Monday, December 31, 2007

Mistletoe Madness

In a world bound by tradition …

Where beauty is measured in the size of one’s trust fund and plaid rules men’s fashion …

Where outsiders are silently judged and fine dining options are defined by the choice between the grill room and the dining room …

It is a world few can infiltrate, and even fewer escape. It is up to one man to enter and return to tell the tale.

This is the story of that man.

OK, hi, melodrama, but I did recently have an exciting and adventurous foray into the heart of old Grosse Pointe.

"Mistletoe Magic" is a formal holiday party held at the old money
Country Club of Detroit in Grosse Pointe Farms. It’s a highly anticipated annual event that draws primarily Grosse Pointe twenty-somethings for an evening of preppy holiday cheer, and by that I mean booze (Grosse Pointers love their hooch). I was invited by a new friend, whom we’ll call Trip. He’s been a really good sport about being dragged to events all over downtown lately, so I could hardly decline his gracious invitation (despite my concerns about being an outlier on the demographic bell curve of the evening).

Full disclosure: I was raised in Grosse Pointe, and while not necessarily to the manor born, I concede I bought into the preppy thing back in the eighties (hey, who didn’t?). I even took
The Preppy Handbook seriously for a few years in my youth, parody being a little beyond me at age 13. By the time I graduated from high school, however, I was ready to head to the east coast seeking places with urban character and an environment where I could come out of the closet and be part of a gay community. (I suppose in fairness I should note that I was fleeing Michigan in general as much as GP, but GP was home). Grosse Pointe had come to represent an inward-looking, insular place to me, and I was looking for a more cosmopolitan and diverse world.

In recent years I’ve mellowed on my aversion to Grosse Pointe. I like how GP’ers tend to have a connection to downtown Detroit and aren’t afraid to drive in for social, professional and cultural events. And now that I’m older and I’ve got friends with children, it’s turned out to be the landing spot for some awesome people who grew up there, moved on to live the world, and have returned to roost. But it is still a very unique and, sure, strange place at times. As was evidenced by this party.

Next to the ivy under that tree to the left is a good spot to make out.
The Country Club of Detroit has a beautiful rambling English estate-style clubhouse, and the party took over the entire place. Most guests were GP kids in their twenties, with a smattering of parental types operating as, I am assuming, chaperones (the parent aspect being a very effective tool in a town where everyone grew up together).

It was actually just like every movie you’ve seen about privileged youth, but not in a creepy “
Less Than Zero” way and more in a benign “Pretty in Pink” way. You could not have made up the fashions, which were of course tuxedos for boys and eveningwear for girls.

The young women of GP have their own style, less influenced by contemporary fashion than you might expect, certainly somewhat conservative, but really fun in its quirky way. While most were able to pull it together, there was a somewhat chronic problem of shoes not working with the dresses. But what GP really needs is someone to come in and educate on hair and makeup – it doesn’t need to be Birmingham glam, but the concept of layering could revolutionize the overall aesthetic of Grosse Pointe. This is a problem that transcends generational boundaries, by the way.

Speaking of, it was the gentlemen of the older generations who really stepped out with the preppy formalwear. Holiday plaids and cardinal red were in fine form on the males who weren’t necessarily looking to score that night.

No cell phones allowed so I had to sneak these pics.

Once I got over the bizarre feeling of being in a movie - the live band, early 20th century clubhouse and kids in formalwear combo really driving that one home - the party was awesome. Trip’s friends are really fun, plus you know, give me a few cocktails and I can have a good time at the bus station.

I have no idea how many other gay people might have been there (ok, I know of one because he grabbed Trip's ass). Truth be told, GP guys can be a little effete. It’s just the way they’re raised. Tennis, yachting and golf are all acceptable sports for teenage boys, so there is less of that macho bullshit that gets bandied about by traditional sporties. And if you decide to avoid sports altogether, there’s really no stigma. Bust out with theater or chorale, you can still go to the cool parties. It’s really quite nice, although probably a big reason the Grosse Pointe Gay phenomenon goes relatively unquestioned.

So obviously Trip and I had a hassle-free evening, and even managed to sneak off for a little making out. Although come to think of it, even if someone had a problem with the gays they wouldn’t make a big deal of it to our face – it’s just not the Grosse Pointe way.

GP is probably not an acceptable landing spot for a fully-actualized gay man in the new millennium - it’s just a little too much about living a very specific lifestyle (and thanks, but I’m busy with the one I’ve already got). It sure is nice for a visit, though. It’s pretty. Everyone is fun and likes to booze. And sometimes you can score with your friend’s dad.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Christmas Edit

If you've checked out the Supergay Christmas Spectacular you may be interested to know that I've added a clip to it ... Evie Harris and a fucked fucked fucked fucked up Christmas tale. I couldn't find it in time to include with version 1.0, but it's there now. I'm a revisionist.

If you haven't checked out the Supergay Christmas Spectacular, what are you waiting for?

