Round One of the “Choose My Inspiration” contest started with a blast. Though the competition was tough, here is the winner from Round 1!
Round 1 Winner: Stud #5
Stud # 5 captured the hearts and, um, inspirations of the majority of the voters. Although Stud #2 got close, our Stud #5 never once lost the lead. He will now proceed to the final round in a few weeks.
Now, it is time for Round 2.
For those of you unfamiliar with the rules for this contest, click here. You’ll learn all you need to know about the process and how a winner will be chosen.
Also, as most of you know from last week, readers are choosing the inspiration for one of the main characters of an upcoming series currently being developed. While I’m still not ready to divulge too much information about the new series, I will tell you this. This new set of three books will be novellas.
Okay, enough of my rambling. Let’s get to the brand new set of five studs vying for your votes this week. Don’t forget to click on the pic to see bigger…images. 😉 Additionally, please remember that in order for your vote to count, you must click on the radio button corresponding to your hunk below the images and then click on the vote button. Only votes cast in this manner will count toward choosing my inspiration. 🙂
Round 2 Winner: Stud #7
Which of these 5 guys would you want to be a main character in my upcoming series? (Round 2)
I thought it would be fun to start a regular series of posts about things that I love. This would not only give me a forum to share those things in life I truly enjoy, but also give my readers some further insight into the man behind the computer screen and the novels. It’s my way of trying to bridge the gap between us since most of us only see each other once a year at GRL or other conferences.
So, today, for the premiere post of the “Why I Love…” series, I will be talking about Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Where is Provincetown?
Provincetown is at the tip of Cape Cod, which is the arm like appendage that juts out from the state and into the Atlantic Ocean.
See? Looks like a flexed arm, doesn’t it?
It is also the actual site of the Pilgrim’s first landing. It wasn’t Plymouth like many people believe. The Pilgrims, after charting a rather interesting path all around the Cape (which often makes me wonder if someone was steering under the influence), landed in Provincetown but didn’t stay. The soil was not suitable for crops, so they got back on the boat, turned the wheel back over to Captain Drunky McDrunkerson, and then they headed to Plymouth.
Look at the path they took! Someone was D-R-U-N-K!
What’s so great about Provincetown? The Pilgrims Didn’t Want it!
While the Pilgrims may not have found Provincetown sutiable for their needs, there are many reasons why it is one of the best places on this planet. It’s because of the:
The people who reside in Provincetown are perhaps some of the best people I’ve ever met. And it’s not just the year-round residents, who are called Townies, but it’s also the people who visit there every year.
You see, P-town, as those who know her well call her, is a place that knows no stranger. She welcomes you with open arms upon arrival. You truly feel accepted by the men and women who live and visit the tip of the Cape. These people are friends just waiting to be made, and my husband and I have made many life long friends upon her sandy shores. We have been returning to P-town every year for the past seven years, and we were even married there in 2010. Each year, we not only meet up with friends who have become like family, but we also meet new people who join that ever-growing number of friends.
Commercial Street is always a bevy of activity. There are shops, art galleries, clothing stores, and restaurants. You can spend an entire day just walking up and down this one street, peeking into every store. You can purchase a new wardrobe, a new centerpiece for your table, or a great meal. And at all of these places, you are guaranteed to make at least one friend at each stop. The waiter and shop owners typically remember you and will stop and say hi the next time you run into each other. And, on Commercial Street, you will run into the same people for your entire visit. It makes you feel less like a visitor and more like a Townie.
A view of Commercial Street
Herring Cove and Race Point are spectacular. Herring Cove has a gentle surf, where you might even spot whales from the beach. Beautiful, rolling dunes surround the beach, and if you walk far enough, you can even find a quiet spot just for you and your loved one. It can be quite romantic.
Families typically gather at Race Point, where the waves are just right for surfing. There’s even a lighthouse, which makes it a great place to sun and picnic on a warm New England day.
Herring Cove Beach
Race Point Beach
The biggest and best party is called Tea Dance or just “tea.” They do not serve tea here, well, you could get a Long Island Ice Tea, but if you ask for a cup of tea and some cake, people will look at you as if you are strange.
