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PO Box 77401 | Atlanta, GA 30357 404-815-6941 | Editor: Laura Douglas-Brown Deputy Editor: Dyana Bagby Web Manager: Ryan Watkins Art Director: Bo Shell





4 | Efforts to reduce LGBT smoking include CDC, gay bars. 6 | Atlanta’s LGBT community center raises funds to grow. 8 | PFLAG hosts statewide conference for gay rights allies. 8 | Anti-gay Westboro Baptist booed at Final Four. 14 | BRIEFS: Ga. GOP chair becomes national laughingstock.


Melissa Carter, Jim Farmer, Shannon Hames, Topher Payne, Matt Schafer, Steve Warren, Ryan Lee


Publisher: Christina Cash Associate Publisher: Tim Boyd Sales Manager: Marshall Graham Sales Executive: Anne Clarke The Clarke Agency National Advertising: Rivendell Media, 908-232-2021 Richard Eldredge, Sandy Malcolm, Lynn Pasqualetti, Robert Pullen



C.C. 3.0/ Thecomeupshow


16 | Anneliese & Lauren: ‘A personally sacred experience.’ 17 | Clifton & Chad: Celebrating ‘the year of marriage.’ 18 | Alisha & LA: ‘Marriage makes a statement.’ 19 | Road map to your wedding day: Tips for a smooth ride down the aisle. 23 | LGBT cake toppers, from cute to classic. 24 | Ring trends for same-sex couples. 25 | Legal documents to protect your partnership now.



All material in the Georgia Voice is protected by federal copyright law and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Georgia Voice. The sexual orientation of advertisers, photographers, writers and cartoonists published herein is neither inferred nor implied. The appearance of names or pictorial representation does not necessarily indicate the sexual orientation of that person or persons. We also do not accept responsibility for claims made by advertisers. Unsolicited editorial material is accepted by the Georgia Voice, but we do not take responsibility for its return. The editors reserve the right to accept, reject or edit any submission. Guidelines for freelance contributors are available upon request. A single copy of the Georgia Voice is available from authorized distribution points. Multiple copies are available from the Georgia Voice office only. Call for rates. If you are unable to reach a convenient free distribution point, you may receive a 26-issue mailed subscription for $60 per year. Checks or credit card orders can be sent to Tim Boyd, Postmaster: Send address changes to the Georgia Voice, PO Box 77401, Atlanta, GA 30357. The Georgia Voice is published every other Friday by The Georgia Voice, LLC. Individual subscriptions are $60 per year for 26 issues. Postage paid at Atlanta, GA, and additional mailing offices. The editorial positions of the Georgia Voice are expressed in editorials and in editor’s notes. Other opinions are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Georgia Voice and its staff. To submit a letter or commentary: Letters should be fewer than 400 words and commentary, for web or print, should be fewer than 750 words. Submissions may be edited for content and length, and must include a name, address and phone number for verification. Email submissions to or mail to the address above.


“Life is life and love is love, and I’m just trying to be a better me, you know what I’m saying?”
Publicity photo via Facebook

27 | Fitness guru Jillian Michaels comes to ATL with partner and kids. 28 | FOOD PORN: Dim sum and big discussions. 29 | THEATER: ‘Brer Rabbit’ and ‘Sister Act.’ 30 | BRIEFS: Indigo Girls, The B-52s, Cyndi Lauper and more. 32 | CALENDAR


37 | THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID: Melissa Carter’s garden of stares. 39 | DOMESTICALLY DISTURBED: Topher Payne, you’ve got male!

— Rapper Snoop Lion, asked by paparazzi his stand on gay marriage. “I don’t have a problem with gay people. I got some gay homies,” he also said. (, April 7)


Photo by Holly Jones Photo,

“Miss South Carolina should be a great role model, but her sexual orientation shouldn’t define her as a person. And it shouldn’t define her getting a crown. I do have friends in the pageant circuit that are accepting of gay people and I find that it has given me a lot of support and a lot of extra push.”

Publicity photo via Facebook

“I think this is going to be good for a lot of black young people who want to come out. E.J. is going to be that symbol — a symbol of hope that they can now come and tell their parents, tell their friends.”
— Basketball legend Magic Johnson, who came out as HIV-positive in 1992, on his support for his son, Ervin “E.J.” Johnson III, coming out as gay after being photographed by TMZ holding hands with his boyfriend. (Denver Post, April 7)

Official portrait

Join us online:

— Analouisa Valencia — who is openly lesbian and the reigning Miss Lyman, S.C. — on acceptance as she prepares to compete in July in the Miss South Carolina pageant, a precursor to Miss America. (The Advocate, April 5)

“I don’t think he would stand in the way of [gay marriage] at all... I don’t think he would stand in the way of two people wanting to make a commitment to one another.”
— Author Patti Davis, explaining what she thinks her father, President Ronald Reagan, would think of marriage equality. (Gwist TV via Huffington Post, April 4)

Snuffing it out


Gay bars lead the way in banning lighting up

Jeff Powell, wearing his baseball cap flipped backwards, lights up a Marlboro Light in the upstairs bar of Blake’s on the Park. It’s early on a Saturday night, so the Midtown bar is not jam-packed with people. He and his friends are tossing back beers and cocktails as drag star Charlie Brown sashays past. “I’m a very conscious smoker,” Powell said. “I’m aware of my surroundings. I want to be conscious of nonsmokers and don’t want to offend anyone.” Blake’s allows smoking throughout the two-story bar, but in the past few months, several other gay bars have announced they are prohibiting smoking or only allowing smoking in a designated area. Powell said he has no problem with that. “I would be in favor of designated areas. Here [at Blake’s] I smoke everywhere, but I wouldn’t mind being told I could only smoke in certain areas or go outside,” Powell said. But, he added, he would not go to a bar where smoking was banished completely. Gay bars that recently have gone nonsmoking at least part-time or have designated smoking areas include the Heretic, Jungle, My Sister’s Room and Mary’s. Burkhart’s announced it was smoke-free indoors on April 7 to positive reaction via Facebook posts. Leather bar the Atlanta Eagle is also considering limiting smoking indoors in May. Gay bars that have been smoke-free since they opened include Mixx and Cockpit. At Mary’s in East Atlanta, management prohibited smoking on weekends starting this month. On the Saturday night of the first weekend, regular patron Dave Ritchie, 30, was ecstatic about the news. “Before, I had an outfit that was just for Mary’s,” Ritchie explained. “I would come home and put it in the freezer to try to get the smoke and toxins out. But then our ice cubes started smelling like cigarettes. And we realized it was because of all of our Mary’s clothes.” On this Saturday, Ritchie was wearing a new white leather jacket, thrilled to have clothing options to wear to his favorite bar. “Now that Mary’s has gone non-smoking, it’s wonderful.” People can still smoke indoors during the week and Mary’s has a sizable deck and parking lot where many smokers already gather.

Oliva Rado (right), 23, smokes with a friend on the deck of Mary’s. She said she personally likes the decision of management to ban indoor smoking at the gay bar on weekends. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)

Sitting on the back deck, Olivia Rado, 23, who identifies as pansexual, was smoking Parliaments. She said she didn’t mind the smoking in the bar until “everyone else started smoking.” “It’s harsh. It’s gross,” she said. “Personally, I like it [banning indoor smoking]. I like my clothing — why should I have to wash it after a night out? And it’s a nice little interruption to go outside and meet people.”


The Health Initiative, which serves LGBT people, is working with the Breathe Easy Fulton County campaign to inform the public of the health risks of smoking and hopefully convince people to quit, while also encouraging public places and businesses to snuff out smoking. According to a 2009-2010 survey by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, LGBT people smoke twice as much as their straight peers, said Linda Ellis, executive director of the Health Initiative. Tobacco companies also specifically target LGBT people in their marketing and will even equate the right to smoke to the right for marriage equality in some national ads, she said. “The message we’ve gotten historically is

that the tobacco companies have done a good job of targeting the LGBT community and connecting bars with smoking,” Ellis said. “They are very intentional in targeting our community. It’s even been put in front of us as a rights issue and it’s very easy to buy into that.” In a 2009 survey by the Health Initiative, Atlanta LGBT people did not acknowledge smoking as a health issue. Instead, Ellis said, LGBT people tend to think of HIV when they think of health issues facing the community. The CDC is also now targeting LGBT smokers as part of its efforts. Dr. Tim McAfee, the director of the CDC’s Office on Smoke and Health, told the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News earlier this month that smoking among LGBT people is “a big, big health burden.” The new campaign, he said “will save lives and it will save LGBT lives.” The first CDC ad rolled out this month features a woman who says she suffers asthma from working as a bartender in a gay bar and breathing in second-hand smoke.

