Interview for Display magazine

Mathias Steger interviewed me for Swiss gay magazine Display‘s March issue. I talked to him about living in different parts of Mexico, my work and projects, coming out, and my favorite spots in Mexico City.

It’s in German, which sadly I do not speak (we did the interview in Spanish and English). But for those of you who do, enjoy! And tell me if I sound fancier in German.

Thanks to Luis Buenfil for the photo of me in the guayabera. :)

Mucho MachoMucho Macho2

The magazine is available here: http://displaymagazin.ch/

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Mexico City’s hottest tacos and gay parties

*Jean Paul Zapata published this piece on Gay Star News on March 4, 2014.

Mexico City's hottest tacos and gay partiesDon’t let the name fool you. Mexico’s Anal Magazine is an intellectual publication and has a highbrow following.

‘With a unique design, this magazine is dedicated to spread any kind of cultural expression of erotic nature or general interest to men who are not afraid to show their fascination for other men.’

The magazine’s logo is clever and well conceived; The content (no doubt provocative) extends to include literature, fashion and interviews; The publication has quickly established itself as a social force within the city’s LGBTI community.

Anal also puts on One Hell of A Party, the name given for its signature Halloween bash.
Three-year Mexico City resident and gay activist Enrique Torre Molina credits Anal Magazine with the city’s hottest dance floor. Facebook photos of previous parties corroborate these claims.

Torre Molina works with ‘media, non-profit organizations, companies, schools, and government agencies to promote respect for LGBT people,’ and has his fingers on the pulse of Mexico City’s culture scene.

He writes: ‘When I was in college in Puebla, I used to come to Mexico City about once a month. When I finally moved here three and a half years ago, I already knew my way around and had many friends living here. I especially like that there’s a lot of good theatre, and great people to meet every day. In this sense it’s very similar to New York, my other favorite city, where I lived for a little while. They remind me of each other.’

Here’s Enrique’s list of the best museums, theatres and tourist sights in Mexico City.

Favorite gay bar: Nicho and La Purísima.

Favorite any bar: Lilit.

Favorite dance floor: Anal Magazine’s Halloween party.

Favorite tourist sight: The view of the volcanoes when flying over Mexico City.

Mexico City's hottest tacos and gay parties2Favorite meal: Tacos at El Parnita and mascarpone cheesecake at Delirio.

Favorite getaway: Merida, Oaxaca, San Cristobal de las Casas.

Favorite breakfast: Eggs at El Péndulo and French toast at Carrez.

Favorite park: Chapultepec, around the Tamayo Museum.

Favorite café: El Péndulo.

Favorite hotel: St Regis.

Favorite festival: Festival Mix, which is the oldest LGBT film festival in Latin America.

Favorite bike ride: I don’t bike.

Favorite long walk: Reforma avenue and shopping in colonia Roma.

Mexico City's hottest tacos and gay parties3Favorite photo-op: My building’s rooftop terrace, and anywhere with photographer Oscar Morales.

Favorite museum: Museo Memoria y Tolerancia and Museo Franz Mayer.

Favorite beach: Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca.

Mexico City's hottest tacos and gay parties4Favorite place for a first date: Cineteca Nacional or the theatre.

Favorite shopping street: Colima street in colonia Roma and H&M in Santa Fe.

Favorite food market: Mercado de Medellin in colonia Roma.

Favorite art gallery: I’m not a gallery person, but I love the photo exhibits they do on the fences of Bosque de Chapultepec along Reforma avenue.

Favorite view: From the Chapultepec Castle terrace.

Favorite public art: Sculptures outside Bellas Artes.

Favorite thing in the city that defies categorization: Theatre at the Santa Martha Acatitla prison.

Favorite theatre space: Foro Shakespeare and Teatro Helenico.

Favorite gay media outlet: Betún magazine.

Favorite hidden treasure: It used to be Tia Maria, a gay piano bar in my neighborhood, which closed last year. I have yet to find my new favorite hidden treasure.

To get in touch with Enrique, visit his website or follow him on Twitter @etorremolina.

