Cutie Gay Baker Huascar Aquino Competes on 'Chopped'

My face instantly lit up on Tuesday night when I saw that openly gay baker (and my good friend) Huascar Aquino was competing on the legendary food competition show Chopped.

Huascar's story is really one that is embedded in the American dream. I first got to know him three years ago after I reviewed a similar location in New York City (for a separate publication) and a mutual friend of ours recommended that I try his place as well. At the time it was called H Bake Shop (that spot has since closed and is now Huascar & Co. Bake Shop). So I took a friend to see what the fuss was about, and suffice to say, I left with the happiest smile on my face as what Huascar was able to create for us was truly unlike anything I have had before.

Born in the Dominican Republic, he moved to the United States a number of years ago where he developed a love for pastries by learning at the Internationally renowned French Culinary Institute Of New York City. Just a heads up this is the same place that LEGENDS in the culinary industry such as Bobby FlayDavid Chang & Dan Barber have gone to and where deans include just the run of the mill dynasties in their own rights like Jacques PepinJose Andrews and Jacques Torres are deans there.  You know, no big deal whatsoever. 

After his time at the FCI, he honed his abundance of talent at historic NYC locations like The Four Seasons and Landmarc, which then led to him opening up his own location a couple of years ago.  Oh, and one more thing.  Huascar won on the Food Network hit show Cupcake Wars back in 2013, in which the theme was for Jessica Alba’s brand The Honest Company. The win came with a sweet $10,000 dollar prize and national recognition, which is great for anyone regardless of what their field is. You can watch that episode here.

He officially opened up his second location, Huascar & Co. Bake Shop in early 2017, which has earned him a ton of fanfare and praise from food critics and people alike. His location has earned 4.5 stars on both Yelp and Facebook and with good reason. HIs sweets that he creates are out of this world amazing. If you are ever in New York City, please try his PB & J and Scarlet Velvet Cupcakes. It tastes better than a hot dude, no joke. 

Huascar competed on Tuesday night's Chopped, where Martha Stewart was the judge for this round (she's appearing on the newest season of the long-running cooking competition program). It didn't surprise me that he made it all the way to the final round and impressed the three judges along the way because he is just that good. Sadly, he lost in a very tight battle, but I know what an amazing baker and chef he is and he should be proud that he got that far, not just on the show... but in life.

For more information on Huascar and his location, click here.


Pride Event Takes Place In Kenya's Kakuma Refugee Camp

Here’s an inspiring story to start off the week with some positivity. This weekend, the first ever LGBTQ+ pride in a refugee camp took place.

Rainbow flags flew and demonstrators marched through Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp. The organizers of the event were from Refugee Flag Kakuma, and most of the participants were LGBTQ+ refugees who fled from neighboring Uganda.

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda. The Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act was passed in Dec. 2013, inciting a punishment of life in prison for “aggravated homosexuality.” Violent and brutal attacks against LGBTQ+ people are common in the country, often carried out by state officials.

Rlwage Eibusone, a Ugandan transgender refugee who marched in the parade, told AFP: “I’m really happy. I feel like I am with my family and I’m very happy for it.”

A statement from Refugee Flag Kakuma read: "The very first pride event, in Kakuma refugee camp, was fabulous…The event was so colourful, with two LGBTIQ friends and comrades from the USA and England.

“We thank everyone, who has helped out in any capacity to see that our event is a success. May the almighty God bless you all, we love you all, thanks for your good heart and support.”

The slogan of the event was “Stop Homophobia.” Crowdfunding raised thousands of dollars for the parade.

Kakuma refugee camp is the third largest of its kind in the world, housing over 185,000 refugees.

h/t: https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/06/18/pride-event-takes-place-inside-refugee-camp/

5 Potential Headliners for World Pride in New York City Next Year

As someone who resides in The Big Apple, I can already tell you that the excitement around this city hosting World Pride in 2019 is already building and we haven't even had our own pride yet this year (next weekend). 

Yes, NYC is the first domestic city in the United States to host World Pride. It's extra special as 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, so we sort of feel obliged to make it that much more incredible and best previous cities like Madrid and Toronto in the process (no shade).

This year's NYC pride headliner is Kylie Minogue, which is fabulous and she would be a wonderful addition for next year's should she decide to come back. But let's get down to the brass tax: World Pride 2019 needs several amazing headliners as we want this to be something we truly never forget. One simply isn't enough.

This is also something that people from all around the world will be flying in for, so the international presence will need to be felt on some level with the people who will perform. That being said, here are 5 artists (err, 6) who I think would be an absolute thrill to have at World Pride next June.

