Sunday, June 26, 2016

Lander Pride

Let's be clear. Lander's pride and joy is 4th of July. That said, our small town of 7,000 in Wyoming also rocks PRIDE. As in, we come out in (relative) droves to celebrate and love on our courageous, queer community in June.

We've been lucky enough to pull off a Pride Picnic in City Park for three years running now. Each year we reach out to the sheriff's office, local churches, and community leaders to make sure they've got our back and then we commence to rally --large and in charge-- with croquet matches, fashion shows, bike gangs, AIDS testing, grillables and the like. 

Truth is I have missed it each and every year until now. So when I say "we", I mean so many people I love. I am glad to have finally become a contributing member of the "we" this year. 

We decided to launch a film festival to build momentum towards June 26th...

Our local movie theater tends to show shabby films for long stretches of time, so it's the internet or bust in these parts when it comes to movies-- which effectively rules out most new releases. In other words, coming together to share a cinematic experience is something special in Lander. 

We determined pretty quickly that we wanted the following line-up:

First off, a visual feast of a film about a real life transgender pioneer in Scandinavia. Sumptuous. High profile. Focus Films wouldn't give us the time of day as we tried to secure screening rights. Then we reached out to my wonderful cousin who is a casting director in Hollywood and she called her wonderful friend who helped produce the film and in five minutes flat we had the wonderful film, The Danish Girl, inbound with no strings attached. SAY WHAT?! That is some powerful Pride juju in action. 

Second, a festive and fun movie about how the LGBTQ community in London supported striking Welsh miners in the 1990s. Wild to see a historical example of how a culture clash was transformed through love and courage into a potent force for positive change. Relevant for our landscape of gas fields and gays here in Wyoming. 

And last but not least, a sweet and tender love story about teenagers in São Paulo, one of whom is blind. Who can resist a well told coming of age story? Not I. We couldn't afford the screening rights to this film, even with the discount the studio gave us, and the library couldn't cover them either given recent budget cuts. It looked like it was going to fall through and then someone stepped up, not asking for any recognition, and gifted our community access to this film. Out of the blue. Just like that. SAY WHAT?! Magic abounds. 

The process of mounting the Gay Ray Film Festival was a series of moments like these where it appeared we were tanking and then rescue appeared in the form of generous, like-minded individuals. The obstacle of designing posters appeared insurmountable. Then a brother of a friend in some far off city burned the midnight oil to create our lure. At the eleventh hour, I found out I couldn't attend two out of the three screenings. Friends stepped in with grace and humor to welcome folks to the theater in my absence.

We said we wouldn't do the film festival if it wasn't fun and easy. We promised to aim off perfection and strive for good enough. We said that if we could bring one person through the door who was touched by these films, it was all worthwhile. 

A gentleman from a reservation to the north was passing through town and dropped in for The Danish Girl. His family includes a transgender sibling and other assorted queer folk. He stayed and talked after the film, over popcorn and through tears. 

More magic added to the heaping pile of magic that the Gay Ray Film Festival seemed to attract. Perhaps the most important magic.  

Saturday, June 25, 2016


Two Jewess kweens... 

a dapper ass latino queer + one sexy sensitive peeno noir dentist

+ some spot on awkwardness + let's face it, a lot of vaporizing + no-fear, throwback, style-maven duds

a slew of genius NYC montages + literal LOLs galore a dog named Judith Light

= white hot therapy for my heart and soul in the form of three seasons worth of hearty, hearty binge watching. 

You do the math. Any way you slice it: "In da clurb, we all fam." 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

