calls for freedom.”

–Jamie Green-Ferguson, Atlanta Pride Director

 

kasim“The City of Atlanta is a national and international leader in the advancement civil and human rights – including LGBTQ rights. Atlanta’s Pride celebration honors the diversity of our great city and the unique and special contributions of Atlanta’s LGBTQ community. It is one of my favorite events each year, because I am reminded of how far our country has come in recognizing the dignity and rights of our LGBTQ Americans.”

– Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed

 

Graham and Roemerman photos courtesy the GA Voice.

Goliath’s own advice columnist, comic and friend-of-the-gays offers her Pride essentials as she heads to Atlanta’s signature festival
By Mike Fleming

Great news, Pride people! Comedian Deven Green is coming. The award-winning performer you may know better from the satirical “Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian” and “Welcome to My Home” – and who gets the last word in Goliath each month with her quippy advice column, hits Atlanta Pride this year as our guest.

Deven Green has headlined, performed, and more importantly supported, Pride festivals and their communities across North America, and she’s excited to perform from the Pride main stage, meet fans in our booth and ride in the parade on October 9.

“I am honored to be invited to Atlanta Pride,” says Green, whose appearances are co-sponsored with our sister publication David Atlanta. “My loud and insidious voice can educate some of the more difficult and fearful demographics. When I share my Pride experiences with them, I lessen the mystery of ‘the gays.’”

So basically, Green is as much about her gays as her loyal fans are all about her.

“Same sex rights and marriages don’t just happen overnight,” Green says. “It is the collective experience that defines the zeitgeist. As an active friend to the community, I do what I can…always.

“The community responds endearingly, ‘That Deven always puts out!’”

True to form and always “on,” Green agreed to give us her unique take on Pride and Pride history before her highly anticipated arrival. These are the results.

Photo Etiquette.
Take lots of photos – of Me! I will personally stop any show if someone needs a great still. Better yet, find me after I perform, and we can take a photograph together.

However, unless you have permission to take another person’s photo: don’t. There are many friends who are not out yet and there are plenty of sub-groups within the community that congregate only amongst themselves, so give them the respect that they deserve (said like Joan Crawford).

1970 – The first gay pride march was organized to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall riots with plenty of closeted camera-shy attendees.

Bathroom Etiquette.
Whichever gender-neutral restroom you enter and whatever you do in there, please wash your hands and clean up after yourself – just like how you conduct business in your local toilet cubicle.

2015 – The White House opened its first gender-neutral bathroom.

Boundary Etiquette.
With so much “talent” around, take a moment and pretend that everyone is there for your personal pleasure. Smile, flirt and have fun, but be mindful of physical boundaries. Just because someone is half naked doesn’t give you permission to remove the other half.

1813 – “Pride and Prejudice” the Jane Austen novel is published, sexualizing and scandalizing its audience.

Ignore Protesters.
Anti-Pride protesters do not wish to be educated or converted. They just want attention. So the best way to annoy them is to ignore them while silently judging their fashion choices. Should they come out in the future, they know they have a welcoming place.

1924 – The Society for Human Rights was founded. It is the first documented gay rights organization.

Get Involved.
There will be booths, pamphlets, speakers, samples, seminars, performers and more. Engage, be curious and learn as much as you can. Get to know the people in your gayborhood. Pride can only happen with your participation, so consider volunteering since I’m sure you have “special skills.”

1971 – The GGLF (Georgia Gay Liberation Front) organized the first gay rights march in Atlanta. You are their descendant.

Be Smart.
Wear sunblock and easy shoes. Drink water and use your instincts. Don’t use a condom that is too big for you: size matters.

1970 – LGBT activists Brenda Howard,  Robert A. Martin (aka Donny the Punk) and L. Craig Schoonmaker popularized the idea of a day in June to commemorate Stonewall, as well as calling it “Pride” to show the opposite of shame in one’s sexual orientation.

Dance.
Have a celebratory attitude, and dance like you don’t care that everyone is watching you.

1979 – “I Will Survive” won a Grammy for Best Disco Recording – the first and last time this category was ever offered.

Reflect.
If you felt shame growing up, then your Pride experience should bring the freedom to be liberated from that oppression. There is room for everyone. There is a space for you. Find your place, then plan for next year!

Atlanta Pride continues as a free event to celebrate every color of the rainbow. Donate and find out more at atlantapride.org.

Photo: Reed Davis Photography 

Assimilation into the mainstream is largely celebrated, but is it erasing gay culture? Only if we let it.
By Mike Fleming  

As the equality floodgates seem to open after decades of slow leak, the gay landscape is changing. Now unprecedented gains are creating new challenges and spurring a debate that has the potential to usher in a New Normal if we conduct it wisely.

Marriage equality, adoption rights and the right to serve openly in the military are taken by some as automatic passes to join the mainstream and leave gay identity behind

“I look forward to the day being gay is no more significant than being left-handed,” wrote Evan Urguhart in Outward. “It will not dictate to which cities they move or what cultural products they consume. They will lack that inner sense of their unique vulnerability or unworthiness that you and I still have to deal with.”

Others mourn the loss of queer culture that made being gay special, unique and worth saving. Not to mention, they argue, that “straight culture” perpetuates a system that caused the very sexual and gender-based oppression that we worked so hard to overcome.

In the rush to embrace traditional relationships as defined by heterosexual marriage, the gay community is discarding the very sexuality that the Supreme Court has validated,” writes Patrick Moore in Beyond Shame: Reclaiming Radical Gay Sexuality.

