Thursday, July 31, 2008

New Developments in HIV Cure

Never say Never:
via the Drudge Report:

Doctors may have found a way to destroy HIV

HOUSTON -- There is real hope that what’s happening in a Houston lab might lead to a cure for HIV.

“We have found an innovative way to kill the virus by finding this small region of HIV that is unchangeable,” Dr. Sudhir Paul of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston said.

Dr. Paul and Dr. Miguel Escobar aren’t talking about just suppressing HIV – they’re talking about destroying it permanently by arming the immune system with a new weapon lab tests have shown to be effective.

Ford Stuart has been HIV positive for 15 years. He’s on a powerful drug cocktail that keeps the disease in check.

“I’m on four different medications. Three of them are brand new, and it’s the first time that I’ve ever been non-detectible,” Stuart said. “I’m down to about – just for the HIV – about nine pills per day, five in the morning and four at night.”

But Stuart knows HIV mutates, and eventually it will learn how to outsmart his medications.

“The virus is truly complex and has many tricks up its sleeve,” Paul said.

But Dr. Paul thinks he’s cracked a code.

“We’ve discovered the weak spot of HIV,” he said.

Paul and his team have zeroed in on a section of a key protein in HIV’s structure that does not mutate.

“The virus needs at least one constant region, and that is the essence of calling it the Achilles heel,” Paul said.

That Achilles heel is the doctors’ way in. They take advantage of it with something called an abzyme.

It’s naturally produced by people, like lupus patients. When they applied that abzyme to the HIV virus, it permanently disarmed it.

“What we already have in our hand are the abzymes that we could be infusing into the human subjects with HIV infection, essentially to move the virus,” Paul said.

Basically, their idea could be used to control the disease for people who already have it and prevent infection for those at risk.

The theory has held up in lab and animal testing. The next step is human trials.

Meanwhile, every day in Houston, three people are diagnosed with HIV.

The doctors still need funding to launch human trials. In the world of HIV research, that’s often where things fall apart.

“Clinical trials are very expensive,” Paul said.

“That is the worry of the researcher. This is what nightmares are made of – that after 30 years of work, you find it doesn’t work,” Paul said.

But so far, it is working.

“This is the holy grail of HIV research, to develop a preventative vaccine,” Paul said.

“If we can get the viral loads down to a manageable level, that will preclude the need for these conventional drugs,” Escobar said.

Still, even if everything goes well, it’s at least five years before the research could help people with HIV.

The doctors know people like Ford Stuart are waiting.

“There are so many people struggling with the disease because it affects not only your body, but also your psyche, how you perceive yourself,” he said.

If nothing else, the research is promising for the tens of millions waiting for a cure.

UPDATE: My handsome gorilla-looking peer and blogger friend, This Boy Elroy shines some scientific and professional light on this topic which you can see here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Gay City

Eric, the Roommate, is obsessed with numbers, statistics and city populations. He is always looking something up and he is an expert on cities around the world and their populations. Although he's straight he always has his eyes out for me, his rainbow-flavored best friend.

Eric, the Roommate was stunned to find that Orlando ranks between 9 and 10 on America's gayest city list. I was a little stunned too. Orlando? Like, Orlando, Orlando? I suppose it makes sense with Disney World and Tinkerbell and all that shit but, still, I just find it surprising.

Anyway, if you look up Gay Village on Wikipedia you'll find some really interesting statistics regarding the gays and our cities.

Top LGBT populations in U.S. cities and states

The U.S. city with the largest gay population is New York, with an estimated 272,493 gay residents.[3] Los Angeles is second with 154,270, followed by Chicago with 114,449 and San Francisco with 94,234.

The U.S. metro area with the largest gay population is New York–Northern New Jersey–Long Island, with an estimated 568,903 gay residents. Los Angeles–Long Beach–Santa Ana is a close second with 442,211, followed by Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI with 288,748.[4]

The following charts show a list of the top U.S. cities, states, and metro areas with: 1) the highest population of gay residents, and 2) the highest percentage of gay residents within city limits. (GLB population as a percentage of total residents).[3] The numbers given are estimates based on American Community Survey data.[5]

"Wait hold on..ummmm"

kill yourself!
Yeah we've all been there. Shit, I'm sure we've even been that person at one time or another. Yup, the person who orders food or coffee while gabbing away incessantly on their blackberry cell phone just to help fill whatever time they have between point A and B.

This.That.No Other is reporting on this topic today so I thought I'd throw in my two cents. This topic also reminds me of This.That.No Other's hysterical post about the displeasure of having the worst of super hero abilities.

I've grown to loathe these people and experiences and because so I strive to always hang up with whomever I'm talking to before I enter a line or even step foot in a restaurant.

I have a few experiences where I've had the sheer audacity to tell people maybe they should get off the phone while being around other people or even the, "maybe you would be less frustrated if you got off the phone while ordering...?" Then of course, the response is a snarl and a "Who the FUCK do you think YOU ARE?!"

Well I'm just a person who has had it up to here with being forced to listen to conversations like my faux-but-typical example below:

“Wait hold on a minute…Um..I’ll have a……..hmmm…..latte….Ok, so anyway I’m out with Brad last night and he’s all ‘why were you being rude this past weekend’ and I’m all ‘uhh, excuse me? YOU’RE the one who was rude- I mean- my mother baked that upside-down pineapple cake for YOU and you didn’t even have one bite. It’s not like I ask him to go to my parent’s house every weekend, you know what I mean? Is it so hard to just appease me? Wait hold on…”

“Umm, excuse me- didn’t I ask for extra cream? (back to phone) I swear people are so inept sometimes. Like, what happened to LISTENING to people and common courtesy? You think asking for extra cream would be easy but no, it’s like asking someone to cut off their fucking arm.”

