The World's New Gay State

Key West: A Gay Provisonal Capital

Posted in Uncategorized by thegaystateblog on March 30, 2010

The non-Gay Heterosexuals have been following us for years.  We gentrify a neighborhood, make it a desirable place to live, sprinkle some of our Gay panache all over it and wouldn’t you know?  Before long, the Straights want a piece of the action.  This happens in more communities than I can mention here.  As to the Straight invasion of Key West and why I continue to frequent this Homo-haven; I simply am not inclined to relinquish a historic community of our people to the hordes of non-Gays.

The territory of the Gay Conch Republic has shrunk in the last fifteen or twenty years, but we will not cede this way of life to the invading non-Gay hordes.  In the peak of the AIDS epidemic, thousands of Gay Americans fled to Key West to live out their final years as freely as they could; many of my friends were among them.  I sense their spirits when I’m in Key West and it offers a peacefulness yet bolsters my determination that Gay citizens of the world deserve a Gay homeland.  It fosters ones vision for Gay independence.

For many of us, the prospects of an independent Gay State is enough to inspire passion and cause us to steel our spines for the challenges that  lay ahead.

Key West is diverse enough to allow for some anonymity and plenty of individualism.  For me, the pleasure of Key West comes from the scenery, the unique Victorian architecture and the sleepy, unkept aesthetic of life there.  I’d say it’s quite Bohemian and very unlike the organized beauty of Palm Beach.  Days can be filled with lounging poolside at any of the Gay clothing optional resorts.  Frolicking in the ocean at the Elizabeth Taylor nude Gay beach and meeting friends for lunch at some of the wonderful waterfront restaurants offer endless possibilities.

There are more than enough quality restaurants to fill anyones vacation calendar.  But my favorite tradition in Kew West is to throw a cocktail party poolside at just about sunset.  As the evening wears on, illumination is provided by countless candles and a couple fires in the fire pits.  The drinks keep flowing while light hors d’ oeuvres are passed.

Dinner, for me can not be improved upon, when Grade A porterhouse steaks are seared on an open grill and served with a variety of accompaniments.  I know, serving a hunk of meat on an island, surrounded by some of the freshest seafood in the world may be peculiar, but it’s a favorite Kew West tradition of mine.  With plenty of wine and cocktails, soft music playing, stripped down for a late night swim before moving to a more intimate quarters is an evening that leaves me completely sated.

Whatever or wherever you find your happiness and your moments of Zen, go there or do it and often!  Life is short and for me, Palm Beach, South Beach and Key West offer a heavenly zone of contentment in the American Gay experience.

My Winter Respite: SoBe to Key West, 2010

Posted in Uncategorized by thegaystateblog on March 25, 2010

As I had said yesterday, if there is a Gay Mecca on the southern mainland of the U.S., it is the South Beach district of Miami  Beach.  It has been this way for at least the last 25 years.  There are plenty of new luxe hotels and resorts to choose from.    What I like most about South Beach (SoBe) is its similarities with New Yorks Manhattan.  Everyone co-mingles, cheek by jowl, every nationality can be found here — a stunningly beautiful mixture of diversity.

My most pleasurable activities in SoBe tend to be free, surprisingly enough, or economically priced and widely available to all.  I try to avoid the grooves of ritual and routine, but my favorite start to a day in South Beach goes something like this: let’s start with being awake and dressed to leave the condo, safe enough.  We take a short stroll to the News Care for breakfast alfresco.  The scenery is beautiful, the eye candy delicious and breakfast a real pleasure.  Orange juice, caffe au lait, two fried egg whites, and some melon while reading a number of publications the old-fashioned way — in print form and it’s a perfect combination to ease into the day.  I invariably bump into someone I know at the News Cafe as it’s a popular gathering spot for our people.  I like to follow-up breakfast with a walk through SoBe’s oceanfront park/promenade.  More eye candy and the wonderful feeling of the soothing warmth of the morning sun, sans the blazing south Florida heat one experiences later in the day.

By the time I’m back in the condo, it’s almost 10am; 4 hours gone — poof! — since first opening my eyes.  During the day, I may go online a couple of times, trying desperately to relax and avoid thoughts of ongoing projects which is nearly impossible.  From time to time, I’ll stroll out the patio doors and cool off in the pool, swim a few laps and make a few calls, talk to family, friends and a few colleagues, although I try to avoid work and usually fail at this.

