...Dog Rescue Organizations
Since millions of dogs are euthanized each year, I’m a big fan of adoption, not buying a pet from a breeder. PetFinder.com has helped 17 million dogs get adopted, and it has a national adoption board with photos and info on dogs in your area. Sadly, nearly 1 million of those dogs set for euthanizing are Chihuahuas and other small dogs, in part because movies like Beverly Hills Chihuahua and celebs like Paris Hilton made people think Chihuahuas were the perfect accessory. Not true. I have two Chihuahuas (including Ginger, pictured here), and like NCIS star Pauley Perrette, I give my support to Chihuahua Rescue, a real 200-dog-bed facility that has never passed on or otherwise turned away a dog in crisis. Never. And you can reach the rescue service 24/7. You can adopt one of its adorable rescues or send money to sponsor a dog that needs medical care. (Priceless, ChihuahuaRescue.com)
... Idaho Spud Candy Bars
I grew up eating the official candy bar of Idaho, which isn’t made out of potatoes but is shaped like one. The Spud, which was my dad’s favorite candy bar and his dad’s before him, has a cocoa-flavored marshmallow center drenched with a dark chocolate coating and then sprinkled with coconut. It’s been Idaho Candy Co.'s best selling candy bar since my grandparents were teens (it launched in 1918). Thankfully, I no longer have to buy them in bulk from my convenience store every time I go home to Payette for a visit. They now ship, so I send candy to everyone I love. ($5 for six candy bars, IdahoSpud.com)
An indie clothing line by designer Angela Zampell, Mode Merr makes the sexiest hand-tailored, plus-size rockabilly dresses and skirts. The outfits are gorgeous, and Zampell uses models of all sizes, from XXS to XXXL, in her fashion shows. I hope other designers follow her lead. My pretty dress fund is always low, so I only have one Zampell design, but I dream of someday having a closet full of Mode Merr dresses, and this year’s holiday wish list includes both the Pink Elephant Vamp Dress and the Jet Setter Suit (hint hint, Santa). ($60 and up, ModeMerr.com)
...Holiday TV on DVD Sets — Especially Dexter!
Every year I have one giant list: the newest TV on DVD. I will fight shoppers to the death on Black Friday to make sure I get them. This year I’ve already squirreled away the four superhot not-to-be-missed DVD sets: Dexter: The Complete Fifth Season (TV’s best drama, and this season Dexter helps save Julia Stiles, while Jennifer Carpenter as Debra the cop and the sexiest butch on TV right now, gets even hotter); NCIS: Los Angeles: The Second Season (openly lesbian actress Linda Hunt as Hetty and LL Cool J as a Navy investigator — everyone wins with this one); The Good Wife: The Second Season (Archie Panjabi plays a sexy bisexual woman, Christine Baranski an ultraliberal — oh yeah, and sex scandals and Emmy Award–winner Julianna Margulies); and Californication: The Fourth Season (David Duchovny is an obsessive, sex-addicted truth-teller, and Madeline Zima punches him in the face during sex, offering viewers a perverse thrill).
I watched filmmaker Jeremy Seifert’s documentary Dive last year and was instantly aware of the food I’ve wasted in my lifetime. An indictment of our country's careless habit of sending food straight to landfills, Dive is an entertaining intersection of of guerrilla journalism and urge to action. I’ve always been part freegan, but Dive made me get back into gleaning, diving, and conserving food, and now that it’s on DVD, I want to get it for all my friends too. ($19, DiveTheFilm.com)
...The Crafters of Etsy
I was a huge eBayer for many years (because I collect teapots, cows, queer art, salt and pepper shakers, and for some odd reason phalluses from South America). But in recent years my eBay love has shifted to Etsy. Tons of queer chicks and the not-so-queer-but-always-quirky artisans offer handmade and vintage finds on this site. I’ve gotten pulp novel cover art, a Day of the Dead pillow, a fetish Barbie poster, Terminato Soap (get it?), and a tee that says, “I’m sorry your wife turned out to be a lesbian.” My current faves: Janin eBasil (the Brit famous for her headpieces created a pink punk studs headband that has been on my wish list for a year); My Sweet November (whose gothic skull cameo fuses punk with history, $19); the queer Front Porch Collective (which makes these great repurposed leather and copper cuffs with your favorite saying, $30) and Miss Brache (whose polka-dot petticoat skirt set stars in many of my fashion dreams, $89). (All on Etsy.com)
...Tactical Canned Bacon
My copilot is also from Idaho, and for some reason Idahoans are more prone to think the danger is just around the corner. Whether it’s the zombie apocalypse, environmental devastation, economic collapse, or, um, whatever you’ll find in Revelation, we want to be prepared. So we’re stocking up on the coolest, funniest survival food. My new fave: Tactical Canned Bacon. Yes, canned, cooked bacon. It lasts 10 years in the can and one can contains 18 servings. Hello, stocking stuffers for your favorite camper! ($18, ThinkGeek.com)
...Jonathan Adler Vice Collection
I interviewed gay designer Jonathan Adler several years ago and mentioned I couldn’t afford his stuff (queer publishing salaries being what they are) but I loved it anyway. After the interview a little porcelain box that said “Dolls” on it arrived with a ribbon and thank you note. (It was from his vice collection, a reference to Valley of the Dolls.) I’ve been an Adler devotee eEver since. Now that he’s hugely popular (thanks to Top Design and other TV appearances) his stuff is hotter than ever. But I still love that Vice Collection which has grown to include vices like Caffeine, Puppy Uppers, and Kitty Crack. Next up, I’m saving money to buy his Snail Box. (Hey, Jonathan, how about another gift?) ($25 and up, JonathanAdler.com)
Lesbian singer-songwriters are a dime a dozen, and honestly, many of them are quite good. But my unsung hero is musician Annie Vergnetti, with whom I fell in love after seeing her sing “Who Killed Jenny?” at the HRC’s L Word finale party in Portland, Ore. Few folksingers offer lyrics like “She’s a bitch and a drama queen,too.” Last year as I embarked on a nine-month journey in an RV with my copilot, she did an improv song just for us at a benefit and promised that she’d record it if we made it to our 21st anniversary this year. Annie, get on that! (Some songs are free, http://www.myspace.com/annievergnetti)
See video below.
...TransActive Education and Advocacy
I support so many great organizations — from Astraea, a New York-based foundation (which provides grants for LGBT social justice projects) to Our United Villages (which runs the recycling king, Portland’s Rebuilding Center) — but after we became foster parents to a trans teen I realized how critical the work of TransActive is. The group offers education, support, advocacy, and research to gender-nonconforming kids and their families, allies, and schools. Cofounder Jenn Burleton leads the organization brilliantly, and it’s really one of the first and only groups in the U.S. advocating for trans and gender-nonconforming children and teens. ($1 and up for donations, TransActiveOnline.org)
A few years ago, I was combating a phobia, so my shrink told me to envision a happy place, like a beach. I thought of Pat O’s because I’ve been going there since I was an 18-year-old Tulane student and I’ve never had a bad time. New Orleans’s Pat O’Brien’s has been delighting tourists and locals since 1933, its dueling piano bar is supergay, and its signature Hurricane cocktail, a rum-based drink made popular when whiskey was in short supply in the 1940s, is legendary. I order batches of Hurricane mix, add rum, and give to my friends as gifts. ($5 gets you enough for eight drinks, PatOBriens.com)