|Sandwiched between the gorgeous Brandon Liberati and Curt Gerard, columnist Pollo Del Mar reunited with the ‚Äėlong-lost‚Äô Mike ‚ÄúBeefy Del Mar‚ÄĚ Bonnella at Lookout‚Äôs Social Club.
Notorious Sainted Glamazon About Town
Shortly after coming out in Cleveland, OH, my ‚Äúbest gay friend‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ or¬† ‚ÄúBGF,‚ÄĚ a term which far precedes today‚Äôs all-too-common ‚ÄúBFF‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ Dan Kilbane met his partner Eddie Boyte. Through Eddie, the first person I ever knew to be a recovering alcoholic or member of ACT-UP, I met his fag-hag Kelli. An otherwise attractive blonde with a bubbly personality, she was a member of ACT-UP, the Human Rights Campaign and a board member at the local LGBT Center. I recall her rallying against everything from animal cruelty to local gay bashings. She even protested the term¬† ‚Äúfag hag,‚ÄĚ proudly declaring herself instead a ‚Äúhomo honey.‚ÄĚ¬†¬†
In essence, Kelli ranked as the most socially-conscious straight ally I knew and an outspoken advocate for gay and lesbian rights as well as women, underprivileged socio-economic groups, animals and more. That said, at 24-years-old, she was also the poster child for absolutely everything my internalized homophobia and desire to achieve acceptance through suburban assimilation drove me to detest and fear about our community ‚Äď not to mention I considered her an incredible downer!¬†
Though I know now she was genuinely well-meaning, trust me on this one: Nobody could bring a party to a screeching halt quite like Kelli. God forbid she overheard someone telling a politically incorrect or insensitive joke. Pray your hair care products were not among those she deemed cruel to animals or environmentally unfriendly. With so many causes of interest, and so many groups on whose behalf she was all-too-ready to speak out, she made for an often unwelcome if occasionally necessary party guest.¬†
As a far less tactful person at that time, I had no problem making this fact known. My running joke was that Kelli carried in the trunk of her car a selection of picket signs perfect for any occasion ‚Äď and a host of blank ones just in case she stumbled on a previously untapped matter against which she might wish to protest. Though they thought it too evil to voice to Kelli‚Äôs face, which I did more than once, even those closest to her could not deny exactly how spot-on my observation was.
Reflecting back on those days, which hardly seem a dozen years ago, I‚Äôm simultaneously amused and disturbed. It makes me chuckle to see that, as my desire to ‚Äúfit in‚ÄĚ faded, I have slowly become Kelli (albeit, I hope, with a greater sense of when and where it is appropriate to look through the lens of activism). However, it sometimes bewilders me how I came to and why it took so long to reach that point. Of course, some issues are so glaring, one would wonder if I was not moved to action.
Take, for example, Prop. 8. Suffering righteous indignation at being treated as a second-class citizen, there is little question why ‚Äď even with no partner on the horizon - I was spurred to action by California‚Äôs decisions against marriage equality. Similarly, with the physical well-being of our community on the line, my ire against proposed budget cuts to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) and HIV/AIDS prevention and education programs ‚Äď as I hopefully expressed as a keynote speaker at the June 10 ‚ÄúRide for Your Life Rally‚ÄĚ in Civic Center ‚Äď are also easily understood.
However, my most recent mantle might on the surface seem a bit more frivolous. At its core, though, it actually calls for far more personal sacrifice.
As many might know, for quite some time, Sugar-Free RockStar has been my beverage of choice. Hell, I even had promotional photos taken with one all-too-recently. However, that changed after Daddy Aaron Baldwin called with alarming information about the product‚Äôs association with hate-monger Michael Weiner (a.k.a. ‚ÄúThe Savage Nation‚ÄĚ shock jock Michael Savage), father of RockStar CEO Russell Weiner (who has appeared on his father‚Äôs show as ‚ÄúRussell Savage‚ÄĚ).
After speaking to Aaron, I ‚ÄĒ like Charles C.C. Tsai, who was sued for libel after founding a Facebook group exposing RockStarr‚Äôs connection to Michael Savage - have made a personal decision to boycott this product. There is simply no way I can in good conscience financially support a company which even minimally profits Savage, a man who lost his MSNBC position for telling a gay caller to ‚Äúget AIDS and die.‚ÄĚ Though this connection may be disputed, an Oct. 15, 2006, article in the SF Chronicle also lists RockStar CFO (Savage‚Äôs wife Janet Weiner) as the Director of Savage Productions, producer of ‚ÄúThe Savage Nation.‚ÄĚ¬†
More and more damning evidence piles up against the RockStar line daily. And I cannot help but question the business practices of a company which, quite in contradiction of Savage‚Äôs on-air assertion that ‚Äúdiversity is perversity,‚ÄĚ has openly provided its product for free at 18th & Castro in efforts to build a consumer base there. When compared to the usually very gay-friendly stance of its distributor PepsiCo, the matter becomes all the murkier. However, whether or not it is conclusive that Savage directly profits from sales of RockStars, the evidence is plenty for me to pull the plug on my twice-daily-at-minimum energy drink consumption.
Meanwhile, as I embark on my everyday activism ‚Äď something as simple as choosing a different beverage ‚Äď I can‚Äôt help but wonder where Kelli is these days. Rumor has it that she is settled down in Rhode Island somewhere with kids. Maybe she is finally living that assimilated suburban lifestyle I could never quite achieve. Perhaps I can even borrow those leftover picket signs. Who knows when I might get some good use of those.
Either way, I‚Äôd like to imagine Kelli is still just as much of a fag hag as she ever was. Those things so seldom change. Just like, no matter how far I‚Äôve come in the last decade-plus, I haven‚Äôt changed at the core.¬†
I‚Äôm still very proud to be a homo, honey.
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