Monday, June 20, 2016

Kissing & Bars: Orlando mass shooting struck a gay sanctuary

"If you can't wrap your head around a bar or club as a sanctuary, you've probably never been afraid to hold someone's hand in public," wrote Jeramey Kraatz in one of the more astute of social media quotes that has swept the internet since the mass murder of 49 people at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida.

That first step inside a gay bar, that first kiss between two girls, that first sighting of a trans or drag performer, are rites of passage for most of us, whether magical or awkward. It's a part of coming out and coming of age.

But for two men, one who shot 100 people, killing half of them in Orlando, and another who was caught before bombing Los Angeles Pride, their own internalized homophobia turned outward to violence.

What they may not have expected was the resultant outpouring of compassion and anger from around the world.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Saying Goodbye - and Hello - to Bookstores

Tom Schmidt discusses his photos.
This week I attended and read at two of the last three events at Books Inc. in the Castro. The store has hosted hundreds of readings, many of which I attended. It will close next week, and it's a sad day. 

But while that store is closing because of the exorbitant renewed lease costs, Books Inc, itself is thriving, with several other branches throughout the Bay Area. It remains one of the most successful California independent bookstores. 

The gay events and stock will move to the Books Inc, Opera Plaza on Van Ness Avenue. It's often the location for high profile celebrity signings. With its larger size, it can accommodate signings by the likes of Christopher Rice and other big publisher authors.