In Praise Of Latin Night At The Queer Club

If you’re lucky, they’ll play some Latin cheese, that Aventura song from 15 years ago. If you’re lucky, there will be drag queens and, if so, almost certainly they will be quick, razor-sharp with their humor, giving you the kind of performances that cut and heal all at once. If you’re lucky, there will be go-go boys, every shade of brown.
Maybe your Ma blessed you on the way out the door. Maybe she wrapped a plate for you in the fridge so you don’t come home and mess up her kitchen with your hunger. Maybe your Tia dropped you off, gave you cab money home. Maybe you had to get a sitter. Maybe you’ve yet to come out to your family at all, or maybe your family kicked you out years ago. Forget it, you survived. Maybe your boo stayed home, wasn’t feeling it, but is blowing up your phone with sweet texts, trying to make sure you don’t stray. Maybe you’re allowed to stray. Maybe you’re flush, maybe you’re broke as nothing, and angling your pretty face barside, hoping someone might buy you a drink. Maybe your half-Latin-ass doesn’t even speak Spanish; maybe you barely speak English. Maybe you’re undocumented.
Outside, there’s a world that politicizes every aspect of your identity. There are preachers, of multiple faiths, mostly self-identified Christians, condemning you to hell. Outside, they call you an abomination. Outside, there is a news media that acts as if there are two sides to a debate over trans people using public bathrooms. Outside, there is a presidential candidate who has built a platform on erecting a wall between the United States and Mexico — and not only do people believe that crap is possible, they believe it is necessary. Outside, Puerto Rico is still a colony, being allowed to drown in debt, to suffer, without the right to file for bankruptcy, to protect itself. Outside, there are more that 100 bills targeting you, your choices, your people, pending in various states.
You have known violence. You have known violence. You are queer and you are brown and you have known violence. You have known a masculinity, a machismo, stupid with its own fragility. You learned basic queer safety, you have learned to scan, casually, quickly, before any public display of affection. Outside, the world can be murderous to you and your kind. Lord knows.
But inside, it is loud and sexy and on. If you’re lucky, it’s a mixed crowd, muscle Marys and bois and femme fags and butch dykes and genderqueers. If you’re lucky, no one is wearing much clothing, and the dance floor is full. If you’re lucky, they’re playing reggaeton, salsa, and you can move.
People talk about liberation as if it’s some kind of permanent state, as if you get liberated and that’s it, you get some rights and that’s it, you get some acknowledgment and that’s it, happy now? But you’re going back down into the muck of it every day; this world constricts. You know what the opposite of Latin Night at the Queer Club is? Another Day in Straight White America. So when you walk into the club, if you’re lucky, it feels expansive. “Safe space” is a cliche, overused and exhausted in our discourse, but the fact remains that a sense of safety transforms the body, transforms the spirit. So many of us walk through the world without it. So when you walk through the door and it’s a salsa beat, and brown bodies, queer bodies, all writhing in some fake smoke and strobing lights, no matter how cool, how detached, how over-it you think you are, Latin Night at the Queer Club breaks your cool. You can’t help but smile, this is for you, for us.
Outside, tomorrow, hangovers, regrets, the grind. Outside, tomorrow, the struggle to effect change. But inside, tonight, none of that matters. Inside, tonight, the only imperative is to love. Lap the bar, out for a smoke, back inside, the ammonia and sweat and the floor slightly tacky, another drink, the imperative is to get loose, get down, find religion, lose it, find your hips locked into another’s, break, dance on your own for a while — but you didn’t come here to be a nun — find your lips pressed against another’s, break, find your friends, dance. The only imperative is to be transformed, transfigured in the disco light. To lighten, loosen, see yourself reflected in the beauty of others. You didn’t come here to be a martyr, you came to live, papi. To live, mamacita. To live, hijos. To live, mariposas.
The media will spin the conversation away from homegrown homophobic terrorism to a general United States vs. Islamist narrative. Mendacious, audacious politicians — Republicans who vote against queer rights, against gun control — will seize on this massacre, twist it for support of their agendas.
But for a moment, I want to talk about the sacredness of Latin Night at the Queer Club. Amid all the noise, I want to close my eyes and see you all there, dancing, inviolable, free.
by Justin Torres in memory of those slain in Orlando

Friday, June 17, 2016

If X Were Your Y

Rumor has it that The Toast is going under. If that's true, we've got to keep this afloat:

If Oscar Isaac Were Your Boyfriend and other articles in the same series by Sulagna Misra (I wondered if this was an amazing pen name-- nope, it's an amazing REAL name!). 

Start reading her piece on Oscar and I dare you to look away. You can't. I can't. Her writing is inspired and her points, supremely valid.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


Photographs by Julien Mauve.