To complicate matters, others of us are left cold to any positive changes by the remaining lack of rights. It’s hard to celebrate progress with issues still on the table like employment protections, access inequities within our own community, bigoted state legislators literally out to get us, and rampant cases of hate and discrimination.

Good Problems to Have 

At first glance, it would seem as if we’re left with two distinct sides of an intimidating fence. Those on one side dive headlong into full assimilation of heteronormative traditions, while those on the other reject those standards whole cloth in efforts to keep gay life, well, gay. 

To listen to some argueyou’re either for equal status within the status quo, or anti-establishment. Period. You get married, buy a house in the suburbs and have babies, or you think that those who do have lost the very essence of what queer culture has rallied to attain: It’s own identity.

But it’s harder – and ultimately more beneficial – to admit that we’re not one or another, to work toward compromise in the middle to enjoy the best of both worlds. But it’s very American of us not to.

As a country, we love to pick sides. Heroes and villains. Black or white. Love and hate. Good vs. evil. All or nothing. You’re either with us or against us. A Clinton candidacy isn’t nearly as interesting to vote for without Trump to vilify and vote against (and sadly for some, vice versa).

And yes: Though perhaps decreasingly, many Americans still salivate over a good Gay vs. Straight rager. While “they” say gays would infect straight society with immoral homosexual and transgender cooties that threaten their very way of life, “we” snub their lives in return.

The Us vs. Them dynamic rears its head amidst our own, too. Even in tragedy, the community was divided when 49 LGBT and allied partiers were killed by an emotionally conflicted gunman in an Orlando nightclub. Some celebrated a dramatic shift in public perception that reported the news matteroffactly, without sensationalizing the gay angle. Others were just as disappointed that coverage wasn’t “gay enough” and ignored LGBT issues in the case. 

Even in ways that we came together, some wanted to choose up sides and fight. In our anger and sadness – yep, it was both, and no one had to choose  – some of us missed an opportunity to see both sides and meet in the middle 

Ultimately, it’s a great problem to have when you’re battling for how you want your inclusion representedIn the past, we had to rail against a total lack of inclusion. The norm in news coverage involving gay people used to mean ignoring Orlando while over-noticing mass killings of straight people. 

That still leaves room to grow, for news outlets and the general public to acknowledge that the shooter’s acceptance of gay people, perhaps even of himself, should be investigated more closely. After all, it’s that very shame we have to conquer to avoid hate crimes against LGBT people.

But the question remains: Does acceptance mean blind assimilation? Do we have to lose what’s great about gay life to have it all? The question rose a couple of times between characters on – speaking of love-it-or-hate-it binaries – the HBO series Looking:

RichieSometimes you have to leave things behind so that you can move forward.
PatrickAnd sometimes you don’t, and you get to have both.

Pssst: Stop It. 

Gay infighting knows no bounds. Ask a dinner table of gay friendfor their views on drag, open relationships, racism within the gay community, bottom shaming, having children, non-profit spending, public displays of affection, inequities in healthcare access, or hell, even mixed prints. 

Voices will raise. Then ask those same friends about whether gay acceptance means blind assimilation. Heels will dig in. Now ask the same questions at a larger, more diversified LGBT gathering. Fur might fly.

Pssst. Stop it. 

We don’t have to choose sides. The emerging gay Renaissance Man can have it all. And that goes double when it comes to gay identity and equal civil rights.

Want to get married? You now literally have every right to. Want to eschew the system? Please do. Maybe you want to define your relationship outside legal parameters. Maybe you want to have a wedding, but not in a house of worship. Maybe you want to have it in a church, but one without walls. 

And it’s not just marriage. Move to a better school district, or alternately vow to stay in town forever. Catch a circuit DJ at Jungle Atlanta and an EDM favorite at Terminal West. Read your gay glossy – hint – as well as mainstream newspapers, respected business journals and silly BuzzFeed blogs. Network with the Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and have lunch with professionals in your local trade organization. Join the gay softball league and your alumni association’s football boosters. 

We can have the best of both the gay and straight worlds. While having the same choices as everyone else is good, making them your own is even better. Gay culture was founded on a fight for variance and diversity, a battle for justice, and right to be whatever and however we choose in or out of conventional parameters. That doesn’t have to change just because some of us also want a Subaru and a white picket fence

Even if assimilation continues at the rapid pace we’re already experiencing, it’s a safe bet that our very gayness will persist. It will be there as we fight for what remains unsettled. Maybe gay identity will morph to suit new needs. Maybe mainstream and the gay cultures will change each other for the better. 

Being gay doesn’t have to stop meaning being fabulous. Rather than doing old things in old ways, you can keep doing everything in new ways, all ways, and as determined by each one of us and his personal set of priorities

Keep your gay identity and your demands for social justice, as well as the trappings and perks of equality. Have it all. Nothing is stopping you. All options are on the table. That’s a good thing.

To these gay Atlanta alumni, fall means college football season, and they’re ready to fly their colors.
By Mike Fleming

The arrival of crisper air and leaves starting to turn means different things to different gay men in the ATL. To some, it means Saturdays filled with tight pants and rear slapping amidst the roar of a crowd – with nary a gay bar in sight.

We rounded up three local gay football fans who hung onto their team loyalty as they built their post-graduate lives in Atlanta – whether college was in Atlanta, just north of here, or way north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Come celebrate the season of tailgates and tight ends with these great guys and their undying school spirit.

AndyAndy McNeil
Georgia Institute of Technology, aka Georgia Tech
Yellow Jackets

How would you characterize Tech fans?
We all have: a) studied hard, b) worked hard, c) partied hard, or d) all the above. Clearly, d) is the Yellow Jacket way!

