Follow US!

HIV discrimination within our own community perpetuates a stigma against one of us that hurts all of us
By Mike Fleming

Ask any group of gay men a question, and you’re not likely to get the same answer twice. Make that question about HIV, and you have a diversity of opinion and stories worthy of a soap opera.

Despite advances in the prevention and treatment of HIV, the shadow of HIV stigma still looms large, affecting many of those of living with the disease. So profound is the fear of not just the disease but our fellow gay men who have it, some of the conventional presumptions and assumptions even fly directly in the face of public awareness.

To some guys, it is easier to avoid HIV testing, for example, than to risk exposing themselves to discrimination or disapproval. For others, the fear is so deep that they make not just the topic taboo, even with sex partners, but they also ostracize the HIV-positive men they meet the moment they find out.

And hello, those very behaviors are putting gay men more at risk of being exposed to the virus. Not talking about it is so dangerous that it feeds stats and reports that HIV rates coming down – unless you’re gay, or that HIV infections among gay men in the U.S. are highest in the South, or that Atlanta is a hub for new cases of gay and bisexual men being diagnosed with HIV.

Or that more than half of gay men who had sex last night did not use a condom or any other preventative measures widely available to them.

Ignoring the information is what’s really scary, deciding not to utilize our ability to stop its progression by ignoring our resources – all because HIV is a topic that’s too off limits.

Origins of Stigma

Of course, attempting to minimize the fears and stigmas, or even rationalize them, fails to take into account the complex dynamics that both trigger and perpetuate stigma against the disease, and discrimination against the gay men who already have it.

While the quality of life has improved enormously for people with HIV in the past 30 years, many of the same social and psychological barriers remain.

Ultimately, HIV is not like any other disease in the way that the public perceives it. What separates it from other illnesses is that, as a communicable disease, those infected are often seen as vectors for transmission. Blame is assigned, and not just to the infected individual but to an entire population, whether they be gay men, injecting drug users, or people of color.

That means that some gay men who are HIV-negative get a fight or flight response. In an effort to say “that’s not what all gay man are,” they try to separate themselves from their brethren. Rather than a united front, we splinter into “us and them.” It’s not helpful, not to mention that it doesn’t even work. We are all in this together whether we shun other guys or not.

Even before the AIDS epidemic began in the early 1980s, we were already stigmatized, and labeled by some as being either promiscuous or irresponsible. By the time the first wave of infections hit, the rapid spread of the disease through these communities only helped reinforce that negative stereotype.

As a result, the people most at risk of HIV were often sent into hiding, either for fear of abandonment, discrimination, or abuse. And the cycle was set for more abandonment, discrimination and abuse.

Discomfort with sexuality in general, especially in the puritan South, also plays a major role in the stigmatization of HIV. Even in otherwise progressive cultures, sexuality can often incite intense feelings of embarrassment or shame, particularly when related to sexually active gay men, or sex between youth under 18.

At the same time, so-called “secondary disclosures” (“How did you get it?”) further prevent many from stepping forward when faced with such fears as having to admit an affair, reveal a drug problem, or come out about one’s sexuality. HIV criminalization in states including Georgia only serve to reinforce these fears, casting guys with HIV as “blameworthy” while suggesting that those without it are “victims.”

All of these issues can’t help but contribute to feelings of stigmatization, both real and perceived, and may explain why 20% of the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV remain wholly untested.

So What Can You Do?

Learning to overcome HIV stigma is not easy. It requires a degree of self-reflection, as well as an honest assessment of your own personal biases and beliefs. One of the aims is to understand which of your fears are perceived and which are based on actual experience.

By separating the two, we’re better equipped to lay out a strategy to not only overcome our fears but to better protect ourselves against possible, real acts of discrimination or abuse.

In the end, overcoming stigma is not so much a decision as a process, one that takes time and patience.

More importantly, it’s about not being alone. Sharing your fears with others can often put things into better perspective, providing you a sounding board rather than isolating yourself in your deepest, darkest thoughts.

Where To Start

Here are a few tips on how to begin breaking HIV stigma, whether as an individual or in groups, whether you’re already HIV-positive and blame yourself, or are currently negative and are terrified of the disease and the people who have it.

Talk about HIV openly, especially with potential sex partners. Try to remove blame from any discussion. Remind yourself and others that HIV is a disease and not a moral consequence.

  • HIV-negative guys who are sexually active should realize they are very likely having sex with HIV-positive guys, and that is OK. You can have sex with HIV-positive guys and avoid HIV transmission.

    Educate yourself about HIV using quality reference materials. Atlanta is filled with great community-based organizations that offer brochures, pamphlets and reading lists that are not only accurate and plainly written, but culturally relevant to the experience of gay men. They also have access to support groups and counselors with whom you can speak freely and confidentially.

    If you find out someone is positive, think about how you would feel if you were in his shoes. How would you want someone to react? Thank him for being honest and having the courage to tell you. It is very difficult to tell someone you have HIV, especially in a sexual situation. Talk about the kind of sex you enjoy and want to have.

    Understand your rights under the law. Community-based organizations can often put you in touch with legal services to assist you when faced with discrimination at work, in housing, or with healthcare providers.