Anyway, so needless to say we head out of my parent’s home in Westchester with a WHOLE upside-down pineapple cake just sitting there on the table. He didn’t even OFFER to take it home. You know, it’s just rude. So my mother calls me 15 minutes after we already left and is like, “we made that cake for Brad because you said it was his favorite. Now we have this whole cake sitting here that’s just going to go to waste!” So I tell Brad what my mother says and he basically just shrugs it off. It’s like he doesn’t even register my feelings sometimes. I swear he can be so numb.

…I’m so glad you hear me out this. Sometimes I just think I’m alone in all this - like I’m the one leading the relationship with no help. Like get this: two weeks ago Brad schedules a poker night with his friends on OUR Friday night. He knows Friday night is our night- that’s when he takes me out to dinner and we split a bottle of wine- we’ve been doing it the last month so I really don’t know how he would forget about it or schedule something on top of it…whatever..anyway he goes ahead and plans a (sarcastic tone) “poker night” with his friends- who by the way, are nothing more than a bunch of monkeys, like hello??? Your frat days ended like 5 years ago, get a life! So, he plans this poker night of his on the SAME DAY that we are supposed to go to sushi samba. All I wanted was a night for he and I to really catch up but I guess his “friends” are more important than me. Seriously, when is it my turn? It's not like I'm asking much.”

Wait hold on….You know what? This fucking latte sucks. I have to go. Ok! bye! Love you!"

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Quakes and Storms

An earthquake just hit LA and I can tell work is going to be a natural disaster all week so in the meantime I thought I'd honor LA's quake with a picture of Sunday's storm in NYC. Take THAT Jersey City!
During my two years of living in Los Angeles I hoped again and again that I would experience an earthquake. Alas, the most I ever felt was a measly 2.0 rumbler and when it happened I thought it was just a truck passing by my house.

It's not that I wanted a major quake or anything devastating but I did want to feel something. They seem so exciting.

During August and September in LA when the weather gets muggy and very hot people would say things like, "oooh! This feels like earthquake weather." Eric
, The Roommate and I that was always a bizarre thing to hear.

Monday, July 28, 2008

New Hope, PA Soooooo Gay (kind of)

New Hope, PA - Anytown, USA
(with the exception of all the witch shops and punk rock boutiques)
Work brought me down to New Hope, Pennsylvania on Friday and after I wrapped I had some time to check out the digs of this artsy community.

I've heard before that New Hope is very gay or at least very gay friendly and the town certainly makes their gay love quite apparent.

There was gay restaurants and gay Ice cream:

Gay Pinwheels and Spirals (wheee!)

Hell, even Gay Tye-dye:

I walked by this statue and pretty much assumed he/she was gay: (fierce tail!)

And, although these two places didn't show rainbow pride, both Organic Coffee and Witch Craft stores are pretty "gay."

The only thing I didn't see amongst all the gaiety in New Hope was actual gay people. Yeah, that's right. I saw about 19 million Rainbow flags but no gay people. I was only there for the day so maybe at night everything changes?

This leads me to believe one thing and one thing only: Gay Vampires, ladies and gentlemen, Gay Vampires.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Leven for President?

You better believe your sweet ass: Eric Leven for President!

News3Online is reporting about my campaign.

My first order of business is to make a law that nobody goes to work on Fridays and there are mandatory afternoon dance parties every Friday during the summer months!

Leven '08

Interview Sessions: Stanley Stellar

As part of a new project I'm documenting the stories of gay men from the ages of 16 to ??:

Stanley Stellar is a well known New York photographer responsible for works such as: Stellar Men and photographs in Provocateur. He is the first of the Interview Sessions.

The Mid 1960's, Christopher Street & Cruising.

Stanley has a lot more to stay. More sessions to come.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Great Divide

This past Sunday I helped my friends of ACT UP New York sell tee shirts and buttons at their booth at the Broadway Street Fair. I'll always make myself available for any additional help ACT UP needs and I am always happy to do so.

I noticed the ACT UP booth right away by their iconic white background- black font posters. I've always loved ACT UP for their in your face, civil disobedient approach to activism but on Sunday I saw one thing on one of their signs that I couldn't help but feel uneasy about.

One of their signs at the bottom stated in big bold font: "Boycott Bareback" and I felt immediately something was amiss.

As I'm sure we all know barebacking has become somewhat of a fad lately or something a lot of people feel very nonchalant about. Go on to xtube, search your common porn sites and you'll find that barebacking is a movement that doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon.

If you go back into my archives and read my post entitled, "Barebackers, Meth heads, Young Guys, Sex Parties and Everything Else We Love to Blame" you'll find that a lot of my thinking, writing and activism regarding safe sex and HIV/AIDS evolves with the more I learn and experience. The bottom line is that sex and safe sex is nowhere near cut and dry and is in fact, quite fucking complicated.

