Tag Archive | "Atlanta"

Men In (Swim) Suits

By D. David Kinney 

Got your favorite swimsuit picked out for Joining Hearts 27 this weekend? If you’re looking for some divine inspiration we’re taking a look at some of our favorite looks from the Mercedes-Benz Swim Fashion Week in Miami.

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‘Surviving The Silence’

What would you do if your boss told you to fire someone because they were gay?

That’s what Col. Pat Thompson was told to do: preside over the dismissal of Col. Grethe Cammermeyer for being a lesbian. If her name sounds familiar you may have encountered her story in Serving In Silence”. The movie was executive-produced by Barbra Streisand and starred Glenn Close. Thompson faced an impossible choice: she could come out, then two of them would be discharged. Or, she could fulfill her duty in a way that allowed Col. Cammermeyer the best possible defense, even though it might raise suspicion about her own status.

Through “Surviving the Silence: Love and Impossible Choices” – a film-in-production by Atlanta-based, LGBT community leader Cindy L. Abel – Col. Pat Thompson’s story, hidden until now, will be widely told for the first time. In it, Col. Cammermeyer reveals why she considers her a courageous hero, crediting her for contributing to the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Col. Thompson and her wife of 30 years share how they created a home – with a secret passageway between bedrooms in case of overnight guests to whom they weren’t out – and stayed connected using a secret code during tours at the Pentagon or in Panama where phone calls could be tapped.

This heart-wrenching yet empowering film is raising funds on Kickstarter and donations of all sizes are needed and appreciated. For $10, your name will be in the film credits. For $25, you’ll also receive a personal thank-you note from Col. Thompson and Barbara Brass. The more you donate, the bigger the perks. Check out the clip below and decide how you can help share our history and the triumph of love over any obstacle.


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Hey Girl Hey!

Holler Poodles!
Summer is sizzling and so is my ass in this tiny whiteish thong I’m wearing. FENUXE Magazine recently sent me to check out a new amusement park (I think its a rip off but I’m not sure) called 3 Flags Over Here. Located in beautiful downtown Jonesboro, it offers an affordable alternative to Six Flags along with some interesting variations on some well known rides. This particular day they were celebrating their unofficial “Gay Day” called Hey Girl Hey Day.

Since it was hot as hell, I decided a wet ride would be a great way to start the day. Bad idea! Their version of Thunder River called Storm Sewer was horrific. Now any other day of the week if you told me I would be entering a manhole I would be thrilled. Not today , I got stuck trying to enter so my cousin Selma B. Hole had to jump on my shoulders to get me through. We both fell through and landed on an old tire and proceeded through a tunnel. As we began to emerge from the darkness, a beautiful arc of showers greeted our exit from the abyss. We began to scream as I realized it was a latrine and they were relieving themselves on us. I acted like was disgusted! We moved along to the next tunnel through countless feet inches of muck to come out the next manhole covered in gunk. I was relieved there were people showering as I came to the surface and got under the warm shower only to realize there was only an elephant and no outdoor plumbing.

Next, Selma ushered me off to their version of Monster Plantation called “A Wolf in Sheeps Clothing” which was surprisingly entertaining. Throughout the ride, there were scary wolves everywhere trying to take away the rights of citizens. But as we moved through the scene, we could see the faces of notorious politicians that were the actual wolves and the citizens took back their voice and dethroned them. Woo Hoo! Thrilling!

We then ventured to their version of the Flying Dutchman–the ride that’s like a pirate ship on steroids. Because the seats were so small, Selma sat right behind me so we had room to sprawl. Well, unfortunately for her, with each pendulous sway of the ship, my boobs fell out of my tube top and kept hitting her face. Selma had to be rushed to urgent care because she had two black eyes, several concussions and mouth full of f***ed up teeth which she had before but she’s trying to sue the insurance company so don’t say anything!

We’ll go back another day to finish this story. Until then…

Love and Lashes,

Mary Edith Pitts

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A New Queen Is Crowned

By D. David Kinney

Last Friday local drag artists from throughout the Atlanta area came together to compete in FENUXE’s annual Queen of Queens competition. The sheer amount of talent was overwhelming and all of the performers gave incredible performances. The top three performers were selected based on applause and they then competed in the final round for the judges. Ultimately, it was the beautiful Shavonna B. Brooks who was crowned this year’s Queen of Queens. Check out these photos from the fun event held at Burkhart’s Pub.

