Nearly 30 years ago, when I took my first tentative steps out of the closet, this terrifying thought struck me: "People I don't even know will hate me and want me dead."
In the decades since then, the LGBTQ community in the USA has made huge strides in achieving our basic civil rights, and yet today we still see the horrifying, fatal consequences of homophobia and unreasoning hatred.
I know this is nothing profound I'm saying. It's really just a reminder to myself, on a day when I feel so heartbroken, that the struggle continues, we *are* winning, and love will simply not be defeated.
It has been over a week since the death of Prince, and I'm still struggling with deep grief over his passing. I haven't attended any of the many events here in Minneapolis commemorating his life. I just hadn't felt comfortable sharing with strangers what is a very private loss to me. But today I finally made the trip out to Paisley Park to pay my respects, as thousands have done since he died on April 21. Here are a few pictures I took this morning. It was a beautiful day, even if it was a sad one.
Walking up to Paisley Park
Didn't seem right to smile.
So much amazing artwork created by the fans
This was my favorite piece--his face drawn using the titles of his songs.
I miss him so much. I feel like much of the magic has gone out of the world.
I had a lovely afternoon on Saturday watching the Eurovision final with a fun group of Germans and my cousin and her family. I drank too much wine and spent the afternoon critiquing the performers' vocals and clothes in German. (Being queer and bitchy in German is such a delight!)
In addition to seeing my beloved Queen of Austria perform two new songs, I also quite enjoyed the performance of hunky Mans Zelmerlow, who ended up winning the world's gayest competition (with all due to respect to "Ru Paul's Drag Race").
He's a tasty Swedish treat, he is!
A dream from the wee hours of Monday night: WG has made it to the final 4 of "Ru Paul's Drag Race." It came as a shock to me, as I didn't recall auditioning or even owning make-up and fabulous frocks, but there you have it.
I have to say that as a fellow big girl, I was hurt at how shady Ginger Minj was to me in the workroom. (Pearl was super nice, oddly enough.) Then, to my chagrin, Ru Paul shantayed in and told me all my scenes had been edited out due to voluminous viewer complaints. Well DAMN.
I woke up as I was sobbing in the arms of Conchita Wurst. (She just showed up, like magic. And she smelled so pretty.)
Saturday night I was at loose ends and decided to check out one of the myriad homo movies I have in my Netflix queue.
It was with low expectations that I started watching Four Moons, but I was quickly pulled in by the film's four interwoven stories of gay men at various stages of life: bullied gay teen; long-time partners struggling with infidelity and boredom; a closeted, married sexagenarian and his obsession with a young hustler at the sauna, and two "straight" men whose friendship takes a romantic turn.
The dazzling fellow here, Antonio Velázquez, played Hugo. His character in the movie was a real prick, but he was sure nice to look at.
Check the movie out. It made me cry, but then lots of stuff does that.
Mother's Day is a tough one. For the past two weeks I've been bombarded by spam shouting "Don't forget Mom!" and the like. As if I could could forget her.
It's nearly 11 years now since she passed away. I think of her so many times a day. She was the kindest person I ever knew.
I so love this photo of her. She has a mischievous gleam in her eye that I often see mirrored in my nephew, Gavin. He didn't have many years to get to know her, but it's so comforting to see the resemblance.
Now to get past Father's Day, and I'll be good for a while.
A few weeks ago I spent a really nice 4 days with my friends Kelly and Ron at their lovely home in Sarasota, FL.
Kelly was my boss back in the day (like 8 years) ago, and we've stayed friends ever since then. A couple years ago, she and Ron moved from Connecticut down to Florida, where they bought a house on the historic register of Sarasota. They've done an amazing job rehabbing and updating the house (and it's guest house), and I was excited to see it.
So, some photos.
The truly gargantuan tree in their incredibly lush back yard. It's a famous tree, loved by all.
The author, trying out the swing attached to the gargantuan tree.
The 15-foot tall dragon who guards the swimming pool.
Hilarious reaction take.
