You Had Me At The Swing Of Your Kilt.

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What can I say; I love a man in a kilt. Perhaps that’s why I always wanted to wear one or maybe it was due in some small part to my heritage being Scottish and Irish. It may also be that I have been jealous of women being the only one to wear something like that, this was before I knew about Scottish people wearing them. Regardless, a man in a kilt can cause your heart to skip a beat and dance to a Scottish song. Need proof, I give you Gerard Butler (see below). And he is only one; David Tennant, John Barrowman, Graham McTavish(also below), Ewan McGregor, James McAvoy, and Billy Boyd.

In an article on Quora by Janie Keddie titled “Why do Scots wear kilts?”, she says “Men look and feel fantastic in kilts. You see them stand differently and develop a swagger. It’s extremely attractive! ” It’s true, I see it in myself. Wearing one elevates your confidence and definitely puts a bit of strut in your walk. When the pleats swing in time with your walk it is utter hypnosis to the masses. Not to mention their functionality is amazing. Confidence is an amazingly sexy thing, so when a man wears a kilt it just adds to that. Sure it’s a bit strange the first few times you see it, but you have to admit that your eye lingers a bit longer on a man who is wearing one.

As amazing as they make me feel and as much as I love seeing a man in one, there are some frustrations with them. Sitting down in a kilt  can frustrate me to no end because I still have not mastered the smoothing of the pleats. They always seem to get bunched and with a cargo kilt style, the box pleats combined with the material can leave the pleats folding awkwardly. And you gain a new found respect for women learning how to sit and maintain their modesty. I have been asked on more than one occasion about the fetish aspect of wearing a kilt. I have seen the images and videos out there of sex in kilts and it even is intriguing, but that can be said for any garment that becomes fetishized. After all, there are leather fetishes, jean fetishes, shoe fetishes, and the list goes on and on. I love my kilts for the fashion aspect, the comfort levels, and how they alter my confidence.

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So history time, kilts have been worn since about the 16th century and are a variation of the Great Kilt (feileadh Mòr). Before that time Scottish men wore long tunics and cloaks of wool. As the fabrication and availability of wool became easier, that style started to mutate into the great kilt. Traditionally it was two bolts of cloth stitched together to make the garment. The lower half was folded into pleats and belted at the waist while the upper half remained looser to wrap yourself in to keep warm and prevent wind. Wearing the tunic underneath afforded the kilt more modality so that it could be taken apart and used as a structure or a large blanket at nights.

Around the 17th or 18th century, a much simpler version was created called fèileadh beag.It was reduced to only one bolt of cloth that was belted at the knees and the pleats were stitched in for ease of wearing. This also made it much lighter to wear and easier to march in. No longer was it able to be used for shelter or blanket and lending more to ceremonial or daily wear. This is the version of the kilt that survives today. Using what is called a fly plaid and a brooch you could achieve a similar effect to wearing the full Great Kilt, but with much less weight and greater ease.

I don’t post about kilts often because part of me feels that talking about it cheapens it in some way. If I just wear them as I would any other garment, it becomes less of an issue. After all, how often does someone write a post, or talk about wearing pants? Not very often, unless its a fashion piece or about a specific designer. Simply put, I really enjoy wearing them. They are comfortable, unless your pleats bunch up. Not everyone wears them, so it does create a talking point. They are vastly multifunctional. Thrown on a t-shirt and a kilt for knocking around the house or town, pop on a polo and loafers or boots to dress it up for dinner, or add a waistcoat or blazer, a button down, and a pair of oxfords and  you have a nice looking piece for meeting people, business settings, or fancier engagements. Lets not forget about formalizing it for wedding and etc.

I may not be Gerard Butler or Graham McTavish, but I do think I look damn good in a kilt. People notice mine often and comment accordingly. Similarly, I love seeing men in a kilt and wish more would take up the trend. It is nice that they aren’t common because I do like the attention and talking to people about them. My heritage doesn’t change or accentuate my love for wearing them. I encourage you to also take a chance and try one on. Remember that we have Kilted Bros close by who can  help you out with all your kilted needs. AND fine YOU GOT ME, it was also a ploy to be able to post hot guys in kilt pics and who can’t appreciate that?

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The Dye Has Been Cast

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Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

Like many others today, I made my way to the polls to make sure my voice was a part of the cacophony we call democracy. Many view it as a chore but it is also our given right. It’s the chance for us to be a part of a larger collective, to show the government we will be heard and we do matter. This was also my first time voting in Ohio, so there was that added stress. Apparently, not all of Ohio uses the same means for residents to vote, it is county specific. Take Cuyahoga County for instance, we use a scantron method for our votes to be taken. That created its on moment of high school examination dread, when I opened the folder for my ballot.