    Get an HIV test if you’re a sexually active gay man, and discuss any confidentiality concerns you may have with your provider. Leaving any concern unspoken will only add to your anxiety.

    Work with a professional if necessary to try and figure out in advance how you’d answer questions like, “How did you get it?” or “Did you use a condom?” If you’re one of the people who would ask such things, think about that being insensitive.

    Accept that you and others, who haven’t done their research or come to the realization that they need to, might ask stupid questions. Try not to be too defensive. Remind yourself that it’s more a reflection of their own fears and that they’re going through a process, too. If you can, use it as an opportunity to educate and enlighten. You may be surprised how little people know about the disease. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

    If you are experiencing prolonged depression or anxiety, or have a substance abuse problem that either stems from or is exacerbated by HIV in yourself or someone around you, seek professional help. Don’t go it alone if you don’t have to. There is help.

How gay men can help themselves, and lead others, to repair fences in a divided world
By Mike Fleming

According to your social feed, you are so right so often that you must have the world by the tail. But with all the dissent that you hear about later, there must be a kink in that system somewhere.

Amid the preaching to the choir and affirming feedback when we log onto our social networks, why are we as a society so sharply polarized? And more importantly, what can we do about it? How can we affect positive change if we are unwilling to even see opposing opinions, much less discuss them?

The most recent presidential election is a prime example. How can a good solid half of your fellow Americans get something so wrong when you are so, so right so, so often? Are they that different from you? Surely they aren’t stupid, are they? Brainwashed? Are they just plain evil?

Of course not. Maybe. Well, most of them. Probably.

Closer to home, look at the runoff for Atlanta’s 6th Congressional District between espoused gay ally and Democratic dream boy John Ossoff, and the mixed bag at best, fair-weather Republican that is Karen Handel. Campaigns get ugly, lies disguise as truth, conversations get heated, and battle lines get drawn. By the time one of them wins, neither looks like an appetizing option, and you can’t even look at the neighbor or family member who dared vote for the “other” candidate.

Now, choosing your friends and associates based on beliefs, values and opinions isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s good and natural to keep the support of like-minded people in your life. What may be new is how convenient it is to avoid dissenting opinions.

Hide someone’s profile from your newsfeed, and avoid conflict. Unfriend them, and forget them. Block them, and you can virtually steer clear of them forever. That kind of digital distance allows us to vilify any opponents as “other” and build nearly impenetrable emotional walls against them, and their uncomfortable, irritating and infuriating opinions.

One nagging issue, though: Avoiding a problem doesn’t solve it. It perpetuates it. Ask generations of gay men who were unable to live openly. We know as much or better than most about ignoring a problem and building psychological walls against the pain. Railing against the opposition without engaging meaningfully with your detractors in the conflict yields nothing but philosophical masturbation that’s more whining than resistance.

Our gay forbearers lived life that way, until one by one, group-by-group, organization-by-organization, idea by idea, they started standing up for themselves. In the tiniest ways at first, and then in growing number and frequency, we learned to work within and against the system to come at the problem from all angles.

Over time, confronting issues is what works to effect change.

Boys in the Bubble

Of course the polarity goes far beyond politics. For gay men, what’s political is certainly also societal, but it’s also quite personal. Discrimination based on outdated opinions affects our lives, and evading dealing with it is even more personal, because it’s actually bad for us to avoid conflict and live in a vacuum.

If you live in a bubble – and so many of us do on curated social media over the real world, in Midtown over living outside the I-285 Perimeter, on Atlanta’s blue island in the red sea of Georgia – it’s jarring to realize that you’re not in the majority. It hurts to realize that you don’t speak for everyone, or even for most people.

When you’re self- protected from the opinions of outsiders, seeing everyone’s views as equal and valid feels like oppression. Nobody wants that feeling. But psychiatrists say we just might need it.

Discourse with those who would oppose us, and engaging respectfully in dissent over issues that matter, is uncomfortable, but in our best interest. It’s ultimately how we change hearts and minds. That holds true, even if it takes time and patience – a lot of both.

Break the Cycle

Something wonderful happens when we try to see issues from someone else’s point of view. It irritates the senses, but it also allows us to figure out ways to communicate with those people. Even if it doesn’t work in the moment, even if we have to come at it from different angles over and over, maybe, just maybe, we can finally reach them with an opposing thought.

And – gasp – maybe they can gain access to our carefully constructed walls and change us too, for the better. Maybe there’s a grain of truth that we can rescue from the bottom of their pile of opinions.

You’ve heard absolute power corrupts absolutely. The same is true in a world where we get everything we want. Life is ultimately about getting some of what you want and a lot of what you need. That way, you find balance, and both you and the world around you benefit.

Yes, life is more cozy and less scary in our little bubbles, but consider this: Engaging in the discomfort a bit at a time may be more effective, and it beats the hell out of the full-tilt culture shock when the reality of a polarized society slaps you.

We can vow to think about that the next time a “surprise” verdict is read, or the outcome of an election night shatters our expectations. What could we have done to expose ourselves to parts of life that make us uncomfortable, expand our understanding, and ultimately move the conversation forward?