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Same-Sex Parents Celebrate National Parents Day

By Dustin Shrader

Calling all gay dads! National Parents’ Day, Sunday, July 27th is about to commence. With the growing number of gay-parent households multiplying across the nation, it has become evident that the national holiday does not solely belong to heterosexual parents or even the typical nuclear family.

Based on a 2013 study by The Williams Institute, as many as six million American children and adults have an LGBT parent. Despite lesbian couples heading up a higher number of these households, gay dads are growing more and more with fervor. Two gay dads in particular, Brian Rosenberg and Ferd van Gameren are taking the initiative by storm to celebrate National Parent’s Day along with operating their website Gays With Kids.

Brian and Ferd are the epitome of an inspirational tale. Recently, celebrating their one-year wedding anniversary on June 20th, the day also symbolizes their landmark 21 year feat as a couple. The doting dads are parents to adopted five-year old Levi and almost four-year old twin daughters Ella and Sadie born via surrogacy. Their journey to fatherhood began about five years ago, initially proceeding with plans to adopt. “We felt that there were lots of children out there that needed parents,” Brian explains. However, their journey to parenthood was not without its bumps in the road.

“The adoption process took a long time,” Ferd laments. “With all the paperwork, background checks, courts etc. we realized that adoption might not be the way we would become dads.”

“Which led us to consider other ways to have a child,” interjects Brian. “So we decided to look into surrogacy. We signed the contract and gave the deposit. Unexpectedly three days afterward, we received a call about a little boy who had been born two days earlier up for adoption.”

Patience certainly has its fated rewards, gifting Brian and Ferd with not just one child but three children all within a year and a half span.

Not having any immediate family nearby to partake in the everyday joys, struggles and questions of raising young children, the newfound fathers realized they could not be the only ones in a similar situation. At this revelation, Gays With Kids was conceived.

“The inspiration behind Gays With Kids started after we visited several big retailers, noticing baby products that were mainly directed towards mothers. Products that were labeled ‘Kid tested. Mother approved.’ Seeing that we were the only men in these stores, we decided to go online and look for other gay dads who had run into this problem.”

In heading up Gays With Kids, Brian and Ferd have created an online community full of support and information catering to newly gay fathers, gay men considering becoming fathers or any topic associated with gay men and fatherhood. “We provided the platform and now we have over 20 gay bloggers using the site from all around the globe. We have a team of respected journalists, writers and individuals devoted to keeping the gay dad community updated, while feeling encouraged, inspired and supported in gay dad-hood.”

Not letting stereotypical gender roles factor into raising their children, Brian and Ferd rely solely on their partnership and teamwork. “We depend on each other,” Ferd said. Brian agreed stating that they are the perfect example of the recent study conducted by Australia’s University of Melbourne. The study’s research finds that children of gay and lesbian parents have better health and well-being in relation to their peers originating from heterosexual households. The study also highlights that same-sex parenting roles are based on an emphasis of the individual parent’s skills, while not conforming to the stigma of gender roles.

Currently, Brian’s and Ferd’s focus is the upcoming National Parent’s Day holiday. The two plan to take their adorable brood off to Provincetown Family Week, held July 26th through August 2nd in Provincetown, MA. Family Week is an event founded to provide a fun-filled environment for LGBT families.

“We are thrilled to celebrate with families just like us!” Brian exclaims. “Our lives are awesome. We became dads because we felt we needed to.”
Ferd agrees. “Before we became fathers we led a typical gay lifestyle. Surprisingly, after becoming dads we are the gayest we have ever been. We are both fathers and mothers and we would not have it any other way!”

Brian and Ferd invite everyone to check out Gays With Kids. Affectionately, referring to the site as “The New York Times for Gay Dads” the adoring fathers relay the message that any gay man or couple interested in becoming a parent should. “Gay men can be phenomenal parents.”

Phenomenal they can be indeed.

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Driving To An Island

By D. David Kinney 

No summer could possibly be complete without a trip to the beach, and without a doubt one of the best things about living in Atlanta is being centrally located in the South. So we’re taking a look at some of our favorite sandy island spots that are within driving distance from Atlanta. From the Cape Fear Coast in North Carolina to the sunny and warm beaches of Florida, this list has us ready to pack a bag and hit the highway on a summertime beach getaway.

