Translate

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Last Year of This Blog

So next year will begin the "Miami After 50 Blog" but before we go there I have a year to wind down my 40th decade.  I haven't been blogging lately because my mind has been clouded with election fever, followed by election depression, political withdrawal, grief, anger.....and hopefully acceptance and adaptation to new political circumstances.  That being said, this is not a political blog and I want to spare you more of that.

I also stopped writing over personal attacks on my phone and email about disclosing my HIV status in this blog. Apparently reaching almost 50, being happy, healthy, married and affluent was too much for some very sick individuals who anonymously sent several nasty texts to my phone.  Fun is my driving force, and anonymous texts at late hours make you think twice about what you write down.  

So I'm back at it again just wrapping up some things and topics in my last year of my 40s.  Things I've learned, things I've observed and hopefully give everyone a chuckle later on.  So here are some topics that you'll being hearing about over the course of the next few months:

We are going to discuss plastic surgery. Complete overhaul or just a nip and tuck?

 Exercise and the proliferation of yoga pants.....I love them. 

I work with Millennials now.....why do they keep food in their cubicles and not in the kitchen? and so many other questions....

Is 50 the new 40? 

Did I become my Mother/Father? Is there still time?

Why did my friends all plan to retire at 52 together, but didn't include me?

Is owning two dogs a slippery slope towards animal hoarding?

Of course I'll continue extol and shout about this great city both in joy and frustration! This and many other topics I'll explore in this blog over the coming year. Keep your eyes on this page. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Why You Should Go To Your High School Reunion

Few things can be as anxiety ridden as attending your first High School reunion. I can remember attending my 10th high school reunion and the angst I felt on the drive there. I was 28 and was just  getting established in my career and had finished college but hadn't really made my mark in the world. I had outgrown any youthfull geekiness and was (and am) a very confident adult. I was also much hotter at 28 than at 18. High school was definitely not a high point in my life but it was tolerable enough and I decided to go.

So last weekend I went to my 30th reunion. I have attended others, not all of them, but they were fun. This one left me a bit more pensive than most. I realize that high school reunions are a great reference point to who you are now.  Although we may say it, life is nothing like high school.  At no other time in our lives are the decisions we make  as permanent and irrevocable like they are in high school. Fail out of college? Go back to Jr. College.  Fired from a job? Go get another one. Bad marriage? Remarry.  Life after high school is full of second chances. High school not so much.  You had four years to complete a set of tasks: physical, academic and social and then its over. No going back. Your regrets, will be your regrets and there's no do-overs like you have as an adult. 

What reunions do is take us back to the last day of high school. The last day you really were a "kid". The last day when gossip, cliques, animosities and friendships seemed to be the most important things in the world. Probably the last day you thought like a kid, and not realizing that all that stuff is going to be packed away like an old yearbook, left to collect dust.  The reunions allow you to go to that last day of school and forgive yourself for bad choices, forgive your classmates for real or imagined slights or just move on and see that all these people are just typical screwed up adults.

For just a few hours you can undo some of the damage that high school inflicted on us.  Those annoying insecurities that we "just did not measure up" to our peers in some way.  And for a few hours you can remember that some people were assholes in high school still seem kinda assholish today, so the kid in you might not have been wrong either.....which is healing as well.  Then there is kid the adult in you can't forgive because the transgression is too great or too humiliating.  So you both just avoid each other.

For me personally, I go back as the only openly gay man out of a class of over 600 people.  I find it somehow empowering to "represent" with my classmates.  Weirdly, many of my classmates go out of their way to make me feel welcome as a gay man and I love to play into the best of the gay stereotypes and some of the worst.  For instance, I am happy to flirt with the girls and even with the boys who at late middle age, can't come out of the closet. I prefer the company of the women over that of the guys, being gay, it's just a more natural fit. The (straight) guys talk about work and sports, the women talk about challenges of child rearing, careers as women, as parents.  Challenges that as a gay man I can relate to.  Also, as a many a gay man can attest to, being surrounded by a lot of women is a lot safer than trying to fake talk sports with a bunch of drunken straight men. 

So I do recommend going to a high school reunion. You can reconnect with people and feel some camaraderie in the fact that you a prolonged shared experience with them, even if you didn't know them then it can be the basis for new friendships. But throughout that night, for some brief moments, you can reunite with that kid you were, give him a hug and and reassure him a bit. Because you're not that kid anymore, you're so much more. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

RIP Prince, RIP my adolescence and more Crepe Hanging

So just to remind you, this is a blog about being over 40. So you should expect some crepe-hanging about aging.  Because despite my grandmother's admonishment : "don't get old", sometimes moments happen and you realize, wow, I'm not young anymore.


Prince's passage was a just one of those for me. Not that I was a particular fan of the "Artist" as a performer per se, but his music decorates my adolescence like ubiquitous purple wallpaper. Yes, "Let's Go Crazy" and "1999" are songs that are perennial New Year's Eve favorites, but so many of his songs color my youth. Memories that are actually framed with his songs in them. Not just the songs he sang, but also the songs he wrote.

"I guess I should of known
By the way you parked your car sideways
That it wouldn't last"
I mean I can remember sitting in Missy's Dark Green Ford El Camino, drinking wine coolers on our way back from seeing Purple Rain. I can remember the music, the vinyl seats and listening to "When Doves Cry" and knowing every word, but not really getting the lyrics.(still don't) I just remember it feeling "sexy" and wanting to make out with someone, anyone, including Missy, even though we both became really gay. (Well I did anyway, she's not as gay as me, being lesbian and all.)

His androgyny was unapologetic and he had the ability to define his manhood on his own terms. Purple cat suits, high heeled boots, and stylized hair he still gave off a sexual charisma when compared to other gender benders like Boy George and RuPaul.  They came across as asexual or as pretty eunuchs. Which gave hope to us "less than butch" types who struggled to compensate our masculinity with our gay inner selves and realize that in the end, what's sexy, is confidence.

My personal gay theme song: "Do you think I'm a nasty girl?"
And the coterie of women who translated the gift of his music, fierce, good girls gone bad, like Sheena Easton's "Sugar Walls" and Sheila E's "Glamourous Life".  He brought color into music, not just purple, but a parade of Lesbians, Latinas and African American artists who exuded his confidence, pride and sexiness without apology.

