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Holiday Gift Guide ’06
Ten gay ideas for the season’s gift giving

by Mark Smith
It’s that time of year again. The holiday season kicks off with Halloween and continues through Thanksgiving, Christmas, Winter Solstice, Hanukah and the arrival of the New Year.

Religiously affiliated or not — many people get into the spirit of gift giving with family and friends. With the plethora of mass-marketed items out there today — we’ve conjured up a list of unique items that are sure to be a hit with homophiles!

Old copy of “After Dark” magazine
Here’s a piece of queer history. “After Dark” was the first widely distributed available-on-newsstands publication in the country to cover gay and lesbian topics. It began publishing in 1968 and ceased in 1981. The topics reflect the mindset of queer culture of the era: lots and lots of interviews with divas like Diana Ross, Bette Midler, Donna Summer and Shirley Bassey, as well as stories on film, theatre and music. It’s a fascinating look at our history and they make excellent coffee table conversation pieces. Not hard to find, either — just take a look at Ebay and you can find them ranging in price from $20-$30.

Queer Film Poster
Movie posters make excellent art and can even make a political statement when you choose a gay-themed film like “Personal Best.”

Oftentimes, finds like these pop up at a local flea market. But if you’re looking for a sure thing, the internet’s the best place to shop — there are multiple sites that specialize in film poster art. A poster like “Personal Best” generally runs for somewhere in the neighborhood of $20. Older, cinematic classic posters for films like “The Children’s Hour” and “Victim” can run as much as $100. The best thing about a gift like this: it’s an investment. They’re guaranteed to increase in value.

Pets in need
It’s never really a good idea to give an animal to someone as a gift unless you know they want one. But what about giving yourself as a gift to a dog or cat in need? Think about this for a minute — is it really necessary to order that designer pooch when there are thousands of animals in shelters that need someone to love them? The holiday season is a perfect time to welcome a new family member, too!

A DVD of ‘Making Love’
Produced in 1982, this film is the first mainstream American production to tackle gay subject matter with big name actors (Kate Jackson, Michael Ontkean and Harry Hamlin), a sizable budget and widespread release. Although it’s often panned by critics, it’s also seen as a milestone in queer culture. Directed by Arthur Hiller (“Outrageous Fortune,” “Love Story”), “Making Love” is the story of a young married couple — Zach and Claire (Ontkean and Jackson) — who find their life torn apart when Zach suddenly confronts his long-repressed attraction for other men. Zach and Claire live a comfortable life secure in their love for one another until Bart (Hamlin), a swinging L.A. novelist, walks into Zach’s office and awakens suppressed sexual feelings in him. It’s available at amazon.com.

A book by Noel Coward
Openly gay at a time when most weren’t (Coward was born in 1899 and died in 1973) and very witty, he is the author of over 50 published plays and many albums’ worth of original songs. He also wrote comic revues, poetry, several volumes of short stories, a novel (“Pomp and Circumstance,” 1960), and three volumes of autobiography. Books of his song lyrics, diaries and letters have also been published. Although there are numerous works by Coward, our favorite is “Terribly Intimate Portraits” — it’s a comical look at the people and places he encounters on his first trip to the U.S. in 1929.

A donation in a friend’s name
For the person who has everything and needs nothing. Make a donation to a charity foundation in their name. There are tons of them out there and you should make your choice based on your own instincts. We’re going to suggest one of our favorites, though: Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International is a humanitarian assistance organization that works to end world hunger and protect the earth. Through livestock, training and “passing on the gift,” Heifer has helped seven million families in more than 125 countries improve their quality of life and move toward greater self-reliance. Heifer helps build strong communities because each project participant agrees to pass on the gift of animal offspring, training or skills to another family in need. In other words, your donation will see to it that a needy family in a developing country gets a farm animal, such as a goat, ox or cow, to produce milk and other animals.
For more details, visit www.heifer.org.

Remember that classic moment in the famous coming out episode of “Ellen” when Melissa Etheridge presents Laura Dern with a toaster oven for “recruiting” another lesbian? This is the perfect gift for all your recently out friends!

Vintage Car
Why drive around in a boring everyday sheet metal and plastic genera-car when you can ride around in the distinctive style of days gone by. A restored vintage car frequently costs about the same as a new car. More often, though, they cost substantially less. A perfect gift for your significant other. Start out your search at www.collectorcartraderonline.com.

Take ’em to a play
For the less materialistic and for those who like to experience life rather than just look at it, consider taking them out for an evening on the town. Say, dinner and a play? In Charlotte there’s David Sedaris’ “Santaland Diaries,” currently playing at Actor’s Theatre.
For ticket information, call 704-342-2251.

A CD by the Scissor Sisters
Scissor Sisters is an American band who formed in 2001. Their style draws from disco, glam-rock/pop and the gay-club scene of New York City. Openly-gay lead vocalist Jake Shears fronts the group, along with Del Marquis, Ana Matronic, Paddy Boom and Babydaddy. Their latest CD, “Ta-Dah,” was released Sept. 18 in the U.K. and Sept. 26 in the U.S.

According to Shears, the album is a combination of ’60s-era psychedelia, glam rock and disco. It includes the number one U.K. smash, “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’.” What more could you ask for? It’s a great stocking-stuffer!

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