Big Gay Road Trip: Florida Panhandle

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I took this picture at a (very nice) club called Emerald City. The guy had just shown me pictures on his cell phone of his abs, so I just asked him to show me the real thing and WHOOP up went the shirt. Notice the dog tags around the his neck: he claims to be in the military, although I’m not sure the dog tags are real. I think he uses the fake “I’m in the military” line as his M.O. to get guys into the sack. However, the club was very mixed, lots of straight girls looking to dance with the gays, so it would be easy for a military man from one of the local bases to come by and say he was just with friends… Whatever, it doesn’t matter.

After I took this picture, a man of about 80 years of age approached us and said he had moonshine and a jacuzzi back at his place, and would Military Man like to come over?… Military Man laughed it off, said he would never. Five minutes later, he was gone. Where did he go? I’ll never know.

Welcome to Pensacola, Florida.

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Before I made it to Pensacola, I spent one more night in New Orleans: I was lucky enough to meet up with the most charming group of Southern men, including this adorable Scooby Snack, who lives mercifully close to Bourbon Street and whose apartment had a spare bedroom. Fab. His apartment is tiny, NYC tiny, as it was formerly slave’s quarters for the main house around the corner; but now it’s just a trendy little flat with painted-brick walls. The fact that it’s so small makes it cozy. Just don’t think about what used to go on there.

In the morning Scooby and I dined at local institution Clover Grill, which proudly features all-day breakfast, delicious shakes, and a 400-pound black guy who works behind the counter and sings Whitney Houston songs at the top of his lungs. Always go where the locals go, always always always. And the belly full of grease helped calm the hang over. But leaving New Orleans without a hangover is like leaving a frat party without a hickie. It’s just one of the inevitibalities of life.

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Pensacola is not the Florida you think of when you think of “Florida.” A tiny town right on the border of Alabama, this is the Florida that made gay adoption illegal, and thinks “redneck” is a term of endearment. Fabulous. But who cares? Can you hear the waves? Whoosh, whoosh…

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I drove around for an hour looking for a hotel, before I noticed lots of cars headed towards a bridge, much like the spiders in Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets. So like Harry, I followed them “to find the stuff” as per Hagrid’s instructions, and landed in Pensacola Beach (aha!), a strip of road with t-shirt shops and all the places to stay. Everything was murderously expensive–there is no reason anyone should spend $200 for a night in a made-out-of-popsickle-sticks Hampton Inn or a Hilton Garden Inn, where you have to listen to slamming doors through your paper-thin walls. Why hotels don’t make doors close more quietly, I don’t know. And there was a Noisy Kids convention in town the night I was there, and apparently they scheduled Riverdance auditions in the room directly above me. But if you go to Pensacola during the Memorial Day circuit party festivities, the noisy kids will be replaced by cracked-out boisterous queens gay men.

Later I found out there are gay bed-and-breakfast places across the (very long) bridge on the mainland, in Pensacola itself; had I planned better, maybe I could have made a reservation in one of them. But I was so hung over after a few days in New Orleans, I impressed myself by making it there at all.

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The sand here is sugar-soft, and the pale color keeps it from getting too hot on your feet. Good seashelling, too. Where were all the people this day? I guess when you live someplace, you acclimate and get bored with the beauty. Such is life.