Tybee Island, Georgia : Drive Time: 4 Hours


Did you know that Tybee Island is the easternmost point in the state of Georgia? This island beach is incredibly popular thanks to its proximity to Savannah and the relatively short drive time from Atlanta. Walking down the beach it isn’t uncommon to see a familiar face here and there. You may even see Paula Deen who owns a house in Tybee that’s available to rent. In fact, renting a house for your stay at Tybee is a great way to experience Georgia island life.

If you want to experience an incredibly fun event on the water check out the Tybee Floatilla “Float for Loggerheads” event on July 20. Tybee Floatilla organizes unique tubing adventures and this special edition benefits the Tybee Marine Science Center. Tubers are shoving off in their floats at 10:30 a.m. and should arrive at The Crab Shack at around 2 p.m. for their return to terra firma.

St. Simons Island, Georgia: Drive Time: 5 Hours


Known as one of the best island beaches in America, St. Simons Island is a peaceful retreat and the perfect weekend getaway. If you’re looking for a world-class experience book a room at The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort. From playing 18 holes on their award-winning par 72 golf course to simply relaxing by the pool, this property has everything you could possibly want during your summer beach trip.

If you’re looking for an adventure head toward Pier Village and Neptune Park near the southern tip of St. Simons Island. You’ll find the island’s beautiful lighthouse that stands at 104 feet tall and was built in 1872. If you hear voices, don’t worry, you’re not going crazy as the lighthouse is reportedly haunted. The story starts with Frederick Osborne who was the lighthouse caretaker in 1880 along with his assistant John Stephens. Together they kept the lighthouse operating 24-hours day and their families even shared the lighthouse keeper’s home. However, two families under one roof rarely goes well. One day Osborne addressed Stephens wife in an inappropriate way and Osborne was shot and killed. Bam! Now it’s haunted. Today you can take a tour of the lighthouse and even climb the stairs to the top. It provides an incredible view.

Amelia Island, Florida: Drive Time: 5 Hours


Head to this beautiful seaport in the northeast coast of Florida for 13-miles of white sand beaches and crystal clear water. If you’re looking for a resort in the area consider the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort. The property recently enjoyed an $85 million facelift and guests are raving about the experience. However, what keeps people coming back to Amelia Island and the Omni year after year is the golf. There are two world-class golf courses located at the hotel. Oak Marsh (designed by Pete Dye) and Ocean Links (designed by Bobby Weed) share a pro shop on-site. Additionally, located just a mile and a half down the road, golfers can enjoy the resort’s members’ course Long Point. Even if you’ve never hit a golf ball in your life you can still get in on the fun. Private instruction is available from the resort’s pro shop and costs $60 per half hour.

After all of that time working on your golf game you’ll inevitably need a little rest and relaxation. So head to the Omni Amelia Island’s full-service spa and salon. From a stylish new hairdo to a rejuvenating massage, they’ll have you feeling good-as-new and possibly wanting to extend your vacation by a few more days.

Kure Beach, North Carolina: Drive Time: 6.5 Hours


This is a classic Carolina beach town nestled on an island near the North and South Carolina border. When you’re planning your trip, skip the hotel search entirely and rent a beachfront home while you’re here. The experience is completely different and really fun if you have multiple people coming along. You can find properties available to rent by reaching out to local real estate agencies. Whether you want to stay a week or just a weekend, odds are you’ll find what you’re looking for here. However, you need to look early. Things book up quickly during the summer months.

Whatever you do don’t miss the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. It isn’t as large as the Georgia Aquarium, but it is definitely worth a visit. The local marine biologists working at the aquarium are incredibly passionate and their aquariums are top-notch. You can even sign up to take a class where experts teach everything from crabbing to caring for sharks.

When you’re ready to bust a move and enjoy a cocktail, follow the local gays into the city of Wilmington and check out the Ibiza Nightclub. It’s always going strong on the weekends and has a fun and diverse crowd. On your way there stop by Fish Bites Fresh Market & Seafood Restaurant for some of the best food in the area. The owner is a local seafood aficionado and only serves freshly caught items. Everything I’ve tried from there has been absolutely incredible.


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Could It Be The Gayest Whopper Ever?

