Monday, May 30, 2011

Fire Island 2011, part 5

Started writing at 10:23 a.m. while listening to “The Brian Lehrer Show” in the cottage in Ocean Beach.

A thunderstorm woke me up a couple of hours ago. And while fog enveloped the beach several times over the last few days, this weekend was a largely wonderful kick-off to another summer on Fire Island.

I came out 10 years ago on Friday, May, 27, and I was able to spend the anniversary of this milestone on Fire Island—running on the beach, delivering guides and simply hanging out in Ocean Beach, Cherry Grove and the Fire Island Pines. The gaggle of gays who grew (in numbers) exponentially over the weekend provided some particularly pleasing eye candy. My tan line has returned. And dancing for hours last night at Cherry’s in the Grove once again proved the highlight of the long holiday weekend.

Here are three notes and observations from the previous days.
1) Porsche’s proclamation at the pool show at the Ice Palace in the Grove on Sunday, May 29, that Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” will become the song of the summer could possibly prove true, although Katy Perry’s “Firework” could give the soulful English chanteuse a serious run for her money.
2) The group of revelers who boarded the water taxi late last night in Ocean Bay Park provided even more proof that I remain very happy to be a gay man.
3) A career as a drag queen can prove to be a particularly wise choice for those who are not necessarily natural beauties.

Sunset from the ferry in Fair Harbor on Wednesday, May 25.

From the pool deck at the Ice Palace's pool show on Sunday, May 29.

Low Tea in the Pines on Saturday, May 28.

Homecoming Queen 2011 contestants at the Grove's Community House on Sunday, May 29.

Dallas Dubois in the Pines on Saturday, May 28.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Coming out, 10 years later

It's a beautiful Friday morning here on Fire Island. I just ran on the beach from Ocean Beach to Atlantique, and I am enjoying my first cup of coffee while listening to NPR. And so begins the 10th anniversary of my coming out.

Things have obviously changed from that dreary Sunday morning in May 2001 that I acknowledged who I am for the first time while writing in my journal at the Bristol Laundromat in Bristol, New Hampshire. I am nearly 30-years-old, I am able to share my life with a wonderful man, I am an uncle and I am blessed to have the opportunity to work on one of the world's most beautiful beaches. I am largely comfortable with who I have become.

As a journalist who covers LGBT issues, the so-called Coming Out Industry largely bores me. The past few months, however, have reminded me time and time again that acknowledging one's sexual orientation and/or gender identity and expression can sometimes carry great personal risk. I remain forever grateful to those family and friends who continue to accept me as the gay man I am.

Monday, May 23, 2011

David Paterson accepts award from transgender rights group

The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund honored former New York Gov. David Paterson at its Sixth Anniversary Benefit at the Chelsea Art Museum in Manhattan on Monday, May 23.

Here is a video of Paterson's acceptance speech in its entirety.

Andrew Cuomo reaffirms support for marriage equality

In an apparent response to those who questioned his commitment to marriage equality, Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged New Yorkers to contact their legislators and urge them to support a marriage equality bill in a video he released on Monday, May 23.

"This is a matter of fairness and equality," said Cuomo.

State Sen. Diane Savino [D-Staten Island] confirmed to marriage equality supporters in Manhattan on Thursday, May 19, that there are currently 26 pro-marriage votes in the state Senate. The measure needs 32 votes to pass.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fire Island 2011, part 4

Started writing at 6:09 p.m. at Low Tea in the Fire Island Pines.

Blondie's "Rapture" provided an all too appropriate soundtrack for the exact moment at which the world was to have ended. The Rapturous fog that shrouded Fire Island for most of the day added to the pre-Armageddon anticipation. Five "Raptured" Fire Islanders were spotted around the Pines' harbor--one of whom apparently decided to have a glass of wine before he met his heavenly father, while another literally dropped everything as he worked on replacing the bulkheads in front of the Blue Whale. In the end, however, the ground did not open up beneath this gay sinner's feet. And I am able to write this post-Rapture blog from the comfort of my apartment in Bushwick.

Here are three other notes and observations from the day.
1) Cherry Grove is arguably the only place in the world where seeing a "39-year-old" man named Sonny blow out the candles on his phallic birthday cake at a bar at 4 p.m. is considered normal.
2) Having to wear a wool sweater anytime before sunset on the weekend before Memorial Day is simply unacceptable.
3) The belligerent drunk woman who was yelling at her boyfriend at the Sayville ferry terminal should remember there is already enough drama on the beach, and she should not contribute to it any further.

On the Pines-bound ferry shortly after it left Sayville.

Cherry Grove "fauna" on Bay View Walk.

