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

Compiled by Mike Fleming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

By Mike Fleming

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

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

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

Step 1: You’re the Man

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

Step 2: Don’t Overthink It.

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

Step 3: Imagine Yourself

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

Step 4: Right Note.

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

Step 5: Forget the Price

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

Step 6: Try it and wait.

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

Step 7: Switch it up

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

Step 8: Less is more.

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

Step 9: Repeat.

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

Step 10: There are no mistakes.

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

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

By Jeffery Silvey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heart,” Kaplan says.

Uplifting,” Ghee echoes.

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

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

The BeltLine connects more and more Atlantans while furthering our place on the global stage. Of course a gay man is all up in it.

By Dustin Shrader

In a relatively short time, the Atlanta BeltLine has become a renowned tourist attraction for visitors and a lifestyle staple for residents. It already ranks as one of the country’s leading urban redevelopment programs, and it’s not even finished yet.

The project provides a link between public parks, multifunctional trails and transportation, as well as a sweeping railroad corridor encircling midtown and downtown. It directly connects an increasing number of neighborhoods to each other, and the continued progression would not be possible without Atlanta BeltLine Program Director Lee Harrop.

Long before becoming the BeltLine’s Head Gay, Harrop became part of the fabric of gay Atlanta. In 1991, he moved here from South Carolina to attend Georgia Tech. After graduating with a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering, he worked in private consulting for 15 years.

“It was then I decided to go back to school at Georgia State to get my MBA,” he recalls. “Shortly before graduating with my MBA, I was hired by Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. as their Program Director.”

Since then, Harrop has been honored as the 2013 Engineer of the Year by the Georgia Society of Professional Engineers, and he was named one of Georgia Trend magazine’s 50 Most Notable Georgians in 2015.

“In both of those cases, I fully recognize that the honor really goes to the work ABI is doing and not me specifically – I just happen to be the technical face of a great project.”

Humble about the recognition, Harrop is much more than the face of the BeltLine when local news outlets – and gay media – come calling. His role touches on almost every aspect of the project.

“I’m responsible for coordinating everything technical about the implementation of the Atlanta BeltLine. I work with partner organizations – PATH Foundation, Trees Atlanta, City Departments – while coordinating all of our real estate acquisition, design and construction activities.”

Not an easy to-do list, to say the least. Yet Harrop’s passion and respect for his job manifests in a gift to Atlanta, and he is grateful for his role, as well as the lasting impact the BeltLine will have.

“Every day is different, and I can see the difference we’re making in the city,” he says. “Opening a new trail segment or park is much more fulfilling than designing a water treatment plant or fuel farm.”

Harrop is currently knee-deep in monitoring multiple projects, all due to be unveiled within the next year. It begins with the design of the four-mile Southside Trail, from Memorial Drive to Murphy Avenue. He’s also overseeing construction updates on the three-mile Westside Trail (University Avenue to Washington Park), set to open in 2017. On top of all that, construction of the Eastside Trail Extension later this winter has to stay at the top of his radar.

“We’re also wrapping up land acquisitions for a couple of the next park projects, so I’m hopeful that in the next year or so we’ll be announcing some major park design initiatives.”

So what is it about the BeltLine that makes it such a big deal? Atlanta will continue to benefit from the BeltLine’s potential for consumers, businesses, residents and tourists indefinitely, Harrop says.

“I think there’s been a pent-up need for the Atlanta BeltLine for a while in the city, both from the standpoint of recreational amenities and neighborhood revitalization,” he says. “I think our community is able to see potential where others may not.”

Yet, it is not all hard work in Lee Harrop’s world. The busy engineer is single and takes time to recuperate and enjoy the amenities he helped create. With his beloved Boston terrier by his side and a fantastic network of friends, he and his gays kick back on the trails, people watching and frequenting the restaurants scattered up and down the BeltLine. It’s a luxury that gay Atlanta may not realize exists thanks to one gay man’s determined diligence.

When asked if there is anything about the BeltLine that gay Atlantans may not know, he is exuberant to offer his insider tips. The gays may be currently gravitating toward Eastside Trail shops and restaurants, but that’s just the beginning, Harrop says.

“There’s so much more to the Atlanta BeltLine than the Eastside Trail,” he says. “We have 7 miles of completed trails, and the Eastside only accounts for 2.25 miles. The Northside Trail (Ardmore Park to Bobby Jones Golf Course) is amazing, and the Southwest Connector Trail (Lionel Hampton Trail to Westwood Avenue) is gorgeous.

“As the weather warms up, I’d strongly encourage folks to check these trail segments out.”

Thanks for the tip! Happy trails, Gay-TL.

 

Photo by Russ Youngblood

An easy dozen ideas, tips and basics that will raise your spring fashion bar without breaking the bank.

By Mike Fleming

Does your fashion game need an upgrade? Are you inspired by our Spring Fashion Issue but unsure how to make it work in real life? Never fear. Follow this roadmap to what every man can do on any budget to look his fashionable best.


symbols_100 - 1Dark-wash Jeans

How to do a staple right. Jeans go just about anywhere depending on how you pair them, and dark ones are slimming while looking more put-together than other washes.

 

shine - 1Shine Your Shoes
It only takes five minutes, it boosts your confidence, and guys are impressed even if they can’t put their finger on why.

 

symbols_100 - 3Buy Fresh Undershirts
This one is from gay style guru Tim Gunn. “Life is too short for yellowed undershirts,” he says. Spend a couple bucks to keep that crisp, fresh look.

 

symbols_100 - 4Go-to Blazer.
Every grown man needs a sport coat in classic navy, tan and/or black. Maybe a wool one for winter. The right purchase will last forever and be your go-to for every gay shindig.

 

symbols_100 - 5

Fit is everything.
Ill-fitting clothes do no one favors. Did you lose weight but are still wearing your old pants? Did you gain enough that your love handles show when you raise your arms? Stop it.

 

symbols_100 - 6Cashmere Sweater
Worth the investment because you’ll wear it for years, pick up one in your go-to neutral color. Throw it on to instantly upgrade jeans, khakis or suits.

symbols_100 - 7Just say no to cargo.
Another one from Tim Gunn! “The baggy cargo capri is the single worst item of clothing in America today.” Enough said!

 

symbols_100 - 8Sweater vest? Yes.
Forget what you heard. These little jewels keep your core cozy while looking classy and permit freedom of movement under jackets and coats.

 

symbols_100 - 9Comfortable, not sloppy.
Every gay worth his salt earns that downtime, but you don’t have to go to a movie in the same thing you wear while flopped down on the couch.

 

symbols_100az - 1Girl! Get a new tie.
While your blazer, sweater and jeans may last season after season, your tie won’t. A new tie is a whole new, updated look.

 

symbols_100 - 11Put Tanks and Flip-flops on hold.
‘Gay uniform’ or not, stand a head above the rest in a collared polo before Memorial Day – and all summer at casual occasions that aren’t the pool or beach.

 

symbols_100 - 12Aged out.
Gays of any age can do the right baseball cap, graphic tee or shorts. Still, if you’re asking if you’re too old, that’s your conscience. Age is just a number, but it comes with the maturity to make good choices.

Celebrations, concerts, politics and parties. We’ve narrowed down our list of March events into our Agenda of must-do entertainment.