A couple of times a week I’ll place a call to the marina manager and have the boat prepped.  It usually takes just a few minutes and Rafael has it all gassed up, wiped down and ready to go.  We’ll normally cruise along one of my favorites routes: up the Intracoastal, cross out into the open ocean, south passed SoBe (and the News Cafe) perhaps stopping for lunch or cocktails on Key Biscayne or Fisher Island, before returning.  I love to do a full day trip or an overnighter to Palm Beach or south into the Keys.  I don’t do this often enough because of the time involved, but from my perspective, it’s an enjoyable pursuit.  It satisfies my craving of an “adventure” and leaves me happy and fulfilled.  I often find myself reminiscing about my first long distance kayaking trip.  In preparation for the Seattle to Alaska trip I yakked from Miami to Key West.  I battled ferocious tidal currents on that trip as I chose to ignore the tidal charts.  I also tangled with mangrove swamps, to many sharks (for me, one is too many!) and I leaned a lot on that trip.  I often will throw myself into a situation, confident I’ll figure a way out.  Sometimes it backfires, but I personally prefer the spontaneity over regimentation.

Life in Miami Beach revolves around the celebration of food to some extent.  Dinner goes on for hours, which is nothing new to some of my European or Latin friends, but many North American merely eat for the sake of consuming; which is why I believe so many chain restaurant exist in America.  Beyond the argument of quantity-vs-quality, many prefer the huge portions of something merely acceptable, over a smaller taste of cuisine that is truly exquisite

My nightclubbing days are mostly behind me.  On occasion we’ll be out socializing, celebrating or tearing up the dance floor at one of the clubs, but not very often.  Those days are mostly behind me.  Many clubgoers are just drifting off to slumber when I’m waking up.  It is the old saying, “You can have anything you want in this world, you just can’t have everything.”  I now choose to awake refreshed, without the sense  that a freight train is chugging through my skull.

One of my favorite road trips in the U.S. is the trip from SoBe to Key West.  If one hurries or does it too frequently, or in the height of tourist season, the traffic and congestion is irritating and sucks all of the pleasure out of the experience.

But the first time I take this drive every winter is glorious.  To my thinking, the scenery, the nature and the modernity of travel convenience makes it a total pleasure.  With every passing, spectacular mile we are closer to an American Gay Mecca and the world’s first provisional Gay capital of the modern era.

Of course, nothing stays the same.  All of us become “old timers” if we live long enough.  And to my way of thinking, Key West isn’t what it use to be.  Presently, there are too many non-Gays on the scene who have forever altered the texture of our Homo-haven.  Straight, beer bellied, T-Shirt wearing Midwesterners and their similarly clad husbands driving motor homes have invaded.  They examine the Gay in their natural habitat as one might examine the four-legged creatures in a petting zoo or animal preserve.  They cast their aspersions and judgments without being asked.  Fudge shops and T-Shirt shops litter the main shopping district.  With more popularity there is more commerce and expansion.  A multi-million dollar cruise terminal brings in yet even more gawking and confused Straights.  So they come by land and they come by sea.  They invade even during the traditionally slow seasons.  Add to the mix the rowdy collegians — the worst being Spring Break.

Invariably, a certain percentage of the drunken “Straight” males  feel the need to defend their manly status by verbally confronting of physically beating up one of the Key West Gays, before spewing their beer-laden vomit all over Duval St.  It’s a ritual that seems to happen almost on a daily basis.

Oh, how I wish the Straights would stick with their Daytona Beach, Myrtle Beach and the dozens of other beach destinations that, like locusts, they destroy before moving on.  So you may ask yourself, why does Garrett even bother to continue to visit to Key West?

It’s a good question and you might be surprised at the answer.  Tomorrow.