The one and only Lina at Sip n' Twirl in the Pines.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Diane Savino speaks to marriage equality supporters

Speaking at Marriage Equality New York's annual gala in Manhattan on Thursday, May 19, state Sen. Diane Savino [D-Staten Island] said she remains optimistic that marriage equality could soon become a reality in the Empire State.

Savino said there are currently 26 pro-marriage equality votes in the state Senate, but 32 votes are needed to pass a marriage equality bill. "We need six more votes--Democrat or Republican," she said.

There are 15 working days left in the legislative session.

On the road again

While suburban commuters may certainly loathe the Tappan Zee Bridge that connects Rockland and Westchester Counties, the oft-maligned span affords some breathtaking vistas of the lower Hudson Valley, the Palisades and even the distant Manhattan skyline.

I shot this clip shortly after 7 p.m. on Monday, May 10. Our bus was returning to the city from the Empire State Pride Agenda's annual Equality and Justice Day in Albany.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Newt feels the rainbow

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich literally felt the rainbow during a book signing at the Minnesota Family Council and Institute's annual dinner on Tuesday, May 17, in Minneapolis.

Another dank Bushwick morning

When will this rain finally go away?

The lettuce in the garden may appreciate the Seattle-like weather that has enveloped the five boroughs in recent days, but I am certainly ready to hit the beach without a sweater!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Comb-over in chief wannabe bows out

That was quick!

"After considerable deliberation and reflection, I have decided not to pursue the office of the Presidency," said Donald Trump in a statement released earlier today. "This decision does not come easily or without regret; especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country. I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election. I have spent the past several months unofficially campaigning and recognize that running for public office cannot be done half heartedly. Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector."

We now return to our previously scheduled programming...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fire Island 2011, part 3

Started writing around 8:52 a.m. on Sunday, May 15, while watching “Good Morning America” in our room at the Madison in the Fire Island Pines.

The weather was certainly far from ideal at times, but the second full weekend on Fire Island proved quite eventful.

Patrick Healy of The New York Times, Michael Schulman of The New Yorker and actor Mat Devine discussed the saga that “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” has become at the Blue Whale in the Pines on Saturday, May 14. The Belvedere's refurbished pool deck could very well become one of Cherry Grove’s most popular destinations this summer. And the fried calamari that we enjoyed at the Pines Bistro last night was a sure sign that the season has officially begun. Here are three other notes and observations from the weekend.
1) Luke at the Madison went out of his way to make us feel comfortable during our stay. He also cooks a really good breakfast each morning.
2) Jellyfish are among the ugliest creatures known to man.
3) Watching the sun set over the Great South Bay with a significant other by your side is simply priceless.

Gay pride on display at Island Breeze in Cherry Grove.

Calamari at the Pines Bistro on Saturday, May 14.

The Madison.

Wet petals on Ocean Walk in the Pines after an early morning downpour on Sunday, May 15.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The morning after in Bushwick

It's eerily quiet here on Jefferson Street after last night's shootout that left a suspected gun trafficker dead.

Two NYPD patrol cars were in front of 193 Knickerbocker Ave. about 45 minutes ago, while a television station's van was parked in front of a nearby bodega. A handful of candles have been placed in front of the building in which the shooting took place, but it was an otherwise normal Thursday morning in this part of Bushwick.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Undercover police officer kills suspected gun trafficker in Bushwick

It was certainly anything but a quiet night here in Bushwick!

Police officials told the New York Times that an undercover NYPD officer shot and killed a gun dealer shortly after he opened fire shortly after 8 p.m. The incident took place inside a building at 193 Knickerbocker Avenue while the undercover officer was reportedly trying to purchase weapons from two men.

I came across the scene as I was walking home from a grocery store on Bogart Street. Officers were quickly cordoning off Knickerbocker Avenue between Jefferson and Troutman Streets, and dozens of uniformed and apparently undercover NYPD officers had already converged on the scene when I happened upon the intersection. Officers placed one handcuffed man into a police car, and a second man was brought out of the building on the corner of Knickerbocker and Jefferson. I also saw several young men who were also apparently handcuffed sitting along a chain-link fence on Jefferson. I arrived home on Jefferson Street around 8:30 p.m. after I walked down Melrose Street and onto Irving Avenue.

Ugandan lawmakers drop plans to debate "Anti-Homosexuality Bill"

Photo courtesy of Robb Friedlander

Have Ugandan lawmakers blinked?