• LGBT people are 40-70 percent more likely to smoke than other people. • LGBT adolescents are taking up smoking at an alarming rate. In a recent national study, 45 percent of females and 35 percent of males reporting same-sex attraction or behavior smoked. In comparison, only 29 percent of the rest of the youth smoked. • Several factors such as higher levels of social stress, frequent patronage of bars and clubs, higher rates of alcohol and drug use, and direct targeting of LGBT consumers by the tobacco industry may be related to higher prevalence rates of tobacco use among some LGBT people.
Source: National LGBT Control Network


But the pro-smoking movement says not so fast. Don’t stop lighting up because some-

Please see SMOKING continued on Page 14

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LGBT Rush Center expansion underway
Campaign seeks to raise $48,000 in 2013 for renovations
By DYANA BAGBY The Phillip Rush Center, Atlanta’s LGBT community center, is negotiating to expand by 1,700 square feet, but organizers need to raise another $48,000 in the next six months to complete renovations on the new event space and additional offices for community organizations. About 100 people attended a March 30 reception at the Rush Center to learn about plans to rent a space in the building located directly behind the current facility on Edgewood Avenue in Candler Park. Donors pitched in $31,000 that day, including two $5,000 anonymous donations as well as many smaller donations, to help secure that new space and help with its build out. “Due to the overwhelming community support we have been able to begin negotiations with the landlord,” said Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality. He and Linda Ellis, executive director of the Health Initiative, co-manage the Rush Center. “Once we know that we have the space we can begin the process of determining the timeline for initiating and completing the buildout,” he added. “We anticipate that we will begin the build out in mid-summer and complete it by the end of the year, depending upon how quickly we raise the additional funds. Our goal is to do this in such a way that any disruption to organizations or services already held at the Rush Center will be minimized.” Ellis said the lease on the current space expires in June and an attorney is currently negotiating a rental price for the current space and new space as one sum. “As soon as the lease is finalized and we raise the additional $48,000 we’ll begin build out. Our goal is to have it completed by the end of the year,” she said. That new space would become the center’s event space. The current event space will be renovated to include six more offices that will allow for at least one other organization — the Rainbow Center — to move into the Rush Center. The Rainbow Center serves LGBT Jewish people and families and advocates on their behalf. Georgia Equality and the Health Initiative plan to hire an employee to help people navigate the health care system when the Affordable Care Act is implemented in January, and that person will also use one of the new offices, Ellis said. “We have a committee raising that additional money. We’ve not had a chance to talk to them yet, but as soon as we have the lease

Doug Carl, a close friend of Phillip Rush, said of the planned expansion, “We can do this as a collective number rather than relying on just a few. This is our center. We all use it.”

negotiated ... we could begin some phase of the build out,” she said. “The first phase will be the new space. We can do that build out without interrupting what is taking place in the current space. And then when that build out is done and we can ship bigger events there, we’ll start build out in the current space.” What if the $48,000 isn’t raised? “I think we’re confident we’ll able to do it. The community has expressed the commitment,” she said. But in a worst-case scenario, the Rush Center would minimize build out in the current space. “But I don’t think that will happen,” Ellis said.


With the addition of more offices in the current Rush Center, revenue from rent will increase and, in the end, result in a reduction of cost and money needed each year from donations. Currently, the Rush Center relies on some $52,000 in annual community donations to keep the center open. With the planned expansion, the donations needed from the community are expected to drop between 20-30 percent to about $35,000 a year.

Right now, more than 100 groups and organizations utilize the Rush Center and there is a waiting list for other groups to meet. The Rush Center can’t fit in weekly groups because its calendar is completely full. In a strategic plan for the Rush Center ratified in September 2012, “community stakeholders and leaders expressed the desire for [the Rush Center] to be more than a provider of space in being a sustainable community center and ‘portal/access point’ for LGBTQ information, resources and organizations, including supporting collaboration and continued growth and development of these agencies, especially for those who serve traditionally

underserved LGBTQ communities.” Goals for 2013 include the build out for its current and future space as well as possibly an LGBTQ resource library or kiosk. In 2015, the Rush Center plans to increase its total budget to approximately $225,000 (45 percent from revenue, 55 percent from donations) while also launching a capital campaign to purchase the center. Groups that currently have offices in the Rush Center include the Health Initiative, Georgia Equality, Atlanta Pride, In the Life Atlanta, United 4 Safety, Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, SAGE for LGBT senior citizens, and ProGeorgia, a state civic group.




Anti-gay Westboro Baptist protests NCAA Final Four
No official counter-protest but plenty of boos from basketball fans
By RYAN WATKINS As thousands of Michigan, Louisville, Witchita State and Syracuse college basketball fans made their way into the Georgia Dome on Saturday, April 6, they were confronted by the unmistakable anti-gay picket signs frequently paraded outside of LGBT events and U.S. military funerals by Westboro Baptist Church. About eight members of the Westboro Baptist Church protested in Atlanta outside of the Georgia Dome during the NCAA Basketball Final Four tournament. Shirley Phelps-Roper, the matriarch of Westboro Baptist Church and daughter of church founder Fred Phelps, told GA Voice during the protest that her church was demonstrating against America’s love of basketball, which she said was greater than the country’s love of God. “This country uses this vehicle called basketball as an idol that they serve way more than they serve God and they substitute as God,” she said. “They don’t serve God, they serve themselves and they serve their idols. This nation is going down.” Westboro has frequently picketed the funerals of deceased American military members and LGBT causes with anti-gay signs that read “God Hates Fags” and “USA = Fag Enablers.” But basketball is not particularly gay. So, why the protest? “You need to have a case study. His name is Magic Johnson,” Phelps-Roper said. “Just use him as the beginning point. Remember, he did some Final Fours. The end of that matter is a fag son, he’s got AIDS, and they’re all headed to hell. Magic Johnson, a former professional basketball player and current TV analyst, spoke out as HIV-positive in the early 1990s. Johnson’s son EJ recently came out publicly as a gay man and has his father’s support. “Do you understand this nation is poised to have same-sex marriage across the land?” Phelps-Roper continued. “They really already do but they’re about to make it the law of the land. We were standing just 10 days ago in D.C. outside the Supreme Court. Losing? No my dear, you don’t have eyes to see apparently that the end of this matter is the destruction of this country and the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. I say get her done.” While there was no organized counterprotest, most, if not all, of the afternoon revelers were decidedly anti-Westboro. Some

PFLAG conference works to unite LGBT allies across Ga.
By RYAN WATKINS The Atlanta chapter of Parents, Families & Friends of Gays and Lesbians (PFLAG) will host the “Leading with Love” Conference Saturday, April 20. The conference is a meeting of leaders and members from PFLAG chapters across the state that will feature guest speakers, seminars and tips for creating local chapters of the LGBT support group. Conal Charles, president of the Atlanta PFLAG chapter, told GA Voice the upcoming conference will give attendees the chance to network with other allies for equality while giving them the tools necessary to start their own LGBT supportive groups. “We only do this once every three years,” Charles said. “You won’t get this information anywhere else. These are the experts in their fields. Everything you need in a box.” The main goal, Charles said, is to provide resources to LGBT people in the state who may live away from the larger cities, like Atlanta, Athens, Savannah or Macon. Many PFLAG members are supportive and want to know how to become more involved with the organization, Charles said. More local groups will mean more opportunities for outreach, Charles said. “Basically, if there is a parent or a few parents looking to get involved, they can get together, get the training and get everything they need to start a PFLAG chapter. We’re trying to cover Georgia in a network of support groups,” Charles added. “We’re trying to fill in that map.” Sessions will cover a wide array of topics, from legal and cultural progress on equality to safe schools and transgender issues. “We’re going to have six sessions,” Charles added. “[Georgia Equality Executive Director] Jeff Graham is going to do the marriage piece and update us on that. We’re going to have speakers talk about websites, transgender issues, facilitation skills, religions and faith, and safe schools.” The conference will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. A breakfast and lunch are included with the event. Tickets purchased before April 14 will be $25. Tickets purchased after will increase to $30.

Around eight members of the Westboro Baptist Church protested Atlanta’s hosting of the NCAA Basketball Final Four tournament at the Georgia Dome. (Photo by Ryan Watkins)

walking by the small protest zone booed, while others laughed at the demonstration. Others still were more direct and challenged the Westboro protesters on their beliefs and reasons for protesting. Cameron Kano, a 15-year old attending the festivities with her mother and a friend, was vocally upset with the protest. When she saw the picket signs, Kano walked to the partition that separated the protesters from the crowd and stuck her two middle fingers in the air. “It pisses me off,” Kano later told GA Voice. “People like this cannot let two people that love each other just be together. I don’t get how this affects them in any way. I don’t know, it just really bothers me.” Others, like Ben Beckham, engaged in conversation with the protesters in an attempt to understand their logic. Beckham eventually walked away frustrated. “That’s the reason why this country can’t come together,” Beckham, who was attending an afternoon game with his girlfriend, told GA Voice. “They call it the melting pot that mixes together. It’s more of a segregated stain-glass window, but less so, it’s a broken stain-glass window. This is what’s wrong with this coun-

try, people are still so segregated against other people and they can’t accept that they’re from the same country.” Ray, a straight man who declined to give his last name, was attending an afternoon game with his son. He spent several minutes discussing freedom of speech and personal liberty with Phelps-Roper and other members of WBC. “I think it’s a travesty they’re allowed to stand here and protest with police protection,” Ray told GA Voice. Ray commented that he was a former member of the military and served to ensure that every American could exercise their constitutional rights – even if he disagreed with them. He showed off a scar, which he said came from an enemy AK-47 round during his service. Ashley and Carly, a young lesbian couple who also didn’t want their full names used, stood in front of the barricades and briefly kissed to the cheers of some passersby. “I just want them to feel bad,” one of the girls said when asked why she and her girlfriend kissed in front of the protest zone. “I’m sure they go home and watch lesbian porn,” the other added.


