Babe Caylor provided retail therapy

By Buddy Early, June 2019 Issue.


celebrate Echo’s 30th birthday, this year I will be catching up with

some of Arizona’s LGBT personalities from past and present to revisit the

people, places and events that helped shape our community.

One afternoon in the late 1990s I stopped

into a bookstore on Camelback Road, just west of Central. I had been in

bookstores before, but never one like this. I probably hung out in Obelisk for

at least an hour that day; I think I bought a magazine before I left, only

because I felt it would be rude to spend all that time there and just leave.

The time I spent, however, was to marvel at the notion that there is actually a

bookstore dedicated to LGBT literature.

Also, there were cute guys coming and going

and I was just learning how to “cruise.”

Obelisk The Bookstore was part of a

community of LGBT retail spaces that used to exist in Phoenix. Around the

corner at 4700 N. Central were Unique on Central and Movies on Central, and

together these spaces provided an alternative (or complement) to the bars. They

were places to feel welcomed, places to find unique items of special interest

and, yes, places to hook up.

If you frequented these retail spaces then

you probably met Babe Caylor. With her comforting smile and southern

friendliness, she greeted customers at Obelisk and Movies for years. I’ve

dubbed her Phoenix’s LGBT Retail Queen. (I didn’t ask her if she likes that.)

But Babe has always been so much more than the person who rings up your sale

and points you to the porn section. She has been a resource for thousands,

young and old, who have needed help navigating their path through our

community. Coupled with her longtime volunteer role with youth group 1N10, Babe

has been a mother, a sister, or an aunt to so many.

Considering Phoenix’s rocky history with

community centers, places like Obelisk, Unique, and Movies — and people like

Babe — filled the gap.

“The bookstore was where everyone came,”

said Babe. “Because you didn’t have to go to a store to find The Advocate

and stand in the corner so no one would see you reading it.”

It may be

hard for some to fathom, but as recent as 20 years ago it was very unlikely

that you’d find many LGBT titles at a mainstream bookseller, or any gay films

at Blockbuster. Target didn’t sell rainbow paraphernalia, and the Internet was

not an option for buying your freak flag.

“It was the social network of the

community,” Babe told me, followed by “The stories I could tell.”

She’s been witness to a lot over the years,

and not just meet-ups, hook-ups and break-ups. “These were truly places where

people could just be.”

Having touched the lives of so many,

whether by suggesting a book someone might like or by counseling them during

crisis, Babe joked that she “knows everyone’s secrets.” Of course, she never

reveals any, which is what has made her so trusted by everyone who has had the

pleasure to know her.

I guess you

could say Babe is the ultimate people person. Having grown up in southeast Georgia

she is certainly no stranger to being labeled “other.” It’s what shaped her to

become the nurturing, caring person who never judges and has everyone’s best

interest in mind.

“(Growing up in the South) tempered me in

terms of what I experienced as a young child. I wanted to make sure I didn’t

leave anyone out.”

Over the years Babe has comfortably moved

between sub-groups, walking the line between the drama and conflict that has

and still affects our community. She continues to be an advocate for equality

and against injustice for all groups — youth, people of color, trans

individuals. But she has refused to be labeled, unless she is the one doing the

labeling. (Literally. Her newest tattoo on her left arm says “Badass Lesbian.”)

Babe and I lamented the loss of these

retail spaces that served such a vital role in the community, but she is still

providing that retail therapy. These days she can be found behind the counter

at Off Chute. “I work in a retail store that specializes in adult relationship

enhancement products,” she said, adding that she sells a lot of lube. She is

also still working with youth and has taken up a role with the Anti-Defamation

League, traveling to schools with the organization’s “A World of Difference”

and “No Place For Hate” programs.

But she’ll always have fond memories of

working in gay retail.

“I love

seeing how many of the young people have grown, have partners and families,

careers … It makes me proud to know that hopefully I’ve made a difference in

this mean old world.”

WhistlePig + Alfa Romeo F1

SHOREHAM, VT (September 13, 2023) — WhistlePig Whiskey, the leaders in independent craft whiskey, and Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake are waving the checkered flag on a legend-worthy release that’s taking whiskey to G-Force levels. The Limited Edition PiggyBack Legends Series: Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is a high Rye Whiskey selected by the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake drivers, with barrels trialed in their wind tunnel to ensure a thrilling taste in every sip.

The third iteration in WhistlePig’s Single Barrel PiggyBack Legends Series, the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is bottled at 96.77 proof, a nod to Valtteri Bottas’ racing number, 77, and the precision of racing. Inspired by Zhou Guanyu, the first Chinese F1 driver, this Rye Whiskey is finished with lychee and oolong tea. Herbal and floral notes of the oolong tea complement the herbaceous notes of WhistlePig’s signature PiggyBack 100% Rye, rounded out with a juicy tropical fruit finish and a touch of spice.

Keep readingShow less
by Spectrum Medical Care Center

Nurse Practitioner Ari Kravitz

When I started medical transition at 20 years old, it was very difficult to get the care I needed for hormone replacement therapy because there are very few providers trained in starting hormones for trans people, even though it’s very similar to the hormones that we prescribe to women in menopause or cisgender men with low testosterone.

I hope more providers get trained in LGBTQ+ healthcare, so they can support patients along their individual gender journey, and provide the info needed to make informed decisions about their body. I’ve personally seen my trans patients find hope and experience a better quality of life through hormone replacement therapy.

Keep readingShow less

Descanso Resort swimming pool and lounge area

Descanso Resort, Palm Springs' premier destination for gay men, just received Tripadvisor's highest honor, a Travelers' Choice "Best of the Best" award for 2023. Based on guests' reviews and ratings, fewer than 1% of Tripadvisor's 8 million listings around the world receive the coveted "Best of the Best" designation. Descanso ranked 12th in the top 25 small inns and hotels category in the United States. Quite an accomplishment!

Open less than two years, Descanso Resort offers gay men a relaxing and luxurious boutique hotel experience just minutes away from Palm Springs' buzziest restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping. Descanso has quickly established itself as a top destination for sophisticated gay travelers, earning hundreds of 5-star guest reviews and consistently ranking in Trapadvisor's top positions alongside brother properties Santiago Resort and Twin Palms Resort.

Keep readingShow less