Wednesday, February 27, 2008

2 Gay Netflix videos

We recently saw two outstanding videos. Neither title we recognized before renting it. Both films are very different “coming out” stories. “Rock Haven” is the story of very religious, “born again”, young man coming to terms with his sexuality and navigating his first gay relationship. It is filmed around Bodega Bay, north of San Francisco. The other film, “Outing Riley”, is the story of a 30-something man coming out to his three adult brothers. It is also beautifully filmed around Chicago. Both films have a lot of humor. “Outing Riley” is especially funny in an early Woody Allen type of vain.

The Netflix film descriptions:
Rock HavenRock Haven” (2007) When the religiously devout Brady (Sean Hoagland) moves to a new town with his mother (Laura Jane Coles) and begins spending time with his handsome neighbor, Clifford (Owen Alabado), their mutual attraction forces Brady to confront his true desires. But with Brady about to enter a religious college, he finds that his plans for the immediate future stand in direct contrast to his emerging sexuality.

Outing RileyOuting Riley” (2004) Bobby Riley (writer-director Pete Jones) is finally ready to come out to his conservative Catholic family and stop pretending that his best lesbian pal is his girlfriend. But it turns out he's not the only one harboring a secret. When Bobby announces to his three disbelieving brothers that he's actually in love with a man, that revelation turns out to be just a sample of the smorgasbord of surprises members of the clan have long been hiding.

I was going to link directly to the videos on the Netflix site but they are not interested in having GuyDads as an affiliate. They turned me down. Maybe my blog is too gay for them. Maybe they didn’t like when I complained several years ago that some of the reviews posted were homophobic. Nevertheless, we have been a member of Netflix for 5 years. We love their service because it is convenient and reasonably priced. They have a great selection of gay themed movies. In fact, one of their 20 types of searchable movie genres is “gay and lesbian”.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Napa Valley wine country

Wine Tasting in the Napa ValleyWe spent a second consecutive weekend out of town. A long time and dear friend of E’s (his first boss) flew out to the west coast to visit us for the holiday weekend. We took her to Napa valley for a weekend of wine tasting and touring. We stayed a two bedroom suite with fireplace at Silverado Resort. The place is large and beautiful and is spread around a golf course. Alas, none of us golf.

Wine tasting at Graeser Winery in the Napa ValleySaturday afternoon we started with an idyllic cruise along the Napa River on an 11 passenger, electric-motor boat. We brought along our lunch and a bottle of wine. It was an interesting tour to learn about the area’s wetlands, riverfront commerce and historical floods. We then toured one winery on our own, The Hess Collection. The winery has an extensive collection of modern art works.

Glasses lined up for wine tasting in the Napa ValleySunday we did an all day wine tour with a company called Platypus Tours. This was one of the highlights of the weekend. The vineyards were awash in yellow from the blooming mustard plants. The tour is done with a small van that picks you at your place. The group usually ranges in size from 8 to 12 people. The guide customizes the tour to the requests and interests of the guests. Their emphasis is on smaller, family wineries and historic wineries. They avoid the crowed and snobby places. The tour also includes a picnic lunch at one of the wineries. I highly recommend them. We visited five wineries (Graeser Winery, Failla Wines, August Briggs Winery, Summers Estate Wines, Rutherford Grove Wines). We ended up buying two cases of wine.

Monday was spent in the town of Sonoma. We visited its historic square plaza and mission. We ate lunch and did some retail therapy there before heading home.

We also ate at two highly regarded restaurants: Meadowood, and Martini House. Meadowood was by far one of the most amazing meals we had.
The historic Sonoma Square Plaza

Friday, February 15, 2008

Gay Resorts

Sunday, Feb 10 was the husband’s birthday. To celebrate we had a gay get-a-way weekend to Palm Springs. We both have lived in California 30-plus years and had never been there. Researching gay resorts in Palm Springs was quite a feat. There must be about 30 gay places in the area. We finally settled on one, All Worlds Resort, and booked a room. We had a great time even through it was a quiet weekend with no major events happening in town.

The Fabulous Palm Spring FolliesBy the way, if you are a fan of musicals and theatre, be sure to see the Palm Springs Follies. It is a three-hour, song and dance extravaganza that recaptures the glorious days of vaudeville, the Ziegfeld Follies and showgirls. What makes it amazing it the talented cast members that range from 56 to 84 years "young"! They still can kick up a storm on stage doing splits, lifts, taps and other Broadway chorus moves. And they can still belt out a song.