And this goes for conflicts within our own community. Whether you engage in societal discussions as an agitator or an assimilator, your engagement is valid. The Civil Rights movement of the 1960s needed its peaceful MLKs and it’s resistant Malcolm X’s. The AIDS crisis needed the sad honors of The Names Project and the coffin-carrying rallies of Act Up. In the same way we engage with our biggest detractors, we can listen to each other better as well.

Bursting our bubbles may feel like a monumental task. That’s OK. Daunting is good, and due to our collective experience in the still-evolving LGBT rights struggle, our community may be uniquely suited to lead the way in reaching across the aisle to mend fences. 

Rules of Engagement

The unknown is scary, but it can also be just as exciting. Treat it like an opportunity. Once you steel yourself for the adventure, the next step is to remind yourself – early and often – that people are more alike than they are different, even if someone initially strikes you as your polar opposite.

Next remember that bursting your bubble is for your own good, and whatever resistance you overcome, both internal and external, will be worth it.

Here are a few tips, tenets and tricks to engage in productive conflict.

Perspectives Change Perceptions

Ask yourself: ‘If I thought about this from their point of view, would I still agree with myself?’

My Needs and Our Needs

Conflicts aren’t a competition. There are no winners and losers. There are two parties, and there is their relationship. Agree to argue from the “side” of the relationship. It takes practice and trust to allow other people to share their thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and perspectives with passion – and for us to just let them be.  

Power and Control

Conflicts can sway to the person with the most authority. Instead, ask ‘Is one person giving in too much? Does holding your ground come at the cost of insensitivity? Are we discussing who has the most power, or what the conflict is truly about?’

Embrace ‘And’

So often we get caught in either-or thinking that diminishes credibility on both sides. It’s sophomoric and limiting by nature, and doesn’t allow us to see or hear anything other than what we already ‘know’ to be ‘true.’

Make Peace with Ambiguity

Based on our fears and a desire to stay in control, we naturally resist uncertainty. Become comfortable with it and allow yourself to hang out in ambiguity. It’ll give you a sense of openness, patience, and perspective that allows creative solutions to emerge.

Seek Higher Ground

In a desire to escape conflict as fast as possible, we sometimes rush to come up with “solutions” or “compromises.” It works on the surface, but it doesn’t address the deeper issues. Actively look for higher-level solutions by remaining open instead of simply trying to “win” or end the argument.

Discern Intent

With issues that cut the core of sacredly held beliefs, we often vilify those who don’t agree with us. Once they become “those people,” they’re nearly impossible to connect via meaningful dialogue. Look for the positive intention and real fears of the other person to find the core of what’s really true, not just what our ego wants to argue about.

Elevate Others

We can and do have impact on other people. Elevate the conversation by focusing on being real, vulnerable, and honest. Focus on appreciating and empowering the other person. Acknowledge them and practice being grateful for who they are, no matter how difficult it is. When you manage to lift them up despite obstacles, you lift up yourself in the accomplishment and create the higher-level solutions you truly want.

The Truth Triangle

Remember the three parts of truth: Your truth, their truth, and the real truth (solutions).

Sources: dukepsychology.edu, intentblog.com

 

Rainbros Co-founder adds to fabric of gay life in Atlanta
By Matthew Holley

Ever since its launch at the start of the New Year, Rainbros has redefined what it means to be a gay man in Atlanta through its unique take on peer mentorship and group activities. Rainbros envisions opportunities to discover commonalities and foster friendships above and beyond the typical gay hotspots and our own limited personal social circles.

Co-founder James Brian Yancey has worked tirelessly on the organization’s unique focus on common themes that most gay men struggle to navigate: fitness, finance, career building and health. We like what we see, so we named Yancey this month’s Man About Town and asked for more about his vision, his life in Atlanta, and his hopes for Rainbros future.

How did Rainbros come about?

I grew up in in Atlanta with organizations like Youth Pride and places like Outwrite bookstore, where I hung out with and made new friends when I was under 21. Those groups and places that support and foster relationship building outside of clubs and bars no longer exist, … so I always wanted to support people in our community to get on the right track.

More broadly, our community is hyper-sexualized… I’ve heard people say over and over that they are tired of apps and hookups and just want real connection in the real world. In seeing a lack of support for each other and hearing that people just want to connect a safe platonic way, the ideas for Rainbros were born. Mike Duffy, a Senior Producer for CNN at the time, and I shared parts of this vision and collaborated to co-found the organization.

So what exactly is Rainbros?

The core of Rainbros is peer coaching. We have 70 approved coaches that we’ve interviewed and who have gone through background checks to ensure safety. … We meet with people to hear the areas of their life that they want to grow in, and we connect them to a coach to establish goals and work toward them in life.

We also support and promote an ecosystem of events across theater, networking, health and fitness, personal finance, healthy relationships, networking and gay history to build community.

Where do you hope it goes in five years?

I hope Rainbros will have a method that consistently results in successful outcomes that can be packaged and replicated in other cities in the U.S. and countries around the globe. The world needs more peer coaching and supportive, platonic relationships.

Tell us about yourself outside of Rainbros.

