TBRU is fun but it can also be overwhelming. Here are some insider tips to help you make the most of your weekend:

1. #Giveback- If you’re new to TBRU a great way to meet people is by picking up a couple volunteer shifts. You get to help out and chat up the fellow volunteers and run goers all at the same time. This is also a great way to meet new people if your sick of seeing only the same faces.

2. #OraQuick- Know your status. It’s a wonderful weekend filled with (the possibility of) sex with guys you’ve just met. Protect them and yourself.

3. #Disconap- You won’t want to miss a second of the action but taking a short nap will save you in the long run. Your body needs time to rest. You don’t want to pull a muscle and get lock jaw on the second day do you?

4. #Drunkandhungry- When you’re on Cedar Springs and you’re hungry for a slice remember one simple rule: Zini’s NO. Italia Express YES.

5. #Goodiewithahoodie- Dallas in March is tough weather to pack for. Most likely it’ll be near 70 but it could get up in the 80s or down in the 40s. Most bears live in shorts in any weather above 55 degrees, but trust me when I tell you to bring a hoodie and a pair of jeans.

6. #Lessismore Take an inventory of your bathing suit wardrobe. This is one of the few instances where you can break out the super tight and skimpy square cuts that are obscene in straight society. As a reminder: before you buy those blue Old Navy trunks with the white stripe down the side remember that you’ll see at least 10 other bears in the same ones.

7. #Patientsisavirtue- When you walk in a bar don’t automatically go to the first bar you see. The front bar will always have the longest lines. Keep walking toward the back or upstairs (when available) to bars that most people miss. This is especially important if you are opening up a tab. You may have to walk farther but trust me it will be a lot quicker.

A quick guide:
S4– 6 bars total. 4 down and 2 up. The bars to the left and right as you walk in are always insanely busy. The Rose Room upstairs is your best bet. You’ll also find extra bathrooms there.
TMC– 3 total. Two inside and one out on the back patio. The patio bar gets the least traffic. 
JR’s– 3 Total. 2 down. 1 up. The upstairs bar has a great balcony to overlooks Cedar Springs. 
Woody’s– 2 Bars, one on each level. Go upstairs for shorter lines.
The Round Up– 5 total. Walk around to check but the bar along the back wall is generally the least busy.
The Eagle– The back bar is often overlooked. Tip: it can also be accessed from outside on the patio.
Crowne Plaza Hospitality suite:  Two bars along the back walls on either side. There is also usually a table toward the front door serving punch sponsored by a local bear group.

8. #Badgeofhonor- Friday night’s BearDance at S4 is always my favorite event of the whole  weekend. This year it’ll be a glow party filled with black lights and glow sticks. Tip: Be sure to wear a freshly laundered shirt if you don’t want everyone to see the evidence of the Lewinsky you pulled that afternoon.

9. #Truestory- There will be plenty of hot gogo bear dancers at BearDance. Make sure to tip them well because all the tips go to charity. #seriously

10. #Throatcoat- Don’t get sick. Start taking Airborne now to prevent any colds before vacation and to build up your immunity once you are here. Also if you are prone to allergies bring extra doses of medication. I’ve seen a lot of friends sidelines simply from sinuses. You don’t want your drink of the weekend to be Robitussin.

11. #Ishouldbedrinkingrightnow- TBRU offers a lot of extra trips and mini events throughout the weekend. Some are great and some are dreadful:

-The “Spa” trip to Club Dallas (aka the bathhouse) can be fun if is extra hot and the pool outside is open. Apart from swimming naked the action is hit or miss. It’s not a definite skip but don’t feel bad if you miss it.
-The Mr. TBRU contest can be fun for about 15 minutes. Unfortunately it takes hours. Seriously. Stop in an check it out but I wouldn’t plan on staying for the whole thing.
-The excursions to aquariums, breweries, and such can be a lot of fun if you’re interested in it and you’re feeling touristy. Judge those on a case by case basis.

12. #Sardines- The Hidden Door on Sunday is fun but gets so packed it borders on annoying. Beware if you don’t like large crowds. Come to think of it, if you don’t like large crowds you’d probably avoid the whole weekend.