Ricky Martin: We've seen one of our own perform at sold out stadiums all over the world, and that heat that he brings in all of his performances can easily translate to the stage that will be World Pride. 

Madonna/Lady Gaga: Y'all want a gag? Get these two to perform... separately, and together. Chances are Gaga will more than likely be there, given that she's from New York, but to have both these ladies who are massive LGBTQ icons under one roof would almost be too good to be true. 

Jennifer Lopez: J. Lo, similar to Ricky, knows how to put on a show. She's captivating the minute she hits the stage, and she's adored by the gay community. Just like Gaga, she's a fellow New Yorker, and would make our city proud with one of her fierce performances.

Sam Smith: One of our own, is cute, and can sing like no other. He would be perfect for a part during pride where we are waving our lighters back and forth while singing along to "Stay with Me".

Beyonce: Take what she did at Coachella but with an LGBT angle. Think about it. You're welcome.

This was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject. 





Some Angry Boston Fans Demand a Straight Pride Night After Red Sox Paint Pitcher's Mound Rainbow

For June 7th’s home game against the Chicago White Sox, the Boston Red Sox admirably painted their pitcher’s mound rainbow for LGBTQ+ Pride Night.

Some [reasonable] people were thrilled, others not so much. In fact, a horde of angry fans took to Twitter expressing their dismay.

Among the tweets are several pleas for a "Straight Pride" week, or even month. 

Some anti-LGBTQ+ drama queens even went as far as to claim this signals the end of baseball. 

Fortunately, some clever and funny fans were fast to clap back: 

For more of the angry tweets, as well as some clever Twitter rebuttals, check out the link below.

h/t: https://www.advocate.com/sports/2018/6/11/red-sox-fans-triggered-over-lgbt-pride-call-straight-night


'Will & Grace' Shares Video Tribute For Pride Month

"You are exactly who you are supposed to be."

You could say that's one of the ineffable messages of Pride Month.

And underscoring yet again the impact Will & Grace has had on LGBTs and allies alike, this newly-released one minute video gets to the center of what has made the show such an enduring success.

Humor with heart.

The video mash-up from the iconic sitcom in honor of Pride Month reminds us why the Will & Grace reboot been an amazing revival for NBC and the LGBT community.

Take, for example, the clip from the latest season between Will and guest star Ben Platt:

Will: “My coming out was pretty typical - my mom cried, my dad drank…”

Ben: “I told my parents when I was 8. They both threw me a coming out party on the same weekend.”

Will: “That’s not a coming out story. How’s James Franco supposed to win an Oscar playing that???”

While it gets a good laugh, the brief scene combines comedy and light with a subject many experienced as painful.

The quick video tribute offers coming out moments from Will and Jack, as well as the infamous “television kiss” between the two dashing urbanites.

We’re also treated to moments of pride by parents on the show, something most of America had never seen before W&G.

And why? Because as Jack tells us, “That’s what we do in the community - we ‘gay it forward.’”

Because Pride Month isn't just about a party, or history, or a slogan. 

“The minute you forget what we went through to get here, is the minute it could all be taken away.”

Well done, NBC.

Happy Pride, folks.



Trump White House Ignores Pride Month - Again

Pride Month proclamations, receptions and rainbow lights at the White House. 

Ah, those were the days.

But those days are days gone by.

Just like his first year in office, Donald Trump has issued presidential proclamations recognizing June as Great Outdoors Month, National Ocean Month, National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, African-American Music Appreciation Month, and National Homeownership Month.

But LGBTQ Pride Month? 

Nope. Nada. Zilch. Zip. 

Remember when he campaigned as Donald “Better for the gays than Hillary” Trump?

Instead, what LGBTQ Americans have gotten from the Trump administration are reversals on transgender students protections, executive actions in the name of “religious freedom” that make anti-LGBT discrimination easier, a Justice Department that now excludes LGBT people from the enforcement of federal civil rights law and a proposed ban on trans folks serving in the military.


President Obama, on the other hand, issued a presidential Pride Month proclamation every year of his administration.

That said, some political organizations have stepped up to recognize June as Pride Month this year.

The Democratic National Committee issued a statement honoring “the generations of leaders and activists who have fought for equality” and urging us all to “rededicate ourselves to the work that remains.”

More from the DNC:

“We see the impact of LGBTQ Americans throughout our history. We see it in the hope of Harvey Milk and the trailblazing work of Pauli Murray. We see it in the courageous leadership of Bayard Rustin and the pioneering career of Sally Ride. We see it in the brilliant performances of Laverne Cox, the athletic dominance of Abby Wambach, and the indomitable spirit of the late Edie Windsor.