But let's make some distinctions first: Not all people who have unsafe sex are "barebackers." There are people who choose to go in and out of bouts or individual experiences of condom-less sex that would not identify themselves as "barebackers." "Barebackers," more or less, are people who get off on the idea of going completely condom-less and engaging in pure, raw sex- only. It's almost as if Barebackers don't consider sex, real sex, unless it's entirely raw and there is some form of "cum dumping," "breeding," and all the other words that make the safe sex movement weep.

Barebackers are gaining momentum. They're online, there are websites set up for them to meet and greet, bareback porn is reinstating itself into the mainstream and the whole thing teeters on the belief that if two people want to willingly engage in bareback sex then they have the right to do so and can decide for themselves what is right and healthy for their body. Fine. Great. Whatever. But what about the allure of unsafe sex and the encouragement for other people to go bare and "try it out?" I have to admit this is where barebacking is most dangerous- it's in the fetishistic ammunition.

Just like ACT UP says "Fuck you" to the unsafe sex world, barebackers are now saying "Fuck you" right back to the safe sex movement. "How dare YOU tell me how I should have sex!" "I don't have to wear a condom if I don't want to!" "I know the risks associated with unsafe sex and I don't care. It's my body." But when ACT UP says something like "Boycott Bareback" they look like a group of sex police and that's exactly what the bareback movement is looking for.

Those who advocate for Bareback sex want Aids Service Organizations and activist groups to look like dishonest Sex Police who infringe upon people's individual right to choose. "SEE! Look at those sex police trying to tell people how I should have sex- how dare they tell me/you what to do. Sex is between me and the person I have sex with!"

The truth is ACT UP is anything but a group of Sex Police and they should choose their words wisely to prevent themselves from becoming so. I've always known ACT UP to be rather sex positive. They are a group encouraging gay men to empower themselves on the glory of protecting one another through safe sex and fighting those in politics who prevent us from equal health care and recognition. ACT UP are not sex police but the simplistic words of "boycott bareback" make them look like just that and thus, the divide between those who have safe sex and those who don't only grows deeper.

We in the safe sex world seem to constantly trip up on the idea that it's the safe sex message which isn't strong enough. That people don't know how to use condoms or that safe sex options aren't out there. But having spent so much time in this world I am starting to understand that the message IS out there and people do know the options. People know about safe sex and condoms and the risks associated with unsafe sex it's just that people are choosing not to have safe sex. The message needs to change from "wear condoms" or "boycott bareback" to "WHY are we barebacking each other?!"

Are the loads really worth it? Does being a cum dump, or a bareback bottom or a bareback-only top really trump a life of being HIV negative? I don't know- who am I to say or argue? Yeah the meds are out there, and those reading this blog and others like it know that nonsense rhetoric of HIV="Oh, I'll just take the meds." But even with the meds the epedemic doesn't stop and regarding your health, it's all a lottery and you could be, might be, hopefully will be ok.

The only thing we can do is present the most honest information possible and encourage others to make the best choices for themselves and for their lives. Talk about this topic. Really get it out there and let your friends and brothers know how much you care for them.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Happy Friday: Inspiration

I'm a happy crier. It's a known fact. I can cry at the drop of hat if something is particularly celebrative or inspirational or life-affirming. I've always been this way- and I love it.

Sometimes things are life are just so beautiful that I can't help myself from crying. They're usually the simplest things too, much like this video below.

The video below is produced by Where the Hell is Matt?- a guy who started off doing a silly dance and soon enough got the entire world involved. I've watched the video around 10 times now and I can't get through it without either full on crying or getting the least bit misty.

I guess he follows the famous lyrics: "If I had the chance I'd ask the world to dance."

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

Big thanks to BStewart for throwing this my way and lifting my soul, again and again.

Spread the video. Spread the love. Happy Friday.

Gotta Love that Photoshop

courtesy of

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Shared Spaces

I ran into Aaron at Nowhere Bar and we got to talking about the whole "Save the Roxy" topic and the case for dwindling New York City nightlife. He opened up a topic which is always on our minds but easily brushed over once talk of policy, neighborhoods, liquor licenses and cabaret laws come into play.

Quite simply: The fight isn't about nightlife as much as it is about preserving our shared spaces. Despite the fact that online development is enabling non-bar types to stay in and orchestrate friendships without venturing out to the local gay bar, Aaron reminded me of the importance for gay people to be able to physically see and be around one another.

Before the internet going out was the only way to be out and many of those pre-Web men still prefer being out opposed to ordering in on the internet. Today, there's a lot of discussion about gay assimilation to the mainstream and the threat of losing our gay culture and flavor as the we, the marginalized, inch our way closer to normalcy.

I come from a time period and a profession where stating, "I'm gay" is as easy as saying I prefer blue over red but for many men from either yesteryear or even today's suit and ties of the financial or business world saying "I'm gay" or being around gay people just doesn't come that easy.

Straight people get see and interact with one another all the time. If one of their places or hang outs closes they just mosey on over to the next one. But for us, our spaces are specific and limited- we can't just move on to the next one. A space has to either already exist or be created for us, and always, by us. Nobody else will do it for us.

When boiled down Aaron's case is: Our shared spaces must remain and be protected because we're not granted the opportunity of day to day interaction. We must venture to specific places to be with our people and thus these spaces must remain open for that fact alone.

I know we've all been there- be it a wedding, or a 4th of July picnic or a family gathering where it's all so straight that we feel we have to break from it and run to our people for a sigh of relief. At the end of the day, we need these spaces to exist so we can all loosen our tie and be around those who understand us.

