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If you’re a romantic, if you believe in love at first sight, if you believe, like Snow White, that one day your prince will come, then this book is a must-read.

Peter Cashorali takes stories we grew up on and twists them for gay men. Beauty and the Beast, Hansel and Gretel, Rumplestiltskin, the Ugly Duckling and more, all become queerified, and young gay kids and mature gay men will enjoy seeing the fairy tales they knew, now resonating more with tales of Princes’ happily ever afters.

All the magic is still there, all the talking animals, unexpected transformations, ogres, ghouls, and Death. Now, they’re parables on aging, mortality, AIDS, coming out, the shallow and fickle nature of attraction, and, as always, the quest for true love.

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Book Review: Gulliver Takes Manhattan

In: Reader Submissions, The Arts, Totally GAY!

Ok, first off, you should know I’m a little bit in love with the city of New York, always have been, always will be. So, small wonder that when I received my copy of Gulliver Takes Manhattan in the mail, saw the skyline glowing on the cover, small wonder I was already a little in love with it.

By page 50, I was hooked like a gay guy on Starbucks.

It’s the story of Gulliver Leverenz (don’t make any jokes about the name, because you only get one), who moves from the LaLa Land of the West Coast to Empire City after discovering that his boyfriend Graham has been cheating on him, dirty lying bastards that some men just tend to be. Gulliver is saved from the pain and drama of his Graham-centric LA life when his former college roomie and best friend Todd extends an invitation to move to New York City and start over.

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Book Review: Don’t Let Me Go

In: Reader Submissions, The Arts, Totally GAY!

I’ve been going through the gay fiction section of my local bookstore pretty fast lately, and some reads have been better than others, and then along came one that punched me in the stomach even as it proceeded to rip my heart out of my chest.

Don’t Let Me Go by JH Trumble is the love story of Adam and Nate, who meet in high school and who are inseparable from that point forward. When Adam gets a chance to go to New York to pursue a career on Broadway, it’s Nate that pushes him to go. That’s where the book begins.

But it’s not just the story of a long-distance relationship, because you see, the book jumps around a bit in time, flashing back to first touches, first times, coming out, and the horrific assault Adam and Nate suffer at the hands of their bigoted classmates. So all through this love story, you’ve got a darker thread of intolerance, homophobia, and hatred, and it’s different than when you see it on the news. More real, because you really start to care about these guys. Well, I did anyway. All of Nate’s feelings, I’ve felt, jealousy and paranoia and the need for some sort of revenge, at the same time as you’re feeling angry at the world for its bigotry and want to make some grand political statement and be a martyr for the gay cause.

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Book Review: Dancer From The Dark

In: Reader Submissions, The Arts

Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran is the story of gay life in New York in the late 70s, from the tenements of the Lower East Side to the beaches of Fire Island, from the bars and the baths to the avenues and the parks, all the places where gay men cruised for cock and love. It is a story about too often having to sacrifice substance for style, and how, once in a while, you do the opposite. It is a story of decadence and despair, of lust, love, and the lies we all tell, of coming out and the end of innocence. It is the story of Malone, beautiful, romantic, idealistic, and Sutherland, queeny, campy, and jaded. It is the story of how they met, became friends, and how their friendship intersected and impacted the lives of the people around them.

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US Supreme Court Hears Challenge to DOMA

In: Politics & Issues, Reader Submissions

In the second day of back-to-back marriage hearings at the US Supreme Court, the justices heard arguments yesterday in United States v Windsor. Edie Windsor married her long-time partner in Ontario, after which the two of them moved to New York. At the time, New York did not permit same-sex marriages, but they did give full recognition to same-sex marriages lawfully performed elsewhere. When Windsor’s wife died, the federal government sent her a tax bill for over $360,000 because the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. Had Ms. Windsor’s marriage been recognized, her tax bill would have been zero.

Yesterday’s hearing was divided into two parts. The first, much like the Prop 8 hearing, was devoted to a somewhat dull but important procedural question: the issue of standing. Because the Obama Administration was supporting Ms. Windsor’s case, there was a question of whether there was anybody who was actually able to bring the case to the Supreme Court. In simple terms, courts resolve legal disputes. If both sides agree on the law, then there’s no dispute. No dispute, nothing for the courts to do. Republicans from the US House of Representatives have also tried to step in to defend DOMA, but there were also some tough questions about whether or not they had a right to be in court. With that said, a majority of the justices seemed willing (or at least more willing than they did with the Prop 8 case), to rule that the case was properly before them.