Finally, he gave a soundtrack to my first heartbreak.. Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U " written by Prince. Every line punctuated my 20 year old heart. The song actually made me want to wallow even more because it was just too good of a breakup song.  Listening to it again makes me realize, nothing compares to Prince.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

What's Miami's Favorite Dessert? Eye Candy.

"Why are they all staring at me" was one of the first questions my Mom asked me when she came to visit me in my small efficiency apartment on South Beach in 1990.  They were probably staring because my very fabulous and attractive mom was way out of place in the still grungy, un-gentrified neighborhood south of Fifth street. The other reason they were staring was because in Miami, that's what you do.

A human being is amazing in its ability to determine friend or foe, gender, age in a fraction of a glance at another. In milliseconds snap judgements about a person's status are processed. Miamians have taken that basic instinct and honed it to new levels. Miami is a city where showing status is important. By showing status I mean wearing cool and sometimes expensive things. Now I know someone would equate this as "shallow". Which is fine, Miamians are a fun loving bunch, shopping is a sport and looking your best is not such a bad thing. "Fabulous" is usually what Miamians are going for.  New Yorkers try to be "captivating", Washingtonians try to be "interesting" the first group being grossly opinionated the second group spouting their resumes at every opportunity.  I understand that being "captivating" and "interesting" costs a lot in student loans, However you can spend a lot of money being "fabulous" too. Just different values, that's all. 
Just a normal Miami family at the beach.....

So getting back to "eye candy",  nowhere in the world will you see a better selection of it. Miamian's highly developed senses are drawn to the beautiful men and women that populate our city. Not just young ones, Miamians continue to preen throughout their entire lives.  Rarely do you see women who just decide to "go frump" and just wear the latest beige offerings from Walmart. Colors and style to rival the tropical beauty that is Miami. I mean there's nothing wrong with a knock-off Chanel or Prada to add the perfect touch to an already bright outfit.  Miami's men are also style conscious and that style tends to lean toward the mechanical: watches and cars.
What does this outfit say about him?


Our highly developed taste for eye candy also informs a lot about who we're looking at.  For example, expensive watch, white guy, probably Russian. More than five designer labels in one outfit: undoubtedly Venezuelan. Halter top, tight white jeans, hoop earrings: Cuban Girl from Hialeah. Board shorts, pale skin: Midwestern tourist. Male, long hair, has the face as if someone farted : Argentinian. Brown eyes, scrubs, beard: Cuban MD.

So of course with the consumption of all this "eye candy", proper digestion of it requires an ongoing internal and external commentary.  I mean you can't just look a big butt and say "nice" you might want to say "hang on ass we're going to town."  Or you see someone attractive and think "hot", a proper riposte might be "he's so hot I want to slap his mother." In Miami you can say it out loud or not, it's all part of the sweetness of eye candy. 
Labels darling, LABELS




Monday, March 28, 2016

"Miami Snark" a new genre of journalism.

Wishful Thinking by New Yorkers?

So, the whole "I hate Miami" refrain is a very popular meme among the New York journalism establishment.  Dating as far back as Time Magazine's seminal 1981 article "Paradise Lost" there has been a steady hope from New York writers that Miami just "fail".  Amazingly the "Magic City" does just the opposite.

 I want to start by  giving credit to Pamela Druckerman and the New York Times for spawning an entire sub-genre of journalism. Her 2014 article http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/10/opinion/sunday/miami-grows-up-a-little-.html?_r=0  defines what I call "Miami Snark".  It works like this: basically a young reporter, almost exclusively female, comes to Miami Beach in the winter, drinks, sunbathes, drinks, shops and then gloriously proclaims that Miami and its 2.5 million residents as shallow pretenders. Writing that Miami doesn't deserve it's reputation for having great beaches, shopping and sunshine but should be more "cultural". They say they are looking for "depth", but not really.  I mean if they were looking for "depth" where are the interviews with at least one local leader. They could call Ruth Shack, Paul George, Edwina Danticat, the Estafans, Mitchell Kaplan just to name a few. If they wanted "depth" they would bring a Spanish translator and head on down to Domino Park or El Municipio de Santiago and chat with the old Cuban exiles. 


It is so wonderful for writers like New York Magazine's Jessica Pressler, to confuse all of Miami with what's happening a new millionaire's condo/resort on South Beach.  Or NYT's Brent Sokol's piece begrudging the gentrification of Little Haiti....A New Yorker criticizing gentrification......Didn't they invent and gentrify the whole concept of gentrification? He lives in New York, by writing in the NYT he takes a small local issue and elevates it to some kind of international crisis.  He didn't bother to mention that there are more Haitians in North Miami than in Little Haiti. 


I don't really understand the fascination and contempt people have for Miami.  No, it's not Boston and it's certainly not "New York with better weather".  As a 3rd generation Miamian I understand that. However, I don't read similar tropes about Kansas City, Atlanta or other cities of similar size.  I truly believe at it's core it has to do with envy, that there's a beautiful, glamorous city built and run by Latinos.  That its a city with an identity that doesn't compare itself to other places or feel intimidated by self important(albeit pasty) New Yorkers.   Most importantly, it is a city with deep cultural roots that can't be understood if you don't have an affinity for Latino culture or don't speak Spanish.  These aren't Margaret Mead types, they arrive here with preconceived notions, talk to some "local" on South Beach (apparently home to all our local intelligentsia) and make the determination its a cultural wasteland.  

A big part of me wants to say "just make an effort" to the Pamela Druckermans of the world. Figure the city out, get off the beach, talk to someone other than an out of town condo developer or South Beach waiter, or in Pamela's case: her mother.  Show some journalistic pride.  Because Miami Snark is really about willful ignorance and shallowness, things I'd least expect from people proclaiming to be "journalists." 



Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Deconstructing Political Correctness: Do we really want to go there?

I have a secret, when my best friend and I are together we say horrible things about other people. We use terrible language, we repeat bigoted jokes we made as kids. We giggle because as good liberals we know its wrong and bad....and that what makes it so funny...to us. If you overheard us you'd think we were assholes, which might be true, but we'd prefer not be such visible assholes.
Sigh, who needs PC if we did this?
So why being Politically Correct is important, especially if you're whitish, like me. I was actually born in Honduras, to a Honduran....but at first glance I'm a whitey.   Political Correctness is important because politeness is dead.  Chivalry in all its good intentions is seen as archaic and patronizing. Manners used to be the lubricant that smoothed over social interactions. So holding the door, or women and children first in the lifeboat, are sweet sentiments, but as George Costanza of Sienfeld taught us that's its okay to knock over an old lady when trying to escape a fire. Not only is it okay, but it's pretty damn funny.  PCness is a replacement for what used to go as good manners or some cases common sense.




