By Gregg Shapiro
Living, as we do, in a post-“Love, Simon” (and post-“Call Me By Your Name”) world, gay movies with younger male lead characters may forever be judged differently. That can be both good and bad.
In the case of writer/director Mike Roma’s “Dating My Mother” (Gravitas Ventures), it falls squarely in the middle. Twenty-three-year-old Danny (Patrick Reilly, making his feature film debut), who has ambitions of being a screenwriter, has returned to New Jersey after living in California after graduation. He’s temporarily moved in with his widowed, hairdresser mother Joan (Steppenwolf and Law & Order actress Kathryn Erbe) while supposedly working on a script on spec.
Danny and Joan have a sweet relationship and do many things together, from going to the movies to walking the dogs to attending parties. At one of those parties, Danny runs into old, straight high school friend Khris (Michael Rosen). Danny isn’t just an undisciplined writer, he also has no self-control when it comes to wine or pot; a source of conflict between him and his mother.
After getting hit on by one of the party guests, Joan decides to re-enter the dating pool and sets up an account on match.com. This inspires Danny to explore some the gay dating/hook-up sites. The fantasy sequences in which Danny interacts with some of the online guys he’s interested in are definitely the comedic highlights of the movie.
Joan, who is having more luck than Danny interacting with guys online, ends up meeting and falling for a guy named Chester (an almost unrecognizable James Le Gros). Meanwhile, Joan’s best friend Lisa (the always wonderful Kathy Najimy) is having relationship trouble with an unfaithful boyfriend.
Danny, on the other hand is in something of a downward spiral. He doesn’t enjoy his part time job at the library. His writer’s block is causing him frustration. Then he gets the bad news that the series he was hoping to write for is going with different writers altogether.
Predictably, the increased time that Danny spends with Khris leads to an awkward kiss moment that completely backfires. Making matters worse, Danny and Joan are constantly at each other, resulting in a harsh exchange of words and Joan’s hurt feelings.
Will Danny get his shit together or run the risk of forever alienating his mother and friend? By the time Danny meets Richard (Paul Iacono) at the writer’s group that meets at the library and tell him about his screenplay about a mother and son navigating the world of online dating (get it?), you may actually find yourself rooting for him, after all.
Even without the star power or thoughtfulness behind “Simon” or “Name”, “Dating My Mother” is still a pleasant distraction. Rating: C+
By Scott King
The first six months I lived in Atlanta, I dated around. This guy told me he loved me after four dates. We broke up at Joining Hearts.
So much drama.
As I prowled through the city that spring and summer, I tried to treat people with kindness and respect. Sometimes I failed, sometimes the guy I was dating failed, and sometimes things ended amicably.
Regardless, I was constantly worried about collateral damage. I didn’t want to get a reputation, and I didn’t want to burn bridges or interstate connectors.
That’s when I realized how big this city is. The LGBT community, the commuter community, and the metro area itself. All of them vast and storied and a bit overwhelming.
Facebook helped. I was like wow, so-and-so doesn’t know so-and-so. I’m going to get off scot-free here.
As the glitter of that summer literally faded, I met and started dating someone for real, right as the leaves turned. My bf had a large, tightly knit clique of friends. I didn’t really fit in with them, but most of them were kind and accepting to me right off the bat. Most of them. They made matching t-shirts for the members of the group. They even made me one.
My boyfriend and I broke up the next year right before Christmas. On Christmas Day, I ordered Chinese food with my best friend in town. We drowned our sorrows in soy sauce. Fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra raw.
I knew I had to regroup. Even though I didn’t click with them, I had studied my boyfriend’s clique, their interrelationships and their dynamics as a group, the whole time we were together.
They looked at friendship as a linear thing. Not as a cycle or a circuit as Atlanta can often feel. There are so many different groups of people floating around here and intersecting.
Every person in the group was looked at as a whole soul, not as their permanent or temporal connection to the group. Each person and each relationship had a beginning, a middle, and an end. And while you’re at the beginning, and while you’re in the middle, you never know where you are, until it’s the end. It could be the year-and-a-half like my boyfriend and I lasted. Or it could be for life, especially after marriage equality happened. Put a ring on it, they told me with their eyes.