Compiled by Mike Fleming

Cirque du Soleil: Kurios
A cabinet of curiosities is in store when the big top goes back up at Atlantic Station for the latest acrobatic extravaganza from the creative minds at Cirque du Soleil. Steampunk fantasies come to life with clockworks, gears, and Victorian inspirations flying through the air. Shows run March 3 through May 8 at Atlantic Station. Visit cirquedusoliel.com.

web_agenda_March2016 - 5Purim Off Ponce
Drinks, dance and drag queens collide at the annual fundraiser for SOJOURN. Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender & Sexual Diversity celebrates the Purim holiday by welcoming all comers in costume. This year’s event takes on a “Wild” theme, but any costume will be embraced with open arms. Purim Off Ponce takes place March 5 at Le Fais do-do. Visit sojourngsd.org.

web_agenda_March2016 - 3Adam Lambert
The gay rocker with the Elvis hair and dreamy eyes brings his latest show to Atlanta for a one-night-only tour de force performance that fans won’t want to miss. The former “Idol” runner up brings The Original High Tour complete with big-blast production numbers, current songs, as well as favorite hits from his whirlwind career. Lambert plays the Tabernacle on March 8. Visit tabernacleatl.org

web_agenda_March2016 - 6Rihanna
The Barbadian beauty hits Atlanta fresh on the heels of her Anti album release. Whether she had you at “Umbrella” or she finally made you “Stay,” superfans are chomping at the bit for this one. All the frustration over her release promises of 2015 are forgiven as she takes the stage for the adoration of her gays – you know, and everybody else. Rihanna plays Phillips Arena on March 9. Check out phillipsarena.com.

And Justice For All
Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus holds its first-ever full blown concert with its sisters of Atlanta Women’s Chorus. Collectively known at Voices of Note, a sound 200 voices strong performs songs of equality. The centerpiece work “Libertad” is composed by AGMC conductor Kevin Robison, based on poetry by Walt Whitman. Three performances on March 18-19 take place at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church. Visit voicesofnote.org.

web_agenda_March2016 - 4NFFLA Margarita Bust 
Just as their gridiron games get started, National Flag Football League of Atlanta takes a break for one of their signature parties. The margaritas flow with the gay jocks playing host to typically hundreds of fans and supporters. Join the whole gang on the patio and inside at Midtown mainstay Zocalo on March 19.

web_agenda_March2016 - 2Kinky Boots 
Get ready for the Broadway smash about a drag queen with a heart of gold who helps save an ailing business with her thigh-high stilletos. When Lola’s takes over Charlie’s shoe factory, together they become the next big thing. Hilarity and musical numbers can ensue beginning March 29 and playing through April 3 at the Fox Theatre. Read our preview in this issue of Goliath, and get tickets and more information at foxtheatre.org

Bubbles & Biscuits
Victory Fund is the national organization that trains and campaigns to get LGBT candidates elected across the country. The local arm of the group throws this champagne reception with noshes to update supporters, hobnob with candidates and elected officials. Help them raise money for their ongoing work on March 20 at Wimbish House.

Valentine cocktails kick off the fundraising year for gay-beloved benefactors at Joining Hearts’ 9th annual Love on the Rocks party.

By Jason Mietelski

Gay men know the importance of celebrating life every single day, and also how crucial it is to support those living with HIV/AIDS. When it comes to raising funds and awareness, we each pick up the ball and run with it in our own special way. Some of us make sure it’s exciting and entertaining for everyone to enjoy.

That’s where Joining Hearts, the yearlong event series with the mission “to raise awareness and funds to provide care and housing assistance to people living with HIV/AIDS in Atlanta,” comes in.

Since 1987, Joining Hearts has donated nearly $2 million to its beneficiaries, providing medical care and assistance, housing, meals, and more to thousands in gay Atlanta and beyond. That means when you attend one of their events throughout each year, you play an integral role in giving back to the community and the cause.

This year, 2016 is only different in that it comes with an expanded mission to benefit more non-profit HIV agencies than ever before, and because it inches us closer to finding a cure. To that end, Joining Hearts’ 6th annual Love on the Rocks cocktail party kicks off the giving year in style.

This year, we have more than 30 men and women who are great at throwing great and exciting parties,” says Jerry Henderson, president of Joining Hearts. “My goal is to make this the best Love on the Rocks ever!”

The February 13 event takes place in the opulent Cantoni Furniture Show Room. Surely you noticed the date! Yes, since this is a Valentine themed party, so show up in red or other V-Day-appropriate garb ready to celebrate love, whether you’re in it or you’re single and ready to mingle. General admission and VIP tickets give you access to the exclusive party, drink specials by Ketel One, a fabulous auction, house grooves by DJ Mike Pope, and of course gay Atlanta’s hottest men.

The party was created to be a celebration of love and friendship for all members of our community,” Henderson says. “And get ready—our sexy heartthrobs will be behind that bar serving up your favorite cocktails. There will also be a silent auction featuring one-of-a-kind items that will not disappoint and offers something for everyone.

The whole event has become my favorite of the year,” he adds. “It’s fun seeing everyone all dressed up in their festive Valentine’s Day attire.”

Want to go?
What: Love On The Rocks
Where: Cantoni, 1011 Monroe Drive NE
When: Feb. 13, 7 p.m.
Tickets: $35 general admission, $65 VIP
More: joininghearts.org

Whether you’re younger or older, coupled or single, and no matter what gay subculture you call yours, you may have noticed that the legalization of marriage for gay couples came with an odd little phenomenon. The U.S. Supreme Court unwittingly ushered in a new era, including the polarizing notion that gay couples should get married, instead of can get married.

By Mike Fleming

Our social feeds are already telling the updated version of the age-old love story. Longtime pairs are tying the knot in droves with ceremonies from simple to extravagant, but tons of short-term couples are also jumping into nuptials because marriage is “so hot right now.”

Activists and advocates are fond of reminding us that “we still have work to do” after marriage. But rather than stamping marriage “done” and setting it aside, there may also be work left to do in gay culture on relationships and what it means to marry.

It’s great that the option exists for gay men to be just as legally committed or just as impulsive as any straight couple next door, on the street, or on marriage competition reality shows. On the other hand, there’s a rumble of discontent over the loss of something distinctly ours, distinctly gay: Without marriage equality, we were free to define our relationships in non-traditional ways like no other demographic.

Some gay guys aren’t as in love with marriage and its connotations as so many others appear to be. On the contrary, they still eschew the constraints of the sanctioned institution as hetero at best, restrictive at least, and played out at worst. They long for a time when no legalized marriage meant the sweet freedom to not marry.

Luckily, it’s not an either-or proposition. Rather than get caught up in normative ideas of what marriage is, we can now actually have it all. How? Stop insisting that there’s one right way to engage with each other, recognize the awesome assortment of approaches we can take, and stop expecting everyone to feel and act the same way.

As is appropriate in every situation, we can hearken back to the great gay muse, that sage soothsayer, that endless font of advice: Carrie Bradshaw, Darren Star’s fictional dating diva of Sex and the City. After the trials and tribs of singlehood and matrimony, she figured out at the end of the deliciously awful “Sex and the City 2” what her newlywed gays Stanford and Anthony knew at the beginning of the movie: There’s more than one way to skin a relationship.

“You have to take tradition and decorate it your own way. … when it comes to relationships, there’s a whole range of colors and options to explore.” – Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City 2

This Valentine season, we welcome marriage as only one of the following gay relationship options, and only then as it’s defined and redefined by each couple. These are our Top Six. Which type(s) of Gay Love do you do, which have you tried, or which ones may tempt you to find a new one?

Serial Monogamy
Most of us are, were, or have tried to be this kind of gay. You like the “mating for life” concept and go around applying it to each guy you date, one at a time. The boys may call you “emotionally slutty,” but it works with varying degrees of success for scores of gay men.

Pros & Cons
Serial monogamy often gives you emotional security, familiarity, societal approval, a distinct lack of jealousy, and maybe even reduced risk of STDs. On the downside, you might also get boredom, societal pressure to take it further, as well as decreasing emotional and physical pleasure over time. Still, it may fit you just right to give all your love to one guy at a time without biting off the broader expectations of traditional marriage.

