Bill Kapfer, Tony Simone, & Eric Baker.

Out With Dr. Bill – LGBTQ+ Events Take Center Stage

Dr. William Kapfer READ TIME: 18 MIN.

In a world yearning for change, I invite my EDGE readers to journey with me. Through this column, I'll share moments alongside LGBTQ+ champions and offer heartfelt cinematic experiences from iconic venues.

I'll provide an insider's look at New York politics and toast our community with both mocktails and martinis. It's not about the grandeur, but the stories and the connections we make. Together, let's appreciate the art, advocacy, and celebrations that shape our world. Join me on this humble journey towards a more inclusive future.

Celebrating LGBTQ+ Advocacy: OutLeadership's VIP Reception

I recently attended a VIP reception hosted by Todd Sears at Maxwell Social in Tribeca, situated on a bustling Washington Street. This gathering was a lead-up to the anticipated OutLeadership's Return on Equality™ ESG Summit. Maxwell Social Club, often likened to the Soho House, has its roots in Soho, where the original club was established in 2020.

This Tribeca venue is their second. What sets Maxwell apart is that it's owned and operated by its members, who fondly refer to it as their "home." The event was filled with energy, and I was among notable advocates for LGBTQ+ rights in the business sector.

Todd Sears & Carol James.

Beyond being a workspace, Maxwell offers evening events and communal cooking, fostering a sense of community and collaboration.

During the event, I had the joy of reuniting with like-minded individuals who share a vision of a world where everyone can live openly and authentically.

Among them was Brian Friedman from JetBlue, a devoted volunteer for the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP). AVP offers vital support to LGBTQ+ violence victims, focuses on prevention, and collaborates with local agencies.

Bill Kapfer & Brian Friedman.

Another standout was the immensely talented Clinton Foster. I first saw Clint delivering a mesmerizing performance on a cruise ship – the destination escapes me. That evening, he took on the role of DJ, setting the mood for a night filled with celebration and meaningful discussions about inclusivity in business.

Clint Foster DJ.

OutLeadership's work is built on the belief that equality is not just a social imperative, but a business imperative as well.

By spotlighting the symbiotic relationship between equality and business success, they demonstrate how inclusive practices drive innovation, elevate employee satisfaction, and ultimately bolster the bottom line.

In a world where the value of diversity and inclusion is increasingly recognized as a driver of success, the contributions of Todd Sears and OutLeadership are not only transformative, but also perfectly timed.

They are building bridges, breaking down barriers, and illustrating that authentic leadership entails creating a world where every individual, regardless of their identity, has the opportunity to thrive.

And that is not hyperbole: It's the truth!

"Orlando, My Political Biography" Steals the Spotlight at NYFF 61
Bill Kapfer

"Orlando, My Political Biography" Steals the Spotlight at NYFF 61

First, a heartfelt shout-out to our cherished friend, George Whipple. This Emmy Award-winning journalist and astute attorney has passionately covered entertainment for NY1 for over three decades. Eric and I are ever grateful to him for ushering us into the 61st New York Film Festival.

"Orlando" director Paul B. Preciado

George's signature LGBT reception and movie showcases during the festival are moments we earmark every year. They encapsulate the essence of community and inclusivity.

At this year's festival, one film particularly struck a chord with me. "Orlando: My Political Biography," helmed by the multifaceted theorist, writer, and curator Paul B. Preciado, redefined how we view gender and identity.

Taking cues from Virginia Woolf's ageless 1928 novel, this movie masterfully melded documentary elements with fictional narratives, mingling political chronicles with touching personal stories.

Diving deep into the realms of transness, Orlando challenged age and race constraints.

Featuring a vibrant cast of 26 trans and non-binary talents, the film revitalized Woolf's tale by intricately weaving in their personal journeys. Voices often sidelined in mainstream media stood tall, commanding the acknowledgment and portrayal they rightfully merit.

The film was a profound experience. It nudged me to reconsider preconceptions about identity, gender, and narrative crafting. Woolf's profound words, "Come, come! I'm sick to death of this particular self. I want another," reverberated, prodding us to introspect our self-perception.

Yet, Orlando wasn't just a viewing experience; it was a clarion call. It urged viewers to challenge and reject anti-trans sentiments and champion global trans rights. Its accolades at the 2023 Berlin Film Festival, especially the coveted Teddy Award, underscore the pressing need for such conversations.

Preciado's crafty genius broke conventional filmmaking molds. The film's acclaim at the Berlin International Film Festival reinforces its paramount role in the evolving discourse around trans identity and political underrepresentation.

During the 61st New York Film Festival, we weren't mere observers. We were active participants in a profound dialogue on identity, representation, and cinema's transformative ability to kindle societal shifts.

I eagerly await more such cinematic gems and dialogues that prod us to contemplate, introspect, and champion a more inclusive tomorrow!

A Night at Leo Bar: From Brooklyn Sake to Meiji Modern Art
Rick Bingham & Bill Kapfer

A Night at Leo Bar: From Brooklyn Sake to Meiji Modern Art

As October ushered in the start of Q4, my buddy Rick Bingham and I immersed ourselves in the grandeur of Leo Bar's signature event at Asia Society. The familiar ambiance of Leo Bar welcomed us, evoking cherished memories.

DJ Kai Song

Memories of the enchanting "LGBTQ Connections Night" soirées came to mind, where pre-pandemic networking, art discovery, and the spirited LGBTQ community came together effortlessly.

