The World's New Gay State

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.

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