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Trudy Ring: I Advocate...

Trudy Ring: I Advocate...

...Planned Parenthood.
It has replaced the ACLU as the right wing's leading bete noire, becoming the subject of preposterous and utterly false conservative smears that claim it is practicing genocide and demasculinizing American men. Taking a stand against these canards is reason enough to support the venerable nonprofit health care organization (it's 95 years old this year), but also, if you think Planned Parenthood is only about making sex safe for heterosexuals, think again. In addition to contraception and abortion, Planned Parenthood clinics either directly provide or refer clients to a broad range of sexual and general health services, including testing for HIV and other STDs, cancer screenings, infertility treatment, and prenatal care, and the group is an advocate for honest, comprehensive sex education. And, as Planned Parenthood notes on its website, it is dedicated to providing "high-quality, sensitive, and appropriate" care to LGBT clients. Your donations help Planned Parenthood keep its services affordable, so think about sending a holiday contribution its way. Volunteers are always welcome too!

...Independent Bookstores.
Even the ones that aren't LGBT-specific tend to carry a wider variety of LGBT titles than the chains do, and indies just have a better selection generally, featuring many emerging authors. They usually have knowledgeable staffers and offer a plethora of readings and other events. Chicago, my former hometown, has the Unabridged Bookstore, not gay-specific but very gay-friendly, in the heart of Boystown, and lesbian-owned, feminist-oriented Women & Children First in the heavily LGBT Andersonville neighborhood. The greater Los Angeles area, where I live now, has several excellent independent booksellers, including Book Soup in West Hollywood, Skylight Books in Los Feliz, and Vroman's in Pasadena. Powell's City of Books in Portland, Ore., has a city block's worth of new and used volumes, and San Francisco's City Lights is legendary. There aren't many LGBT-specific stores left, but Philadelphia still has Giovanni's Room, and Atlanta's Outwrite is looking for a new location. If you're not in or near one of these cities, many of these stores offer online ordering, and you can also find independent bookstores near you at

...The Stephanie Miller Show.
Miller, who came out as lesbian in 2010, hosts a three-hour nationally syndicated progressive radio chatfest every weekday morning, and it's sure to brighten your commute. In addition to political commentary and interviews, there's plenty of celebrity gossip and off-the-wall humor supplied by Miller, "voice deity" Jim Ward, and "boy toy" Chris Lavoie, plus weekly appearances by well-informed wits including Hal Sparks (of Queer as Folk fame). Also, try to catch her Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour if it comes to your town.

Check out my interview with Stephanie here.

...Crossword Puzzles.
I'm an addict. Working the daily newspaper crossword is one of my favorite ways to decompress in the evening, and Saturday and Sunday mornings also usually find me lying on the couch filling in the squares. Some papers, like my hometown Los Angeles Times, offer their most challenging crossword on Saturday, so I look forward to that. Crosswords are a great way to build vocabulary and keep your mind sharp as well as to use your most obscure knowledge and gather more. On a recent Saturday I took peculiar pride in knowing that "1984 Robert Urich sci-fi comedy" was The Ice Pirates. (Fun fact: Bruce Vilanch was in it too.)

...Vintage Costume Jewelry.
I'm too zaftig to fit into most vintage clothing (and it's usually fragile and not exactly easy-care), but I have a collection of sparkly earrings, brooches, and other baubles from the '60s, '50s, and earlier to help bring out my inner Joan Holloway. It's fun to poke around secondhand stores and eBay for retro bijoux, plus there are some websites dedicated solely to selling vintage jewelry. And my loved ones know it's always a welcome gift!

...Goldstar Events.
This online service allows you to get discount tickets to theater, concerts, comedy, films, sporting events, and other fun stuff in major cities coast to coast. You can augment your culture consumption and discover options you might otherwise have overlooked, all without busting your budget -- tickets are usually half price, and there's even an occasional free offer (usually with a nominal service charge). I use it a lot for theater -- I can find everything from shoestring black-box shows to star-studded national touring productions, such as Bring It On: The Musical. Registration is quick and free.
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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring, The Advocate's copy chief, has spent much of her journalistic career covering the LGBT movement. When she's not fielding questions about grammar, spelling, and LGBT history, she's sharing movie trivia or classic rock lyrics.
Trudy Ring, The Advocate's copy chief, has spent much of her journalistic career covering the LGBT movement. When she's not fielding questions about grammar, spelling, and LGBT history, she's sharing movie trivia or classic rock lyrics.