I AM...

I am whatever YOU think I am until YOU get to KNOW me. This is true for everyone else too, of course.. so don't make assumptions about anyone or pass judgment; ask questions. You might just make a new friend.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

(UN) HAPPY HOUR: STRAIGHT BARTENDERS IN GAY BARS







We've all been here before...







You walk into your favorite bar and notice a new bartender. He’s a
handsome fella with dark hair, kind eyes and a bright smile. You sit down, he
greets you, lays a napkin on the bar and asks what you’re having.







You order a vodka cranberry. He mixes the cocktail, drops a lime
in, and places it on the napkin. It’s happy hour, so it only costs you five
dollars. You give him six, he thanks you for the tip, and you strike up a
conversation.







He may or may not be flirting, but he certainly knows how to use
those kind eyes and that bright smile. You’re single and always open to making
new friends, meeting the next great love of your life or securing a hot piece
of tail, so you start engaging with said bartender.







Then he mentions his girlfriend. You feel confused, stupid, angry—
but not too angry because, though apparently straight, he’s still cute.







But wait. You’re in a gay bar. Why would a straight guy want to
work in a gay bar?








“I moved to LA and heard the gay bars
make the most money,” says Frank, who works at one in West Hollywood. Shawn,
who works at the same bar, also mentions the money but adds, “A close straight
friend of mine worked [here] and wasn’t gay. I figured I’d give it a try.”







It’s a rising trend in the gay bar scene, especially in major
cities. Not bisexual boys, and not closeted gays pretending to be straight
while exploring the scene from a bar’s distance away. No, these are Will
Schuester bartenders working in Will Truman bars, and the first thing many gay
men wonder is how can they be comfortable working in this setting.







“If anything it’s easier, more pleasant and safer,” says Frank, who
had worked with so many gays in straight restaurants that being in the scene
didn’t bother him. He says, “I don’t have to worry about massive brawls
breaking out like at straight bars.” Shawn explains that part of his comfort
lies in how customers treat him. “The regulars are great and funny guys,” he
says. “[But] some visitors from out of town are a little crazy...”







“I suspect the gay customers respect me since I’m so comfortable in
what some may consider being ‘way out of my place’,” Frank theorizes before
taking his response one step further. “I also feel some of the gays treat me
almost like a son. They take care of me and take time to listen to what’s going
on in my life… I probably have more gay friends in LA than I do straight
friends. The straight crowd in LA can be very douchey and ego-driven. I feel
like gays understand me a lot better since I’m driven toward career,
opportunity and upholding my personal image.”







Despite the increasing presence of straight men working in gay
bars, it’s natural to assume that anyone working at one is gay. That doesn’t
bother Frank or Shawn. “It’s usually just them wishing,” Shawn says. “It’s
probably a compliment. It’s WeHo. I don’t take offense. I love my woman. What
do I care what they wish I am? I know I’m not and most cool people accept
that.” Shawn pauses, considering the double standard he faces, the assumption
that he must be repressing something in his sexuality and he’s using this job
for some kind of flirty release. “It’s funny. For so long gay men want and
still want to be accepted but they can’t accept a straight guy being that: straight.”







It’s a valid point, but are these men also taking advantage of
their surroundings? Are they using their good looks, kind eyes and bright
smiles, along with their naturally masculine energy— that “straight acting”
attitude gay men often seek in online profiles— to just play into a customer’s
fantasy and score good tips?







“I like talking dirty to girls, so why not have fun with the guys?”
Frank says. “It’s all in good fun. [But it also] depends on the relationship
I’ve built with a customer. If someone becomes my regular [customer], I
genuinely care about what’s going on in their lives. If it’s someone new, it’s
more of a show to begin that friendship, which eventually turns into something
I genuinely care about.”







Shawn doesn’t flirt with his customers, but says, “We joke and make
fun. That makes it a fun place [to work]. It is genuine friendship since most
of the people I see are there all the time.” Likewise, Shawn grew up in New
York City and knew many gay men who died of AIDS, so he’s got no problem
keeping his boys in check. “That’s why I yell at all my straight and gay
friends to wear protection.”







What’s interesting about this new breed of hetero men working in
gay environments is their outside perspective on the LGBT world.




