Son of a beach

A family vacation proves unexpectedly gay as Myrtle Beach, S.C., gets Pride

RAINBOW TOUR | Nearly 200 beachcombers — including the author (dark green, just right of center) — stepped away from the surf and gathered in a field to form a human rainbow flag.

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

The trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., had more to do with a family reunion than finding a good destination for gay travelers. After all, Myrtle Beach is a pretty lazy, conservative town in the perennial Red State, one where teenaged spring breakers and families gather to enjoy the warm surf and the resort-town appeal of seafood and beachcombing and overpriced cocktails. Queer travelers can hit one of the three gay bars, all within blocks of each other — Club Traxx, Time Out! and the Rainbow House (a lesbian club).

But the weekend I arrived , just by coincidence, it turned out to be Gay Pride.

Keep in mind, the gay community in Myrtle Beach is small, so “Gay Days,” plural, felt more like Gay Day, singular: One major event and then life as usual in Coastal Carolina.

The major event, though, was an ambitious one: Gathering members of the LGBT community and their allies to form a “human rainbow flag:” People signed up to wear a pastel-colored T-shirt and arrange themselves in the traditional configuration. A few others wore black, forming the flagpole.

The entire event was threatened by showers late Friday and early Saturday, but despite a slightly muddy field, nearly 200 people turned out, huddled closely on a muggy afternoon, while a photographer flew above in a helicopter.

Numbers weren’t uniform; there were too many reds and too few purples; but the effect was one of a flag waving in the breeze.

In order to do the shoot, members faced each other before bending forward to allow the broad field of their shirts to form the colors. Directly across from me stood Elke Kennedy, a resident of Greenville in the Upstate. Elke and her husband established SeansLastWish.org, raising awareness of anti-gay violence, after their gay son was beaten to death and his killer spent less than a year in jail.

Elke spoke at a rally following the photoshoot, and dozens in attendance listened to her recount her  son’s harrowing attack and death before two drag queens performed and a DJ spun dance hits. People started to file out after a while, off to the beach, or the clubs, or even the boardwalk, where the Texas Star-like Skywheel gives great views of the beach … and sits next door to the campily named souvenir shop the Gay Dolphin.

The latter was always may favorite place when I was growing up; you’d think my parents would have caught on sooner.

Click here for additional photos.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

British Foreign Secretary William Hague’s Overreaction Only Proves His Gay Sex Scandal Is True

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Barbara Ellen, for guardian.co.uk on Saturday 4th September 2010 23.07 UTC

What a shame that William Hague decided to handle the internet rumours in such a pompous, heavy-handed manner. It doesn't matter that the rumours have been following him since Oxford University: who, these days, would be so silly and thin-skinned as to be genuinely upset by a gay smear? Or so naive as to admit they are?

Making the underqualified Christopher Myers his aide is one thing, but the pair sharing a hotel room could have been handled easily and lightly – Hague joking that he's a Yorkshireman, too tight to pay for two rooms. As for the "True Bromance" pictures of them walking along the street in sunglasses, Hague in a baseball cap and tucked-in top, Alastair Campbell observed drily: "Most politicians are poor at casual clothes." An understatement, but there was no real harm in the photo. It was just so hilariously camp.

Dining with a friend, I was told how she'd once spotted Andy Bell, the fabulous singer from Erasure, on New York's Gay Street, wearing a bum-bag. She mentally filed it away as the campest thing she'd ever seen. "But the Hague photo is camper!" Crucially, neither of us thought any of this (funny photos, ill-judged room sharing) had anything to do with Hague being homosexual. Why, then, did Hague feel compelled to react in such a po-faced, dramatic way?

Hague should have laughed it off. Sure, there's the whiff of gay Salem around Westminster at times. Right now, we seem to be tripping over politicians coming out or having dramas about their sexuality. However, these people are gay. Merely being accused of being gay isn't the same thing. In fact, it appears to be practically a blooding for a certain stripe of workaholic politician, part of the Westminster territory.