Mexico City's hottest tacos and gay parties5

Don’t let the name fool you. Mexico’s Anal Magazine is an intellectual publication and has a highbrow following.

‘With a unique design, this magazine is dedicated to spread any kind of cultural expression of erotic nature or general interest to men who are not afraid to show their fascination for other men.’

The magazine’s logo is clever and well conceived; The content (no doubt provocative) extends to include literature, fashion and interviews; The publication has quickly established itself as a social force within the city’s LGBTI community.

Anal also puts on One Hell of A Party, the name given for its signature Halloween bash.
Three-year Mexico City resident and gay activist Enrique Torre Molina credits Anal Magazine with the city’s hottest dance floor. Facebook photos of previous parties corroborate these claims.

Torre Molina works with ‘media, non-profit organizations, companies, schools, and government agencies to promote respect for LGBT people,’ and has his fingers on the pulse of Mexico City’s culture scene.

He writes: ‘When I was in college in Puebla, I used to come to Mexico City about once a month. When I finally moved here three and a half years ago, I already knew my way around and had many friends living here. I especially like that there’s a lot of good theatre, and great people to meet every day. In this sense it’s very similar to New York, my other favorite city, where I lived for a little while. They remind me of each other.’

Here’s Enrique’s list of the best museums, theatres and tourist sights in Mexico City.

Favorite gay bar: Nicho and La Purísima.

Favorite any bar: Lilit.

Favorite dance floor: Anal Magazine’s Halloween party.

Favorite tourist sight: The view of the volcanoes when flying over Mexico City.

– See more at: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/mexico-citys-hottest-tacos-and-gay-parties040314#sthash.NWkkZshF.dpuf

Don’t let the name fool you. Mexico’s Anal Magazine is an intellectual publication and has a highbrow following.

‘With a unique design, this magazine is dedicated to spread any kind of cultural expression of erotic nature or general interest to men who are not afraid to show their fascination for other men.’

The magazine’s logo is clever and well conceived; The content (no doubt provocative) extends to include literature, fashion and interviews; The publication has quickly established itself as a social force within the city’s LGBTI community.

Anal also puts on One Hell of A Party, the name given for its signature Halloween bash.
Three-year Mexico City resident and gay activist Enrique Torre Molina credits Anal Magazine with the city’s hottest dance floor. Facebook photos of previous parties corroborate these claims.

Torre Molina works with ‘media, non-profit organizations, companies, schools, and government agencies to promote respect for LGBT people,’ and has his fingers on the pulse of Mexico City’s culture scene.

He writes: ‘When I was in college in Puebla, I used to come to Mexico City about once a month. When I finally moved here three and a half years ago, I already knew my way around and had many friends living here. I especially like that there’s a lot of good theatre, and great people to meet every day. In this sense it’s very similar to New York, my other favorite city, where I lived for a little while. They remind me of each other.’

Here’s Enrique’s list of the best museums, theatres and tourist sights in Mexico City.

Favorite gay bar: Nicho and La Purísima.

Favorite any bar: Lilit.

Favorite dance floor: Anal Magazine’s Halloween party.

Favorite tourist sight: The view of the volcanoes when flying over Mexico City.

– See more at: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/mexico-citys-hottest-tacos-and-gay-parties040314#sthash.NWkkZshF.dpuf


Talking to Fred Karger

On March 23, 2011, Fred Karger was the first to announce he was running for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. On June 29, 2012, he quit the race.

Before that he had worked at nine other campaigns, including Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. He is the president of Rights Equal Rights, has investigated the Mormon church and the National Organization for Marriage‘s campaigns against marriage equality in California and Maine.

Fred was the first openly gay presidential candidate from a major political party in his country’s history. This interesting character agreed to talk to me a few weeks ago:

Why do you want to be president of the United States?I am very concerned about the direction of our country under president Obama. He has not done all the things I had hoped he would do, which was to bring our economy back, lift the spirit of Americans, and he has failed. And I think I have the ability to excite this country, to bring back its American spirit that Ronald Reagan was very successful in – and I worked for Reagan for seven years. I think it’s time for an openly gay candidate to run and be successful. I think that will do a tremendous amount of good for our civil rights movement all over the world.

