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Félix Garmendía

Félix Garmendía

"I was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico in the 60s. Living in Puerto Rico, and growing up there was a bumpy process. I was very aware of my homosexual identity at a very early age, so fighting the stigma was a very intense journey in my native island.

I love art. The Ponce Art Museum was my shelter since I was in high school. As my first job ever, I guided bilingual tours for locals and tourists from all over the world.

In high school, I was introduced to music and theater, after that, I chose to pursue a B.A. in theater at the U.P.R. ( University of Puerto Rico ). Rio Piedras campus.

In college, I discovered many things about myself. My sexual identity became established, my religious beliefs changed dramatically and my awareness of my role in society became the first and biggest challenge of my life. I became a proud gay man, an atheist and an activist. The political climate in Puerto Rico was very far away from recognizing any kind of gay rights so I knew that I needed a community that I could call my own, and be myself. After several years in Puerto Rico, in my twenties, I moved to N.Y.C. to pursue a Master’s Degree in Art Education and Art Criticism at New York University. I decided to stay in Manhattan. Here I found myself. I discovered my passions, causes to fight for, and the strong community that I always dreamed of. I became a passionate man with strong convictions.

After graduation I became a N.Y.C. school teacher. I taught art in the South Bronx, Spanish Harlem and Upper Manhattan for 15 years.

Sometime in my twenties, I was exposed to HIV. I tested HIV-positive and after a serious depression, came out strong and victorious. I became an AIDS activist. My passions in life became the gears that fed energy into my existence.

Very early in my N.Y.C. years, I became a staunch liberal. All my causes were related. I was trying to survive in a world where not everybody cared if I did or not. Politics made clear who cared for me as a human being.

That’s why I’m very vocal about my postings. Not because I want to convince anybody, but I do it for those who, like me, once needed some direction in life. I want to share the "real" me with those friends with similar beliefs or at least respect for my beliefs.

Today, I still live in Manhattan. I’m legally married to my husband Denis Beale and I’m disabled. My life is not easy, I have several health related conditions that are a real challenge these days. This bring me to another one of my causes. From personal experience, I believe in the legalization of cannabis (marijuana). 

I consider myself a loving, compassionate and spiritual person. I have no patience for bigotry, especially the kind of sanctimonious bigotry that wraps itself in prayer and fake compassion.

This is a synopsis of who I am. It would be really helpful to start introducing myself with my favorite warning. Warning: I’m human, far from perfect, passionate about life, the pursue of difficult answers, and the conviction that we are all equal."

Felix has been featured in The Huffington Post’s Queer Voices; see the piece here.

You can follow Felix on Facebook here or here and on twitter @PozHeart.

  

Apr30

Vinny's cat

Thursday, 30 April 2015 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Gay Men, Population Specific , Félix Garmendía, Sex and Sexuality

Felix Garmendia goes to a New York City sex club where not all the attendees are human

Vinny's cat

I have always been a very sex positive person. Sex is an essential part of human nature and now that I’m older I really remember and celebrate every single moment of pleasure that I shared with other men. 

About 20 years ago, I used to be very active in the gay leather community in NYC. It was a routine that after a few drinks in the three favorite bars, The Eagle, The Spike and The Altar, people used to go to after-hours clubs.

One night, at The Altar I was having a few drinks with a group of hot and friendly guys. When I was about to say goodnight and go home, the guys asked me if I wanted to go to “Vinny’s. They explained that Vinny’s was an after-hours, all male private club located in a very rundown area in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I wrote down the address and jumped on the subway to make my way to Vinny's.

I was very curious, I had heard of those clubs but had never been to one. I arrived at Vinnie’s at around 3:00 am. Vinny's was a door with a number on it, located on a desolate stretch of urban blight just across the street from the then infamous Tomkins Square Park.

The ritual of Vinny's unfolded. The dark door was locked so I knocked (no answer), knocked harder (still nothing). I pounded on the door and a voice emerged from behind the door. "Who sent you?" asked the disembodied voice. After I provided the correct answer, I was admitted.

The new friends I had met earlier were already there and they vouched for me to the doorman. I paid my $20 and got in line for the mandatory "clothes check". I was a bit nervous and feeling a little intimidated by the nature of the place, so I decided to sit in a dark corner and have a few beers.

On my second beer I started to feel more at ease and was about to stand up and join the crowd when I felt and saw a black shadow brush up against the outside of my calf. Looking to start a conversation, I asked Vinny, the owner—“ Vinnu, how sweet, you have a cat here!”

Vinny stopped for a second, looked at his lover who was the bartender and they both answered, “We don’t have any cats”. Indeed NY has more rats than people and as rats go that one seemed very friendly, Who would have guessed there were gay, S&M leather rats hanging out in a clandestine, after-hours sex club?!

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