The graciously appointed guest house, where I resided in cosy comfort during my stay.
On the first full day of my visit, Kelly felt it was time for me to experience the heady thrill of mini-golf. (She was appalled that I had never played.) So off we went to the course. It was a close match, which aggravated Kelly, since I was a ostensibly a total noob.
Post-golf, we stopped at the Museum of Whimsy, which was a unique experience. Though nearly overcome by whimsy, I still managed to strike a dashing pose.
That same day, I stepped far out of my comfort zone when I went with Kelly on a 2-hour tour of Sarasota on a Segway. For someone who has twice broken his leg while WALKING, the thought of zipping along one of these gyroscopic motorized contraptions was more than a little spooky. But after a somewhat tense 10 minute lesson in a parking lot, my little band of Segwayers was safely zipping through Sarasota, at rush hour, on the way to the harbor. If you have never ridden a Segway, try it. SO FUN. Too bad they're like $8000, or I'd buy one.
Yes, we crossed (twice!) the Ringling Bridge that you see behind me. I was surprisingly un-freaked out. And the view from the bridge was rather stunning.
This is Zach, our thoroughly-grimy-yet-still-somehow-sexy-if-he-took-a-shower tour guide and Segway teacher. Surfer dude.
I'm quite proud of myself for not chickening out when Kelly suggested the Segway tour. Being braver than usual really paid off.
With Kelly at the botanical gardens. I was always so sweaty in Florida. She's probably thinking "Damn, he's sweaty."
I'm no nature boy, but I guess I'm a tree-hugger after all.
When I got to Florida, Kelly asked me if I had anything in particular that I wanted to do while I was there. I said I'd rely on her judgement for best Sarasota things to do, but my only firm request was getting tipsy by the water. So, this is what I did. On two very pleasant occasions.
Serving up post-cocktail gams for miles and sexy smiles...
On my last day of the trip, we did a nearly 2 mile walk on the beach. I've never walked so far in sand, barefoot in my life. It sort of kicked my ass. But it was a gorgeous day, and I look fierce. Right?
Kelly loves a good game of Qwirkle (and who doesn't?), so that's how we spent my last evening in Sarasota. Kelly won the game, so the evening was a smashing success. (As Ron and I were told.)
The morning of my flight home, I cooked up a batch of my killer oatmeal buttermilk pancakes. Only 2 pancakes remained only minutes after this photo was taken. We rather pigged out.
And there you have it. Fun in the sun (and on a Segway!) with great friends in a lovely city. Traveling to see friends will always be one of my favorite ways to spend my time.
Back in early December, I had quite a health scare. What started as an apparent muscle ache in my left thigh progressed quickly in pain and expanse and was eventually diagnosed as extensive deep vein thrombosis. I was hospitalized for 24 hours for treatment and to make sure I wasn't at risk of a pulmonary embolism or stroke. I was fine, thankfully, apart from a few months of pain and stiffness in the leg.
While my weight wasn't necessarily a contributing factor to the blood clots, my thrombosis doctor suggested that I work on shedding weight to improve my general health.
And that's what I've been doing. I'm down about 30 pounds since my stay in the hospital, and I'm feeling really good.
I'm doing a low-cab, low-cal diet of my own design. The details aren't very interesting, but I've found it pretty easy to stay on plan. I do give myself occasional cheat days (or weekends), but even then I find I don't eat all that much.
At this point I'm about half-way to my goal. I'm hoping to reach that point well before my beach vacation in Portugal in early September. I want to cut a svelter figure than I did on the beaches of Spain.
Just because I'll be the whitest man on the beach doesn't mean I need to be the most corpulent!
Rather than focus on sadness this past week, I've been revisiting my memories of the really great trip he and I took together in the summer of 2012. Over two weeks we did stops in Berlin, Prague, and Vienna.
During the trip, I recall thinking that we would likely not have a similar opportunity to spend so much extended time together again, but I never imagined he'd be gone 18 months later.