The Associated Press is reporting that Ugandan Parliamentarians have scrapped plans to debate the so-called "Anti-Homosexuality Bill" after an international outcry. Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) had threatened to cut off aid to the East African country, while members of GetEQUAL protested outside the Ugandan embassy in Washington, D.C., yesterday afternoon. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch also criticized the measure that had once called for the death penalty for anyone convicted of repeated same-sex sex acts.

"If adopted, a bill further criminalizing homosexuality would constitute a significant step backwards for the protection of human rights in Uganda," said Hilary Fuller Renner, a spokeswoman for the State Department's Bureau of African Affairs. "Respect for human rights is key to Uganda's long-term political stability and democratic development, as well as its public health and economic prosperity."

Let's hope Ugandan lawmakers finally realize that hate comes with serious consequences.

Note: It appears as though Ugandan lawmakers could vote on the "Anti-Homosexuality Bill" on Friday, May 13.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Republican Assemblywoman Speaks in Support of Marriage Equality

State Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward [R-Willsboro] cited her gay son as she spoke in support of marriage equality at a rally in Albany on Monday, May 9.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Fire Island 2011, part 2

Started writing around 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 8, while eating breakfast on the deck of the cottage in Ocean Beach.

Aside from a possible Dina Lohan sighting in Ocean Beach on Saturday afternoon, it was a beautiful pre-Memorial Day weekend on Fire Island. Mother Nature finally cooperated, Fire Islanders dusted off their finest hats to watch Animal Planet win the Kentucky Derby and Cherry's in Cherry Grove did their part to ensure the drinks flowed throughout the night.

Molly, a beagle from Seaview, apparently suffers from "Fire Island hangover" each Monday. More than one Fire Islander is certainly suffering from this affliction at this very moment, but here are three other notes and observations from the season's first official weekend.
1) Any drag queen who wishes to perform in Cherry Grove this summer should master walking in heels on boardwalks before they even think about boarding the ferry in Sayville.
2) A late night walk from Cherry Grove to Ocean Bay Park under the stars is a simply magical experience.
3) The best way to make an apparently straight man grab onto his apparently straight friend in Seaview is to ring a bicycle bell as you approach them at 2 a.m.

Approaching Ocean Beach on Saturday, May 7.

Between Sailors Haven and Cherry Grove on Saturday, May 7.

Fire Island Pines Fire Department on Saturday, May 7.

Low Tea in the Fire Island Pines on Saturday, May 7.

Sunset between the Pines and Cherry Grove on Saturday, May 7.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Did Bin Laden Kill the Trump Juggernaut?

Should anyone care about the Donald’s political aspirations anymore?

A quick Google search this morning generated hundreds of articles, op-eds and blogs about the follicly challenged real estate mogul who apparently still has visions of becoming a serious presidential candidate. A Suffolk University poll found only eight percent of New Hampshire voters would vote for Trump in their state’s presidential primary.

“We’re not going to be able to solve our problems if we’re distracted by side shows and carnival barkers,” said President Barack Obama during a White House press conference on April 27.

The commander-in-chief obviously had far more serious things on his mind than questions about his citizenship and an ego-driven New Yorker who further stoked them. The birther movement is a trivial footnote that should remain in the dustbin of history, but Osama bin Laden’s death also pushed the Trump juggernaut out of the political headlines--Obama's announcement even pre-empted "Celebrity Apprentice" on Sunday night! And for that, Americans can truly rejoice!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The view from Jefferson Street

It was so cold here in Bushwick this morning that the heat in my apartment actually turned on!

The cool breeze has brought a distinctly autumnal feel to the borough on this Cinco de Mayo. And while I may have to pull out my sweater this morning, local meteorologists expect warmer weather will arrive before I head to Fire Island on Saturday morning. Summer is (hopefully) just around the corner!

Monday, May 2, 2011

An Evening in the Post-Bin Laden Era

The seemingly most mundane things can certainly prove the most symbolic.

Those who were chatting with their friends in Union Square Park or walking to the gym along 14th Street, straphangers who were rushing to catch the subway and pedestrians who were talking on their cell phones while walking on University Place earlier this evening proved once again that the best way to combat terrorism is to not be afraid. This lesson remains particularly appropriate following Osama bin Laden's death.

Osama bin Laden Is Dead!!!

Osama bin Laden is dead!

I was in my second-ever journalism class at the University of New Hampshire on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Nearly a decade later, that beautiful September morning that became one of this country's darkest days remains seared into my mind.

It is crucial to acknowledge the nearly 3,000 people who died in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pa., on Sept. 11, the soldiers who have lost their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq and their loved ones who continue to mourn them. It is equally as important, however, to acknowledge how proud I am to live in a city with a spirit that bin Laden could not break.