I’ve been thinking a lot about North Carolina and the HB 2 law that passed there recently. The owner of Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café asks in The New York Times why her store in North Carolina should be boycotted. It’s hard, especially when good, well-meaning people like her and her business are stuck in the middle, as it were. But the target of the boycott is not her or her store, but rather the entire state. And a boycott only works if it’s as complete as possible.
Likewise, if Missouri lawmakers are stupid enough to pass SJR 39 (and let’s not be mistaken, most of them are), I’d fully support a boycott of the entire state. That means don’t come visit me (not that many do—ahem), don’t patronize businesses based here, and don’t bring your concert or your book tour here. That’s what a boycott is. And it needs to stand until the reason for the boycott is rescinded.
Following up on that was this opinion piece at Fortune (oh, the irony) by an author who’s going ahead with her plans to bring her book tour to the state. People can have legitimate discussions and come to different conclusions about what’s the best way to support the trans citizens who are the targets of this law. Even better would be to listen to the very people who are directly affected, and take a cue from them and support them in the ways they want to be supported. I also really, really wish Mrs. Kline had taken a moment in her commentary to acknowledge her own massive privilege, as a cis, het, white, married, Ivy-league-educated woman who, as far as I can tell, has no skin in the game except a book to promote. At the same time, I’m also cognizant of my own massive privilege as a white guy (apart from that whole being super gay thing) and think, really, the people who should have the most say on how they would like allies to proceed are the people impacted the most by this repugnant law.
And that’s all I have to say about that, in lieu of boosting other people’s signal on the topic.
“You would go there because there was no other place you could hold hands and be gay without any threat.” This article by Mike Albo on gay restaurants made me think about all the ones I’ve been to, admittedly a short list. Here in St. Louis there was Oh My Darlin’s, which was attached to a bar called Clementine’s, both of which have since closed. I ate there exactly once and had to order my salad without the chicken, and there was nothing else on the menu I could eat, except (I think) fries. The cook was named Bubbles and I think she was known for her fried chicken, but I could be mistaken. There was also the Niner Diner, which was next door to a bar called Magnolia’s (or as my acquaintance John called it, two floors of ugly). This was open back when smoking was allowed and I can’t remember a single thing from their menu. We also had a Hamburger Mary’s (closed) and a restaurant called JaBoni’s opened by the owners of the lesbian bar Attitudes. The bar is open, the restaurant is now a bank branch. A bar called the Bad Dog Saloon had a restaurant whose chef was a drag queen and known—again, I think I’m remembering this right—fried chicken. The bar changed hands and is now a lesbian bar, the restaurant closed, and the kitchen still serves food. I remember having an ahi tuna sandwich that wasn’t half bad. I don’t remember anyplace I went in Vancouver that was strictly a gay restaurant. There was a Hamburger Mary’s in the gayborhood, but I could always be found across the street at La Belle Patate eating poutine or down the street at Fritz eating, what else, poutine. And I think just about every place I ate in Provincetown was a gay restaurant—how could it not be?
Here in St. Louis, like in New York, gentrification has had a lot to do with killing off these places. In some cases, gross mismanagement and, I think in one instance, embezzling did the trick. The building where the Niner and Magnolia’s were (and the Eagle) is being rehabbed. St. Louis is also a small city, and the center of gravity for gay hangouts shifted several years ago to the Grove neighborhood, not far from our house, as it happens. Mike Albo’s right, though; it was never about the food at these places. It was always about being someplace where you felt safe and you could hold someone’s hand. You could just be yourself.
I love that Judy Blume has added bookseller to her CV.
Navigating the real estate market in Vancouver is a nightmare, even moreso if you’re living aboard a boat, as this article by my friend Laura Trethewey illustrates.
A gorgeous poem, “Heirloom,” by Sandy Marchetti.