I think they were onto something.
In bigger cities, connections with other humans can be very brief. And I don’t mean connections just of a sexual or romantic kind. I mean that moment you have with the lady at the counter as you share a laugh about something ridiculous going on outside the shop window. That connection may be temporally brief, but it is spiritually infinite.
That’s the way friendship should impact your life. The majority of my best friends are those I met in college or in grad school or in the prodigal years where I was waiting tables and living hand-to-mouth. Probably because we had a long but finite amount of time to spend together in an intense and intensely structured set of circumstances. That’s what bonds people together.
When you get outside of structured environments like school or work, it’s harder to make those connections, and it’s more difficult to build the intimacy of unconditional friendship. I mean the kind of friendships where maybe you haven’t talked for a year, but, when you do pick it back up, it’s like no time has passed, and no closeness has been lost.
So how do we do this? How do we build friendships in adult life that are as solid as those we had with our war buddies, our childhood companions, and our adolescent co-conspirators?
Here are my suggestions:
ROAD TRIP IT
Get into trouble with your gays. Learn about their real taste in music, not just what they pretend to be into. Learn what their flatulence smells like. Learn how they deal with stress and how they interact with strangers.
And yes, you can work out to your heart’s content the week before, so that if you end up at a beach or in a towel in a hotel room, all those accidental group photos will look good, on Facebook on Grindr or on the wall at the post office.
DM your peeps, even when you don’t need something, even when you’re not lonely. People, especially those who know you, can smell desperation. And no I do not mean a fragrance for a man or woman by Calvin Klein. I mean that transparent stank that makes people not want to hang out with you. It also leads them to believe that you don’t actually want to hang out with them, that you’re just looking for someone to hold onto while surfing the void.
It’s not groovy.
Don’t overdo it on the ass-kissing or gratuitous compliments, either. Just share things that you think are funny or interesting. You know, the stuff you have in common with them that made you friends in first place.
You don’t end up where you don’t belong. You can’t make everyone happy; you’re not tequila.
When people screw you over, untie the knot and let loose. Mix in tequila and a few metaphors, and you’re ready to start fresh. Fresh as the lime in the coconut.
Netflix can wait. Get your keys, get your phone, and walk down the street to join your friends at the place. 92% of the time you’ll be glad you did. You’ll make connections, and you’ll move things forward. Those are pretty good odds.
Think about how nice and obsequious you are to someone on whom you have a crush. Now relax a little bit and think about how happy you want that person to be, not just about how happy you want them to make you. Then treat everyone you meet like you would that crush. Treat yourself that way, too.
And then just be. Be love.
And then let’s be friends.
By Gregg Shapiro
A less than subtle branding project by MGM Resorts (yes, you read that right), Universal Love: Wedding Songs Reimagined (Sony) is a six-song EP on which queer and queer allies flip the script on popular tunes, making them about same gender love, intact pronouns and all. Bob Dylan (!), who won an Oscar for “Things Have Changed”, the theme song to the 2000 queer-oriented movie Wonder Boys, maintains his ongoing love affair with the American songbook with his rendition of “He’s Funny That Way”. Death Cab For Cutie’s Benjamin Gibbard (who has a lesbian sister) leaves his distinctive mark on the Beatles’ “And I Love Him” and Valerie June belts out Noel Coward’s “Mad About the Girl”. Naturally, queer artists are also represented here. St. Vincent has her way with the Spector/Greenwich/Berry chestnut “And Then She Kissed Me”, Kele Okereke goes for the Motown number “My Guy” and Kesha wails on Janis Joplin’s “I Need a Woman to Love”.