“Everyone is born with a natural instinct to be attracted to a
certain gender,” Frank says. “There is nothing that can change that. [But] I
also feel bad for the gay men who seem lonely as they get older. I’ve noticed
that it can be very challenging to have a companion to be with. Their best
option is to stick with their friends, which is always great, but what
about having someone to come home to?” He pauses, then continues by saying,
“There’s a lot of back stabbing and cheating that I hear of and see. It must be
hard to be in a relationship when it’s okay to have your partner hit on other
people and be okay with it. I see it a lot.”







It’s this kind of care that forms a different view of these
heterosexual men. Plus, consider for a moment that plenty of sexy gay
bartenders pump up, put on butch airs and shamelessly flirt with customers
while having no intention of ever hooking up, all in hopes of getting a good
tip. And assuming a straight man would be uncomfortable among large numbers of
homosexuals plays into the mistaken belief that gay men are sexual predators
waiting to pounce on guys and convert them. So if these Will Schuester
bartenders have no problem working at Will Truman bars, is there a problem?
Isn’t this just an example of the world that gay rights activists have long
been trying to create— a world where gays and straights are equal and
comfortable with one another?







Perhaps in the microcosm of the gay bar we’re seeing the world
change just a little bit. And if the worst part is not getting to date, marry
or make out with the cute bartender with the dark hair, kind eyes and bright
smile, then so be it.





SOURCE: GAY DOT NET

TRUE BLOOD: SEASON 5, EPISODE 3 - WHATEVER I AM, YOU MADE ME





When you look at this hour on paper, so
much
happened. And yet, it still feels like we're ramping up and waiting for
the action to truly begin. Maybe if we would have seen more of Bill's and
Eric's sex scenes with Salome, I'd have felt like we got more bang for our
buck. Let's dig in...


Tara,
with her newly heightened senses, nearly chowed down on a young woman who
needed help changing a tire. After seeing the reflection of herself in the
windshield as she was about to bite, Tara apologized and zoomed off to
Merlotte's, where a confused Sam fed her bottle after bottle of Tru Blood. He
wanted to call Lafayette or Sookie, but Tara told him not to tell them where
she was. Meanwhile, Sookie went to Pam to beg her to summon Tara, because
she and Lafayette couldn't catch her on their own. Pam was too busy texting and
trying to figure out why Eric hadn't been home in four days to be bothered.







After their shoving match (Sookie
won), Sookie had to wait until the next day to listen to Sam's thoughts and
hear that he was trying to think of anything, like her boobs, other than the
walk-in freezer where he'd put Tara. Eventually, Tara awoke, pissed off as
ever. She hinted to Alcide that there was something Sookie wasn't telling him,
threatened to rip everyone's throats out if they didn't leave her alone, and
vanished. She ended up at the Curl Up & Fry tanning salon trying to commit
suicide in a tanning bed. (So that's why we saw Bill, Eric, Nora, and the baby
eater under the UV lights in their cells, to see how much that would hurt.)
"You stupid b----," Pam said, sensing what Tara was doing. I assume
she'll reluctantly save her.





If I zoomed through that bit, it's
because this Tara story line still feels just like a roundabout way to have Pam
flashback to 1905, and being turned by Eric. That was the most interesting part
of the episode for me. Eric came into Pam's San Francisco brothel, and though
she offered him any of her ladies, including Rubber Ruby, he wanted her. She
said a good merchant doesn't compete with her merchandise, and he said a good
customer knows everything has its price. In this case, that was Eric getting
rid of the vampires who'd been draining her girls -- Bill and his maker,
Lorena.





Eric burst in right as Bill was about
to finish the job on an artery conveniently located near the groin, and Bill
jumped up to defend Lorena. "Lorena, you procreated. He is protective. How
sweet," Eric said. So this was the first time he met Bill. Eric was
prepared to stake him, but seeing how brave, loyal, and strong he was for a
vampire so young, he thought it'd be a waste to punish Bill with the true death
just because his maker hadn't taught him to respect his elders. Lorena
apologized to Eric, and he said it was Pam to whom she owed an apology. And
$500 for every girl they'd drained, Pam added. Eric smiled, again appreciating
how fearless she is. Bill and Lorena exited, and Pam told Eric, "I believe
we have a debt to settle." He smiled, walked to her, grabbed her, and
kissed her gently, spinning them out of frame toward her bedroom. Pam cried
a single tear in her coffin at the memory.