Open Relationships
Like the serial monogamist, most of us also know of, or have been in, open relationships. “Consensually non-monogamous” couples, like other types of relationships, can define their open agreements in multiple ways. Perhaps it’s to stay emotionally monogamous but not sexually, or perhaps it’s open to explorations of the body and heart outside the couple.

Pros & Cons
You get to indulge your wandering eye and you get more varied experiences. Of course, you might also get time management challenges, competition, and jealousy. Advance planning and clear agreements are crucial, and honest communication can help solve conflicts if it does arise.

Polyamory
You love Dick, and lord knows you love hairy, er, Harry. You also love Tom. And damn it, they love you back. Polyamorous gay relationships between more than two guys are more common than some people realize. Whether there is a clear “Alpha” couple, one guy with multiple spouses, or egalitarian sharing of the love, triads, quadrangles and other configurations are available to explore.

Pros & Cons
Big pluses here include sexual variety, additional “team members” for support, and deep friendships between non-intimate partners. You might also develop a skill for communication as each partner learns to express his needs. Cons? Societal misunderstandings, inequity, “ganging up” on individual members in disagreements, and that old nag, jealousy.

Non-exclusive Dating
Unlike serial monogamy, these guys have no intention of ever putting a ring on it or in any way tying their love to just one man. You like him, you may even love him, and you may also feel the same way about other guys. When friends with benefits keep it casual, your place is not his place, your life is not his life, and that’s just the way you like it.

Pros & Cons
Independence means you can take care of yourself and you have the skill to self-motivate and self-please. It also means you can be a little inflexible, unaccommodating and hard to work with, plus you only have the resources of one person to accomplish things.

Marriage
While it’s popularly viewed as the ultimate commitment and show of love, the rising divorce rate suggests otherwise. Still, when expectations are aligned, one-to-one commitment for life works as the go-to ideal for many gay couples. Married people are adept at the art of compromise and even live longer. The successful pairings – as well as their potential kids – thrive on the structure marriage can afford them.

Pros & Cons
Married guys have a built-in support system, someone to take care of them when they’re sick, a date to every party, usually increased social status, and together they can often accomplish more goals faster. Then again, they’re more likely to be overweight, in debt, and too reliant on each other at the expense of other friendships and their own independence.

Love Yourself
The one kind of gay love most often overlooked and arguably the most important is self-love. No, not that kind. OK, not only that kind. Many gay men have gotten so used to denying themselves that they actually think it’s impossible to get what they want. Worse, many of us don’t even believe we’re entitled to it. Enjoy singlehood by treating yourself, trusting yourself, and making sure your needs are met.

Pros & Cons
Every psyche study, ever, points out that loving yourself is the surest way to contentment and satisfaction. When you love yourself, you usually get to do what you want, but conversely you may be unable to let others have their way. Learning to trust yourself and love your own company trumps any validation you might get from other people. And as it turns out, the ageless wisdom of RuPaul was right: “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

Sources: Psychology Today, Positively Sexual, Thought Catalog

Even with great strides toward LGBT equality, there’s still a long way to go. Thankfully, you’ve got Lambda Legal. 

By Dustin Shrader

When history marks the path of gay rights, Lambda Legal will have laid many of the mile markers. It’s an ongoing responsibility that the nation’s oldest and largest legal organization tackles every day, including right here in Atlanta at the hardworking Southern Regional Office.

Fighting for full equality in the realms of litigation, education and public policy, Lambda makes far-reaching accomplishments in ways as high-profile as the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage equality decision last year, to myriad smaller cases advocating for the LGBT freedoms and protections of people across the country and here at home.

They do it with the grassroots support and fundraisers like Atlanta’s fun and informative Southern Love Affair event on January 30. The gathering features Lambda’s executive director Kevin Cathcart welcoming fiercely devoted LGBT advocate Simone Bell as the new Southern Regional Director.

simone_bell “While it’s true that the LGBT community has made advances in gaining rights, there is still so much work to be done,” Bell says.
A former member of the Georgia House, she returns to the Lambda Legal fold after three successful terms as the first out lesbian African American in any state legislature. We had the pleasure of getting reacquainted with the organization while she gets settled into her new role.

“Our work is vital, and our strategy works: We make the case for equality in the nation’s courts and in the court of public opinion,” Bell asserts. “Until we achieve full equality under the law in every state in this country, we will keep fighting and moving history forward. We are committed to the work.”

Never one to back down from a fight in the legislature, Bell made a name for herself at the statehouse. She returns to Lambda Legal reinvigorated and motivated.

“I’ve been out since I was 13 years old,” she says. “I’m an issues person by nature and have always seen it as my responsibility to stand up for what’s righteous. … I stay committed to the work because it’s long-term work. No single established right is going to bring about full equality for our entire community, so we have to keep fighting if we want to win.”

But 2016 isn’t all work and no play for Lambda Legal. Take the January 30 event for example, Bell says.

“A Southern Love Affair is a reception for our Liberty Circle Members, as well as an opportunity to celebrate the work of our Atlanta team,” she notes. “The Atlanta Leadership Committee and local National Board Members are energized and committed to making sure we highlight Lambda Legal’s work and wins across the South.”

All in all, Lambda Legal is a beacon of hope ready to armor up and soldier on in the fight for justice, something Bell says the community needs to know.

“We often have to do our cases in silence in the South because of culture and lack of protections, but we’re not deterred,” she says. “We fight and we win.”

Want to go?
What: A Southern Love Affair
When: January 30, 6 p.m.
Where: National Center for Civil & Human Rights, 100 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd.
More: LambdaLegal.org/AtlantaLibertyCircle

By Michael Chisholm

This winter, brought to you by Actor’s Express, just down the street from the Georgia Aquarium, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” returns to Atlanta.

It’s the story of a desperately wronged barber and his murderous thirst for revenge after a lustful judge takes away his wife and daughter. This production of the gothic musical of the throat-slitting barber is reimagined through the insightful vision of director Freddie Ashley.

When asked why he chose to take on Sweeney Todd, Ashley said it was actually the title actor, Kevin Harry, who brought the idea to light. Harry, who played the same role in his youth, leads an ensemble cast in this new vision that departs from the usually monochromatic cast. He is one of the few African-American actors to tackle this iconic role.

Harry said that he enjoys exploring the character’s fall from grace and what creates this not-so-evil, rather misunderstood psychopath. He said he was “intimidated by the role at first” but he “respects the cult following the character has and only hopes to do it justice.”

Freddie said that Harry’s humble nature and strong talent made him a natural choice for the role. With Sweeney cast, Freddie then faced the task of bringing the world of Sweeney back to the stage.

It’s about staying relevant, exploring how a show relates to our lives as we are living in this moment in time,” said Ashley. Rather than directly control the exact flow of the musical, Ashley prefers to let the play speak for itself and flow organically.

He chose to stay true to the dialogue and music of the original and divert only slightly. Rather than sticking to the Victorian London setting, for example, the cast jumps forward a few decades in terms of the clothing, settling on a more Edwardian style. And the city itself takes on a more World War I feel in terms of a highly industrial setting.

Ashley was aware from the get go that the Actor’s Express was going to limit the size of the production. The production team adapted a smaller stage to make London feel grittier and claustrophobic, and to emphasize the fear of the unknown and possibility of ruin for the citizens.

Sweeney has a huge following, and anyone who loves the musical will enjoy this show,” said Ashley.

So if you’re feeling a little unkempt going into the new year, take a trip down to Actor’s Express for a quick shave. Sweeney’s waiting.

Want to go?