The Donald's Trumpolution is working hard to destroy the whole political correctness built by minorities in academic and corporate settings so people can just be just like me and my best friend in our most drunken intimate moments.  So white people can just shout out "Nigger" in the workplace cafeteria and laugh at the expense of anyone who might be offended. Political Correctness is about not being an asshole to the brown, black, gay, female within listening range of your voice. When they are not offended, they tend to work, compete, study and produce more.  Because people who are not pissed off work better and steal less office supplies.


I understand that it might be hard to not say offensive things about people.  Believe me I do it all the time. And yes, you can be sent to the human resources department for making fun of white people, my Cuban husband was written up for being overheard at the office party for saying "he's sad, he dances the white man dance." 

On Sunday I was at the Oasis Cafe on tony Key Biscayne.  A very white middle aged woman stormed out of the packed establishment, disdainfully yelling to her husband in a nice Porsche "THEY WON'T HELP IF YOU DON'T SPEAK SPANISH". Obviously upset that nobody in the shop was actually speaking English and she really didn't want to wait in a long line, because the Porsche was sitting in the street with the engine idling.

What you have without Political Correctness and world without manners is just rudeness unchecked. I do believe that  Political Correctness can go too far and there are plenty of examples where it's used as tool to dampen discussion and free speech. However with the decline of strong social conventions known as manners what's the alternative?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Welcome to the word soup of the Trumpverse


I'm seeing the Trumpverse seeping in like Miami's  full moon king tide.  You can deny it, but soon you'll be 3 feet deep in it trying to get to spin class with your Lulu Lemons rolled up to your knees.  I was at a gay campground last month and I saw very butch jeep with a large TRUMP magnet proudly displayed on the bumper. If you can find Trump there, he's everywhere. 

My young hip Cuban neighbor extolls Trump's honesty. You can't lie with word soup. Trump is going to win. He will be the next Republican nominee. I didn't have the heart to tell my neighbor that to white people like Trump, "Mexican" is actually all people of Latino descent. So when he rounds up 11 million undocumented "Mexicans" everyone with a Hispanic last name is going to get caught up in the dragnet. 

So I listen and I fall into the vortex of the Trumpverse.  I try to comprehend a world with this man at its helm. I try to imagine a presidency similar to his candidacy: lots of free thought word association called in from his phone.  Him and Sarah Palin talking in fragmented sentences like some kind of Beat Generation poet. He's the post modern Allan Ginsberg:

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
     madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at
     dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient
     heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the
     machinery of night . . .

We do know that Allen Ginsberg and company were all experimenting with LSD and hallucinogenics what do you think Sarah Palin and Trump's excuses will be? 
Sarah Palin's endorsement of Trump:

"And now though, to be lectured that, “Well, you guys are all sounding kind of angry,” is what we’re hearing from the establishment.
 Doggone right we’re angry! Justifiably so! Yes!
 You know, they stomp on our neck, and then they tell us, “Just chill, okay just relax.” Well, look, we are mad, and we’ve been had. 
They need to get used to it."
-Sarah Palin "Trump"

We liberal elites laugh, but this is the kind of prose that wins votes.  This is going to get Trump to the Republican Nomination. His word cloud honesty:

"And I like them. I hear their speeches. 
And they don’t talk jobs. 
They don’t talk China.
 When was the last time you heard ‘China’s killing us?’ 
They’re devaluing their currency to a level that you wouldn’t believe it makes it impossible for our companies to compete.
 Impossible.
They’re killing us, but you don’t hear that from anyone else. You don’t hear that from anybody else.And I watch the speeches. I watch the speeches and they say ‘the sun will rise. The moon will set.
 All sorts of wonderful things will happen.’And the people are saying ‘What’s going on?
 I just want a job. 
I don’t need the rhetoric, 
I just want a job.'"

So Imagine these people, who listen to the "honesty" the way that marshmellow fluff is an honest food, I imagine that they have word magnets all over their refrigerators. Word magnets that have been there since they came out in the 90's.  They would leave cute little messages with haiku rythms and clever bon mots and cryptic phrasing. This is the Trumpverse, just fragments and half thoughts. 

Speech Writer tool at the Trumpverse


The Trumpverse has arrived







Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Cruising.....

Welcome Aboard, it's love, love love..........

So the term "cruising" can have many connotations, but in Miami its pretty well understood that the term refers to the to the ships, the cruise lines to be exact.  I just spent a week on one of them, Celebrity's Reflection.  I can say unequivocally that I had a fun time, However whenever I have cruised there is always an ambivalence about it. Here are some things that stood out:

The Frequent Cruisers: its hard not to miss the frequent cruisers. These are people who basically just given up and have decided that their leisure time and treasure will be entirely dedicated at sea. Like frequent flyers they achieve some kind of status points and have secret meetings on board with the captain and Isaac the Bartender.   If you're on your first cruise they will call you a "virgin" but in the most patronizing way.  The Frequent Cruisers basically stand around and complain how this cruise wasn't as good/long/expensive/exotic as their last cruise or the one before that.  They feel entitled to everything and refuse to leave the ship for shore excursions. Their whole existence revolves around staying on the ship and drinking. You tend not to see them during the day. They love "re-positioning" cruises.  Favorite hangout: Martini Bar. 

Condescension When You Ask About Connectivity:  Internet connectivity for us landlocked types is like our lifeblood.  Life is better with connectivity. Why? Because some key things occur when you're connected to the internet. 1. You can find people with ease. On a giant ship, you will not find who you are looking for by just "walking around". Complicated schedules have to kept in your head and meet up points and so on. 2. You can't truly win an argument without Wikipedia. 3. So much of our data is kept in the cloud, our music playlists, cameras and applications won't work well, rendering our devices almost useless.  However if you dare to complain, cruise personnel will act condescendingly and say "you can't even disconnect for a week?"  My response is "why should I?"  I mean the charges to connect are astronomical but as anybody knows there must be a cheaper solution.  Being connected is part of modern living....I can usually get connected in the most remote of places and minimal cost....but these floating cities feel that you are pitiable because you want to tell your friends on Facebook what a good time you're having. 