‘Leading with Love’ conference Hosted by PFLAG Atlanta Saturday, April 20, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta

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Positive response to limits on gay bar smoking
SMOKING, continued from Page 4
one tells you their health is at risk due to second-hand smoke or because it’s offensive, said Michael J. McFadden, Mid-Atlantic Regional Director of the Citizens Freedom Alliance Inc. and author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains.” He claims studies showing health improvements of people who are no longer around second-hand smoke are lies and funded by “antismoking radicals.” “If the bars tend to be quite crowded and poorly ventilated, then I can easily see them being smoky enough to bother a sizable percentage of their patrons and I could even see concerns about health of the staff, not of the patrons,” he said. A remedy is to install a better air ventilation and filtration system in the bar, he argued. When smoking is prohibited, owners tend to dramatically reduce their filtration systems — which, McFadden said, leads to more dangerous pathogens in the air. McFadden also stressed he and other prosmokers have nothing against bar owners doing what they want with their own businesses. But they do fear government intervention which would, they say, eliminate the freedom of choice to smoke. Ellis, however, is tickled to see the local gay bars owners stepping up to ban smoking in most areas of their bars and believes it will contribute to a healthier community. “Historically the bars, especially gay bars, are primary opponents and vocal opponents,” she said. “The expectation in Atlanta was we would have to take on and confront gay bars. I’m shocked and amazed that gay bars are leading the way. I’m proud of them,” she said. “We have plenty of outdoor patio space for smoking, but that legislation would even block that,” he said. “We don’t want our customers having to go down the street and turn left and then smoke behind a tree.” And while he says 99 percent of his customers are happy with his decision to limit smoking, there are a few who continue to give him grief. And, he acknowledged, it is the smokers who tend to spend more when they go out. “Smokers usually spend more money in the club. I have no stats to back that up, but they are the ones throwing down some drinks,” Collins said. “I want to work with them. We appreciate all our customers and want to make everyone happy and I’m doing my damnedest.” Jungle designated a small area alongside the wall where the bar is for smokers, keeping the dance floor free from cigarette smoke and lit butts. “The biggest complaint I would get is people saying they are getting burned by cigarettes on the dance floor,” said club owner Richard Cherskov. Limiting smoking to a small designated area made sense when the club renovated last year and also added a small restaurant, he said. William Overall, owner of Mary’s, agrees with Ellis — gay bars are leading the way. On the first Saturday night of no smoking indoors, the music was thumping, people sat all along the bar and others stood around waiting for a punk drag show. “We had been thinking about it for awhile and decided to wait until after winter so people wouldn’t have to go outside and freeze,” Overall said over loud music. “People had legitimate complaints.” The response has been positive to Mary’s decision, he said. The thought of city or county intervention could be worrisome, however. Atlanta City Councilmember Alex Wan, who successfully got legislation passed to ban smoking in city parks, said there are no plans before the council to bring up other ordinances to ban smoking in bars or clubs. “At this point, there hasn’t been any conversation even to propose any action,” Wan said. “Clearly, if bars choose to ban smoking on their own, that’s a business decision they are making on their own. I think it’s great that some bars/clubs are opting to be smoke free. I remember that was one of the things I liked most about Red Chair.” Overall remembered attempts by the city to ban indoor smoking and, while he said he has no opinion on the matter, there were many bar owners worried about losing business. Mary’s is waiting to see if business will be impacted. “This is a good year to make a change. I really don’t know if it’s the right thing. But it’s the right thing for us,” he said.

Campaign photo

Marriage equality foes and friends
Leave it to Sue Everhart, chair of the Georgia Republican Party, to once again make the state the butt of national jokes on gay issues. It began March 29 when the Marietta Daily Journal published an article on local reactions to the Supreme Court hearing on marriage equality. “It is not natural for two women or two men to be married,” Everhart opined. “If it was natural they would have the equipment to have a sexual relationship.” Everhart then fretted that allowing samesex couples to marry would inspire people who are “straight as an arrow” to commit fraud by engaging in a gay marriage just to get benefits (um, couldn’t they already do that by marrying someone of the opposite sex to get benefits?). “There is no way that this is about equality. To me, it’s all about a free ride,” she said. National gay blogs had a field day with her remarks, which then spread to the national mainstream press and even comedy shows. The April 2 episode of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” took on Everhart’s remarks, with mock conservative commentator Stephen Colbert explaining why he agreed. “No, it is true. Two men and two women do not have the equipment to have sex. I have seen videos on the Internet where they try for hours and hours, but they just end up all sweaty and exhausted,” Colbert said. The next day, ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” took a jab at Everhart too, noting like other critics that Everhart’s fraud argument is the same as the plot of the 2007 Adam Sandler movie “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.” Kimmel sent a camera crew to walk around West Hollywood and film pairs, asking audience members to guess if they are “a gay couple or straight friends.” More @

have not spoken out for marriage equality are Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Joe Manchin (DW.V.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.). On the opposite side of the aisle, only two GOP senators have spoken out for marriage equality: Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) Both of Georgia’s senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, oppose marriage rights for same-sex couples. Via the Washington Blade, Washington Post and staff reports.



Alan Collins, general manager of the Heretic, is a heavy smoker himself. When he announced on Facebook on March 1 that his bar would limit smoking to only the pub area, he held his breath waiting for the reactions. “I sat there for two hours before I hit enter,” he said of the March 1 announcement. “But as soon as I posted, my Facebook page blew up. 99.9 percent of the response was positive. I got three negative emails. Most people said they were very excited and said they could now come back and not worry about getting burned on the dance floor.” Collins said the Heretic has been thinking for some time about banning smoking throughout the bar. Last year, he thought the Atlanta City Council was going to outlaw smoking in bars and restaurants. He believes such legislation will be passed eventually — he just doesn’t want the city to restrict how far smokers can be from a building’s entrance and was deeply opposed to what has been proposed.


Only three Democratic U.S. senators have not expressed support for marriage equality, following a flurry of statements in April and late March after the Supreme Court heard arguments on two cases related to same-sex couples. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) announced his support for gay marriage April 1, followed by Tom Carper (D-Del.) April 2, Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) on April 4, Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) on April 5, and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) on April 8. The only remaining Senate Democrats who

The world of men’s professional sports is still waiting for an openly gay current athlete, but talk that one or more players in the National Football League might soon come out heated up last week, fueled by Brendon Ayanbadejo of the Baltimore Ravens. Ayanbadejo has been an outspoken supporter of LGBT rights and marriage equality. He was cut from the Ravens earlier this month, and in an interview with the Baltimore Sun, suggested as many as four NFL players might soon announce they are gay. “I think it will happen sooner than you think,” Ayanbadejo said. “We’re in talks with a handful of players who are considering it … they’re trying to be organized so they can come out on the same day together. It would make a major splash and take the pressure off one guy.” But asked by CNN if he knew the names of the four players, Ayanbadejo then backpedaled and said he was working with some organizations and individuals “and collectively we know of some gay players,” some of whom are anonymous. Via Baltimore Sun and



A joint project of GA Voice and Equally Wed magazine, “Atlanta Gay Weddings” is a annual publication filled with inspiring stories of local LGBT couples and great ideas to plan your big day. Read the debut issue online and look for our second edition this fall.

See more ‘Atlanta Gay Weddings’

Lauren Lukkarila and Anneliese Singh combined aspects of their cultures and did not worry about social norms when planning their wedding. (Photos by Holly Jones Photo)

‘A personally sacred experience’

Anneliese & Lauren:

By BRITTNY DRYE December 11, 2010, was the first day of forever for Anneliese Singh and Lauren Lukkarila. They met for the first time at a restaurant in Atlanta. As they sat down together, Lukkarila began by saying, “I’m looking for someone who is a feminist out-of-the-box.” Singh high-fived her and exclaimed, “I’m your woman.” “This was the first of many din-

ners so long we shut restaurants down, laughed ‘til our bellies hurt, cried sharing our most tender spaces, and kept falling deeper and deeper in love,” they shared on their wedding website. The natural beauty of Mother Earth provided the perfect setting for Singh and Lukkarila to exchange vows. They wed on May 12, 2012, at Avondale Community Club, a lakeside venue that looks out into the nearby woodlands only a few blocks away from their home. To steer clear of the gender binary of

“bride and groom” or “bride and bride,” Singh and Lukkarila opted to call themselves the “Beloveds.” The romantic term was used throughout the ceremony, as well as when they were introduced at the reception. Loved ones surrounded the couple as they exchanged deeply heartfelt and personal vows on the site’s patio. “We chose to say and do things that reflected our deepest love and gratitude for both each other and our beloved community,” says Lukkarila.

Clifton & Chad:
Celebrating ‘the year of marriage’
By DYANA BAGBY Fortunately, the New York restaurant where Clifton Guterman and Chad Gough met for their first date stayed open 24 hours. The pair decided to meet for a glass of wine about 9 p.m., after Guterman finished performing in an off-Broadway play. They sat at the bar and talked. And talked and talked. “The date just kept going,” Gough says of that day, Feb. 21, 2008. The two finally decided to head home about 2:30 a.m. They shared their first kiss as snow began to fall over the city. “It was very romantic,” Guterman says. The two met on and learned they had much in common. Both are Southern — Guterman is from Iron City, Ga., a very small city in South Georgia, and Gough hails from Rushford, Va. Although they grew up in rural towns, their families were socially progressive and are supportive of who they are. The two even grew up on roads named for their grandfathers. “Our upbringings were so similar. I had not met like anyone like that in New York,” Gough says. Guterman describes the night as magical and says he knew at that first date he was in love. “I had been looking for him for a long time,” he says. The two moved in together after six months before moving back to Atlanta, where Gough works in international finance and Guterman can be seen acting in many local plays, including “Wolves” at Actor’s Express. The two talked about marriage early in their relationship and Guterman says he kept dropping hints for more than four years. Gough asked him why he didn’t propose. Guterman replied that wasn’t what he imagined as a boy. “That wasn’t the story in my head. That’s not what I dreamed of,” he says. In December, Gough popped the

