Thoughts on Miss'd America weekend in Atlantic City.
Location: Atlantic City
Dateline: 01.20.12 – 01.22.12
Everything’s coming out gay in Atlantic City.
Or so it seems this weekend as the town opens it doors, minds, cash registers and hearts to the LGBT community with the the Miss’d America Pageant, Out in AC weekend, and other special events.
Funny thing is, that’s not always the case here, or elsewhere around the state and the nation. This past week, state Democratic legislators introduced a law to make gay marriage legal. And it’s a sure bet it will be vetoed by Gov. Christie. After all, he is busy running for national office, and not listening to the state voters, or so it seems.
A new Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday found 52 percent of New Jersey voters favor gay marriage. Support varies by party affiliation: majorities of Democratic (62 percent) and independent voters (54 percent) are in favor, while only 35 percent of Republicans approve.
This weekend, it boils down to three things.
1) Atlantic City historically is a city of tolerance and acceptance with a gay nightlife that thrived for many decades long before being gay made for a popular party guest. “It” was hidden out of sight, but accepted here in Atlantic City down "Snake Alley."
2) A ghost town: Atlantic City is no longer knocking them dead. In fact, last month was the first month casinos posted an increase in years. Thriving businesses serving the lgbt community were knocked down by land speculators and casinos leaving the dead hole that is midtown. Now, everyone wants us back.
3 ) Money: Atlantic City is and was always about getting the last $ from our visitors' pockets. We still have money to spend when others are broke or going elsewhere. Moreover, we spend far more freely, and far more often.
The LGBT travel market is worth an annual $63 billion in the U.S. alone and we spend 175 percent more than the general leisure traveler.
Who wouldn’t want us? Apparently, a lot of people don’t think we are the same as them. We are different, evil, we go against God.
Sometimes, it’s hard to blame them as they blame us. Look at the stories and headlines making national news. Penn State. Syracuse. And the good ol' Catholic Church. It’s no wonder gays are vilified. However, the guys making these headlines aren’t "gay." Just ask them. They are "straight" and join other homophobes who point fingers at us, and talk about how awful they are.
Here’s who’we are. WE, the LGBT community join you as children of God, created with His light, His energy, and His love in His image to contribute to and share fully in the rights of this world. We own a stake and a piece of this city, this nation, and this world.
And, thank God we joined you as one, and not apart. Think of how dull this world would be without our creative energy. It would be the light bulb hanging on a wire from the ceiling, without the decorative fixture — or the lamp without the lamp shade.
Look around you: Touch the clothes you are wearing, think about the movies and shows you watch, the music which inspires you, what painting, photograph or sculpture last caught you with a brilliance. We don’t own these worlds, but you can sure touch our presence in them, and in the buildings we design and decorate, and the web sites that dance. Without us, this world would sure be uglier and less exciting.
See you Saturday night at the Miss’d America Pageant!
With a special thanks to all our straight friends who come to the pageant and embrace and enjoy all who are fun and talented. They don’t label us, and we’re not sure why others do.
From a healing perspective...
Many in our community go through great inner conflict, resulting in four-times more suicide among LGBT youth. Arnie Vargas, LCSW, conducts healing workshops for gay men, and contributes the following.
• Working through one's identity as a Man-Who-Loves-Men is a complex process.
• Discovering at an early age that one is different (same gender attraction), makes a young boy often retreat into a world of self-hatred and despair. Same gender amorous relationships have, and continue to encounter even in today's world, a great deal of opposition from all the powerful institutions that rule societies.
• Even in modern times, where a great deal of victories have been won for those with same gender attractions, many sectors of society continue to insist on pathologyzing same gender attractions and way of life. It's not unusual then, for those who have grown up feeling different and rejected, to encounter periods of extreme self-doubt in terms of identity.
Arnie conducts workshops exploring and validating the many ways one can live in the world as someone who possesses a unique identity, often leading to the discovery and eventually to the celebration, of the many identities we possess, can own, and even celebrate.
Discovering the many gifts as a result of being different, leads many to tremendous joy and freedom. That joy and freedom can liberate many from this world's oppressions, and this is why we are such a threat to many institutions.
Arnie Vargas is a native of Cuba who has been in the U.S. since 1970. He holds a masters degree in Religious Education from St. John's University (Jamaica, N.Y.), and a masters of Social Work from Fordham University. He is an adjunct professor at New York University's Silver School of Social Work and has private practices in psychotherapy in Manhattan, N.Y. and in Cape May, N.J. where he resides. Arnie is an international teacher of spirituality, teaching meditation, spiritual healing and workshops in the U.S. and Europe.
Geoff Rosenberger is a Broker Associate at Marketplace Realty. Read more of the acweekly.com columnist, Margate City resident and self-proclaimed visionary's "Geoff's Page," including local snap shots, thoughts, Atlantic City news, random musings, GLBT-related news, "The Real Report," and happenings every week — only at acweekly.com.
E-mail Geoff at email@example.com or call him at 609-385-7585.
Part of the plan calls for the entire renovation to be a reality TV show from creative process to the grand opening, streaming live over the Internet from Atlantic City. Once open, we broadcast live entertainment, showcasing our creative genius and youth.
The closet door must remain wide open. Members of our community are often the victims of brutal attacks and the more we expose our beauty as fellow travelers on this planet, the more hatred we overcome.
Recently making mainstream media: Chick-Fil-A has spent millions of company dollars campaigning against gay marriage. Their CEO and founder’s son Dan Cathy has publicly proclaimed gay marriage wrong. Now, Social media is forcing the story to the forefront ...
“Even now, I get picked on with stupid things. My aunt wants to send me to a camp where they ‘pray the gay away.’ “
We can easily become the gay honeymoon capital of the world if we act positively and quickly. And, if that happens, there will be a lot more things to do, and a lot more creativity centered in the town.
Video, photos and more from Saturday's Miss'd America Pageant.
'Everything we do as a society is based on love. I want to welcome everyone. Our arms are open to all aspects of our culture.'
The openly gay comic takes the reigns of the city's newest tradition, Miss'd America, which takes place at Boardwalk Hall Sunday, Jan. 16.
Sometimes, recessions can present unexpected opportunities. For members of the Atlantic City region's gay and lesbian community, what might be called a civil rights struggle, an attempt to form a real community or even just an effort to create some kind of gay social life in the area, also has one other good thing going for it.
From the Shannon Twins, Paz de la Huerta and the Showboat Bombshells to Rihanna, Britney, Crystal Harris and the Girls of Playboy Golf...
J. Edgar Hoover, perhaps one of the most powerful politicians in Washington, sometimes considered more powerful than the presidents he served under including Roosevelt, Kennedy and Nixon, was also rumored to be a cross-dresser with numerous stories having emerged about Hoover dressed in drag in New York City, usually in red dresses he called "Mary."
“It’s pageantry at its finest. The biggest difference [this year is] we will have world-class entertainment.”
“I’m very much looking forward to visiting Atlantic City,” says de Medici, who will also be in attendance during Saturday night’s post party at the Pro Bar at Resorts.
Sedaka and the Globetrotters