Nothing says WeHo like spandex and an old California friar.
I have a WeHo memory snippet that’s going to be hanging on the wall at this event. It’s from my birthday in 1981. I’ll take pictures and follow up by posting them.
Here’s the Facebook event from Hank Henderson:
David LeBarron and I would like to thank all of you for sending us your stories about West Hollywood. Together, your writings create a wonderfully diverse collection of passionate, funny, wistful, elegiac, sly, and fearless entries into the ever growing canon of literary Queer history. Congratulations to all of you.
Your stories have been printed poster-sized and framed in custom frames created by artist Bill Cole. Together they will hang as an installation in the courtyard of Fiesta Hall in Plummer Park through the entire day of ‘West Hollywood: This Is Your Life!’ June 27th.
The courtyard opens at 3:30pm. The first performance at Fiesta Hall will be a homo-centric sponsored reading at 4pm (hint). Shows continue through the afternoon & evening. David & I hope you are able to come to see the installation and stay for part or all of the performances. It is a free event.
Some snaps from the tour with some of the fabulous mobile tour guides! Hugely fun and informative afternoon and a great way to kick off Gay Pride Week 2015 in L.A.
What was this? Stuart Timmons and Jason Jenn put together a mobile tour of various LGBTQ historic sites in WeHo. This includes a free downloadable map for those who want to do the tour on their own, but I actually went to the event on Saturday (June 6, 2015) and had these (and other) tour guides to tell me the stories and guide me on my way.
Stuart Timmons is the acclaimed historian and author of “The Trouble with Harry Hay” and co-author of “Gay L.A.” – a hugely informative work on the LGBTQ history of our town, if I do say so myself (I did read it, the whole thing).
This tour was/is presented as part of the City of West Hollywood’s One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival, which this year coincides with the 30th Anniversary of Cityhood for West Hollywood. These kinds of things are tremendous and in short supply–and necessary, because the young ones coming up don’t know our history and how will they ever find out unless we tell them? So congratulations to Stuart and Jason for getting this up and running, and for the City of West Hollywood for realizing its importance.
So, a rant on this — or something along those lines. Who among you has not gotten frustrated and bored with the endless pages of gay dating/hookup apps and their lovely torso photographs? All of which look remarkably alike — they’re gay torsos, after all, so they look worked out and toned, even perhaps manscaped. Often, a buff or not-so-buff torso will even initiate a conversation or reply to a question you’ve asked it.
It’s enough to make a reasonably honest person want to pitch his smartphone off the nearest bridge.
The devolution of male/male contact from highly intricate interpersonal pairings in real time, to the impersonal meat market apps we have today, has had its own evolution – from the BBS-es I remember from the late 1980s to America Online chat rooms to IRC in the 90s and now, in the last several years, to smartphone apps such as Scruff and Grindr. Finally, after all of that, is this what we’ve become to each other, a clickable collection of torsos, penises and butts? Where are the faces? Where is the romance? You’re telling me this is progress?
I can’t believe that.
Here’s Ten Quick Suggestions on rekindling a sense of romance in our smart phone app crazy-crazy world:
Dress up. Sure, probably you’re reading this at home in front of your laptop wearing your underwear and a dirty t-shirt. Maybe you go about your day – not a work day, but a free day, a day off – and dress up to look your best. Would that make you feel romantic? Works with me, and people notice. (Or maybe try a green carnation in your buttonhole, like they used to do to recognize team members.)
Go out. Not as in coming out, though you should already be — but get out of the house and meet live humans. So many of “our” places have gone away because people don’t go out anymore – and why bother when you can order a torso in? So:
Rediscover our gay legacy. The truth is that men were meeting each other, hooking-up and falling in love for eons before the Internet and smart phones. We’d meet in our bars, at the public baths, which became bathhouses, or at bookstores, cruisy plazas and streets where you’d “just know” to go (or some kind person would tell you). So, for those places:
There’s the fine art of cruising men. In public. This is different from stalking a torso on a phone screen. I think this is becoming a lost art! There are books out there, however. There’s even a video called “The Art of Cruising Men,” while mostly tongue-in-cheek, has lots of accurate and helpful tips for meeting that man of your dreams or even just the man of the hour.