As we are all well aware, various artists compilations such as Universal Love and Revamp: Reimagining the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin (Rocket/Island) are often a mixed bag. This is especially true in the case of Revamp, beginning with opener “Bennie and the Jets” by Elton John, Pink and Logic. It’s the kind of concept that must have looked good on paper, but crashes and burns in its execution. For the most part, the strongest renditions on Revamp are those by artists that honor and expand on the original versions. The best examples include Miley Cyrus (“Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”), Lady Gaga (“Your Song”), Florence + The Machine (“Tiny Dancer”), Sam Smith (“Daniel”) and, while they are certainly not Elton and Kiki Dee, Q-Tip and Demi Lovato (“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”). Biggest disappointments include Mary J. Blige (the overwrought “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word”), Ed Sheeran (the bland “Candle in the Wind”) and Mumford & Sons (the sludgy “Someone Saved My Life Tonight”).
With his beard and bulk, Donovan Woods may look like a bear, but he’s not. So, don’t be misled by the title of this Canadian singer/songwriter’s new album Both Ways (Meant Well); dude is straight. Nevertheless, the incredible music video for the first single, “Burn That Bridge”, features a same-sex male couple performing the dance of new love. The song definitely stands on its own; but you should make a point to see the accompanying video. As for the rest of the album, Woods, who cites Nobel Prize winning short story writer Alice Munro and the late feminist poet Bronwen Wallace among his inspirations, will amaze you on songs such as “Truck Full of Money”, “Our Friend Bobby”, “I Live A Little Lie”, “Next Year” and Rose Cousins duet “I Ain’t Never Loved No One”.
Everywhere you look, more and more same-gender couples and spouses are becoming parents. Whether it’s via adoption, surrogacy or alternative insemination, gay dads and lesbian moms abound. Like their straight counterparts, LGBTQ parents are probably in search of family music that can be enjoyed by one and all. There’s an added bonus when a specifically queer angle exists, as with Songs for the Rainbow Family (Leather/Western) by The Diesel Tykes. Another project of prolific gay musician Scott Free, The Diesel Tykes album features a marvelous assortment of guest musicians including lesbian family musician Laura Doherty (the vegan tune “Adopt A Cow”), lesbian duo Congress of Starlings (“The Out Song”), trans artist Elias Krell (the powerful “Dress Me in Yellow”) and soulful singer JC Brooks (the tropical “Pride and Joy”). Because kids love to dance, Songs for the Rainbow Family gives them plenty of opportunity to move on “LGBT (Alphabet Song)”, “Baby Steps”, “Every Day Is Earth Day” and “Momma and Mommy”.
If the kids (or the adults, for that matter), didn’t get enough dancing on The Diesel Tykes’ album, consider spinning Wild Is Everywhere (Unbreakable Chord) by San Francisco-based Sara Lovell. “Raspberry Pickleberry Wormnut Pie” adds a touch of twang to the electro beats. The aptly titled “Bounce” encourages listeners to “wear your sparkle” and “shake the ceiling and floorboards” as well as the “wall and windows, too”. “I Want It Now” takes a retro path, while “Stand Together” and “How To Love Yourself” have meaningful messages for listeners.
It’s hard to imagine what old man Disney would have thought of one of his former child stars being christened “lesbian Jesus”, so it’s a good thing he’s not here to follow the career of Hayley Kiyoko. A long way from Disney’s other Hayley (Mills, that is), Kiyoko has just released her long-awaited/early anticipated debut album, the ironically titled Expectations (Atlantic). Seriously, you are just asking for trouble with a title like that. So, does it live up to expectations? Yes and no. “What I Need” featuring fellow out artist Kehlani has summertime hit written all over it. “Mercy/Gatekeeper” and “Under The Blue/Take Me In” reveal Kiyoko’s experimental side with promising results. The sunny “Palm Dreams” could benefit from a clubby remix and “Molecules” has an atomic charge. The remainder tends toward the generic, running the risk that Kiyoko could get lost in the young, post-Britney diva shuffle.
You have, no doubt, heard out singer/songwriter Daphne Willis’ funky dance track “Do It Like This” on the Comcast commercial, right? If you’ve been following her since her 2010 debut album, you’re aware of her transformation from latter-day goggles-wearing hippie chick to full-on Nashville funkster. That soulful persona dominates on her latest album Freaks Like Me (Barefeet), especially on songs such as “Dopamine”, “Out of the Black” and “Lose Control”. You can also hear the effect of old Nashville on Willis on the powerful closing ballad “The Letter”.