I’m a rare Atlanta native. Even though I’ve lived in NYC for three years and London for six, Atlanta is home and I keep coming back. …

I had the chance to get involved very early with a digital marketing agency called 360i and ended up moving to NYC and London winning new biz, growing and managing teams and learning a lot from my lifelong mentor, the CEO there, Bryan Wiener. I got to launch and build the business in London from scratch, knowing no one there. …

We sold that company, and I used the proceeds to start my current company CloudTags, a venture-backed connected retail technology using ultrasonic waves to connect smartphones and staff tablets with no app needed. We are in Ponce City Market and have a team and offices in London as well.

What do you like to do for fun?

I love running and I love anything and everything in Piedmont Park – Green Market, concerts, Atlanta Botanical Gardens. I spend lots of time having adventures with my dog Winnie. I adore every aspect of the BeltLine and what it symbolizes and can be very happy anywhere on it seeing the diverse people of our city.

I’ve also been known to throw a few epic house parties for Joining Hearts and Halloween. I also spend a lot of time boating with friends on Lake Lanier at Gay Cove.

What are your favorite things about Atlanta?

The BeltLine is definitely number one, and the Lantern Festival is pretty great too. All of the hidden parks and places in Ansley Park are a close second. Tacqueria del Sol and Bacchanalia are two special food places. … I love so much about Atlanta it’s hard to list it all.

For more information, visit rainbros.us or write james.brian.yancey@rainbros.us.

For all the talk of the fun in fundraising, some gay men in Atlanta just aren’t having as good a time as others.
By Mike Fleming

“Party with a purpose.” We hear the phrase often enough in gay Atlanta. It’s code for event fundraising, and at least on the surface, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s the perception and reaction that comes after hearing it where opinions split.

Are some events more party than purpose?

CMI_Survey_Digital_Male_300x250Without exception, every one of the community’s most beloved institutions puts one or more sure-bet moneymakers on the gay agenda by promising to put “the fun in fundraising.” And it works, to the tune of millions of dollars, as well as tens of thousands of in-kind donations and volunteer hours per year.

Sounds good, right? Well, it depends on who you ask.

It’s been over a decade since Hotlanta River Expo went down in flames of shame. Back then, a few organizers of what was billed as the oldest circuit party in the world reported others of their flock for misusing funds. Allegations included using event proceeds to pay for recreational drugs during the event.

These days, most organizations can and do report not only the money they raise, but exactly where it goes, often line by line. With rare reports of embezzlement by one person, or whispers of behind-the-scenes puppet masters and villains, the pressure to remain above board on accountability and transparency is high, and the vast majority take the obligation seriously.

So why do the biggest gay fundraising parties take so much flak from naysayers?

The multi-layered answer covers the gamut of gay subcultural issues, from cliques and substance abuse, to diversity and racism, from mere appearances and suspicions of impropriety, to differing priorities on how our collective money should be spent.

So is it all good – or no good at all? Or is it a matter of opinion?

Follow the Money

The HRC Atlanta Gala Dinner, which recently wrapped its 30th annual event, raises in the reported neighborhood of a quarter- to half-a-million dollars each year through ticket sales, donations and proceeds from a massive silent auction. Some 1,200 local LGBTs in tuxes and gowns are proud to donate those funds to help fight for our rights at the federal level and receive moral, strategic and volunteer support.

In 2016 alone and with an expanded mission to help more people, gay Atlanta stalwart Joining Hearts raised nearly $194,000 against HIV in Atlanta with its signature summer pool party and yearlong calendar of other events. Funds were split among eight beneficiary organizations, with Jerusalem House, Living Room, AID Atlanta and Lost N Found Youth leading the pack.

That doesn’t count additional funds at popular Joining Hearts events like Love on the Rocks and several satellite fundraisers peppering the calendar. In 30 years, the organization and its loyal patrons have been responsible for donating more than $2 million to fight a disease that has affected so many gay men.

In about half that time, For the Kid in All of Us, founded by gay Atlanta City Council Member Alex Wan, has distributed more than 40,000 toys and gift cards through the gay holiday tradition Toy Party, as well as 12,000 backpacks filled with school supplies during its Backpack in the Park. Their donations also include a whopping $475,000 in funds distributed directly to local agencies like Chris 180 and Childkind, among many others.

Several of the benefactors of those events also host their own big gay shindigs. In 2016, Goliath‘s sibling publication David Atlanta raised $50,000 for Joining Hearts with its annual Men of David contest and party.

Likewise, perennial beneficiary Jerusalem House hosts an annual October bash that’s considered the standard bearer for local gay Halloween parties. The themed costume party also sets the bar for funds, raising about $50,000 each year. That’s on top of other signature Jerusalem House events like the Stars Party, the auction mixer each spring.

In the gay rights arena, Georgia Equality’s Evening for Equality, which raises money with speakers and cocktails each June, drew in some $120,000 in 2016. For perspective, the statewide lobby and advocacy group reported an annual budget of about $350,000 in 2014. On a long list of projects, they lead the local fights for marriage equality and against so-called “religious freedom” backlash bills in Georgia.

If you’re keeping a running total, that’s a lot of good in the gayborhood, and it’s not even the tip of Atlanta’s fundraising iceberg. We’d be hard pressed to count the myriad socials, beer busts, theme nights, dine-outs, dance parties, drag shows and sporting events for every LGBT and allied organization in town. Your hard-earned party dollars go every week to causes from HIV to gay youth, and fund activities from gay softball to gay movie screenings.