What lessons from GT do you still carry with you today?
My experience taught me to try new things to challenge me. Academics were intense, but I also experienced a lot of new things that shaped who I am today: I played rugby, was in Reck Club, participated in student government, as well as many other activities. In order to enjoy ­ and be relativity successful at ­ this crazy roller coaster we call life, GT challenged me to try new things.

In what ways do you express your school spirit?
I try to make it to as many games and GT events as I can. Being on campus at least two days a week coaching/teaching the mock trial program certainly helps facilitate my school spirit. When I’m not on campus or in Atlanta, I’ll track down the “go-to” GT place to watch the game in whatever city I’m in.

What’s your favorite fall football memory or team moment?
I joined the Ramblin’ Reck Club my sophomore year. Founded in 1930, it’s an organization of students committed to the education and promotion of Tech spirit, history and tradition, including maintaining the world famous Ramblin’ Reck, a 1930 Ford Model A Sport Coupe.

I had the privilege of being elected Driver of the Ramblin’ Reck my senior year. It leads the entire football team onto historic Grant Field at Bobby Dodd Stadium before every home football game. Driving the Reck through a banner, loaded with cheerleaders to a stadium full of cheering fans was such a surreal experience every time I did it that I will always remember.

Why is GT Football Historic?
Commence my GT nerdery: John Heisman coached GT from 1904-1919. We hold the most lopsided victory in college football history (defeated Cumberland College 222-0 in 1916). We won the National Championship in 1917, 1928, 1952 and 1990. GT will always be near and dear to me, for which I am very thankful. I look forward to this season and THwG!

ChadChad Buckles
University of Tennessee Volunteers

What’s your favorite thing about fall football?
The fans dressed in Orange and White singing along to “Rocky Top” played by The Pride of the Southland Marching Band, the band forming the Power “T,” and the Vols running through the “T” as they enter the stadium.

What does your alma mater mean to you?
Family time growing up and my dad teaching me to respect the other team you are playing. In the SEC, it’s a mutual respect each team has for each other. Hearing our band playing the opponents fight song during the Pre-Game ritual always reminds me to respect their team.

What lessons did you learn in Knoxville that you still carry today?
I was fortunate to watch Pat Head Summit coach the Lady Vols. Little did I know that we were watching a soon-to-be legend. … She was tough on her players, but in the end she knew how to win.

In what ways do you express your school spirit?
I always wear orange on Friday and Saturdays. If I am attending a game and tailgating, I play “Rocky Top” over and over. For all the fans of other SEC schools, after they hear that song twice, they have usually heard it enough.

What’s your favorite UT football moment?
My first game I remember falling in love with UT, was in 1990 against Notre Dame. Tennessee lost that game 34-29. I remember the sadness and hurt as a young teenager. That day, I turned into a Vol For Life. The next year, we beat the Fighting Irish in South Bend. That game is known as the Miracle at South Bend.

What is it about college football you love so much?
For me, this is the best time of the year. My close friends represent so many different schools – South Carolina, Florida State, UNC, Alabama and Mississippi State. I enjoy the time we get to spend together talking about who is playing well and who is going to win. This is one reason I love living in Atlanta.

AlexAlex Brown
University of Michigan Wolverines

What’s your favorite memory about fall football?
I think of the way Ann Arbor would fill up on the morning of every game day and the walk my friends and I took from our house through campus, stopping with friends and at parties along the way to the stadium.

What does your alma mater mean to you?
I wanted to attend the University of Michigan my whole life. It’s the only school I applied to, which in retrospect was not the smartest idea. I still think of my years there as some of the best of my life. I did a lot of growing up during my years at U of M and met some fantastic people that I’m still good friends with today.

What lessons from school do you still carry with you?
I remember about half of my time there being afraid to be out… In my 3rdyear, I did come out in my fraternity and found that no one really cared. It was the first time in my life I had the ability to live authentically and without the fear I think most closeted people experience. I got to experience the good in people, where up until that point I had gotten used to assuming the worst.

What’s your favorite fall football memory?
The first time I went to a game and the sheer size of the crowd. The stadium itself, the Big House, is the largest stadium in the United States and could hold the population of the small town where I grew up about 30 times. I had never seen that many people all in one place at the same time, and I remember thinking how amazing it was.

Photos by Russ Youngblood

 

Sources and supplies for Atlanta pet owners that respect your gay sense and sensibilities

By Mike Fleming

As the Atlanta guys in this month’s dog-owner feature can attest, gay men wouldn’t trade our pets for the world. They’re our cuddle buddies, best friends and kids for life all rolled into one. That’s why we spare no expense on excellent vets, grooming, daycare, boarding and everything else it takes to keep them playing and snuggling for years to come. The American Humane Society has tips for choosing the right resources for your needs and your lifestyle. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind.

Boarding
Find out whether your state requires boarding kennel inspections. If it does, make sure the kennel you are considering displays a license or certificate showing that the kennel meets mandated standards. After selecting a few kennels, confirm that they can accommodate your pet for specific dates and can address your pet’s special needs, if any. If satisfied, schedule a visit.

Does the facility look and smell clean? Is there sufficient ventilation and light? Is a comfortable temperature maintained? Does the staff seem knowledgeable and caring? Are animals required to be current on vaccinations? Does each dog have his own adequately sized indoor-outdoor run or an indoor run and a schedule for exercise? Are resting boards and bedding provided to allow dogs to rest off the concrete floor? Are cats housed away from dogs? How often are pets fed? What veterinary services are available?