“Under President Obama, our nation continued its long march toward LGBTQ equality. We ended Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and we fought for transgender equality in schools, military service, health care, and public accommodations. Today, hospitals receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds must extend visitation rights to LGBTQ patients. Across the country, violence against LGBTQ individuals can now be prosecuted as federal hate crimes. And of course, marriage equality is now the law of the land.

“We’ve made incredible progress for LGBTQ rights, and we’ve seen LGBTQ candidates achieve historic victories up and down the ballot. But LGBTQ Americans still face hurdles to equality across our society – from bathrooms to bakeries to the ballot box. Every day, Republicans in Congress, the White House, and at the state and local level are trying to turn back the clock on LGBTQ rights.

“The Democratic Party stands with LGBTQ communities in America and around the world. We believe that no one should face discrimination, bullying, or violence because of who they are or who they love. And we will never stop fighting for the equality every human being deserves.”

Additionally, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued this statement recognizing June as LGBTI Pride Month:

“The United States joins people around the world in celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) Pride Month, and reaffirms its commitment to protecting and defending the human rights of all, including LGBTI persons.

“In many parts of the world, LGBTI individuals and their supporters continue to face violence, arrest, harassment and intimidation for standing up for their human rights, participating in peaceful marches and rallies, expressing their views, and simply being who they are. LGBTI persons – like all persons – must be free to enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association, without fear of reprisal. As Americans, we place a high value on these rights and freedoms, which all persons deserve to enjoy fully and equally.

“The United States stands firmly with you as you exercise your human rights and fundamental freedoms. We wish you a safe and happy Pride Month.

While the statement is certainly appreciated, especially from one of the most vital offices in the United States when it comes to human rights, it's worth nothing that during his confirmation hearings Pompeo reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage.

22 Major League Baseball Teams To Hold LGBT Pride Nights

With warm weather finally here for good, sports fans know the "boys of summer" are back and in full swing of baseball season.

And (most) LGBT baseball fans can look forward to at least one night out where their local team hosts an event just for them.

Outsports reports that 22 of the 30 MLB teams will be hosting some type of Pride event especially for their LGBT fans.

And if you're a Chicago Cubs fan, you get two LGBT nights (Pride Day - June 10; Out at Wrigley - August 26).

For the most part, however, the events are scheduled to coincide with Pride Month in June.

The majority of these events are coordinated with the team and local organizations, although some, like the Kansas City Royals, have a grassroots-organized Pride Night.

Eight teams, unfortunately, do not have plans to hold any special night for LGBT fans. Those include the Miami Marlins, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels and the Texas Rangers.

According to Outsports, only three teams have never had any type of Pride Night: Los Angeles Angels, Cincinnati Reds and the New York Yankees.

Click here for a complete list (at this writing) of Pride Night events hosted by MLB teams this season.

And even if you don't understand the game all that well, remember there's other reasons to take in a baseball game - like the players :)


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Mark Your Calendars - Pride of the Americas in 2020 Planned for Fort Lauderdale

Wouldn't you want to come to paradise and celebrate Pride with beautiful men from all over the world? Well, how about from half the world? Get ready for Pride of the Americas 2020.

When I moved to Fort Lauderdale, my friends said I moved to paradise.  The beaches, the men, the weather, the inexpensive alcohol, and people coming from all over the world to visit throughout the year.  I agree, it is paradise, but what is great is that this paradise I call home gets better and better every single year.

From its position in southern Florida, Fort Lauderdale celebrates life and gayness like no other city. The year I graduated from college was the year this city took a leap to become a hub of LGBT travel and tourism. 

In 1995, Richard Gray proposed to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) a business plan for marketing Fort Lauderdale as a gay destination.  It was accepted and in 1996 with a $35,000 gay marketing initiative, Gray went to work promoting the city and what it had to offer tourists.  Within a half a decade the number of gay resorts in the area grew to 30.  His work and the work of others in the CVB has been so successful and the returns so great that his position of LGBT Managing Director for the Fort Lauderdale CVB was made fulltime 7 years ago and now has an annual budget of $1 million.  The budget is impressive, but what also needs to be mentioned is that Richard Gray is one of a kind as it is believed (as of 2014 when we first chatted at length) that there are no other Convention and Visitors Bureaus in North America or Internationally that Gray knows of with an employee whose sole responsibility is the LGBT market.

I've been fortunate to see some of the great progress The Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB has made to make the city and the area more and more inclusive and welcoming. 

The support the CVB gives to the LGBT community has made it much easier for Fort Lauderdale Pride to move forward with bettering what they have to offer the citizens of southern Florida.

