Category: LGBT History

Still Processing…


Unless you have been avoiding the Internet for the last two days, and/or do not know anyone who is a member of the LGBTQIA communities, you may not have heard that now, in the United States of America, Gay Marriage is legally allowable.

In other words, Gay Men and Lesbians can now legally get married and, according to the Supreme Court, is it OK for us to do that.

I can honestly say I never thought this day would come.

Again, still processing.

Am I happy about this decision?  Why yes, I AM happy about this decision.

And, I would be much happier if there were people who were not assaulted because they are either Gay Men, Lesbians, Transgendered, black, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, etc., but I digress.

I look forward to the next few days and fully processing and accepting what happened.

And if you are wondering, thoughts of getting married right now are the furthest thing from my Mind.  Those of you who know me know I do not do things spontaneously.

Before I close, let me acknowledge my newest blog follower, “gooddixx22.”  Thank you for honoring who you are and what you do.  May following “This Gay Man’s Life…” bring you great insight and great PRIDE.

And to those of you who already follow or read “This Gay Man’s Life…” thank you for honoring who you are and what you do, and for honoring who I AM and what I do, too.rainbowusaflag

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After Giovanni’s Room: What’s Next?


Another update on what is happening with Giovanni’s Room, the only remaining LGBT bookstore in the United States.

This is a transcription of an Email I received today, Tuesday, May 6, 2014, at approximately 9:17PM tonight:

 

Dear fellow lovers of Giovanni’s Room,

As many of you have already heard, Giovanni’s Room is set to go out of business later this month.  We join the Philadelphia queer community in mourning the loss of this truly invaluable resource.  For forty years Giovanni’s Room has been a fixture of Philadelphia’s Gayborhood, providing support, camaraderie, and education to LGBTQ-identified people and our allies.  Ed Hermance, the store’s owner for the past 37 years, has truly left our community a better place than it was when he found it, and for this we are forever indebted to him.

We are a team of volunteers, entrepreneurs, and former Giovanni’s Room staff, who are mobilizing to create a new, viable resource to fill the void.  For those of you in the Greater Philadelphia area, please join us for a community meeting tomorrow, May 7, at 7pm at the William Way Community Center (1315 Spruce Street) to talk about this loss and how we can move forward.  Metered parking is free in Center City on Wednesdays.  Please RSVP herehttps://www.facebook.com/events/249950118540782/

In the meantime, our team can be reached here at queerbooksphilly@gmail.com, and please like our Facebook page, Queer Books https://www.facebook.com/qbooksphilly to keep updated on our plans and meetings.

Sincerely,

The folks at Queer Books, LLC

 

Well, there you have it.  And before I close, I wish to acknowledge my newest blog follower, “GIFT FROM THE HEART Share and Care (who is also following “This Is Who I AM).”  May you receive great Insight, great Knowledge and great PRIDE from following “This Gay Man’s Life…”  And for those of you already following and reading this blog, thank you for honoring who you are and what you do.

giorm

A Historic Chapter Closes…


A few hours ago, I learned that Giovanni’s Room, the only remaining LGBT bookstore in the United States, is closing its doors.

To say that I AM not thrilled is a gross understatement.  By the way, I no longer wonder why I have high blood pressure, but I digress.

I have decided to make it easy for everyone and transcribe the broadcast Email that Mr. Ed Hermance, the owner of Giovanni’s Room, sent out a few hours ago.

 

I regret to announce that our beautiful store is closing before the end of May.

Among Philadelphia’s earliest LGBT institutions, Giovanni’s Room has served many thousands of people not only in this region but across the nation and around the world.  Many of those people have expressed support for the store this past year, after the announcement that the store was for sale.

A number of people were interested in taking over the operation, though they knew the store has not made a profit in a number of years.  In the end, though, I did not think that any of the offers were realistic.

It has been a wonderful life for me.  It has been wonderful to work for people who love this store so much.  I want to thank the hundreds of people who have worked in the store, both the salaried and the volunteers.  Above all, I’d like to thank Skip Strickler, the dean of the staff, and Richard Smith, the dean of the volunteers.  Each has worked in the store for more than thirty-five years.

I thank the thousands of customers, who have been our reason for being.  I know we have helped a huge number of people in untold ways.  and they have successfully helped the store when it was threatened.

The prospective closing date is Saturday, May 17, 2014.  Everything in the store will be on sale at 25% off beginning Wednesday, April 30, 11:30 am–except for the books by the many authors who will be reading in the store before May 17.

Media are invited to a press conference on Tuesday, April 29, 7PM.

Thanks for your consideration,

Ed Hermance

giovannis_room@verizon.net

http://www.queerbooks.com

 

I AM too much of a bibliophile to be OK with this change, and this store’s closing.

And yes, I know, change is good and all that rot!

Nonetheless, lately I have been experiencing a mountain of Thankfulness.  And I AM most thankful that I have had so many previous opportunities to go to Giovanni’s Room in the past, and I AM most thankful to be open and receptive to new opportunities to go back to Giovanni’s Room before Saturday, May 17, 2014.

If you have never been to Giovanni’s Room (located at 345 South 12th Street [at the corner of South 12th and Pine Streets in Center City, Philadelphia], Philadelphia, PA  19107), then you have exactly two weeks and three days to make that happen, as of Wednesday, April 30, 2014.

In the meantime, thank you, Ed Hermance, for honoring who we are and what we do.

giovannisroom

 

“Two Loves,” for NaPoWriMo, Day 2


Today is Day 2 of National Poetry Writing Month (or, NaPoWriMo, for short).

However, between two blogs (this one and http://thetarotman.wordpress.com), a busy Psychic Practice and a wonderful professional endeavor, on the side, not to mention sleeping and eating (you know, those trivial things!), and the occasional attendance of a cultural event, the thought of writing a post a day, twice a day, for thirty days, seemed a bit daunting.

So, I AM going to “cheat” a little bit.

It is my honor and pleasure to transcribe a poem entitled Two Loves, by Lord Alfred Douglas, who was friend and lover to Oscar Wilde.  It was originally published in 1894, and was well-used in the trials against our great Gay Ancestor, Oscar Wilde, the following year.

And here we go…

 

Two Loves

by Lord Alfred Douglas

 

I dreamed I stood upon a little hill,

And at my feet there lay a ground, that seemed

Like a waste garden, flowering at its will

With buds and blossoms.  There were pools that dreamed

Black and unruffled; there were white lilies

A few, and crocuses, and violets

Purple or pale, snake-like fritillaries

Scarce seen for the rank grass, and through green nets

Blue eyes of shy peryenche winked in the sun

And there were curious flowers, before unknown,

Flowers that were stained with moonlight, or with shades

Of Nature’s wilful moods; and here a one

That had drunk in the transitory tone

Of one brief moment in a sunset; blades

Of grass that in an hundred springs had been

Slowly but exquisitely nurtured by the stars,

And watered with the scented dew long cupped

In lilies, that for rays of sun had seen

Only God’s glory, for never a sunrise mars

The luminous air of Heaven.  Beyond, abrupt,

A grey stone wall, o’ergrown with velvet moss

Uprose; and gazing I stood long, all mazed

To see a place so strange, so sweet, so fair.

And as I stood and marvelled, lo!  across

The garden came a youth, one hand he raised

To shield him from the sun, his wind-tossed hair

Was twined with flowers, and in his hand he bore

A purple bunch of bursting grapes, his eyes

Were clear as crystal, naked all was he,

White as snow on pathless mountains frore,

Red were his lips as red wine-spilith that dyes

A marble floor, his brow chalcedony.

And he came near me, with his lips uncurled

And kind, and caught my hand and kissed my mouth,

And gave me grapes to eat, and said, ‘Sweet friend,

Come I will show thee shadows of the world

And images of life.  See from the South

Comes the pale pageant that hath never an end.’

And lo!  within the garden of my dream

I saw two walking on a shining plain

Of golden light.  The one did joyous seem

And fair and blooming, and a sweet refrain

Came from his lips; he sang of pretty maids

And joyous love of comely girl and boy,

His eyes were bright, and ‘mid the dancing blades

Of golden grass his feet did trip for joy;

And in his hand he held and ivory lute

With strings of gold that were as maidens’ hair,

And sang with voice as tuneful as a flute,

And round his neck three chains of roses were.

But he that was his comrade walked aside;

He was full sad and sweet, and his large eyes

Were strange with wondrous brightness, staring wide

With gazing, and he sighed many sighs

That moved me, and his cheeks were wan and white

Like pallid lilies, and his lips were red

Like poppies, and his hands he clenched tight,

And yet again unclenched, and his head

Was wreathed with moon-flowers pale as lips of death.