Their ceremony was infused with spirituality from Sikhism, Native American traditions and Buddhism. Tables were topped with floral arrangements, a cylinder of sand from the beach where they got engaged and garden stakes of meaningful words. Outside, lawn games kept the kids entertained while the adults indulged in passed hors d’oeuvres during a cocktail hour and a buffet-style dinner made up of a traditional Indian menu of delicious vegetarian, fish and vegan plates. Because of Singh’s South Asian American background, they enlisted a Punjabi D.J. and swayed to Train’s “Marry Me” for their first dance. To honor Singh’s father, who was from Punjab in India, they entertained guests with a local bhangra dance troupe. Bhangra is a centuries-old folk dance from northern India that farmers still perform to celebrate the harvest, and is a wedding tradition at Indian nuptials around the world. “We had initially just aimed to have a ceremony and event that reflects our love, authenticity and magic we share. What we experienced was that, plus all of the love, support, encouragement and faith of our beloved community,” says Lukkarila. Now about to celebrate their first anniversary, Singh and Lukkarila have a few hints for those planning their own wedding. First, forget social norms. “Just make sure your decisions are guided by all the amazing feelings, love, and respect you have for one another. Then, all your decisions will have more of an ease to them — and most importantly lead to a more meaningful experience for you both!” Singh says. Both also said getting married changed their relationship for the better. “Our marriage deepened our commitment and bond to one another — and gave us a sense of home, peace and belonging that we did not expect,” Lukkarila says. “We talked at length about this decision in advance and really thought it would just be about connecting with our beloved community. It was actually much more of a personally sacred experience than that,” Singh says. — Dyana Bagby contributed

Chad Gough and Clifton Gunterman were legally married in New York on their five-year anniversary and are planning a September celebration in Atlanta. (Courtesy photos)

question in their home after decorating for Christmas. The tree was lit and the fire glowing when he knelt down and asked Guterman to marry him. This was the story Guterman dreamed about. The two celebrated their five-year anniversary by getting legally married in New York on Feb. 21, 2013. They then recreated that fateful first date by sharing tiramisu at French Roast, the 24-hour restaurant where they first met. They were even lucky enough to snag the same bar stools they sat on five years ago. The New York ceremony was a practical one, held in City Hall. A European honeymoon is set for the end of April. In June, the couple will travel to Iron City to attend wedding showers hosted by family members. “My South Georgia cousin called me and said they wanted to throw us a shower down there. She said some ladies in the church who are close to

my mom wanted to help because my mom always helps with all the showers,” Guterman says. “She said they wanted to do something for her child. And we were like, ‘Yeah!’ We will come down and have a good time.” Another ceremony, including catered meals and a chance to dress up, will take place in September when the couple will host 50 of their closest family members and friends for an intimate dinner at a restaurant they’ve rented, a catered brunch at their home and a weekend of activities in Atlanta. There won’t be any of the trappings of a traditional marriage that their straight friends planned. Instead, there will be good food and good times. “The most important thing to us is to celebrate with our family and friends,” Gough says. “We’re doing what feels right to us. And that is kind of liberating.” “We’re calling it the year of marriage,” Gunterman adds.




Alisha & LA: ‘marriage makes a statement’
By LAURA DOUGLAS-BROWN When Alisha Smith and Latasha “LA” Gaymon say their vows this summer, the Atlanta residents will give a nod to the gay past — and offer their hope for the future, not only for themselves but for all LGBT people. “For starters we are so incredibly in love and want to commit to one another in a way that’s bigger than ‘going steady,’” Smith says. “We also feel that our marriage makes a statement to the world that as a woman who loves a woman, this does not somehow diminish our desire to get married. We’ve been dreaming about our wedding since we were little girls too!” Smith, 31, a community projects coordinator, and Gaymon, 37, a data center operations technician, met through mutual friends and have been together for more than four years. Both say they knew early on that they had found “the one.” “Even before we started dating, I remember telling a close friend, ‘she’s wifey material,’” Gaymon says. “At about six month of dating I knew she would be the woman that I would marry and spend my life with.” Gaymon waited three years to pop the question, then did so in grand style — surprising Smith with a room filled with rose petals and scented candles during a weekend trip to a bed-and-breakfast in St. Augustine, Fla. “With chocolate-dipped strawberries and champagne, I thought we were simply toasting the night to a lovely vacation,” Smith says. “However while sitting out on our private porch overlooking a moonlit bay, LA got down on one knee and asked, ‘Alisha, will you marry me?’” Smith and Gaymon plan to legally marry in New York, then have a wedding ceremony Aug. 2 at the W Atlanta-Midtown hotel. Their Atlanta wedding will offer a creative, vintage take on the black-tie formal ceremony, celebrating the theme of “Gay Voices of the Harlem Renaissance.” “We both love that era so much so that is was important for us to incorporate the love stories and passion that women showed women during the Harlem Renaissance in poetry and in song,” Smith says. Smith lists Angelina Weld Grimke, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Gladys Bently, Ma Rainey, “and countless other gay and lesbian geniuses” of the era as their inspirations. “There was a whole movement of freedom,

Upcoming wedding looks back to gay Harlem Renaissance

LA Gaymon and Alisha Smith plan to legally marry in New York and have a wedding ceremony Aug. 2 in Atlanta. (Courtesy photo)

self-exploration, and unapologetic realness to be exactly who you are, as you are...we love that,” she says. Smith and Gaymon are working with wedding planning company Precious Moments by Kenya to make the event perfect. “The details are very important to us and our planner is working very closely with us to ensure that we capture it all,” Smith says. “Overall the event will feel regal, elegant, vintage and glamorous. “She’s wanting to incorporate black and white photos of us in the decor, maybe books of poetry by some gay voices. Our attire will have a vintage flair, a slight nod to the 1920’s with a modern twist.” The couple hired their planner after a brush with homophobia showed them they needed help to navigate the many wedding details. After “falling in love with the loveliest outdoor space for a garden ceremony,” they were told “though we could hold our wedding onsite, it would have to be held inside in a banquet room and not on the outdoor lawn as community members might see a same-sex couple getting married and complain,” Smith recounts. “Devastated, we quickly hired our planner soon after.” Their wedding, they hope, will send a message not only about their love, but about the rights that same-sex couples deserve to share. “Our marriage says … that as a human being, we deserve every right of every single American,” Smith says.




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Cake toppers, from cute to classic
Say ‘I do’ as two brides or two grooms with these sweet figurines

Love birds, $58, Sparkle & Twig These charming love birds can also be customized with two wedding veils to work for a lesbian wedding, and the pennant can display a custom word or phrase up to five letters.

Custom cake tops, $150 and up Quaint and quirky, these cake toppers by Atlanta’s own The Small Object can be customized to reflect your appearance, wedding attire, hobbies and more.

Clay cake top, $235 Whether you use it on your cake or simply as a keepsake to commemorate your nuptials, these custom clay toppers from Magic Mud are one-of-a-kind, made to reflect your ceremony, interests and more.

Romance Cake Top, $34.98 We love that this porcelain cake topper shows one woman wearing a suit; both also wear small Swarovski crystal wedding rings. Hair and clothing colors can be customized. Also available in two grooms.

Unicorns who love unicorns, $85 What’s gayer than a gay wedding? A gay rainbow unicorn wedding. Add a touch of humor to your nuptials with these recycled wood cake toppers, which can be personalized with eye and flower colors.

Classic grooms, $184.99 Available for grooms or brides, these polyresin cake toppers allow you to customize clothing, eye color, skin colors, hair color and more. Pets and kids can be added for additional costs. — Laura Douglas-Brown




Wedding ring trends include black diamonds, return to precious metals

Put a ring on it
In the 25 years I have been involved in the jewelry business, I have seen the world of “commitment” bands grow from rainbow colored rings to high tech industrial looks to great classics both with and without stones. But my favorite evolution in the “commitment” category is seeing couples proud to walk into a jewelry store and pick out the rings that show their love for each other. Two decades ago, while running a mall jewelry store, I would notice an individual shopping for bands and note their preferences on a business card. I then realized a different person (the partner to be) would bring the card back alone to see what the first picked out. It struck me as wrong that all couples, regardless of sexual orientation, could not comfortably share in the great experience of picking out rings together. Fast forward to 2013: While the jewelry industry has become more accepting, there is still progress to be made. Number one and most important, why do we need to call them “commitment” rings? Since everyone deserves the same rights to marry, from this day forward let’s drop the term commitment rings and stick to “wedding rings.” Some of the hottest trends in wedding rings are rose gold, white and black diamonds mixed together for both men and women, as well as a return to precious metal rings. There is no doubt that the alternative metals — titanium, tungsten carbide and cobalt chrome — all are still very strong for wedding rings as these metals offer a huge range of styles at great prices. But more and more we have noticed that many couples are back to choosing precious metal rings, be it white or yellow gold, platinum or palladium. I feel people have realized these metals are timeless and we can all relate to them as our parents and grandparents wore these special metals. Colored diamonds and colored stones have also become a great way to show your individuality. The most popular stone choice has become black diamonds. These unique diamonds offer a great look without out being too flashy. Both male and female couples often choose to purchase only one ring that they put on at the ceremony, while others choose to start with engagement rings so they can start showing their devotion to each other right away. Many female couples choose to go with a ring emphasizing a center stone with side accent diamonds, and then add on another band at the actual ceremony. We also see many male couples starting with engagement bands and then adding on an accent band, on one or

Trends in wedding bands for same-sex couples include black diamonds, colored stones and a return to precious metals.

both sides, at their ceremony. Other couples who choose to start with engagement bands simply add a single diamond or colored stone to their original rings before their ceremony. In all of these choices, many couples come in planning to get identical rings. Upon seeing the range of styles, many realize that each partner can pick a different ring to show their individual taste, but still complement their mate’s. They may end up with different styles or simply the same style in a different width; one may have stones and one may not. Remember these wedding bands symbolize your love for each other. Realize your taste today will continue to evolve just as your love does, so be willing to go a little outside of your style comfort zone when choosing your rings and you will enjoy them for many years to come.