Oscar Red Carpet Predictions

The Oscars are exactly one week away. Stylists throughout Hollywood are scheduling final fittings and consultations for all their red carpet clients. Coincidentally we are also in the middle of Fall 2014 Fashion weeks around the globe. New York, Milan, and London have wrapped and Paris starts this Wednesday. I picked 18 looks from the Spring and Fall collections that I think we’ll see on the Oscar red carpet. I paired each dress up with the actress that I think should/would wear it. Some of the dresses are what I hope they wear (example Cate Blanchett) and some are what I think they will wear (example Sandra Bullock). I’ll report back after the awards to see how I did. One note: You’ll notice I didn’t pick a dress for Jennifer Lawrence or Charlize Theron. Both actress are under contract with Dior so they get custom made gowns for every event. Tune in to the Oscars on ABC Sunday March 2nd.

Sandra Bullock
Cate Blanchett


Julie Roberts
Emma Thompson

Angelina Jolie
Anne Hathaway
Amy Adams
Lupita Nyong’o

Taylor Swift
Zoe Saldana

Jane Fonda
Sally Hawkins

Helen Mirren
Jessica Chastain
Jennifer Lopez
Gwyneth Paltrow

Kerry Washington

Meryl Streep

Basic Instinct

Recently I took over a task at work that had been done by the same person for many years. She had gotten a new job in another department and my training was rushed to say the least. Because she had done it for so many years, all the knowledge was in her head rather than in a manual. So a lot of my inquiries as to why things were done a certain way were answered with a “because that’s the way it’s always been done” sort of answer. After I took it over all the higher ups decided this was a good opportunity to really inspect this process for any opportunities. As I said there was a real lack of solid instruction so I had to just learn as I went and as I went I learned there was a lot to learn.

Two months into this new task and I still don’t feel 100% comfortable. Everything with regard to this task is highly regulated by the state and audited as part of a much larger year end self easement. So any of me hesitations are only magnified by true consequences. One of the on going problems is that when I have a question about procedure no one knows the answer. It’s the blind leading the blind. The audit has been going on this week and mistakes are surfacing from the previous year. Luckily all of the mistakes were from before I took over but it made our department look bad none the less. The metaphorical shit hit the fan.

Not surprisingly I got an invite to a late Friday afternoon meeting to discuss the errors uncovered in the audit. A meeting late in the afternoon on a Friday is never a good sign. My dread was supported shortly there after when I got a string of emails asking if I had saved certain emails and communications about specific topics. To me that sounded like I was going to be asked to defend myself in the court of office politics. While I stayed calm on the outside I instantly went into defensive survival mode in my head. Although I knew all my actions had gotten management approval I still had a very bad gut feeling about this up coming meeting.  I had a strong suspicion I would be thrown under the bus as the scapegoat. I never thought my job was in serious jeopardy but there was definitely doom looming in the air. In my head I was already preparing my defensive arguments.

When 3 o’clock on Friday came I went into the small conference room armed with printed emails to use in my defense. As the managers all trickled in most were lamenting about what a tiring week it had been with the auditors around. Once we got started I was surprised at how relax and understanding everyone was being. It was not the finger pointing tone I expected but rather a group effort to understand and fix any problems. Everyone openly admitted that we were all doing the best we could and in this case that usually meant making it up as we went along. They wanted to use the meeting to go over the audit so we all could use it as a learning tool for next time. Every gut instinct I had expecting doom was totally wrong. They couldn’t have been more supportive and understanding. I was even surprised at their honestly about their own short comings. One women said,  “Even if you have a question, most of us wouldn’t know the answer anyway.”

