Still Here, Still Queer

Stand-up comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer’s website describes her in one word: candid. Her honesty onstage and off has endeared her to fans and critics for over twenty years. O&AN talked to the openly lesbian comedian. Westenhoefer, who was recently voted one of America’s Funniest Lesbians in Curve Magazine, talks about coming of age in NYC, her activist roots, straight club promoters, gay marriage, and her hopes for the future.

Westenhoefer’s story began during the heights of the HIV crisis. “I’ve always been an activist. An opinionated girl [laughs]. When I understood I was gay I was 20, and at college in Northwestern Pennsylvania. There were only a few [LGBT people] on campus and we were being hassled by this huge Christian cult. They believed that HIV/AIDS was ‘gay cancer’. So my friends and I would meet up and talk about it. One thing led to another. We were on the local news. That’s how I became an activist; I wanted this group to start.”

By the end of 1990, Westenhoefer was in her late twenties and working as bartender. The HIV/AIDS epidemic, she recalls, “was crushing down on all of us. Marches and rallies came very naturally. Activism was just a reaction to this plague.”

In the midst of this upheaval, people close to Westenhoefer were telling her that she should try standup, but the environment in comedy was very different then. “I knew if I was going to do it I wasn’t going to be closeted. Nobody was out then. Ellen [Degeneres] and Rosie [O’Donnell] weren’t out. There were a handful of  openly gay comics in the city, but they only played gay clubs and that wasn’t what I wanted either. I entered a contest in West Manhattan and talked about being a lesbian Barbie. I won twenty bucks or something, and I thought ‘Well, I’m going to be an openly gay comic as long as they let me.’”

The world of standup has come a long way since. In fact, she says, “Nowadays, most of what I hear from straight club promoters is ‘So what?’ They love to minimize [my sexuality].” While that speaks to a great deal of change in the cultural climate and positive change in public perception, Westenhoefer’s activist roots show in her response: “I never want the gay community, which is a huge part of the arts community in general, to become complacent and let people minimize us. There are already a ton of regular people, regular comics out there. They’re doing great. They’re not us. We’re gay people! It makes us different! That’s important. The fight against inequality isn’t over because some LGBT people can getting married. When did our focus become marriage? Isn’t that an old straight thing? Not everyone wants to get married! It’s important, but, like, the fight isn’t over. [Straight club promoters] saying ‘No one cares anymore,’ that’s just another way to put us down.”

Westenhoefer loves her career. “In a perfect world,” she says, “I would have a show every day and I could walk to it. But there would still be 300 people there [she laughs]. I love what I do.” Comedy, she says, offers her a platform to make people think, on the one hand, and escape from reality, on the other. “I love getting in front of straight audiences, gay audiences, mixed audiences and making them laugh about something they might not have thought about. The day to day world can be quite a challenge. Whatever people bring in that’s bumming them out, I want them to be able to let that go for an hour. Would I love a TV show? Probably [laughs]. But I love what I do. I could do it forever.”




Westenhoefer performed at Zanies on August 6th.

photo courtesy Adam Bouska

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