Our weekend in Palm Springs marked the fourth gay resort we have visited this last year. Here is a quick recap in order from best to worst.

Reviews of Gay Resorts:[updated May 2008]

Room at Pineapple Point Resort in Fort LauderdaleGrade A: Pineapple Point in Fort Lauderdale in Florida. Incredible pampering in beautiful setting…We were blown away by the staff, the beauty, and the fun at Pineapple Point. Our room was beautiful and large. The details and attention of the staff were incredible. Particularly appreciated were things like cold towels/pop cycles/ice tea re-fills at the pool each day. Happy Hours were really fun. The staff was always around and always helpful (reservations for dinner, ordering out lunch, etc.). We were struck that most people did not leave each day but hung around all day. The place is located a couple miles from the beach. But we didn’t mind because we just hung out around the pool.A couple minutes away is the beautiful Las Olas Boulevard that has many wonderful restaurants and shops. A mile in the other direction is the gayborhood, Wilton Manors. We have already made reservations to return next December for a longer stay.

View from one of the pools at All Worlds Resort, Palm SpringsGrade B+: All Worlds Resort in Palm Springs, California. Located on the Warm Sands gayborhood of Palm Springs. The rooms are comfortable and clean, the amenities are very good (4 pools, 3 hot tubs, dry and steam sauna, nature area, all clothing optional), the staff is helpful, and the adult randiness was playful and plentiful. The place is comprised of several small resorts that were joined into a larger compound. There are over forty rooms priced at several price levels. Don’t go for the cheapest rooms. They are noisier and not as nicely furnished. The mid-priced rooms are very nice. The resort is only a 15 minute walk to Palm Springs gay area on Arenas Rd. and Indian Canyon Dr and is only minutes by cab from the airport. We would go back again.
Out rated a bunch of the Palm Springs resorts in Spring 2007.

The Blue Moon Resort in Las VegasGrade B: The Blue Moon Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. The resort has a lot of good attributes and one major negative. The rooms are nicely decorated with a comfortable bed. The grounds, pool and sundeck are attractive. Amenities include 10-man Jacuzzi enclosed in a poolside cave with waterfall, heated pool, steam room, showers, locker area, video room and a break/internet lounge. They offer a typical nice motel continental breakfast and Sundays feature an afternoon BBQ. Both the overnight and day pass guests were diverse and friendly. The staff was helpful when you tracked them down.
The depressing part is the location. It is located in the industrial district about 4 blocks west of Circus Circus. There is nothing around other then warehouses, light industrial businesses and a couple seedy hetero strip clubs. Nothing. No fast-food, sandwich shops, convenience or liquor stores. And it is 45 minute walk to the Strip or a $12 cab ride.
Despite the location, we had an enjoyable and restful time. We especially enjoyed sitting around the pool all day reading and watching the guys go by. We would stay there again or visit with a day pass.

Grade B-: Highlands Resort in Guerneville (Russian River), CA. The resort offers private cabins with bath, kitchenette, and sitting area. They are clean and well maintained. The amenities are good (clothing-optional pool, hot tub, homemade breakfast muffins) but no wifi and spotty cell coverage. There is a meadow where you pitch your own tent for a fee. It is located on a hill above the rustic town of Guerneville, about a 5 minute walk down a steep hill. The place was nice but it is unlikely we would be back. The whole area was more of a rural experience then we like. But if you are a bear in the woods, go for it.

Typical room at San Vicente Inn-Resort in West HollywoodGrade C: San Vicente Inn-Resort in West Hollywood, CA. We have been to this place twice. Not because it is beautiful or has great service, but because of its location. It is the only resort in the West Hollywood area and a couple of blocks from the gay district on Santa Monica Boulevard. The nicest words to describe accommodations are that they are “pretty clean” and sparse. It has a clothing optional pool, hot tub and steam sauna. Would we go again? Maybe. But it is definitely a walk on the more seedy and divey side of resorts.

Anybody what to share their favorite resorts? On our resort list to visit someday are: Provincetown, Fire Island, Key West and Las Vegas.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Friday, February 01, 2008

Gay Blood

1941 6 cent US postage stamp for Giving Blood Saves LivesSan Jose State University President Don Kassing has made a bold and courageous stand for justice. In a recent announcement he suspended campus blood drives because of the government policy that bars gay men from donating blood. In a campus announcement he wrote:

I am writing to inform you of a very difficult decision I have made about blood drives on campus. After extensive consultation, I am suspending all blood drives at San José State University on the grounds that the U.S. Federal Drug Administration’s lifetime blood donor deferral affecting gay men violates our non-discrimination policy. This suspension is effective immediately and applies to blood drives arranged by employees representing the university and/or by recognized student organizations.