Lost: My Hope for Humanity

You know things are pretty much in the shitter when Ryan Seacrest and Ty Pennington get nominated for an Emmy...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Jason Saft Comedy

Jason Saft is just one of those people you simply cannot resist. He's snarky, clever, neurotic and it's all wrapped up in an adorable little furry Jew ball. He's the kind of cute that's "kitten cute." You know, like so cute you just want to pick him up and eat his head. Bones, flesh and all...

He's a man of many hats- avid Dodgeballer, bike rider, yogi, chef and his latest fedora is stand up Comedy. Comix (14th st. between 8th/9th) hosts The Back Room in The Ochi Lounge- a night for gay stand up, every Thursday at 9PM.

Jason asked that I tape his performance - enjoy
oh and by the way- everything you hear is absolutely true.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Bear on Board
Tonight's episode of Kathy Griffin's My Life on the D-List followed her to the San Francisco International Bear Rendezvous where she did a cover shoot for A Bear's Life Magazine and preformed before a hefty crowd of 1500 at the Castro Theater.

When I got home I picked up my latest issue of A Bear's Life- The Pride Issue (aww, nuzzle nuzzle) and I read about the history of the lovable autumn colored symbol we now know as the bear flag.

"The International Bear Brotherhood Flag" was created 1n 1995 while Virgina Beach native, Craig Byrnes, was working toward his degree in psychology and needed to design a senior project that would explore the rapidly growing Bear culture developing since the 1980's.
"As a member of the Chesapeake Bay Bears (CBB), I had become involved with first hand experience of the growing bear movement. While developing my senior project, I thought it might be fitting to design a flag that would best represent the Bear community since there was no "official" Bear flag, and include it with the results of my research."


"It's a field of simple horizontal stripes with a black bear paw print in the upper left corner- a layout familiar to anyone who has seen the Leather Pride flag. The colors represent the bear fur colors and different nationalities: brown hair-brown skin, red hair-American Indian skin, blonde hair-Asian skin, white and gray hair-Caucasian skin, and black hair-African skin. We designed it with inclusivity in mind.
Soon after, a few computer generated images were created and woof! the Bear Flag was born.

What I love most in reading about all these flags and all these artifacts is that I learn they're not just simple symbols dulled out to the community because they're an easy fit, rather, they are well thought-out creations paying homage to both history and a sense of togetherness.

For instance, did you know Gilbert Baker assigned meaning to each color in the rainbow flag?
hot pink: sexuality
red: life
orange: healing
yellow: sunlight
green: nature
turquoise: magic
blue: serenity
violet: spirit
red: life
orange: healing
yellow: sunlight
green: nature
blue: serenity
violet: spirit

And did you ever notice that there's a nice red heart in the corner of the deep blue and black stripes of the leather flag?

And a Transgender pride flag-
Creator Monica Helms explains the colors mean: The light blue is the traditional color for baby boys, pink is for girls, and the white in the middle is for those who are transitioning, those who feel they have a neutral gender or no gender, and those who are intersexed. The pattern is such that no matter which way you fly it, it will always be correct. This symbolizes us trying to find correctness in our own lives.

Or that there's a Bisexual pride flag? Who knew?

(Creator Michael Page intended for the colors to mean: Pink- attraction to the same sex. Blue- attraction to the opposite sex and Lavender- attraction to both sexes.)

Geez, what a bunch of flags, eh?

Big "Arf" to Bear's Life Magazine for sharing the history- and whatever flag you carry or whatever color is your favorite- wave it out, baby.

Wave. It. Out.

Happy Friday.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Importance of the West Village and those God-Damned Christopher Street Kids

Dwayne Garner- 2008
I want to start this blog entry by prefacing that, yes, I realize the Christopher street kids are loud, that they loiter and yes, I feel for those residents plagued by the noise pollution, crowded and dirty sidewalks and youths running amok. I realize all of this and I sympathize with the problems and annoyances the residents of Christopher St. face regarding these children and their noise.

But I'd also like to say that I sympathize with the youth too. It's a fact- these mostly minority, almost all inner-city youths come to Christopher Street because for 40 years this street stands as THE known place where one can be as openly gay as they are. Just take a look around. If you want to know where community pride is- look to these kids. Many of them unapologetically effeminate, the young fems hold the hands of their butchie partners and all of them are decked out in some form of rainbow attire. They're here, they're queer and they are on Christopher Street to be just that. There is no Christopher Street in Newark or The Bronx or Brooklyn or Queens- so is it any wonder these kids take hour-plus train rides, escaping their homelands to be here, on this small strip of a street?

I have blogged about this several times: The kids are hanging out at all hours of the night, loitering outside of the bars, because that's the "cool" place to be and despite the best and deeply appreciated efforts of The Gay and Lesbian Center, the kids just don't find "The Center" a "cool" place to hang. I've said it before, to a tiring degree- It is not the kid's fault that they have nowhere to go but it is the fault of a city and a community too disinterested in creating a safe, well supervised, "cool" 18+ venue for these kids to go that isn't any kind of "Center." I'll vouch for it- I grew up in a white, wealthy, tree lined New Jersey suburb and although these kids' street-cred is far superior than mine ever was I still scoffed at the notion that my mother expected me to have fun at High School or Hebrew School dances. It's the same thing as a center- a party organized by authority. The two will never fit into the same equation.

