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BAMMER and Me: Self Discovery

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PODCAST: Interviews by baby-boomer LGBTQ historian Mike Balaban, with a diverse guest list, covering issues and themes from the global LGBTQ community.

EPISODE 1: Our first episode is about cross-generational perspectives on LGBTQ issues and themes between Mike Balaban and 25-year-old millennial documentarian, Caleb Holland.

Like a Virgin

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Like most young men in America, I had gone my entire life believing I was meant to be with a woman. I had some satisfying sexual and romantic relationships with them, fell in love with one once, and truly convinced myself this was my path. But, I wasn’t being honest with myself. An unexplored side of me felt drawn to men. And so, right around my 33rd birthday, my body turned off to women completely. I just couldn’t get it up with them anymore.

Independence Day

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“Catherine and I had been together for seven years. It had been a hard relationship since the second-parent adoption and I was beginning to see, for my sake as well as our daughter’s that something needed to be done.”

It’s July 3rd, 2010. Just being in the same room as Isa fills my heart. She’s only three and a half and I am head over heels in love with this little being. I am dressing her in the coolest Ralph Lauren red vintage cowboy boots given to her by Daddy Quark, her birth father. I watch how her whole personality changes when she puts her boots on. She has this air of confidence and coolness about her. Almost badass. I giggle inside. Isa looks at herself in the mirror when I put her jean jacket on. She flicks her little blond curls. Very cinema. I pick her up and immediately feel the weight of a tired child. Once she hears the hum of the car engine, she will be fast asleep.

No More Swinging Dicks

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SNAPSHOTS: When I was in Fort Lauderdale on a year-end vacation in 2014, a friend and I decided to stop by Swinging Richards, the Pompano Beach spinoff of an Atlanta institution. The Swinging Richards we visited was a large, fairly upscale-looking nightclub situated in a desolate warehouse district to avoid prying eyes. Inside, the club offered a nightly-changing array of handsome, buff male dancers who stripped completely naked, while pole dancing for a largely gay male clientele. And, even though it was the night before New Year’s Eve, the club was packed.

A Brief Encounter (Istanbul 2015)

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A good friend once told me, “Never trust a married man. Just by being involved with you, lying is part of who he is.”
 
Sexual relations between men has been legal in Turkey since long before it became a nation and was a somewhat a common but unspoken thing in the old Ottoman Empire. Today, Turkey is still very much a traditional culture and most Turkish men are pressured to marry and have children—regardless of their sexuality. I, myself, am pretty much out, single, and live a somewhat open gay lifestyle. The result is that, for me, dating can be fraught with risk, as there are a lot of “straight” married men just looking to mess around.

On Trial

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It was like being naked and shot at by a firing squad. The year is 2010 and I am in court, battling for the custody of my three-and-a-half-year-old daughter. I’m standing there next to my attorney, Susan Daley. I am dressed in all white. Simple yet elegant. I want the judge to see me. My face. My eyes. My soul.

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LGBTQ Writing Workshop in Italy (Aug. 24-31)

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Puglia

We’re excited to announce that we’ll be hosting a memoir-writing workshop in Puglia, Italy, on August 24-31. The event will take place at a 500-year-old villa near the town of Terlizzi on the Appian Way in the “heel of Italy,” which was purchased by an American couple we know and turned into a boutique hotel.

Bar Wars – Quarter Stories 16

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Jason, the back bartender (on his knees) having a little fun with Noah (right).

Fourth of July on Bourbon Street, hot muggy and so crowded you couldn’t move on the street or in the bar. I squeezed my way into Lafitte’s past the doorman checking ID’s and stood a minute by Steve Wiley, our manager who was surveying the door and the crowd. “It’s nuts, been like this all day.” I could tell. The floor of the bar was a mess and the music was pumpin’. Steve was a guy who weighed 350 lbs. He was huge and it wasn’t all muscle. He was sitting on a stool sweating. He used to tell me about trying to exercise, he had a pair of gravity boots. He’d hang upside down. I always wanted to take a picture of me next to him holding a fishing pole like I’d caught the big one.

Ben, Minnie, and Ben’s Guardian Angel

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Thousand Islands Bridge

Gananoque, Ontario (2015)—It was my last day in Canada before returning to the United States. Driving south on the Queen Elizabeth Way, past the flat farmlands along the Saint Lawrence Seaway, I was approaching Gananoque, a small and vibrant tourist community just south of the Thousand Islands Bridge, which leads to the States. I was anxious to get to my destination, the Colonial Inn on King Street, check in, have some dinner and relax for the evening.

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Tel Aviv Meet-up

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If you or anyone you know will be in Tel Aviv this coming Monday, please come to the “meet-up” BAMMER.co hosted by co-founder Mike Balaban at that city’s only remaining gay bar, Sphagat (it’s such a gay friendly city that LGBTQers now feel welcome in almost every bar).

We’d love to have you / them join us and learn about our effort to create global LGBTQ community while documenting our stories and images.