By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

Who would have thought that fast food would become one of the battlegrounds for equal rights? In 2012 Chic-fil-A stirred huge controversy when their CEO voiced his explicit anti-gay views causing both strong protests from the LGBT community and support from like-minded customers who now had a venue where they could display their anti-gay views without speaking a word and get fried chicken at the same time.

Now Burger King has entered the equality battlefield – but with an entirely different message. One of pride, support and equality instead of hate. To celebrate pride month and the San Francisco pride festival Burger King released the Proud Whopper and offered it to it’s customers. In the clip below released by Burger King you can see how people react to being offered to try the new Proud Whopper. Few voice their anti-gay views, others are almost offended, while another poses the (stereotypical) question ‘do gays even eat fast food? Really?!’ But in the spirit of pride most people decide to give the Proud Whopper a go. When people bite into the burger they talk about how it tastes different, is sweeter and better. That’s until the plot lifts and they start reading the inside of the wrapper, which says “We are all the same on the inside”. So really the Proud Whopper is just a regular whopper with a different wrapper. A little boy captures the message both eloquently and to the point by saying: “I think this wrapper means that we all have the same rights.”

When we watched the clip at FENUXE, we really felt like the girl in the video that says: “I’ve never had a burger make me cry before”…

The Proud Whopper along with the rainbow paper crown you also see several people carry in the video clip was only served at one location in San Francisco for a week during the pride festival, but we’re hoping that this ‘whopping proud happening’ will take place at even more pride festival across the country. We want a taste of that proud burger – and one of those rainbow crowns! We say well played, BK! And thanks for providing us with a shiningly positive alternative to that serving of hate from that other place.

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Hey Girl Hey!

Holler Poodles!

I came across this on a friend’s page yesterday and it was just what I needed in the moment. It caught me so off guard in it’s simplicity but spoke directly to my heart.

“Be brave. Even if you’re not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference. Don’t allow the phone to interrupt important moments. It’s there for your convenience, not the callers. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is. Don’t burn bridges. You’ll be surprised how many times you have to cross the same river. Don’t forget, a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated. Don’t major in minor things. Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Helen Keller, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Learn to say no politely and quickly. Don’t use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved. Don’t waste time grieving over past mistakes Learn from them and move on. Every person needs to have their moment in the sun, when they raise their arms in victory, knowing that on this day, at his hour, they were at their very best. Get your priorities straight. No one ever said on his death bed, ‘Gee, if I’d only spent more time at the office’. Give people a second chance, but not a third. Judge your success by the degree that you’re enjoying peace, health and love. Learn to listen. Opportunity sometimes knocks very softly. Leave everything a little better than you found it. Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation. Loosen up. Relax. Except for rare life and death matters, nothing is as important as it first seems. Never cut what can be untied. Never overestimate your power to change others. Never underestimate your power to change yourself. Remember that overnight success usually takes about fifteen years. Remember that winners do what losers don’t want to do. Seek opportunity, not security. A boat in harbor is safe, but in time its bottom will rot out. Spend less time worrying who’s right, more time deciding what’s right. Stop blaming others. Take responsibility for every area of your life. Success is getting what you want. Happiness is liking what you get. The importance of winning is not what we get from it, but what we become because of it. When facing a difficult task, act as though it’s impossible to fail.”

— H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Love and Lashes,

Mary Edith Pitts

If you have any questions, comments or feedback, please contact me at [email protected] or on twitter @maryedithpitts.

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Congratulations To This Year’s FENUXE 15!

By D. David Kinney

Atlanta is a great place for gays to live and work in the South and that’s not by happenstance. Every day thousands of gay Atlantans wake up to pursue their passion for making our home and our world a better place. To recognize the incredible amount of good that our community members do FENUXE created the FENUXE 50 and FENUXE 15 awards. The FENUXE 50 awards honor Atlanta’s favorite gay and gay-friendly businesses, and the FENUXE 15 awards recognize individuals who make a positive contribution to Atlanta’s gay community through their work, volunteerism or art. So we asked our readers to nominate gay Atlantans they felt deserved recognition, and it is our honor to recognize fifteen of these outstanding individuals here as this year’s FENUXE 15. You can also read about the 2014 FENUXE 15 in the digital version of FENUXE here.

WORK – Whether you own a business, manage a store or simply work nine to five, thousands of gay Atlantans are helping make workplaces more gay friendly and helping educate employers on the benefits of equality in the workplace.