Later, after a goth Hoyt came into
Fangtasia wanting to be eaten alive in his guyliner and desperation, Pam's
flashback picked up postcoital. Even though part of me is curious how a
non-amnesic Eric would have made love to a human he seemed to genuinely enjoy
and respect -- something we've never seen -- I'm okay not seeing that sex scene
because it would have felt more incestuous than Eric and Nora's. It was a
surprise to see that Eric was the kind of vampire who'd stick around for pillow
talk, but there he was, lightly tracing Pam's shoulder with his fingers as she
asked him what it was like to be a vampire.





The way their conversation was filmed
had to remind you of his pillow talks with Sookie when he was stripped of his
memory, which created that sense of connection, intimacy, and trust these two
would have needed for what happened next. Pam wanted Eric to turn her into a
vampire because she didn't want to grow old and die alone of syphilis or
tuberculosis as madams usually do. She wanted a life worth living. She told him
he could abandon her afterward, but Eric said becoming a maker is deeper than
any human bond, it's an eternal commitment. He didn't want that responsibility
-- he wanted to put his pants on and leave. Pam got up, put on her robe, and
slit her wrists. "Let me walk the world with you, Mr. Northman, or watch
me die." We know what he chose. It's interesting to think of Eric as an
"honorable vampire," as Pam called him, but then again, remembering
his love for Godric, the maker bond is something he has always treated with
great reverence. Do you think Pam and Eric remained lovers for any period of
time after he turned her, or do you think their bond immediately turned
platonic? I hope we find out. I want more flashbacks.





As for Eric in present day, Roman's
chancellors continued to argue over his and Bill's fates. Russell has
become the poster boy for the anti-mainstreaming movement. The only thing more
dangerous than a martyr is a 3,000 year-old vampire who hasn’t fed in a year.
The suffering will have increased his desire for power and vengeance.
Therefore, to not see his progress go down "the shitter," Roman was
going to operate as though Bill and Eric are telling the truth about Russell
being alive (which, of course, they are). Roman called for the new Nan
Flanagan, "may the cold bitch rest in peace," and in walked Steve
Newlin. My first thought: "Ooh, Steve Newlin is gonna like Roman."
Newlin was confident he could get the public to believe whatever Roman wants
them to believe about Russell because humans are not rational, they are
motivated by fear. Roman stood up for humans -- thank you, Roman -- saying it
took him centuries of feeding, f---ing, and killing to realize humans were more
than talking meat. If vampires continue to behave as savages, humans will rise
up with their armies. Steve told Roman he won't let him down. The way Roman
caressed Newlin's face under his eye sockets as he said "You better
not" made me think we may, at some point, see Roman poke someone's eyes
out.





Eric and Bill were each fitted with a
harness that holds a tiny stake that will pierce their hearts if they get out
of line. The Authority calls it the iStake, and there is an app that triggers
it. The iStake is indestructible and knows who they had for breakfast, where
they go to ground, and if they try to remove it. "Do yourselves a favor,
don’t f--- around, okay. You guys are too cute to be goo," said the tech
wizard who hooked them up. That was Tina Majorino, of Corrina, Corrina and Waterworld!
She's done a lot of TV as an
adult
, most recently guesting on Bones, but she will
always be Molly Singer to me (her character inCorrina, Corrina). Maybe
that's why her True Blood character name, according to the
credits, was Molly as well. Hope we see her again. I like any woman with a
legitimate reason to ask Eric and Bill to remove their shirts, but that was
also a fun little scene of non-sexual chemistry between her and Alexander Skarsgard
and Stephen Moyer.