Learn seduction. Related to but slightly different from cruising, as this is more intentional and has perhaps a longer timeframe to work itself out. This is all about interpersonal relations, and shouldn’t we all aspire to better at those, no matter where we start from? We’ve come to rely on technologies like texting for so much of our communications we don’t remember how to have a real conversation.
Resolve to be more direct. If you are with a guy and what you really want is to have sex with him, ask directly, as in, “I would like to have sex with you.” Guys will love you for it, and you’ll get some yeses. There’s really nothing quite as sexy as confidence.
The first runner-up is a winner. Don’t demand perfection, cause you know you’re never going to get it. Remember that nice, pretty good looking guy who said hello to you as you were waiting on Mr. Perfect standing there across the room? Don’t wait too long — that nice non-perfect guy is the one who is going to make you happy.
Don’t be predictable – try surprising some guy you have a crush on in a really great but not necessarily sexy way. Then couple that with something you learned in Seduction 101as a followup.
Don’t overlook your friends and acquaintances. We have this advantage over straight people in that our gay friends and buddies could possibly be more to us that we ever thought possible.
Finally, realize that we as gay men didn’t spend decades fighting for our rights, then another few decades fighting for our lives to live faceless and safe behind a checkerboard on a little screen. There is a community out there we made for ourselves. It’s up to us to keep it.
It’s crystal clear he understands who he is, what he’s interested in doing/exploring. Maybe because he’s not American (he’s from Canada). He’s not straight-friendly; he’s in your face. He comes out of a tradition that’s much more DIY, much less corporate than our current art-making milieu — but then again it’s not so long ago to be unrecognizable or hardly believable — say, the Bohemian “beatnik” days of the late 50s early 60s, or the hippie era about a decade later.
No, the late 80s early 90s is an era in memory, though it sometimes seems longer ago – maybe that’s because it’s still pre-Internet, and our world has so vastly changed since then. Imagine saving all your Google inquiries to a pen-and-paper notebook and spending Saturday afternoon in a library to physically look each one up. That was life not very long ago, just one small example, now multiply that by the millions and you get some idea of how technology has changed things for all of us.
But I digress. There just is something about such artists in our gay world – such as Bruce LaBruce, John Waters, Gregg Araki, Dennis Cooper (who is mentioned in the linked article), Joey Arias, and so many others who had that clarity of vision and to be able to combine that with not caring about the business of art – that they never expected to make money or be popular even. They would just continue to put out there what they did best.
These, I think, are the people to emulate and who can serve as role models in a gay culture that’s largely pressured more and more every day to assimilate.
I’m kind of thrilled that my blog post “Ten Reasons Younger Gay Men Like Older Gay Men” has become so popular (the most popular by far of any blog post I’ve ever written) though I suspect a lot of those people are looking for porn and are likely disappointed once they see I have none on my site. Oh well. . .
So in that vein, those of you who are interested in having an older gentleman in your life must approach the task differently than you would if you were going after another 25-year-old. At the very least you will have more success if you follow some or all of my suggestions below.
Here they are, in no particular order, how to seduce that older gay man:
Persistence pays. Really. Those of us over 50 have a lot on our plates, and when we don’t, we’re catching up on other things like errands and binge-watching “Orange is the New Black.” Never, ever think of yourself as a pest — there is a lot of truth to that old saw about the squeaky wheel being the one that gets greased. Keep asking, and don’t give up. Keep. Asking. I can vouch for this one from personal experience.
Afternoon delight. Your over-50 man is, well, he’s over 50. There is some truth to another familiar old saying — “old and tired.” They weren’t kidding about the tired part! Especially at night. Your man probably has a lot of daytime commitments and the goddess knows that at this age any kind of beauty rest helps. That’s what I’m saying about “afternoon delight.” Most guys I know who are my age, more or less, really like having sex in the afternoon. Sorry young men, but at midnight we’ve already been asleep in our jammies for an hour or more.