Grooming
Start with a recommendation from a friend, veterinarian, boarding kennel, dog trainer, pet supply store or animal shelter.

Some groomers are registered or certified by a grooming school or professional association, but no government agency regulates or licenses pet groomers. Check with your local Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been lodged against a grooming facility. After narrowing your search, call groomers to ask about services, costs and hours of operation. Also request the names of a few current clients to interview.

Is the facility well-lit? Does it look and smell clean? Does the staff handle pets gently? Are cages the appropriate size? Are pets monitored regularly to prevent overheating during blow-drying?

Veterinarians
The best way to find a good veterinarian is to ask people who have the same approach to pet care as you. Start with a recommendation. If you’re looking for a specialist, ask about board certification. This means the vet has studied an additional two to four years in the specialty area and passed a rigorous exam. Once you’ve narrowed your search, schedule a visit to meet the staff, tour the facility and learn about the hospital’s philosophy and policies.

Is the facility clean, comfortable and well-organized? Are appointments required? How many veterinarians are in the practice? Are there technicians or other professional staff members? Are dog and cat cages in separate areas? Is the staff caring, calm, competent and courteous, and do they communicate effectively? Do the veterinarians have special interests such as geriatrics or behavior? Are X-rays, ultrasound, bloodwork, EKG, endoscopy and other diagnostics done in-house or referred to a specialist? Which emergency services are available?

We can get you started. Of course, our pet resource recommendations come with a gay-friendly and community minded seal of approval as well.

All Provide National Pet Food
Mail-order, grain-free foods, treats and bones with your animal’s health as a top priority.
allprovide.com

Ansley Animal Clinic
593 Dutch Valley Rd NE
404-873-1786
AnsleyAnimalClinic.org

Barking Hound Village
Boarding, Bday parties, Daycare, Grooming, Training, Supplies
1918 Cheshire Bridge Road NE
404-897-3422
barkinghoundvillage.com

GCB
Toys and accessories
1510 Piedmont Ave. NE
404-873-5400
brushstrokesatlanta.com

Glamour Paws
Daycare, Salon & Spa, Hotel
776 North Highland Ave. NE
404-885-9285
GlamourPaws.net

Intown Animal Hospital
1402 N. Highland Ave. NE
404-881-1805
IntownAnimalHospital.com

The Pet Set
976 Piedmont Ave, NE
2480 Briarcliff Road NE
ThePetSet.com

Piedmont Bark
Boarding, daycare, grooming
501 Amsterdam Ave NE
PiedmontBark.com

VCA Animal Hospital
More than a dozen locations including
1911 Piedmont Cir NE
1510 Piedmont Ave NE
4839 Peachtree Road
vcahospitals.com

Source: American Humane Society

 

When it comes to lifetime commitments for these gay Atlanta guys, Mr. Right has nothing on canine companions.

By Mike Fleming

For better or worse, in sickness and in health. These words may bring to mind certain ceremonies, but they’re never truer than the unspoken vows gay guys make to our dogs.Think about it. Most gay dog owners you know have been through two or more boyfriends or husbands since they got their dog. With a few notable exceptions, pets outlast all other pretenders to our hearts. For richer or poorer, to have and to hold from this day forward, the five Atlanta guys featured in our Pets Issue show what lifelong love is really all about.

Photos by Preston Woods, PPlanet Photography

BruKrebsBru Krebs, 45
Dog: Zorro, 4.5-year-old Doberman
How long have you been in Atlanta?
Since 1998.
What do you like to do together?
Zorro and I love to rollerblade the BeltLine together or go to the beach.
What’s your favorite thing about having a dog?
He is the one you can always rely on, the one who is always there for you, the one who truly cares about you, the one who is always your cheerleader, the one who is always happy to see you no matter what.

 

 

TylerForsythTyler Forsyth, 29
Dog: Gunner, 4-month-old Boston Terrier
Where are you from and how long have you been in Atlanta?
I am from Rockmart, Ga. I’ve lived in Atlanta for two years, and there is no other place I would rather be.
What’s your favorite activity?
Long walks around Piedmont Park. Gunner loves to roll around in the grass and chase after people walking by.
What’s the greatest thing about having a dog?
The unconditional love I get from him. Whether it’s following me around the house or cuddling with me in bed, he is always right by my side.

 

 

DanielValentineDaniel Valentine, 31
Dog: Mighty, 4.5-year-old Bulldog Mix
How long have you lived in Atlanta?
From OTP and lived in the city 5 years
What’s his favorite activity?
He loves playing fetch and being my shadow.
What is your favorite thing about having a dog?
Unconditional love and loyalty.

 

 

 

VincentMartinezVincent Martinez, 50
Dog: Simone, 8-year-old Standard Poodle
How long have you lived in Atlanta?
19 years
What is your favorite activity together
We love car rides. Simone is a great passenger.
What is your favorite thing about having a dog?
Easy. Everything. Dogs are like children that never grow up and live to love you and make you happy.

 

 

 

BrentMoneyBrent Money, 25
Dog: Georgia, 6-year-old Labrador Retriever
How long have you been in Atlanta?
2.5 years
What is your favorite activity together
Sunday Funday at Piedmont Park and throwing the tennis ball
What’s your favorite thing about having a dog?
She is a better cuddler than any man.

 

Looking your best at summer pool parties takes your natural finesse, a little know-how and few key pieces.
By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

With an endless roster of private and public pool parties vying for your attention in gay Atlanta all summer, including but certainly not limited to the behemoth signature Joining Hearts event in July, you need a look as versatile as your profile. Mixing and matching these selections will help you look your best at event after event as the summer wears on. Plus they work together to take you seamlessly from cool at the pool to dining, drinks and dancing through hot summer nights.