When? Jan. 23 – Feb. 28

Where? Actor’s Express, 887 West Marietta Street NW, Suite J-107, Atlanta, GA 30318

Tickets? www.actors-express.com

By J. Hancock

As the Big Peach drops and we roll into 2016, we all know what it’s time for: crowded gyms, rampant resolution posts on social media, and dreams of getting skinnier, richer, healthier and finally finding (or keeping) the perfect man.

Change isn’t easy. We all have busy lives, but how easy is it to make changes and stick to those pesky resolutions?

According to www.positivechange.com, 40 to 45% of American adults make one or more resolutions each year. The top New Year’s resolutions are: losing weight, exercising more, stopping smoking, managing finances, and reducing or eliminating debt. As for keeping the resolutions, only 71% of people make it past the first two weeks, and by the end of six months that number drops to 46%.

Should we even make resolutions?

Goal setting and visioning for the future is always a good mental exercise to engage in, and setting resolutions is no different,” said Josh Noblitt, Minister of Social Justice at Saint Mark United Methodist Church and candidate for Georgia House of Representatives, District 59.  “Though new goals can be established at any time, the beginning of the year is especially a good time because it represents a new start.  You can look back over the previous year, examine what worked and what didn’t work and learn from those successes and struggles.”

Goliath Atlanta is here to help you navigate the Resolution Highway. Here we offer some tools, tips, and expert advice to help you on your way.

Stay away from the haters, put down that dating app, fasten your seatbelts, and let’s go. Your journey awaits.

When it comes to fitness resolutions, we went to the experts to find out what it really takes to be successful. What gay man doesn’t want to have a great physique?

Fitness in general is something that you always have to work on, especially the older you get,” said fitness expert Andrew Johnson of Gravitee Fitness. “Find something you love and do it, whether it is a spin class, yoga, weight lifting or anything else you enjoy as long as you are active.  Fighting the mental game is where New Year’s resolutions fail. It’s important to tell yourself that you’re never too old to start. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, and do not get lost in fighting the scale.  The biggest of all issues for gym newbies not to be embarrassed to sweat or look silly.”

Goliath Atlanta: What’s your general opinion about making New Year’s resolutions? 

Making resolutions to improve some aspect of yourself is a great idea, but why does it have to happen on an exact date or time of the year? Resolutions, as they pertain to diet and exercise, take a tremendous amount of discipline, dedication and effort. The amount of time that goes into meal planning and exercise alone can be overwhelming; it’s no wonder that most people continue to push back doing this until the New Year. It sure isn’t easy or fun – especially trying to make multiple changes at the same time. Setting realistic goals and expectations is the best way to accomplish any resolution.

For example, rather than trying to make all your changes at once and expecting fast and unrealistic results, it would be much easier to create a timeline with well thought out points in time to make changes. On Jan. 1, I would make a commitment to do three days of weight training a week, and once you have done that for six weeks in a row, add another goal of incorporating some cardio into the routine.

Once both of those goals have happened for six weeks in a row, it would be a great time to start working on a diet. Too many people try to make too many changes at once and don’t realize how difficult it is to make major life changes, let alone multiple changes at one time.

Don’t wait. It doesn’t get any easier as time passes, and you’re likely to lose motivation the longer you wait. Start that resolution now, and make some improvements before the New Year. You’ll be much more likely to accomplish your goals by setting realistic expectations and making that commitment to change, one step at a time.

Aaron Pols, APCPT, Gravitee Fitness

GA: Why do people fail at their fitness-related New Year’s Resolutions?

Ever noticed how we always want to start our new, healthy lifestyles on Monday, on the first of the month, or at the beginning of a New Year? That’s because putting them off is a comfortable excuse, an “easy out,” and is actually why you’re in need of making a resolution in the first place. This procrastination, along with setting vague or unrealistic goals and not seeking expert help, is the biggest reason most people fall short of achieving their fitness expectations in the New Year.

First, in order to be successful with your resolutions, you must understand that a healthy lifestyle is a habit, and habits take time to form. Continuing to put off starting a gym regiment or diet program is just enforcing your old bad habits. Start your New Year’s resolution now.

Make it a yearlong resolution starting immediately, not a New Year’s resolution starting weeks, or even months, from now. And once you’ve formed good habits, maintain them year round.

Second, be realistic when setting your goals, and seek the help of a fitness professional in doing so. The quickest road to failure is to set a goal that is too lofty, failing to meet it, and quitting out of frustration.

For example, some people want to lose 20 pounds in a month, but they may only lose five. Obviously, they think it’s impossible to change, so they give up. Instead of this self-defeating approach, seek advice from a professional who can help you set smaller, achievable milestones along the road to your ultimate goal.

It’s recommended to lose one to two pounds a week in order to develop healthy habits and keep the weight off permanently, which means you may need to work consistently for two and a half to five months to drop 20 pounds.

As I tell my clients all the time, “You didn’t put on the weight (or lose the muscle) over night, so you’re not going to reverse it overnight.”

So no more waiting on the New Year to start the journey to a healthier, happier you. Seize the day, choose to be strong, and conquer those goals for good!

Rick Twombley

Rick Twombley Fitness, Gravitee Fitness

GA: Why do some people succeed at fitness goals while most do not?

The people who succeed are the people who just show up.  We fitness experts are there to guide you and help you make the right choices towards your fitness goals.  We understand that you’re exhausted from a long trying day, and the last thing you want to do is go to the gym; however, we also know that after you get done with your workout – whether that be 10 minutes or 30 minutes – you will walk out the front door feeling energized, relaxed, and accomplished knowing you are one step closer to your goals.  That feeling of accomplishment is what drives success, and I guarantee you’re going to leave with a smile.  You did it! You made that commitment to come into the gym.  You will succeed.

Michael Wido, Southeast Bodies CPT, Gravitee Fitness

GA: What is your advice – should people even make fitness-related resolutions?

Vowing to lose 20 pounds, tone your arms, and get yourself a six pack are great fitness resolutions for the New Year. It’s good to commit to being a better, healthier you.  The challenge is that people go in with the wrong intentions – looking for that quick fix. They over train, go on fad diets, and then crash and burn by February when they don’t see immediate results. 

Fitness resolutions stick only when you make a healthy lifestyle commitment.  That means skipping unrealistic goals like, “I’m going to lose ten pounds in a month” or  “I’m going to have arms like the Rock by March.” 

Instead, focus your energy on eating healthy, and make consistently good decisions about how you will take care of your body.  The best way to do this is to get help.  A good trainer will put you on the proper track to get fit responsibly, leading you on the way to do it correctly.  This includes not only exercise, but also nutritional modification and can lead to a major change that will happen gradually and become long lasting.

Cliff “Hollywood” Boyce Celebrity and Fitness Coach, Hollywood Fitness IFBB Pro, Gravitee Fitness

GA: If someone is not a “gym rat” but wants to get into shape for the New Year, why do you recommend the gym? Can’t it be done on your own?

If you’ve never really worked out, it can be very intimidating to sign up at a gym, but working out a gym has its advantages over working out at home.

You can absolutely get a great workout at home, but staying motivated can sometimes be difficult. Going to a gym gets you energized to work out by being surrounded by other members who are in the same boat as you.

Another advantage of the gym is that you will also have access to great trainers and staff who can teach you proper form and get you on a plan to reach your specific goal. Last but not least, if you like groups and working out with others, there is usually a class for everybody, from spinning and kickboxing to TRX and yoga. 

Just remember: everybody in that gym had a “first day.”  Remember to have fun. 

Henriette Steffensen

BetterBodies, Gravitee Fitness

Of course, fitness isn’t the only common resolution going into 2016. Another major resolution is improving finances. For some gay men that means buying fewer weekend cocktails or spending less on new clothes. For others it means getting a new job or an extra job. Sometimes it means getting rid of debt or and sticking to a budget. It’s no secret that as gay men we’ve been known to drive up uncontrollable amounts of debt.