(Buffy fans will appreciate a very cute & gay Tom Lenk in a supporting role.)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Broke, Ugly, Dumb

I'm in San Francisco for Christmas and the New Year. It's a real Supergay Road Trip!

Walking down from my friends' house to the Castro this morning I passed a guy huddled up in a doorwell (it's cold and rainy) with a hand-made cardboard sign that said "Broke, Ugly, Dumb - every little bit helps" It was the first thing I've seen that reminded me of Detroit, because God knows you get enough stupid begging lines downtown (and enough stupid people giving people money because "that line is great!").

I love SF and frankly, I can't believe I don't live here. As much as I like Detroit, SF is pretty much everything I want in a city, at least on paper. Every time I visit I've pretty much chained myself to a lamp post by the second or third day, just so I won't have to leave. Surprising even me, however, was my reaction to being here this time around. This time, it's still really great, but it's really easy to talk to people who say "you need to move here!" and tell them I genuinely enjoy living in Detroit.

While San Fran has more stuff going on, has more gay people than is almost conceivable, has better shopping, has a ton of natural beauty, is navigable without a car, has amazing restaurants, is deliciously liberal and is the soul of the gay community in this country ... I still am digging the people, places and possibilities in Detroit, now matter how broke, ugly or dumb it may be.

The view's pretty good though.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Vocab Lesson: Grosse Pointe Gay

I've got a couple of Grosse Pointe-related posts coming up, so a quick vocabulary lesson is in order as preparation.

Since moving back to Detroit and socializing in primarily heterosexual circles, a phenomenon I'd thought had long died out has been discovered thriving in the wild. It is the gay man who is married (to a woman), often has children, and lives his life in heterosexual society as a heterosexual family man. The kicker is that it is usually obvious to all but the most oblivious observer that this man is gay - but nobody talks about it. Due it's prevalence in a certain tony Detroit suburb, this is something we have come to term the "Grosse Pointe Gay."

"Hey buddy! How's it goin'?"

Now I know you are saying to me "big fucking deal, that happens all the time." Well, perhaps. But I'm not talking about my parents' generation, where guys were coming of age when the options for gay life were decidedly more ... frightening? When public acceptance of gays was minimal to non-existent. This is not a (pick a Republican closet case) type of story.

I'm talking about guys my age, maybe a little older, who apparently never had the good sense to get away for a while and figure things out, and instead are spending their lives living someone else's expectations. And kids, Grosse Pointe is FULL of them.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Supergay Christmas Spectacular

Thanks to YouTube, I can now make my own Christmas special right here in the comfort of my own home. So without further ado, I present the Supergay Christmas Spectacular!

Hosted by:
Evie Harris!

Featuring the musical multitalents of the
Sweeney Sisters!

With special guests the Ambiguously Gay Duo!

Take a walk down gay memory lane to a simpler time, when television had no production values, with Sonny & Cher, babydyke Chastity, and Bernadette Peters (with very special guests Shields and Yarnell thrown in for extra camp value!)

And featuring special gay musical guest Bearforce1, the world's first "bearband!"

All of this is brought to you by our sponsor, Marks & Spencer, who know how to create a truly fabulous department store Christmas commercial.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2007

I don't have the answers, but I have better questions

Detroit Renaissance is in the midst of a study to form a development strategy for the Greater Downtown Woodward Corridor, an area they are calling the "Creative Corridor."

As a result of my part-time job being the sole voice of reason in this town, I was asked to participate in a "visioning session" to bring varying viewpoints to the table when shaping this Creative Corridor strategy. It was about 25-30 participants, had a realllllllly consultanty structure and forced casual-ness (like, Dockers and Coogi sweaters on tan white guys), and asked people to identify things such as "what is important to the creative class?"

You are probably as tired as I am of hearing about the Creative Class being the savior of cities, and (a) all this energy being spent redefining the category of creative jobs to include things such as accountant, secretary and janitor, and (b) people who clearly should have nothing to do with the world "cool" developing policies and plans to create "
Cool Cities" here in Michigan. First of all, if you redefine creative jobs to include the people you already have then you really don't need to attract new people, right? And secondly, asking people who live in suburbia to define what makes a city great is kind of what got us into this mess in the first place.

Well, whatever, it was an interesting group. The thing is, it's really hard to condemn a bunch of people who actually have influence and read the New York Times with the intention of making Detroit a more successful place. On the other hand, it's really hard to listen to people who so don't get it talk about what Detroit should be.

The issues raised that day read like an editorial page from Dwell magazine: we need sustainability, we need public transportation, we need to have creative workplaces, we need family-friendly areas ...

For me the irritation really came to a head when I was talking with a couple people during a "breakout session" and the family issue came up again. Someone said "we need to look at why young families won't stay in the city." To which I replied, "No, forget families. What you need to look at is why gay people aren't coming into the city."

Predictably, blank stares ensued.

