Over 50,000 LED Lights Adorn This Year's History Making 30 Rock Tree

This year’s Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in New York City made history as it comes from the first same-sex household and first Latina household. The Norway spruce stands 72-feet tall and was spotted by a Rockefeller Center scout at the home of Shirley Figueroa and her wife Lissette Gutierrez in Wallkill, NY reports the New York Times. Wallkill is located less than two hours north of NYC and it is the location Figueroa and Gutierrez chose to settle last year.

The couple, who are proudly Puerto Rican, are happy to be able to donate the tree since they are native New Yorkers. Figueroa is retired and grew up on a treeless street in the Bronx, so being able to make history with a tree that once stood on her property is extra special.

During the 86th annual tree lighting ceremony that included performances by Diana Ross, Billy Porter, Martina McBride, Tony Bennett, and Kellie Pickler, the couple watched the 50,000 LED lights with the rest of New York.

The tree will be on display until January 7, 2019 at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

h/t: New York Times, Rockefeller Center

NYC Man Watched Husband Get Dragged Around By Angry Uber Driver

We have yet another instance of a ride-share driver attacking a gay rider. This time, a gay couple from New York.

According to NBC News, Taray Carey and husband Alex Majkowski were in the middle of an Uber ride this Wednesday around 2.am. The gay couple, who married less than a month ago, were in the car with a mutual friend, and headed to a bar near their East Village home.

The situation turned ugly, however, when their driver violently reacted to seeing Carey put his arm around his husband. The driver, who Carey recalls was from Russia, allegedly asked, “Are you f**s?”

After that, the driver’s speech only became more hostile as he expressed a desire to harm the riders.

“He’s telling us in his country we would be beheaded and left for dead,” Carey told NBC News.

Once they reached the next red light in the East Village, the friend jumped out of the car. Unfortunately, Carey wasn’t so lucky, as his seat belt got caught mid-exit. The driver then took off and dragged the couple, with Carey half-way out the car, for about a “quarter of a block.”

Casey later posted the below pictures on Facebook depicting the cuts he received on his hands, left knee, and right side from the incident.

“I said, ‘Let me out, let me out, let me out!’ just over and over until he stopped,” Majowski told NBC New York.

The couple and friend then reached out to police, but they say they received no support from the authorities.

“We were very emotional and very upset, but the cop was barely listening. He wasn’t taking notes,” Carey explained. “We wanted him to put out an alert to search for this guy’s plates, and he told us not to tell him how to do his job.”

Meanwhile, Uber states that it is currently investigating the situation and has revoked the driver’s access to their app.

This is just the latest installment in a year of several horror stories involving gay rideshare customers and their drivers.

In May, an Indiana Lyft driver kicked out his passengers after seeing them share a chaste kiss. In July, an Uber driver called the police on his D.C. rider because the rider sounded gay. Then earlier this month, a Lyft diver pulled out a gun and threatened to kill his gay passengers.

And these are just a few of the stories Instinct has reported on in the past year.

We’ll keep you updated on Uber’s, and the NY police’s, investigation into the case with Carey and Majowski.

h/t: NBC News, NBC New York

Stonewall Premieres "The Journey:" A Film About The History Of Gay Officers In New York City

On June 28, 1969, patrons at the Stonewall Inn in New York City rioted against police officers who had terrorized and bullied them for far too long.

Now just one year short of the Stonewall riots’ 50th anniversary, the NYPD are recognizing the efforts they’ve made to be inclusive to gay people within the organization.

Last night, the gay police union called the Gay Officers Action League of New York (GOAL), the NYPD, and the Stonewall Inn joined together to celebrate the gay men and women who have served the city of New York while wearing blue.

Even further, the organizations gathered to watch the premiere of the documentary The Journey, which spotlights the struggles and triumphs of LGBTQ NYPD officers.

“What you have right now is the NYPD owning some of its history, especially an ugly part of its history,” said Detective Brian Downey, President of GOAL to New York’s WPIX 11.



Despite the NYPD’s turbulent history with LGBTQ people, the department has since worked hard to support LGBTQ people within its ranks. This is especially true after Charlie Cochrane, the first openly gay officer in the NYPD, formed GOAL back in 1983.

“From where we were in 1982 to where we are today is a world of difference and it’s so much better,” said NYPD Chief Terence Monahan at the premiere. “I’m standing here, Chief of Department and I’m in Stonewall Inn, 50 years ago, cops were storming the Stonewall Inn.

But this premiere isn’t the end of The Journey. The producers of the film plan to extend it into a longer movie that will then be circulated around the city and beyond.

We look forward to seeing the finished product.

h/t: New York’s WPIX 11

Queens Man Who Attacked Two Gay Brooklyners Arraigned On Hate Crimes

The man accused of an attack on two men outside of a Brooklyn gay bar has been arraigned.

Back in September, we shared the news that two gay men were attacked outside of a gay bar in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg.

The man confronted the two victims around 1 a.m. on September 23 by yelling out homophobic slurs. He then started a physical altercation by throwing the 29-year-old victim against a tree and punching his 34-year-old companion to unconsciousness.