The Hordes: The ship is packed with people, there are hordes, it's like the Black Friday at the mall...everyday...all the time. The hordes are excited, the hordes are drunk, the hordes want your chair, your massage, your fitness bike. Prepare to deal with hordes. 

The cost. All things considered it's a bargain as far as vacations go. However there are a lot of hidden costs....drinks, excursions, exercise classes, specialty restaurants, spa treatments, etc. etc. all of these things add up considerably and  your wallet will lighten up to the point it becomes a flotation device. 

Finally, if you're from Miami you really don't need a tropical vacation.  

Cozumel? Jamaica? No, Miami




Monday, December 14, 2015

1st Christmas Without Faith. Nudist Pagan Ritual or More "Santa Baby"

Those of you who follow this blog might be aware of this author's great schism of '14.  When after months of contemplation I parted with my former church, and consequently gave up "faith" in general.  I left in my usual understated way, with a few choice words for the pastor and leadership.  But a year has passed and the holidays are upon me and in truth, I really love the holidays.

Now without the fetters of religion I'm wondering how to under gird my holiday traditions. I'm wondering if I should go "full pagan" and celebrate the winter solstice, with perhaps an animal sacrifice in the nude or go "full commercial" with endless renditions of Santa Baby and lots of designer gifts.  Or do I do nothing....not acknowledge the holiday at all, although in my heart I want to.

War on Christmas.

So in full honesty, I'm celebrating the holidays this year like every year. Yes, I've cut out the midnight mass and much of the religious trappings of the holiday. The creche and the three kings did not come out of the box this year and probably won't ever again. Thankfully "The WAR on CHRISTMAS" has made cruising the holidays a very secular affair.  There's less Hark The Herald Angels, and much more Deck the Halls.  In fact, Starbucks' red cup makes me question the whole "reason for the season" entirely.

Importantly, I also have an addiction to cool ornaments. This year I'm doing a whole Mexican, Day of the Dead thing on the tree. (That seems like a good holiday too.) But my Star Wars and Start Trek ornaments are up there too.  I think the tree thing is just a way to channel your inner id. Why would I want to stop that? Of course as an atheist, I could put that tree up anytime, assuming I could find a Douglas fir on sale in May.

That being said, I just can't let go of the "spirit" of the holidays. Giving, seeing friends and family are joyful, regardless that it takes the holidays to make it happen.  Helping the less fortunate and thinking about children, both our own inner child and the ones in our lives is something we don't do year-round.  That being said, I can't completely let go of the religious nature of the holidays. I'm sure the pagans were, like "I'm so stressed, and I've got to pick up the goat for sacrifice, but then again, its the Holidays."  So while I claim to be a non-believer.....there's still belief in the hope of humanity and the real joy this season brings to so many.   So Happy Holidays everyone.



Those pagans! Then again I could go to Haulover Beach for Xmas

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I JUST CAN'T: Its Time to Change the Narrative on HIV and AIDS

I can't anymore. I just can't. I can't sit through another speech or ceremony where a sad gay man speaks about his boyfriend who died of AIDS in 1986. Or a slideshow homage to the victims of AIDS who are wearing Members Only jackets and big 80s hair. It's time to put that to rest, I'm sure the fabulous dead would be like "girl, move on, day-glo was so three decades ago."  Yet this sad broken record replays itself over and over.  The stereotype of a sickly HIV positive gay man who is sexless is still the image that comforts people who know little about the disease, or their own HIV status. 

Yet the "AIDS industry" struggles to keep this death based narrative alive, because that is the orthodoxy of the HIV Epidemic. AHF, AIDS Healthcare Foundation uses its multi-million dollar bullhorn to warn gay men against PrEP despite clear scientific evidence that it's overwhelmingly successful in preventing new infections. It uses tactics such as sex shaming gay men who take Truvada to prevent HIV. It throws out red herrings like "drug resistant STDs" which do exist, however, even most diseases treated with antibiotics eventually succumb to drug resistance...new drugs are developed to fight resistance.

So, finally, in 2015 we can actually change the narrative around HIV disease.  We can move away from the depressing, fear-based tropes that have permeated our culture, especially our gay culture for the last three decades.  In the last two years, especially in the last year new medical breakthroughs have emerged that show that HIV is beatable. That we can finally turn the corner on the epidemic. In all seriousness, HIV is no longer a major topic of conversation in the gay set and there is a hunger to move on.  But we can't move on quite yet.

We can't move on until we agree that the new studies of PrEP: Pre Exposure Prophylaxis are amazing breakthroughs and offer gay men a hope of a life free from the fear of HIV. As gay men we should encourage men who are not infected to start taking Truvada faithfully.  Second we need to get all those gay men who don't know their status to get tested. New studies show that with sero-dis-concordant couples (couples with different HIV status) if the infected partner has an undetectable viral load, the odds of transmission are almost nil.  These two breakthroughs can finally put a halt to this disease among gay men. Governor Cuomo of New York has a stated goal to get all sexually active gay men on PrEP while getting positive guys to undetectable viral loads, the combination should be enough to break the back this epidemic.  We need to make this final push, to make HIV infection rare in this country.

We need to sell a positive future for young gay men, that life without HIV should be the norm. Oh, and tell all of us survivors from the worst of the epidemic, that despite all the horror that HIV brought on us in the 80's and early 90's. We won't forget the 500,000 men who died, but I think its time we let them rest in peace and not use their memories to promote outdated ideas about fear and death always intertwined with sex.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Note To Millenials: There's "sharing" and then there's too much "sharing". Know the difference.

I am a firm believer in social media. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Grndr are all great.  It gives each of us exponential power to express opinions, share ideas, art and images.  However, as I move into my curmudgeon phase, or as the gays might say "becoming a bitter queen", I realize that sharing in the virtual world, is not really appreciated as much in the real world. At least not by me.  

For example, twice in the last month I've attended events that one would consider costly. The first one, was an awards dinner for two people who have done amazing work to fight for gay rights and have given a lifetime of service for the cause of social justice. The night was fun, both speakers gave wonderful speeches about service and selflessness. One actually went to the Supreme Court and defeated the national "marriage ban" for same sex couples. One speaker brought the entire room to tears with his speech about service to fight the AIDS epidemic and the hard work of getting marriage equality. 