Maybe you recognize the name of lesbian singer/songwriter Sera Cahoone from when she was in the bands Carissa’s Wierd (sic) or Band of Horses. Perhaps you know her solo work from when she was an artist signed to the legendary Sub Pop Records label. On Cahoone’s new EP, The Flora String Sessions (Lady Muleskinner Records), she performs gorgeously rendered “revisited arrangements” of seven songs from her four previous full-length studio albums.
Pianist and composer Fred Hersch is easily the most productive gay man in the world of jazz, releasing at least one album a year since 2009. Additionally, Hersch found time to write his memoir, Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life In and Out of Jazz, which was published in 2017. On his latest live album Live in Europe (Palmetto) with the Fred Hersch Trio, he performs six originals along with two covers each by Thelonious Monk and Wayne Shorter.
After Forever is a unique, romantic, touching, funny and heartbreaking new short-form internet series that tells the story of Brian and Jason, a 50’ish New York City gay couple that has it all – until they don’t.
The series stars Emmy-nominated Kevin Spirtas (Days of Our Lives, Friday the 13th/Part VII) as Brian and Atlanta’s own Mitchell Anderson (Doogie Howser, Part of Five), as Jason. It features Tony Award winner Cady Huffman (The Producers), Drama Desk Award winner Michael Urie (Ugly Betty, Buyer and Cellar), Broadway, film and television star Anita Gillette (Moonstruck), David Dean Bottrell (Boston Legal), Jim Newman (The Village People), Finn Douglas (House of Cards), Robert Emmet Lunney (The Exorcist TV Series), and Colleen Zenk (As the World Turns).
After Forever was co-created by Emmy-nominated television writer, playwright Michael Slade, and Kevin Spirtas. Season One was directed by Emmy Award winner Jennifer Pepperman.
Perfect for binge-watching, the episodes average 11 minutes each, allowing viewers to watch the entire season in 90 minutes.
The What, Where, and When
What: After Forever short-form internet series
Where: Streaming on Amazon Prime
When: Premieres on April 24
More info at afterforevertheseries.com.
By Mik Hyldebrandt
In the ongoing fight against blood cancers, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) has raised funds for a cure with their annual Man & Woman of the Year Campaign. Celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the fundraising initiative, LLS has gathered the 10riginals – the all-star candidates who have won through the decade – to meet the most ambitious fundraising goal yet. Peach talked to Heath Ponder, a 10riginals candidate and the first Atlanta Man of the Year, to discuss mission, inspiration, and goals.
– How did you get involved with LLS?
My father was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when I was a freshman in college. After seeing first-hand the difficult protocol he endured and the amazing work the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society does which directly impacts blood cancer research and patient families, I began volunteering with the Georgia Chapter 17 years ago.
– What aspect of your involvement in LLS is most important to you?
Over the years, I have volunteered for LLS through the Light the Night Walk as an Executive Council Member, the Man & Woman of the Year Campaign since inception, and in the last four years, have served as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Georgia Chapter. I must say, the Man and Woman of the Year campaign has been the most rewarding experience due to our being able to raise as much money as possible in ten weeks through friends, family, and events. 77% of the proceeds go directly to research and finding a cure for blood cancer. This is unique!
– You have been Man of the Year before – what inspired you to take a second nomination?
Correct. I was honored to be named the first Atlanta Man of the Year after my team and I raised $25,000 in ten weeks. That first year, we only dreamed of what Man and Woman of the Year would become. It has grown each year exponentially. Our Team 1Originals has now had 3 Men of the year; myself, Scott Thomas, who raised over $100,000 and Brian Fuller, who raised over $130,000, and a Runner Up, Stephen Beckwith, who raised over $90,000. Additionally, I served as Chair in 2015 alongside Scott Thomas as my Co-Chair when we hit the $1,000,000 mark and last year’s campaign raised a whopping $1,300,000!