Winter Respite and Ready To Go

Posted in Uncategorized by thegaystateblog on March 24, 2010

The happiest days of my winter respite are always the first few days.  What gets me are the balmy temperatures, the glorious sunshine, mild evenings, cruising around with the top down on the convertible and of course, the imbibing of spirits.  From my favorite old haunts in Palm Beach to a few of the new bars and restaurants in greatly enhanced downtown West Palm Beach, every meal is a celebration with old friends or offering up the adventure of making new ones.  Breakfasting in Palm Beach usually means socializing at Chuck and Harold or Testa’s.  Sometimes the pampering one receives in the grand Dining Room of The Breakers suits me if I’m suffering from the prior nights indulgences and am slow to come around.  If I’m slumming it or travelling to/from the beach, who hasn’t bellied up to the counter at Greene’s Pharmacy or Hamburger Heaven for a juicy burger and an old-fashioned milkshake?  Green’s use to serve breakfast on paper plates, but alas, they’re gone, all in the name of modernization.

Due to what seems like a lifetime of living in hotels, some of my favorite dining halls are now in hostels.  The restaurants at The Colony Hotel and the Brazilian Court are two other top-notch favorites.  Even though E.R. Bradley’s left Palm Beach and moved to WPB, it is worth the trip.  Perched on the end of Clematis at the edge of the Intracoastal, it’s a perfect spot for grabbing the fresh breezes amidst swaying palms.

Evenings in Palm Beach are made for socializing.  My life long practice for Hotel Hump Nights begin with happy hour cocktails.  In Palm Beach, that means AuBar, The Breakers, Taboo or The Bar at The Four Seasons.  (I’ve chosen to cease patronizing The Everglades Club as a guest after observing blatant anti-Gayism by some members and staff, but that’s a story for another time.)  Dinner could be at any of these establishments but for strapping on the feedbag continental-style, I also recommend Cafe L’Europe.  And “strapping it on” may be going to extremes, here as in much of the PB dining scene, think dainty, think opulent.  Late night drinks (or at least after dinner) are always a pleasure at The Colony, The Breakers, The Ritz Carlton (but that involves a schlep to the far south end of the island) or Charley’s Crab, where  singles and by that I mean predominantly breeders, are most apt to hook up.

My life long irritation with Palm Beach is the willingness and downright necessity for most men to conceal their Gayness to remain in the islands popular blue-blood society register.  It is naive to think this is an unimportant part of life in Palm Beach.  Those who refuse to play by those rules pay a price (yours truly.)  It’s unique and odd and very common to find Gay men all over Palm Beach island, preppy types who don’t want to be disinherited or ostracized from their group of peers.  There is that element in the Gay world; that queenly, bitchy desire to be a member of the elite at any price; to be on top of the heap in the sport of one-upmanship.  I think its one of the less flattering aspects of our culture.  The Palm Beach Country Club, The Breakers Golf Course again, The Everglades Club are all bastions of Type A, testosterone driven male Homophobia and anti-Gayism.  When my Gaydar begins to “ping” and I recognize a closeted member within range, it usually disappoints to see a grown man denying his true self in order to fit in.

Palm Beach may in fact be wound a bit too tight for some people to enjoy themselves there.  My pleasures in Palm Beach are simple and aesthetic and I easily overlook the pomposity and pretense.  If I ever had to be sentenced to live out my days in one majority non-Gay community, Palm Beach would probably be the one.  If it is in the budget, give Palm Beach a shot for a few days; I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

This year, I chose to pass by Fort Lauderdale.  On some levels, I don’t understand all the fuss about Las Olas Blvd and nearby Wilton Manors.  This suburban community boasts the highest percentage of Gay residences of any town in the USA.  Still, I don’t get the appeal and frankly, I never have.  It feels very sub-urban.  In every bad image that sub-urban conjures up, except with a Gay vibe.  I think one of the drawbacks is that life revolves around the automobile and that is a major negative  where ever and whatever the community is.  It is nice enough for an overnight or two, but it doesn’t raise to the level of a Gay Capital.

If there is a Gay Mecca on the southern mainland, it is the South Beach district of Miami  Beach.  It has been this way for at least the last 25 years.  There are plenty of new luxe hotels and resorts to choose from.    What I like most about South Beach (SoBe) is its similarities with New Yorks Manhattan.  Everyone co-mingles, cheek by jowl, every nationality can be found here — a stunningly beautiful mixture of diversity.

Check back later for some of the highlights of this years SoBe winter respite highlights.  I have to stop now to reapply some body cream.  Will I ever learn that Englishmen and Celts rarely tan successfully.