So the night seemed to be coming to close, when a montage of a young attractive couple appeared on the screen. A lot of selfies and Facebook shots of these two twenty-somethings. Then you realize its a bunch of pictures of the co-host of the event. He comes up to the stage, invites his boyfriend up and does a marriage proposal.  Which is cute, I guess. It was peripherally connected to an event that honored people for their years of service.  However, my hubby and I did not spend close to $1000 to see activists who had accomplished amazing things being upstaged by a cute kid who thought he would hijack the event and really make it about himself.

Then it happened again. My hubby and I raised thousands of dollars for the HIV/AIDS ride,  Rode our bikes 165 miles from Miami to Key West and at the closing ceremony another millennial woman got up on the stage to read a passage with her wife.  They started to cry and said, "this is hard because my mother just died on Wednesday."  There was a collective "aww" sounding similar to the "aww" heard during the marriage proposal. She read her piece and stepped down. Did the mother die of AIDS? No, I learned later that she hadn't. It had become a topic of conversation with the riders afterwards. But again, the moment became about her grief and not about the cause.

I know this is nit-picky. But when you give a speech, or host an event, it's first and foremost about the audience.  It about graciousness and giving your all to make sure that they are comfortable, entertained, educated and or welcomed. Which means in many cases, means being selfless, taking your moment in the spotlight and remember the words in your mouth are not just about you. There is a delicate line between sharing a personal moment and just making a spectacle of yourself. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Year Without Faith, Less Church, more Mimosas.

So It was about a year ago that I had my falling out with religion and faith in general. Considering that the Pope just finished his whirlwind tour of the U.S. and Cuba I think now is a good time to reflect on this year of absolutely no religious activity (aside from railing against it) and how my life has changed.

First and foremost, my life is much more at peace and contemplative. As a child I never enjoyed church and always loved those Sundays where my parents were too busy, lazy or distracted to make us go.  They were lazy Sundays spent outdoors, like a skipping a day from work or school, a personal free day, knowing that everyone was busy, and you had the streets, woods, house to yourself.  I am glad to say, those Sundays are back. Lazy cycle rides and fun gay brunches populate my Sundays now.

Secondly,my family is profoundly uncomfortable with my anti-church, possibly atheist, fervor.  I cannot bring myself to step into a church. My mother is very worried for my soul which is odd because she's a Presbyterian. Short chats with family about her concern, and I thought Presbyterianism was the mayonnaise of main-line Protestantism, maybe there's some spice there yet. Also there are the small religious rituals, practiced reflexively over a lifetime I've let slip away. Saying grace, small prayers, even types of condolences seem fake, and I try to avoid them. 

Finally, there's just a general anger at organized religion in general, with its siren song of salvation, redemption and canned platitudes.  I had a glimmer of hope with the Pope with his glorious PR campaign and sweet words and then he runs off and has secret meetings with anti-gay crusader Kim Davis.  Which says to me that bigotry is tolerated, as long as it slips in the back door. As a gay man, it completely invalidates his messages and all the hard work he was trying to accomplish. It also reaffirms my disbelief in organized religion, whether its the Vatican or Coral Gables Congregational, religious leaders promote dialogue and inclusion but they only want to hear their own words repeated back to them and include only those who agree.

 "Waiter, another mimosa please."

Drag brunch....new traditions

Monday, June 8, 2015

Venezuelan Chavistas Tried to Commandeer My Pool on Saturday. (and why do communists have to be so cute?)

You may or may not know that I happen to run the local Masters Swim Team, the Nadadores. Which is celebrating 21 years in existence this year.  Each Saturday our team reserves 8 lanes so we can do our workouts. Hadley pool is a fantastic facility run by the City of Miami Parks and Rec Department and they have been fantastic for the last 10 years we have been swimming there. 
So, last Saturday I arrive at my local pool for practice and noticed there were far more swimmers at the pool than usual. My coach whispered to me that they were the Venezuelan National Team practicing in Miami for the Pan American Games in Canada this week. All excited I whipped out my iPhone and snapped a few pics of some very cute swimmers. Suddenly, a very officious, albeit handsome young man approached me and ordered me to stop taking pictures of his swim team. He was arrogant, rude and very cute, I knew that it was going to be a tense day at the pool. 

 No pictures without communist approval...
I quickly realized he was the team apparatchik and the only person authorized to speak to anyone outside the team. The coaches, the swimmers and entourage were keeping a far distance from the lifeguards and this young man was the only one doing the talking.  He was demanding that he should get the entire pool because they paid for it, they were practicing for the Pan American Games and they were the Venezuelan National Swim Team. What he wasn't aware of is that he paid only for half the pool, because our team pays for the other half.   I was not about to send my 25 swimmers home for a bunch of communists. Also, a significant number of my teammates are Venezuelan emigres, and I doubt seriously that any of them would appreciate being displaced again...by a bunch of communist Chavistas.

So Mr. Chavista Apparatchik argued incessantly with the lifeguard to push us out of our lanes to the kiddie pool.  Thankfully his arrogance fell on deaf ears of our own city bureaucrat who was on the phones with his superiors, on a Saturday, trying to accommodate two swim teams that had reserved the pool. We began practice as the poor lifeguard and the communist debated. Hitting a bureaucratic stalemate the communist had no choice but to come to me to negotiate for the extra lane he needed for his team.  Now instead of arrogant, Mr. communist was all smiles and niceties. "Por favor Señor, let us have one of your lanes....."  I remembered how arrogant he had been just 30 minutes earlier....his poor treatment of the lifeguards, the suffering of my wealthy Venezuelan emigre friends....but he was so cute, and young......."yeah, fuck it, you have the lane for 30 minutes".
" Oh, thank you señor." he said in Spanish.

Who am I to deny a cute young communist his dreams of medals?

I was left with these questions:
1. If they are so anti-American, why the fuck practice in the most anti-communist, anti-Chavista city in the U.S.?
2. Was it communist arrogance, youth arrogance or swim team arrogance on display?
3. Why didn't you just try to be nice in the first place and ask nicely instead of causing all kinds of drama?
4. I doubt I would have given him my lane if he wasn't so damn cute.....




Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Gay Ageists, Gaygists?

Just a tired old bitter queen.
So recently I seem to feel a spate of ageism on the rise in the gay community.  Which I find strange because in Miami's gay male community seems more integrated than ever.  However I've read couple of posts on social media and heard about few community events have been clearly ageist in nature and it saddens me because Miami does gay in a very different way than other communities.

What? Now I have to let myself go?
So in full disclosure this blog is called Miami After 40 because its about an aging gay man in his forties. (late 40s now)  As I think about changing the name of this blog to "After 50" and start pushing Geritol and Rose Hips, I feel a bit sensitive about agesim.  Also, since the generation immediately before mine, approximately 500,000 gay men, died in the epidemic, ageism wasn't really a factor for gay men, because there just wasn't enough "men of a certain age" to warrant it.
So getting back to ageism. Sometimes it can be subtle, for example a buff, ripped handsome 40 something year old man posted a shirtless selfie on Scruff. A hookup site originally intended for more hirsute, older (30+ ) men and their admirers. Not to be confused with Silver Fox which is another demographic entirely.  But I digress. The man who posted the shirtless pic was told to "dignify", "act his age" etc. etc.  He was actually annoyed enough to post the interaction on FB.

Sometimes it's obvious, like a pool party thrown by a group called Impulse, supported by AHF (AIDS Healthcare Foundation),  which targets young men for HIV prevention. Men over 40 were charged $50 at the door, men under 40 were free.  Which would fine, if it wasn't billed as a "community" party. Unfortunately,  their non-apology apology on their FB page didn't help matters much. A restatement of your mission statement is not really an apology is it?  Secondly, if they made it a private event, for guests under 40, with a guest list, the whole messy business could avoided a lot of hurt feelings and one less reason for us to hate AHF and its stubborn opposition to PreP.

Sometimes ageism is just internal. My Grandmother's favorite saying was always "Don't get old, the only thing that gets better with age is Jamaica Rum."   This slow degradation of the body, aches, pains, wrinkles, grey hair is not fun. Especially in a community where youth and vibrancy are valued. However, aches, pains and wrinkles are part of the human condition and I earned them and I should get respect for them. If I exercise, compete, work out, I do it for me, to stay fit, to stay "younger", not to pick up somebody younger. Because this is the only body I have and I've got to make it last. Because, let's face it, most of us if we're lucky, will be considering adult diapers at some point in our journey.

Yes, I feel that just being older automatically deserves a little respect.  Young people should just assume I have more experience and knowledge based on the fact that I'm older.  A simple "sir" will suffice. I'm cool with that. No, me being nice, is not me hitting on you, get over yourself.  Believe me, at some point they stop hitting on you, so just enjoy the attention that youth brings and show some respect for your elders. 












Friday, April 3, 2015

Leader of the (dog) Pack and Miami's Dog Parks



So inadvertently I became the temporary leader of my own personal dog pack.  I do have one dog, the perfect dog, but through the simple act of saying yes, for the last three weeks I had four pooches. Each dog, with the exception of my own, came to my home when I said yes to two friends who were traveling abroad, another is a dog I sit for a dear neighbor, the dog barks when left alone. I basically told both friends that I would sit their dogs while they were away. I didn't bother to ask what dates they'd be away and coincidentally both couples were leaving and returning around the same dates. I couldn't back out at the last minute and ruin vacations and friendships. 

My temporary "pack" of fierce dogs!

Creation of my Pack:
So packs seem to form organically. By Saturday I had 4 dogs and initially there was an adjustment period.  I learned that different doggie parents have different values when raising their canine companions. For example, house-training is a value I believe in as a dog owner. Dogs must relieve themselves outside. A stack of pee-pads came with one of the darlings and well I realized there were some different values regarding training. The problem is, when one dog uses pee-pads.....the other 3 felt like pee-pads, bathroom mats, and assorted floor coverings were put there just for any spur of the moment urination.  A second value I hold dear about doggies is that they don't sleep with me. Don't get me wrong I do not judge you if you sleep with your animals, it's just something I don't do. Call me elitist, but I am the alpha male and I sleep with other humans. I just want to keep at the top of the pecking order. When you raise your animals to your level, you're giving away your "power".  Whining  guests were quickly informed that the beds on the floor were for dogs. Any attempts to hop on the bed were blocked. 

So by the fourth day my pack began to act pack-like.  Keeping them all on the same walking schedule and food. I just mixed up all the fancy dog foods together, no use trying to each give them their "special food".  Like all dogs they slept for inordinately long stretches, but when they were awake they'd play and jostle and pee and play some more.  A leader emerged, Max, who would herd them in and out of the house and keep the dog pack working in a systematic, organized group. He'd poop, the other three would poop, he jumped in the back of the car, they'd jump in. The "runners" eventually fell into line and by the end of the week I didn't even need leashes to control the bunch. It was fun and fascinating and kept me entertained.

Going to Dog Parks:
So with four dogs I knew they needed exercise. I know people thought I was that "crazy dog person"showing up with four dogs. Also I didn't want to give off that "I'm a dog-sitter" vibe, because I went to college and have a job that pays. Plus I work at home and have a scruffy beard, so to a stranger, I might be some homeless dog hoarder that shows up with well groomed poodles. To me, having four dogs in not attractive, its just one dog too much.  My "pack" behaved well at the park and ran around and did all the normal dog things. 

Museum Park is lovely, not an "official" dog park. 
Good Dog Parks:
Best: Haulover Beach Dog park: Largest park around. Fenced in and has a small dog/big dog separation. There's a dog beach too.
Good: Blanche Park: Park is a bit small and crowded. Not much parking nearby. But it's fenced in.
Good: Pine Tree dog park: Fenced in. Shady. Dog owners were not friendly and gossipy about each other. If you go there stick to yourself and your dogs. 
Okay: South Point Park:  park is not fenced, too small, shrubbery around it. Good people watching.
Okay: Legion Park: fenced in but no grass, just dirt. poorly maintained dog park area.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Miami: Peaking and Sinking at the same time



So a series of events have combined to vex me about global sea rise. Let's be clear, I am no environmentalist. I don't recycle, I'm not a vegetarian, I drive cars that are questionably fuel efficient and probably meet the minimal emissions standards, So I know I have a lot of "personal work" to do on reducing my own carbon footprint. But I want you to know, I'm ready, ready to do my part to save mother earth or at least the fabulous patch of earth I'm currently inhabiting. I'm ready to tell climate change denialists that it's true. It's happening. And I don't feel like moving to higher floor on my condo because I hate elevators.
Lisa Beal: Saving the world and looking good doing it.