After several news outlets covered the story and shared a picture that a pedestrian took of the assailant, 25-year-old Brandon McNamara brought himself into police custody.

While McNamara was later released from the Brooklyn Criminal Court on a $15,000 bail, he was charged with assault, menacing, and harassment. All of which, were also charged as hate crimes.

Now, the man, who is reportedly from Queens, will return to court on January 16 with the potential to go to prison for up to 15 years.

Opinion: The Gay Scene in NYC’s Chelsea is Dead and Gone

News broke out on Thursday that The Rocking Horse Café, a gay institution in the heart of Chelsea, has closed its doors after 30 years of business. This was an “out of the blue” kind of ordeal, in that many of my friends just ate there a couple of days ago and now all that’s left is a sad sign on the door thanking its customers for the many years of service and great memories.

It’s one of many several hotspots in Chelsea that have closed down over the past decade, leaving this writer to wonder if the area that we helped make fabulous and incredible is now going the way of the dodo bird… meaning extinct.

The landscape of gay NYC has radically changed for plenty of years now, dating back to a time when I wasn’t even legal to buy a cigarette. Gone are the days where we have tons of bars to head to, venues to party at and coffee shops and restaurants to eat in and enjoy each other’s company. Chelsea is a prime example of that, where 8th avenue has now become riddled with stroller moms, annoying college students and an influx of heterosexuality which overall has made this area super unappealing.

What or who is to blame for this? The digital atmosphere that we live in is definitely something to be held accountable for, especially when it comes to the cruising atmosphere that was so prevalent from the 70’s to the mid to late 2000’s. Thousands of us now have apps that we can use to peruse our next great f**k session as opposed to getting dressed up and finding a guy (or two or three) for the night. This also goes with meeting other men for dates or friendships, which used to be the go-to thing at the several gay bars that was all over this enchanting area of NYC.

Now… we have two left. TWO. Gym Sportsbar and Rebar, the latter of which isn’t even on 8th avenue (it’s between 8th and 7th). A lot of the popular gay bars that used to inhabit this area (Rawhide and Splash for example) are gone, and trendy restaurants and real estate have taken its place. It’s so absurdly frustrating that we as a community have come so far in terms of visibility and acceptance yet are finding our meccas and places we call a second home close in lieu of a monster that we have a hard time fighting.

What I fear so much is that what will happen if the only gay bars that are left in Chelsea will close. Does this mean gay life in this area will be gone for good? We have World Pride coming up in June, and it’s sort of embarrassing that we don’t have much to show in an area that used to be incredible. A lot of the popular gay bars in New York City are now in Hell’s Kitchen, with a couple others happening in the Upper East Side, Astoria and even Harlem.

Essentially, what gay men do is that we take a place that was once deemed terrible, come in, make it nice, and then have other people take over and turn it into something that is far from what it used to be. Look at Times Square for instance, a place that was once gritty but so real and what made NYC special has become a tourist trap where people shop at Sephora and eat at The Olive Garden. REALLY GIRL? You can do that at home.

This may come off as a rant, but New York City helped me and many other gay men find ourselves as our upbringings weren’t exactly rosy. Chelsea is a very special part of this city for many of us, and to see it change to what it is now is beyond frustrating. No, I don’t want your well-priced sushi rolls or your $4,000 a month 1-bedroom places to crash at. I want a fantastic gay experience with my amazing friends at places that will give me memories for years to come. And that… is priceless.

This post was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject.

Sex, Aerial & Rock 'n' Roll Light Up a Kinky Night in New York City

Something that is severely missing in New York City as of late are the elements of kink and naughty. Rudy Giuliani did a great job at either getting rid of or shunning those two fabulous words back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s to the point where Times Square went from being a seedy but super amazing place to be in to a strip mall where you can buy beauty products and run into annoying tourists.

There are still those hidden gems that exist within the greatest city of the world, one of which I was happy to discover this past Thursday night. I attended a show called Sex, Aerial, & Rock 'n' Roll, which took place at The Slipper Room in the heart of the gritty Lower East Side.

It was something that captivated me from the minute I ordered my drink. Sex, Aerial & Rock ‘n’ Roll literally combines those three topics and blends them into a mature and fascinating way that doesn’t overtly get too raunchy or sexual. Finding the right balance in shows like this, whether it be one on Broadway or at a local cabaret theater, is important to the quintessential New Yorker and the creators behind this did that and some.

The show, produced by aerialist Kristin Olness and stage manager Brian Rardin, features New York City’s best and hottest aerialists, circus and burlesque performers all on one tiny stage who tickle your fancy in different ways. Each of them performs their own stunts and tricks to a bevy of classic rock ‘n’ roll tracks including Guns N’ Roses “Welcome to the Jungle”.

Two of the performers acted as go-go dancers during the show’s intermission: one male and one female. The best part about it was both men and women went up to tip each of the dancers while they stood scantily clad, making it for a judgement free evening for them on stage and everyone in the audience.

I was impressed by how flexible each of the performers were. Whether it was expertly working on a set of ropes or making a singular chair look sexy as hell (think Britney in “Stronger”), each of them perfected their craft to a tee and made for a great night. Also, the host was hilarious and sang a bunch of hits as she made her way through the crowd.