Now despite the statements above the article below details a Center of the city that has some working ingredients: culture, dance, and expression. The article also offers a window into the mind of 2008 gay youth, upholding his sense of cultural history, The Ball Culture, through the years that passed while still upholding what Christopher Street means to all of us and why it is year after year that we regard this paved spread of blocks as a home.

From the NY Times:
ON a recent Monday afternoon, scores of young people gathered in a mirrored-wall dance studio at the Door, a youth center on Broome Street in the West Village, where they cranked out thumping house music and competed in vogueing, a dance style influenced by modeling poses that was popularized by gay people in the 1980s.

The center’s vogueing competition, which has categories like runway, performance and face, takes place weekly and is called a mini-ball, a tip of the hat to the grand balls of the established vogueing scene. The event was added to the center’s schedule two years ago. It is one of a series of programs intended in part to offer gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teenagers who flock to the Village from elsewhere in the city an alternative to hanging out on the streets and Pier 54, thus helping smooth relations between them and neighborhood residents who had increasingly complained about their raucous behavior.

Among the party’s regular competitors is Dwayne Garner, a lithe 20-year-old with full lips and high cheekbones who dreams of becoming a model and an actor. On a recent afternoon between dancing in the mini-ball and rehearsing a routine for Manhattan’s annual Gay Pride Parade, which will be held today, Mr. Garner spoke about the art of vogueing and coming of age as a young gay man in the West Village.


It was beautiful when I first came to the Village in 1992. I was 14. In the Village, every block you went on, you saw at least 20 gay people. I wanted to spend as much time as I could down there. I didn’t do drugs, didn’t smoke weed, didn’t smoke cigarettes, didn’t drink liquor, nothing. It was just a natural high to be around men who were attracted to me. When I went home, I had to become more butch. Down there, I could be free. I could breathe.

By the way I dress and carry myself, people in my community see that I’m gay. Some people treat me like a normal person. Some people say, “Oh, faggot.” Plenty of young people are dealing with the same issues I did, and the West Village is the only place that offers comfort.

There was a lot of protest last year about young people being down there late at night. Residents think we’re rowdy. But if I was a resident of the West Village and had people who don’t live in my neighborhood there all day every day, standing in front of my building, smoking, drinking and having loud conversations while I have to get up and go to work the next morning, I would be upset, too. I understand the animosity.

I’ve been coming to the Door since I was 15. Me and my friend Joshua used to play around in the Door’s dance studio trying to learn how to vogue. People came and watched us dance. We said, “Since you’re watching us, you might as well make yourself useful and judge us.” They judged us on our vogue, our stage presence. After we were done battling, they chose a winner. We were like, that’s cute. We just did our own little mini-ball.

Breathe with these kids. Sympathize with them- because whether it was Christopher Street or any other Mecca of gayness, at one time or another each and everyone of us have come upon these lands and said, "I'm home."

Quote of the Weekend

DJ Corey Craig
Vlada, Saturday night. Midnight.
Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Heart" is playing-

DJ Corey Craig on the mic:
"Leona Lewis is a cutter."

Plain. Simple. Hysterical.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Nightlife, Roxy: Bring it Back


Not many realize the impact Roxy's closure had on New York nightlife. Whether you went there or not, whether you are a fan of dancing or not, there was always a comfort in knowing that on any given Saturday night you had the option of totally losing yourself on the dance floor until dawn. Thousands of men, weekend after weekend- a full on, resident dance party. Then it shut down. After thirty years.

The revelers committed to the every weekend party split off in two directions laid forth by the powers that be. John Blair took his legendary party to Splash, tired and played out to NY residents but hits the jack pot on tourists and the young. Others went to Octagon Stereo for Peter Rauhofer's Saturday night fix. That party only lasted a year or so.

Dancing is dwindling in this city and nightlife is being smothered to a less than subtle degree.

Alegria lost its space at Sound Factory Pacha, then Crobar Mansion and now resides at Webster Hall, which despite it's genuine and historic nod to NYC nightlife, just can't pack 'em in like the major venues of the city.

This is New York City, ladies and gentlemen, and a gay man can't even dance on a Saturday night! There's something seriously wrong here.

One of the top ten most talked about conversations heard by gay or straight, male or female people of this city is that there is no place to dance and that people aren't dancing. Just like the bees dying- people aren't dancing.

In fact, a few months ago at Nowhere Bar a couple from London was asking all the patrons where the big party was for that Saturday night. When they asked my group we looked at one another, shrugged our shoulders and mouthed, "there's nowhere to go." This is New York City- what the hell is going on here?

Well, we talk about it and certainly complain about it enough so here's a window of opportunity to at least try to do something about it.

Community Board 4, Business Licenses & Permits Meeting
Tuesday, July 8th @ 6:30PM
The Westin Hotel (270 W. 43rd St.) in The Minetta Room.

This just in:

This Tuesday, you have a real opportunity to stand up for New York City nightlife, which has been increasingly under attack from a small group of residents. These groups are fighting to end the city's legacy as a global nightlife destination, attempting to allow fewer licenses to be issued, closing bars early, and even shutting down some venues.

The historic Roxy nightclub is attempting to reopen, and their ability to obtain a liquor license may be blocked by Chelsea's fringe anti-nightlife activists. On Tuesday, you can attend Community Board Four's Business Licenses & Permits Meeting and ask the Board to preserve New York's outstanding nightlife.

