Archive for June, 2016

Photo diary: NYC Pride 2016

June 28, 2016

(click photos twice to enlarge)

My Pride weekend began Saturday afternoon dropping into the “Gays Against Guns” T-shirt making party in the back patio of Lucky’s in the East Village, a bustling vortex of artistic activism.

6-25 tshirt party at luckys
“Gays Against Guns” has galvanized the streak of action-oriented community spirit that drove ACT UP, Queer Nation, Occupy Wall Street, and other political demonstrations. It got me and lots of others out this year to participate in the full length of the Pride March. It was definitely more than a parade this year, feisty but also festive.

6-26 john nick don GAG
6-26 jamie leo and gag sign
It was great to see old friends and meet new allies, like this guy Jessie, a cadet at West Point who grew up in Southern Indiana and was participating in his first Pride March.

6-26 jay from west point
The Gays Against Guns contingent included a beautiful performance art piece called “49 Human Beings,” in which a collection of downtown performers dressed in white veils processed silently down Fifth Avenue representing those slain in the Orlando massacre.

6-26 49 angels6-26 angels holding hands
Every 10 blocks or so, our group would fall to the pavement for a “die-in,” which at first felt a little corny but grew increasingly powerful as a visual image — this is what it looks like for people to be mowed down by deranged killers with guns that shouldn’t be on the market. “How many more have to die?” was one of the compelling chants. Someone had made up a few tricky new chants — “Trans straight bi gay/We’re gagging on the NRA” — but they didn’t catch on as readily as old reliables such as “Hey hey ho ho/NRA has got to go!” It was surprisingly invigorating to chant “Fuck the NRA!” And then there was the unimpeachably gay “NRA Sashay Away!”

6-26 NRA sashay away

In the Village, the streets were packed with the babies, the young’uns of every stripe for whom Gay Pride really matters.

6-26 pride babies
6-26 stonewall national monument
While we were paused in front of the Stonewall Tavern (newly crowned a National Monument by President Obama), there was suddenly a flurry of police action, with the K-9 unit sniffing around. I wondered if there had been a bomb scare. Later we learned that, no, they were just securing the area for the appearance of Hillary Clinton, Andrew Cuomo, and Bill DeBlasio who marched a few blocks together. I didn’t see Hillary but I met this gal Kayla rocking a dress she’d made herself.

6-26 kayla crop

We were buying organic lemonade from this Village entrepreneur.

6-26 entrepreneur
At the end of the route, the angels stepped out of their costumes, and I chatted up the gigantically tall person who’d led the procession carrying a disco ball on a pole 40 blocks for a couple of hours. It turned out to Machine Dazzle, the great downtown costume designer, who was happy to step out of his high heels and head to Cowgirl for some margaritas.

6-26 angels in mufti6-26 machine dazzle handbag

I landed at John Salvato and Nick Mazza’s annual post-Pride reception, conveniently located in Abingdon Square for taking a break, having refreshments, and sharing stories from the day. Liam Cunningham took this picture, showing me the Photoshop app on his iPhone.

6-26 bw by liam


Quote of the day: QUEER

June 25, 2016


Q: What about the whole phenomenon of queer celebrity? I’m thinking about Caitlyn Jenner. Does her very public transition make a difference for social change?

A: Sometimes we get it backwards. Average, ordinary, unknown queer people coming out made it possible for queer celebrities to exist, not the other way around. But it does become a self-reinforcing dynamic. Now queer celebrities make the world safer for average, ordinary queer people to be out. But there weren’t out queer celebrities until average, ordinary queer people started coming out.

In much the same way, now you see out professional athletes, like Michael Sam. And the skier who just came out, Jason Collins, who I admire tremendously. I think he’s wonderful. And every time they come out, there’s always a lot of talk about shattering stereotypes, such as the one about gay men being bad at sports or effeminate. But it was really the hairdressers and ballet dancers that changed the world and made it safe for Jason Collins to come out, not the other way around. It was the queer people who couldn’t hide that made the world safe for queer people who could and, for a very long time, did choose to hide.