This is not a game,” said author and financial expert Dave Ramsey. “Debt has become a part of who we are. It’s become that spoiled child in the grocery store with their lip stuck out: ‘I want it. I want it. I deserve it because I breathe air.’ And, well, that’s an uphill climb in our culture right now, to go against that and say, ‘Hey, let’s be grownups here. Let’s be mature, learn to delay pleasure, save up and pay for things.’”

For more information about Dave Ramsey, go to www.daveramsey.com.

Josh Noblitt, who is also a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice, has taught Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University classes and has some advice when it comes to making financial New Year’s resolutions.

GA: Why do people fail at their financial New Year’s resolutions?

Josh: There is a tendency to take on everything at once, or to establish unrealistic expectations for change.  For example, if I resolve to pay off all of my debt by the end of the next year, but I don’t have a clear plan on how to achieve that resolution, I am more likely to ditch it altogether after not seeing the progress I might want to see.  We live in an instant gratification culture right now, and it is easy to give up when we don’t see instant results. 

GA: Why do some people succeed?

Josh: Those who succeed in achieving their New Year’s Resolutions are often motivated not just by the arrival of a new year, but by additional motivating factors.  There was a time in my own life when I was not achieving the financial goals I set for myself.  I got tired of spinning my wheels over and over, so I took a financial class that offered help in coming up with a plan.  It broke the goal down into much more manageable pieces and thus I saw a lot more success. 

Whether or not you set New Year’s resolutions it up to you. Whatever your resolutions – fitness, finances, or something else – going into the New Year with a plan is smart.

I encourage everyone to have at least once resolution for the coming year,” said Noblitt.  “It gives you something to look forward to.  Manage expectations on the front end and pick resolutions that are realistic.  Come up with two to three specific and achievable resolutions with a clear plan and specific deliverables.  Share your resolution with another person and invite them to be an accountability partner to help you stay motivated and focused.  It is much easier to ditch the resolutions if nobody else but you knows.  Celebrate small victories along the way.”

 

 

 

By Hyde Walker

The Center for Civil and Human Rights is a highly appropriate milestone in itself, reminding its visitors to “Look how far we’ve come!” within the LGBT and Civil Rights Movements.

The center uniquely and boldly connects historic freedom movements and iconic individuals, as well as everyday people, with human rights issues of today, thus sparking ongoing dialogue around the possibilities of the future,” said CEO Doug Shipman.

The United States isn’t perfect. Although we have come a long way, some statistics are grim. For example, LGBT people of color face higher unemployment rates than other LGBT races, while 28% of Latino transgender people and 34% of black transgender people are in poverty.

Those working for freedom today use the Civil Rights Movement as a roadmap and look to Atlanta and the South as an example of past and ongoing efforts for equality – a place with a rich civil and human rights heritage,” said Ryan Roemerman, Interim Executive Director at the LGBT Institute, shedding light on the uniqueness of a difficult history that can only be found in the South.

The story [of human and civil rights] would not be complete without discussion of the ongoing struggle for LGBT rights, and that is why The LGBT Institute is an integral part of the Center’s global civil and human rights platform.”

But therein lies the stark beauty and necessity of the CCHR. It stands as an effective and powerful representation of both the dark adversities and epic triumphs that are conjoined with all mankind.

The Center opened in the summer of 2014. Located in downtown’s Pemberton Place next to attraction magnets World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium, the Center was the combined innovation of civil rights legends Evelyn Lowery and Andrew Young, and it required significant assistance. The Coca-Cola Company donated the land, and there was widespread support from community and corporate folks alike. The Center is now proudly open daily and presents remarkable gallery displays that touch on various social injustices still plaguing the 21st century as well as the histories behind them.

Some of those displays include: Forward Together – Atlanta’s personal LGBT history since the groundbreaking New York City Stonewall Inn riots in 1969; Rolls Down Like Water – the triumphant battle for equality with the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s that challenged Jim Crow laws; and Voice to the Voiceless – personal papers and items of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., courtesy of the Morehouse College MLK collection.

Much of the Center is interactive with technology that enables visitors to understand and connect with the complexities of human rights around the world. Want to go? MLK Day is right around the corner and a great time to go. For a nominal fee of $15, you can freely roam the Center and immerse yourself in all the journeys that have led us here to a highly flawed past yet sublimely hopeful future.

For more info and to purchase tickets online, go to www.civilandhumanrights.org.

What are you doing New Year’s Eve? That’s a question on everyone’s mind this time of year.

You could stay in and go to bed early, but what fun is that?

You could stay home and have a gay old time with your guy while enjoying cocktails, treats, and Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin.

You could go to your choice of numerous house parties. You could hit the clubs. You could even go to a Widespread Panic or Atlanta Symphony concert.

Here are a few more Best Bet options to consider if you’re looking for something different to do to help you get your Auld Lang Syne on.

Happy New Year!

First Annual Peachtree Gala

Joonbug.com presents this lavish event at the magnificent 200 Peachtree historic building. Ultra-glamorous, ultra-chic, and semi-formal/black tie optional.

With a 6-hour open bar, the party also includes live DJ performances, exclusive VIP areas, a gourmet food buffet, party favors, and a midnight champagne toast, naturally. Other live entertainment includes feather greeters, a contortionist, burlesque performers, and stilt walkers!

Revel in opulence at this exclusive, memorable party. Tickets start at $89. For more details and to reserve your tickets, go to www.newyears.com and click on Atlanta.

Bar Margot at Four Seasons

The party starts at 9:00 p.m. at the very classy, quaint Bar Margot located inside Four Seasons Midtown.

For $85 per person you can dance the night away with endless champagne, live music, and complimentary desserts all night.

Four Seasons is located in Midtown at 75 Fourteenth Street NE. For more details, call (404) 881-9898.

Decay Decadence

WUSSY Magazine and THNKU present “a bittersweet New Year’s Eve of splendor, desire, joy, and rage, culminating in pop-up performances, installations, a dance party, and more.”

Hosted by Kryean Kally and Brigitte Bidet, this 21+ party starts at 10:00 p.m. and goes until 1:00 a.m. Music by Robert Ansley and King Atlas. Admission is $10.

Head over to the “Big House” on Ponce, 368 Ponce, an arts center, venue, and cultural hub at an historic mansion in Midtown. 368 Ponce are “lovers of the eccentric, unusual, and extraordinary.”

Photo by ReedDavisPhotography.com

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

Listen to Deven read these questions and answers here:

 

Dear Deven: I can’t stop eating! Help!  “Mouthy in Montessori”

Deven: The first Thanksgiving lasted four days. Since I consider your mouth a vacuum, you are simply upholding tradition. Give your mouth some boundaries or have the fun challenge of losing five unwanted pounds.

Dear Deven: I fly home for the holidays but don’t have much to talk to my family about so there are long periods of silence. What am I to do?

“Hushed in Hannibal”

Deven: Ask your relatives questions because everyone LOVES to talk about themselves, and it emits a facade that you care. Invite local friends to the table so you have an alliance; or go straight to the kids’ table! You will look like a hero keeping the youth entertained.

Dear Deven: I don’t have much money and would like to bring something to the suppers I am invited to. Suggestions?

“Cashless in Calhoun”

Deven: It’s rude to show up empty handed. Your hosts care about the SPIRIT of your offering. Bring Jell-O ($1) in a fancy mold ($1.50). String ($1) some maize ($4) into a bundle. Write a thoughtful and thankful note (free) for your host.

Dear Deven: I receive dolls for gifts because I have a huge doll collection. How do I introduce my new guy to this part of me? “Raggedy in Richmond”

Deven: One at a time.