Roxy could practically be designated a landmark, defined in New York City as a structure at least thirty years old that possesses "...a special character or special historical or aesthetic interest or value as part of the development, heritage, or cultural characteristics of the city, state, or nation," according to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Roxy first opened in the 1970s as a roller disco, and was known as the 'Studio 54 of roller rinks,' whose guest list included the 1980 US Mens Hockey Team, which had just won an Olympic Gold Medal for the United States. In 1982, Roxy transformed into one of the birthplaces of hip hop, showcasing hip hop pioneers as illustrious as Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash. My own memories are more recent; I was a regular attendee of Roxy Saturdays, the John Blair-sponsored gay night where icons like Madonna and Cher would occasionally perform. Even beyond its cultural and historical importance, though, Roxy was an absolute success story as a clubgoing destination; it remains a beloved fixture in New York's nightlife and has earned the right to reopen in the neighborhood that it has fostered for over thirty years.

Beyond The Roxy's license problem, there is a disturbing trend first reported last April in The New York Sun. "In most parts of Manhattan, bar and club owners say, it has become nearly impossible to open new nightlife establishments that are permitted to serve alcohol until 4 am." The "City That Never Sleeps" is under attack from those residents who move into neighborhoods that have been revitalized in large part by their vibrant nightlife, only to attempt gut that very nightlife and turn the neighborhoods into the equivalent of suburban bedroom communities. Unless we act now, we could see our 4am nightspots dwindle off. Make your voice heard Tuesday.

This is more than a lifestyle concern; nightclubs and the businesses that serve them bring over $10 billion in economic activity to New York City and employ over 100,000 people. On Tuesday, tell the Board that failure to grant full liquor licenses will effect thousands of your friends and neighbors.

The fight won't be over Tuesday, though: please mark your calendars for Wednesday, July 23rd, when the full board will meet to debate its final recommendation to the State Liquor Authority. We need hundreds of people, gay and otherwise, to come and show power in action. The anti-nightlife frenzy of Community Board Four is destroying the quality of life for thousands of people in our community. Let's exercise our democratic rights and reopen Roxy.

I hope you'll join me at both meetings. Bring a friend. Bring five. The future of New York City nightlife is in your hands. And hey, we can all go out for some drinks afterwards. Hopefully we can find a place nearby still open.

Meeting Details:

Community Board 4, Business Licenses & Permits Meeting, Tuesday, July 8th @ 6:30PM at The Westin Hotel (270 W. 43rd St.) in The Minetta Room.

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008, 6:30 p.m, Roosevelt Hospital, 1000 Tenth Av. (b. 58th / 59th)


Ryan J. Davis

PS: Want to help? Join the Facebook Group
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Ryan J. Davis | New York, NY

Pundit - The Hill & The Huffington Post


Ad Council's new no holds barred PSAs on CyberBullying:

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Absolute Amazingness

Love it.

50 Best/Worst Gay Bars in America

My friend John Polly over at Logo Online sent out a massive email asking people from all over the country to lend a hand in helping him compile the best and worst gay bars across all 50 states.

What he came up can be seen here or at the LogoOnline Travel section of the website. Go and check out the bars. It makes for a great travel resource in addition to one hell of a bar crawl. Hmmm..I'm smelling the next possible documentary: "The Nation Wide Gay Bar Crawl."

I listed my favorite bar: IBT's in Tucson, Arizona where I would venture to during my days at The University of Arizona. Funny- my blog pal This Boy Elroy went to U Of Arizona and IBT's but it's too bad we didn't know each other then.

Peep it:

When I think of the “Best Gay Bars,” I think of places where anything can happen, where raucous theme nights are the norm, where the locals are crazy and possibly hot, and where fun, unpredictable, bad behavior abounds. So I sent out emails to a lusty batch of travel writers, hard-partying friends and media folks from around the country, asking them... “What are the best gay bars in the U.S.???”

The results are personal, rather than scientific. And the surprising common theme which evolved was the soft-spot people have in their hearts for kistchy, dive-y, messy bars where a sketchy queen might be found lip-synching to Crystal Waters ’til the wee hours. And interestingly, most of the places tend to draw a mix of people: Old and young, rich and not-so-rich, men and women, high-class and trashy, gay and lesbian and trans and then some. After all, the more things get mixed up, the wilder things get, right?

To add a bit of pomp and circumstance, I've got the Top 3 bars picked. They're the ones that more people chimed in about the most. And after the Top 3, read on for a state-by-state round-up of what scored raves from our contributors. And yes, your favorite bar may be left out, so write me at and let me know your thoughts.

Thanks to my esteemed contributors for their input. And Happy Pride, y'all!

IBT's - Tucson, AZ
616 North 4th Avenue, Tucson; tel. 520-882-3053;
Who even knew Tucson was a city let alone had a gay bar? IBT's is where the drags to the bears to the gay cowboys saddle up to the bar and drink everything from beers to IBT's famous Judy Garland special (which honestly, I think is just a vodka-cranberry, but that's "exotic" in Tucson so it deserves a name). A must-see if going to Tucson!
--Eric Leven

Trevor Project on CNN

Pat on the back to CNN for featuring this article on The Trevor Project. I have known about The Trevor Project for a few years now and really commend their efforts. It is a relief to know this is available for queer youth - true life savers.

