Monday, October 31, 2011

Doggy Style Is Back

Yo guess what?  It's time to start up Doggy Style again.  Yep, now that the blight of baseball crowds is gone we can return to our own weekly takeover of the Park Bar for downtown's only and therefore by default best gay night!

The fifth season kicks off next Tuesday, November 8, around 9 o'clock.  Come and enjoy the music, videos and camaraderie that has given gay doggy style a whole new meaning!

Now very quickly, I need to ask you a favor.  As I've mentioned, Hugh, the pop-up shop I opened back in 2009 and 2010, is in the Hatch Detroit competition, and I could win $50,000 to open the store permanently.  It's big time.  If you could do me a solid and vote for Hugh today, tomorrow and Wednesday I'd be REALLY grateful!

You have to register using your e-mail address, which I know is a tiny pain.  But I'll spend 8 hours a week for the next six months taking care of your gay socializing needs if you'll just spend two minutes a day for three days taking care of my voting needs!  It's a fair trade!  Go here to vote for Hugh!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Out on the Town

There are a couple events in the SE Michigan LGBT community that really should be on your "don't miss" list.  Motor City Pride is a big one, of course, and fortunately you get the rest of the summer off because if you are involved with it in any way you will be exhausted.  Another big one is coming up though, Michigan Equality's State Equality Dinner.

This annual dinner has been going on for some time, and it's a standout.  It brings together so many different people in our LGBT community into one room, it's like a one-stop gay networking shop!  Long-time activists, prominent community members, straight allies and the next generation of leaders all mixing and mingling at a "family" reunion. The evening also recognizes outstanding leaders who have worked hard to advance Michigan's LGBT movement.

This year the State Equality Dinner is a standout because the keynote speaker is Cleve Jones.  If you are an astute film viewer you will recognize the name from the movie Milk, where a young Cleve Jones is shown working with Harvey Milk in the pioneering days of the gay rights movement.  If you are an astute student of LGBT history you will recognize Cleve Jones as the founder of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.

When I was a youngster living in the gay ghetto of Washington, DC, I went to see the Quilt during its display on the National Mall in 1992.  I had maybe a mild interest in gay rights issues at the time, but more concern about HIV/AIDS (this was the pre-drug cocktail days, remember).  But mostly I was a gay kid more preoccupied with decorating my apartment than engaging with the gay community for more than a night at the bar.

My visit to the AIDS Memorial Quilt was an insane eye-opener about the extent to which AIDS was ravaging the gay world, and a huge early lesson about how many straight friends and family also really deeply cared about what was happening. People were mostly silent as they walked through the acres and acres of quilt panels, looking at highly personal memorial after memorial.  Volunteers stood by with boxes of tissue for those who were overcome, which were many - it was impossible not to be moved. 

I wish I could say that viewing the Quilt was an immediate call-to-arms for me, but it took a while for me to really start to realize there were things I could personally do to help.  It is something I can still remember vividly, though, and when I think about my current interest in working within the LGBT community, that experience is one of the early seeds.

A few years back I was at Common Language bookstore and picked up Cleve Jones' autobiography, Stitching a Revolution.  It's a great read full of info about the early gay rights movement, and it shows how the call to action isn't necessarily a deliberate choice, it can simply be a reaction to what we see happening in the world. For the gay historian, the casual activist and even just the curious, it's a recommended read.

You may not be the next Cleve Jones, but you can hear him speak (and maybe meet him) this Saturday night!

State Equality Dinner and Catalyst Awards
Saturday, October 22nd
The Henry, Dearborn (formerly the Ritz-Carlton)

Featuring a VIP reception, silent auction, formal dinner, and an afterglow celebration.

Standard ticket: $150
VIP ticket: $250
Afterglow only: $50 (featuring DJ Jace)

All proceeds benefit the programs of Equality Michigan.
Tickets are available at, or by calling 313-537-7000, x108

Monday, October 10, 2011

Transforming Spaces, Transforming Places

[This is a blog post I wrote for my store Hugh, which I've written about briefly on here before. Hugh is currently a semi-finalist in the Hatch Detroit competition, which will ultimately award a $50,000 prize to the business with the most votes. I don't usually mix the business of Supergay Detroit with the business of Joe Posch, but it's all becoming a blurred line anyway, so I'd really appreciate your support in this contest! You can vote here once every 24 hours per IP address - so once from home, once from work and once from your phone. Enlist some friends if you can - every vote helps!]

When I was interviewed on the Craig Fahle Show on WDET last week, Craig asked me why I am so bullish on retail in Detroit.  I gave my two cents on why I think Detroit is a great place to undertake a retail endeavor, but I didn't talk at all about why I think independent retail in general is a great idea right now.

The first thing that is so great about independent retail is the emphasis on the unique retail experience, and this has always been my favorite thing about retail and why I'll never stop loving bricks-and-mortar.  When you open a store you aren't just creating a space, you are engaging the imagination of your customers. There's an opportunity to inspire.  It's always primarily about the products you sell, but in the two spaces I've had in Detroit I think the thing that gives me the most pride is the way I created something that really exceeded people's expectations. Here are a few before and after shots:

Hugh - Before

Hugh - After

The second Hugh - Hugh for the Holidays

Mezzanine - Before

Mezzanine - After


With the shift over the past twenty years toward big chain retail and internet commerce, we've lost sight of the ways that independent stores define our neighborhoods and our cultures, provide a singular point-of-view, and allow us to connect and build community.

I found a copy of a 1983 book called simply Detroit Guide at an estate sale this week.  It's a highly-opinionated take on everything the metro area had to offer at the time, and I was looking at the record stores reviewed: Sam's Jams, Village Records, The Record Collector and of course Harmony House. They were places music lovers could gather to hang out and talk, explore new music, and sometimes even get a job. And while the internet has made access to music easier than ever and taken the conversation global, that local community all but died with the neighborhood record shop.

Likewise, Netflix and on-demand video have taken away many of the meeting (and working) places for film buffs. And bookstores look like the next endangered species.

What is so great about this moment for independent retail is that a well-executed endeavor can help define and transform a neighborhood, and can still build a community. Sure, it's got to be special if it is going to compete with the chains or the web, but that ensures that a shop's personality is strong and enduring. We have dozens of examples of this working in Detroit right now, changing our neighborhoods. And the best thing about it is we just think we're having fun.

That's why a competition like Hatch Detroit is so much more than simply a pot of loot for the winner. It endorses the idea that independent retail is not only alive but more important than ever, and that even though the powers-that-be may focus on bigger, corporate commercial development, there ain't nothing like the real thing. Baby.
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