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I have to admit that I spent a lot of time staring at a blank screen trying to figure out how to write this piece. I do my best, in writing about legal matters, to find a way to cut through the jargon and make convoluted proceedings a little easier to understand. In listening to the approximately one hour of oral arguments released by the Supreme Court today it became quite clear that this wasn’t going to be a particularly easy task, but here goes.

Just over a year ago, the United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that California’s Proposition 8, passed in November of 2008, was unconstitutional. Proposition 8 took away the right of same-sex couples to marry that had previously been granted by the California Supreme Court.

Unlike most cases, which tend to be straightforward, the Prop 8 case isn’t as simple as your usual win/loss situation. That’s what makes it so complicated. The Supreme Court has a number of options before it, and for any one of those options to be successful, at least five of the nine justices will have to support it. On the side of those who support Prop 8, there is one option for them to win, and that is for the Supreme Court to uphold Proposition 8 as a valid and constitutional enactment.

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Today and tomorrow, the United States Supreme Court hears arguments in two cases about same-sex marriage. There’s going to be a lot of bluster, but in the end the whole thing boils down to a few key issues. Here are the issues as I see them, and the fundamental logical disconnect that anti-equality forces are hoping nobody notices.

First, they say “it’s intolerant for you not to tolerate my intolerance.” Sound ridiculous? That’s because it is. Using the argument of race, that line of reasoning suggests that the people who were against different water fountains and different seats on the bus were the ones who were really intolerant, because they refused to tolerate the views of those who would deny liberty to everyone. The argument is laughable on its face.

The next argument (that seems to be made in court) is that it’s fine to exclude same-sex couples from marriage because the government has an interest in promoting marriage. Well, that one sounds nice, until you examine it more closely. For a government policy to pass the “rational basis” test, the policy has to have a (you guessed it) rational connection to the purpose it seeks to advance. The problem here is that there’s nothing to indicate that allowing same-sex couples into the institution of marriage compromises or defeats the purpose of promoting marriage as an institution. In other words, the policy and the goal have nothing to do with each other. The people behind these bans know that, so they’ve thrown in arguments like “this is all very new, we don’t know what the impact will be, so we have the right to proceed slowly.” The problem with that argument is what happens when you decode it. What it means is basically that they don’t know whether or not straight people will think marriage is tainted solely because gay people have been allowed in too. That’s called animus, and the Supreme Court held in Romer v Evans that animus against a particular group of people doesn’t count as a rational basis for government policy.

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The Boys Of Summer

In: Reader Submissions

With the summer upon us, gays everywhere begin to think of one thing… well two things: (1) Looking good in the least amount of clothing possible and (2) PRIDE! Gay pride really is a second Christmas for homos and their straight/bi-curious friends, a Christmas laden with Speedos, binge drinking, camaraderie and making out with complete strangers from out of town. For those living in the Northwest, our summers are dominated by Pride events, with Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, BC Prides all occurring in succession. Pride is a mini-vacation, with the majority of us taking three-day weekends (or calling in sick on Monday) and driving short distances to break from our normal lives.

What once started with a march through the city, has now become a three-day event, filled with house parties, pool parties, BBQ’s and get-togethers. All ending in a huge block party. For those that have never been to a pride, the block party is truly something interesting. Within this one city-block, the sidewalks are lined with makeshift bars, grills cooking the usual summer BBQ fare for those who dare to be seen eating at a gay event, and a stage with rainbows everywhere. Gracing the stage with their presence are numerous foul-mouthed drag queens, muscular porn stars, twinky go-go dancers and D-list entertainers, usually some one-hit-wonder from the late eighties/early nineties or an American Idol runner up. Most importantly though, the block party is filled with every ‘mo and mary in a 20 mile radius. It is a literal “who’s who” of the gay community, or a “who’s that” depending on the city. Although it may look like a harmless shirtless boy-party, the debauchery that can occur rivals that of Spring Break on Girls Gone Wild. I have seen the ads: I know straight people are no better. But I digress. The point is all of these homos gather for one purpose: to dance and drink from 11am ’till 2am.

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