I tried to prevent myself from saying this but what the hell: Keep this article in mind when the Churches and Right-Wingers talk about all the "saving" they do.

The transgendered woman on the other end of the line was threatening to kill herself by jumping off of a parking structure. The Trevor Helpline counselor who answered the phone worked to get the 24-year-old calm and immediately called police for help.

Exactly one month later, that same woman called the helpline back -- to thank them for saving her life.

Stories like these are the reason The Trevor Project operates its helpline, the only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention number for gay and questioning youth. More than 500 volunteers are trained for 40 hours to run the bicoastal call centers.

"There's a high level of stress that youth face in the transition from youth to adulthood," Charles Robbins, executive director of The Trevor Project, said. "Add on top of that the challenges of sexual orientation or gender identity and we get 15,000 calls a year."

A 2005 Massachusetts Department of Education survey of 3,500 high school students, in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found almost 11 percent have seriously considered suicide. And that percentage is almost four times as high for 10 to 24-year-olds who identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual.

"Because of the unfortunate stigma that still exists in the United States around homosexuality ... youth tend to hold back their feelings, don't disclose, live in denial or shame," Robbins said.

Every year The Trevor Project honors one individual who publicly works to reject that stigma and helps in the group's overall goal: to promote the acceptance of gay and questioning youth in society. This year's honoree, actor Alan Cumming, has been "unapologetic, and true to himself," Robbins said.

Despite the notion that it's seemingly "easier" to come out these days I can tell you that upon realizing that I myself might be gay I definitely entertained and fantasized the idea of ending my life. Realizing same-sex attraction while dealing with the myriad of other teen and high school angst ridden problems isn't an easy thing to handle. I still remember those days and I'm glad they're far behind me.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Pride: 20 - 27

Below an unedited, untouched excerpt from my Journal dating June 2001:

"Well, I am officially 20 years old. God this has got to be the best birthday I ever had. After spending Saturday evening at Jeff's house I woke up, rushed out the door and headed to Rich's. Rich and I made it to his friend Trisha's house, great woman, and from there went into the city to celebrate ourselves, who I am as a person and lastly my birthday!

Pride 2001 was INCREDIBLE! I amaze myself at how easily I can assimilate to the community! Five minutes within NYC and I'm getting pawed at and taking my shirt off. Man, I love that.

Rich and I hit the Duplex first, had a few drinks and socialized with fellow teammates. The main thought on my mind was, "I want to go to Pier Dance." Anyways, I had a blast- we went bar hopping and I cruised and got cruised more than I ever expected. I don't know. Maybe it's an aura.

So we did that for awhile- even hit up the lesbian bars which rocked!! Haha, It's refreshing to think that one can have eternal fun by completely letting their guard down, and just simply, "letting themselves have a good time." It's just wonderful! Rich and I decided it was time to search for Pier Dance tickets and of course, within 5 minutes we found two. I knew I would get in!

WOW WHAT A PARTY! Tons, tons, tons of great looking guys and a few girls dancing hard, sweating, smiling, touching, living, celebrating ourselves! I danced my ass off and danced well.

I swear it was so powerful- the men, the energy, the happiness, the PRIDE that I began crying, thinking what a mountain I climbed, what an obstacle I overcame and with that life became so beautiful, so real, I began to cry out of sheer triumph and happiness. I said to myself, "Remember this always, this is your 20th Birthday."

I hope the memory of the fireworks and the emotion sticks with me- dancing on the platform, seeing the lights, seeing the heads, seeing the community! After dancing with thousands of hot guys (NYC ROCKS!) drinking, smiling, and flirting the party ended. Rich and I hit up some more bars and now at 4:00AM on the button I put a close to this glorious, emotion-filled, HOT, beautiful birthday of mine and Pride 2001 NYC."


The Man with the Flag- Gilbert Baker

My alarm clock buzzed obnoxiously at 9:45AM and I could still feel the alcohol in my stomach from last night's Blowoff Party. I had an hour to get my shit together, meet up with Gwen and Nicky and hop a cab uptown to 52nd street to meet Gilbert Baker and Jay Blotcher to march in my first NYC Gay Pride Parade.

I downed a bottle of water and threw myself into a cold shower, a pair of shorts, my "Where is the Outrage?" tee shirt, my Leather Daddy shades, my rainbow gear and headed to The Bean to meet Gwen and Nicky. When Blotcher told me some days ago about the open slot for two people it was only fitting that I invite Gwen to walk with me for my first march in a Pride Parade. After all, she is my first gay hero, having so boldly come out of the closet when we were just 14 and Freshmen in High School.

I saw Nicky, Gwen's girlfriend of 2+ years, wearing a deliciously sexy green short-short jumper of sorts and immediately hugged her.
"Would you look at this! Nothing but blue skies! SEE, God loves pride," I exclaimed as I hugged her.
"I know, right?" She responded hugging me back, "every year they say it's going to rain and right now it's nothing but blue skies!"
"You look great!" I responded giving her an extra kiss on the cheek, "Happy pride!"

Gwen quickly joined us wearing black shorts, a black tank top, boots and a black hat. I hugged and kissed her as I did Nicky. The three of us jumped in a cab with 15 minutes to spare.