It’s called tea dance because of the time the dance occurs. It takes place during what is traditionally tea time in England, between the hours of 4-7 p.m. So, there are no tea kettles or finger sandwiches. You will, however, find the pool deck jam packed with half-dressed, hot guys who are all drinking, dancing, and thoroughly enjoying the heck out of each other. Mobs of people usually crowd the Boatslip, where tea is held, and though it can get crowded, it’s rarely that type of crowd that you want to avoid.
Tea Dance at the Boatslip
You won’t really find obnoxious people at tea. Sure, there’s some drunk person who might get sick or pass out in one of the bathroom stalls. Yuck, I know. But beyond that, it’s all about dancing and socializing. When tea is done, there’s usually the After Tea dance. And after After Tea, there are the clubs. Some people, like my husband, demand food at some point, so usually after a light dinner, there’s a power nap before it’s club time!
There are so many parties and so many clubs to choose from: the underwear party at Club Purgatory, the Red Party at A-House, the Vault at Large at the Crown and Anchor, or any number other of events occurring at any of the other spots. Here, you don’t run out of things to do. You run out of time to do them all.
So as you can see, Provincetown is not only a place where you make friends, but it’s a place where you can be yourself and enjoy yourself.
It’s hard to believe that it’s that time of the year to once again begin our annual trek to Provincetown, Massachusetts, the land of, uh, milk and honey. This year will mark our sixth consecutive year of summering in Ptown (as it is more commonly called), and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Those of you who have followed my blog know of my love of Ptown. I’ve posted about it here and here, and with just four days till I once again stand on the shores of what I hope to be my future home, it also means that I must begin the arduous task of preparing for my month in Provincetown.
Step #1: Step Up the Work Out
This step actually occurs all year round, but as Ptown draws closer, it’s always a good idea to increase the reps and amp up the cardio. There are plenty of well toned, nicely sculpted bodies parading shirtless down Commercial Street and don’t even get me started on the barely there swimsuits at the pool or beach. In order not to feel too bad about myself, I increase the weights and the reps to help add more definition to what I’ve been working on for the eleven months up to my return. Thankfully, this year we arrive during Bear Week (and I love the bears!) instead of during July 4th, which I lovingly call Twink Week. Since the bears tend to be of heartier fare, it’s a nice way to begin the month vacation and ease my way into the Ptown scene. I always feel petite during Bear Week, so it’s a good ego boost for me. (If you don’t know what I mean by bear, click here for a reference guide).
Step #2: Eat Meat
As part of the slim down and bulk up routine, it’s a good idea to eat meat and abandon the carbs as much as possible before the eventual arrival in Ptown. The added protein helps build muscle while the absence of carbs helps shed some extra body weight. Additionally, if you’re like me and drink more alcohol than you consume food while in Ptown, your body will need the extra sustenance.
Step #3: Dress Like a Straight Boy
During the week before departure, I don’t wear the clothes I’m taking with me because I don’t want to have to do laundry the same day I’m packing for the trip. So, I go to the back of my closet for the loose shirts and open the drawer containing my baggy shorts and don those the entire week up to my flight. The extra fabric is cumbersome; I freely admit that, but the time saved is well worth it.
Step #4: Gather the Gear
Provincetown has many themed weeks and an assortment of parties, so you have to make sure you are adequately prepared for the underwear and leather parties at the various clubs. Different clubs allow different “costumes,” and variety is the spice of life! Beyond the parties, you have to bring comfortably stylish clothes for general exploration of the town, a whole different set for dinner (when it is consumed), a different wardrobe for tea (which is a daily party from 4-7 at the Boatslip), and then clothes for the clubs at night. That’s a lot of different ensembles, but being prepared is well worth it when you get there and saves you the trouble of buying new clothes when you are there.
Step #5: Play Supermodel
Once all the different outfits have been assembled, it’s important to try them on before you actually get there, so I turn on my favorite iTunes playlist and start the fashion show. It’s a good way to determine whether what looked good last year held the test of time, and what gay boy doesn’t enjoy being the star of his own runway every now and then? Favorite shirts fade or sprout holes, and it’s better to find out before you leave then when you get there and have to scramble for a new look. Last minute costume changes are the worst!