Swim Short
Why not combine cute swimwear with a pair of cute shorts? This pair even has a liner so you won’t have to worry about underwear or going commando as you go from pool to apres sun.
Vuori Kore Short Navy Grey Stripe, $68

Statement Top
Have some fun while showing a little skin by adding graphics and colors to elevate the standard tank top.
Summer Nights Tank by Into the AM, $35

Laid in Style
Bring your own seating and never worry again if all deck chairs are taken. The Laybag fills by ‘swooshing’ it through the air, and if there isn’t room poolside, it can double as the coolest flotation device. Perfect for the park as well.
Laybag, from $89

Denim Shirt
The perfect balance of casual and classy thrown over your tank top, your look is instantly ready for happy hour. Button it up, and you can even go to a nicer restaurant.
J. Crew Slim Selvedge Utility Shirt, $98

Base Layer
If you’re going to lounge atop a towel for hours, make it a nice one that’s also a statement piece. For summer style, a good beach towel is so worth the investment.
Lacoste Large Beach Towel, $42

Shade for Days
Sunglasses not only protect your eyes, they complete the look. This year, the trend is still classic but with frames that are clear or uni-color instead of tortoise or shell.
Warby Parker Haskell Sunglasses, $95

Up Your Shoe Game
Flip-flops are great by the water, but not exactly fit for a night out. Up your shoe game with a pair of cool slip-ons. Super comfortable, easy to wear, and looking great.
Seavees Baja Slip On Mojace, $88

Totes Cool
It seems no matter what you do, you end up hauling half of your possessions to the pool. Carry it all in style in this roomy bag, which doubles as a backpack or tote.
Lacoste Canvas Backpack, $195

Gay men can turn never growing up into an art form. Neverland? There’s a Betterland.
By Mike Fleming

Maybe it’s the gay obsession with youthful beauty that spills into our thinking and poisons some gay men against not just growing old, but growing up at all. Maybe it’s that so many of us can live free-and-single without being forced into adulthood by traditional rights of passage that set societal time limits.

Whatever the reasons, being Gay Peter Pan can actually be enjoyable for a while – until it really, really isn’t.

So many of us fought against rejection just for being who we are, in society and within our own families and communities. At some point, gay life swooped in like a hero and made us feel accepted. Then regardless of how age appropriate that gay life remains, we stay stuck out of fear. The Neverland fantasy is appealing on its surface. We don’t want to let that comfort go, even if it creates a life of self-sabotage trying to keep it up.

To compound the matter, gay men love a rebellious bad boy who can’t grow up. Young free spirits who are all play and no work are rewarded for that kind of behavior. They can extend the façade with varying degrees of success, even into their 40s or longer, but when it finally catches up to them, the long, hard fall out of favor can be devastating.

Everyone who’s dated or crushed on one of these guys knows: Peter Pan can be fun, but he can’t be The One.

When growing older is the enemy, it’s a losing battle. The elusive Neverland gets further, not closer, as the quest for it marches on. When the scared little gay boy is still trapped inside a 35, 45, 55, or 65-year-old body, the problem can reach critical mass if he doesn’t have the tools to fix it.

Now the good news. There’s a more fulfilling, less tragic life that respects your inner child more than Peter Pan ever could. And gay men are primed to take advantage of it. Peter Pan Syndrome stems from a desire for someone to take care of you, but when we learn to take care of ourselves, we’re not just happier, but more desirable.

Yes, really. What’s sexier than confidence that comes when we man up and get it together? Other guys want the gay grownup you can actually be, not the one who pretends to be the young man you used to be, or never were.

Scary? Maybe. Growing pains suck at any age, but especially if it means “losing our youth.” Think of it this way: Youth is going away with or without our consent. Our best selves come when we embrace our experience, become reliable and responsible, and reap the rewards that come with it.

More good news: It’s never too late, and an increasing number of gay men are figuring out how to make it happen. The ironic part is, the little gay kid inside can come out and play with more security, because for the first time, he is truly protected.

The following steps may be difficult at first, but they are doable. Plus, it’s for everyone else as well as for you: The world can never have too many fully realized gay men.

Sources: Science Daily, Psychology Today, Your Tango

Neverland? Better Land
Steps to putting your inner Peter Pan to rest. For good.

Fashion Passions
Nothing says, “I’m out of touch with my reality,” than clothes that don’t fit the man. Usually, clothes that made you look hot in your 20s make you look “not” later. Even if you can rock it, don’t be afraid to ask for the honest truth from someone outside your own circle of “you look fab (but not really).”

Be Honest
Scruffing, Grinding or Growling? There’s no place for a pic of you that’s 10 years old. Man up and post pics personally and professionally that say, ‘This is me!’ It’s liberating.

Party Primer
It’s not cute to talk about how messy you were at the club. Enjoy your cocktails, but send a different message to potential friends, boyfriends, partners, hook-ups, even current friends, by stepping into full management and ownership of your recreational activities.

Reign it In
Everyone is guilty of spontaneous splurges. Without freaking out and looking too far ahead, the hardest “grow-up” conversation you can have comes when you realize you have no money for the future. It’s never to late! For starters, one less Starbucks per week puts $260 in the bank.

Sexy is as sexy does
Retrain your sex drive to enjoy other forms of pleasure. It’s time to explore intimacy and let sex and orgasms be the icing on the cake.