I left the meeting feeling revealed and yet foolish. Why did I instantly go into defense mode when no one had ever said I was in trouble? I quickly realized what I thought was my instinct was really misplaced fear left over from my previous employer. Despite having left retail almost 4 years ago, the experience still has an effect on me. For many years I worked in an atmosphere where all of my above mentioned instincts would not only have been correct but understated. It was a company that pitted one person against another and very often good people were fired due to the whim of the manager of the moment. If they couldn’t fire you they would use every tool possible to force you to quit. To give you an idea of the level of dysfunction, during my time there I worked under a store manager, district manager, regional manager, and regional loss prevention manager who were all fired for wrong doing. (theft, sex with associates etc) So to say I lacked guidance from an honest leadership team in the past is an understatement. That feeling of doom came from so many store visits where I was made to feel like everything I did was being cross examined by a jury and I better have a good defense ready to avoid punishment.  I left work Friday afternoon with a smile on my face. I was thankful for being employed by honest people who all working together to try and do the best job possible. I also laughed at myself for going so overboard in my head.

This just proves that not all instincts can be trusted. So the next time the outcome of a situation seems certain because you just know it, take a moment to think about any previous trauma or drama that may skew your perceptions. Sometimes our perceptions and impressions are as much to blame as actual actions.

Who do you think you are?

If you ask most people about labels you’ll most often get an automatic politically correct answer that is something akin to “People shouldn’t be labeled. We are all humans and should be treated as individuals.” That sounds good in speech but gets muddy when applied to real life. Rather than get into a long discussion about society, stereotypes, and generalizations I’m much more curious about the labels we give ourselves. More specifically how accurate are the labels we give ourselves. As an example: I’m effeminate with a gay voice. I’m neither butch nor masculine. If there was ever a gay census and I had to choose masculine or effeminate I’d choose the latter without thinking. People who know me personally may say I fall in the middle but I don’t agree with their judgement. So who is right? Is my self image out of date and based more on childhood benchmark moments than adult behavior? I wonder if my experience as the girlie gay youngster has cemented my mental image of myself regardless of who I am now. Or am I totally accurate? It’s hard to say but I’d still put all my money on a proud nelly any day.

This phenomena is easiest to see when you ask people about their body image. Wendy Williams often refers to herself as “Once a fatty always a fatty.” By that she means she grew up as a chubby kid and therefore will always identify as a fat person for the rest of her life regardless of weight shifts. It’s a common feeling amongst people who have struggled with weight and I myself fall into this category. Even though I lost about 25-30lbs last year I will always think of myself as being part of the fat boy brotherhood. On the flip side it may take decades for someone who has always been thin to start to see themselves as fat.

As we grow and change it’s easy for our self perception to get stuck in a moment in time. How many 40 and 50 year old guys still label themselves as cubs? I’m 32 and I’ve already started to make the switch to bear. One piece of advice, don’t try to call those senior cubs out. Your truth bomb will almost always be met with intense anger and shame. Personally I can’t wait until I reach daddy status. Hot daddy bears have untold amounts of power. Most of the hottest guys I know all go gaga over a hot daddy. Yet a lot of men in the daddy age bracket refuse to own the label. My friend (and hot daddy) Punk once shared some wisdom with me. In his late 40’s, he loves to work the daddy angle to get all the horny cubs he can and it works… very well. He admitted though he doesn’t think of himself that way and instead feels like a 20 year old inside. His rationale though was a BJ from a hot guy is always a BJ from a hot guy regardless of what labels are used. If you’ve got to think of him as a daddy to get off then he’ll play the part.  

The next time you are filling out your Growlr profile or describing yourself to a new mate take a moment and think about that blurb you’ve been using for years. Most of it is probably still true but are there any areas that need updating? Do you claim versatility despite not having topped in 10 years? Are you to afraid to accept chub status even though you just bought size 43 pants? None of these labels are good or bad. It’s purely how we think of them in our own minds. So even though I like to think of myself as a chubby bear queen with too much sass and style I might actually just be an average middle of the road cub who owns too many pairs of New Balance sneakers. Gasp!