One of the most common reactions to your character, to your background, is the shock of you being American, Jewish, gay, and a Republican. What do you have to say about this to those people who view U.S. politics in such black & white terms? You know, the Republican Party has done a lot of bad things, particularly in the last 35 years in our gay civil rights arena. All the bad that has come out of politics seems to come from republicans, and that is not the Republican Party I grew up with. It has become very different. It was never a party that was for discrimination. It was never a party that talked about social issues the way the candidates do now. So, I think it’s important that we do not give up on the Republican Party. To those of us who believe in a different Republican Party of inclusion, of bringing younger people in, of opening it up to women, and gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people, and everyone, I think that tide is now moving back. And in this country we’ve been successful because of Republicans.

Tell me about the campaign. What sort of feedback are you getting? Can you tell me about other openly LGBTs or straight allies in the Republican Party? Are there any gay nonprofits supporting you? I got my first endorsement from an LGBT state organization, Equality Michigan, and I was very honored. It’s the first time they’ve done that. And I’ve appealed to other state organizations. They’re a little slower to move because of my Republican connection and affiliation.

That someone who is openly gay can run for the highest office in our country sends a very strong message to them that they’re okay, that they can do anything they want in life, even run for president. I’ve spoken in high schools, to teenagers, to gay-straight alliances, in colleges and universities. I’ve been to clubs, bars, drag shows. You name it. I’ve been all over this country.

What is the value of having openly LGBT politicians? What is the value of having an openly gay candidate in your country? Just by virtue of candidates running, it sends a message that we are now stepping up to the place where we’re no longer hiding. I was in the closet for most of my adult life. I’ve always been gay, but I kept that secret. And I don’t want others to have to live the way I did. So, I think that’s an important message for our community, that it’s okay now. Times are very different. It’s still difficult to many of us to come out, but more and more are every day, younger and younger. To have openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender candidates sends a powerful message all over the world to our community, to our opponents, to our allies, that we are to be taken seriously, that we are going to have an impact on the political process.


Amanda Lepore for MidOpen

The first one to tell me about Amanda Lepore was my boss at the New York State Division of Human Rights, who had her as a client when he specialized in transgender issues.

Then I saw her in different pieces by photographer David LaChapelle. Amanda has also been the face of fashion brands such as M.A.C. Cosmetics and Swatch.

Recently she was in Mexico City to promote her new record, and MidOpen magazine invited me to talk to her:

The Interview magazine piece I mention is here. And you can follow Amanda on Twitter.


GLAAD Media Awards

Each year the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) gives out a number of media awards to honor outstanding images and stories of LGBT people. Since they first began in 1990, they’ve become the single most prestigious recognition of its kind. In 2012, the 23rd GLAAD Media Awards were presented in ceremonies in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. This last one just took place last weekend.

A few weeks ago I talked to Rich Ferraro, Director of Communications at the organization, about the awards and the organization’s influence in the media.

How did the GLAAD Media Awards start? What is their purpose?
GLAAD is an organization that works with the media to tell stories about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people. We work with a wide range of media from entertainment outlets, movie studios and TV networks to national news outlets in America, religious press, sports media, online media. We’ve seen that when people hear stories about LGBT people, and allies of LGBT people, they come to learn that LGBT people deserve the same opportunities as they do.

The GLAAD Media Awards honor those stories. They began with an awards ceremony in New York 23 years ago with just a handful of honorees, because LGBT issues were not so spoken about in the media, and certainly not spoken about in a positive way. We wanted a way to say you’re doing a good job, and we want others to follow. And now what we’ve seen is that the awards have become the most visible LGBT event in America, and likely around the world. We’ve had celebrities from Ricky Martin to Ellen Degeneres and Josh Hutcherson, star of The Hunger Games.