Harris Botnick is president of Worthmore Jewelers, with locations in Midtown and Decatur. Visit




Protect your partnership
Simple documents can help secure your rights
By LAURA DOUGLAS-BROWN The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments last month in two cases related to marriage equality for same-sex couples, with decisions expected in late June. But you shouldn’t wait for the rulings to protect your relationship here in Georgia. Depending on what the justices decide, the case could grant greater rights to same-sex couples here in Georgia, or no additional rights at all. But while same-sex marriage is illegal in our state, there are steps you can take right now to help protect your partnership. These legal documents don’t take the place of the hundreds of rights that come with marriage, but they can help same-sex couples avoid discrimination while the fight for marriage equality continues. And since every couple’s situation is unique, you should consult an attorney to see if there are other documents you need.


This crucial three-part document allows you to designate who you want to make healthcare decisions for you; designate your treatment preferences if you are terminally ill or permanently unconscious; and designate who you would want to be your guardian if you should need one. Georgia Equality (, the state’s largest LGBT political group, offers an easy place to download the healthcare directive. This document allows you to designate someone (like your partner) to make financial decisions for you, either immediately or if you should become incapacitated. This can be very helpful for your partner if you become seriously ill or disabled and your assets are needed to maintain your home and care. If you die without a will, your assets go to your legal heirs — and here in Georgia, that means your family, not your partner. A will lets you spell out exactly how you want your property divided and makes sure the person you love isn’t left out in the cold. It also lets you name who you want to be the guardian of your children. A partnership agreement gives you the opportunity to think intentionally about how you will share assets, household expenses, child-rearing and other crucial issues. It also is a chance to agree in advance on how you


will mediate disputes should your romantic relationship end.



There are many groups working to secure the right for same-sex couples to legally wed. Here are a few who are leading the way. Visit their websites for how you can help them help you.

A national LGBT legal group with offices around the country, including Atlanta, Lambda Legal has played a key role in legal battles for marriage rights nationwide. Freedom to Marry is a national voice for marriage equality, fighting for marriage rights at the state and federal level. The nation’s largest LGBT political group includes the Americans for Marriage Equality campaign, which helps bring national attention and resources to battles around marriage equality.



The Campaign for Southern Equality, based in North Carolina, coordinated the recent “We Do” protests around the South — including in Decatur, Ga. — where same-sex couples applied for, and were denied, marriage licenses.


AFER is the group bringing the high-profile federal legal challenge to Proposition 8, the voter initiative that ended gay marriages in California. The U.S. Supreme Court heard the case March 26; the broadest possible victory could allow gay couples to marry around the country, while narrower rulings could let gay marriage resume in California or keep the status quo.



This nonprofit was created to provide lowcost legal services to Georgians in same-sex relationships. Services include wills, financial powers of attorney and advance directives for health care; the cost is only what you would pay for a marriage license in your county.

Sources: Williams Institute, 2010 Census, Freedom to Marry, Forbes Magazine




‘Biggest Loser’ trainer visits Atlanta to help ‘Maximize Your Life’
By LAURA DOUGLAS-BROWN Jillian Michaels is best known for her role as a tough but empowering trainer on the NBC hit “The Biggest Loser.” With her first live tour, she hopes to help others find success not just through losing weight, but also through “maximizing” their passions and potential. Michaels, who just released her newest book, “Slim for Life: My Insider Secrets to Simple, Fast, and Lasting Weight Loss,” comes to Atlanta this month for her “Maximize Your Life” tour, which stops in 35 cities in the U.S. and Canada. The tour will cover topics ranging from weight loss and workouts to increasing confidence and self-esteem, and Michaels knows of which she speaks. Once an overweight teen, she is now a celebrity fitness icon, trainer, author — and lesbian mom. It’s been almost a year since Michaels and her partner, Heidi Rhoades, became mothers to two in the same week: daughter Lukensia, adopted from Haiti after a long process, and son Phoenix, born to Rhoades the same week Lu came home. GA Voice caught up with Michaels as she prepares to bring her tour — and her family, who is traveling with her — to Atlanta’s Fox Theatre on April 21. Your tour is called “Maximize Your Life.” Is this just about fitness, or how do those goals translate into other issues? Not at all. While you will learn about optimizing your metabolism through food and fitness, at its core the show is about connecting with your passion, living in your truth, attacking inhibitions and unleashing your potential. What should Atlanta audiences expect from the tour? An energetic, interactive, multi-media experience that will educate and motivate people to take their lives to the next level. Will we get to hear any stories/gossip/ tips from “Biggest Loser”? Definitely! “Biggest Loser” has its first openly gay candidate this season (Jackson Carter, age 21, who placed third in the season finale that aired March 18). What has that been like, and have you experienced discrimination in your career since coming out? Sadly, yes, I have. I had a few partnerships in business end after I came out. I lost the January cover of a specific magazine. With that said, I do think the tide is turning because overall I have never been more successful. I think slowly, with time it is becoming more acceptable and mainstream. As for Jackson, he was and is an inspiration and the fact that America voted him into the finals over the all American football player is really saying something. Lesbians tend to have higher rates of obesity than the general population. Why do you think this is, and what can be done about it? I honestly haven’t thought about that and didn’t know that statistic. Although my partner and I are part of the LGBT community, my daughter is black, and my son is Latin, I have never really looked at statistics within subcultures. I look at the human race. WE are getting fatter, unhealthier and unhappier. On the whole, I believe it’s a matter of giving people simple information and tools they can implement to turn the tide even when big business and big government are working against us. How do you work with people about fitness without damaging self-esteem with those who may already feel self-conscious about their weight? I push them into realizing how strong and capable they actually are. That’s why I am so tough on them on “Biggest Loser.” I need them to see very quickly that they have been living a lie. They are NOT “weak, lazy, incapable,” etc. You and your partner have two small kids. What was it like becoming mothers to two at the same time, and how do you fit motherhood into your career and staying fit?

Jillian Michaels visits Atlanta this month for her ‘Maximize Your Life’ tour, which has her on the road with her partner and two young children. (Photo by Don Flood)

“I’m a big believer that when you put your intentions, energy and action in the world, what comes back to you is divine and meant to be.”
Jillian Michaels ‘Maximize Your Life’ tour Sunday, April 21, 5 p.m. at the Fox Theatre

What has it been like to travel with your whole family? Two babies and a bird seem like they would make for some interesting road stories! To be honest, I thought it would be a nightmare, but it’s actually been amazing. I get to see more of them than I do when we are at home. My daughter is having an absolute blast. Is it harder to eat healthily and keep active with a family on the road? What are some of your tips? Actually, no. My focus on the tour is the tour so I am not being pulled in as many directions as I am when I am home. That said, I go for runs. Hit local gyms in whichever city I find myself. Workout at hotels when we do stopovers. Shop and keep food on the bus so I have healthy stuff on hand. What is your guilty pleasure when it comes to food? How do you indulge without jeopardizing overall fitness? I love sweets. So much so I actually invested in a brand called Unreal, which has none of the junk like trans fats, artificial colors or flavors, high fructose corn syrup, etc., and half the sugar. I indulge, but in better for you options like that or EBOOST, or Popchips, etc. And then I just work them into my calorie allowance for the day.

It’s hectic for sure, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m a big believer that when you put your intentions, energy and action in the world, what comes back to you is divine and meant to be. As for the balance... I try to take 20 percent of my time for myself (the gym, date night, doctors appointments, etc.) and then the other 80 percent is for work and my kids. I am lucky that the kids are young so I am able to bring them with me everywhere I go. If I am on set, they are with me. If I am on tour, they are with me.





Dim sum and big discussions
Has Robert finally found DETAILS RECOMMENDED DINING Canton House a boyfriend in Lee? 4825 Buford Highway, Chamblee, GA 30341
The time had come. Robert was feeling afflicted with what he described to his therapist as “the mental disorder of falling in love.” He and Lee had been seeing one another for several months now, but Lee was still mysterious. They’d never had sex, even though the romantic vibe had turned into a drumbeat, at least for Robert. It was time to have the discussion about where they were headed. He dreaded it and picked Canton House on Buford Highway for the discussion. He made an excuse to meet in separate cars, in case things went badly. While waiting, Robert absorbed himself in a 15-year-old book he was re-reading, Michael Warner’s “The Trouble with Normal.” Lee arrived. “This place is kind of over-lit for a romantic dinner, isn’t it?” Robert balked. Had Lee anticipated his plan? “Yeah, it is over-lit,” he said, “but it’s not crowded and we can talk without screaming. Plus they give great dim sum.” He pointed to the other side of the room where a server pushed the traditional dim sum cart loaded with snack-size portions of steamed and fried dumplings, soft billowy buns stuffed with barbecue, little ribs and much more, including chicken feet. “So how was your day?” Lee asked. “Pretty good,” Robert replied, “although I managed to bore my students with a discussion about gay marriage.” He picked up his book and waved it in the air. “I read it long ago and I think he still makes the best gay argument against gay marriage.” “Oh yeah,” Lee said. “I read that. Marriage could turn us all into simpering conservatives lined up at Tiffany’s to get on the bridal registry. Those who choose not to get married will become second-class citizens.” “Yeah, basically,” Robert said. “But talking about marriage brings up something more personal I wanted to talk about. We’ve been seeing one another regularly, but we haven’t had, um, real sex, if you know what I mean. I’m just wondering how you see us – as friends, boyfriends, what?” Lee looked around like someone in urgent need of finding the restroom. “Okay, okay,” Robert said. “We don’t have to talk about it. I could tell you about eating ox penis at Beijing Kabobs down the road.” “No, no,” Lee replied, laughing. “Of course,
770-936-9030 | This restaurant, which has a large following in the Chinese community, regularly makes “best of” lists for its dim sum. The best time to go is weekends at your usual brunch time. f you want something green – and you will – order a plate of snow pea vines. Beijing Kabobs 5090 Buford Hwy Doraville, GA 30340 770-455-8388 | You really can order grilled, skewered ox penis. It doesn’t taste bad, but…well, go ahead and order it. Stick to kabobs and dumplings here. The lamb kabob coated in cumin is everyone’s favorite.