Give Yourself A Break
Life’s a pressure tank. Don’t add more stress trying to keep up with the gay Joneses and their killer bodies, fab houses, extravagant vacations and 2.5 kids. It may sound cheesy, but you’re beautiful and unique with a contribution to make. Don’t check out early because your heart couldn’t take it.

Slow Time
Funny enough, amidst all this bemoaning the passage of time, there is one tip that actually allows you to battle its rapid progression. Scientists studying how time passes faster as we get older found that having new experiences slow it down. So for kids, every experience is new. Adults have to make it happen. Go skydiving, learn a language, take a cooking class, join the neighborhood association. It’s the only way to make yourself younger, all while learning, growing and improving in the process.

Adapted and expanded from the writings gay Life Coach Rick Clemons, author of Frankly My Dear I’m Gay, A Late Bloomers Guide To Coming Out’

 

Quiz: Are You A Peter Pan?

  • Intense desire and need to be cared for by other people he considers “stronger.”
  • Inability to keep promises.
  • Inability to assume responsibilities and prefer others to take on tasks.
  • Complaints and constant criticism.
  • It’s “all about you.”
  • Emotional dependency, co-dependency and sometimes financial dependence.
  • “Rebel,” contrarian, and always oppositional.
  • Lack of empathy, isolate socially, contrasted by a fear of being alone.
  • Low self esteem creates low tolerance to frustration.
  • Dissatisfied but do nothing to improve their situation.
  • Overidealizes youth beyond reality.

Scores: 0-3 Every guy has issues, but you’re balancing better than most. 4-9 You have your moments, but you know where you’re headed. 10-12 Hey, Peter Pan. There’s hope for you yet. 

Food Halls keep Atlanta on trend with upgrades to everything Gayby You loved about food courts and College You loved about food trucks.

By Mike Fleming

If you’ve ever been in a group of picky guys trying to decide where to eat, you’re familiar with one of in-town’s irksome little realities: the gay dinner impasse. Thank goodness for Atlanta’s burgeoning crop of European-style food halls. They’re ushering in an era of dinner with food options to please everyone.

Places like Krog Street Market and Central Food Hall at Ponce City Market represent are a local turn in a national surge that started as part of mixed-use developments in New York and L.A. Food Halls are becoming an entrenched part of the culture and scene. Naturally, gay men are leading the way.

The phenomenon finds the leeway to take hold with diners because it offers something Southerners like – namely, lots of food in unending supply and variety – couched in our slow embrace of metropolitan sophistication. Like other facets of world class in-town living on which gay Atlanta leads the charge – take the BeltLine, home to both the aforementioned markets – food halls are an urban concept who’s time has come.

This time last year, the foodies at Eater “officially” declared a food hall boom in the U.S.  Atlanta’s versions follow notable openings in New York, L.A., Chicago and Seattle. Long a tradition in Europe, think of these gathering places as grown up versions of food court convenience with the fully realized potential of your favorite food truck craftsmen.

Like the best examples across the world, Central Food Hall at Ponce City Market is a showcase of unique offerings with a taste for both locally loved and nationally admired restaurateurs. Gay foodies of every ilk are covered, from sit-down to hang-out, and from coffee to cocktails. Cocktails? Yes, PCM has a premise license, so take your adult beverage along as you walk the property.

When you check out the rooftop carnival opening in April, be sure to head downstairs for a full serving of food hall fabulousness. You and your boys will find Mexican food by celebrity chef Sean Brock at Minero, H&F Burger from Linton Hopkins’ Holeman & Finch, continental cuisine by Jonathan Waxman at Brezza, and Justin Anthony’s Biltong Bar.

With 22 eateries open so far, be on the lookout for less-heralded food artisans as well as the big boys. Below are just a few of our favorite PCM food hall finds.

5 Favorite Foods (so far) at Central Food Hall

Honeysuckle Southern Inspired Gelato
Ye Olde Ice Cream Shoppe is all grown up. Run, do not walk, to get the Gelato Sandwich. Get the one with brownie crust, brown butter gelato and salted caramel topping. Thank us later.

WH Stiles Fish Camp
Clam chowder and seafood po-boys and the lobster roll are good, but under no circumstances can you pass up the Crab Beignets. Little bunches of herbed, fried perfection are even better than they sound.

Hops Chicken
Some of the longest lines in Central Food Hall are waiting to bite into these fried chicken wonders. The Chicken Biscuit with bread-and-butter pickles will make you forget about a certain Atlanta-based fast-food chain with anti-gay leanings.

Farm to Ladle
Whether you’re eating in or doing the “Grab N Go” menu, fresh ingredients are the draw. The Egg & Avocado Sandwich is a revelation, with a quart of any one of their house-made soups.

18.21 Bitters
We love the old-fashioned cocktail mixers named after the amendments that began and ended Prohibition. Let local lesbian mixologists Missy and Kristin Koefod fix you up with small-batch syrups or tinctures.

Want to go?
What: Central Food Hall
Where: Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE
Info: poncecitymarket.com

Gay-run Atlanta fashion gala helps local homeless teens not just survive, but ‘Thrive’
By Shannon Jenkins

People have been telling Rick Westbrook for years that his organization needs a gala, but there’s one significant problem with throwing such a grand event.

“Galas cost a lot of money to produce,says Westbrook, executive director of Lost-n-Found Youth, which helps find permanent housing for Atlanta’s homeless LGBT young people.

Lucky for Westbrook, and for Atlanta’s gala-loving gays, one just landed in his lap. Enter Buckhead salon owner Steve Hightower.