With only four days till my departure, I’m currently at step 3. Steps 4 and 5 will take place on Wednesday and Thursday since my flight to Boston is on Friday. While this week is a lot of prep time, the end result is well worth the labor!
43 years ago today on June 28, 1969, The Stonewall Riots occurred in New York City. Many people in the nation, including the younger gay generation, are ignorant to the significance of this day in our nation’s history. While June has become National Pride Month, celebrated by parades and parties nationwide, Stonewall is often overlooked.
We simply cannot let that happen. Why is that?
Because without the riots at the Stonewall Inn, caused by gays and lesbians who had grown tired of being persecuted, we would not have the Gay Rights Movement we have today. Without those pioneers for equal treatment under the law, gay pride wouldn’t exist. Neither would same sex marriage or a president that has come out in support of gay marriage.
The progress we made started on the streets of New York City at Stonewall Inn, when the persecuted minority rose up and found its voice, and it is that voice that has carried us as far as we have come and will continue to carry us to full equality. Those voices gave birth to the parades, parties, and clubs we now take for granted because prior to Stonewall, those gatherings were illegal.
That’s what I tell my friends who ask me: I support gay rights, but I don’t understand the “need to parade.” Why do gay people feel compelled to line up in streets in provocative costumes and make spectacles of themselves?
The answer is quite simple–because we now can. Many people have no clue what it’s like to live your life in the dark, but homosexuals do. Now that we are no longer forced inside the dark closet of shame, we “parade” to tell the world that we are here, we are not going anywhere, and there’s nothing anyone can do about that. Ever. Again.
So, to those brave men and women who fought back at Stonewall, I applaud you, but more importantly I respect how you helped shape the nation from what it was to what it now is. We still have a way to go, but with the strength and the voice you gave us, we will get there.
The following video is a result of a student’s graduation piece from Otis College of Art and Design. I think Macauley C. Johnson does a nice job of capturing the essence of what LGBT people are fighting for.
The clip above is from a documentary called “The Adonis Factor” by Christopher Hines I recently watched, and it got me thinking about the typical gay male quest for physical perfection. Why do we as gay men put such an emphasis on body image and how healthy is this pursuit on the individual as well as the community at large?
To find the answers, I started by looking at myself. I’m just as guilty at propagating this quest, and most who know me well are at this moment nodding their heads vigorously in response. It’s not like I can deny it. I watch my caloric intake–no more than 1,600 calories per day. For breakfast, I eat a protein shake with a banana and flax seed. I have a whole wheat chicken sandwich, another banana, and a protein bar for lunch, and for dinner a nice meal lovingly prepared by my husband, who knows my caloric and dietary restrictions. I drink water all day. No carbonated drinks cross these lips unless I’m having a vodka and sprite on those rare nights out. I go to the gym six days a week religiously, and I can be quite the bear if my workout schedule is interrupted.
Why do I do this?
Well, I do it to stay healthy. As the fat kid for most of my life, I have no desire to once again weigh 195 pounds, which is what I weighed at my heaviest, and since I stand only 5’6″, we all have to admit I was quite chunky.
But is health the only reason I do this? Of course not!
Looking good means being appreciated by others, and who doesn’t enjoy that? I certainly do, and I’m married with children! So to say that the quest for physical perfection is merely what we do to snag a mate is not true. The strive for physical perfection doesn’t stop once we’ve reached the happily ever after. And it’s not just me. I know many gay men who continue to hit the gym and watch their calories way after they are in a fully committed relationship.
“The Adonis Factor” claims that gay men are “visually programmed” and that “attractiveness is key to a man’s self esteem.” I can’t argue with those points. Like women, gay men are inundated with models of physical perfection in the media daily. The hunky models and the shirtless actors affect us as much as supermodels sometimes spur women to reach for physical perfection. We want to be desired like those hard bodies we see on the screen or in the magazines too. Also, to catch someone’s eye or cause that shirtless muscle man across the bar to stop mid sentence and stare at you with his mouth open just feels damn good.