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Queue the flashback sequence, a la Wayne’s World (party on Garth, Party on Wayne). It would be more apt to say… Pictures it Montgomery County, Virginia November 1992, a small town gay boy makes his way for his first time of entering the booth. Now before you get all pervy on me, I am recalling my first time voting in an election, not a video booth. Sheesh, maybe if you are good we can recount that story, spoiler alert I have never been in one of those booths. Anyway, back to the young boy, going through high school civics/government class we all had training to help man the polls and learn how to use the machines. At that time, Virginia was still using the punch ballot. You essentially would put your card in this machine, line it up, choose your candidates and using a pin push through the paper, and when you were done you would pull a lever to cast your ballot. The machine would reset for the next person. Think slot machine without the payout.

That was nerve-wracking back then, thankfully Virginia now uses an electronic system. Being a Gen X-er, we grew up watching technology evolve, so merging into that type of system wasn’t a hard migration. Moving to Ohio I was unsure what to expect and they didn’t let me down. I decided to vote before work and managed to get there about an hour after the polls opened and took my roommate along for the ride. Of course I grilled him about how it would work, since I hadn’t used a paper ballot since high school. I was expecting a large turn out and it wasn’t bad. The lines moved very quickly and since I screwed up one of my forms I was even able to retrieve a new one and recast in fairly quick time.

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What’s that you say? How could I have screwed up my vote? Well I did mention earlier the flashback to high school examinations with scantron sheets. Early in the morning my eyes haven’t adjusted and have a bit of double vision, combined with this season’s allergies. So, like a good child is known for, I colored outside of the lines. Apparently more than the machine would tolerate. I could joke about an attempt but saying that could be misconstrued and I wouldn’t want Big Brother showing up at home this afternoon.

All in all, we were in and out quickly. Nice to see that things were under control enough to make them move that effortlessly and thank you for the patient people that had to endure me not understanding the intricacies of Cuyahoga County Voting. I just hope that it wasn’t an indication of low voter turnout. I haven’t checked any information for Ohio, as of today, about early turnout versus showing up on Election Day. As of now at 10 am, it’s a bit too early to see any kind of results as to what may be happening. The fate of the country rests firmly in our hands and it’s time to remember that the government should fear its people and not the people who should fear the government. If you haven’t yet, get out there and vote, no matter who or how you choose to vote. Make your voice be heard.

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Sing it from the mountains…

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I can’t stress enough the importance of voting. Recent elections have shown us that deciding factors can be really close and sometimes a few extra votes can swing things wildly. This year is just as important, with it being midterm elections. How we decide to vote, as a people can vastly change how the remaining two years of this Administration play out. For the LGBTQ community, much of the stage for how our rights may be affected hinge on these elections. Many more communities and states are offering up ordinances for the protection of job status for the LGBTQ people and our votes will greatly impact those decisions.

Tomorrow, November 6th is the day to vote. Please make sure you exercise your right to be heard. No matter how you choose to vote, just do it. We live in a word where the very people who run it are trying to pass legislature that will take away basic rights of every individual. They will decide what you can do with your body, what options you have in healthcare or lack thereof, how laws will affect you in the future. Look at each and every item on the ballot for your area and think how you feel about them. If you are unsure of the wording seek help.

Remember, it is important that each of us get the opportunity to exercise our rights to vote. If you are heading to the polls, take someone along with you. Go as a group and make an event of it. Become educated on the issues so you know how and what may affect you. Let your voice be heard. Remember Thomas Jefferson once said, “When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” Don’t let this administration that is so keen to publicly spouse hate rhetoric be the only voice that is heard. It is time we speak out, in unison, to let the government know that we are here and we need to be heard.

The annual Pride Parade is replaced with a Resist March as members of the LGBT community protest President Donald Trump in West Hollywood, California
The annual Pride Parade is replaced with a Resist March as members of the LGBT community protest President Donald Trump in West Hollywood, California, U.S. June 11, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

 

History is Family

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As National LGBTQ History month comes to close we should reflect back on the many important people and events that have came before us. They are important because it is what makes our family. My very first boyfriend gave me the most important lesson I still carry with me to this day. It was this, “as LGBTQ we have the special ability to be able to choose our family when the one we are born into turns away from us.” It gives us the ability to leave the pain that may be caused by the people that are supposed to love us unconditionally and find one that will lift our very souls upward. To do that we have to make one simple choice, which is to love ourselves.

