When Dame David Bowie once asked us to “turn and face the strange,” because, you know, “ch-ch-ch-changes,” we had some idea what he was going on about. It wasn’t all platform shoes and glitter, shaved eyebrows and existential overstatement, the cold war and some cold cream – it was about evolving as people, living statements and art installations. Minus a trickle of pretension, that’s what this issue is largely about, too. We’re moving, not stopping; we’re trying, not giving up. We got this.
As several stories within this dangling, old-year issue purport, those changes don’t always come easy, and if we choose to roll our eyes and ignore our movements forward, we become the wrinkles of our checkered pasts. We become boring crows’ feet.
But, as magic would have it, we aren’t fraying or decaying; in fact, we’re moving forward as an LGBT culture stridently. Our cover man, Metro Wellness hero Chris Rudisill, is hopping, skipping and jumping into a new role with a similar theme: He’ll be heading up the Stonewall National Museum and Archives down in Ft. Lauderdale. While Rudisill will be missed – his reputation is one of smart talk on even smarter issues concerning the LGBT community; he’s also one who calls back when needed – his exit marks a new day for the Gulf Coast.
But Metro isn’t the only institution that finds itself in the throes of evolution. A lot of noise has been made about the end of the gay bar, the last gasps of our gathering places, the confetti on the floor that marks the end of the party or the cessation of the political movement. Obviously, none of this is true. You can still get fired. Also, you still need a hug every now and then.
This issue, we reached out to some of the more prominent proprietors of our noted watering holes just to pose the question: What do you do when the river runs dry? Or, rather, what do you do when everyone seems to be working some clandestine, digital railroad of hook-ups and bygones? Sure, the word clouds hanging over our heads have indicated, with mild precipitation, that we are becoming a less personal, more immediate culture. Fine, we also have cable. But what doesn’t get as much notice is that movement toward streamlining our entertainment centers to meet the needs of our local cultures. Not every gay bar is a vacuum of oonce-oonce beats, blank-eyed stares and underwear dancing (though, there’s nothing wrong with that). Many are evolving in a way that a community that is increasingly accepting of LGBT identities should. In other words, sometimes gay people eat. Also, sometimes we have conversations that don’t involve sexual prudence and its opposite while spinning our heads into the various ethers that inhalants and potables imply. Sometimes we’re just people in need of support.
This time around, we take a gander at what some of our favorite liberation libation liquidators are working on to make a better future for themselves and for us, their patrons. If you ignore a change in business models, it can fester; if you embrace it, it can foster a whole new cultural zeitgeist.
Don’t get me wrong. If I’m handed a shot at 1 a.m., odds are I’m not diving into a pool of intellectualism or a vat of academia. But if I do have a conversation with someone, and I do feel the connection of life at its most convivial, then I’ve done myself a favor. I’ve also saved electricity by lighting up a room. (Or I’ve fallen from a bar stool, but don’t worry about me).
Speaking of changes, Baltimore’s godfather John Waters jumps out of his sleigh just long enough to coin a phrase or four – we love him, clearly, even if he may be a high-yellow – and American Horror Story’s Sarah Paulson speaks almost defiantly about the unbearable vagueness of being a lesbian icon.
We have a couple of old faces – we’re looking at you, Greg Stemm and Scottie Campbell – returning to the fold and kicking up Viewpoint dust about coming out at Christmas and presidential “electability” having a dubious ring to it. We try to pick up our jaws at the absence of change that led to a Klan revival around the Jacksonville human rights ordinance. And we get justifiably angry about the recent attacks on innocent people legally using Planned Parenthood (and the police officers who lost their lives protecting them).
In other words, we’re minding our shifting plates, we’re not giving up on anything, and we will change the world as the world changes with us – not against us. We’re not angry. We’re just going through the turn. And we’re facing the strange.