Party Problems

It’s great to see the power of people coming together, and sometimes a little overwhelming to envision the sheer size of the gay dollar. Therein lies the rub when concentrated efforts turn into big money:

The vast amounts alone are one of the reasons people can be so sensitive to how the spoils get spent. The moment a fundraising effort starts to show big gains, comments start flying about how the money could be better spent.

As just one example, last year’s Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks effort drew criticism from people who thought the money should go to making a real difference in people’s lives – like in healthcare, housing, or anti-discrimination efforts. Just as many people took umbrage to that line of thinking. They fired back that not only is the money the patrons own to spend how they see fit, but that giving to one cause does not preclude them from giving to another.

And while more than 1,000 people don their black-tie best to support the annual HRC Atlanta gala, another large contingent just as strongly opposes how much of the proceeds leave the state for good. According to one report, as little as 3 percent may go to local campaigns in actual dollars.

From HRC Atlanta’s perspective, doing Georgia’s part in national Human Rights Campaign efforts is generally a good thing. The organization’s national successes, while nuanced, are admirable.

It’s difficult to track the cost of intangibles like volunteer and strategy support when it’s time to, say, get out the vote to flip Atlanta’s 6th Congressional District, or to quash anti-gay legislative efforts in Georgia. It also costs money to include our state in annual HRC reports on LGBT fairness in corporations and municipalities. The local use of HRC dollars may be hidden in those ways.

This Time, It’s Personal

While debates over money roil, there are still tougher reasons why some gay men avoid Atlanta’s biggest gay events altogether: It’s their perception of issues like Body Shaming, Substance Abuse, Mean Girls Syndrome, Racism, Embezzlement, and Sexual Hypocrisy.

Well, that doesn’t sound like a party at all! Exactly.

Some people view gay fundraising parties as antithetical to the very causes they support. Critics point out that guests can overdo the party favors, so events are therefore complicit in feeding the substance abuse that disproportionately affects LGBTs.

Others say lowered inhibitions and throbbing beats combine after too many cocktails to facilitate behaviors that lead guys into less-safe sexual behaviors. Still others argue that we’re all adults, and each of us is responsible for his own behavior. And no organizer condones illegal activity or behavior that would put their guests in harms way.

Whether based in reality or in insecurity, or a little of both, another faction of the community doesn’t attend the biggest parties because they’re seen as exclusive only to guests who look a certain way – whether by virtue of their physical fitness, skin tone, economic status, or gender.

Rightly or wrongly, that can translate into a perceived cliquishness that turns would-be participants away, makes them feel less-than, or effectively bullies them into staying home.

What’s worse, potential donors can simply feel that their lives and concerns aren’t represented by the mission or the homogeneity of the organizers, so they feel unmotivated to participate without a place at the larger table.

Even if any of these concerns are only slightly true, think of the dollars left on the table for every person who finds popular gay fundraisers more intimidating or exclusionary than philanthropic.

If you want to influence how the money is spent, get involved. If you are already involved, influence ways to be more inclusive and effect even more change.

It’s worth keeping the conversation going about inclusion and priorities, because among all the contested viewpoints, one point is certain: “Parties with a purpose” are an integral, defining thread in the fabric of local gay culture, and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Sources: Guidestar, Atlanta Journal Consitution, Project Q Atlanta, Georgia Voice

He may be young, but don’t count out Georgia’s first elected gay male legislator as inexperienced.

By Matthew Holley

Since his election to represent District 101 in Gwinnett County late last year, Sam Park has hit the ground running and not let up. Despite his rookie status, the freshman legislator is fast garnering a reputation as fearless when it comes to reaching across the aisle to build bridges and stop anti-LGBT legislation.

Yearning to lessen the political and cultural divide, Park’s heart is solely invested in the home state he loves. It makes the 31-year-old a natural fit to be named our Man About Town, and while working feverishly on the Jon Ossoff campaign, the state’s first elected openly gay male representative took the time to let Goliath Atlanta in on a day in the life of Sam Park.

CMI_Survey_Digital_Male_300x250How did it feel to win your election?

It was surreal. After working tirelessly for months with my team, it was amazing to make history and win when no one thought it was possible. It was also bittersweet because of the unexpected result in the Presidential election.

Unseating a three-term Republican incumbent during the tumultuous 2016 political season made many see my race as a silver lining. It was an extremely humbling experience to receive messages and thanks from across the nation; to give hope of the progress we continue to make.

What are your first priorities at the Capitol?

My legislative priorities are the same as the issues I ran; to foster economic growth, ensure all Georgians have access to healthcare, strengthen our public education system, and fight so that all Georgians are treated with equal dignity and respect under the law.

What has serving your first session been like?

Interesting. I was happy to find common ground with my Republican colleagues on many issues. Yet, it was frustrating to constantly lose on party-line votes. Democrats are outnumbered 118 to 62 in the Georgia House. I left the 2017 legislative session with a belly full of fire and renewed vigor to fight for change in our state.

What is a day like in the life of Sam Park?