VOLUNTEERISM – “It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference,” Tom Brokaw once said. Truer words were never spoken. Atlanta has many wonderful opportunities for people who want to get involved and make a difference – especially right here in the gay community.

ART – Art can do more to change hearts and minds than just about anything. Whether it’s through the poignant words of a film, creative rap lyrics or drag, there are hundreds of Atlanta artists bringing positive exposure to the gay community.

The FENUXE 15 are presented in no particular order. They’re all outstanding and we’re in awe of their accomplishments and passion for our community.

Brian Sharp – Atlanta Police Department:

Brian Sharp is not only a highly respected Senior Police Officer, but he is also the LGBT Liaison for the Atlanta Police Department (and a talented singer, too). “My work allows me to work directly with individuals and organizations to better understand their needs, while offering them a unique link to an often misunderstood profession,” Brian told FENUXE, “I love to go out and talk with people and share my story. It allows us to connect on a more personal level, and people see that police officers are just like everyone else. My partner and I are both officers and we share the same struggles as anyone else, and I think most folks relate to that on some level. At the end of the day, my work allows me to be out and show that it is ok to be who you are no matter what.” Additionally, Brian has developed LGBT training for law enforcement officers while working with the Atlanta Police Department. “I have had the amazing opportunity to share this training not only with our officers and civilian staff, but also with other local law enforcement officers that work with our community here in our great city,” Brian remembered, “To date I have trained officers from several agencies including Spelman College campus police and Georgia Tech campus police.” However, Brian is just getting started. The U.S. Department of State recently asked Brian to travel abroad and share his expertise. “I am traveling to El Salvador June 14 – 21 to train officers from six different countries at the International Law Enforcement Academy,” Brian revealed. “The training will include LGBT sensitivity training, as well as bias and hate crime identification and investigation.”

Randy Prophater – Team Friendly Atlanta:

Randy Prophater is the chair of Team Friendly Atlanta, which is part of the Mr. Friendly movement, where he works to combat the stigma of HIV. In addition to fostering dialogue with community members one-on-one, he also recently organized a town hall meeting at the Phillip Rush Center to discuss pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). When we asked Randy where his passion comes from he replied: “I was once described by a friend as a Crayola Crayons 64-pack. I loved that he was unable to define me with a single word or a single label. Just like that box of crayons, I have a variety of colorful words that describe me. Son, brother and boyfriend. Spiritual, passionate and creative. Recovering Crystal Meth Addict, dyslexic and HIV+. No one single term defines me. Nor should others be defined by just one term, least of all their HIV status. That is why Team Friendly Atlanta is so important to me, I want everyone to be able to be themselves, without any single word, term, or label holding them back from being themself, their whole self. All 64 colors.”

Joey Helton – AID Atlanta:

Joey Helton believes Atlanta’s future is bright and he works hard everyday as the Chief Development Officer at AID Atlanta to make sure it stays that way. “AID Atlanta seeks to expand its target population from HIV positive individuals to also include historically underserved populations, including minorities, youth, low-income individuals and the LGBT community,” Joey detailed to FENUXE when asked about the future of AID Atlanta, “The health condition of the population in metro Atlanta indicates a strong need for primary care and behavioral health services, with a high prevalence of chronic diseases and poor overall health conditions. AID Atlanta is viewed currently as a provider for HIV/AIDS testing, counseling and treatment, and will need to shift perspectives and payer mix to support its new service delivery model.” It’s a big challenge for the organization but it helps motivate Joey. “I love a challenge,” he told FENUXE, “The word ‘no’ is not in my vocabulary. I prefer to hear ‘not know.’”

Brian Isbell – For the Kid in All of Us:

Brian Isbell is known throughout the gay community for his hard work and dedication to For the Kid in All of Us, the organization behind Backpack in the Park and the Toy Party. However, you may not know that he is also the Starbucks corporation’s district lead for community service. In the past three years he and the Starbucks AIDS Walk team have raised for $12,000 for AID Atlanta. “With the current fight for equality it is important that the general public sees the good that the LGBT community is capable of, rather than judging us on the typical gay stereotype,” Brian explained to FENUXE, “For 21 years I trained and showed American Quarter and Paint horses. I was fortunate to win several world and national titles. While exciting and rewarding, at the end of the day all those trophies and titles weren’t making a difference in the world. I knew I wanted to do something that would make a difference in both the gay and straight communities.” As always, Brian was incredibly humble and included: “I have to thank the current and past For the Kid board members and presidents Alex Wan, Frank Bragg, Jorge Esteban, Chris Bess and Alison Hall. I would also like to thank the numerous volunteers that donate their valuable time year after year to help For the Kid achieve its goals. Lastly, I have to thank Kevin for his unconditional love and support.”