For Hague suddenly to barge around, making public statements, dragging his wife Ffion's miscarriages into it, hints at a worrying dearth of emotional intelligence. Miscarriages are incredibly sad, but they aren't proof of a man's sexuality. Nor is having children, nor is even a 20-year marriage, as Crispin Blunt recently demonstrated.

However, that's beside the point. Hague seems to be a decent man and an experienced international statesman. Why, then, would he embark on a course of action that sends out the toxic message that, if it is not actually shameful to be gay, it is an outright insult to be accused of it?

This is what Hague has done and, in a way, that presumes politicians are uniquely targeted. Far from it. Even at my low level, I regularly receive missives from people asking charmingly, and sometimes not so charmingly, whether I might secretly be one for the ladies. It's inaccurate; I sometimes feel that I should be checking my desk diary in case I did black out and spend a month or so dating Ellen DeGeneres. However, it's not remotely distressing or insulting.

Irrelevant? I've not been splashed all over the papers, nor whispered about for years. No, but others have. Take That's new video for "Shame" features Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow parodying the gay movie Brokeback Mountain, making light of the homosexual rumours that have followed the band since the start of their career. Surely if fluffy boyband members can cope with elegance and humour with this kind of thing, a foreign secretary should have breezed it.

This is the point. If Hague can't cope with bromance rumours, however incessant and irritating, then how can we trust him with issues that really matter, such as Afghanistan or Iran? Arguably, all this pouting and stropping has made Hague seem a million times camper. However, none of us has any right to care a damn whether William Hague is gay or straight. What is significant, and troubling, is that our foreign secretary dealt with gay rumours markedly less maturely than a boyband.

The last word isn't always worth it

The case of Californian GP Jacquelyn Kotarac is tragic. Trying to get into her on-off boyfriend's bungalow to confront him over relationship issues, Kotarac didn't realise he had slipped out of the back door to go on a business trip. She climbed on to the roof and into the chimney, getting stuck and suffocating, with her body being discovered several days later. That must have been some conversation Kotarac was determined to have and I, for one, can empathise.

I've been known to go to startling lengths to have my say or get the last word. These have included the "Follow man into street ranting" manoeuvre, the "Stand outside locked bathroom door, repeating yourself" tactic and the "Maximum embarrassment public ambush" gambit. More recently, experts in the field have had great results with the "And another thing" email blitz (with text option).

Men do this, too, but women are better at it. A friend once left gouge marks on a door frame, so determined was she to stand her ground and "unburden herself".

In my youth, when I had what might be termed a lively personality, I once thought it reasonable to run beside a moving train, half-hanging on to a window, "pointing something out".

Admittedly, this could be a fault line of mine, which some may say has contributed to me ending up in a job which could be unkindly yet accurately described as being gobby.

Still, extreme as Kotarac's case was, how human was the compulsion that led to her death. "The last word" is one of the holy grails of relationships, oft sought, but rarely found.

I'm devastated that this poor woman ended up clambering down a chimney because of her desperation to make a point, but a part of me understands.

Will it be Chiles play for these cereal seducers?

So GMTV is no more. Goodbye sweet, strange sofa-people and your touching interest in amusing pet photos, the health of the prostate, and five-year-olds with A-levels. From tomorrow, we have Daybreak, with main presenters Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley, and their much-vaunted "chemistry", which is telly-speak for: "Do they fancy the pants off each other?" Or in this case: "Does that poor sod still fancy her?" It's a chance to munch cornflakes and wonder if more than affection flutters in Chiles's tortured breast for Frank Lampard's girlfriend. Or not.

I couldn't care less about their chemistry. Nor do I have any animosity towards Chiles or Bleakley, though one can see why some might have become irritated. What a huge smarmy luvvie fuss they made of all of this. Conjoined twins could have been successfully separated with less drama than these two, um, leaving one television channel for another.

Certainly, they have played a blinder, going from quite-liked screen couple to greedy, overpaid, overrated idiots everyone hates, within just a few short months. Jonathan Ross will be furious – it took him years to achieve that.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

EARLIER:
How William Hague's Totally-Not-Gay Sex Scandal Is Ruining Cronyism For All Of Britain


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—  John Wright