My days are 12 to 15 hours long. I wake up around 6am, go for a jog, and head to the Georgia State Capitol by 8 a.m. for Democratic Caucus Meetings. The legislative session usually begins at 10 a.m., where I head to the House Floor to debate and vote on legislation. Afterwards, I attend any committee hearings where we’ll take a deeper dive into proposed legislation. Generally, I finish around 5 p.m., and then head to constituent meetings, town halls, or a political event in the evening.

Do you have any plans to further pursue politics at a higher level?

Not unless I can demonstrate that I can be a successful voice for my community as a state representative. As a native Georgian, I ran to change the direction of our legislature on a range of issues, from healthcare to the equal rights of our LGBTQ family. The work that needs to be done in Georgia will take time, and I am committed to seeing it through.

Outside of politics what do you like to do for fun?

I enjoy the outdoors whether it’s hiking the Appalachian Trail in the Blue Ridge Mountains or getting some sun at the beach. It’s always refreshing to catch up with old friends who keep me grounded, and making new ones. And I enjoy sleeping in.

What do you love about Atlanta?

Atlanta is home. I love the growing diversity and vibrancy of our communities. From Midtown to East Atlanta, there’s always something to do or see from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra to Piedmont Park. Representing a portion of Gwinnett County, the most diverse in the Southeast, I love how you can eat all different kinds of authentic cuisines from all over the world within a 15-minute drive.

Get your warm weather groove back with a dozen patios, pubs and party places that make spring pop.
By James Parker Sheffield

With great weather comes great social-calendar responsibility. Gay Atlantans hit the streets in search of the perfect spot to soak up the sun, kick back cocktails, and enjoy the best in playful seasonal menus.

In that spirit, the following pages deliver a season’s worth of eateries to try or rediscover, whether you’re looking to laze away a few hours on a patio, gather your gay gaggle for a group meal, or upgrade your casual pub experience with elevated fare.

Perfect Patios

Discover offbeat patio places with Atlanta’s best alfresco dining

Patio and park culture reigns supreme this season, but not all outdoor dining adventures are created equal. Here are some of the best places in the city to breathe in spring, while indulging your biggest cravings.

VictoryBeltline Boys
You had us at “Jack & Coke Slushie.” The menu and atmosphere at Victory Sandwich Bar are everything our guys need on a warm, sunny weekend.
Between the high-quality affordable eats, playful drink list, and buzzing patio, the Inman Park location of this local favorite even makes it easy to grab carry-out for a hike around the Beltline.
Try the VICnic Basket, including a blanket, sandwiches, chips, sodas, side item, and some Victory swag.
913 Bernina Ave. NE
404-963-1742
vicsandwich.com

Small Packages
Le Petit Marché, or “The Little Market,” is a tiny powerhouse in the Kirkwood neighborhood, featuring an array of freshly prepared menu items and market-made pantry selections to take home.
This gem serves breakfast all day, plus savory selections for lunch. The patio’s stature is true to the “Petit” name and stands as a great reminder that size isn’t everything every time. Cozy up in this quaint spot for a nice cross breeze and a colorful Ahi Salad.
1984 Hosea L. Williams Drive
404-317-9888
lepetitmarche.net

Brunch Before Blooms
Less than a mile from Atlanta Botanical Gardens, The Lawrence is a great place to start an out-and-about day. They offer brunch, lunch, and dinner services on one of the hippest patios in the area, each with its own menu.
If you have more adventurous eaters along for the ride, the menu regularly features a variety of game meats that you won’t easily find in other restaurants.
905 Juniper Street
Reservations Recommended for groups: 404-961-7177
thelawrenceatlanta.com

Outdoor Upgrade
When you need a patio but are in the mood for a more refined dinner option, look no further than King + Duke’s. The outdoor seating here checks all your boxes, from décor and lighting to food and service.
The 24-foot open hearth delivers flavors you won’t find anywhere else in the city. Expect the highest quality in hearth-prepared meats and locally sourced produce, as well as unique craft cocktails. King + Duke promises to impress with a truly unique Atlanta experience.
3060 Peachtree Road NW
Reservations Recommended: 404-477-3500
kinganddukeatl.com

Pub Fare, Elevated

Ditch typical bar food and check out the surprisingly gourmet bites at these public houses.

When the sun is taunting you from the office window, and Friday can’t get here quickly enough, nothing caps off the work week like great beer options and a great scene.

And if you’re chasing the best of the best when it comes to drinks, plenty of Atlanta places make sure that you don’t have to settle in the food department, either.

What’s more? The onset of spring means the release of new and seasonal brews. Our selections offer more than your standard bar eats to go with it.