Quite frankly, Michigan's gay community is pretty lame in this regard. In any other major city the gay community is creating change, pushing things forward. In Chicago the gay bars in Boystown were among the first to ban smoking in an effort to bolster the city's proposed non-smoking ordinance. The gay healthcare community has not only taken care of its own, but they've developed community health infrastructure that takes care of all people. The mayor of that city stood up in front of 50,000 gays and lesbians at the opening ceremonies of the Gay Games last year and thanked the gay community for being on the forefront of every quality of life issue in the city.

Here, we have a great microcosm of a gay community in Ferndale. That is a place that gets it in pretty much every way, but it's disproportionately small compared to the gay population in SE Michigan, and it lacks the vibrancy a true urban gay neighborhood can have..

When I sit through a meeting like this, full of incredibly well-intentioned people where only a fraction have a clue, it makes me a little concerned. The up-side is that Detroit Renaissance is involved, and the City (specifically, I mean Kwame and George Jackson of DEGC) might listen to them instead of having a homophobic reaction to Richard Florida and his Creative Class argument (and don't be naive and think the powers that be in this city didn't have an aneurysm over the argument that a vibrant gay community is a hallmark of every successful city). The downside is, well, the evolution of Detroit should be organic. It's so brilliant down here, despite the negatives, I absolutely hate to see people look to places like Royal Oak for inspiration on what the city needs.

Two things that could make a big difference are (a) Detroit switches to a ward system for City Council from the current at-large system, where council representation is based on a geographic area, and (b) gay people decide to congregate in a certain area. It's not about being a ghetto, it's about consolidating power and visibility. It's why Ferndale works, and it would be a way for the change to happen from the ground up instead of needing "visioning sessions" to create a blueprint for creativity.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Supergay Meets Girl-in-the-D

Well kids, it was bound to happen someday, but I suppose you are never really ready.

Regular readers of this blog know I've had a little fun turning the
Girl-in-the-D blog into my fake arch-nemesis, primarily around the issue of winning the Metro Times "Best Pop Culture Blog" this fall (I do have to admit, that is still one of my all-time favorite Supergay graphics). It's really a tale as old as time: girl writes blog, girl wins award, aspirational faggot moves in and snatches her weave.

Well, it's the season for holiday parties. Every fucking night. If you don't have this happening to you, it's like 70% great and 30% annoying. But it does involve a lot of free food and booze, and generally you get to see some of the same friends you see out and about (and inevitably one random guy with whom you attended high school) so you know I'm there.

This was a lovely party high up in one of Detroit's gorgeous art deco skyscrapers, thrown by some great folks involved with development in Detroit who, more importantly, are acquainted with the art of gracious entertaining. It was a veritable who’s-who of the Detroit development world, as well as a who’s-who of my Detroit social life (not that the two necessarily overlap), and I mixed and mingled with a jinglin’ beat over vodka tonics and prosciutto-wrapped asparagus.

It was later in the evening as I glided through the crowd that I ran into the handsome husband of Girl-in-the-D, whom I’ve met several times before around town. We exchanged salutations, chatted briefly, and then he uttered those fateful words, “Have you met my wife?”

Well, actually, no.

I feel like I get around town a lot, so it was weird to me that I’d never met her before, especially considering the facts that she writes about goings-on and development in Detroit on her blog AND that half the people I know have met her. So it was with great curiosity that I was ushered over for my introduction.

She is, as you might expect, lovely, and the most concise way I can describe her to you is to say essentially I met Charlotte York from Sex and the City. You can totally not tell that she is from Sterling Heights. Mr. In-The-D introduced me using my civilian identity.

I said, “Nice to meet you!”

She said, “You stole my title.”

Cut to: two cars collide in an intersection
Cut to: a woman screams
Cut to: the World Trade Center collapses
Cut to: Oprah drops her china
Cut to: Supergay slowly shrugs.

Well so much for a fucking secret identity.

So I stood there in my Burberry, and she stood there in her, well, probably Burberry, and a blogger’s chat ensued. I confessed that I forced everyone I know to vote for me. She confided that she had no idea about the award until three days after she won (bam!). We talked about whether or not Metro Times issues award certificates. She told me she won the Ambassador magazine award for best blog this year and she actually got a trophy (pow!). We talked about her freelance work. I talked about my work. She said she hoped to patronize my place of employment someday, possibly when someone she actually likes draws her there (zing!). I am paraphrasing.

There was no overt hostility, and given the fact that I’ve been somewhat vocal with my thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of her blog, I wasn’t really bothered that by the time our five minute conversation was ending she was looking around the room for someone else to talk to. I’ll let you be the judge of whether or not that blog works for you, but the fact of the matter is that I was very probably out-classed that night. There’s no blogger out there vying for my title that I know of, but if there is, I would hope I could be as Charlotte-like as Girl-in-the-D was.

Unless he were hot, then I would hope to be as Samantha-like as possible.
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