A standout moment of our evening was the exquisite sake tasting hosted by Brooklyn Kura. Nestled in the heart of New York City, this craft sake brewery offered a direct passport to Japan with its genuine flavors, elevating our experience.

We sampled three distinct sake varieties. First up was Omachi, a bone-dry sake with subtle aromatics that felt slightly too floral for my taste. This sake comes from the first Omachi rice cultivated in the US by Isbell Farms.

Omachi boasts a legacy as the earliest known sake rice strain, untouched by genetic cross-breeding, and has its roots traced back to 1859. Its profile often presents sakes with layered, earthy, and herbal nuances.

Following that, we tasted the brewery's signature Blue Door, a junmai namazake, meant to be savored chilled and fresh post-fermentation. My personal favorite, dubbed their "classic," was Number Fourteen, another junmai ginjo namazake. The bartender shared that it's best enjoyed locally, chilled–and promptly after fermentation.

During our outing, art was a pivotal element, leading Rick and me to the Meiji Modern: Fifty Years of New Japan exhibition on the second floor of Asia Society. As the main attraction, this exhibition boasts over 80 pieces, from paintings and prints to photographs, sculptures, and various artifacts crafted in mediums like enamel, lacquer, embroidery, and textiles.

It showcases some of the best Meiji-period artworks available in both public and private American collections. We took our time to immerse ourselves in its splendor, enjoying the tranquility before the influx of later visitors.

Our evening further sparkled with the melodic beats of DJ Kai Song, echoing from the scenic Garden Court Café. His tunes set the ideal mood for sharing stories, forging bonds, and celebrating a fusion of cultures.

This gathering at Asia Society instilled a renewed appreciation for art, culture, and the value of treasured friendships, paving the way for the months ahead.

As our night concluded, Rick and I departed with hearts overflowing –filled with artistic revelations, warm recollections, and eager anticipation for more such enriching events in the remainder of 2023.

Tony Simone's 2024 Campaign Trail Begins at Iconic Stonewall Inn
Erik Bottcher on stage.

Tony Simone's 2024 Campaign Trail Begins at Iconic Stonewall Inn

Last week, Eric and I joined our friend, Assembly Member Tony Simone, at the iconic Stonewall Inn for his 2024 Re-Election Campaign Kickoff Party!

Upstairs at the Stonewall Inn, the space serves both as a bar and an event venue. Its ambiance is intimate and cozy, offering a marked contrast to the lively scene downstairs, making it the perfect setting for political events. This venue regularly plays host to a variety of events, from drag shows and karaoke nights to private gatherings.

At one end of the bar, a stage provided Tony with the ideal backdrop to deliver his powerful and impassioned message about his re-election campaign.

We spent the evening among cherished friends from both the political world and elsewhere, gathering to hear Tony speak and to toast his journey on the 2024 campaign trail.

Stacy Lentz, the treasured co-owner of the iconic Stonewall Inn – the birthplace of the LGBTQ+ rights movement and Pride – graced the event with her presence. In addition to her ownership of the Inn, Stacy serves as the CEO of The Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative, a global non-profit that champions LGBTQ+ equality and justice.

Her unwavering commitment to LGBTQ+ rights and corporate responsibility, on both local and international levels, establishes Stacy as a cornerstone of our community.

Among other familiar faces at the reception was the esteemed Erik Bottcher, the representative for our Chelsea neighborhood in the 3rd district of the New York City Council, who was there to support Tony. Here's to Tony's success! Best of luck!

The Dickens: A Beacon in Hell's Kitchen

At the throbbing heart of Hell's Kitchen, The Dickens shines as a vibrant gay bar, alive with community spirit and festive energy.

Stepping into this literary-inspired gem on 8th Avenue between 47th and 48th, my friends opted for an array of drinks, while I zeroed in on a dry Belvedere Martini, garnished with olives, from the downstairs bar.

Martini in tow, we made our way upstairs, immediately drawn into the energetic buzz of chatter and merriment. Finding a snug couch, we sank in, letting the inviting atmosphere wash over us.

The Dickens owner Bryan Hannon & Bill Kapfer.

Thanks to the skilled guidance of Vida Verde and PMac's Hospitality expert, Bryan Hannon, The Dickens has flourished as a diverse hotspot. While it offers the usual mix of drinks and dancing, it also boasts delectable dinners.

Unfortunately, I arrived a bit too late to sample the cuisine. The venue, previously the Latitude Bar and Grill, has been brilliantly transformed to pay tribute to Dickens' legacy, highlighting the LGBTQ+ undertones in his writings.

Each of its six distinct areas radiates its own allure. Whether you're unwinding in Genie's Lounge, exploring the whiskey-focused Dark Room, or dancing in the lively Discoteca, there's an atmosphere tailored for every vibe.

And the pinnacle of the experience? The Margarita Market rooftop, with its sweeping views of the city skyline!

I keenly look forward to my next visit to The Dickens, marking it as my top pre-theater destination. But this place offers more than refreshments – it celebrates the intertwined stories of LGBTQ+ and literature. It's where past narratives meld with modern rhythms, where cocktails, dance moves, and the diverse culture of Hell's Kitchen converge.

If you find yourself nearby, don't bypass the unique experience that is The Dickens – a mesmerizing blend of LGBTQIA+ history and literary artistry!

The Icon Wall

by Dr. William Kapfer

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