Issue 328

Decking the Malls

Hanukkah was early this year. The eight candles (plus one used to light the others) blazed their finale a few weeks back. We had our fill of latkes (potato pancakes) and other foods made with oil to celebrate the miracle of the lights—one tiny cup of oil lasted eight days when the Maccabees reclaimed and rededicated the Jewish holy temple in Jerusalem.

Now, we’re struggling with getting our behemoth 11-foot artificial Christmas tree up and dressed. Yes, my house is bireligious. I’m Jewish. My partner, Lynn, is Methodist. I’ve mastered the art of putting lights on the tree, and she has mastered the art of Jewish cooking. It’s a good balance.

Neither of us, however, has mastered the art of shopping for holiday presents.

Going to the malls at this time of year can make any Jew—religious or not—feel like the ultimate outsider. Everything is Christmas. You routinely don’t hear “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” piped in with the holiday music. Amid all the brightly lit Christmas trees, you may find a menorah hidden among the branches. The mannequins in the various store lingerie departments are adorned with Santa hats and skimpy holiday negligees, but you never see anyone handing out latkes to the customers—just some cider, and perhaps a Christmas cookie or two.

Where I live, one of our ultra-Orthodox rabbis had to make quite a stink before one of those giant menorahs was erected in a local mall. They’re pretty rare—I only have seen one on the Lincoln Road Mall in South Beach, or in some of the shopping areas on Long Island where I grew up.

But it’s not necessarily the Christmas-exclusivity that keeps me out of the malls. It’s the crowds. No matter how cold it may be outside, by the time you’re done navigating the stores, you’re hot and sweaty. You’re carrying around your parka along with your bags, feeling as though you’ve just spent hours in the gym—except you made a stop at the food court that totally negated any calories you may have burned.

So, what do two middle-aged lesbians do to alleviate their holiday shopping needs? Like many of our compatriots, we turn to the Internet and catalogs, as well as to charitable giving.

Just for the fun of it, I Googled all sorts of variations on GLBT holiday gifts to see what was out there for this year. I couldn’t possibly go through every listing, but here are some that stuck out:

• If you’re looking for cards with the right message and sophistication, check out <www.alwaysproud.com>. Its collection includes sharp graphics, some very funny copy, and great camp.

• <Stupid.com> has the Larry Craig Action Figure. Yes, it’s true. The site is designed for the type of guys who make me thankful I’m a lesbian. It also got a Hillary Clinton Nutcracker (need I say more?). But getting back to Craig, his T-shirt is emblazoned with “I’m not gay,” and with the figure’s bendable limbs, you can make his trademark “wide stance” as wide as you’d like.

• <GayVilliger.com> gives you its “Top Picks.” Among them are the iPhone for those of us who must have the latest tech gadgets, along with Dean and DeLuca for foodies. The only lesbian-specific pick was <junonia.com>, a clothing and accessory site for “active women size 14+.” If that’s not a euphemism for big dykes, I don’t know what is. (However, I just may have found the kind of bra I’ve been looking for there!)

• The <Amazon.com> offerings—only nine—at “Gay Christmas Presents for Your Gay Male Friend” are pretty anemic. However, if you’re looking for a gift for that gay man in your life who has everything, it’s worth checking out the “Listmania” section on the far right column of the page. Amazon customers let you know their Top Picks, including “The Best Gay Men’s Movies to Watch and Own.”

• MSN shopping had the CD Gay Happenings Presents Happy Christmas Party, with a pretty hunky, bare-chested guy in a Santa hat on the cover.

• The catalogs in our house range from Design Within Reach to Land’s End—quite the spread. I only look at them when someone hands me one with pages folded down, plus the admonition “You need to look at these.” OK. I have to admit, though, that I do bring the Brookstone and Levenger catalogs into the bathroom with me.

Given gift-giving’s commercialism, when it really comes down to it, it’s easier and more fulfilling just to make charitable gifts in honor of friends and family. Plenty of GLBT organizations need our support. Just think how good it will make your loving friends and family members feel when you let your GLBT organizations of choice know how much you cherish their support.

Remember Aunt Edith? She’s the one who couldn’t look your partner in the eye. Picture the look on her face when you send her a card saying a $50 donation in her honor has been made to Freedom to Marry. Imagine the real fun you could have making strategic contributions for those relatives who just don’t get it at all, while you’re helping the community at the same time.

Whatever you give, and however you give it, have fun doing it. Happy Holidays!

Libby Post, the founding chair of the Empire State Pride Agenda, is a political commentator on public radio, on the Web, and in print media. She can be reached care of this publication, or at <[email protected]>.

Alvin Ailey Gay African American Dance Pioneer

Modern dance pioneer Alvin Ailey is recognized for his lasting impact on the American arts landscape, which he achieved despite struggles with mental illness and internal conflict about his sexuality.

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New Year’s Eve Cornucopia

Looking for the perfect place to ring in the New Year? Well, you have a cornucopia of possibilities.

As always, Twin Cities bars pull out all the stops to offer you a fabulous New Year’s Eve celebration.

