Rally for Equality and Bodhisattva closes 

With the gay marriage issue already fermenting in most minds like a fine nip of valley chardonnay, we didn't know quite what to expect upon arrival at the Rally for Equality March 27 at City Hall. A tea dance? A brawl? Who can tell when it comes to gay people?

But, to both our dismay and pleasure, the whole thing went off like a Susan Sarandon monologue in a Very Important Movie. The goal was amorphous -- "raising awareness" -- eschewing the more topical temptations of political debate involving county referendums and presidential support (although President Bush was properly vilified throughout the proceedings, as well he should be). And because it was a gay thing, it started about 45 minutes late. No worries though; more time for some "Just Jack" chat and the drama that goes on when men who go to gyms wear tank tops.

"Is it true that skinny guys have large cocks?" quizzed Margaret Nolan, one of hundreds of supporters on hand of the female variety.

"Yes," we confirmed, curtly.

The T-shirts (and adjoining posters) gave off an air of civil disobedience, which was nice. "We the people, in order to form a perfect union, support gay marriage," read one guy's back. "Democracy is not a spectator sport," read another woman's back, confusingly, although she did have the sense to carry a more pointed poster that read "Bush, Rove, and Cheney love the constitution. It's one more thing they can destroy! Vote them out!"

And an overweight Weimaraner wandered about with very pretty blue eyes.

Orlando's lesbian city councilwoman, the always-fantastic Patty Sheehan, kicked off the affair with the humble revelation that she was single and therefore might not have anything to say on the topic of getting hitched. But she was fed up, and gave a well-researched recount of the idiocy of the current presidential administration. They've "declared war," she said, irony in check, noting alliteratively the "divisive, desperate and despotic" means by which Shrubbie has pushed his amendment agenda. There are lots of benefits to being married, she noted: taxes, social security, hospital visitation rights (actually an "Ellen" episode). She made us cry.

More tears followed when Marni Harmony (a Unitarian minister), Lisa Gray (founder of the Orlando Gay Parents Group) and a bevy of My Two Moms tykes took the stage. "I have to tell my daughter tonight that the pictures of her two moms' wedding don't mean anything," read one such mom, from letter to Mr. Bush.

"Do you think this whole thing is a smoke screen for the Republicans to divert attention away from Iraq or the economy?" we asked event organizer Melissa Hastings.

"This was definitely created to gain public support," she answers. "And not a divisive issue."

To whom?

We had a fun exchange with freelance design writer Jennifer Ehrenberg the other day. See, Ehrenberg kind of dissed O-Town in the January/February issue of Print Magazine. She wrote: "Smack in the heart of America's tackiest tourist town is Central Florida's most unlikely attraction: Lure Design, a tiny, upscale shop where the emphasis is on craft, not kitsch."

"America's tackiest tourist town?" we asked. Are you sure? Who's No. 2?

"Having just spent Monday morning driving west from Clermont on 192, and north on International Drive, I must say that the top designation is certainly on target. The problem is, of course, that most tourists think that the area immediately surrounding Disney is, in fact, Orlando," she responded via e-mail.

"Tacky is really a highly nuanced term. On foot, Times Square and Hollywood are certainly high-ranking in seedy tackiness, but they are salvaged in the rankings by glamorous media images. Las Vegas is also extremely tacky, but in a pseudo-luxe, high-stakes, Donald Trump sort of way.

"Next in line for pure tackiness would have to be Branson, Mo., and perhaps the whole of the Ozarks. While lagging behind the Orlando area in sheer volume of attractions and shops, Branson boasts volumes of intentionally inbred family entertainment venues and loads of amazing souvenirs referencing moonshine, mountain people and the Christ of the Ozarks. At least Mickey souvenirs are generally tasteful.

Hope this helps to clarify! Now I'll have to avoid northern Arkansas for a while."

And stay the hell out of Clermont.

Bodhisattva Social Club, that "nudist, Buddhist biker bondage bar" at 23 Court Ave. downtown, has apparently done a most Buddhist-like thing and elevated to a higher plane; one beyond our world, by the observation that the place is stone, dead empty.

Word on the street is that employees showed up to work to find the place gutted. Which -- as anyone who has ever passed a blissful eve pounding $1 Pabsts, watching vintage softcore movies on the crude projection screen, sweating due to the lack of effective AC on the second floor and listening to some troubadour pouring his/her heart out -- really sucks. RIP, Bodhi's.



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