Sample Ad depicting gay life
But I think the gay male’s quest for physical perfection goes beyond being visually programmed or self esteem. I think it appeals to a more base instinct–competition. Men are competitive by nature, and most don’t like to lose. I know I don’t. So while the promise of sex and the boost to our self-esteem are definitely contributing factors, I think so is competition.
Think about it. We work harder, so we can be the best, or as close to it as we are going to get. When gay men see someone with a hot body, do they want to be with that person sexually? Well, yeah. That’s usually a no-brainer. But most also secretly want to have that body longer than just for the night. They want their pecs to be as sculpted, their biceps to be as bulging, and their abs to be just as flat.
You can see it happening at any gym or gay bar. Gay men dress to impress, but their eyes are constantly scanning the crowd in search of a body they not only want sexually but one they wish they could have. The guys with the best bodies are usually either shirtless or wearing the tightest shirts possible, and they typically get the most guys coming on to them. They put what they have on display, and it motivates gay men who fall just shy of them to increase their reps at the gym or the number of sit ups the next day. When the inevitable craving for a chocolate bar or a pizza hits, those striving for physical perfection think about the hot guys at the club or on television, and they pass on the empty calories for the delayed gratification of a flatter stomach and more muscle mass.
And while this makes for a more healthy conscious community, what effect does the pursuit for physical perfection have on the individual and on the community?
There are certainly positive effects. Gay men maintain their bodies for far longer than straight men do, and as a result, typically suffer from less health problems. A study conducted by American Journal of Public Health and reported on in South Florida Gay News states that “… gay men are 50 percent less likely to be obese compared to their heterosexual counterparts.” Since we watch our weight, we suffer less from diabetes, heart disease, or other illnesses related to lack of physical fitness. The study also quotes Dr. Greg Pizzi, a psychologist, who states that “men or women, who are in relationships with men would generally take better care of their bodies, since men tend to be more visual in their attractions and make it pretty clear that they are looking for a partner who looks good.” So while gay men take care of themselves better than their straight brothers, there is no true altruism behind the gesture. They do it to remain sexually attractive and competitive with other gay men.
But this craving to remain as sexually attractive and competitive for as long as possible also comes with a price. I found an article titled “Men are Dying for Sex: Mating Competition Explains Excess Male Mortality” on Phys.org, a popular science, technology, and research news website that focuses on biology, among other subjects. The article states that “men compete with other men for mating partners and trying to make themselves attractive…. This competition leads to strategies that are riskier for men both behaviorally and physiologically, and these result in higher levels of mortality.” While the article focuses on male/female relationships, the information found within it can definitely be applied to gay men.
In the gay community, where gay man battles gay man for physical perfection and mating rights, the results can be dire, as stated in the Phys.org article. A recent survey reported on in PinkNews, a large European gay news site, states that:
48% of gay men would sacrifice a year or more of their lives in exchange for a perfect body.
The research also said 10% of gay men would agree to die more than 11 years earlier if they could have their ideal body now.
Nine in ten gay men admit they enforce ‘unrealistic’ images of lean and muscular men in conversation.
In comparison, only a third of straight men said they would give a year or more for an ideal body shape, and 77% admitted buying into the body image ideal.”
As you can see from the survey, the quest for physical perfection is problematic, when half of our community would die early just to have the perfect body. And if they are willing to die early, then logically this means that many gay men are falling into unhealthy body image issues, such as bulimia/anorexia, steroid usage, and cosmetic surgery. According to the survey, “record numbers” of men are seeking these alternatives. Another study conducted by psychiatrist D. Blake Woodside, a faculty member with the University of Toronto, states that gay men make up a significant portion of the 1 million men suffering from eating disorders.
So not only are gay men willing to die for physical perfection, but many are also killing themselves to accomplish it. Apparently, many gay men will do whatever it takes to be as competitive as possible in the meat market.