CMI_Survey_Digital_Male_300x250Stop & Stay
In keeping with its East Atlanta Village home, Midway Pub offers a casual vibe that lends itself to staying longer than you intended, and you won’t mind a bit. Drop in for a post-work beer, and happily find yourself knee-deep in small-batch brews and delicious foods hours later.
Gourmet takes on comfort foods like gumbo and corn dogs are treats that your trainer will definitely yell at you about. So worth it. Our only advice: Try everything. Twice.
552 Flat Shoals Ave. SE
404-584-0335
themidwaypub.com

Homemade Brews
The stone walls and dark wood at Wrecking Bar Brewpub create an old-world feel, while their menu offers an indulgent spin on classic fare as well as a full selection of house-brewed beers.
Venture below ground in this ante-bellum mansion for an expansive selection of food and drinks inspired by the Old South. Try the mac-n-cheese with crispy pig ears, and one (or more) of their beer flights. You’ll thank us later.
292 Moreland Ave NE
404-221-2600
wreckingbarbrewpub.com

European Excursion
Brick Store Pub whisks you all the way to Europe, where the food has always been as much a draw as the draft. What’s better is that all of it is reasonably priced and easy to share with the table.
And while the main dining room is always on point, the Belgian Bar tucked away upstairs is a definite must, with full kitchen service available in a small, cozy space with tons of ambiance.
After a couple high-gravity brews, try the warm salted pretzels and sausage plate so good you may actually believe you’re in Europe.
125 E. Court Square, Decatur
404-687-0990
brickstorepub.com

Relaxed, Refined
Nestled in walking distance from Colony Square and Woodruff Arts Center, TAP is ideal for pre- or post-culture bites. This upscale gastropub features a lighter touch and more fresh veggies than traditional bar spots.
Along side bacon-topped tots and wings, you’ll also find spectacular entrée salads perfect for spring.
1180 Peachtree Str. NE
Reservations Recommended: 404-347-2220
tapat1180.com

Gay Gatherings

Atlanta in full bloom means it’s time to pull your hungry boys out of hibernation and reconnect. Whether you’re headed to a festival, checking out seasonal markets, or playing host to your annual spring-break-college-reunion crew, food is definitely on the agenda.

Satisfying a group means finding the right locations with the right menu options for diverse palates and varying budgets. Here are some of our favorite spots that are sure to rise to the occasion.

Comfort & Cocktails
Gather your friends and check out our favorite “come as you are” neighborhood. And when hunger strikes, Argosy has you covered. The eclectic menu can accommodate everyone in your party.
What’s particularly special about Argosy is its ability to deliver an intimate, comfortable atmosphere, while also providing plenty of space for large groups.
470 Flat Shoals Ave SE
Reservations for Groups over 8: 404-577-0407
argosy-east.com

Central Gathering
There’s no place we’re more drawn to than the heart of Midtown. Smack in the middle of special events all season, Midtown W Hotel is an ideal spot for the troops.
In addition to convenient parking and a welcoming lobby, the W features TRACE on the second floor, with a simple, Southern-inspired dinner menu focusing on shared plates and a specialty spring cocktail list.
188 14th Street, NE, Atlanta 30361
Reservations Optional: 404-724-2550
watlantamidtown.com/trace

DiningBusiness & Pleasure
The luxurious patio at South City Kitchen Buckhead features great views of the cityscape. It’s the perfect spot for a “Treat Yourself Sunday” that begins with the upscale-Southern SCK Brunch and all your friends.
Word of advice: If it involves fried chicken, order it. SCK also offers gluten-free selections for brunch, lunch and dinner.
3350 Peachtree Road NE
Reservations Recommended: 404-815-6677
buckhead.southcitykitchen.com

Grown & Sexy
As West Midtown continues to carve its place as a foodie destination, Miller Union does its part bringing people to the area. Consistency has been the name of the game for this farmstead-inspired spot and favorite of food-icon Alton Brown.
From bar to kitchen, Miller Union is a reliable place for your group to celebrate a special occasion, especially if you’re looking to impress out-of-town guests. Vibrant produce and indulgent meat & cheese offerings dominate the menu, creating a rich dining experience that won’t leave you feeling guilty on the scale or at the gym the next day.
999 Brady Ave. NW
Reservations Recommended: 678-733-8550
millerunion.com

De-gayed gayborhood. Homo homogenization. Post-gay world. What now?
By Mike Fleming

As some of the chatter goes, Midtown is being ruined by monied yuppies reversing the suburban flight of several decades ago, and gay Atlanta is suffering for it.

We fixed up the place, and rich people moved in. Then we spread out to make our mark on in-town places like East Atlanta Village and Old Fourth Ward, and every suburb within driving distance.

Whether that’s a bad thing or not, and the opinions vary widely with each gay person you ask, the de-gaying of the gayborhood is long over. It isn’t happening; it already happened – a while ago.

Gone are the male prostitutes for male clients hanging out along Piedmont and West Peachtree north of 10th Street. There are not a majority gay men in every grocery store and restaurant from north from Ponce to Cheshire, and east from the Connector to Highland. The most famous 24-hour gay bar, Backstreet, and its infamous neighbor The Armory, closed more than a decade ago.

Straight bars far outnumber gay ones in the area, gay-dominant adult venues are being replaced with pricey condos, and the last vestiges of the Red Light District along Cheshire Bridge Road are being razed while you read this.

We can debate the legislation of morality and mourn the loss of some aspects of gay culture, but the battle for Midtown is essentially over. Midtown is Post-Gay, and in the view of at least some of the city’s gay residents, everybody won. 

While many of us enjoyed those gone-but-not-forgotten sides of gay life and celebrated the freedoms of what some might call the more subversive parts of gay culture, others of us are part of the Midtown fabric that helped usher in the change, including Midtown’s gay Atlanta City Council member Alex Wan.

“There’s obviously a demand in the market for [the changes]” Wan said as far back as 2012, when adult-oriented businesses were enjoying a grandfather clause to the frustration of neighbors in the Cheshire area at Piedmont Avenue.