My first interactions with Pride in the FTL area had been the Stonewall Prides held in June every year in Wilton Manors.  It's a great celebration that mirrors other pride celebrations across the country.  But it wasn't until last year in February of 2017 that I attended Fort Lauderdale's Pride celebration during its first year on the Fort Lauderdale beach.  It was one of the happiest, sexiest, down to earth, inviting events I had been to in the United States.  This year in 2018, the event was repeated but was even more glorious and was even called the Love Pride.

One thing I loved about Richard Gray's and the Greater Fort Lauderdale's CVB's vision is that they all love where we live and want to share it with as many people as they can. Pride Fort Lauderdale did desire to host the WorldPride in 2021, but it was awarded to Copenhagen.

Related Post: Travel Thursday: The Love Pride 2018 Hits Fort Lauderdale In 10 Days.

What to do when you don't get the bid?  Lemons, lemonade, lemon drop martinis, let's party!  Pride of the Americas sounds like a great consolation prize and one that is not only still in my front yard, but a year earlier!

And Fort Lauderdale is the ideal spot to launch one. Our area is not just a premiere tourist destination, it also boasts a particularly diverse and welcoming community, with one of the largest concentrations of LGBT households in the nation. Broward County is the most diverse county in Florida and the second most diverse in the nation (we’re coming for you, Queens, New York!). More than 58 percent of our population is minorities, 32 percent were born in another country, and approximately 79 percent of those foreign-born residents are from Latin America. - hotspotsmagazine

The news is fresh and exciting about this event.  When the dust settles, it may be clear which organization is sponsoring, in charge of, or fully organizing the event, but what is seen now is that the Fort Lauderdale community will be hosting this event. The partnership with Broward County, Fort Lauderdale CVB, and the Fort Lauderdale Pride organization will make this event grand!

Related Post: Travel Thursday: The Love Pride 2018 Hits Fort Lauderdale In 10 Days.

The writers over at HotSpots Magazine have shared these possible tid bits with us all as what may occur during this celebration:

  • Possible 350,000 LGBT celebrants from around the world.
  • A Sunday parade and beach festival, capped off with a spectacular fireworks show.
  • A full week of Pride festivities with opening ceremonies, an arts festival, a business expo
  • A human rights conference focused on LGBT rights in the Caribbean and Latin America
  • Daily sunset concerts, a beach party, and dance parties and other social activities at venues all over town.

Pride of the Americas is a little over a year and a half away (omg that's not too far away), so they have a little time to iron things out.  Fort Lauderdale Pride is usually in February, but the 2020 celebration may explode in February or April of that year.  Latest announcement is for April.  Will it take some of the umph out of Miami Pride which is usually the first weekend of April or will it be later in the month?  They're working on it and we will let you know more when we know more.


h/t: HotSpots Magazine

San Diego Padres Host First Pride Event of the MLB Season!

Even though the weather outside is still giving us major winter vibes, facts are that spring is here and with that so is the start of another baseball season.  

Something that has become bigger and bigger each and every year are the amount of teams within Major League Baseball who are hosting a pride night event during one of their many games.  It's something that the Milwaukee Brewers have joined in on, as they will be hosting their first pride event later on this year. 

The San Diego Padres, however, are lucky enough to be the first team to host a pride night for the 2018 MLB season, which will occur on April 27th.  According to OutSports, the game will be against the New York Mets with festivities starting around 4:30 PM local time. 

The National Anthem that evening will be a joint venture of sorts, as the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus, San Diego Women’s Chorus and San Diego Pride and Padres staff will all take the field in unison.  The team has also made it possible for members of 14 San Diego LGBT sports leagues to buy ticket guaranteeing them seating with their group.  Pretty awesome.

You can buy your tickets to the event here if you happen to be local to San Diego on the night of April 27th.  

My Coming Out Story is Quite Similar to the One in 'Love, Simon'

The film Love, Simon, has been getting millions of people talking all over again regarding how truly difficult the coming out process is for anyone who has experienced it.  Truth be told, the one that Simon (played by Nick Robinson) experiences is not so different from many others in real life who have their identity threatened for the world to see.  I'm one of them.

Here's a fun little story about how this gay kid pictured above told the wrong person his sexuality, dealt with the fallout of that, and came out (pun intended) smelling roses and eventually developing an IDGAF attitude about the whole experience.

I've known, from a very young age, that I was different from the other boys at school.  Vivid memories of watching Baywatch with my buddies was definitely an eye opening one, as they would ogle over Pamela Anderson and Carmen Electra whereas I would beeline for David Chokachi and David Charvet.  Something was up.