Since this is the 10-year anniversary, they nominated me as the Atlanta All-Star Candidate to compete against other All-Star candidates throughout the country for National Man of the Year. We pulled Team 10riginals back together again to raise as much money as possible for this amazing organization and to FIND A CURE for BLOOD CANCERS! Our team this year consists of the most hardworking friends who amaze me at their level of support; my husband, Jim Lesti, Holly Firfer Arnold, Jeff Paramore, Scott Thomas, Kevin Brown, Wells Curlee, Boo Green, Ty Stapleton, and Travis Darnell.
– How has your involvement with LLS developed you as a person?
Over the last 17 years, LLS has proven to me what giving back is all about. I am so thankful I found this amazing organization to which I dedicate my time. The staff members of LLS are some of the most dedicated individuals I have ever known and are truly passionate about finding a cure and believing that #somedayistoday.
– What is your fundraising goal?
Team 10riginals has a goal this year of $125,000 in ten weeks, and the campaign ends with the Finale Gala at the Intercontinental Hotel Buckhead on June 9. We have 22 men and women candidates this year, and our overall goal for the campaign is $1,500,000. I have no doubt we will knock this number out of the park!
– How can people help and get involved?
If you would like to donate to help us find a cure for Leukemia and Lymphoma and blood cancers, please visit http://bit.ly/MWOYHPonder . We have until noon on June 9th to receive donations before the campaign ends. Thank you for your support!
Photos: Brendan’s own, McCall Studio
Brendan was born in Brooklyn and lived in Florida for 15 years before moving to Atlanta in 2014. He majored in graphic design and advertising, and he currently works in property management with aspirations to work in real estate. He is currently single and loves seeing his family, going to the gym, hanging out with friends on the weekends as well as spending Sundays binge-watching Netflix shows on the couch. His guilty pleasure is baking desserts from scratch – something both his friends and family really appreciate too!
These are the gayest days where you will live your best life
Fans are for cooling not clapping!
$6 dollars for a bottle of water?
Where are my friends?
I don’t want to take off my shirt
(After more drinks) This shirt is coming off!
Is everyone here on drugs?
Please don’t touch me, you’re sweaty
Touch me, I’m sweaty!
Everyone here is so good-looking
Yes, everybody is dancing with everybody now!
By Jamie Kirk
There are lots of designers out there in the fashion houses. There are so many types of ice cream. There are gazillion types of automobiles. There are several brands of coffee and teas. What would happen if we removed all the labels and didn’t read anything about our purchases? How would that work if we didn’t have an expectation of what we purchased, ate or drank?
The same questions as above exist related to people. What if we allowed people just to be? What if we allowed people to not come with a warning label (meaning social media, friends who know them, or the ever popular google search)? What if we didn’t have preconceived ideas about what the person drove, where they lived or how much money they made? What if we didn’t expect the person to be dominant or submissive or a combo of both? What would happen if we stripped off the labels?
I think what would happen is that we would be surprised at how uniquely different and interesting people could be if we just allowed them to BE. Removing the label equates to freedom and individuality. Labeling someone or something limits them to our perception of them, which is most often wrong. Ripping off the label provides the person a springboard actually to exceed your expectations.
We all want to have people in our life that are authentic and have the liberty to be themselves. People that can share with us when they feel weak, unsupported or sad. It is important and even necessary that our friends and family don’t feel judgement on days when they are not their best selves. Those close to us should be able to be vulnerable when necessary. Our friend groups and close family members should be emotionally naked with us and not feel repercussions when they share information with us that may not shed them in the best light.
That is why it is such a win-win when we celebrate one another in our most raw form. A form that may not have on makeup, might not have six-pack abs, could be non-degreed, big-boned, manic, bi-polar, addicted, or whatever. Each of us has the responsibility not to expect anyone to meet expectations that we have deemed appropriate. Expectations that look and feel like something we would do. Expectations of them based solely on what we had imagined them to be like. Ripping off the label is the first step.