Dear Deven: I find it’s hard to make friends with men without them immediately wanting a long-term relationship or a quick fling. What’s a guy to do?

“Oblivious in Ohio”

I suggest you do them all since you never know how long this winning streak will last. Dear, you don’t really want a relationship since you are the one who is unavailable to them. Spray a different type pheromone to attract a different type of man, and then go home by yourself. I will see you in the friend zone.

Dear Deven: I want my friends to pool their money together so I get what I specifically want for Christmas. How do I broach that subject?

“Necessary in Norwood”

Deven: You aren’t high maintenance at all! I rounded up all your friends, and we decided to give you a photograph with all of us together. That visual memory is the best gift for someone who is as ungrateful as you are. Now, smarten up. Take what you are given. Say, “Thank You,” and re-gift it like everyone else.

Dear Deven: I’m down emotionally this time of year. How do I get out of this hole? “Sighing in Cincinnati”

Deven: I’m not a parent, doctor, or therapist, but, as your friend, I want you to know that you are not alone. Take my hand and listen: Extend yourself to others by writing an actual letter, helping in a soup kitchen, petting animals, reading to seniors, or anything to take the focus off of yourself. Most importantly, go see comedy in any form (online or real life) – it will always connect you with others.

Dear Readers, I care about each and every one of you. I have your answers,

give me your questions: DevenGreen@gmail.com

PS: Would you like me to read this to you? Go to GoliathAtlanta.com and listen!

By Chris Brennaman 

One of the most magical parts of childhood for many kids is waking up on Christmas morning and rushing to see exactly what Santa left under the tree. But for a large percentage of Atlanta’s children living under the poverty line, Christmas morning is often nothing but disappointment.

However, Atlanta nonprofit For the Kid in All of Us does it’s best each year to curb that disappointment. They are at it again this year with the 13th Annual Toy Party and Silent Auction.

Set for Saturday, Dec. 12 at Americas Mart Building 3, The Toy Party has become one of the most anticipated annual holiday parties in the city. For the Kid in All of Us marketing committee chair Tray Butler even goes as far as saying The Toy Party is “the place to see and be seen.”

It’s a holiday party that has something for everybody,” said Butler. “It has it all – giving back, mixing, mingling, flirting and dancing.”

The Toy Party’s roots go back to 2003 when a group of Atlanta friends, including 6th District Atlanta City Councilman Alex Wan, set out to impact their community in a positive way. What started as a small gathering, though, has evolved into a can’t-miss event annual for thousands of people.

And it’s done quite a bit of good in the process. For the Kid in All of Us partners with multiple agencies and nonprofit groups that work to benefit Atlanta’s at-risk children. For this year’s Toy Party organizers are working with 18 agencies and, since 2003, the organization has collected and donated over 44,000 toys.

Still, organizers are hoping this year attracts more attendees than it has in years past. That’s because, according to Butler, the need for what The Toy Party does is greater than ever, with requests for toys in 2015 exceeding 15,000.

That’s more than double what we normally collect,” said Butler. “It’s alarming that there are that many children in need in Atlanta, and that’s only the children we’re aware of.”

So what brings so many people out to The Toy Party, considering December is a time of year rife with conflicting events?

For our segment of the community, this is the event of December,” said Butler. “There’s no other place you’re going to see an incredible cross section of Atlanta. You’re going to rub elbows with people you may not have seen in years. In a lot of ways, The Toy Party is like a family reunion.”

For the Kid in All of Us president Brian Isbell agrees.

This is one of the only events in the Atlanta LGBT community that everyone gets dressed up to attend,” said Isbell. “It’s like the main holiday party in the gay community. For a lot of people, it kicks off the holiday spirit.”

In addition to collecting toys, The Toy Party also raises funds via VIP tickets sales and a silent auction. Isbell said the silent auction can raise anywhere between $40,000 and $70,000.

And that VIP room? This year it’s hosted by the cast of The Other Show.

But we have some surprise entertainment for general admission, too,” Isbell said.

What: The Toy Party

When: 6:30-11:30 p.m. Saturday, December 12

Where: Americas Mart Building 3, 250 Spring St., Atlanta, GA 30303

General Admission: $5 per person plus an unwrapped toy or gift card with a value of $20 or more.

VIP Experience: $250 per person plus an unwrapped toy or gift card with a value of $20 or more.

Website: http://forthekid.org/

 

 

 

 

By Stefano Patton

Frosty the Snowman has become an atheist. It isn’t clear why yet.

Perhaps he views religion as misogynistic and is secretly a feminist. Or he could possibly be gay (that would surely explain why he has been in so many musicals over the decades), and he has denounced religions for their prejudice and hatred of same gender loving fictional characters.

Again, it has not been made clear yet, but if you visit The Woodruff Art Center’s Alliance Theatre Nov. 27 – Dec. 19, you’ll most likely find out the answer as if you see the Dad’s Garage production, Merry %#!*ing Christmas.

If you’ve enjoyed the plethora of anti-hero protagonist television themes television has been leaning towards lately (e.g. Dexter, Orange is the New Black), you’ll enjoy this anti-holiday production. The holidays are primarily a time for family, but the Alliance is pleased to offer this profanity-filled, adult, crude, humor-packed production as they strive to make programming as inclusive as possible.

As Alliance offers the Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol, on the mainstage, Manager of Communications Kathleen Covington said this alternative production is for, “audiences who don’t particularly enjoy the holidays, or enjoy mocking them.”

To understand the vision, concept, and execution of Merry %#!*ing Christmas better, Director and Co-Playwright Kevin Gillese granted Goliath Atlanta an interview:

Goliath Atlanta: Please, tell me a little about the main characters. Why did you choose to re-introduce Ebenezer Scrooge to the public that is already familiar with him?

Kevin: We really wanted to take Scrooge and put him in a ‘fish out of water’ context. We also relished the idea of giving him a similar journey only in a completely foreign set of circumstances.

GA: The disclaimer for production is ‘recommended for ages 18 and up,’ due to profanity and adult humor, and I’ve also read one of the outside conflicts of the play is consumerism and global warming. Do you mean to send a particular message to patrons?

Kevin: Well, our first goal always is to make people laugh. That’s it. Doesn’t matter how we do it, that’s what we want. But we also want to present a worldview that we agree with, so there are definitely politically and socially conscious themes at play. We believe that while Christmas has many wonderful qualities, there are also some aspects of it that are worthy of criticism.

GA: What is your favorite part of this production?

Kevin: The songs. They’re great. Co-Playwright Arlen Konopaki and I started out as improv performers. We had a two-man show that we toured for years. That’s where our creative relationship is based, and that’s the source of a lot of our content. But neither of us are singers, so now that we’re writing shows and we can hire folks that can really sing, it’s so amazing to have a character burst out into song out of nowhere.

GA: What will catch patrons off guard the most while watching this production?

Kevin: Some folks might be shocked by the language (plenty of f-bombs), and some might just be shocked by the violence (many characters die bloody deaths).

GA: One of the phrases that interested me most when reading a description of this play was “split second character changes.” Could you describe what this means?

Kevin: Well, in SCRATCH, the improv show that Arlen and I base all of our scripts off of, it had always been just the two of us playing all the characters, so we created a mechanic whereby if we ever spun, it meant we were switching to another character. Now that we’re writing for full casts, we still create stories that call for many, many characters, far more than we could ever cast with individual actors, so we employ the same convention and have our actors spin in and out of characters throughout the show.

GA: Is there anything else you’d like Goliath readers to know?

Kevin: Arlen and I also just created a web series called Hart of America (www.hartofamerica.com), and it’s very much in our voice and style, so if folks enjoy that series they will definitely enjoy Merry %#!*ing Christmas at The Alliance. On the flip side, if you don’t like Hart of America, I’m fairly certain you won’t like this show.