Low noise level. Your man is not likely to enjoy a lot of things over a certain decibel level, such as dance clubs where the most fun is stuffing dollars in go-go boy jockstraps (wait, maybe that would work with earplugs) or rock concerts for anybody who got famous after, say, 1980. So he’s just not going to be there; go if you like, but don’t expect to meet him there.
Educate yourself on the best online venues. Grudgingly, it seems inevitable that websites and apps will replace some of the “cute meet” of days gone by. Like those days gone by for the entire history of human beings, but I digress – it worked well enough for all generations of gay men up to this one, but for some reason (could it be laziness?) people don’t want to go out in public anymore. So, there are some online destinations better for those over 50. Think Scruff, not Grindr; think Silverdaddies or Daddyhunt rather than Adam4Adam or Dudesnude. And, if you’re looking for someone over the age of, say, 60, I’d eliminate smart phone apps altogether. It’s just not gonna happen.
Educate yourself on the best offline venues. Again, forget the loud clubs all the young guys go to. Coffeehouses, art galleries, museums, civic/political gatherings, community college or university extension classes, specific groups that cater to an over-50 crowd (for instance, here in Los Angeles we have the LGBT Community Center, which has a lot of programming for this group; there’s also groups like the California Men’s Gathering, which consists largely of middle-aged to older gay men and those who appreciate them).
Be direct – I can’t emphasize this enough. Older guys who may be interested in an advance from a younger man likely won’t make the first move — why? Because there’s an enormous stigma and the possibility of ridicule looms fairly high here. People are also confused as to what constitutes romantic or sexual interest and what is just friendliness. For those of us over 50, gaydar is also significantly hampered by the younger generations all appearing the same – it used to be easy to figure out who was gay or straight; now, not so much. So if you’re a young guy and you like an older guy, let him know in very clear terms. This will really get things moving along much more quickly.
Anticipate his interests: appreciate that he’s been on the planet longer, so indeed may have other interests, which may include things like books, plays, opera, gardening, travel — to just mention a few — or he may have none of these interests. What is likely, though, is that his interests and yours won’t be the same, and he can learn from you, as well as you learning from him. But it’s important to have that willingness and to not expect to like the same things.
Cultivate a desire for long lovemaking sessions: it took me a long time to realize that activity between two men where only one of them or even neither of them climaxes is still sex. Maybe not the usual ideal we’re fed in standard porn, but it’s sex nonetheless. Don’t denigrate kissing and cuddling, either. His physical response as an older man will likely be fierce and highly practiced, however it may take a while for that fire to get going. He’s also probably not going to like an attitude of “wham bam, thank you Sam.” Luxuriate in that bliss which has taken a lifetime to mature.
Cultivate an expertise in a wide variety of sexual expression. Again, there is that standard porn script which all of us have seen ad nauseam — it all starts with the kiss, goes to oral and ends up anal with someone getting boinked. There’s really so much more, so read up. There’s leather, there’s water sports, there’s rubber, there’s probably a giant list of things even I haven’t heard about at my advanced age. I guess younger people are as apt as older to be interested in lots of different things, I just think of older guys having been around longer and interested in more. But heck, I could be wrong. Read or listen to Dan Savage for awhile, his advice show is illuminating for the variations in people’s sexual tastes. Also, just because he’s older, don’t assume he will be the “top” all the time. His fondest desire may be to be under you on the living room rug being drilled into next week.
Finally, resist the urge to know everything. There’s one of my favorite quotes, often misappropriated to Oscar Wilde, but it’s actually from J.M. Barrie, “The Admirable Crichton”: I’m not young enough to know everything. Don’t try to impress him by being an expert on every subject. I’m sure you’re smart and knowledgeable and all that, but no one likes to be reminded of it, and you’ll likely trip up at some point. Regardless, that kind of behavior is obnoxious and you don’t want him to slip away, now do you?
So, this. I suppose there’s always those who will find some kind of problem with an intergenerational relationship, but as this linked article points out, it’s usually OK for the older man/younger woman; not so much if you’re an older woman with a younger man or possibly same sex partners.
