United States of Queerty: Colorado

We here at Queerty are big fans of the United States, the nation that bore us, Celebrity Jeopardy, the hamburger and that whole representative democracy thing. It’s a nation rich in natural resources, can-do attitude and homosexuals, and each week, we’re visiting a new state to find out just what makes it so uniquely fabulous.

Home of Haggard

While Colorado Springs’ New Life Church remains embroiled in sex abuse scandals and cover-ups, The Centennial State is the frontier of the new liberal West, having switched from red to blue in the 2008 election. It’s the home of gay philanthropist Tim Gill, whose foundation has poured $110 million into targeted gay causes and races over the past decade, and Denver, which draws over 200,000 people each year for it’s annual Pride Parade. Denver mayor (and one of our favorite politicians) John Hickenlooper makes it a point to attend Pride annually. New blue state, here we come.

The Fight For Your Rights

  • mormons_gay_marriage_t613In 2006, Amendment 43 defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman in the state constitution, but 23-year-old straight golf club salesman Stuart Allen is hoping to change all that and is working to get his initiative, which would define marriage as between two consenting adults on the ballot in 2010. Says Allen, “I don’t think there should be gender-specific laws when it comes to marriage in Colorado – or anywhere. It seems like a civil rights issue.”
  • A bill sponsored by Ferrandino and Sen. Jennifer Veiga, D-Denver, would make domestic partners of state employees eligible for group benefits.
  • Another bill, sponsored by Rep. Mark Ferrandino would simplify the process that allows unwed couples to designate rights to their partners. According to the Denver Post, “Couples can already designate each other as emergency decision makers, ensure that property goes to their partners if they die and list each other as health insurance beneficiaries. But the process for sharing these and other benefits is a costly and complicated series of contracts…” Ferrandino’s bill “would give couples the option of dropping by their local county clerk’s office and filling out a check-off form stating which rights they want their partners to have.”

Local Hotspot
jrs_denverJ.R.’s Bar & Grill
77 East 17th Avenue, Denver
303/ 831-0459

If you’re looking for a place to saddle-up and meet the Denver locals, you can’t go wrong with J.R.’s, the Mile High City’s gay equivalent of Cheers. It’s a two-story saloon, complete with brass rails, wide-porch, pool tables and bingo, and while the decor might remind you of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, the Denver locals are less slutty than friendly and easy to make conversation with.

Model Citizen
128-year-old Christopher Chavez has lived in North Denver with his partner Larry for the last five years, after relocating from New Mexico. He says he hopes to live in Denver “for the rest of my life, maybe.”

What’s the best part about living in Colorado?

You get the four seasons. That’s one of my favorite things—you get them to the truest extent. You get 100 degrees in the summer and blizzards. I like skiing in the winter and playing in the sun in the summer.

What’s the biggest problem facing gays and lesbians in Colorado?

For living somewhere that’s pretty liberal minded, it’s also pretty conservative. We just recently went from a red state to a blue state, so I think gays and lesbian issues have surfaced quite a bit recently. We had gay marriage on the ballot two or three years ago and it didn’t pass—and it didn’t pass by a landslide. I know it’s being considered for the [next] ballot, and it’ll be interesting to see how the political climate has changed.

Describe your average Colorado gay.

The average Colorado gay has a pretty active lifestyle not only in their physical activity, but in their social activity. It’s kind of Mid-meets-West. That’s the best way to describe it.

Are the latest stories coming out about the New Life Church a big topic?

I guess I have to say not really, at least in my social circle. We see it on the news a lot, but we don’t really talk about it. That said, I’m not surprised—not surprised that it’s on the news and not surprised that it happened.

If there’s one thing a gay visiting Colorado should do, what is it?

You caught me off guard. I want to say, “Go to the bar!” I’m really cultured. To be honest with you, I’d say go to the brand new art museum here. It looks like a ship out of Battlestar Galactica.

What’s one misconception about the state you’d like to clear up?

It’s not as Western as you think. People have this idea of Denver being this western cowboy hick town and it’s not that at all. The people who live here don’t fit into that genre type at all. We don’t all own a pair of Wranglers.

Each week until we’re done, Queerty will be traveling to a new state; next up is Massachusetts. If you’re from the Bay State and would like to be a “Model Citizen,” shoot us an email at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you.