Jeff Graham – Georgia Equality:

“I’ve led marches, been arrested, helped win elections, passed legislation on both a state and local level and secured tens of millions of dollars for HIV medications and other services for LGBT folks,” Jeff Graham, a hero in the Georgia gay rights movement, remembered. Yet, despite all of the incredible things he has done for our community he remains incredibly humble and points toward our community’s success instead of his own. “Some of the success that I am most proud of was the opening of the Grady Infectious Disease Clinic on Ponce de Leon, the elimination of the waiting list for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program and the creation of the Phillip Rush Center. None of those was done as an individual but by working closely with others who are just as dedicated to making a difference as I am.” Now that’s truly the hallmark of an inspirational leader! And now more than ever Georgia needs his leadership as LGBT equality takes center stage in the political arena. “When it comes to LGBT equality, there is a tremendous amount of need in our city and in our state. Georgia Equality is in a period of growth. As we are able to expand our staff, we will be in a stronger position to influence policies and laws that will benefit all LGBT Georgians. We’ve developed several very strong collaborative partnerships with both local and national organizations that share our vision of equality. Working together, I see a bright future for Georgia Equality and the community that we serve.”

Rick Westbrook – Lost-N-Found Youth:

Rick Westbrook isn’t a man who minces words. At a community meeting a few years ago he raised the issue of Atlanta’s homeless LGBT youth crisis and declared that something had to be done. Shortly thereafter Lost-N-Found Youth was created and the organization made a promise to our community: “Lost-N-Found has promised the community that we will address the ever growing problem of our homeless youth, and we are stepping up to do that,” Rick told FENUXE. Indeed, they’re tackling the issue head on and have met their initial goals ahead of schedule. As promised we have opened a Youth Center to address the needs of the youth on the street. We have also opened a Thrift Store containing all of the gracious donations given to us that allows us to help fund our programs, and we are in the process of renovating a house at 5th and Juniper that will allow us to increase the services we offer threefold,” Rick detailed. It’s hard work, but Rick is motivated by the positive impact he can have on LGBT youths. “It’s simply mind boggling the amount of youths that need us. My mind says we cannot save them all, but my heart says we are going to try our best. [It’s] the look in the eyes of a youth when the wall breaks down and they realize that our community loves them just the way they are. Then to see the youth actually grow when they are with us and then get their life back,” Rick revealed.

Cindy Abel - Atlantis Moon Productions:

Woven throughout our history there is a rich tradition of storytelling, and despite the endless forms of modern entertainment at our disposal we continue to hold storytellers near and dear to our hearts. Cindy Abel is an Atlanta filmmaker, speaker and writer. Yet, above all, she is a master storyteller. Whether you’re reading her blog on Huffington Post or watching her critically-acclaimed film “Breaking Through” from Atlantis Moon Productions, (a production company she formed to develop projects that “launch conversations and impact popular culture”) it is clear that Cindy has a gift for capturing an audience and she uses her gift to affect positive change for the LGBT community. “I initially taught, then added writing and speaking, then led teams combining words and pictures and now with film, those elements have motion and a soundtrack,” Cindy reflected, “But it’s always been about stories. That’s how many of us learn while also being transported into the world of possibilities. As I look at my life now – filmmaking, speaking and writing – I can see how each step has led me to this place. When a young person whispers to me that “Breaking Through” helped them realize they can be all of who they are and want to be, or an older person sobs that after 53 years of living in shame, he finally gets there’s nothing wrong with him, or a mom in a rural area tells me she now has hope for her son – that’s all the motivation I need.”