The above photo is one I think I may get framed at some point. I took it while we were on the train from Berlin to Prague. He looks somber, but he almost always did in pictures. In fact, we were having a lively chat that sunny morning.
Despite being an accomplished photographer himself, my dad never really liked being in photos. He was good enough to humor me on the trip, though, and I came home with some good shots of him, and of us.
This was our first day in Berlin, stopping for a photo op at the Brandenburg Gate. We stopped and ate Döner kebabs right after this. Mmm, Döner and beer on a sunny Berlin patio. Heaven.
A silly moment with one of the many bears scattered about Berlin.
In Prague, exploring our first afternoon. That's sort of a smile, for him.
Heldenplatz, Vienna. I'd wanted to show him "my" city since I first lived there in 1988. It was great to share time with him in such a great city. He really liked Vienna, proclaiming it "Almost as cool as Paris." High praise from him!
Being silly with a "floozy" at Rathausplatz, Vienna.
Relaxing at Heldenplatz on our last afternoon in Vienna. It was just a perfect day.
About a month before my dad died, he and I spent an afternoon together chatting. He told me that he had been replaying his memories of our trip together, and that they had cheered him and kept his mind pleasantly occupied.
"I keep thinking about drinking beer that last afternoon in Vienna," he told me.
I asked "What about the beers?"
His simple reply: "I wish I had that damn beer right now."
He was quite a guy. And I miss him.
A week ago today I returned home from a truly excellent vacation in Spain. I was spent ten days with a very dear friend who owns an apartment in Benalmadena, near Malaga in the Costa del Sol. To say it's beautiful there is a major understatement.
I'd never done a sun and surf vacation before, and I was worried that I might get bored. But we mixed things up--one day lying on the beach, the next day exploring cities in the area. We went as far south as Gibraltar. I came home with a good tan and many happy memories.
Here are a few pics from my stay there. I'm very eager to return.
On my first full day there, we drove up the cost to visit Nerja, a jewel of a town that a Spanish colleague had highly recommened. Here I am, overlooking the beach.
Our view in Nerja as we enjoyed some ice cream. (Well, beer for me.)
Hamming it up with a king's ransom in Jamon Iberico. Man, is that stuff tasty. But it doesn't smell so good when so much pig is one place...
All smiles at the beach.
With Gry, my host and my friend of 30 years. We met in high school German 4 when she was an exchange student from Norway in 1983. Still the best of pals.
A very rare sight--me with my shirt off in public. First time since I was 12 years old. I was the whitest person on the beach. And maybe in all of Spain.
With my favorite accessory during the trip. It is HOT in Spain. My Mini-Mouse fan was very helpful.
On my third day in Spain, Gry and drove down the coast to Gibraltar. Really pretty scenery, and then THE ROCK.
And here's where things went awry--as we approached the border control, Gry realized that she had accidentally grabbed her boyfriend Frode's passport instead of her own. So we were forced to turn around without being let into British-controlled Gibraltar. Oops. (I got a lot of mileage out of teasing Gry for the rest of the trip.)
Thwarted but undaunted, we drove back up the coast to Marbella and stopped for lunch in the ritzy Puerto Banus part of town. Serious money. Giant yachts. And me.
A lovely tapas lunch with a view
Enjoying some sangria
One night I was taken our for tapas and a tour of Malaga's center by a handsome, charming Spaniard. This is the cathedral.
Canopy over a charming Malaga street. 12am, still bustling.
Drinks high above Malaga, the bullfighting ring in the foreground.
Malaga, looking toward the harbor and the city center.
A few nights later. Full moon over the Mediterranean.
Full moon over me.
We took a day trip up into the mountains to visit Ronda, which boasts this famous bridge and amazing views.
The vistas were stunning.
All me, no bull.
Ronda was in festival mode. So pretty.
Happy Seany at lunch.
Breakfast with the locals.
Back in the mountains to visit Mihas, the "white city." Really pretty town and setting, total tourist trap.
Back resting at the beach. That's also where I had the best wifi.
All in all, it was a really amazing trip. Spain is great. I will be back.
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