Each post I have made this month has been about finding your inner strength through our history. That inner strength promotes pride and love of who you are and want to be. That sense of pride and love in turn forces you to choose a community that accepts you and you in turn hold that community to a higher standard that reflect the very things you hold important in yourself. That community, hopefully, takes those lessons forward to create unity and strength to battle those that would sooner rob us of our very existence. These actions turn into a movement that says we will not be satisfied with being held down any longer and we demand to be seen as equal. With hope and strength, this movement will shape the change for the future to create the better place that those of us who are coming out in the future will be safe in.

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It all comes from you, though. You who are reading these very words are the ones to shape those images into reality. How you choose to take these words and plant them in your heart and soul. How you choose to share your feelings with others. These first steps are always hard trust me, I know. Looking at yourself in the mirror and knowing that you are perfect the way you are and the feelings you feel are completely natural. The strength and love you have in yourself is enough to make you stronger than anyone who tries to tear you down.

I say to you, from the very bottom of my heart, that I am your family. I support the person you know you are deep inside. I see your value and know that you are a beautiful sole. I am here to listen to you when you think no one else will. I am just like you, even though you feel you are the only one. You may not see it at this very moment, but you are strong, stronger than anyone will ever fully understand. Love yourself, forgive yourself, and never give up the fight.

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Oh, the times they are a changin’…

With this being National LGBTQ History Month, I also think it is important to celebrate the present. Our city, Cleveland, has had a few victories this year that definitely need celebrating. While we still have a fight ahead of us, acknowledging where we have made advances gives us strength to fight on. Share with me in this and know that each of you are a part of this.

Say what you want, but gay bars have been the cornerstones of LGBTQ culture for a very long time. They have been sanctuary, front lines of rebellion, keystones to neighborhoods, and starts of our “out lives”. As we move forward through our history, we are seeing a decline in those establishments.

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Leather Stallion Saloon Cleveland, OH

In the 1960s, as New York’s gay community started coming into its own, we needed a place where we could come together without fear of reprisals. Until that point, there were laws in place, in most of the country that gay men could not be served in public. All it took was for a bartender to assume you were gay for them to not serve you and even have you arrested. Sit to close to another guy, busted. Touch a man that looked intimate, cops showed up and probably smashed your head. Even meeting in public places was dangerous. Cruisy areas were heavily patrolled and regular arrests were made. But the LGBTQ community had an unlikely ally, the Mob.

New York had a liquor law that barred what they called disorderly conduct on premises, this was used to make sure that gay men didn’t dance together in bars or even be romantic with one another. The Mob saw this as a perfect business opportunity. The Genovese family was the “Dons” of Manhattan’s West side bar scene, which included the Village, where the LGBTQ community was getting its start. “Fat Tony” a.k.a Tony Lauria bought the Stonewall Inn in 1966 and made the first gay bar. It was run very cheaply; no running water, no sanitation for dishes, bathrooms not cleaned or maintained, and no fire exit. It was, however, a place we could go freely and be who we were without fear of being arrested. It also gave a safe place, as long as it was open, to runaways and LGBTQ homeless.

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Stonewall Inn New York

After the events at Stonewall, more gay bars started popping up in cities all over the country. As years progressed, they weren’t just limited to larger progressive cities. This gay more rural LGBTQ people opportunities to meet others like themselves to alleviate the feeling of being alone, even if it was only once every month or so. We knew we had a place to go where we felt like we belonged and could meet others. For me I remember it being more like a community center with a bar. TVs showed LGBTQ movies, TV Shows, and videos. Events were held each month and clubs like Leather Clubs or Pride Committees. It was the place you could come and see people you didn’t get to see daily and just be yourself. The Internet hadn’t really come to handheld devices yet, so this was our meeting place.

Over the years, LGBTQ bars in Cleveland have come into existence, thrived, and closed often. Leaving the landscape shaped by their being. In the 1970s there were as much as two-dozen gay bars, according to Cleveland.com. Their main areas were the Warehouse district and a small stretch of St Claire. From then until the mid 80s, they scene was thriving and exciting Many bars held specialty balls and events and the parties were wild. U4ia and Bounce were some of the bigger nightclubs and more popular for drag shows, both have now closed. A Man’s World, Leather Stallion Saloon, and Cocktails tended to be more neighborhood styles bars with Man’s World and Stallion catering to the leather crowds. At present there are roughly six LGBTQ bars left in Cleveland; Leather Stallion, Twist, Cocktails, The Hawk, Vibe, and the newest Shade. Leather Stallion frequently holds neighborhood events and caters to its original leather clientele. While Twist and Cocktails have smaller stages, they do host drag events.