Steven Shipp – BB&T:

As a Vice President at BB&T Bank, Steven Shipp understands how important it is for major corporations to understand the needs of the LGBT community. “As our community evolves with more acceptance, LGBT couples are able to get married and that ‘modern family’ grows, the importance of having a partnership with a financial institution is crucial to helping these modern families reach their dreams and goals whether that’s to have children, plan for retirement, or, in some cases, continue to grow their business,” Steven explained, “I love being able to help people and make a positive impact in their lives! When I work with retail and small business clients to help them accomplish their dreams of growing their business, buying a new home, or even something as simple as opening a checking account to manage their money I feel like I am truly helping them reach their dreams and goals as their financial partner. Many small business owners don’t have the time in their day to stop what they are doing and focus on administrative tasks while running a business. Their relationship with their banker and partnering with a bank that understands their needs is essential for their success. My team and I are committed to making this happen in the Atlanta market.”

Michael Shutt – Emory University:

Emory University is a great place to be a LGBT student and Michael Shutt is a major reason why that is true. As the Assistant Dean for Campus Life and the Director of the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Life, Michael has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. “My work is very complex as it straddles a space between being an activist and an administrator in a large organization,” Michael explained, “Both at Emory University and at other institutions of higher education throughout the country, LGBT support services programs continue to evolve into more complex organizations. Most started out as points of crisis and were established to support the problems LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff faced on campus. Today, there are still issues of access, equity and inclusion that must be addressed. We must therefore be engaged in ending injustice on and off our campuses. At the same time, we must utilize the amazing strengths of our community to change the world. For example, I hope the Emory University Office of LGBT Life plays a role in recruiting and retaining the best students, scholars and researchers in the world. This sets us up to cure cancer, eliminate HIV, end violence and create a world where everyone can thrive. This means we must support a fully inclusive, accessible, and equitable environment while building a community that values and affirms everyone. If we can do this, the rest will be easy!” It’s a large undertaking, but if anyone can help Emory realize this progress we’re confident that Michael can. He has an impressive history of successfully helping LGBT students. In fact, in 2005 he helped create the first LGBT center at a public university in Georgia and served as its founding Director while at the University of Georgia.

Dino Thompson-Sarmiento – Spotted Dog Agency:

Whether he’s serving as a Senior Advisor for the GLAAD Leadership Council in Atlanta or as the CEO and co-founder of the Spotted Dog Agency, (a branding, marketing and film production company here in Atlanta) Dino Thompson-Sarmiento is a hard working advocate for the LGBT community. “Atlanta has a rich and important history that reflects humanity’s arduous and challenging growth process,” Dino opined to FENUXE, “Our city embraces change and as difficult and sometimes painful and scary as change can be, Atlanta continues to open doors and take risks for the betterment of our society.” Yet, Dino isn’t someone willing to stand on the sidelines and wait for change to happen slowly. He is determined for his life to have a positive effect on society for the LGBT community: “I’m motivated by how I feel when I go to bed. Did I do my best? Did I help change the world for the better? It’s my legacy. I don’t have children so my impact in the community is what I will leave behind.”

J Tyler – Musician:

Justin Tyler Ellingwood moved to Atlanta just over a year ago, but he has already captured the attention of Atlanta’s gay community through his art. You may know him better by his stage name – J Tyler – Atlanta’s gay rapper. He’s a natural entertainer and performs at different venues throughout the metro area. J Tyler also frequently performs at benefits raising money for LGBT charities and has a loyal gay fan base. However, things weren’t always so easy for the rapper. “A lot of people don’t know that I started from below the bottom and had to work my way to being stable before even thinking about pursuing my dreams,” J Tyler recalled during an interview with FENUXE, “Luckily, I had help getting pulled up to where I was able to get out there and perform. But I was focused on my dream the whole time. And it’s all thanks to people like Brent Star, Monica Van Pelt and Ruby Redd. They’ve given me the opportunity to step into the Atlanta spotlight!” For more information about J Tyler and to hear his music you can check him out on MTV.com and on Soundcloud.

Dr. John Ouderkirk – Piedmont Avenue Health & Wellness:

Dr. John Ouderkirk was born in San Diego, however, he was quickly drawn to the East Coast. First he went to North Carolina where he obtained a degree in psychology. From there he went to Washington, DC where he earned his Doctorate of Medicine and did his residency in internal medicine. And finally he conducted a fellowship in infectious disease medicine in New York City. Dr. Ouderkirk has devoted his life to providing state-of-the-art HIV care and since 2001 he’s been treating Atlantans at Piedmont Avenue Health & Wellness. “My medical office is a safe haven for transgender, gay and lesbian patients,” Dr. Ouderkirk said in response to what excites him about his work specializing in HIV, “I want them to feel at home and not like they’re being judged for who they are. I feel that Atlanta is an oasis in the Southeast where all types of people can come together and get along.” His patients appreciate his medical skill and attention, and the future is bright at Dr. Ouderkirk’s office. “Piedmont Avenue Health & Wellness is growing by leaps and bounds, he explained, “An infusion center is our latest venture. I have a new physician starting next month and hope to expand to three to four physicians in the next year.”