Take that and put several situations in real life, when I vaguely remember having a thing for my 2nd grade teacher, to developing my first major (the word major here is a, well, MAJOR understatement) crush on a guy named Derek who moved to our school in the 5th grade.  Then, with the addition of homoeroticism in music videos, guys in muscle magazines, the underwear ads in the Macy's catalog and many many other things, I came to the realization that I was in fact, gay.

I didn't really even know what gay totally meant at this point, to be honest.  The realization happened before high school, I would say around the 7th grade.  Keep in mind, this is in the late 90's when being cool with the gays was just "starting" to be a thing.  I knew I liked guys, but I didn't know how to really explore what this was back then.  The internet was in its primitive stages, and a lot of what i saw on television only made homosexuality seem like it was a bad thing, so naturally, I told nobody.

9th grade comes around, and I decided to join the junior varsity football team, the main reason being that it was a sport I played since I was young and I actually performed pretty decently on it throughout the years.  Then, another crush happened.  One that was almost as deep as the first one, only with more mature feelings.  It became almost like word vomit at this point to actually want to scream "I'M GAY!" but I didn't out of fear that I would get my ass kicked both in and out of the locker room.

For most kids who play fall sports, you generally start practicing about 2 weeks before the school year begins.  This rang true for the football team I was on, and one day, I remember talking to my friend about a girl I liked.  Obviously, I was lying as I have never found girls sexually attractive and that still is my truth to this day (sorry ladies, but you are still freaking awesome).  Then, another guy on my team came up to me mid-conversation, and said "You know Ryan, we all know you're gay."  

I went totally pale, pale enough to actually see in my football helmet.  I immediately went on the defense and said, "No... I'm not."  He replied with "Most people who deny it actually are."  This guy, who I am still friends with to this day, was being a crafty mother f***er, but I knew his intentions were in the right place, as he was just trying to get me to admit my truth.  I went over to him shortly after, one on one, and told him I was, in fact, gay.

He didn't care.  He said that he knew, a lot of people knew, and he was happy I told him.  I grew up with him and the rest of my class since kindergarten, and even though I come from a very conservative area, there was a likability that my classmates had towards me that made me feel as if I wouldn't be in trouble of any kind if I came out.  My family is and was a different story with this, as this tale only has to do with what happened shortly after at school.

So I told my friend, I told another guy who I knew since we were young, and they didn't care.  Told one more, and then... the last guy.  This last guy was someone who I was neighbors with growing up, was a bit older than me, and from what I remember, was a pretty nice guy.  Little did I know that his reputation was one that can only be described as a dick, and he wound up telling the entire freaking school.

This was my biggest nightmare.  My freshman year hasn't even started yet, and now i have to go into the first day knowing that everyone is aware that I'm gay.  Am I going to get teased?  Bullied?  Harassed?  Beat up?  All of those things played into my mind as I walked into school that September.

I have to admit... I was one of the lucky ones.  Yes, there was a ton of tension on the football team which caused me to quit shortly after (a decision I still regret to this day), but for the most part... no one cared.  When you have a community around you that not only grows up with you but has a level of respect and care for you, it makes the coming out process that much better.  So it was a complete 180 type of experience for me when I thought the worst was going to happen, and in the end, everything turned out OK and I wound up having an incredible four years there that I only look back on with fond memories and happiness.

The funniest thing happened years later at our ten year reunion.  The guy who outed me in question wound up marrying a girl from my grade (a girl who was and is WAYYYYYY out of his league and I still scratch my head over why she's with him in the first place.  Shade.)  I said hello and gave him a brief hug, but that was it.  He looked very uncomfortable around me, which made me hope that it was because of how he treated me in high school and not because of me being gay.  Because seriously dude, if the latter was true, then you really need to reevaluate your life.

I found out a year or two ago, from a mutual friend, that his friend since childhood came out to him only a month or two before our reunion.  Allegedly, he cried his eyes out later that night at an after party, as he spoke about how terribly he treated me and how he would've never done that to his best friend who is now gay.  It's interesting how the tables truly turned there, and even though I have no plans to talk to this dude in the future, I'm glad that he came around and owned up to what he did and I hope he teaches his kids one day to have respect for all people no matter who they are. 

I only wish that what happened with guys like me can happen to the rest of us in today's society.  You should never, ever be punished for living your truth, and I do hope one day that homophobia and bigotry will become a thing of the past so every living person can be who they authentically want to be.  If that doesn't work, and the homophobes still exist, keep one thing in mind then: f**k them.

This was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject.