Sunday, January 30, 2011

Southern Presbyterian Sissy


So last night Derek and I went to see Del Shores' play "Southern Baptist Sissies" in Charlotte NC. For the uninitiated Shores is the creative force behind the brilliant play now cult hit film "Sordid Lives." If you haven't seen Sordid Lives I urge you to go immediately to Netflix and put it in your que. In any event most of his work centers around the fact he was raised Southern Baptist in rural Texas and is also gay. AKA...the perfect candidate for therapy.

In "Sordid Lives" the plot focuses on one family and their struggles with issues revolving around sexuality, secrets, and old time religion. All of which is handled with a razor wit and a heart, appropriately, the size of Texas. "Sissies" has not made it to the silver screen yet but it should. It pans out the focus from a single family to four young gay men, all from different families, and their varying experiences. It beautifully illustrates the pain and difficulty that is growing up gay in the big ole rodeo buckle of the bible belt known as the Southern Baptist Church.

Having not been raised in a consistent church setting, other than our occasional visits to the First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, I thought I would have a hard time relating to this show. Imagine my surprise when I was laughing out loud at the jokes and sobbing like a baby at the tragedies. My point is that even for us sissies that aren't Southern Baptist we feel the impact of all that hate. As one of the characters pointed out we all learned at a young age to hate ourselves, or perhaps to be fair we just never learned how to love ourselves for who we are.

Most of us relied on what social science buffs call the family of "choice" to learn how to love ourselves. Essentially a surrogate family that loves us for who we are. You see we humans are social creatures and will seek out a support system to make us feel safe and validated. The unfortunate thing is that often our new "family" is made up of peers or persons that are not that much older or more mature than we are. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how that might not end well. I for one am thankful that I chose well in my family of choice and that my family of origin came around. But it was a long and difficult journey. Shores play did a fantastic job of illustrating that journey.

The show presents an intense example of four caricatures that exist within all gay men in some measure or another. The flamboyant devil may care queen, the self loathing conservative perfectionist, the angry and indignant activist, and the one that many gay men hide with vitriol and cattiness, the sweet and gentle kind spirit. We learned a long time ago to don our own suits of armor, mine consisted of sequins and grease paint, others might be their perceived or actual success, while some, like one character, the illusion of his own superiority in matters of faith and virtue. Faced with a society and many time a church and family, that invalidates our very existence it is not surprising that most gay men are seeking ways to feel a sense of self worth. I just happened to find mine riding on what my dear friend and I call the "Glitter Bus."

I have since graduated from the spinning disco ball and disembarked from the Glitter Bus but they still haunt me. The idea of a young LGBT person spending their lives at the local gay bar at the bottom of a glass because, "it feels safe." That same young person that one day will grow up to be tomorrows "old troll" hanging on the edge of the bar desperately trying to relive their youth. After all in a gay bar the only thing worse than being fat, is old. An escape is just what it says it is and it can never offer true happiness or validation, that must come from within. It was these realizations that were my own personal impetus to radically change my life, not that I don't miss the escape, I just thankfully no longer "need" it.

So many young people have lost their lives ultimately to fear, of the world, of their families, and most tragically, success. "Sissies" has renewed my passion and fire to serve LGBT youth and their families, and I encourage anyone who wishes to have a greater understanding of the struggle that comes along with being gay to go and see this show. A percentage of the proceeds also goes to benefit the Trevor Project a national suicide support phone line for LGBT youth.

Tickets are available here:

Go and see it! If your not gay, a brother, sister, cousin, or roommate will be thankful :-)

Be blessed and highly flavored,


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sh*& your dad FORGOT to say....

So I just turned 34.....not old or even middle aged. As a matter of fact I am still often referred to as a "baby" or in the southern vernacular "youngin." Be it vanity or delusion I have always had a bit of a Peter Pan complex and walked around espousing crap like "you are only as old as you feel" and "age is nothing but a number." So imagine my dismay, nay, horror when my first physical after four years doesn't go exactly as planned.

This brings me to the title of this entry, there are crucial things that older men, typically dads or uncles, REALLY should discuss as rites of passage with younger men. I know for a fact that within the female gender conversations about medical procedures and what can be expected are common and frequent. Now perhaps it is the nature of the thing, I mean there was an episode of Family Guy devoted to it's creepiness. Or it could be linked to societies internalized homophobia, or it could be that it produces too great a punch line at family functions to be discussed in great detail before it happens. Nonetheless guys are not getting the courtesy of the "warning" ladies get about pap smears and breast smashing.

I am of course talking about a prostate exam. There I was minding my own business coughing as expected when my Dr. instructs me to turn around and grab the chair. My first thought was "shouldn't I get dinner and a movie first?" That of course is the born and bred smart ass in me who in general is not freaked out by such things. But seriously....I had NO idea that this should have been expected! I can only imagine the reaction my kind Dr. might receive from some of the less cultured citizens of Catawba County. Suddenly Peter Griffins intense reaction makes sense.

So at 34 I come face to face with the fact I am getting older. My body not only doesn't function the way it once did but I am taking my first steps towards the endless list of things we all must eventually do to take care of our bodies. No big woo I think, as a matter of fact it's a badge of honor...I joke with Derek and my dad about it, lots of good natured elbowing. Then I get the phone call for my labs.....CRAP I have high cholesterol. GREAT now it really sinks in, you mean eating fast food every day, smoking, and drinking has suddenly caught up with me?! Say it ain't so.

Now it's not terrible and is easily fixed by diet and exercise, but for the first time in my life diet and exercise are a have to instead of an ideal. Let me explain, I think about my body in a more, shall we say, feminine manner. Crash dieting, ridiculous expectations, all or nothing fitness goals that typically end in tears and Ben and Jerry's. All with the very real hope and intention that I will fit back into those Lucky Brand Jeans.....sound familiar? So now I am faced with the OK I HAVE to eat better and get moving for my health. Again I come back to my title.....where is the sage advice for men as their bodies change along with their capabilities to render piles of junk food harmless?

I suppose I should find solace in the encouragement to drink red wine and the well intentioned....once you get used to eating healthy you'll LOVE it! Uh huh, so that's why the most successful businesses in this country are purveyors of grease and all things deep fried and smothered in chocolate. But I digress...within the stages of grief the first is denial. So as I grieve my BoJangles chicken supreme combo with extra seasoning on the fries and of course a Diet Coke, I am holding on to denial.

Denial that I will have to eat things like vegetables and all manner of things broiled and grilled. Denial that my exercise will have to comprise more than lifting the remote. Denial that my belt has been getting tighter since I quit smoking and began eating like I had a tapeworm. Denial that, fortunately my friends, is short lived as I have joined a gym, bought some healthy crap, and by telling Derek the "good news," ensured I will be appropriately nagged at every convenient possibility. Rest assured all well be well, as long as I have a boxing bag somewhere convenient and all of you to listen to me bitch.

I tell ya if I'm ever a dad and I have a son not only is he getting a detailed talk, he's getting a whole freaking lecture by like age 9.

Eat some bacon cheese fries for me y'all


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hickorylicious the perfect smokey eye!

We live in the South and let's face it the higher the hair the closer to God and nice girls aren't "forward" as my grandmother would say. So how is a girl sexy? She beats those eyes until they beg for mercy!

Nothing says "I will have you eating out of the palm of my hand" quite like the perfect smokey eye. Women and 1 in ten men have all worn this look to feel sexy, smoldering, and even feral. So enjoy my version of the perfect smokey eye....Hickorylicious!

Disclaimer: Using my camera phone to photograph myself in these pictures WHILE holding up the brushes, in the appropriate positions, was incredibly entertaining for both Derek and my cats. However it did not make for the best quality photos. My hope is that you will excuse the graininess, the inconsistent lighting, and my wolf man eyebrows and walk away able to recreate this look....with better eyebrows :-)

Disclaimer part two: whenever doing a look that is this dark or dramatic always do your eyes before foundation and concealer to prevent shadow fallout and the raccoon/junkie look.

Using your finger apply a thin coat of your favorite shadow base. My choice is the MAC Paint Pot in Painterly. I like this one because it has no shimmer and it's a great skin tone shade as you can see. Apply the base from lash to brow as well as under the lower lash line all the way to the tear duct.

Using a rounded synthetic brush, this one came from a Lancome GWP, apply a grey cream shadow base in the crease as well us underneath the lower lash line to just below the iris when looking forward. This is a Prescriptives one called Smoking Gun. Since they have shuttered their doors I would recommend Dangerous Cuvee from the new MAC collection Champale.

Using a small natural fiber round brush (MAC 224) blend a black eyeshadow into the corner and about a 1/2 inch into the lower lashline. Here I am using MAC's Matte Black Pigment and a NARS brush, it does not have to be well blended at this point as you will see in the following steps.

Using a countour brush, the MAC 217 would be ideal, blend a shimmery grey brown into the crease as well as under the eye. This will blend out the black previously applied giving the coveted "airbrushed look." The color I used was Plum Smoke by Prescriptives but I would reccomend Satin Taupe by MAC.

Using a synthetic flat brush much like the MAC 242 blend a white cream base on the lid and tear duct area. I am using the MAC White Cream Base.

Using the same MAC 242 brush pack a luminous or frosty light shadow across the lid and tear duct. Here I used Vellum by MAC. It's a satin white with a violet duocrome...PRETTY!

Using a large shadow brush, (MAC 227), blend a vivid pink from the corner of the eye towards the center. I used the Presriptives soft shadow brush and Sugarpill's Dollipop. I also blended a tiny bit of the pink right under the iris when looking forward. As an aside if you have not discovered this brand run don't walk to Make sure to blend this vivid pink and the Vellum in the center.

Using a flat natural or synthetic brush (MAC 249) apply a matte white under the brow, I used Sugarpill's Tako. I also added a teeny bit of Vellum, the color on the lid, at the highest point of the arch.

Line in the lashline with your favorite black kohl liner, I used Jet by Prescriptives, then blend a black shadow into the liner with a pencil brush (MAC 219). I used MAC Black Tied shadow because it has a silver glitter in it and I thought it would be pretty but do what you feel!

Using a thin flat lining brush (MAC 212) and a black gel liner tight line your eyes. This is a technique that their are many tutorials for online whereby you line the waterline on the top and bottom of the eyes into the lashes. This achieves the "smolder" of the smokey eye. Several companies make lovely gel liners that are waterproof, MAC, Bobbie Brown, and Clinique to name a few.

Finish off your look with your favorite mascara (LANCOME) and fill in your brows however you like. I used a combination of pencil and powder here...and voila you are HICKORYLICIOUS!

Post in the comments tutorial ideas or themes you would like to see!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Up in smoke.....

So as of today I WAS a smoker, by virtue of the fact I have not had a cigarette in over 24 hours I get to say that. But I suppose I should come clean about something, it's not the first time I jumped off the nicotine bandwagon. I had quit for two years after smoking for ten but thanks to my poor anxiety coping skills.....or just my incredible talent at justifying behavior that is bad for me....I picked them back up a year and a half ago. But now grad school is over, student loans are coming due, and I aint getting any younger.

The question that always begs an answer from my non smoker friends is why did you start back? Why do you smoke? Or just the plain old beyond know those things will kill you, no shit Sherlock. So I will let you in on a little secret, I really loved smoking. Maybe it's because I wasn't breast fed, maybe there is some smoker gene, maybe it made a dork like me feel cool. Whatever the reason I enjoyed it and whenever I said I can't quit...I really meant I didn't want to. Such is the reality of any addiction and yes TV, food, and shopping can be an addiction.

So this brings me back to why I am quitting.

Well frankly it's just the smart, grown up, wise, you are supposed to model positive life choices as a counselor thing to do. In other words if I could afford it and thought I could do it without society having a hissy I probably would still be smoking. Does that say something negative about my character? Of course not, on the contrary honesty is a virtue thank you. It does however say something about the power and romance of being a smoker. It is an archetype that is etched in our collective unconscious that even today in some way equals "cool."

This archetype lures people of all walks and experiences with it's seductive, "you'll be cool and stinky!" allure. Posting on Facebook about my quitting reminded me that we current and ex smokers are all part of an indelible club that you never smokers just don't understand. Regardless of the smell, cost, or stigma we all LIKED smoking and will probably always in some way mourn the loss of such a "good friend." I am really thankful for the support I received and surprised at the people that where former smokers I didn't know about. Just goes to show even a member of the club is guilty of profiling.

But humor and sarcasm aside I have a grandmother with emphysema and copd who is still smoking, and lost another one to a lung condition. Add to that Derek's grandmother is on oxygen and STILL SMOKES and instant gratification loses a bit of it's luster. It is the reality of life that often causes us to question the things that make us feel good. We see the toll of excess on our elders and it becomes clear, that could be me if I don't make different choices. Please take note of the word different, I hardly think anyone other than the individual involved is in the position to comment on how "good" or "bad" their choices are. So I CHOOSE to be a non smoker today. I hope that I will make that choice for a long time as I am not certain what accessories will match an aluminum tank.

Thank goodness for gum, former smokers, and crappy food.

Soon to be your really fat friend with fresh breath.