10.02.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

It’s October, which means it’s that time of the year when I climb into the attic, dust off the boxes that read “HOLIDAY CRAP” and start figuring out how I am going to decorate for… Christmas! Merry Christmas, everyone!

Yes, I know that we have a couple more months and several other holidays to get through before the big, jolly elf brings me a bunch of stuff that I will love and play with for five minutes before moving on to making a fort out of the boxes all that junk came in, but I can’t help it. I love Christmas and, to be honest, I’m not a big fan of Halloween. I know, that is sacrilegious to say being gay but it doesn’t carry the same joy for me that it does for all the other L’s, G’s, B’s, T’s and Q’s I know.

Even as a kid I didn’t get as hyped about Halloween as the other kids did. I think the main reason was I spent most of my youth as a chubby child here in Florida. As any big person in a tropical climate will tell you, layering in 90 degree weather is a bit of a challenge for us. Even at night as it would get “cool,” I would pull off the mask of my costume to get air and a pool of water would fall to the ground. My face would be beat red and I would be the only kid on the block going door-to-door, not asking for candy but a tall glass of water.

My slightly older brother and our friends would be running up and down the streets, pillow case in hand, like a band of raiding pirates taking down the British fleet, constantly yelling back at me to hurry up as I waddled down the sidewalk, arms flailing side to side, attempting to walk. My entire body sounded like a wet sponge stuck in a Ziploc bag.

As my later teen years came on and I got bigger, I started staying in on Halloween—as any good gay son would do—with his mother. I remember decorating the front hall, getting dressed up as Frankenstein and handing out candy to the kids. In between knocks on the door, Mama and I would watch AMC’s Monsterfest, eat candy and hang out.

When I graduated high school and went into the military, Halloween just became an excuse to drink and see guys … I mean girls, Sergeant! To see girls scantily clad in tight costumes that showed a lot of skin. Yeah, that’s what I was looking at. My costume at those events were usually a black T-shirt with orange writing that said something stupid like “This shirt is my costume.” Yeah, I was that guy. There are some years where friends forced me into a getup to head down to the bar and go all Halloween crazy but it was always for them. I never had the same spark they did for the holiday.

Funny enough, while I don’t care for the holiday dedicated to frights and scares, I do love films dedicated to them. I watch four or five horror films a week. Most night and weekends, I can be found relaxing in the living room with my best friend and roommate Chris flipping through Netflix, Hulu or HBO trying to find a scary movie we haven’t already seen.

So as you are enjoying your month of tricks and treats, if you see me out in costume looking miserable, please come up and tell me what your favorite scary movie is. I’m always keeping a list, just like Santa Claus. Merry Christmas!!!

Also, in the month of October is National Coming Out Day and that is when we celebrate Come Out With Pride (COWP). In this issue, we look at what eco-friendly alternatives COWP will be bringing to Lake Eola Oct. 12 as the city’s new policy ban on single-use straws, plastic bags and Styrofoam at city-owned properties takes effect Oct. 1.

We also hear from Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, who has a few words to the LGBTQ community for his first pride parade and festival as mayor.

In Arts and Entertainment, we chat with Brazilian bombshell and the world’s most popular drag queen, Pabllo Vittar, as she prepares to perform at COWP. We also preview St. Pete’s fifth annual SHINE Mural Festival.

In Central Florida news, we look at the upcoming Orlando City Council race for District 4 between incumbent Patty Sheehan and new-to-politics Corey DeVogel, and we talk with members of the Lesbian and Gay Band Association as they prepare to hold their annual conference in Orlando.

In Tampa Bay news, we preview Come OUT St. Pete’s parade and festival and check in with Rep. Jennifer Webb as she kicks off her re-election campaign.

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