Happening in Kansas City
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To say that OutThere, formerly Larry’s Cards and Gifts, is an institution in the Kansas City gay community might be an understatement. Here’s the history:
Larry Gilbert, owner, began doing business in April 1989 and sold the shop in August, 2002. The new owners renamed the store, In the Life, and occupied the space at 205 Westport Road until they moved their store to the Crossroads area. It eventually closed. In the meantime the Lesbian and Gay Community Center moved into Larry’s first floor space and tried to create a retail environment with cyberspace connections and more meeting rooms for their growing numbers of patrons.
When by September 2004 that proved to be too ambitious of a plan for the Community Center and they consolidated their operations into a smaller space on the 2nd floor of the building Larry returned to his former locale with his partner of nine years, Brian Heinen—whom he had actually met in the store. They set up shop again as OutThere. (For those of you who can’t remember that, Larry has put some of the original “Larry’s” neon signs in the window.)
Larry had gave up the store after 13 years to spend time developing a gay men’s resort on 65 acres of woods at his home in Oskaloosa, north of Lawrence, Kansas. He’s still working on the resort and has turned his attention back to his store to help fund the resort. Although he’s designing the location as a resort, he’s open to the idea that it could perhaps involve year-round living at some point on the property. “It would be more of a guest resort, but the other part may work its way in as things evolve,” he said. “I know that when I first started the store in 1989 I had my idea of what the store was going to be. Well the store took over and showed me what it was and the store evolved itself.”
Asked about the difference between Larry’s and OutThere, Larry said, “This year part of our plan is to make it more sexual.” “Also, “We have more clothing.” The number of book titles will remain relatively the same; “books are hard to do when a lot of the small presses no longer exist.”
Most people visiting OutThere are drawn there for that special birthday or other occasion card that they’re just not going to find at the local Hallmark store. Once there, though, there’s an abundance of other gay-themed Pride merchandise, books and videos, clothing, and gifts.
OutThere has been a reliable location in Westport not only to shop but to pick up local community newspapers and find out about events, especially when the LGCC, with minimal volunteer staffing, is not open. “When I had the store before, customers would tell me they felt the store was a healing center to them,” Larry said. “They could come in and feel like they were alright.” They’ve opened the store for events like Health Department screenings and testing, and their store windows are often a reliable way to find out what’s happening with events like Gay Pride.
“I’ve even seen straight couples come in and then later on it’s just the husband, and the wife never appears again,” Larry said. He recalled an experience years ago when the store was Larry’s and a woman came into the store asking about an item she claimed she had seen in the window a few days before. Larry told her he had never carried that product, but it was a slow part of the day and he had time to talk and visit with the woman. “Then she saw something and she said, ‘That reminds me of my son who died recently, and I’m going to buy that because Mother’s Day is coming up.’ At that time I had a counter with chocolate penises in it. She looked down and she said “My son would have liked those. He was gay.’ Then she said, ‘Why am I telling you this?’ But she said, ‘You know I’ve felt the burden of my son on my shoulders since he died, but this is the first time I’ve publicly acknowledged that he was gay.’ “And she said, ‘I feel better.’” Larry added, “I think the son brought her in.”
Although younger people like those in the youth group, Passages, right around the corner or others visit, in Larry’s mind, they don’t need the store as much as some of the older people who did not grow up with the same sense of freedom that many gay youth experience today. “They’re not needing a store to declare who they are because they’ve already declared who they are,” said Gilbert. They once had a second store in Lawrence, Kansas for two years but it didn’t work out. Larry said, “People in Lawrence were more closeted than they wanted you to think. People that I knew lived in Lawrence would come in to the store here and I would say ‘You know we have a store in Lawrence’ and they would say ‘Well I can’t let people see me parked in front of your store there’.”
Asked about plans for the future, such as expanding into art galleries or other areas, Larry said “We are constantly trying something new and it’s as if the store has a mind of its own. If the store doesn’t like it, it doesn’t work. So we get rid of that and try something else. I believe that I’ve got spirit guides out there that are guiding everything so they’re the ones that are basically in control. I’m just their little pawn, because they can’t work behind the counter,” he laughed. As evidenced by the ads they run, underwear has been a big hit since they introduced that, but other products like bath and beauty have not really worked out. They even tried serving food at one point back in the days of Larry’s but that didn’t work either.
Like any other retail establishment, it’s a grueling schedule. The store is open seven days a week and days off are rare. Larry couldn’t even think of the last vacation he took since opening Larry’s in 1989.
When asked if he had considered moving to the Crossroads or any other developing areas of Kansas City he said, “Westport gets the tourists. Either they have their Damron guide or they come by accidentally while in Westport.” He said he didn’t get the feeling of the Crossroads area as “being that touristy yet.” “Besides the gays, I get a lot of straight people that come in and buy stuff. Especially straight tourists.”
“They’re looking for something fun and unique that you don’t get in Iowa.”