“In my career as a hairdresser, many people have helped me, and I wanted to give back to the community,” says Hightower, who owns Steve Hightower Hair Salon and Day Spa. “I have worked on many hair shows in New York, Dallas, Chicago and Paris, so I thought I will do my own show and let it benefit someone who needs help.”

Thus was born the Thriving Children Gala Fashion Show. On April 29, the 7th annual event benefits Lost-n-Found Youth.

“I started out helping small children; then I realized teens are being neglected,” Hightower says. “Everyone wants to help small children but not teens. They are pushed aside. So I have been helping teens for the past four years.

“It’s hard for me to imagine these kids getting thrown out on the streets because they’re gay,” he adds. These teenagers are our future. They need to be loved and shown respect and given guidance.”

Both Hightower and Westbrook hope the event will raise awareness about Atlanta’s LGBT homeless youth with a broader audience.

“This gala gives us more exposure and gets people talking about this problem,” Westbrook says. “It’s not going to go away. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

If last year’s event is any indication, Lost-n-Found should get plenty of attention and funds. Hightower hopes to raise $150,000. The 2015 Thriving Children Gala raised $113,000 for the Center for Children & Young Adults. Westbrook says the money will help with everyday needs for LNF youth, including food, shelter and clothing, as well as counseling and other assistance. The funds will also help ongoing renovations on the organization’s house, which will eventually accommodate up to 18 youth a night.

To raise that kind of money, Hightower promises attendees a chic event at the Fox Theatre’s Egyptian Ballroom. Along with award-winning local anchor and television host Karyn Greer, Hightower will co-emcee a night packed with entertainment. Highlights include a high-end fashion show featuring local designers and professional runway models, a silent auction, live auction, and a full orchestra.

The sit-down event will also offer top notch entertainment by Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus and internationally known Cher impersonator and RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Chad Michaels.

“I’m looking forward to entertaining the people involved in helping out with such an important cause,” Michaels tells Goliath. “As a performer, I have met so many street kids over the years outside of the clubs and venues. Showing support, kindness, love and an opportunity to succeed is the most important thing we can do for these young men and women.”

Want to go?
Thriving Children Gala
Where: Fabulous Fox Theatre
When: April 29. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: General admission $75. VIP $175, or two for $300.
Dress code: Jackets for men; cocktail attire for women
More: atlthrivingchildren.org

 

Festivals, cocktail parties, concert hall performances, tea dances for a cause and gay men’s favorite funny lady make April another great month to be gay in Atlanta.

Compiled by Mike Fleming

Kathy Griffin
Anderson Cooper’s bestie keeps her gays laughing with celebrity skewerings like only she can deliver. This time, we’re guaranteed some Donald Trump one-liners that you can repeat at parties for weeks to come. Secure your seats to the April 15 show at Atlanta Symphony Hall, 1280 Peachtree St. NE, on kathygriffin.net.

spring_festival_on_ponceSpring Festival on Ponce
Art, music and food combine with the perfect temps of the season to make this popular outdoor event memorable. The gay-run Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces pulls out all the stops to highlight the city’s best parks with festivals throughout the year. This one takes place on April 2-3 in Olmsted Linear Park, through 6 p.m. both days. festivalonponce.com

Stars Party
Hobnob, munch, sip and bid at Jerusalem House’s annual silent auction mixer on April 7 at the Biltmore Ballrooms, 817 Peachtree St. NE. Gourmet bites, vodka specialty drinks, and music by the Will Scruggs Quartet complement fabulous items up for bids to benefit the organization’s permanent housing programs. jerusalemhouse.org

dogwoodfestivalAtlanta Dogwood Festival
The crown jewel of spring festival season welcomes all comers to gay Atlanta’s unofficial home park. Shorts weather and blooming century-old trees set the scene for the 80th annual celebration of art, food, music and more at Piedmont Park April 8-10. Make plans at dogwood.org.

Change of Seasons
A gay right of passage every spring, this Joining Hearts tea dance brings boys, beverages and beats. DJs Neon the Glowgobear and Kevin Durard hit the decks with this year’s ‘80s theme on April 10 at the Georgia Terrace Hotel, 659 Peachtree St. NE. Find tickets and info at joininghearts.org.

Atlanta Film Festival
Ten days of cinematic excellence include a packed Pink Peach track of LGBT films and filmmakers. The centerpiece film VIVA tells the story of a gay hairdresser in drag bar who dreams of becoming one of the performers. AFF screenings take place April 1 through April 10 at venues all over town. Visit atlantafilmfestival.com.

HRC Atlanta Gala Dinner & Silent Auction
One of the city’s premiere LGBT events comes back around to bring out your tuxedoed best. Hobnob with elected officials, gay bigwigs, special guests making waves in the national movement, and hundreds of friends raising funds at this 29th annual event. See how they riff on the 2016 theme “Beyond Marriage” on April 30 at Hyatt Regency Atlanta. Tickets are available at hrcatlanta.com.

 

Follow your nose, and this guide, to finding and wearing signature fragrances that put a top note on your style.

By Mike Fleming

Every gay man loves hearing that he smells amazing, and smelling other guys who do. But you may forego fragrance for fear of getting it wrong.

That’s a shame, because a signature scent can be a fun part of your style. The fifth sense in fashion is smell, and the right scent can put a finish on your first impression.

So it’s time to man up and face your fears. Put those adolescent Old Spice nightmares and old-age Aqua Velva heaves out of your mind. Follow these steps to owning your scents like a boss.

Step 1: You’re the Man

Fragrance is subjective. However many people may get a whiff, you’re the one who has to live with it. You and only you can make the final call on which fragrance to wear. Taking other opinions from interested parties is fine as long as you let it inform, rather than dictate, your choices.