Want to go? Visit alliancetheatre.org or go to the box office at Alliance at 1280 Peachtree Street NE to purchase a ticket (box office hours available on the website).

 

photo of Deven by ReedDavisPhotography.com

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

Listen to Deven’s Q&A here:

 

Dear Deven: I just don’t look good in the new Fall fashions.  “Verklempt in Versace”

I disagree. Very few people can carry off ostentatious as seamlessly as you can. If you get called out on it, just reply: “Fall? I am wearing Spring, for I always dress several seasons ahead. You should too!” Remember, the best fashion is a face full of fashion.

Dear Deven: I am a bit shy in social gatherings. Any advice on how to get over my anxiety? “Anonymous”

Two words: Vintage Banter. Memorize classic lines from seminal TV shows and films so you can quote them by heart. You will instantly connect with any group mostly because you are not talking about yourself but simply revealing what great taste you have. Trust me, I quote myself all the time!

Dear Deven: Help! My friends have started treating me differently after I said I didn’t like pumpkin!! “Peter Peter in Poughkeepsie”

They are “pumpkin shaming” you, dear. Next time, keep your piehole closed until the season finishes and eggnog shaming begins.

Dear Deven: My boyfriend cheated on me. What do I do? “Faithful in Fresno”

Shocking! People are loyal until they are not. Look after your own loyalty. The door is now open for you to consider other prospects and/or benefactors to ensure that you have some place to go this holiday season.

Dear Deven: I have friends that revel in seasonal home décor. I hate it. How do I feign interest? “Going Baroque in Barstow”

I’m sure you have faked it before. Interject with these types of words whenever there is a pause in conversation:
“Rococo,” “Mid-Century Modern,” “matchy-matchy,” “chaise-lounge,” “stool,” and “minimal” (which is the new “basic”).

Dear Deven: I am feeling puffy. What should I do? “Frumpy in Florida”

I just came back from performing at the Gay Naturists – yes, everyone was male and nude (except me). Your body image is only under a magnifying glass by you. No one else really cares because they are too busy looking in their own mirror. Get a better mirror.

Have a question for Deven? Send her your questions: DevenGreen@gmail.com. Be sure to reference Goliath Atlanta in your message.
 

By J. Hancock

Being labeled a gay man isn’t as big a deal as it used to be.  At least that’s the way it seems on TV, in movies, on the radio, and in social media. It definitely depends on where you live.

Being “openly” gay in the past was not easy for most gay men. Many suffered in silence. In Showtime’s “Masters of Sex,” which chronicles and fictionalizes the lives of doctors Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson and their famous sex studies in the late 1950s and 1960s, actor Beau Bridges portrays Dr. Barton Scully, an older, mature, sophisticated university provost who struggles with being gay and is very much in the closet.  After hiding his sexual affairs with younger men and attempting barbaric self-inflicted medical “treatment” to “cure” himself, he and his wife, played brilliantly by actress Allison Janney, get a long overdue divorce. While Barton continues to live his new life as a single older gay man, he takes great lengths to continue not letting the world know he is gay.

Being in the closet, scared to come out, was pretty standard in the 1950s.  There is still much work to be done, but thanks to heroic efforts made in the gay community as far back as the Stonewall riots, we now have more acceptance overall. We also now see a plethora of gay TV and movie characters, some who are stereotypical but many who are realistic. We also see more openly gay actors, doctors, teachers, church pastors, and even political leaders.

In 2012, President Obama made U.S. history when he told ABC News, “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

Now that’s progress.

CHALLENGES TODAY

Atanta Magazine reported in its October 2015 issues that there are 270,000 adults in Georgia who identify as LGBT and there are only five states, including Georgia, without a hate crimes law.

Theron Clark-Stuart and David Clark are two modern gay Atlanta men.  They both work in the medical field. Theron is Senior Research Project Coordinator for Emory University School of Medicine and School of Public Health. His focus is primarily on HIV prevention. David, a retail pharmacist, is also a frequent lecturer for nursing students, other medical professionals and the community at large on HIV Treatment.

Theron and David met via their participation in the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus and were married in their home church, First Baptist Church of Decatur, on Sept. 19, 2015. Theron acknowledges what it meant for David and him when the Supreme Court ruled this past June in favor of legalizing gay marriage.

“Legally, professionally, academically, socially and spiritually, we’ve never faced a lot of challenges,” said Theron. “We each had our struggles in our coming out years. Most of that was with family members who needed time to sort out what our orientation meant to them. I was hurt very deeply by my family when I came out in 2000. I look back at it and I see God growing me for a higher purpose . . . to be the man He made me to be.”

Theron also said “being gay” isn’t really an issue in Atlanta.

“We’re not on the ‘A List’ of gay men in Atlanta, and that is fine,” he said. “We believe that most gay men and women lead very average, quiet, productive and fulfilling lives without a lot of fanfare. We don’t need our own parade to feel validated. We let our day-to-day lives speak for who we are and what we believe.”

Terry Hackworth is an adult nurse practitioner specializing in LGBT health and HIV in the Atlanta area.

“All cities have their challenges, and Atlanta is not immune,” said Hackworth.  “I think most times the challenging aspect comes from those that are different from the stereotype.”

Paul Wolski, design director vice president for a retail strategy and store design firm, said being a professional gay man in Atlanta really has been a non-issue.

“I’ve been afforded great opportunities to grow and even change careers based solely on my merits and contributions,” said Wolski. “In my experience, Atlanta has proven to be a city of acceptance and possibility. I’ve been fortunate to work with many Atlanta gay business owners, entrepreneurs and charity organizers over the last 19 years, which speaks strongly to the level of support and open expression that the city offers.”

Journalist and strategist Kyle Collins said his life has changed quite a bit since he moved to Atlanta over a decade ago.

“I think the biggest challenges ar being who I am now, being open to enjoying things that I may not have found so much fun in the past, and finding some new experiences and not being jaded with a ‘been there, done that’ lazy attitude,” said Collins. “It’s okay to get older, and wiser, and quieter. I don’t have to prance around to parties with some kind of facade of fabulousness. Maybe that was a part of my experience back in the day, but so were sequin scarves, and those, now, are not, thank God. [I enjoy] just being happy and comfortable in my own skin and working on projects that are fun, interesting, and useful to people. That’s my main order of the day.”

FUN TIMES AHEAD

So what do Atlanta’s modern gay men do in their leisure time?  Where do they spend their money?

Theron said, “My husband and I are active in our church. I’m a deacon, teacher, and greeter. David plays the trombone in the praise and worship band for the early church service. We enjoy time with our children, in-laws, nieces and nephews and friends of a life time. We love giving back to the community via the numerous service opportunities that our church provides. We are also involved in DREAM Dachshund Rescue. We enjoy working out, cooking, having friends over for dinner, trying new restaurants, and going to live theater and movies.

While some of Atlanta’s modern gay men enjoy the bar scene, others enjoy the variety of cultural activities the city has to offer.

“In my spare time, I am very active in the gay bowling leagues and the Dixie Bowling organization,” said Hackworth. “I also enjoy traveling, spending time with family, friends and exploring new restaurants around town.”

In a city as large and diverse as Atlanta, there is something for everyone, and some modern gay men enjoy a variety of entertainment including but not limited to the bars.

“I do wish there were more venues and events for socializing, more low-key things to do, rather than the bar scene,” said Collins. “It’s a common complaint, I know. Maybe I’m not being creative enough in looking or creating something fun to get into. I love just knocking around the city, milling around a neighborhood I haven’t been to in a while, just getting ‘lost’ and trying to experience the city with fresh eyes. There’s always something fun and new to see or discover, but I find I have to look at it that way. Otherwise, I tend to get too routine about where I go and what I do.”