I’ve wanted to have sex, but everyone says now you should wait and get to know someone before jumping into a bed or a sling or whatever. At the same time, my freak show’s point, like Michael Warner’s, is that embracing your otherness, including wild sex, is better than trying to conform. So, feeling all lovey-dovey is confusing to me.” Robert nodded. “Ah, the inconvenience of reality. We aren’t going to overturn the benefits accorded the married, so it’s hard to blame anyone for choosing that route. And then there’s the whole thing about love…. “Love,” Lee interrupted. “Yeah I know. I never understood why anyone needed their love approved. Then I saw photographs of people receiving marriage licenses in San Francisco. Everyone looked dazed with happiness. I realized I couldn’t oppose their choice.” “Exactly,” said Robert. “So people like me, about to turn 50, remember the pleasure of being a sexual outlaw, but I’ve also seen the pleasure that comes to those who want their love publicly recognized. You and I are in between. It’s like holding off on sex because it’s what you’re supposed to do, but nobody really does that…well, nobody but you, mysterious as always.” “Ouch,” Lee said. “Alright, that’s ending tonight. We’re officially boyfriends. Cool?” Robert nodded. They clinked their little cups of tea and hurried through their meal.

Food Porn is a fictional series by longtime Atlanta food critic Cliff Bostock. Set in real Atlanta restaurants, it chronicles the adventures of Robert, a gay man in search of a husband — or at least a good meal. Read the whole series online at




Southern stories


On Stage
“The Drowsy Chaperone” Through April 14 at Aurora Theatre This Tony-winning musical follows a lonely, sexually ambiguous musical theater junkie who puts on the cast album of his favorite show and sees it pop to life around him. “Designing Women Live 7” April 11 – 14 at Onstage Atlanta Two new episodes of the TV classic are being staged – “Suzanne Goes Looking for a Friend” and “The Emperor’s New Nose/How Long Has This Been Going On?” – and done as fundraisers for Process Theatre and Onstage Atlanta’s new home. “The Fabulous Lipitones” Through April 21 at Theatrical Outfit Openly gay Glenn Rainey stars in this new musical about a small town barbershop quartet competing for a national championship “Hello, Dolly!” Through April 28 at Georgia Ensemble Theatre Courtenay Collins plays the title role in the first classic musical staged by Georgia Ensemble Theatre, directed by Heidi Cline-McKerley. “Zorro” Through May 4 at Alliance Theatre Openly gay director Christopher Renshaw brings this flamenco musical to the stage, with Broadway vet Adam Jacobs as Diego/Zorro.
Barksdale was surprised at how gay it seemed to him, despite no LGBT roles. “Sister Act” has a drag character, subtle gay context, “sequins and sparkle” galore, and humor that “seems written for a gay man,” he says. A native of San Antonio, Barksdale attended the University of Texas. He has split his time after college taking on roles both in opera and in musical theater.

‘Brer Rabbit’ returns with gay director at helm

When openly gay actor Spencer G. Stephens was approached about directing “Brer Rabbit & Friends” at the Center for Puppetry Arts, he wasn’t sure how to react. Yet it didn’t take him long to say an enthusiastic “yes” to the project. As part of the acting ensemble of the last two versions of the show at the company, in 2005 and in 2008, Stephens feels his experience was one reason he was asked to helm the current take, even though he had never directed before. “I know the structure, how the show should be done,” he says. In all, he has worked with the company in various productions as a performer/puppeteer for the last decade. “Brer Rabbit & Friends,” a staple at the Center since 1978, has been modernized here in Jon Ludwig’s take, with four central characters — Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, Brer Bear and Sister Mud Turtle — spinning distinctly Southern stories. Stephens feels Ludwig’s version makes the stories more accessible. “If you read the stories, it can be hard to get through the dialect,” he says. As a director, one of Stephens’ contributions is wanting the production to reflect an African-American culture. To that end, he has worked with music director Renee Clark to “deconstruct” the live music accompanying the stories. “I want it to be what we listen to as AfricanAmericans,” he says. As an educator himself working with third through eight graders, Stephens feels there is a mix of patrons who are aware of Brer Rabbit coming in and those not. He thinks this works well for both, and he also thinks gay audiences will appreciate this adaptation. “In ‘Brer Rabbit,’ these are all different people,

‘Brer Rabbit & Friends’ April 11 - May 26 at the Center for Puppetry Arts

Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, Brer Bear and Sister Mud Turtle take centerstage as the Center for Puppetry Arts mounts ‘Brer Rabbit & Friends’ April 11 - May 26. (Courtesy photo)

volved in the Alliance show but is aware of many of the changes, most ‘Sister Act’ of which are new musical numApril 23-28 at Fox Theatre bers and some narrative tweaks. “Sister Act” has an original score by Alan Menken of “Beauand despite the fact that ty and the Beast” fame and there may be things they some script work/help from don’t like about each othDouglas Carter Beane, who er, they are family, all conwrote the Tony-winning, gaynected,” he says. themed “The Little Dog Laughed.” Gay male patrons can While the movie is set in San Francisco, the musical takes also appreciate a show about CHARLES BARKSDALE place in Philadelphia in the age of a “cute adorable fuzzy dancing bear,” he teases. disco, the ‘70s. Deloris Van Cartier is a lounge singer who witnesses a mob murder and has to hide out in a convent — and ‘SISTER ACT’ RETURNS As part of the Alliance Theatre’s 2006-2007 pretend to be a nun. Barksdale plays TJ, who is the nephew of season, the company staged an early version of “Sister Act,” based on the Whoopi Goldberg the villainous Curtis. He feels the character is film. It took some time but the musical even- a lot like him. “He is comic relief,” he says. “The character tually wound up on Broadway in 2011. Now it’s back in the ATL for the first time since the Al- is a little weird, ridiculous. His brain seems to have stopped working when he was age 12.” liance version. He has two numbers and also figures in the One of the cast members is openly gay Charles Barksdale. The performer was not in- finale. When he saw the show on Broadway,




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Indigo Girls took a stand last week in the ongoing battle over transgender inclusion at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, where the Atlanta lesbian folk-rock duo has frequently performed and is set to sing again this summer. While many lesbian and gay organizations and events have embraced transgender people, the Michigan fest has stuck to its policy of “womyn-born womyn only,” engendering ongoing protests. Indigo Girls’ Amy Ray and Emily Saliers released a statement April 4 saying they will still perform this year, but it will be the last time unless the festival changes its policy. The Girls said they would discuss transgender issues from the stage during their show and donate any money from the performance to organizations working on transgender rights. “We are in a time of struggle and rapid changes in our movement and we would be remiss to not recognize that many of the strides that have been made are a result of trans activism and the strength and perspective they have brought to the queer and feminist revolutions,” they wrote.


“We feel that if someone identifies as a womyn, they are a womyn and should be welcomed into our community with open arms. We will only be stronger for it.”

Organizers of the Atlanta Queer Literary Festival host a community reading April 20 featuring 30 local LGBT poets and writers, including Glenda Corwin, Alice Teeter, Harold Lefall, Collin Kelley, Dustin Brookshire, Mose Hardin, Young Hughley, Sharon J. Sanders, Megan Volpert, Gabe Moses, Iyana, Anthony Antoine, AntronRechaud, Lynne Huffler, Jef Blocker and more. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Decatur Library auditorium; for more information, visit



The Georgian Terrace is offering a unique promotion for same-sex couples who choose the historic hotel for their wedding receptions. Get married at the Georgian Terrace, and the hotel will also fly you and your beloved to a place where gay marriage is legal so you can say “I do” there, too. Some restrictions apply, of course, so contact the Georgian for details.

15 female-oriented musical acts, plus artists, workshops and more. For tickets, visit Get a head start on summer at Gay Days at Tybee Island, set for May 3-5 in the island community near Savannah. Highlights include a kick-off party and after party on Friday; a beach meet-up and the White Party on Saturday night, featuring original “Village People” cowboy Randy Jones in a fundraiser for people with HIV; and a tea dance Sunday with Kristina Foxx. Need details? Check out




The Atlanta Botanical Garden has released the schedule for its popular summer Concerts in the Garden series, and as usual, there’s plenty to draw LGBT fans. Gay music lovers will especially flock to gay-led party band The B-52s on June 28 and acoustic sensations Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin on Aug. 9. Tickets go on sale April 19 for members and April 26 for the public.


The B-52s


Cyndi Lauper, long an LGBT favorite, brings her “She’s So Unusual” tour to Atlanta’s Symphony Hall on July 2. Tickets are on sale now through Ticketmaster. GA Voice chatted with Lauper before her Atlanta show in 2010, and besides asking about her activism on LGBT rights and her lesbian sister, we couldn’t help wondering if she had ever, you know, kissed a girl herself. “Yeah, I tried it. Just wasn’t for me,” she quipped back.


Mixfest, dedicated to film, music and creative arts for LGBT people of color, takes place April 12-14 at multiple Atlanta venues. Partners include the Black AIDS Institute, Safe Space at Morehouse College, the National Black Justice Coalition and Atlanta’s Evolution Project. Featured artists include artist Anthony Antoine, author and spoken word performer Red Summer, actor and filmmaker Maurice Jamal, singer Jurni Rayne and more. Full schedule at


It’s finally warm, bringing dogwood blossoms to Piedmont Park — LGBT Atlanta’s unofficial backyard — and of course, the Dogwood Festival, set for April 19-21 this year. “The Atlanta Dogwood Festival is the third oldest and one of the largest free fine arts and music festivals in the United States. It was one of the great honors of my life to serve as the first openly gay chairman of the 77 year old festival last year,” says Jamie Ensley, immediate past chair of the festival. “Visiting the 250 artist booths lining the trails around Piedmont Park is always a delight,” Ensley adds. “I’m proud that the Atlanta Dogwood Festival is consistently ranked as having one of the best fine arts exhibits in the entire South.” For details, visit


Typically held at Swiftwaters Womanspace near Dahlonega, this year’s spring Women’s Musicfest is set for April 26-28 at Fox Mountain Camp & Artist Retreat in Cherry Log, Ga. Still organized by musician Ronnda Cadle, who is now the artist in residence at Fox Mountain, the event includes more than

Publiticy photo by Joseph Cultice



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Atlanta Leather Pride brings demos, a brunch, the Mr. and Ms. Atlanta Eagle pageants and more to the Atlanta Eagle, which celebrates its 26th anniversary.,

Mixfest, billed as the first international LGBT film and arts festival for people of color, begins Friday with the world premiere of “The DL Chronicles … Returns” and continues through Sunday with a full schedule of screenings and special events. Multiple venues.