A purple robe he wore, o’erwrought in gold

With the device of a great snake, whose breath

Was fiery flame: which when I did behold

I fell a-weeping, and I cried, ‘Sweet youth,

Tell me why, sad and sighing, thou dost rove

These pleasant realms?  I pray thee speak me sooth

What is thy name?’ He said, ‘My name is Love.’

Then straight the first did turn himself to me

And cried, ‘He lieth, for his name is Shame,

But I am Love, and I was wont to be

Alone in this fair garden, till he came

Unasked by night, I am true Love, I fill

The hearts of boy and girl with mutual flame.’

Then sighing, said the other, ‘Have thy will,

I am the love that dare not speak its name.’

 

Before I close, I wish to acknowledge my newest blog followers to “This Gay Man’s Life…”  And they are: “pmitsuing,” “gianfrancogrande,” “David Scott Moyer,” and “firenzix.”  Thank you for choosing to follow “This Gay Man’s Life…”  May you receive great Insight, great Wisdom and great Pride from doing so.

And for those of you already following and reading this blog, thank you for honoring who you are and what you do.

Lord Alfred Douglas, also known as "Bosie."
Lord Alfred Douglas, also known as “Bosie.”

The Continuation of History, Part II…


On Wednesday, March 12, 2014, when I published the first part of this post, “The Continuation of History, Part I…” (SEE https://thisgaymanslife.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/the-continuation-of-history-part-i/), I left off with Ms. Pat Hill, the second owner with her great and serene Energy.

And my great Gratitude to all of you for your patience in waiting for this particular blog post to be written and published.

And now, I go to Ms. Arleen Olshan, who for a time was co-owners with Mr. Ed Hermance, who is the current and sole owner.

I must say, I kept being drawn, Energetically to both Ms. Hill and Ms. Olshan.  Other than the fact that they are both Lesbians, and former owners of Giovanni’s Room, they are very different ladies.

However, Energetically they are both quite vibrant.

Even when they were not speaking, I looked out for when they would add a comment or anecdote when Mr. Wilson Weinberg, or Mr. Sherbo were speaking, as well as John Cunningham.

My experience of Ms. Olshan is that she is a fantastic combination of serenity and suave, and, indeed, very eloquent.

She spoke about her experiences with the store, and the challenges, and I must confess I was present to the Energies in the room and how much Love and Pride there was that I hardly remember what she said, but I do recall it was quite well-received.

And then, we get to the current owner, Mr. Ed Hermance, who I had the opportunity to see on Tuesday, March 11, 2014, when I went to Giovanni’s Room for some book shopping. When I was at Giovanni’s Room in February, I recall seeing an article about the store with Ed’s photograph in it, on the second floor (although my European Mind wants to call it the first floor, but I digress).

He also shared his experiences, and the challenges, and I vividly recall Ed sharing about how when he and Ms. Olshan were co-owners, that discussed everything, specifically what kind of books would be sold in the store, as well as what kinds of materials.  Some of them would still be considered controversial to this day.

Nonetheless, and here is where I inject some of my personal commentary, many of us in the LGBT communities have seen many a Hollywood motion picture that features the following character and/or storyline:

1. A feminine-acting Gay Man who dresses in drag and walks in a feminine manner;

2. A Lesbian who kills straight men so she can be with her lover (and, not surprisingly, always with a phallic-shaped weapon);

3. A feminine-acting Gay Man who molests little boys.

For years, people thought it odd that I do not watch motion pictures.  Really?  Why would I want to watch yet another, ad-I’m-going-to-throw-up my-intestines-in-disgust-infinitum motion picture that thinks that ALL Gay Men want to dress up in drag and, when not in drag, molest little boys?!

Why, indeed!

Granted, my commentary may seem a bit outdated to some, but for many of us, especially those of us above the age of 40, recall this all.  Too.  Well.

One of the most important conversations of the night, was when Ed said that there are discussions in the works regarding who the new owners of Giovanni’s Room shall be.  Not surprisingly, I recall someone in the audience shushing everyone, and it might have been at that point.

May the Universe grant those new owners-to-be and Ed everything they need to make the sale smooth and effortless for all parties.  And so we can continue to go to a lovely store and buy and browse and (one of my favorite things to do) sit in one of the window seats on the second floor.

And because Giovanni’s Room is the only remaining LGBT bookstore in the United States of America, I cannot over-recommend that you visit them often, buy there often, and of course, let the staff know how wonderful they are.