First of these events is my friendship with Dr. Lisa Beal.  Lisa is a world renowned oceanographer that works at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. I lunch with her every Saturday after swim practice. She is amazingly fabulous. Smart English accent with her signature shock of purple hair.  She keeps me updated on the latest in fashions and global climate change. She is unequivocal about sea level rise and frustrated by the dogmatic denial climate change by local, state and national leaders. 

Can Miami make waders hip? No.
Second, is a recent article in The Guardian by Robin McKie that really depressed me.    It depressed me because it's seems so true. Unlike Jeff Godell's bombastic piece in Rolling Stone, The Guardian's piece makes a credible argument that sea level rise is inevitable and that our elected leaders, despite all the evidence around them, don't notice that its really happening. You don't even to say "I'm not a scientist", not to notice that parts of Miami Beach now flood during high tide. Which didn't happen before. Miami Beach just spent $500 million to pump the ocean off of Alton Road and West Avenue 1000 feet into the the ground.  Despite this, the King Tide that happens at full moon every month still requires fashionable waders to get to Purdy Lounge or shop at Publix. To top it off, State Employees are forbidden from using the terms "climate change" and "global warming". I wonder if they're allowed to say "sea level rise" when Ocean Drive becomes navigable by dinghy.  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/11/miami-drowning-climate-change-deniers-sea-levels-rising

Seas  rising? No such thing.
Finally, a freak winter storm flooded my neighborhood last weekend. As a native Miamian my father always warned me about all those neighborhoods "built in the swamp". Which is essentially everything west of 57th Avenue. Because of those warnings I've always been adamant about living on "high ground" which is basically most land east of 57th Ave. (the city extends west to about 190th Ave) High ground in Miami is about 12 feet above the current sea level.

I'm depressed about the whole thing. I walk and bike through Miami everyday.  I stroll through Morningside, Bayshore and Belle Meade and look around at the absolute beauty of this city.  The lushness, it's vibrancy.  I love it's new dynamic art scene, the amazing architecture new and old. I am so sad to think that within my lifetime all of it could just float away.  I don't have a plan, I'm not going to be a vegetarian or give up my BMWs tomorrow. I'll work on my recyling.......and tell my elected officials that it' true and fancy Bass Pro Shop waders are just not going to cut it. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Blog as Art and Why I like Being Called a Whore.

So, in the last few months I've received some critiques about several personal blog posts. Which in turn helps me to think about how I might reply.  Should a blogger answer to his critics? Especially a blogger like myself which mixes hyperbole, personal experience and combines them with a love for a particular tropical metropolis?  I mean a general "fuck you" could suffice.  However I consider this blog more along the lines of art form and not at all about journalistic integrity. I write to please myself and hopefully, sharing it will entertain the reader. I would like to outline the general type of the critiques I've received and in turn I will address them. 

I would like to state 99% of my critiques come via my Facebook page, Some on this page, some via email, some via text.

The Diva
I can't tell how many times people have told me that my blog is "self centered" that it's about being a "diva". That it's narcissistic. Yes, yes and yes. I don't see "diva" as a derisive. It is a woman's (usually one in very comfortable shoes) favorite brickbat to throw at a gay man who has outsized gayness and expects to be treated with respect and not as an object of pity. I will own my diva-ness and wear that badge with pride. In my own life I am my own diva.....and shouldn't we all be? I pity the person who resents another for accidentally or purposely being the center of attention. This critique was rampant during my whole "loss of faith" posts....I guess I'm just not one for being one of a flock.

The Douchebag/Piece of Human Garbage
I love these little bon-mots.  I get visuals of Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate and the phrase "plastics" comes to mind. That being said I try to keep discourse at a higher level and name calling is just intellectually lazy.  Try harder.

Whore
I just love being called a whore.  No really, I do. It's such a funny/sad/poignant word. I mean anyone who calls me a whore has some really serious sexual hangups of the whole "unresolved mommy issues" variety.  Plus the "whore" visuals in my head are fantastic. I mean who can forget the "midget hooker" post that caused a ruckus in my former church.  I mean I try to be frank about sexual matters and if that makes me a whore, giggle, then so be it. Gay men have always been considered sexual rebels whorishness just comes with the package. 

How Dare You!?!
Dearie, I dare. How dare I be an out gay man, open about my HIV status, about my husband, my contented petit-bourgeois homosexual lifestyle and still look good, feel awesome enough to ride a bike165 miles to Key West and live in a city that is peaking and sinking all at the same time? I double dog dare. I don't see any of my writing as "daring" or "brave" its just me creating an interesting portrait. I do have the "audaciousness" to live my life in the open, and really be cool about the things that happen to me. Hopefully my example is one part "warning beacon" and two parts "case study".

 I do go back read my blogs all the time. I can honestly say I am not ashamed of single word I've written. So my "audacity" is just me putting stuff out there for my own entertainment. I can't draw, sing, or play an instrument, but I know how to string a sentence together. I do welcome your comments, even the angry, bitter ones. So while I hope my foibles are entertaining, I hope they make you think too. 



Thursday, February 5, 2015

So, I accidentally outed myself as HIV Positive on Facebook.

So I accidentally outed myself as HIV Positive. I was responding to a moving article in the Gay Star News about those of us who survived the epidemic back in the 80s.  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/survivors-1980s-aids-crisis-reveal-what-happened-them020215? .  The article was moving, I clicked to comment about my own experience and before I knew it, the article and my comment about sero-converting in 1988 was posted to my Facebook page. Initially I was ashamed.  An hour had passed before I noticed what I had done. I figured, well, it's out there, I wasn't secretive about it when I initially found out at 19, but at the time I was told I would have "at best three years" and to "get my affairs in order." So I really didn't see the point about being secretive. Now I can't imagine what affairs a 19 year-old would have to "get in order." but I didn't die and that was a great disappointment. I had envisioned the maudlin tragedy of a young emaciated man being wheeled off some podium after receiving a diploma and quietly dying 20 minutes later. Instead I am far from emaciated and far from that 19 year old boy that received that diagnosis. 