Having a hobby and spending time with friends is also always an option.

“I keep things pretty simple, like working on my art,” said Wolski. “I love dining out, catching up with friends and binge-watching multi-season marathons on the weekends. And a few times a year I perform in an ensemble comedy troupe, which is great fun. Atlanta has so many rich and diverse experiences to offer. It inspires me to stay connected to what’s going on culturally and artistically, and it challenges me to rediscover a city that is constantly changing and evolving.”

In “Masters of Sex” Barton Scully represents a gay man living in a very out-of-date, uninformed, non-accepting world. In one scene, while having drinks with another gay man of interest in a very straight bar, an openly gay couple sitting nearby is antagonized and eventually assaulted as they try their best to stand up for themselves.  Barton, meanwhile, skulks out of the bar, allowing his date to get beaten up.  By the last episode of season three, Barton begins to take risks that could further fuel the fire of his colleagues who suspect he is gay. He begins to realize life is indeed too short not to appreciate and be with the ones we love.

Being a modern gay man in Atlanta is a privilege without a doubt. It may never be legal or culturally acceptable in many countries.  As laws change and society continues to adjust, the Kim Davises, Michelle Bachmanns, and Westboro Baptist Churches will still be around. Hopefully, the rest of the world will get on board and just let people, gay and straight, live their true lives. The modern gay man is here to stay.

By Chris Brennaman

Get your broomsticks ready! Start your cauldrons boiling! Make sure you’re all stocked up on eye of newt and toe of frog!

But most important, get ready to party because the 16th annual Jerusalem House Halloween Bash and Costume Party is set for Saturday, Oct. 24 at the  W Atlanta in Midtown.

Jerusalem House is Atlanta’s oldest and largest provider of permanent housing for low-income and homeless individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS, and over the years, its annual Halloween party has become one of the city’s signature fundraising events.

“[It’s] our biggest and most successful fundraiser we host each year,” said Charlie Frew, executive director of Jerusalem House.

Janet Kibler, the treasurer for Jerusalem House’s board of directors, estimates that somewhere between 300 and 400 people will turn out to get their “Hocus Pocus” on. Sure, those attendees will be looking to help with a good cause, but they’ll also be keenly aware that this isn’t some stodgy, run-of-the-mill fundraiser.

“Ours is for people who want to have a good time and who like to party,” said Kibler.

While there are different ticket price tiers, a general admission ticket gets into the event and covers food and drinks. And in addition to plenty of food, flowing drinks and bumpin’ music, partiers will get the chance to hob-knob with local names like WSBTV’s Jovita Moore, Fox 5’s John Gidding and 97.1 The River’s Kaedy Kiely.

All big draws for certain, but, the biggest draw may actually be the partygoers themselves.

“It’s mind blowing to see just how creative people get with their costumes,” Kibler said. “It’s one of the things that makes this so much fun.”

The costume contest and parade inspire people to get pretty creative. It also sees them get pretty competitive. That’s because they’re vying for the cash and prizes, and this year all that’s valued at over $3,000.

“We’ve had people dressed like they were on the Titanic,” Kibler said. “Another time we had a group dressed like the single ladies from the Beyoncé video. They even had a dance routine.”

This year, she’s predicting more than a few GOP candidates “represented” at the party. But lest anyone forget, the event is a fundraiser, and according to Kibler, this year’s faux-Donald Trumps are expected to help raise between $45,000 and $50,000.

That said, raising money isn’t the only goal of Jerusalem House’s annual Halloween fund raising events. In fact, Jeff Perkins, president of Jerusalem House’s board of directors, said there are things more important than even money.

“This is a chance to maintain awareness as much as it is about making money,” Perkins said. “If we break even, that’s OK because the awareness it creates is important. When you look at the cross section of the community that comes out and the numbers that put effort into costumes, you realize how special this event is.”

Jerusalem House’s “Hocus Pocus,” The 16 Annual Halloween Bash and Costume Contest

The W Atlanta- Midtown

Saturday, October 24th

7 P.M.- 12 A.M.

General Admission – $65 per person through Friday, Oct. 23, $75 per person at the door

Premier Admission $150 per person

For more information visit www.jerusalemhouse.org/tickets

JerusalemHouse_Web_2

By Michael Chisholm

“If you have an idea and you find your passion in it, don’t wait for tomorrow, said David Bachman, founder of Neck Candy Tie Company. “Do it today and fulfill your fantasy.”

Before his passing in 2012, Bachman’s grandfather, Donald, bequeathed him a collection of his ties. Honoring his grandfather’s memory and style, Bachman wore a 1975 Johnny Carson necktie out one evening and received a multitude of compliments on his “neck candy.”

He then went out one Saturday and bought several hundred dollars’ worth of fabric and materials. After six hours of work, the “Orange Crush Candy Tie” was born out of an elegant paisley cotton fabric. In the heart of his Atlanta home, David Bachman founded the online store, Neck Candy Tie Company, in 2014 after obtaining his business license.

Bachman, 26, noticed the lack of options and vibrant accessories for gay and straight men in major stores. He believes as a gay man he possesses an overall enhanced eye for fashion that “allows me to pay more attention to even the smallest details in the tie, from the fabric to the design.”

He said he stands by his craft despite the hate that still exists in the South.  “My ties are like the men I make them for,” said Bachman. “Gay men like to stand out and be seen. We go against the flow.”

Proud of his business and patrons in the gay community of Atlanta, Bachman said he wants to see them grow along with his company by expanding and employing like-minded people who have a desire to promote equality and individuality.

Bachman said he prefers the classical necktie over a bowtie. He employs a “wear before sell” mentality when picking designs, meaning customers only wear ties that he has worn and observed how sweet onlookers found it.

Neck Candy Tie products are all hand-sewn and can be embroidered as birthday and wedding gifts for groomsmen. Bachman primarily utilizes cotton fabric for his designs. Paisley remains popular, but along with it are designs featuring college and professional football teams, superheroes and patriotic imagery. He even designed a special rainbow tie in honor of Pride Atlanta.

Bachman’s ties have caught candy craving eyes all over Atlanta, including Mayor Kasim Reed, to whom a tie was presented and dedicated to creating more awareness of breast cancer. Mayor Reed tweeted, “@neckcandyties Thanks for the terrific tie promoting #BreastCancerAwareness month & huge congrats on launching your new business in Atlanta.”

Bachman’s ties and passion for creation have given him strength to find his voice. When the Religious Liberty Bill, or the so-called “Refuse to Serve” bill, loomed over Georgia following the historical same-sex marriage ruling, Bachman spoke at the State Capitol opposition rally. As both a business owner and member of the LGBT community, he is able to project that voice.

Bachman has sold ties to customers from Cincinnati to New York City to Los Angeles. Beyond U.S. borders, he has had customers from as far away as the United Kingdom and Brazil. With such a spark in interest for his candy shop goodies, Bachman is hoping to incorporate a larger team to design and create more. Investors have approached Bachman in hopes of partnering, but he grown his company independently while surveying options with potential investors.

Until he breaks ground on a boutique, Bachman is stocked to the brim with an extensive selection of ties in his digital candy shop. They can be purchased at www.neckcandyties.com with many on display on Neck Candy Tie’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.

TieGuy_InsetKeep an eye out throughout the city; you may find a sweet treat sneaking into local stores this Christmas. Custom ties range from $39.95 to $46.95 with a minimum order of three ties per design, but you can purchase his “Complete Candy Stash,” nine beautiful handmade neckties, for $275. Ties from the candy shop ship within one to two business days while the customized ties take seven to 14 business days and can be requested through his website or Facebook.

“If you don’t like compliments and conversation, please do not wear my neckties,” said Bachman.

 

 

 

 

 

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