#gay

C'mon Simone, Let's Talk About Your Big Halibut

John, a longtime friend, baker and connoisseur of all thing sweet, MET WITH ME ON THIS D.C morning TO DESCRIBE his most uniquely queer dining experience

"In early March, a good friend of mine, named Carson, train rolled into Union Station from Manhattan. I picked him up at the station and we began our drive to the trailhead of a week-long backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail.  We had a lot of catching up to do. Carson is the theater director at the MOMA and always has the best stories about meeting the most interesting people. On this particular occasion, the man of interests name was David. A man that we were stopping in Richmond to meet. 

While I was I skeptical about driving two hours out of our way, to eat at a restaurant I knew nothing about, with a man and his husband that Carson had known for only a few hours, I’m a sucker for a good gay love story about a chef/professor power couple who rocks the Richmond art scene. In no time, we were on our way to a little restaurant called L'opossum.

We arrived promptly at 7pm and were greeted by a southern twink, who little to my knowledge, knew everything about us already. He showed us to our table, but only after pushing back a large, black curtain that separated the restaurant from the outside world. Similarly, every window had been draped with blackout curtains, completely cocooning the interior in darkness. This restaurant was odd: eccentric, dim light fixtures, large bronze swan sculptures, and a dead, stuffed opossum posed on the bar. The music and menu, both French, added to the quirkiness.

He poured us glasses of mint infused water, placed our menus in our hands, and then took off

After grazing through the menu, I decided to start with the venison, described as “chasing dragons above clouds of yuzu with lotus, hot mustard, and a consensual spanking of furikake.” Carson opted for the “Vegan Orgy on a Texas Beach.” According to the menu, it was “a banger.” We washed our first courses down with Laura Palmers, naturally with glasses cloaked in plastic wrap.

We move onto our second course, carefully guided by the chef, who came out of kitchen, because she too, knew who we were. The decision is one of my harder ones, but I finally decided on the Coq au Morocco, “a succulent young chicken’s exotic journey from the rough trade markets of Marrakes.” while Carson chose “C’mon Simone, Let’s talk about your big halibut.” Both of our choices ares succulent and wreak of queerness.

Stuffed, we decided to split “Butch Queen, First Time in Drag, At a Ball-Paris is Burning”, also known as of pork belly and sea scallops

We ended with a fiery chocolate creation that I fell madly in love with (or maybe that was the beautiful boy across the table from me, I’m unsure). One thing was for certain, this restaurant was unapologetically gay as showcased through the dish names to the gender neutral bathrooms with clown portraits. In that moment, I realized this restaurant had done something I did not think was possible, bring people together not only over food, but over a sense of queer community. I later found out L’Opposum is the number one rated restaurant in Richmond and one of the best in all of the south. David created a little spot of gay heaven in his hometown.

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After he finished the story, John and I agreed that our community has been through so much shit together that we’ve created unspoken understanding of family in the LGBTQA+ community. In this instance, it was a connection that was powerful enough for David to invite practical strangers into his safe haven.

Food is a medium for conversations, comfort, and closeness. The undeniable truth is that nothing draws people together better than food - except maybe, queerness.

Follow John @loyallyjg

Check out L'opossum @ http://www.lopossum.com 

Spending Thyme with Connor

Let me introduce you to Connor.

On an overcast April afternoon in New York City, I walked into a boisterous classroom filled with foodies, professors and classmates. Next to me sat a polite and well dressed male student with an eye for fashion, a love of food, and a curly mustache. We immediately connected through our outfits and obvious queerness, both wearing blue blazers and oxfords.

Growing up in upstate New York, Connor completed his Bachelor's Degree at The Culinary Institute of America. Instead of playing football or watching ESPN as a kid, he found himself spending his time in the kitchen baking M&M cookies with his mother and grandmother or binge watching Food Network. As the youngest in a large family, he sought comfort through food. 

But by far, one of the most interesting facet of Connor's life, is his aspiration to challenge the male-dominated professional realm of cooking. As a constant source of inspiration and perseverance, Connor's below responses reinforce the need for discussion around the political climate of sexuality in food in the queer community.

Because I knew he was up for a challenge, I posed two tough question to Connor: As an out, gay male, how does sexuality play a role in the kitchen?

"I think food itself has been largely impacted by gay men, especially throughout recent history.   A good example of this can be seen by a guy named John Birdsall. In an article I recently read titled  “America, Your Food Is So Gay” it reviews the influence of gay men historically and his impact on American food.  He then introduces major gay personalities in food, such as James Beard, Craig Claiborne, Richard Olney, and Jeremiah Tower.  The collective works of these men created an environment around food that made food and cooking particularly accepting, especially of the queer community.

However, the professional environment is outdated in its treatment of queer workers.  As a member of the queer community myself, working in professional kitchens has conjured up certain tensions that I felt myself being weighed down by." 

And more specifically, what challenges do you face as a queer professional chef?

"In my personal experience as professional line cook, I found myself often suppressing or hiding my identity as a gay man when performing in the professional sphere.  Both in my networking experiences, as well as in professional kitchens, I felt that I could be more successful in my career if I performed to the masculinity so ubiquitous to the restaurant industry." 

"As a comfortable and openly gay man in my personal life, I struggled being comfortable with that identity as a professional culinarian (most specifically as a professional line cook).  By analyzing a focus group of male queer culinary professionals, I plan to explore the greater intersectionality of male queerness and its positioning within the culture of the New York’s professional kitchens."

Connor is an NYU Masters student in Food Studies with a concentration in Global Studies. His current research is focusing on treatment of labor of openly queer male chefs in New York City. 

Follow him at @white_connor & https://www.anotherhelpingkitchen.com/