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Twist Social Club Lakewood OH

As the 90s moved into 2000s, we saw computer gets smaller and cell phones move to smart phones. Apps were being developed that let us meet people without having to leave our homes. This was the start of the decline of the gay bar scene. Craigslist also gave freedom for random sexual encounters. With all of these changes, we saw that the bar scene slowly started falling away as the cornerstones they once were. Society, as a whole, has shifted as well. It is now much more accepted to be LGBTQ than it was in the 1960s, so the need for the sanctuaries has seemed to have fallen away. Many more conventional bars are more accepting of all sexual orientations, so niche bars are less frequented.

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The Park Roanoke, Virginia

Throughout our history we have celebrated our differences. We have reveled in our promiscuous sex life and wanted our own safe place to be as we are. With the shouts of “We’re here, We’re Queer, get used to it,” we expected others to take us at what we were. History progressed and we slowly started fighting for our right to marry, have a family and be like everyone else. Our radical sides fell away and we wanted to go back into the closet, so to speak. We fought against heterosexuals for so long and now we were fighting to be like them. Our acquiescence is what has caused a central core of our community to be left behind. I am not saying that it right or wrong, it just is.

I think it is important to remember where our foundations lie and we must accept that gay bars were a vital part of that foundation. Our community has changed, but it is still the gay bars that were where our fight began. Let us remember them and if they still exist near you, frequent them to show that you remember. We may need them again, one day.

 

 

Flaming River Con

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This past Saturday was the second annual Flaming River Con and was held in Rocky River at the West Shore Unitarian Universalists Church. I brought my best friends who happen to be a straight married couple and we decided to check it out. I had been excited for going since they announced the event early in summer. As it got closer I was hopeful for what the turn out would be like. We arrived just after 12:30 and the parking lot was packed and my excitement was escalated. We are making circles in the parking lot, skillfully looking for a spot. All I can see is my fellow LGBTQ community showing up, many of which in costumes.

Suddenly, I am filled with the emotions of the first time going to an amusement park. I am pretty low key when it comes to comic cons. I am not comfortable about dressing up as my heroes, so I am usually limited to wearing a t-shirt of anyone of my favorite villains or heroes. Today I decided to wear a blue cargo kilt and a grey Batman shirt, sort of as a mock throw back to the original Batman colors. I look around and I see the levels of peoples cosplay and I am just struck by the talent and creativity.

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As we walked in we were greeted by the Welcoming table. They offer information about the event and its roots. Talk about the raffles and what to expect. Thankfully, my friends paid attention because I was more like a kid in a candy store. My gaze feasting from one sight to another, trying to see it all. We purchase our tote bags, make our donations and I am still lost in all the people around me. As we move into the building we pass other tables for groups, rooms for all the panel discussions, and finally we enter what can only be described as geek heaven, the vendor floor.

Now many of us have been to comic cons before, the vendor floor is by large the biggest space at them and it’s where we, as collectors, find the rare statues or figures we have been searching for, for what seems our entire lives. Here it was different, it was local artists showcasing their talents and passions for the community. This is the type of vendor floor that makes me happy. If you ask me what my favorite booth was the Adopt A Monster booth by C. M. Manfredi’s Emporium of Wonders . Her handmade creatures were amazing and I think I fell in love with everyone of them. Please check out her link and support her. There were handmade Pride stained glass, artists of every flavor, and even locally made cosplay gear. Taranis Works  was on site to suit your leather goods needs. From pride colored spiked bracelets, leather eye patches, full arm guards, and leather belt bags. Check out his site for anything you may need made to your specifications.

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Many may ask why there is a need for an LGBTQ event such as this and my response is the need is important for us to have a place where we can feel at ease celebrating who we are and what we love. Sure we can do this at the larger Cons, but speaking to LGBTQ representation in comic/sci-fi/horror culture would be unheard of. Here we had Sine Grace signing autographs and discussing his role in making Iceman a representative of the LGBTQ community. These are the stepping stones for young LGBTQ youth to have role models and sources of strength and self worth. Comic books shape us as children and oftentimes they do not represent all of society. This even allows that to happen and to celebrate it.

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Thank you Flaming River Arts for putting on this event and seeing the importance for it to happen. Thank you to each person who was in attendance for it, you are the ones that make this a success. I look forward to next year and how much more it grows. It is the only place where we can be our true LGBTQ geek selves. So make sure we continue to offer your support to them. Thank you again to Flaming River Con.