As I mentioned earlier, removing the label is a weight lifted for all. Celebrating individuality can kick-start a new friendship or relationship in the right direction. The same holds true for existing relationships. People change minute by minute. We experience different emotions in a 24-hour period and to focus on one or two of those “expected” emotions or attributes is wrong. People should be allowed to think and behave as they see fit. Having to succumb to a label or a title is exhausting. Being someone we are not, or someone we are struggling to become un-naturally can cause us to become sick; emotionally, mentally and physically.
The next time you want to label someone as a Top, Bottom, Bear, Twink, Rich, Lonely, Bitter, Happy, sit back and ask yourself “Is this accurate? Would the person be offended if they knew what my private thoughts are? What if I am wrong ?” Your answers to these questions should properly guide you and help you settle into a more thoughtful visualization of the person in your presence. Celebrating one another should come without a disclaimer. The ability to see someone at face value should not be challenging. It should be welcoming. And by welcoming, I mean just that – opening your arms and heart to everyone and everything you met; just as they are.
By Darren Floro-Bryant
It’s almost time for the gayest event at the happiest place on earth – the countdown to GayDayS® has begun! Whether your plans include some fun in the sun, late night parties, spinning in the Mad Tea Cup ride – or just spinning at a T-dance, your workout may end up taking a backseat. So, to help you stay on track during the festivities, try out some full body circuits.
There are several benefits to full body circuits. First of all, they are a time-efficient workout because they group a series of exercises to work the major muscle groups of your body in one circuit. They also keep the intensity up because you can move from one exercise to the next with little rest in between.
There are two approaches you can take to full body circuits. One approach is to do a different variation of a circuit every day; each day working your major body parts differently. Another approach is to do a series of multiple full body circuits every other day, efficiently and effectively working your whole body in one shot, allowing you to take a break the next day for recovery time like lounging by the pool or walking around one of the parks with your friends. Full body circuits will allow you to minimize your time in the gym with maximum benefits, keep you on track with your fitness goals, and leave you more time to be with your friends and celebrate.
Below are four great full body circuits you can do that will attack your body from many different angles. Each variation follows the same major body part format, flowing between legs, biceps, triceps, chest, back, and finally shoulders. Depending on your available time, you can do just one of the circuits or, if you have the time, add in a 2nd, 3rd or even 4th circuit. Every circuit is meant to be done in 3 sets before moving onto the next circuit if you choose to add on.
Circuit # 1
Goblet squat – 12 reps *
Bicep curls w/dumbbells – 12 reps
Bent over tricep kickbacks – 12 reps/arm
Push-ups – 12 reps
Bent over high rows (scarecrows) – 12 reps *
Standing side raises (lateral raises) – 12 reps
~Repeat 3 times~
Front lunge (all on right foot, then all on left foot) – 12 reps
Flat plate curls – 12 reps *
Dips – 12 reps
Narrow push-ups – 12 reps
Bent over reverse flys w/ dumbbells – 12 reps
Upright row with KettleBell – 12 reps *
~Repeat 3 times~
Side-2-Side squats holding a weight plate or dumbbell – 12 reps per leg
Incline bicep curls w/ dumbbells- 12 reps
Skull crushers w/ dumbbells – 12 reps *
Flat bench dumbbell press – 12 reps
Seated cable row (narrow grip) – 12 reps *
Seated alternating shoulder press – 12 reps per arm
~Repeat 3 times~
Reverse lunge (all on right foot, then all on left foot) – 10 reps
Dumbbell standing hammer curl – 10 reps
Cable tricep extension (press down) – 10 reps *
Incline bench dumbbell press – 10 reps
Wide grip cable lat pull-down – 10 reps
Bent over Y-ups (light weight) – 10 reps *
~Repeat 3 times~
BONUS – Body Weight Circuit Option
Wall sit (iron chair) and hold a bicep flex 0:30 *
Bench/chair dips: 30
Bent over reverse fly isometric hold: 30
Single arm side raises while other arm stays up (shoulder height) in isometric hold-: 15/arm *
Single arm front raises while other arm stays up (shoulder height) in isometric hold–: 15/arm