A university employee brought this matter to my attention. He referred to the language in San José State University's non-discrimination policy, which says "discrimination of any kind, including … sexual orientation is an affront to the entire university community and is strictly prohibited."

In an effort to resolve this issue, my staff and I consulted many experts and reviewed background material on the FDA Web site. We learned from the FDA that the deferral dates back to 1983, "when the risk of AIDS from transfusion was first recognized." We also learned nucleic acid testing has since greatly reduced the risk HIV/AIDS once posed to blood supply safety. "In fact, our current risks are now so low that they cannot be measured directly and, hence, we rely on [mathematical] models," Jay S. Epstein, M.D., said at a March 2006 FDA Workshop on Behavior-Based Donor Deferrals.

Yet, the FDA remains reluctant to relax the deferral affecting gay men. We agree that more research may be needed given "current scientific data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that, as a group, men who have sex with other men are at a higher risk for transmitting infectious diseases or HIV than are individuals in other risk categories," as stated in the "FDA Policy on Blood Donations from Men Who Have Sex with Other Men."

However, AABB, America's Blood Centers and the American Red Cross -- three organizations that stake their reputations on blood supply safety -- have reviewed the same data and come out in favor of relaxing the deferral. In a joint statement, they said they "believe that the current lifetime deferral for men who have had sex with other men is medically and scientifically unwarranted and recommend that deferral criteria be modified and made comparable with criteria for other groups at increased risk for sexual transmission of transfusion-transmitted infections." The FDA deferral for such groups is 12 months, according to the AABB Full-Length Donor History Questionnaire.

AABB, America's Blood Centers and the American Red Cross also offered their vast resources -- a great many of the nation's blood collection centers -- to assist with any additional research required by the FDA. I am troubled the FDA has not, to our knowledge, made progress with additional research, nor disclosed if and/or when an FDA committee will vote again on the deferral for men who have sex with other men. Meanwhile, the lifetime deferral affecting gay males as a group remains in place when it may be safe and appropriate for these men to be treated individually, as is the case with people of other sexual orientations.

With these concerns in mind, I decided to suspend blood drives on campus and have notified the FDA of our decision. In doing so, our purpose is to respect our policy of non-discrimination and the climate that the policy is intended to create on our campus. I have also asked the FDA to contact me so we can discuss this issue further. Specifically, I’d like to discuss timing for additional studies and the next FDA committee vote on the matter.

I recognize the importance of giving blood and we know that universities are a significant source of blood. Our campus alone accounts for 32,000 students and 5,700 employees. However, lacking further action by the FDA, we are guided by the clear mandates of our non-discrimination policy. Our hope is that the FDA will revisit its deferral policy in a timely manner and we may soon be able to hold blood drives on this campus again.

FDA policy: No donations of gay blood, it is too icky.The Stanford Blood Center has released a statement saying that they are “deeply disappointed” in the university’s decision. They go on to say that “Stanford Blood Center has offered to work collaboratively with SJSU to lobby the FDA” but they don’t say what kind, if any, action they have or will take. They miss the whole point that the guidelines violate the school’s non-discrimination policy.

The FDA policy is ridiculous. I know gay men that lie on the blood bank’s questionnaire because they believe in giving blood. I am sure there are promiscuous, straight men and women that don’t practice safe-sex that give blood too. The current policy is not based on science. It is based on hated, fear and disgust of gay men.

HISTORY: Dr. Charles Richard Drew (1904-1950) was an African-American physician and medical researcher. His research was in the field of blood transfusions, blood storage, and developing large-scale blood banks early in World War II. He protested against the practice of racial segregation in the donation of blood from donors of different races since it lacked scientific foundation.
In 1941 Dr Drew was chosen to lead the American Red Cross blood bank program. The above 1941 “Giving Blood Saves Lives” stamp was part of that campaign. However, a War Department directive stated that, "It is not advisable to indiscriminately mix Caucasian and Negro blood for use in blood transfusions for the U.S. Military". Dr Drew protested against this blood segregation, which has no basis in scientific fact, and as a result was forced to resign his position. The United States Military did not end segregation of its blood supplies until 1949. Politics and bigotry of blood still continues today.
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