Fifty years ago this week the Stonewall Riots took place. I do not recall hearing about these events at the time, as my mind was occupied with another rowdy group of men. It was mid-June, and I was on my way to the Boy Scout Jamboree in Farragut, Idaho, in a busload of teenage boys and young men. Our troop was made up of guys from across Butte County, none of whom I knew.
I was 14 years old in the long-ago summer of 1969. My freshman year of high school approached but my concerns were still very boyish: bikes, a lawn-mowing business, Scouts, the upcoming moon landing. The leafy hills of Kansas City’s suburbs were far removed from the rest of the country, but even I knew of hippies, drugs and X-rated movies. Still, for a kid, much of life there was still stuck in the fifties.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.