–Dan Savage, interviewed by Suzanne Stroh in The Gay and Lesbian Review


Photo diary: Come Back to Your Senses, day 4 (Taste)

June 25, 2016

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Wednesday centered on a Tuscan-style cooking lesson from Linda, which started first thing in the morning at the farmer’s market in town. Everyone got to pick some item that looked good, and we would decide later what meal to compile from the collected goodies. Linda provided some background on veggies we don’t see for sale in the U.S., such as puntarelle, agretti, zucchini blossoms, and sedano rapa (below — it’s celeriac).

6-15 farmer's market 26-15 puntanelle melanzane
The town’s community garden supplied herbs for the occasion — lemon balm, sage, rosemary, lavender.

6-15 herb garden
We stopped into the Co-op supermarket to supplement the fresh produce. This pasta called out, for some reason.

6-15 fagottini
We brought the market bounty back to the villa and spread it out on the table to ponder.

6-15 market posse6-15 whats for dinner6-15 market bounty
Linda helped everyone figure out how to create a yummy dish from the ingredients they’d selected, and the next couple of hours were a frenzy of cleaning, chopping, and cooking. Jay prepared the first course — melon soup garnished with fried prosciutto.

6-15 kitchen at work6-15 jay's melon soup
The collective ownership made the long leisurely lunch especially satisfying — one of the best days I’ve ever spent in Italy.

At the end of the afternoon we hopped in the van and headed to Siena for some sightseeing and shopping. I collect hand-painted Sienese ceramics with a particular geometric pattern and picked up two beautiful bowls to take home (the third was too big to lug home).

6-15 siena reflected in bus window6-15 pasta plate6-15 beautiful bowl6-15 the bowl i didn't buy
Nothing beats sitting in Il Campo with a cocktail watching the sun set.

6-15 negroni in il campo

Andy and I had dinner at a restaurant overlooking the back of the Duomo — this picture was designed specifically for sharing on social media with the caption “Neener fucking neener.”

6-15 neener fucking neener


Photo diary: Come Back to Your Senses, day 3 (Touch)

June 24, 2016

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Around lunchtime we made an expedition to the nearest picturesque Tuscan hill town, Pienza, with its scenic fortress wall and crumbling church, behind whose altar looms not the crucifix you might expect but an icon of the Madonna, who is the real star of Italian Catholicism. We also spied an artwork whose smirking Madonna and smirking Little Baby Jesus could have been drawn by Roz Chast.

6-14 scenic view pienza6-14 jennings in pienza6-14 in place of crucifix pienza cathedral6-14 smirking chast madonna
After a pecorino tasting at a tiny fragrant cheese shop, we scattered for lunch (Andy, Linda, and I secured a table at place that advertised “No pasta, No pizza, No cappucino, No internet”) and reconvened at a superb gelateria specializing in unusual vegetable and herb flavors (I had lemon with basil and something called “Detox Rosso,” consisting of beets, carrots, and apple).

6-14 purple petunias 26-14 pienza stable hook6-14 hairstyles by carla di pienza
Linda, our chef, loved devising a dinner for us to eat with our hands as a sensory experiment in Touch.

6-14 dinner prep6-14 hungry boyz6-14 dessert table

Photo diary: Come Back to Your Senses, day 2 (Scent)

June 24, 2016

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Andy and I began our days with a gorgeous 20-minute walk from the apartment in town where we stayed to the villa where the retreat took place, which meant walking through an actual castello (castle) currently inhabited by several families and a truffle museum.

6-13 hello castle6-13 museo del trufo6-12 il tribbio viewed from il bosco
The day’s sensory experiment involved conducting a sniffing tour of the premises and sharing fragrances with blindfolded partners.

6-13 smell day 1

The afternoon took us to a nearby winery, Sasso di Sole, where handsome Lorenzo gave us a smart and informative introduction to the vineyards, the winery, and the superb wines they produce (an orcia rosso, a rossi di Montalcino, and a brunello di Montalcino).

6-13 lorenzo outdoors6-13 tuscan vineyard6-13 lorenzo indoors6-13 sasso di sole productUn bel di, indeed.

6-13 un bel di
As the sun set, the fog rolled into the Val d’Orcia.

6-13 fog rolling in


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