High Fidelity: Communication is Key

By : Miguel Fuller
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I promise you that this isn’t something I’m making up. In fact, I wish I had my phone ready while talking to a friend the other day so I could record them asking this question that made me giggle so much. My friend said, “You and your boyfriend seem to have such a great relationship, how do you get that and how do you keep it?”

I thought this was funny for a couple of reasons. First, over the past three years in this very column, I have documented the crumbling of one relationship, I have detailed my journey in dating and truly finding myself and I’ve discussed figuring out what I wanted in life. Now I’ve been in a relationship for almost two years. So trying to sum up three years of work, communication and false starts is not easy.

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Ladyfingers: I am 28, going on 29

By : Sabrina Ambra
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I’m a day late [on my deadline] and another year older [in exactly one week]. I have a lot to reflect on and even more to look forward to. First and foremost, I want to give a shout-out to my anxiety for being consistent AF this past year. With that, I have to give “mad props” (are we still using that phrase?) to my girlfriend for consistently dealing with the aforementioned anxiety and constantly reminding me of how incredibly lucky I am. Another shout-out goes to my cats, Luna and Celine-Dion, who continue to keep my heart warm and occasionally give it palpitations.

The last year of my twenties is on the horizon, my friends. Any advice? Because 28 was a bit of a doozy. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely had some solid highlights: I went to my 10-year high school reunion, I celebrated three years of doing “it” with the love of my life (“it” being love AND the sex,) and I performed a Beyonce song with three of my favorite human beings in front of over 1,000 other humans I’m not completely familiar with yet … just to name a few. On the other hand, I did lose some friends. They didn’t die, but they must be under the impression that I have. Alas, I have not, but the lesson hath been learned. The old friends are still invited to my funeral, of course. I’d like them to be pallbearers so they can let me down one last time.

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Keep It Real: The queering of a high school ritual – THE PROM!

By : Nathan Brummer
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As the DJ transitioned to a new song, it was eerily quiet for a moment. Then, a few clear strong keystrokes from a single piano could be heard as My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome to the Black Parade” captured the full attention of nearly 200 teenagers as they stood almost at attention waiting for the lyrics to begin. Then you heard “When I was a young boy …” in unison with all of their voices. It was a magical. It was one of those anthem moments.

I have nothing but horrific memories of my high school prom. But you see this prom was different. This prom was an alternative prom held to kick off the 2019 prom season. My organization, ALSO Youth, has been lucky enough to host in partnership with The Out-of-Door Academy an alternative prom for the LGBTQ+ youth of west central Florida for six years. This year was our biggest year yet!

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The Wonderful World of Wanzie: Welcome Spring!

By : Michael Wanzie
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We are now living in a time when we, as citizens and indeed the elected leaders of the United States of America, seem to be constantly at odds with another. Not merely over policies or how best to solve a problem, overcome adversity or deal with a crisis; rather over whether or not the policy was ever really a policy to begin with and whether or not the problem, adversity or crisis actually exists or ever existed.

It is impossible to make any real progress debating solutions when our time is instead spent debating what is fact and what is fiction; what is news and what is fantasy. Never in my lifetime have I witnessed such a crippling of the ability of our government, indeed the ability of our nation as a whole, to achieve consensus on any matter because we the people can’t even agree on the validity or truthfulness of said matter. This my friends will go down in history as the most significant and most harmful blow to our democracy brought about by the election of Donald J. tRump as president.

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Belize: LGBTQ Adventure in the Jungle

By : Aaron Drake
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“Jump in!” one of the tour guides shouted when it was my turn to immerse myself in the crystal clear, freezing cold stream leading into the mouth of the cave. The cave was Actun Tunichil Muknal—better known as ATM by the locals—one of the natural cave systems in Belize that was used by the Mayan civilization for rituals and ceremonies.

It was like something straight out of an “Indiana Jones” movie; after being outfitted with a helmet, headlamp and life vest, we set off on a 45-minute hike through the jungle, crossing three shallow waterways before we literally jumped in. Once inside the cave it got very dark and was a vigorous workout to climb over and through rocks, occasionally stopping to admire the stalagmites and stalactites that had formed over thousands of years.

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#LoveHandlin’: Together

By : Jerick Mediavilla
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There is a sort of divine spark within each of us that constantly follows us through life wherever we go. Some people call it a vibe, an energy, a wisdom that keeps pulling us towards what some say is our true calling.

I started writing at age 10, right around the same time I first saw the Jean-Claude Van Damme movie “Bloodsport.” My dad loved his movies for the kicking, the punching and the blood. I loved them for… well, obvious reasons. His splits, stretching between two chairs, helped me realize I was gay—Van DAMN!

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Positive Living: A former Methodist laments — It’s Homophobia!

By : Greg Stemm
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As most people are aware, the United Methodist Church’s board of directors recently voted to uphold that body’s ban on performing gay marriages and ordaining gay pastors. For a church that once touted a slogan of “open hearts, open doors, open minds,” it seems to me that they have proven they espouse none of those things.

For a season of my life (mostly because it’s where my parents belonged) I was a card-carrying member of the United Methodist Church. In fact, my senior year of high school I was president of my Methodist Youth Fellowship. I was a closeted kid in a corn field in Ohio and just beginning my spiritual journey. I even went to a United Methodist liberal arts college, Otterbein University in a suburb of Columbus. Today I hardly recognize that earlier version of myself.

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Sweet Divinity: Red Like Russian

By : Divine Grace
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Hello, Dolls!

Here’s something that you might not know about me, but many of you will find no surprise in. In spite of growing up in the greasy ass crack of Western Frogspit, North Cackalacky, I was raised by two astonishingly liberal and progressive Baby Boomers.

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The Other Side of Life: Lent and the Twin Abstentions

By : Jason Leclerc
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My fellow God-fearers, know that we are two days into the Lenten season, bookended by Mardi Gras and the Resurrection. Like Jesus fasted in the wilderness before launching his ministry, we are to give up something that sates us. Although my usual self-denial is metaphorized by 40 days without swearing or chocolate, I’m giving up on something much more gosh darn important and savory and much more central to who I am.

Abstention one: I’m giving up on defending Republicans. Abstention two: I’m taking a break from actively bashing Trump.

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Homo Erectus: The Evolution of Us – Dog and sponge-on-a-stick teach inclusive language

By : Steve Yacovelli
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A few years ago, I was sitting in a meeting at a client’s site in Atlanta. It was a big meeting, and people were there from all levels of the business, including a senior executive who was the highest-ranking member at the meeting (and the person who literally signed my check).

As the meeting was just about to start and the voices were dying down, this senior executive (who—it should be noted—was male) could be heard saying, “… and she was the one driving. You know how bad women drive!”

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Fit for Print: A commercial revolution

By : Steve Blanchard
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I hate Big Pharma advertisements. So much so that I try to entertain myself when they interrupt my favorite shows. I have this annoying habit of making light of the commercial names of these products. Eucrisa? Latuda?

They sound like contestants on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

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Queerly Beloved: Reclaiming the Culture of Love

By : Rev. Jakob Hero Shaw
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Valentine’s Day? Nope. I am not a fan. I came to a stern critique of Valentine’s Day despite having my own ridiculously sweet Valentine’s Day story. My husband accidentally proposed to me on Valentine’s Day a few years ago.

How do you accidentally propose to someone on Valentine’s Day? He claims it was not a planned proposal and had nothing to do with the holiday. To this day, I remain skeptical about that, but I digress.

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