Kansas City Crazy

If I asked you a week ago to describe Kansas what would you say? What hashtags would you give it? #Farms #Boring #Squarestate #Flyoverstate #Corn #DorothyandToto #IknownothingaboutKansas

Kansas is simply one of those states that doesn’t really have a strong reputation beyond Dorothy and Toto. If I asked you to pick out Kansas on a blank map could you do it? Not being know for anything isn’t always a bad thing though. It means there’s still the possibility of making a great first impression. Example: Iowa. The American public knows as much about Iowa as it does about Kansas. Maybe even less. However Iowans gave a great first impression to the nation when they were Midwest pioneers allowing for gay marriage years before New York and California. I might not know a lot about the state but I know one very important fact that makes Iowans instantly cool. Rock on Iowa!

In a WTF moment, the crazy conservatives in Kansas drafted a bill that would allow any business or government representative to discriminate against gay people. Actually the bill is so loosely worded that the discrimination can be brought against anyone not meeting their undefined Christian standards. I picture them watching the winter Olympics in Sochi and thinking, “Ya know, those Russians are really on to something with all that gay bashing. What a good idea.” I read an Op-Ed piece in the Kansas City Star who’s headline said it all: “Discriminatory bill embarrasses Kansas” The article also mentions that the people who wrote the bill tried to do damage control by saying they only meant for the law to be applied to wedding services. For example, if you were a bakery owner you could legally refuse to sell a cake to a lesbian couple getting married. I’m so glad they clarified that…

The word segregation has been used over and over again in news stories about this bill. There aren’t many other words in the English language that bring to mind such a clear image and piece of awful American history. It’s a word so antiquated that I was surprised to see it used again in current event news. There’s a lot of headlines that are passed around the internet that can be misread or taken out of context. This is not one of those cases. This is a real life situation where a state government is trying legalize discrimination. It should be noted that the bill has not been signed into law yet so luckily there is still hope of avoiding a trip back in time to the 1950’s.

Until now Kansas has stayed under the radar for the most part. But now one of the first major news stories to circulate about them is extremely negative. We’re talking history book level negative. Without any other information to judge it against, many Americans will now associate Kansas with hatred and discrimination. If they were BP, this would be their oil spill.

Good Luck Kansas. I hope good wins out.

I also thought this would be a perfect opportunity to get to know Kansas better. Here are the basic fact and figures for the Sunflower State:

Population:  2,893,957 (2013 estimate)
Capitol:  Topeka
Largest City: Wichita
Persons per square mile: 34.9
Land area: 81,758 square miles.
Governor: Sam Brownback (until January 2015)
Entered the union in 1861 as the 34th state
Motto: To the stars through difficulties
The name Kansas comes from from a Sioux word meaning “people of the south wind.”

As a point of reference: 
City of Houston, TX population: 2,201,027 (does not include surrounding cities such as Sugar Land or The Woodlands)
City of Chicago, IL population 2,714,856

Michael Sam

I have a tremendous amount of respect for college football player Michael Sam for coming out of the closet just as his career is starting. I look up to people who are honest and true to themselves when they have the everything to lose. It might have been easier for him to come out after he was an established player or after his career was over but by coming out in the beginning he scores infinite points for honesty and integrity. With this admission he breaks through a number of long time barriers. Nay sayers have said he is just using this as a way of gaining publicity. Even if that’s true… So what? The publicity can hurt him as much as it can help him. Plus all the other players in his situation are using any number of strategies to try to get noticed. At worst he is simply playing the cards he was dealt. Well done Mr. Sam. You’re an inspiration.

On a side note: Football players do not have the best reputation for open minded acceptance. However there is hope. Sam said he told is college teammates back in August and they respected his decision and kept his secret quiet until he was ready to go public. Maybe we are wrong about football players it’s possible we haven’t given them enough credit. 

NYFW: Rodarte Does Star Wars

Fashion design duo Rodarte is best known to the general public as the team that did the costumes for the Oscar wining film Black Swan. A favorite of the fashion elite, they presented their Fall 2014 collection at New York Fashion week. The finale featured Star Wars inspired gowns. I’m not talking about a hint of sci fi flare. The gowns were covered in large scale images directly from the movie. Could this finally bond the geeks and the glamors? Love it or hate it?

View Rodarte’s full collection on Style.com