So after my "accidental outing" I really did have to sit back and think about this journey. How I live in the city that has the highest infection rate in the U.S. and the real apathy around the issue.  I will be honest, HIV infection to me, at this time in my life, is no big deal.  I know that sounds terrible. That I should be suffering a gigantic emotional cost, that my prospects and my dreams should some way be diminished because of my status, it's just not true.  It's simply 3 trips to the doctor a year and two pills a day. That's it. Of course I am an educated, affluent, white(ish) male and I do understand that I have the resources to make my HIV management simple.

That is not to say I haven't paid some price along the way, and that perhaps there are opportunities I didn't take, or worries about illnesses, or just plain "fuck, I'm infected"pity parties. But those I'm sure have been far and few in between. After realizing that I wasn't going to die, hell I didn't even get sick, new treatments came out, I got married, raised a child and my HIV status faded into the background. Many of battles protecting HIV positive individuals in housing and employment were won. Life moved on.
Oh crap, TMI.....

So the article touched me, I wanted to share, inadvertently sharing it with 450 friends on Facebook. The responses were touching, but I feel guilty being commended for being alive. Often times I've been asked by people "how do you live with HIV, how do you go on?"   I always sarcastically answered in my head: "well what's the alternative?"  My usual answer is: "I just do what my doctor tells me." To the many friends on Facebook who shared my "outing", well thanks for thinking about me, I am and always have been very embarrassed about my HIV status because I made a mistake......but hey I was a teenager. Secondly thanks for being friends and some you know a little more about me than I planned to share, but you're my friends and it shouldn't matter.   

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

WE ARE MARRIED!

27 years ago I was arrested for being gay. Not because I was having sex in public or being lewd or anything like that. I was in a bar, we were rounded up and put in a truck and booked on various charges. Mine was "battery" which means touching someone without their consent.  When I got to the booking person at the lock-up I was informed "pay the $1000 fine, or we will publish your name in the Tampa Tribune and St. Pete Times."  Me being me, I refused to pay the fine.  52 other guys did pay the fines. So the Tampa Police made $51,000 in four hours to herd people into a truck and book them on trumped up charges. 

Miami, Florida, 1996, I volunteered for SAVE Dade to fight to add sexual orientation to the County's anti-discrimination charter. 
It wasn't a chapel, but a Credit Union 

San Diego, California, 2006. My partner of five years says "meet me at the Credit Union on the corner, I need you to do something important."  I get to the Credit Union right before the close of business, we walk up to the teller and ask her to notarize our Domestic Partnership Papers. At the time in California, domestic partnerships were a "marriage equivalent".  I was allowed on my domestic partner's health insurance plan. 

Miami, Florida, 2007 I get hired by SAVE Dade to be their Field Director. Worked on campaign to fight Amendment 2 the "Marriage Amendment". 


Miami, 2007.  My  husband and I are redefined as "Domestic Partners" when we register as domestic partners in the County's "business bureau" not in the Marriage office.  Domestic Partnership is not recognized outside of Miami-Dade County.


San Diego 2008, I become LEGALLY MARRIED in the State of California. Marriage is not recognized anywhere but there. 

Miami, Florida 2008.  Obama elected and Amendment 2 passes. "Marriage or any equivalent thereof shall not be recognized"  My spouse and I are officially  un-domestically partnered.

Miami, Florida 2013. DOMA was struck down by the Supreme Court of the United States.  Family income goes up by $100 per month because we no longer have to pay taxes on benefits to spouse.  Marriage is recognized by Federal government, for all Federal benefits including Social Security.

Miami, Florida January 6th, 2015.  I AM LEGALLY MARRIED!  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

State of Gayness in 2014

Based on personal experience, gay men execute weddings flawlessly. 
Well, it's time we look at the year in review and see what gayness 2014 looks like.  Pivotal changes that redefines gaydom as we know it. 

1. Gay Marriage: Well, many states, 25 to be exact, legalized gay marriage following the heels of the Supreme court decision. In total 35 states now allow for gays and lesbians the freedom to marry any person they choose.  Still there are 15 states to go. 
Yes, this is a "thing".
2. "Peak Beard" for straight men and gay men, 2014 was the year of "peak beard".  Facial hair has been exalted and hirsute men can rejoice.  A complete pendulum swing from shaven, boy look of the past and the future. 
"Excuse me, where is the restroom?"
3. Freedom to Gender Express yourself. Be a girl on the inside, be a boy on the outside or any combination thereof.  Gender Expression is now protected under the Miami-Dade Human Rights Ordinance. Despite the whole icky "bathroom rape" scenarios brought on by the religious right. I've used the ladies room plenty of times when the men's room was locked.

80's much?
4. "Shaven Pompadour" or the "reverse mullet" the new gay clone look for 2014.  The mullet is short on the sides, long on the top and back, The shaven pompadour is short on the sides and long on the top and in the front. Important to have one lock covering one's eye. Product is a must. 

5. Cross fit. Cult of fitness? I won't say too much about this, but it looks like a conspiracy between personal trainers, chiropractors and Lulu Lemon to make a LOT of money doing amazingly unsafe calisthenics. Not denying it works....especially if you believe that beauty is attained through pain and danger. Combined with power protein concoctions you're gonna look and feel great.

6. Ambiguously gay, gay ambiguity reigns in the millennial crowd. "Straight
Acting" to the front of the line please. No Fats, or Fems still a favorite GRNDR byline, especially among bottoms....self-hate much?

7. Truvada Whores.  Of course if you take a pill to prevent HIV.....you are a whore. If you wear a condom you are a.....saint?  Sex shamers demand to control your sex life, want to take away personal choices for preventing HIV.....for fear you might enjoy sex "guilt free".  What's wrong with a little condomless guilt free sex? Well, it could be like the 70's all over again....whores in bell bottoms? Well that would be bad, wouldn't it?

8. Gay Cruising....on the ship kind of cruising, not the Al Pacino "Cruising".   Whether you're doing the "SS Bathouse", "Loveboat" or with your aging mother
on Celebrity Cruises. Cruising(on ships) has taken the gays by storm. Even if you go on a "straight" cruise, there's always a "Friends of Dorothy" happy hour.  You can always find the gays at the martini bar or sauna if you don't know where to look. 
How romantic?