Salome took it upon herself to visit
both Bill and Eric, apparently to determine whether they really could be
trusted by banging them. I don't quite understand how that was supposed to
yield conclusive results, unless she can read men's minds while having sex. She
had Bill meet her in the basement -- so Eric wouldn't hear the sex? -- and told
him not to believe everything he's read about her: "The human Bible, it’s
little better than US Weekly." She told Bill how the humans of
her youth were far more savage than any vampires she's known, how her mother
had traded Salome's body to her uncle/new stepfather, who enjoyed teen virgins,
in exchange for the head of John the Baptist, who'd criticized Salome's
mother's marriage to her brother-in-law. Salome told Bill she'd been following
his political career and admires the way he still lets his heart rule him. She
said she wants to help him, but she questions whether she can trust him. So was
this a test to see whether Bill and Eric would kill her if they had the chance?
She put Bill's hand over her heart, and instead of ripping it out, he had sex
with her against the wall.





Next,
Salome summoned Eric to her bedroom and poured them glasses of blood. She said
Eric surprised her -- she'd at least expected him to try to save Nora, his
sister. She said she'd sponsored Nora, so friends you can trust are rare. She
took off her robe and told Eric she wants to be his friend. What he wants
intrigues her. He rose and went to her. How did we not see THAT sex scene?
CRUEL! Later, Eric tried to brag to Bill about having a visit from "a
certain chancellor," but Bill one-upped him. "Interesting," he
said, smiling. "What? You, too?" Eric asked. "You know what they
say about gentlemen," Bill said, "they don’t brag about sloppy
seconds." I feel somewhat comforted by the fact that neither Eric nor Bill
know what the hell Salome was after either...





In her room, Salome still lounged
naked on her bed while Roman slowly disrobed and asked her if she'd had fun.
She said she thought they could trust Bill and Eric because they are not
Sanguinista. Bill is still searching for something to believe in and Eric only
believes in himself. WHAT? "I'm not sure we can trust anyone anymore"
Roman said, then told Salome that Nora had confessed to being Sanguinista (even
though it was clear she'd just told Cougar Town's Barb what she
wanted to hear so Eric's iStake wouldn't be activated). Do we think Salome is
actually Sanguinista (notice her face when Roman said mainstreaming works), and
that's why she really suggested to Roman that he might want to change course?
Or do you think she's genuinely concerned that he'll end up assassinated? Roman
believes the latter. "With you as my secret weapon, how can I lose?” he
said, finally taking off his shirt. What, we had no time for
that sex scene? COME ON! I can appreciate this season is about politics but
let's not forget you are a summer vampire show with a TV-MA rating.





Speaking of TV-MA, even Jason
Stackhouse is more TV-14 these days. In the supermarket, he ran into "Miss
Steeler," who we immediately knew was a teacher he'd slept with. They
ended up at her place, with her cat Prince Charming, and she told Jason she was
divorced and asked about his love life. He admitted he hadn't been lucky in that
department: One girlfriend died beside him, one was married to a gay preacher,
one was Crystal (he didn't elaborate), and right now, he's "f---
buddies" with the love of his best friend's life who happens to be a
teenage vampire. Miss Steeler apologized for taking advantage of him back then
and said it was wrong. Jason said it was amazing -- she'd taught him the only
thing he's ever been great at. (So she taught him football, too?) Her protests
ended when Jason slid his hand up her skirt. Next we saw them, they were
postcoital and she wanted to know if she could get him a glass of box wine. But
see, now Jason was ready to mope again because he realized their relationship
back then was wrong. He left her.





Jessica was off having a verbal
throwdown with the woman selling her short dresses when a man we assume was fae
came in to pick things up for his sisters. Jessica chased after him, thinking
he smelled delicious. After she lost him, she showed up at Jason's and told him
the guy had smelled like cotton candy, fresh-baked bread, and sex, and that
when she lost his scent, all she could think about was Jason being inside her.
This had major TV-MA potential, but Jason shut her down. He couldn't be the
mechanical bull she rode whenever she wanted. He realized there was a hole
inside him that he learned to fill with sex to mask the pain. Only now, sex
wasn't working and he had no idea how to deal with what he was feeling. He
wanted her to leave, but Jessica said she'd put on a pair of his sweats, he'd
get himself a beer, and they'd talk -- because that's how easy it is to be
friends with a woman. I don't know, Jessica, I feel like Jason would think you
in a pair of his sweats would be sexy. But it was a sweet gesture.