This has to stop. Perfection isn’t possible. We are human–gay or straight. As such, we are inherently flawed. The pursuit of perfection is unattainable and if we measure ourselves by our BMI, we may find ourselves alone but with a flat stomach. In our drive to reach perfection and the competitive sexual games played as a result, we focus on the exterior instead of what is on the inside. This is why dating sites like Manhunt or apps like Grindr and Scruff can be problematic. They reduce gay men to profile pictures that other gay men window shop through in order to find the picture that is most appealing, the perfect man with the perfect body. They also add fuel to the fire of left wing rhetoric that gay men are superficial and incapable of maintaining long term relationships.
We need to remember that what’s on the outside doesn’t reveal anything that is lasting. Our bodies will grow old, and they will get flabby and saggy. That’s simple biology.
Instead of striving for physical perfection and being competitive about that, let’s get competitive about being compassionate, loving, caring, industrious, intelligent human beings. If we commit to that with the same verve we pursue physical perfection, there are no limits to what the gay community can do. We could call this the Franklin Factor, after Benjamin Franklin. He was a flawed man, who tried his best to become the best man and citizen he could be. He even kept a journal on his progress toward becoming a better man.
If we as a community strove for the Franklin Factor, something far more lasting than physical perfection, we could bring about societal change that would not only benefit us but future generations, and if we eat healthy and exercise instead of strive for physical perfection, we will also look damn good while we do it.
So instead of trying to be an Adonis, as a community we should grab the occasional slice of pizza, see others for more than just their bodies, and enjoy the lives and bodies we have.
That certainly sounds like a better deal than killing ourselves for the perfect body. What about you?
The clip above is from Ryan James Yezak, a film maker in California. The clip is titled “I Want to Know What It’s Like” and it addresses the plight of those who are bullied and/or discriminated on because of prejudice. It’s a moving video, narrated by actors speaking in poetic verse. The purpose of the video is to raise funds to shoot his film Second Class Citizen. The film is a documentary and according to Yezak, it will:
…encompass all areas in which we are discriminated against. The general population is not aware that discrimination against the gay community goes beyond marriage & bullying. There is far too much hate directed towards our community and I want to capture that hate on camera. In addition, I want to explore where this hate comes from, why it continues to exist, and what we must do to get rid of it. A better solution is needed because the solution we have right now isn’t working fast enough.
I hope you enjoyed the clip as much as I did, and I can’t wait to see the documentary.
This video by Elliot London documents the reception and first dance of Jed and Fabi. The couple isn’t who you think they are from their names. When you watch the video, you will see just how traditional non-traditional can be. Love is love. Family is family. That’s all that really matters.
I came across this video from a Seattle Vlogger named Matt Brown. He composed the video for his boyfriend who lives over 5,000 miles away in a country that doesn’t accept homosexuals. The video is titled “I love you more than…” and Matt cites a litany of cutsie items and situations. It’s sweet and silly, but after the silliness comes the meat of the video.
The second half of the video showcases pictures of Matt and his boyfriend, who is pixelated in each one. If his identity was made known, if those who employ him and consider him friend and family were to learn of his sexuality, Matt’s boyfriend would lose his career and his family. In all, Matt loves his man more than the pixels he hides behind, and in the video he vows “And with all my might, I will rip those pixels off, one by one, until their souls are raw.”
Here is what Matt had to say about the video he made:
It wasn’t meant for anyone else’s eyes, but I thought the message was sincere and good enough to be seen by others…This is the Valentine’s Day video by me for my partner, XXXXXXX XXXXX. My partner lives somewhere across the Atlantic. He lives a very hidden life because of the way his society will treat him if it found out about him being gay. I’ve made this video for him to show the support and passion toward my Love and human rights. It was supposed to be a private video, solely for my boyfriend’s eyes, but it turned into a statement of fighting for the one you love when I realized I wouldn’t be able to say his name or show his face in the video. XXXXXXX, Happy Valentine’s Day! Someday society will let us feel fully accepted!”
What this video shows is Matt’s unconditional love for a man, who is trapped within a society that would shun him should he embrace true love as openly as most everyone else does. What could be truer love than that?
Matt’s video also shows those who believe that homosexuals are promiscuous partiers who cannot maintain a long-term relationship what true love really is. It’s not about what anyone else says about you or who you love. It’s about how you feel about each other, and about the fires you would willingly walk through to be with the love of your life.