Family & Community

If You’re From Baton Rouge—Quarter Stories 15

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Stories about my adventures bartending in New Orleans in the late ’70s and early ’80s. To read them all, click here.

Working in the bars in New Orleans, I learned one thing very quickly about myself—my type of man was Cajun. Cajuns typically were dark-haired, with pale skin and green eyes. They came from an area outside of New Orleans and spoke an archaic version of French. Cajun Country started along the Mississippi River around Baton Rouge and went west along Interstate 10 across the whole southern part of Louisiana. I’d heard stories about the Cajuns—Cajuns who, during the Mardi Gras Season, would hold parties around a bonfire somewhere near Ville Platte and bring their horses. They could hold their liquor. As they partied, a few of them would usually end up stripped naked on horseback, standing on top of their horses, racing around the bonfire. I always wanted to go to one of those parties.

Dad and Me

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I grew up in a close-knit and loving family of four in Minnesota. As a child, I was always close to my mom but didn’t really know my father well. Dad was a gentle man and a hard worker who provided well for his family but he worked incredibly long hours. Neither my brother nor I saw much of Dad except on Sundays that were largely spent at church where Mom was the organist/choir director and Dad handled business operations and finances.
 
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Barbra “Babs” Siperstein, R.I.P

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Barbra “Babs” Siperstein, a founding member of Bammer.co‘s Advisory Board, passed away on Sunday, February 3, 2019, due to cancer. She was 76.

Remembering Workouts and Worries

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It was once the epicenter of the gayest neighborhood in New York City. Today, any traces of the infamous Chelsea Gym are nearly impossible to find.

From the mid-‘80s to the late ‘90s, the Gym at 17th Street and Eighth Avenue was a big part of my gay youth (late gay youth anyway). As one of a few all-male gyms in town, Chelsea was a required stop for the party circuit and even what passed for the muscle glitterati. There were photos of semi-famous actors and would-be porn stars in mid-pump. Even Schwarzenegger himself worked out once, or so legend and an autographed picture attested. Some weekends, the place was overrun with beautiful, built, burly out-of-towners, leaving us locals either delighted or intimidated. And tucked away downstairs, the steam, sauna and shower areas saw enough action to fill volumes of erotic memoirs if anyone ever has the balls write them.

Mark

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2008: I was living at the Russian River and a good friend called me up and said you have to see this astrologer. “He is really cool and accurate, but he has to come to your house to do this reading. He sits at your kitchen table,” he said. It was unusual for Russ to advise this, but I was into it so I invited the guy over. He looked cool and sat at my kitchen table. He began his reading, and most of what I remember—I’ve lost the tape—was he said, “You’ll be moving from here down south.” I figured that was easy enough and I said “Yeah, Palm Springs.” I was at that time thinking of moving to Palm Springs.” No, much further and on the ocean,” he replied. He said a lot of things that now I wish I could remember because his accuracy would later stun me.

Marking 25 years

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In New York City, in the early 1990s, Gustavo Otto, a beautiful man who’d emigrated there from Chile, became my photographic muse. To be fair, it was hard to miss Gustavo, since he had one of the most beautiful derrieres I’d ever seen! Beyond that, he had a great energy which I loved to capture in photographs.  Over a period of a year or so, he regularly posed for me in different locations, including Central Park, at parties in my Manhattan apartment, and at the beach and poolside in Southampton. Then, sometime in the early ’00s, we lost track of each other.
 
A year or two ago, we were reconnected on Facebook. It turns out that he had moved to California a decade ago, married David Brastaukas and settled in Palm Springs. In November 2017, when I was traveling to Palm Springs to collect other LGBT historical content for Capturing Rainbows, we made plans for me to visit him and meet his husband. 
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Don’t Let The Parade Pass Me By

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This year’s NYC Pride Parade got me thinking. I’d heard rumblings from others about the new and shortened parade route. And that our more political and radical groups, which normally lead and anchor our parade, were taking a backseat to the mainstream corporate interests now supporting the LGBTQ community. Our acceptance by the mainstream is an amazing step forward for our civil rights and in our fight against discrimination. But, at what cost?
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The Pope Announces That Gays Cannot Be Considered ‘Families’

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Reuters News reports

Pope Francis, speaking to the Forum delle Famiglie on Saturday an Italian lay movement representing Catholic families, stated that only heterosexual families can form a family.

“It is painful to say this today: People speak of varied families, of various kinds of family,” but “the family [as] man and woman in the image of God is the only one,” Francis said in unscripted remarks.

I beg to differ!

Summer Heat

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2005—While most people think of Fire Island at the gay summer escape from the New York City, there were other places just as special and unique. In this case, Andrew Ruth’s annual summer birthday celebration at his home upstate New York. More chill than Fire Island but all equally hot.

Alabama M4M

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1999: I stumbled into this “chat room” innocently enough thinking how cool it was that I could talk to other people in my small part of the world right there on my work computer. AOL literally changed my life.

We found each other in this “room” and arranged to meet at a busy Shell oil station late one afternoon. I rationalized in my head that I was not getting the sex I needed at home. After all, my wife and I had one toddler keeping us busy and another kid on the way. Her feet were swollen, her back ached, and all she wanted from life was mashed potatoes and a good night’s sleep. Having sex with a man was not cheating. And, I was not gay because it was just a blow job.