Can you tell me about the process of choosing honorees?
We have nominees in English and Spanish-language for a total of 35 categories including news, entertainment, TV, film, as well as some smaller parts of our culture like theatre, comic books, where stories of LGBT people are impacting our culture and creating change. GLAAD has a series of volunteer juries with expertise and with industry experience in all of these different areas. The juries come up with a pool of nominees with a termometer in the media year-round, whether it’s music artists who have used their recent albums to raise awareness on LGBT issues, or monitoring local news media.

GLAAD’s Board of Directors, staff and some of our major donors choose. They vote on the winners. The criteria for voting on the awards recipients is that they are fair, accurate and inclusive of our community, of the full diversity in the LGBT community, it should be original content, a news story that we haven’t heard before, tactful, reaching Americans and those around the world, and overall quality.

Ricky Martin, award winner.

There are three ceremonies. Is there a different set of categories or audience for each? Do they have different goals?
The goal of each ceremony is to provide a platform for celebrities and media outlets to talk about their support for LGBT people. It is also to honor public figures and media outlets who are doing an exemplary job. The GLAAD Media Awards have become an industry benchmark that a lot of different movie studios, production companies, newspapers and television networks strive for. They want this recognition. They want to know that they are doing a good job for our community.

The GLAAD Media Awards are also a fundraiser for GLAAD’s work year-round to tell stories of LGBT people. The awards in the three different cities are part of our fundraising. It’s also kind of a way for us to get in front of different communities around the country. In addition to the people who attend the events, each of these has a program with young adults, LGBT and their allies, who come to the awards for free through generous donations from our sponsors. They are able to interact with others like them, to say hello to celebrities who support them for who they are, and they get to see the show.

Do you think the GLAAD Media Awards somehow help push forward or enhance someone’s career, a certain media or show’s success?
I think what they’ve done is they’ve pushed celebrities, public figures and media to do a better and more proactive job at telling LGBT stories.

Cory Monteith and Naya Rivera, stars of “Glee” and this year’s hosts at the NYC ceremony.

Speaking of GLAAD’s work more generally, where does GLAAD draw the line between calling out on media’s unfair representation of LGBT people and issues, holding them accountable for their words and images, and making it seem as if GLAAD is maybe trying to censor the media?
More and more when we’re calling out celebrities or media outlets, we’re trying to do more than just get an apology. We’re trying to make it a teachable moment for our culture, and we’re trying to start a national dialogue.

Last year Tracy Morgan, a comedian and actor, made a joke in a standup routine that if his son was gay he would stab him. At GLAAD we hear stories when we work with organizations such as The Trevor Project, we know of the harm and what could happen to LGBT young people when their parents don’t accept them. We’ve also heard terrible stories about the violence that LGBT people face. What we wanted with Tracy was not to bully him into an apology, not to get a two-sentence press statement, but we wanted to use that as a way to really start a national dialogue about what it means when parents reject their LGBT kids, and the violence that LGBT people face.

We spoke with Tracy Morgan, we told him we wanted to take him to The Ali Forney Center, which is a homeless shelter for LGBTs in New York City. He went there with us, he met with young adults whose parents didn’t approve of who they were, and as a result these kids were turned away. Thankfully they had an organization such as The Ali Forney Center to welcome them.

Tracy then spoke with the media and told his fans, who are people that maybe wouldn’t generally hear of this, about why they should accept LGBT people. They heard from someone they admire and from someone whose career they follow that the right thing to do is to accept your kids no matter what. We also worked with teens at The Ali Forney Center to get them to talk about their own stories in the press. After they met with Tracy they went to The Daily News, The Wall Street Journal, MTV News, to some really powerful and international news publications so they could talk, not only about meeting with Tracy but also about their own personal stories.

More and more we’re really trying to push the envelopes. It’s not so much about GLAAD versus the media. It’s about GLAAD telling a wider story.

You can follow Rich Ferraro and GLAAD on Twitter, learn more about GLAAD Media Awards and this year’s honorees here, and read about a project I collaborate with on GLAAD’s blog.