Of course, in the gay community there’s plenty of precedent for younger/older: one of the most well-known gay relationships in our demimonde was between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy, who were 30 years apart in age.
More recently, there’s the celebrity couple writer Dustin Lance Black and Olympian Tom Daley, where there’s about a 20 year age difference between them. It seems to be working out just fine, as are gazillions of these types of age-differential couplings who are not as famous.
I love that we’re living in a world where these couples can celebrate their relationships, and not only do they don’t mind but look forward to talking about themselves publicly. We’ve come such a long way, yet there’s still so much to do and so much hate directed at LGBT around the world.
Sometimes, it’s good just to be grateful for how far we’ve come. So, I say, best wishes for a long and happy life, Stephen and Elliott.
Told you it was coming, where there’s Pros, there are also Cons. So here’s the list, again unique to my own circumstances. I made these lists when planning to move to or stay in Palm Springs – both of which I’ve done now more than once!
So, the cons:
Not good for entertainment industry contacts, and no networking possibilities, or fewer of them.
Can be somewhat isolating – or is that just me?
Does not have an urban “edge” – there’s an absence of any kind of urbane cultured group. You have to make road trips to L.A. for that.
PS can be surprisingly redneck — depending on what neighborhood you’re in.
Public transport is limited, especially for commuting to L.A. and back. There is a bus system, but it mainly runs during the day and not often. There are cabs (now, I think, there’s even Uber there). Also, there’s a link to Metrolink in Riverside for train trips to the city, but that’s so time consuming and complicated it makes more sense to rent a car for the trip.
Suburban, or small town layout and plan. Car dependent culture. Has very few walkable neighborhoods. You could live car-lite there, but it would be a real challenge to be car-free. Yet guys at the bike shop would tell me about people who were.
Palm Springs can be boring – there’s limited options. That also brings up fewer distractions.
My perception (that for gay men) it is all about being retired, being in a couple or a retired couple – leaving fewer possibilities for someone not in that demographic. However, I see that changing — there’s a lot of gay men in their 50s and older who are single and involved with work or with the community.
Finally, there’s the summer – Palm Springs is in the desert, and it really does have several months (at least four – June, July, August, September) where it’s uncomfortable EVERY DAY to be outside because it’s too hot. But you can get used to it.
Added 10/30/15: Bugs. I was just reminded of this over the weekend, when I was out in PS. The desert is full of large cockroaches, which they call “Date Palm Beetles” but there’s no such things. They are disgusting American cockroaches, and they’re more prevalent during the really hot weather. Sorry, I’m not a roach fan.
Do you have cons? What do you dislike about Palm Springs?
The last few days have seen the monsoon return to Southern California desert areas, and I’ve seen a lot of pictures and video of rain (and flash flooding, too) on social media.
Reminded me that many in my cohort (Middle-aged Gay Men) as well as many other folks of all stripes think of moving to the Palm Springs area all the time. I put together pros and cons lists – as I do for so many things, and did this several years ago for that particular place. I hope someone finds it useful! Today the pros — the cons are coming in a day or so.
Pros of living in Palm Springs (from my very particular perspective as someone comparing it to Los Angeles):
Uncrowded gyms for elaborate workouts – and it’s less crowded and much friendlier (the gym, that is)
Great bike trails that are perfect for a workout all by themselves (such as the PS city loop)
Biking is safer. Much much safer. That’s because there’s less traffic and there are many off-road bike paths. (That is, when it’s not too hot to bike)
There are fantastic hiking trails in local mountains, accessibly from the valley floor or by taking the tram to the top of Mt. San Jacinto.
There is a unique hush in the warmer, hotter weather. I love the silence!
So easy to sleep there (see hush, above).
No car traffic, comparatively, to Los Angeles – especially in the off-season, the summer.
No lines in stores. Shopping, chores are easy! This goes for movies, too.
It’s easier to meet friendly people – are they just more relaxed? It does seem friendlier than the big bad city.
It’s easier to meet guys of my age (over 50).
Palm Springs is so small, you can walk to downtown.
It’s easy to get around.