The last two times I was there, I did not see one of my favorite employees, Richard, but he was there at the 40th Anniversary Program and happily Re-Minded me of his usual schedule.

If you have never met Richard, let me tell you, his Energy is fabulous (and that is a word I rarely use!).  More than ten years ago, when I first set foot in Giovanni’s Room, he welcomed me with his ready smile and his amazing Energy, and seeing him again was like a homecoming for me.

Before I close, I wish to provide you with a brief timeline regarding Giovanni’s Room, and once again, thank Mr. John Cunningham for providing me with a copy of his “cheat sheet”):

1973–Giovanni’s Room opens on 400 block South Street; owners Tom Wilson Weinberg, Dan Sherbo and Bernie Boyle;

1975–Pat Hill buys store;

1976–Ed Hermance and Arleen Olshan become owners;

1976-1979–Giovanni’s Room in 1400 block of Spruce Street;

1979–Store opens at 345 South 12th Street;

1986–Ms. Olshan leaves and Ed Hermance becomes sole owner;

1987–James Baldwin visits Giovanni’s Room (by the way, Mr. Baldwin made it clear to both Ed Hermance and Pat Hill that he had no issue with the name of the store being the same as his novel of this same name);

2011–Giovanni’s Room receives State (of Pennsylvania) Historical Marker.

Before I close, I wish to properly acknowledge one of my newest blog followers: “Dimitris Melicertes.”  My apologies to you for not properly acknowledging you sooner.  May you receive Divine Inspiration and Divine Pride from following “This Gay Man’s Life…”

And for those of you already following and reading “This Gay Man’s Life…” may you continue to honor who you are and what you do: as Gay Men, as Lesbians, as Bisexuals, as Transgendered folks, as Queer, and as straight LGBT*Q allies.

Photo credits: nbcphiladelphia.com, Kimberly Paynter, NewsWorks.org
Photo credits: nbcphiladelphia.com, Kimberly Paynter, NewsWorks.org

The Continuation of History, Part I…


As I mentioned in my post “Giovanni’s Room…” (SEE https://thisgaymanslife.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/giovannis-room/), this is the only remaining LGBT bookstore in the United States of America.

However, what I did not mention is that, no sooner did I walk into Giovanni’s Room, I learned that a “Giovanni’s Room 40th Anniversary Program” had been scheduled at the William Way LGBT Center in Center City, Philadelphia.

Actually, when I walked into the store on the afternoon of Thursday, February 20, 2014, I was informed by one of the store’s employees that it had been rescheduled twice.  Since before this past February, the last time I had been in Center City was more than a year ago.  As such, I had no idea the Anniversary Program was taking place, let alone that it had been rescheduled twice.

Now, from the first time I began going to Center City, Philadelphia, I prefer to have plenty of time to prepare, purchase tickets, and have at least $200 saved up for shopping, eating out, etc.

Nonetheless, it is not every day that an independent bookseller celebrates its 40th Anniversary.  And I was not going to miss this for anything or anyone!

Interestingly enough, I had never been to the William Way LGBT Center.  Every time I go to Center City, there are certain stores I shop in, and certain museums I visit, not to mention walking all around to better familiarize myself with the area.

The Anniversary Program was scheduled from 7:30-9:00PM, last night, and I was running very late.

Everyone who knows me KNOWS I AM a fanatic for punctuality.  When I arrived, approximately five minutes late, I discovered that there were no seats available (in other words, upset number one).

I had been doing a lot of walking that day, and my comfort insoles were worn through, which is why I removed them from my shoes and disposed of them two hours earlier (in other words, mistake number two, but I digress).

What amazed me was that there were about eight participants, of various ages, ethnic backgrounds and I think there were a few straight people there, too.

In spite of the fact that it became very warm very fast, and that it soon became standing room only (until some of the Center’s volunteers brought in more chairs), and some ventilation, courtesy of a low-setting air conditioning system, here were so many wonderful people who were there to honor and celebrate a milestone in LGBT History.

Before I continue, I must properly thank and Lovingly acknowledge Mr. John Cunningham, who moderated the panel discussion, and who gave me a copy of his “cheat sheets!”

The first panelists who spoke were Tom Wilson Weinberg and Dan Sherbo, who founded Giovanni’s Room.  They both had a third partner, Bernie Boyle, who is no longer with us.