The Decatur Women’s League continues its spring softball season, with games at various times on Friday nights at Kelley C. Cofer Park, “Equus,” the provocative play about a young man’s equine obsession, continues through April 21 at Actor’s Express, Lesbian social network Fourth Tuesday hosts its monthly Happy Hour from 6 – 8 p.m. at Mixx, Kitty LeClaw hosts the For the Kid Margarita Madness, with drink and food specials, raffle prizes and a live DJ, from 6 – 10 p.m. at Ten Atlanta, The bearish app Scruff hosts its Invades party, with founder Johnny Scruff, from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. at Heretic Atlanta, Angelica D’Paige hosts the Fab Five revue at 11 p.m. on Friday’s at Burkhart’s,



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Openly gay performer Levi Kreis brings his “Flying Solo Tour” to town, 7 – 8:30 p.m., Spiritual Living Center of Atlanta,


The wild Great Urban Race begins with packet pickups at 11 a.m. at Sidebar and the race from noon to 5 p.m., with all sorts of local dares and scavenger hunt-like requests. www.greaturbanrace. com/event2013_atlanta.php
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Bookmark to get your daily dose of local LGBT events.
with The Atlanta Ballet presents a special niteOUT for LGBT audiences with the eagerly awaited “Carmina Burana,” with a discounted rate. 8 p.m. at Atlanta Ballet, “We Are Winning, Don’t Forget” by Jean-Gabriel Periot screens as part of Film Love, with the director in appearance. 8 p.m. at Poem88,, The Caroline Aiken Band, with special guest Brian Ashley Jones, performs at 8 p.m. at Red Clay Theatre, Special performances by the Court of Kings, Daysha Moore, Drake Daniels and other guests are part of the annual Mr. and Miss Kingdom Come Pageant at 9 p.m. at My Sister’s Room, The 24th annual Boybutante Ball “Boybutante does Broadway” sees your fave Athens and Atlanta drag queens to raise money to help people with HIV. 9 p.m. at the 40 Watt Club in Athens. Boogie all night at the Atl 25 & Up Dress to Impress All-Ladies party, with special guest DJ Thrice. 11 p.m. – 3 a.m., Club Couture, The Play Day Party by Ladies At Play, doors open at 6 p.m., Aurum Lounge,


Help make a difference for homeless or at-risk LGBTQ youth in Atlanta by attending the Lost N Found orientation and finding out how to help. 2 – 5 p.m. at the Philip Rush Center, The Honey Badgers softball team hosts its spring beer bust from 3 – 7 p.m. at Diesel Bar,

The Change of Seasons spring tea dance with DJ Mike Pope and Vicki Powell benefits Joining Hearts, which helps with housing for people impacted by HIV. 4 – 9 p.m., Loews Atlanta Hotel,

Big band swing classics from Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman will be all the rage as part of the Atlanta Freedom Bands and Metro Gnomes Spring Swing fundraiser. 7:30 – 10 p.m., First Existentialist Congregation,,


The 2013 Festival on Ponce, an Atlanta arts and crafts festival, runs 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. Sunday, Olmsted Linear Park,

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If you can handle the throngs of her young fans, catch your favorite guilty pleasure, Taylor Swift, as she brings her “Red” tour for two nights at Philips Arena with opener Ed Sheeran.

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SAGE Atlanta, a group for LGBT seniors, offers a workshop on Medicare and consumer fraud. 1:30 – 3 p.m., Philip Rush Center, Hotlanta’s Atlanta Titans host a “Party on the Patio” beer bust, 4 – 8 p.m. at Joe’s on Juniper, DJ Vicki Powell returns for Sunday Service at Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium, Nykieria Chaney is the headliner of the spoken word/ live music show Brown Sugar Vibe – the “Poetic Justice” version, sponsored by She Speaks! Inc. 7 p.m. at Kat’s Café, The Georgia Renaissance Festival continues through June 2,

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Charlie Harding and DJ Diablo Rojo host Shoot It, a new men’s event, with a Best Guns and Best Buns contest, celebrating the Cockpit’s second anniversary. 10 p.m. – 2:30 am at Cockpit,

Join the Health Initiative and SAGE Atlanta, a group for LGBT seniors, for Chair Yoga every Monday through May 6. 10 a.m. at the Rush Center. Angelica D’Paige hosts Blue Monday Karaoke at 11:30 p.m. at Burkhart’s,


Play “Let’s Make a Deal” at 6 p.m. at Friends on Ponce, Local writer Sheri Joseph talks about her new book “Where You Can Find Me,” 7:15 p.m. at the Decatur Public Library Auditorium, Georgia Tech Glee Club and Agnes Scott Glee Club hold a smackdown at 8 p.m. at Eddie’s Attic, Big Table Big Screen Tuesdays continues, with classic movies on the big screen. 8 p.m at 10th and Piedmont, Tuesdays, Thursdays and early Saturdays are Three Legged Cowboy country nights at the Heretic,



The gay Atlanta Executive Network presents its Spring Fling from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Atlanta Midtown, HRC’s keynote speaker for its May dinner will be unveiled at the Atlanta HRC Dinner pre-reception. 7 – 9 p.m., STK Atlanta, Enjoy the Thursty Thursdays with Boydonna Variety Show at 8 p.m., My Sister’s Room, The Hannah Thomas Band, led by out singer Hannah Thomas, performs with special guests Don Dixon and Marti Jones at 8 p.m. at Red Clay Theatre,

Frisky Monkey performs at 500 Songs for Kids, featuring more than a 1,000 musicians over a five weekend period, benefiting Songs for Kids Foundation. 7 p.m. at Smith’s Olde Bar, Edie Cheezburger presents The Other Show on Fridays. Doors open at 8:30 p.m., show at 9:30 p.m. at Jungle, DJ Lydia Prim spins for FUR Friday nights at the Heretic, Legendary drag performer Charlie Brown hosts Charlie’s Angels. 11 p.m. Fridays at Blake’s on the Park,

This year’s Midtown Tour of Homes, titled “Lifestyle in the Town within the City,” focuses on the eclectic simplicity, comfort and diversity found within the range of community that defines Midtown. 11 a.m. - 5 p.m., various area homes,

Local versions of “Family Feud,” “The Match Game” and more are part of The Big Gay Game Show, a monthly fundraiser for Lost-N-Found Youth. 7:30 – 10 p.m., Jungle, The Body Heat Femme Porn Tour brings together queer erotic writers, with special guest Adriana Chiknas. 8 p.m. at Charis Books, “What’s done in the dark stays in the dark” is the motto for the Glow Skates party, 9 p.m. at Metro Skates,




Leading With Love, the state PFLAG Conference, gathers LGBT allies from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, The Atlanta Queer Literary Festival hosts a community reading featuring more than 30 local LGBTQ writers and poets. 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. at the Decatur Library,

Expect showtunes galore as the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus pays tribute to composer Stephen Schwartz of “Wicked” and “Godspell” fame at “No Rest for the Wicked: The Music of Stephen Schwartz,” 8 p.m. April 19 and 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. April 20th, 14th Street Playhouse.

Los Angeles DJ Chris Cox spins at 10 p.m. at Heretic,


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Spring means it’s time for the Dogwood Festival, now in its 77th year and featuring live entertainment, a Saturday night concert and a juried Artist Market, Piedmont Park,


Power2Endure’s “Big Spring Wingding Thing” is an evening of fun, music, fundraising and HIV testing with Destiny Brooks and more. 6 p.m. – 2 a.m. at LeBuzz,

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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 33 The Atlanta Rollergirls hosts a double bill of roller derby bouts. 5 and 7:30 p.m., Yaarab Shrine Center, At the Mr. HSL / Hotlanta Hero competition, Hotlanta Softball League searches for heroes and raises money for their World Series later this year. 6 p.m. at Jungle, Kay Turner, co-author of “Transgressive Tales: Queering the Grimms,” presents the talk “What a Witch,” looking at witch figures in the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. 7 – 8:30 p.m., Charis Books, Get your hair teased and ready to pose for Bedlam Presents: Glamour Shot, with DJ Shane. 10:30 p.m. at Jungle, Daring Divas is the Saturday night show at Blake’s on the Park, Shavonna B. Brooks hosts Extravaganza at 11 p.m. Saturday nights at Burkhart’s,

A strong lineup of music – including Caroline Aiken, Lindsey Hinkle, Ronnda Cadle and more – along with workshops make up the Women’s Music in the Mountains spring fest. All weekend at Fox Mountain Camp and Artist Retreat, Cherry Log, Ga. Bearrapalooza at OZ Campground in Unadilla, Ga., features an acoustic show, contests, dance parties, a DJ and tons o’ men. Entertainers include Sean Kagalis, Freddie Freeman, Charlie K. Brown and more. Oz Campground, The National Youth Pride Services South Region Conference, titled “I Am Black Excellence,” features Maurice Jamal and takes place at Evolution Project in Atlanta.


A$AP Rocky opens up for R&B bad girl Rihanna as she takes the stage at Philips Arena on her Diamonds World Tour.



Gay actor Leslie Jordan appears in “Thriving Children, An Evening to Believe In,” benefitting various local charities. 7 p.m., 200 Peachtree,

ECOlution 2013 — the third annual fashion show fundraiser benefitting the Melissa Carter Transplant Fund and the Georgia Transplant Foundation — takes place from 7 – 10 p.m. at Southface,




Researcher Alexis Pauline Gumbs looks at the poetry in the writing of author Toni Morrison. 7:30 – 9:30 p.m., Charis Books, Go back in time for the “Express Yourself” ‘80s Dance Party, a fundraiser for Actor’s Express. 7:30 p.m., Actor’s Express,

DJ Abel rocks the late night crowd from 3 – 8 a.m. at private club Xion, The gay Hotlanta Softball League turns out to play every Sunday with games at various times. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and Team Friendly Atlanta host Kites, Kids and Just Because, a fun day at the park. 1 – 4 p.m., Piedmont Park meadows, Out fitness expert Jillian Michaels of “Biggest Loser” fame brings her “Maximize Your Life” tour to Atlanta. 5 p.m., Fox Theatre, Enjoy Sing Along Sundays with Atlanta’s favorite camp drage fundraising troupe, the Armorettes. 6 p.m. at Burkhart’s,

Activist Mark King hosts “HIV Criminalization: What You Need to Know,” with an appearance by Robert Suttle, who was prosecuted for not disclosing his HIV status to a sexual partner, and a screening of the short film “HIV is not a Crime” with director Sean Strub in appearance. 7-9 p.m. at the Rush Center, The Atlanta Pride Committee hosts the April LGBT Sports Meeting, continuing discussions of how Pride and sports teams can work together. 7 – 8:30 p.m. at the Phillip Rush Center,


Barry Manilow performs at The Arena at Gwinnett Center,



Local author and activist Tracee McDaniel reads from her new book, “Transitions,” 2:30 p.m. at Unity Fellowship Church Atlanta,

Latina superstar Kat DeLuna visits Club Papi, 10 p.m. – 5 a.m.,



Enjoy an evening of prose and poetry with Myra Shapiro. 7:30 – 9 p.m., Charis Books,


Collin Kelly hosts an Evening with Southern Poets, 7:15 at the Georgia Center for the Book,

Head to the beach near Savannah, Ga., for Gay Days at Tybee Island. Full weekend of events includes the White Party on Saturday night with recording artist Randy Jones, the original cowboy from The Village People, and a tea dance on Sunday with Kristina Foxx.

Out & About at Gaylord Palms® Resort
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South Beach Pool
GP-1415-13 LGBT - GA Voice 10x2.418 CNP.indd 1

3/21/13 11:03 AM





2012 PALS Spokespet

– Arrow

MAY 19, 2013 ★ 2–5 PM ★ PETS WELCOME (LEASHED)
CO-HOSTS MARA DAVIS & TYLER CALKINS Admission to Benefit PALS ★ $25 At the Door or $20 In Advance Admission includes complimentary drinks and hors d’oveuvres Silent Auction & Music by DJ Pat Scott Join us for the After-Party Hosted by 10th & Piedmont To enter your pet or purchase advance tickets:




Due to State Regulations, no pet will be allowed in the facility without proof of current vaccinations.

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Bales of hope
Will my garden ever grow more than curious stares?
I think my neighbors have been worrying about me. That’s because every day, they see me watering the straw bales in our front yard. I take my metal garden pail and sprinkle water evenly atop tied straw bale squares I have placed in various places in front of our house. But what they don’t realize as they offer blank stares is these bales will provide Katie and me with the best garden we’ve ever had. Maybe. My dad was an avid gardener. He grew massive gardens when I was a kid and we loved having homegrown fruits and vegetables on our table. But back then, I grumbled at being subjected to forced labor that caused a sore back and bug bites. So I didn’t attempt to grow anything myself until I was well into adulthood, after Dad passed away and was unable to offer me solid advice on the topic. It wasn’t until then that I finally understood the satisfaction from growing something successfully — although this satisfaction in gardening has alluded me so far. I first attempted container gardening at an apartment. Of course, I only had a screened porch without much direct sunlight, so it really became a zen dirt garden. I had a balcony at a subsequent townhouse and thought throwing dirt and some seeds in a pot would be enough. It was enough to grow a few weeds, but that was about it. So when Katie and I bought a house, I thought I would finally have the opportunity to build a real garden. But after several trips to Home Depot for tools, the rocks and trees in my back yard won and I only produced two tomatoes that were the size of marbles. I had to find another solution. I was meeting a friend at a coffee shop recently and had some time to kill, so I perused the offerings at a nearby bookstore and
Melissa Carter is also a writer for Huffington Post. She broke ground as the first out lesbian radio personality on a major station in Atlanta and was one of the few out morning show personalities in the country. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCarter

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found myself in the Gardening section. I was considering buying “Vegetable Gardening for Dummies” when another book caught my eye: “Straw Bale Gardens” by Joel Karston. In it, Karston explains that straw bales can serve as self-contained piles of compost, allowing plants to grow inside them. But in order for the bales to be able to sustain flowers or vegetables, they first have to be treated with water and fertilizer to begin the process of internal composting. There is one single patch of grass in our front yard that gets nothing but sunshine and it is landscaped with several bushes, small trees and flowers. But this precious land is my last hope to get a garden going and so it now includes straw bales placed among the other foliage. It is also the most visible area of our home to the outside world. So as I “condition” these bales as instructed in the book, my neighbors watch with suspicion as I confidently pour water on my straw. And on the days I do it in my pajamas, I’m sure they are proud I moved in. In the next week I will be applying a little soil to the top of each bale and transferring seedlings to this new garden. By summer, I hope my new plants will explain the unconventional techniques that have been on public display. If this project fails, I must accept my defeat and the reality that I did not inherit my father’s green thumb and will simply rely on the farmer’s market up the street. Of course, I could always just ask the neighbors if I can borrow their yard. I’m sure at this point my amateur lawn antics have drummed up enough sympathy that they might oblige.



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What happens when you settle for less
When I was 19, I managed to land a job in Atlanta, and I moved here without even visiting first. I just found an apartment online that I could afford, got approved, packed up my stuff and came for the keys. Had I visited the city beforehand, I would have realized why apartments were so cheap by Gwinnett Place Mall. But even in Duluth, I was still totally connected to the hot and happening Atlanta gay scene, thanks to the 1990s uniter of the masses, America Online. For the Millennials reading this, allow me to explain the process of trolling for strangers online during the Clinton administration. Disable your call waiting, dial into America Online, if it’s peak hours you might have to try a couple different numbers, then sign in as one of your six optional usernames, which America Online specifically offers for purposes of anonymous cyber sex. Then go to AOL Communities, select the category Gay and Lesbian, scroll through the chat rooms until you find Atlanta M4M. But if there’s 36 people in that room, you have to go to Atlanta M4M 2 or 3, while still monitoring the other more populated rooms so you can jump in there the moment someone leaves, because everybody wants to be in the flagship location of this bizarre bifurcated boy bonanza. Once you’re in chat, all you have to do is give age/sex/location, have a conversation with 36 people while you quickly review all of their text profiles, invite the ones you like to a private chat, add them to your buddy list, and then you can send each other pictures and possibly arrange to have some sort of sex at a location to be determined later. Makes you really appreciate the iPhone app for Grindr, don’t it? I was a Mississippi boy living alone in (or at least near) a big city. A seemingly endless buffet of Atlanta gays had been divided into groups of 36 for my perusal. There were so many interesting people to see naked! Atlanta M4M introduced me to this one super-tall guy who looked just like Ben Affleck if he’d made bad life choices. He worked at the

You’ve got male
Topher Payne is an Atlanta-based playwright, and the author of the book “Necessary Luxuries: Notes on a SemiFabulous Life.” Find out more at

Tickets $30

April 19 & 20, 2013
14th Street Playhouse

Waffle House at 85 and Pleasant Hill. This was back when The Waffle was still cash only, and he had discovered his manager wasn’t tracking the tea and coffee, because you can make like 50 gallons for a nickel. So if someone ordered coffee or tea, a buck each, he wouldn’t write it on the ticket, and he’d pocket the cash. On an overnight shift, high turnover, that’s an extra hundred bucks, easy. He always had this giant wad of singles — it was like dating a stripper, if there was a club in town with really lenient standards. After Waffle House Ben Affleck had stayed over four or five times, I suggested the possibility of, you know, going to a movie or something, and suddenly he’s all, “Whoa, man, slow down. I’m not lookin’ for a boyfriend, okay?” And the rejection of such a simple request threw everything into sharp relief. I was the guy who’d picked my apartment based entirely upon pictures I saw on a website, which led to me living off Pleasant Hill Road between a Chick-fil-A and a K-Mart. This served as conclusive evidence that I had no semblance of standards when shopping online. But I was drunk with the heady possibilities offered by the internet, this magical place where strangers offered approval via a series of momentary, pre-packaged encounters. So it took me a while to notice the long-term effects, like a yearlong lease on an apartment I hated, or the fact that not only had I elected to have multiple sexual encounters with a sweet tea-scamming Waffle House employee, I had wanted to take the relationship to the next level. And he’d turned me down. Once you learn from a mistake, it becomes a lesson. A life of feverish, hurried, desperate encounters — grabbing wildly at anything offered —makes sense if you’ve been given two days to live, but otherwise, there is a great deal to be gained from slowing the hell down and letting some of the crap float by untouched. When you’re willing to settle for less, it turns out that’s exactly what life gives you.

Introducing the AGMC Women's Chorus Project