OutThere is located at 205 Westport Road across the street from the Post Office and below the offices of the Lesbian and Gay Community Center. (816)753-4757.
After the last 2 years of dealing with the pandemic and packing on those COVID pounds here are some motivational quotes that can be the spark plugs to our wellness engines. You can have a full tank of gas, a clean carburetor, all the fluids topped off, and 300 horsepower of Detroit’s finest under the hood, but you’re going nowhere without that initial spark. In your quest for well-being, you need a catalyst to move you from idle to ideal. Here are some motivational jolts to inspire you to get your health and fitness vehicle moving.
Make time for exercise each dayPhoto by Victor Freitas on Unsplash
Thomas Paine said, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” You will have conflicts with making time for exercise each day. The treadmill will conflict with your enjoyment of the living-room couch and its fluffy pillows. Your body will engage in conflict with dumbbells and exercise balls as it seeks better health. Embrace these conflicts with excitement, and walk through the smoke and fire. Triumph is waiting on the other side.
Marathon runnersPhoto by Miguel A. Amutio on Unsplash
John F. Kennedy said, “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” The firefighter’s 55-pound weight loss did not just happen one day on a call. The computer programmer’s success in the Chicago Marathon did not just happen on a Sunday in October. The 4th grade teacher’s significant drop in cholesterol level did not just happen the day before spring break. These people made things happen…and it took time.
Ralph Marston of The Daily Motivator website, wrote, “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” Let today be the first day in 28 years without a cigarette. Stay an extra five minutes on the recumbent bike at the gym today. Start training today for the three-day breast cancer walk that is scheduled for the fall. Tomorrow is always waiting to see what you put in your piggy bank today. Invest wisely and watch the dividends grow.
Full MoonPhoto by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash
Jill McLemore once said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land amongst the stars.” Set that goal to trim 75 pounds from your body. Only losing 42 pounds puts you way out there with the North Star. Aim to run 750 miles this year. Coming up 68 miles short will still put you past that former planet Pluto and on your way to the Orion constellation. Dropping eight waist sizes by Christmas instead of the projected 10 will let you glow with the luminescence of several brilliant wonders in the sky. By the way, I think there’s a full moon tonight!
Zig Ziglar stated, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Tom Cruise was another aspiring pretty face in Hollywood about 30 years ago before starting to audition for parts in TV shows. Jared Fogle was a morbidly obese college student at Indiana University in the 1990s before beginning his Subway diet. Mark Zuckerberg was just another starry-eyed Ivy Leaguer until he began to implement a social network idea. They all have that common bond: They started something.
These motivational quotes should help get your wellness engine running and once your car is started there’s no telling where your health and fitness can go. Don't forget to end me a postcard when you get there!
This health and fitness article is brought to you by that guy who’s sneaky like a black hole and bright like a nebula. My name is Ron Blake and I can be found playing with my telescope at email@example.com.
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“I wish I could work out, too, but I just don’t have the motivation!”
Give me a dollar for every time I’ve heard that and I’d be in Cabo San Lucas with an umbrella drink right now. Let’s identify a few of your motivations to get you on the right path. They are there … you just need to realize them so you can make it a great 2022.
How about getting healthy so you can be at that Christmas celebration in 30 years with all the family gathered around and exchanging presents? There will be nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, children and maybe some grandchildren, all enjoying the sounds and sights of the season. That would be amazing!
How about being healthy so you can watch the first man land on Mars in 2030? You hear all the talk about preparing for a mission to Mars, but it will be a long time in coming. Just think if you were alive and well to see it happen!
How about being healthy so you can attend that 60-year class reunion? It might even be nice to walk into the function with a spring in your step and a glow of health about you! Many of your classmates will have walked past St. Peter and those pearly gates by that time, but you can give yourself a chance to stay here with some proactive measures.
How about being healthy so you can spend more time being relaxed and retired? It would be awesome to just not have to do anything you didn’t want to do! Get up every day and use that watch they gave you as a fashion accessory only. With a healthy body, you can spend ample time in the lap of leisure well into your 90s.
How about being healthy so you can walk your dog with your grandkids or great-nephews after that Thanksgiving meal many years down the road? It will be so cool to have that turkey dinner with all the relatives, but it’ll be even more fun to be able to move around without having to catch your breath between steps.
How about being healthy so you can continue to enjoy vibrant sunsets, thrilling football games, colorful leaves in the fall, summer barbecues, or birthday cards in the mail?
Everyone can find the motivation to work out! You just have to identify which motivation will get you to your starting line each day and which will help you get to your daily finish line.
There are plenty of great things to enjoy in life. Find your motivation and start earning your frequent flyer miles for your healthy life. Then soar into the future with excitement about what will be!
This article of motivation is brought to you by a guy who knows a good thing when he sees it. That guy of good vision is Ron Blake, and he can be spotted on that bright horizon at firstname.lastname@example.org.