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Leather Lens The Atons Holiday Fund-raiser 2007

Continuing a long-standing tradition, The Atons of Minneapolis held its annual Holiday Fund-raiser on December 2 at the Bolt Underground in Minneapolis. A food drive collected food for The Aliveness Project’s Holiday Basket Program, which was also the beneficiary of the door proceeds. Silent and live auctions benefited Open Arms of Minnesota.

The Atons gave this year’s fund-raiser a carnival atmosphere. Tickets could be used for a haircut, a photo with Leather Santa, a boot shine, a session in a latex vacuum bed, or a bid on varied and plentiful silent-auction items.

Enjoy the photos, and—whatever you celebrate, however you celebrate it—Happy Holidays from Leather Life!
Keith Cheetham getting his boots shined by bootblack Pup.

Leather barber Brian Preston gives John Warner a haircut.

Randy Hornstine of The Aliveness Project doing his best Vanna imitation

Dan Porter posing for a photo with Leather Santa (Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2007, Dan Beach).

Rick Burgess (left) and Mark Christ (right) flank Leather Santa.

The evening’s auctioneer, B.D. Chambers, getting ready to sell a leather harness.

Caterers for the evening, John Christensen (left) and Tim Forte (right), flank bartender Bob Fischer.

Representing The Aliveness Project at the event: Board Chair Bill Schlichting (left) and Development Director Tim Marburger (right).

Picosa Putting Spice in Your Life

“‘Fusion’ started happening the minute man started cooking—when the first piece of raw meat was pushed too close to the fire.”

Thus does Lindell Mendoza, owner/chef at the newly opened Picosa, pragmatically define that buzzword—which also defines his cuisine.

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Blue Ribbon Baker Marjorie Johnson

You probably don’t know her, but then—you do know her. Marjorie Johnson, from Robbinsdale, Minnesota—all 4’8” of her—has appeared on The Rosie O’Donnell Show and The Wayne Brady Show. She has offered her award-winning Ginger Snaps to Helen Merrin and Nicole Kidman on the red carpet. Now, Marjorie is the correspondent for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. She nicely presents her home-baked cookies to NBA players during their finals, and to juveniles competing at the X Games (she was suited up and put on a skate board). During a food fight with Terry Bradshaw, Leno shielded her. Not a bad retirement plan.

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A Word in Edgewise

In this final issue of 2007, Lavender is proud to feature the Reitans as its very first “Family of the Year” (see page 20).

This close-knit clan joined ranks years ago around gay son and sibling Jacob, forming a solid front to support him, and then going farther afield to fight injustices perpetrated against any and all people in the GLBT community.

The Reitans have traveled together and separately throughout the United States, working with a myriad other volunteers to spread knowledge by personally meeting with and speaking to young people (and adults) who may never (knowingly) have met—much less talked to—a gay person.

Even as the Reitans set a vivid example of what love and education together can accomplish, so others here in the Twin Cities are working toward the same goals. Members of Catholic Rainbow Parents, to cite one group, are determined not to be separated from their gay children by increasingly coercive church doctrine. They continue to raise their voices in protest, making their displeasure clear, as they did most recently in a Vigil for Solidarity in St. Paul on December 9 (see page 30).

Many people generally object to the prevalence of Christian motifs during this season—with good reason, as Hanukkah, Kwanza, Solstice, and Ramadan also are observed. I’d like to take a page from the folks above, and ask that the “Holiday Season” be truly a time of unity and celebration for all.

While “Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men” seems only a dim hope at this time, I believe it’s a goal worth striving for, despite all evidence to the contrary. Just one instance: I learned of a new film concerning the famed “Christmas Armistice” of 1914 during World War I, when British and German troops joined together in peace, for one night, exchanging presents, singing carols; then I read that the top brass on both sides immediately forbade, under threat of punishment, any future such demonstrations of amity.

It occurred to me that today, with so many sects and differences, we might just designate a celebratory time for all? A “Holiday Season” that’s not just a euphemism for “Christmas”? It needn’t be one particular day (Orthodox Christians already celebrate Christmas January 7).

I suggest the last two weeks of December through the first two of January, for religious or non, Baptist or Humbugger. The time originally was chosen by Pre-Mall Man, who prayed to the Sun to reverse his downward path, and return with his warmth, light, and life.

Then, let’s use this time to renew. Celebrate the miracle of your existence. Pass that joy to those closest to you. Let them pass it on and on to others—one heart at time—finally to the Grail of “Peace on Earth.” A month of merriment and thanksgiving! What’s not to like?

I’m confident, at least, of the retail community’s support.

Happy Holidays from “The OutField”

A new year is right around the corner. Pausing to look back and consider our blessings is a time-honored tradition, as much a part of the holidays as regifting fruitcakes, and smirking at carols that command us to “don our gay apparel.” As “The OutField” nears the end of its first year, let’s look back at the men and women who make the gay sports world such an exciting, alluring, and fun place to be.

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Trolin

Ms. Behavior

Dear Ms. Behavior:

I’m in a long-distance relationship with a great woman who lives two hours away. We see each other most weekends, but are limited to phone calls during the week. Living together won’t be possible for at least two years, after her daughter graduates from high school.

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