“The neighborhoods have been trying to find a way to sunset the grandfather,” he told gay blog Project Q at the time. “There is going to be continued pressure from everybody to not be there anymore.”

He told local LGBT paper the GA Voice back then, “I just don’t think that the gay agenda is only 24-hour bars and sex clubs.”

Wan, who recently launched a citywide campaign to become the next City Council President, proposed and successfully lobbied to put a time limit and moratorium on adult businesses. Despite a very public battle with some gay residents and the businesses, he easily won re-election of the so-called “gay district” in a landslide sweep, collecting a majority votes from a wide swath of residents in the area, including many of the gay ones who remain.

Where We Are

The U.S. Census of 2010 was the first to ask about same-sex heads of household, and it gave us the first real numbers about where gay people live across the country, including pinpointing the “gayest” parts of each state and metropolitan area.

To show how gay life in Atlanta has already changed from some people’s perception as the decades pass, the 2010 Census also shows that one in four same-sex households are raising kids in Atlanta. That’s more than the nationwide average for any city with more than 100,000 people. None of the top five areas for gay people in Atlanta are in Midtown.

Within the city, self-identified gay households are most prevalent in Avondale Estates, Decatur, North Druid Hills, Scottdale and North Decatur, with up to 50 gay-run homes per 1,000 households.

And when it comes to gay African-Americans, you’ll find the highest concentration of residents in the country – yes that’s nationwide – in Clayton County south of I-20 and in pockets just east and south of Downtown Atlanta. Again, not Midtown.

For a full breakdown of the numbers, see our Where We Are Going sidebar at the end of this article.

Signs of the Times

Were gay people slighted in some way, or does life, culture and society just evolve? It’s natural as time passes to romanticize our past and view our younger days through rose colored glasses, but what is it, exactly, that we’re missing?

As acceptance, visibility and equality for gay people grew across the country, times were going to change for gay Atlantans whether Midtown changed with them or not. Now gay people are only one of the many flavors you can enjoy as you hold hands through Piedmont Park, grab a meal with your man near Colony Square, or party at one of the Cheshire Bridge, 10th Street or Ansley-area venues.

Wan represents Midtown District 6 seat on City Council, a seat that’s been held by a gay person for some 20 years. Since taking office in 2010, he led the charge on the council backing marriage equality and officially opposing anti-gay bills at the state level. He stood with the full council and the mayor when the fire chief was fired for anti-gay rhetoric, and he helped get Sunday alcohol sales to the polls. In his role, Wan also got the council to add gender identity protections to city policy.

With all that specifically LGBT accomplishment, he vacates his role without worrying about keeping the district – or his council seat – gay. In fact, he doesn’t think the District 6 council rep being gay is crucial any more to the area’s success or for LGBT inclusion in its day-to-day life.

“In this day and age in Atlanta, especially with my experience in the district seat, people want to see the work get done and they want the person in there to do it,” Wan told Project Q last month. “They don’t care if you are green or purple or Alex. Thanks to folks like [former District 6 reps] Cathy [Woolard, who became City Council President herself and is running for mayor next year] and Anne Fauver, [being LGBT] has become a non-issue.”

While some gay residents may feel forced out of formerly gay spaces, all of us also feel a little freer and more comfortable to venture further to beautify and enrich every area of town as close as Cabbagetown and Castleberry Hill, and as far as Marietta and Milton and beyond.

We spread our acceptance by being who we are openly among our neighbors, new and old.

The older we get and no matter who you are, it’s human nature to mourn how things once were. We can also celebrate the fact that our safety allows us to live anywhere in the city to suit our own lives without huddling in fear of reprisal for being who we are.

To be sure, gay rights still have a ways to go, and concerns remain under the current federal administration and an as-yet-decided Atlanta change in leadership come Election Day. While the glory days of all-night bars and dancing are gone, a whole new acceptance and safer world appears to have opened its doors.

There’s lots of room for hope to continue making our mark – in more places in Atlanta than ever.

LeavingMidtown2Where We Are Going

Georgia leads the South with a whopping 8.3 same-sex-led homes for every 1,000 households. Dekalb and Fulton unsurprisingly lead the counties, but mountain burghs in Fannin, Gilmer and Rabun Counties round out the top five. Some guys even call Blue Ridge Midtown Mountain. We’re on the move.

The numbers skyrocket when looking at parts of Atlanta. Atlanta is fifth in the country for same-sex-run homes after San Francisco, Seattle, Oakland, and Minneapolis, respectively. 

Within the city, gay households are most prevalent in Avondale Estates, Decatur, North Druid Hills, Scottdale and North Decatur, with up to 50 gay-run homes per 1,000 households.

 

Gay-Run Homes in Metro Atlanta
(per 1,000 Households)
Avondale Estates … 49.3
Decatur … 39.37
North Druid Hills … 36.87
Scottdale … 32.36
North Decatur …. 30

Notice something? None of those neighborhoods are in Midtown, and that was seven years ago.

Sources: Project Q Atlanta, United States Census, Williams Institute, Emory University, the GA Voice

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.

 

Like Us On Facebook

Facebook Pagelike Widget