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#Kiltlife

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Often, when I am out, I am asked why do I wear a kilt. It’s usually combined with are you Irish or Scottish. On occasion I get a rude comment or two. A lot of just looks, but it’s usually the why? The simple answer is that I like them, but it starts a deeper question as to when did I decide that it was something that I wanted to wear. I have never really “fit in” with fashion. Often times I dress how I like with only a little nod to any form of fashion. I also don’t think that people should be pigeonholed into a specific current fashion trend.

Pants weren’t accepted by most of the world until about 1701 and even by then there were French style breeches as opposed to trousers. And modern versions of trousers weren’t set until about the 1800s. Until the first onset, most of the world of men’s fashion was a caftan style or tunic style apparel. Native American were wearing breechclouts, which were pieces of fabric passed between the legs and held up by a belt. Roman and Greeks soldiers thought it barbaric and effeminate to wear pants. This Roman didn’t change their mindset until the Teutons conquered them and more exploration into the northern regions. Here it was limited, primarily, to the cavalry. Hitherto, this has not effect as to why I currently wear a kilt, but it is a history to show that men didn’t always wear bifurcated garments.

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As I said earlier, I have always been different in my mode of dress. I wore what I liked and didn’t pay a lot of heed to man fashion trends. In the 80s I did follow the neon fashion statements and the jelly bracelet fad. But I also wore a floor length black denim duster through most of high school with a bit of an early gothic edge. Definitely different than the normal kids in our school. I grew up in a very small rural town and our school TOTAL was 500 people. When I graduated, it was about 45 people. So, as you can see, very small. Standing out means you stood out. Seeing Boy George blurring gender lines by wearing skirts and dresses fascinated me. We had person in our school, Brian Cales that mimicked Boy George’s dress style. I never had the nerve for it. I really wasn’t witness to anything like that until after I came out and started going to the local gay bay. They guy I was dating at the time, Shawn Moomau, had a friend whose name was Mike and he always wore kilts to the bar. He was a somewhat club kid of the time. I loved his kilt and wanted one. The Internet was much smaller then and when I researched kilts I was met with the sheer expense of them. So my hopes were dashed. Today we have companies like Kilted Bros , who make it a bit more affordable to get a quality product.

I personally feel that men should branch out and try a kilt, even if only occasionally. When you are kilted up for special events, the image cannot be beat. Even casually, it can be awesome. It’s about the confidence you carry while wearing it. I have my favorites out of all of my kilts; my gotos and I have some I wear out of comfort. The most difficult for me, personally, are the cargo style kilts. And there difficulty only comes from the fabric being the heavier canvas; they are prone to creasing if the pleats aren’t perfectly situated. That it seems, is a huge struggle for me. Basically, I hate ironing pleats it is torture. I don’t seem to have that issue when I wear my wool or acrylic tartans. That aside, I still love wearing them. The freedom of movement is incredible. Pants or jeans never seem to fit 100% perfect, you always seem to get that binding pinch at some point. Go for a pair more form fitting and you end up with them riding up on you. Not comfortable, to say the least. Give me a kilt any day, All day long it’s comfortable, I don’t have to worry about feeling overly warm. Sitting for a long time, my only fear is how my pleats look.

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It takes confidence to be different than the pack, so do not think a man shouldn’t wear a kilt. Anyone that tells you that is out of his or her mind. It’s not about being Scottish/Irish, its not about wanting to wear skirts, its about being comfortable and being your true authentic self. Many think they can’t afford a kilt, well  Kilted Bros sells a more affordable kilt called a RRRip kilt. It is designed as a runner or hikers kilt, or to be used as a quick cover up for the pool and etc. Very lightweight and breathable. But, if you want to try a kilt without having to put a lot of money into one, this is the way to go. They can still be dressed up the same as other kilts, sporran, belt, shoes, shirt, and tie or just a t-shirt and barefoot around the house. It’s a PERFECT to see how you feel about it and to get comfortable with it.

And I get it, you like wearing a kilt. You wear them out in public, to the bar, and various events, but it is hard to wear them to work. Not all places are accepting of being able to wear one. This is because they are different and not widely accepted as acceptable forms of dress for men. I have been lucky to work for places that were accepting of me wearing them. With my current job, I usually wear them on Fridays and maybe one other day of the week. At a previous job, I wore them almost every day. In general, most people are pretty accepting of seeing me in one. I have had more people genuinely interested and giving compliments than the few random people who are negative about it.

The more you wear a kilt and it becomes a part of  your routine, they become you. Rude comments won’t bother you anymore, you will notice the looks of approval you get from men and women. As it becomes a natural thing for you, broaching the subject at your place of work becomes easier, as well.  The point is, you can’t know if you like something unless you try it. Be different, be ahead of the pack and not stuck in the middle. Get out and go talk to the guys at Kilted Bros. and try one on.

 

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