Outside the cab Nicky helped me snap on my rainbow suspenders, the perfect icing to the cake that was my outfit for the day. I saw Blotcher almost instantaneously- who could miss him in his bright orange Hawaiian shirt? He stood there glowing as usual, smile from ear to ear and I hugged him with a "Happy Pride." He introduced me to Grand Marshall, Gilbert Baker, and I told him it was an absolute pleasure to meet him and that I was honored to walk behind him in my first march. He looked at my shirt and said, "Love the shirt- you're coming up front." I smiled and got pulled away into the frenzy of the pre-pride march organizational mayhem. Walking with me were other friends I've made along the way. Well known Cinematic Art Director, Charley Beal, who just wrapped on his latest job working on the Harvey Milk film and Mark-Sam Rosenthal, someone who I've read next to at Reading For Filth nights at Rapture Cafe.

We had about an hour to kill before the March began so I decided to hit up Madison Avenue and strut my rainbows outside of the Pride Boundary of 5th Avenue. I love it and always will. People don't know what to think! I stood in Cafe Europa thumbing my suspenders proudly purposefully taking a long time to get a sandwich making sure every straight eye had the opportunity of seeing me. I drank half my water bottle standing next to a garbage can, swiveled on my heel and split.

By the time I made it back to 5th Avenue the Dykes on Bikes and Biker Men were ready to peel out. I took my place behind the car Gilbert Baker was riding in and held the banner which stated, "Original Rainbow Flag." It was all pretty overwhelming and stressful at first, keeping up with Gilbert's car, following the orders of the wonderful Heritage of Pride organizational staff (I don't know how they do it) and behind me a tremendous rainbow flag with at least 20 people carrying it! And then suddenly, we were marching.

In all my life I've never walked in front of so many people. The sidewalks were jam-packed from 52nd St. down to Christopher. And what people to pack the streets with! Such wonderful, colorful, bold, happy people lined the streets, shouting and screaming and blowing whistles and waving flags and cheering each other on. Joe's right- Happy Pride isn't about having one day to recognize that we're not alone, it's about congratulating one another on being who we are, on having made it this far and not letting anybody else tell us who we should be. I quickly got lost in all of it and couldn't have prevented myself from blowing kisses to those smiling the brightest, to screaming at the top of my lungs to working the crowd up into the frenzy. So many people, so many wonderful people- my family.

We approached Bryant Park in a flash. Ten blocks already. I couldn't believe it. The edges of Bryant Park, from the sidewalks to the steps of the library were packed with people of every color and every age. Above this crowd hung a huge banner stating, "We Remember" and it took every muscle in my neck and all the hard-clenching of my teeth to hold back the tears so desperately wanting to fall. I looked up at the sky and paid my respects and I looked forward into the crowd and said a blessing for everyone today living with HIV/AIDS and with that my lip trembled and I let the tears drop down my face. I held myself there for a brief moment until I noticed the old drag queen wearing a dalmatian-dotted swim suit complete with white fuzzy slippers and I found the smile I needed to continue marching.

The West Village was coming up fast and I found myself wishing there were an extra ten, twenty blocks to walk. It was all too much fun. I didn't want it to end. I kept looking back and smiling to Gwen and Nicky, to Blotcher and forward to Gilbert- the man responsible for all the rainbow we see on this day and I kept smiling and cheering and revving up the crowd.

Turning on to Christopher Street was by far the most exhilarating part. It must be what a marathon runner feels when they know they're reaching the final stretch. Christopher Street was more densely packed than anything we had seen in the last 40 blocks. Here the colors were brighter, the screaming louder, people were on each other's shoulders, standing on high-rise balconies and as it rained rainbow colored confetti people were just screaming- screaming and hollering and cheering each other on.

At one point a young tiny lesbian, no older than 18, reached out and grabbed my hand and as if it were instinct we looked each other in the eye, squeezed our hands together and smiled simultaneously mouthing the words, "Happy Pride." This is one of those moments I'll take with me forever. One moment in the millions throughout life that I'll have with me always as proof, that even if for just one day, we are all together as one community.

Gilbert Baker's crew finished just as the rain began pouring down. Blotcher, Gwen, Nicky and I stood under a scaffolding waiting for the rain to let up. They both invited me to their next destinations but I declined wanting to absorb the day on my own. After the rain let up and the sun came out I tried making my way to Pridefest but no such luck. I meandered a bit before finding the perfect spot and stood there for what had to be hours, high-five'ing and Happy Priding my brothers and sisters until my hand was sore and I again needed to seek cover from the rain.

I know who or whatever is up in the sky never lets it rain long on Gay Pride day. So I waited patiently for the sun to peak through and made my way to my 8th Pier Dance. At the dance I did as I had done at my first: I danced my ass off, surrounded by hot men, dancing hard, sweating, smiling, touching, living and celebrating ourselves. I threw imaginary love in the air as the speakers blared "Love is in the air" and smiled wildly at my kin. Just like my first dance, the fireworks went up and the men around me ooo'd and aaah'd as their arms reached over one another's shoulders and held each other close.

As I walked toward the exit of the pier and shuffled my feet past empty water bottles and beer cans, I puffed my bare chest out toward the city and my back to the Hudson. And as rainbow suspenders dangled by my legs, I put a close to another glorious, emotion-filled, hot, beautiful day and Pride 2008 NYC.

Happy Pride.

(photos: 1. Gilbert Baker- Organizing his Group. 2. Banner holding. 3. Gwen, Nicky, Jay Blotcher holding the flag (Edge New York.) 4. Me pointing at Blotcher)