Although there were times when I was unable to hear the panelists clearly (people whispering not too far from me, how far back I was, etc.) I very distinctly heard Mr. Wilson Weinberg state that the rent for the store was $85 a month!

I also vividly recall when both Mr. Wilson Weinberg and Mr. Sherbo gave a heartfelt acknowledgement to Mr. Craig Rodwell, who founded the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, in 1967, the first bookstore devoted to Gay Male and Lesbian authors.

Mr. Wilson Weinberg mentioned how Mr. Rodwell, would give both him and Mr. Sherbo copious amounts of advice on how to run a LGBT bookstore, including taking trips to Manhattan, New York City to go to Bookazine to purchase–in cash– Gay and Lesbian-themed books.

At one point, Mr. Wilson Weinberg showed all the attendees a photograph of him, Mr. Sherbo and Mr. Boyle, not too long after Giovanni’s Room opened.  Alas, I did not get to see from which newspaper it was, nor the date, but since Giovanni’s Room opened in 1973, it is highly likely that the newspaper photograph was probably published around the same time, or within a few years of it.

They also talked about what they were going to name the store.  Both Mr. Wilson Weinberg and Mr. Sherbo mentioned that they had considered naming it “The Love that dare not speak its name” in honor of (the late and great) Oscar Wilde (the writer after whom the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop was named).

After Mr. Wilson Weinberg and Mr. Sherbo, Pat Hill, the second owner of Giovanni’s Room spoke.  Personally, I loved her Energy right away; she had a quiet, engaging manner, and a lovely sense of humor.  She mentioned that when she owned the store, the rent was not $85 a month, but she did mention the rats in the basement!

And she shared that she is a Quaker, and that for many years, she has been involved with a women’s artists colony.

I was not the only one that shared this sentiment.  In other words, when Ms. Hill spoke, very few people in the audience spoke, whispered, etc…

Tune in tomorrow, Thursday, March 13, 2014, when I write and publish the conclusion of this two-part blog post.

However, before I close, I wish to acknowledge my newest blog followers.  They are: “Don Charisma” and “Tanner Hawryluk.”  Thank you, both, very much for honoring who you are and what you do, and thank you for honoring who I AM and what I do, too.  May both of you receive greater insight and awareness of the LGBT Communities by following “This Gay Man’s Life…”

And for those of you who are already following and reading “This Gay Man’s Life…” thank you for honoring who you are, and what you do, and for honoring the LGBT Communities, too.

A photograph of Giovanni's Room, by J. R. Blackwell in the December 3, 2013 issue of "Philadelphia Weekly."
A photograph of Giovanni’s Room, by J. R. Blackwell in the December 3, 2013 issue of “Philadelphia Weekly.”

Lavender Reflections…


A few years ago, when I first discovered Giovanni’s Room (see my post https://thisgaymanslife.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/giovannis-room/), in Center City, Philadelphia, I was also happy to discover some great books on sale.

One of them is Lavender Reflections: Affirmations for Lesbians & Gay Men, photographs by Victor Arimondi (Copyright 1995, Alamo Square Press, San Francisco, California).

I began working with this book, again, this year.  Every day, there is either a quote or an extended Affirmation (what some call a “Treatment”), about a topic.

Some of the topics include, but are not limited to: Coming Out, Friendship, Sexual Orientation, Spring, Stereotypes, and more.

Some of the quotes are from such Lesbian and Gay luminaries as Dave Kopay, Quentin Crisp, Gertrude Stein, and others.

Although the book was published almost twenty years ago, it is still relevant today.

As Gay Men, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgendered people, I think it is safe to say that there are issues that we deal with more deeply, feel more intensely than those that are straight.

It is an excellent book to work with to be Mindful of the various aspects of the LGBT life, the issues we face, as well as how we can create, manifest and maintain complete Healing in our lives.

One of the quotes can found for December 29, under the category of “Diversity.”  It is:

“We know we do not have to become copies of each other in order to be able to work together.  We know that when we join hands across the table of our difference, diversity gives us power.  When we can arm ourselves with the strength and vision from our diverse communities, then we will in truth, all of us–be free at last!”

Audre Lorde

1983 Civil Rights March

Washington, D. C.

I looked for more info on both Amazon.com, as well as the Barnes & Noble Booksellers Web site, not sure if the book is still in print; it might be, but it is a book that I highly recommend.  It has given me much to think about in my life, as a Gay Man.

Thank you for honoring who you are and what you do, and for honoring who I AM and what I do.

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