Jerry Henderson – Joining Hearts:

Jerry Henderson first got involved with Joining Hearts after attending one of their events several years ago. Little did he know at the time that he would eventually rise within the organization to become the Director of Marketing for the them today. He remains faithful to the organization because the work hits home for him. “It’s personal to me as I have friends with HIV and I’ve seen their struggles,” Jerry explained to FENUXE, “I knew I had to do something so I started volunteering. Last year, I wanted to take a bigger to role to promote and educate the community and was elected to the Board of Directors by my peers.” In his role as Director of Marketing, Jerry believes he has a clear mandate from the group’s Board of Directors and donors: “We want to build upon the 26 years of Joining Hearts history and to take it to the next level.” In conclusion, Jerry offered a call to action for Atlanta’s gay community: “I challenge the community to get involved and do something to make Atlanta a better place.”

Dr. T. Douglas Gurley – T. Douglas Gurley MD:

When Dr. Gurley began his career he was working for a large HMO here in Atlanta, however, he wasn’t happy with their standards. Between pressuring doctors to spend as little time as possible with patients to the unfriendly and sterile environment, Dr. Gurley knew there was a better way treat patients. So over a decade ago he hung his hat at his own practice specializing in HIV care and his patients couldn’t be happier. The difference is noticeable the moment you walk in the door. Dr. Gurley’s office is peaceful, tasteful and incredibly inviting. “We have a lot of different types of people who come here. It’s not just HIV people,” Dr. Gurley explained during a recent interview with FENUXE, “It’s botox, primary care, etc. I think a lot of people with HIV want to come and experience a warm environment and not feel like they’re visiting an HIV clinic. I don’t want them to be sitting in the lobby and feel like everyone knows they’re HIV. People can be tense or nervous when they’re coming to the doctor and that’s not a good time to interview someone and get their real emotions.” If you are HIV positive finding the right doctor can make all of the difference in the world. So we asked Dr. Gurley what the most important factor is when picking a physician: “I think the main thing is that you have to find a doctor who is educated and will fight for you.”

Angelica D’Paige – Entertainer:

From lighting up stages throughout Atlanta with her signature performances to being crowned the reigning FENUXE Queen of Queens, Angelica D’Paige is a force in Atlanta’s LGBT nightlife scene. We all know she is wickedly talented, however, did you know she frequently uses her talent to raise money for LGBT groups? “When an opportunity to help an LGBT charity presents itself and I’m available I try my best to help out our community,” Angelica told FENUXE during a recent interview, “I’ve done a lot of things for Lost-N-Found Youth, AID Atlanta and even the Armorettes. We work together a whole lot and I work with Ruby Redd every week at Ruby’s Redd LIght District.” In addition to lending her talent to do good, Angelica also promotes community unity. “I truly believe that we have to stick together and work together as a community to make things right,” Angelica commented, “I believe that Atlanta is a family-oriented kind of place. Whether it be a heterosexual family or a gay family, drag family or club family, Atlanta is a family-oriented place. You’re always going to belong somewhere, and you’ll always feel like you belong to something in Atlanta. I think there is a true sense of community wherever you are in Atlanta.”

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Italian Artist Creates ‘River of Love’ During Milan Pride

By D. David Kinney

Thousands of people gathered in Milan this year to celebrate Pride in the Italian capital of fashion, however, it wasn’t the fashion forward looks turning heads at their annual Gay Pride Parade. Local artist Angelo Cruciani organized a flash mob that took over Milan’s streets after the annual parade, and they raised over 15,000 red hearts into the air on cue. It was a powerful statement for equality that both Milan Pride and the City of Milan were happy to see realized.

The flash mob was made possibly by strategic and supportive partnerships between Angelo Cruciani and both Milan Pride and the City of Milan. In fact, it was city officials who first approached Angelo Cruciani with the idea of creating an iconic image supporting gay rights for Milan Pride 2014.


Photos: Manuel Scrima

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