Step 2: Don’t Overthink It.

So you wouldn’t know a cologne from a toilette from a parfum, or a designer from a niche fragrance. Forget it. If it’s making you smell and feel great, you made the right choice.

Step 3: Imagine Yourself

Before you try a single spray or dab, think about where you want to wear it. Is your awesome-smelling dream self rocking jeans on Sunday, working on Wednesday, or sporting a Tux on Saturday night? In your mind, how does that smell? Hold that thought as we move forward.

Step 4: Right Note.

A few fragrance factoids can help at this stage. There are scads of “notes,” from top to midrange to base to finish. When you imagined your dream fragrance, was it woodsy and spicy, fruity and floral, or fresh and grassy? Some combination of those? Give the salesperson these hints, and they can point you in the right direction.

Step 5: Forget the Price

Brands and price are your enemy, unless you’re trying to impress someone besides yourself. If so, put a pretty bottle with a big name in plain sight and make sure to leave the price tag on it. Otherwise, ignore cost until you’re down to your top few, then let your wallet decide if necessary.

Step 6: Try it and wait.

The only way to find out what works is by putting it on your skin. Ignore magazine samples and those cards department stores pass out, and don’t spray it on your clothes. This is a chemistry experiment, and your natural odor is the X ingredient. Put one fragrance on each wrist and leave. Don’t make an impulse purchase today. Over the next three hours, smell each one and notice how it changes over time. Whiff something strong like coffee between each one. Once you decide, think about shopping online for the best deal.

Step 7: Switch it up

Change of Seasons is not just a gay party in Atlanta. Remember your daydream scents and scenarios? Remember the notes and tones you put on them? Chances are you liked more than one. Shifts in the weather might be a good time to give your latest fragrance a break and find a new love. For example, florals and grasses are often great for spring, which kind of makes sense when you think about it.

Step 8: Less is more.

If you don’t switch up your scents depending on mood, season or setting, you run the risk of going nose blind. A bigger risk is putting on more product to compensate. Don’t. If you apply to more than two hot spots – neck, sternum, inside elbows and knees – you’re probably wearing too much. Speaking of less, start with a small bottle of each new fragrance until you know it’s a keeper.

Step 9: Repeat.

Take everything you’ve learned, as well as what you’ve decided as you got to know your new fragrance, and apply it to your next purchase. Maybe go back to one of your previous finalists to see how it holds up, maybe try on something new.

Step 10: There are no mistakes.

Fragrance is a journey, not a destination. Change your mind, change your taste, give the ones you don’t like to your nephew. You’re likely to find several scents that fit several aspects of your personal style, and that’s a good thing.

One of Broadway’s biggest hits is about to strut right into town with what may be the hottest ticket in all of gay Atlanta this year.

By Jeffery Silvey

One of Broadway’s biggest hits is about to strut right into town. Kinky Boots, the winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical 2013, brings the high heels and the high kicks to Atlanta for a limited run at the Fabulous Fox Theatre at the end of this month.

This shoe-cente bit of fabulousness with a heart of gold proves that our girl Dorothy from Kansas wasn’t the only one whose life changed by the perfect pair of red heels, and we have the Broadway in Atlanta series to thank for it.

For two and a half hours, we get to play pretend and, in doing so, make people happy,” says Adam Kaplan, who brings lead character Charlie to life in the touring production. “It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Based on true events, Kinky Boots tells the story of Charlie Price, a struggling businessman who is tasked with running his father’s shoe factory. With business lower than its most basic flat, Charlie desperately needs help saving the factory. Enter the unlikely friend and muse he finds in the form of drag queen and local cabaret superstar, Lola.

Lola’s order of red, thigh-high, stiletto-heeled boots inspires a business revamp. The new and provocative footwear takes the characters – and the audience – from the assembly line of the small-town factory to the catwalks of Milan. Get ready for a modern day Cinderella story about friendship, determination, and how fate can change your life if you let it.

Lola offers the best, bluntest advice,” Kaplan says of his co-lead, played on tour by J. Harrison Ghee.

Ghee agrees about Lola, and her infectious, uplifting personality is starting to leak into Ghee’s off-stage persona as well, he says.

Lola’s boldness is something I am definitely carrying over into my personal life more and more each day,” Ghee says. “I get to play my dream role every night. I never thought something like this would exist much less the reality of having the opportunity.”

Gay audiences who haven’t heard about the show yet will be impressed that the success of the show is largely attributed to the story’s writer and its lyricist: Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper, respectively. The two icons bring their well documented magic to the production.

Fierstein of course is a veteran of both the American stage and drag, having already won a Tony award for his role as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, in addition to his own Torch Song Trilogy. He also wrote the book for La Cage aux Folles, another popular musical featuring a drag queen as a main character.

Lauper’s prolific career in pop music brought an X-factor to the production despite her lack of theater experience. Who else could craft the edgy and quirky songs needed for a show of this kind? She injects the right proportion of whimsy into a story of heart, humility, and success against the odds. The work made her the first woman to win the Tony for Best Score without a collaborator.

The two leads each prepare to take the stage with just one final word about Kinky Boots.

Heart,” Kaplan says.

Uplifting,” Ghee echoes.

So strap on your thigh-highs! Kinky Boots is the feel good story sure to capture the hearts of underdogs everywhere. It’s a reminder that you can make it if you set your mind to it, and that if you can’t walk the typical walk, then just strut, baby.

Want to go?
What: Kinky Boots
Where: Fabulous Fox Theatre
When: March 29 – April 3.
More info: foxtheatre.org 

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