Now onto Alcide: Debbie's parents,
Gordon and Barbara Pelt, paid him a visit to tell him Debbie's car was found in
Bon Temps and Debbie was missing. Andy was at Merlotte's to question Sookie,
since the car had been found near her house, and he wondered if Debbie was
jealous of Alcide's relationship with Sookie. Lafayette was freakin' out, but
Sookie remained calm enough and assured Lafayette that Andy was more worried
about the size of his ass than whether Sookie had committed murder. She just
wanted Lafayette to be his regular fabulous self: "Arlene, these beans is
colder than titties in a brass bra." Yes, that's natural.





Andy showed Holly the photo of
Debbie, and then the one of his naked ass in bed with her -- which her boys had
posted on Facebook. I love how calm Andy was. He wasn't angry with her. Now
that the town knew they'd slept together, he wanted to go steady. She reminded
him that she was a witch who lived in a motel with her delinquent sons. He told
her he's an alcoholic, recovering V addict who lives with his grandmother and
is now the laughing-stock of the sheriff's department. "How'd we get so
lucky?" she said. Ah. It's nice that SOMEONE is happy on this show this
season.





Alcide showed up at Merlotte's to
warn Sookie about Debbie being missing and back on V, and even before Tara
awoke and hinted that Sookie had something to tell him, he was suspicious of
her non-reaction. Sookie took him outside and told him what had happened.
Truthfully, he seemed only upset that Sookie was never gonna tell him the
truth, and instead let him waste his time looking for Debbie. He had a point:
He's always had her back. And also, he knows what it's like to take a life
(Marcus). Sookie wanted to know if he was going to tell anyone what she'd done
-- he didn't answer.





As usual, we get to Arlene and Terry
last. He showed up at Merlotte's, and she told him she'd cried herself to sleep
waiting for him to come home. He doesn't want to lie to her, but he can only
tell her that he's leaving to go somewhere with Patrick and he's not sure how
long he'll be gone. He can't tell her what happened in combat or what they're
doing now. Arlene told him not to expect her to be waiting for him when he
returns. That seemed a bit harsh since she was the one who told him to go take
care of whatever this is, and he's treated her better than any man she's ever
known. Still, it gave us that great moment when we thought Lafayette was going
to try to comfort Arlene, and instead, he said, "Is that a yes or no on
seeing Tara?"





After Arlene gave Lafayette grief for
having Tara turned into a vampire, he snapped and poured bleach into the gumbo.
Luckily, a randomly placed mirror showed his demon-like brujo face and he came
to his senses. So he still has Jesus' dark magic in his body from when Marnie
took it. That could be fun to play with.. should we ever get there.





Your turn. What did you think of the episode? Are you enjoying the build up to
Russell, or are you growing impatient? Are you tired of the show pretending
that it could possibly survive without Bill and Eric with these
mini-cliffhangers? (Last we saw them, they were facing Authority guards after
their night with Salome.)





SOURCE: EW

G.L.B.T. THEMED BOOKS: STAYING ALIVE: THE INVENTION OF SAFE SEX









While the practice of “safe sex” has become an American habit over the
past twenty years, few are familiar with its controversial origins and
fascinating social history. Stayin' Alive is the story of how reaching for a condom
became as automatic as buckling a seat belt, a story compellingly and frankly
recounted by activist and journalist Richard Berkowitz who arrived on the
frontlines in the war on AIDS in 1982 and has been writing about it ever since.
Berkowitz takes the reader on a graphic but moving account of his personal
sexual journey coming out amid the sexual abandon of the 1970s and waking up to
horror of AIDS in the 1980s. For younger readers with no first-hand experience
of what it was like living through the erotic exuberance of the sexual revolution
nor the grisly aftermath, the author offers a vivid portrayal that puts the
invention of safe sex into fresh, compelling context for a new generation.“Safe
sex” was born out of the tireless crusading, politicking, and advocacy of an
unlikely trio whose lives revolved around sex and the consequences of sex: the
author, the author, the AIDS researcher and physician Joseph Sonnabend, and the
late author, activist and singer Michael Callen. Berkowitz recounts how their
work found a way to enable a generation of gay men and sexually adventurous
heterosexuals to continue celebrating their sexuality without risking their
lives or the lives of their partners - in two words, “safe sex.”



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