The desert has arthouse cinema: the Camelot and the Palm D’Or.
Prices of some things (restaurants, movies, etc) are cheaper. (Also, there’s all the senior specials, lower car insurance, lower rent)
The spring weather and fall weather are absolutely heavenly.
Slow pace and uncomplicated lifestyle make it easy
Most days begin with sunshine
Infrastructure is adapted to the extreme heat
You see people on the street or in shops or restaurants, and you know them: that nice small town feel.
Good amount of cultural offerings for a small town on the periphery of a huge city, including a great museum and concert series
Outstanding 12-Step Recovery Community
Parking is never a problem
Breathtaking views of mountains from practically anywhere
Lots of entrepreneurs
If you live in Palm Springs or Cathedral City, the airport is only a few minutes away. E-Z.
And last but not least: Casinos, baby.
What are your favorite pros about living in Palm Springs?
Arguably, these two people–this one gay man and this one trans woman–have been at the moral center of international secrecy and disclosure in the last year or two, yet hardly a peep from those of our institutions (the Gay Centers, the Parade Groups, the political and fundraising groups) when it comes time to lionize and defend our own.
I took a cursory look at who we (the gay community in the U.S.) have honored at galas, parades and whatnot in the last year or so, and I came across people like Jennifer Lopez, Bill Clinton, Anderson Cooper, Norman Lear . . . not to say that these folks are not deserving of awards, I’m sure they are, but there’s only one gay person among those names above and I’m not sure any of them, including Clinton, have done anything near the importance of what Manning (especially) and Greenwald have done.
Basically Chelsea Manning gave up her freedom — what would have otherwise been likely as a nice, normal life by exposing American crimes in Iraq. Greenwald used his profession as a journalist to expose the unbelievably massive and likely unconstitutional spying/surveillance program of the USA’s NSA (though the disclosures of Edward Snowden) greatly putting himself and his partner David Miranda at risk. (As far as I know, Glenn Greenwald still lives in Brazil and will not come to the U.S. because of the possibility/probability of detainment, even though he is an American citizen.)
What they have done, or helped to do, is very much in the tradition of LGBT people throughout history — we’ve often served as shamans, seers, philosophers, as well as teachers, magicians, composers artists and writers. Since we were almost always not part of the mainstream, we took that distance and reflected something back to society at large. I see that Manning and Greenwald are very much in this tradition.
Is the fact that we can’t see and honor this because we’re in the middle of history as it’s happening and don’t have perspective?
Or is it something else, as in, don’t rock the boat, people. They just gave us marriage, after all. A couple of years before that, they gave us the right to be open in the military. Hard fought gains, to be sure.
Don’t rock that boat.
But what Manning did and what Greenwald has played a decisive role in reporting on has an extremely far-reaching impact in the very fiber of our beings as well as the national psyche.
Are we embarrassed because Chelsea’s transgenderism shines a light where we’d rather not have it go? Do we not want to say we support Greenwald because then it pits us as also opposed to the NSA, perhaps the most insidious organization of our government? I’m not quite sure what the reasons are, but these are revolutionary actions by our own. Why aren’t we owning them? Honestly, what’s happened to our in-your-face-culture since the days of ACT UP, and before that, Harvey Milk and Stonewall?
Here is the one story I did see. And this one, I presume from the tone, written by a straight ally.
Ah June, all rainbows and boas and every day it seems another U.S. state decides that bans on marriage equality are, well, unconstitutional. Yay us! We’re so awesome.
Truly, let’s not forget other parts of the world, where living as an open LGBT-type person is either a huge struggle or plain illegal. Iran, Nigeria, Uganda . . . Russia.
Bummer, I know, to point out that Russia, that supposedly western-ized land of Tchaikovsky and Nureyev and Gorbachev is aping their much-hated former enemy, Nazi Germany, in systematically making everything LGBT illegal. Soon, gay people themselves will find their very existence to be against the law in that country. What then? What is the next logical step? I think you know.
I don’t know what to do about it, but I do know that keeping silent about it is most certainly the wrong answer.
During this season of pride, lets not forget our brothers and sisters in Russia.