The Slipper Room offers a ton of other one-of-a-kind shows in case anyone reading this is in NYC or is planning to visit over the next couple of months. The next Sex, Aerial & Rock ‘n’ Roll show will happen on October 25th. More information here.

Video Of A Man Beating Up A Homophobic Attacker Goes Viral

First, we have to give you a graphic violence and language warning. Second, we, thankfully, have to tell you that the supposed gay man isn't being bashed.

When stories like two men get attacked outside of New York gay bar are trending, it’s almost refreshing to see a story of a man fighting homophobes back.

According to LGBTQNation, a video is going viral of a man riding a New York City bus and being bothered by a homophobe. While a physical altercation does break out, it’s not the "gay" man who gets beaten.

The video, which you can watch below or find here, starts after the confrontation has already begun (like many viral videos do).

You can hear one man yelling out, “You still suck d****, though. I don’t give a s***. … I don’t fight with little f***** a****.”

The man on the end of these insults then points out that the two are being recorded while on the bus and asks the homophobe if he wants to go somewhere privately.

“You look really dumb,” he says while mocking the homophobe. “You’re trying to look for words and s*** to say. You don’t know what the f*** to say. ‘Ahhh, ahhh, ahhh, all y’all are f****** and s***.’ Call people f******* outside. There’s no f*****’ cameras outside. You wanna get a f*****’ aggravated assault charge? C’mon.”

Unfortunately, the homophobe then launches for an attack. Fortunately, the other man is more than prepared for him.

For the record, we keep saying supposed gay man, because there is no real confirmation that the receiver of this attack was gay. We don't know the full context without the start of the fight, but we do know that the man never denies being gay.

Again, the video does depict graphic violence and graphic language, so viewer discretion is advised.

h/t: LGBTQNation

"Boxers" Gay Bar To Expand To Washington Heights: Gentrification Or Much Needed Service?

Gay bar chain Boxers is getting yet another location in New York City… but is that a good thing?

Last month, we shared with you the idea that Boxers could be considered the gay Hooters. The gay-themed bar hosts a staff of men wearing a pair of red boxers as they bartend, wait on guests, and more.

The chain has been expanding exponentially with locations in Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, the Upper East Side, and Center City Philadelphia. But the fact that the chain just opened two new locations earlier this year hasn’t stopped it from opening a new one in Washington Heights later this fall.



A post shared by Boxers NYC (@boxersnyc) on

Gay residents in the northwestern New York neighborhood are celebrating the upcoming arrival of the bar and the owners of Boxers are doing the same.

“Washington Heights deserves its own neighborhood gay bar,” said co-owner Rob Hynds to AM New York. “A lot of our clientele have been coming from the area to our parties for years.”

Once Boxers has officially opened, it will be the only gay bar in the neighborhood of Washington Heights. The last one in the area was No Parking, which shut down back in 2014. In addition, the only other club in the area is Castro.

“Washington Heights, Inwood and the Bronx are the forgotten LGBT communities,” said Washington Heights resident Jamar Wilson to Am NewYork. “We constantly have to travel to Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea and the Village for our bars. That time is over and it’s a joyous occasion.”



A post shared by Boxers NYC (@boxersnyc) on

But, is this truly a good thing or is it another sign of gentrification in the neighborhood?

If you have any knowledge of Washington Heights, including at the very least having seen playwright Lin Manuel-Miranda’s first Broadway hit In the Heights, you’ll know that the area has a long history of being a safe haven for the Latinx community.

The Dominican community, in fact, is so strong there that Heights residents who hold Dominican citizenship can legally vote for Dominican elections in the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, New York City continues to be a congested city with an increasingly expensive price tag.

As boroughs like the Bronx and Brooklyn become too expensive to live in, LGBTQ people and millennials/hipsters have started moving into Washington Heights.

“Change in the neighborhood started around the mid-2000’s,” said Led Black, a lifelong Washington Heights resident and owner of the blog The Uptown Collective which chronicles life in the neighborhood, to the Cooperator New York. “Gentrification picked up steam around 2011-12. This year seems to be a tipping point. When I visit places in the neighborhood I’ve visited all my life, I see the change in the demographics.”



A post shared by Boxers NYC (@boxersnyc) on

Back in June, The New York Post published an article titled “Washington Heights Is The New Williamsburg.”

According to the article:

"Washington Heights is brimming with more millennials than any other ’hood in the Big Apple, with 50,103 residents age 20 to 34, comprising 10 percent of the area’s population, the latest US Census data show.”

Unfortunately, the article also showed a grim future for Washington Heights by explaining what has happened to Williamsburg.

“Williamsburg and Bushwick have become victims of their own success, [and] millennials can’t afford to live there anymore,” said Michael Keane, an NYU adjunct professor of urban planning. “So they’re thinking, ‘Hey, Washington Heights is in Manhattan, it’s easy to get to Midtown, crime is down and the rent is several hundred dollars less.’ ”

But, will history repeat itself?

With the increase in money being spent in the neighborhood, there has also been an increase in building and construction there.

Several stores and restaurants have popped up along Broadway, the abandoned movie theater on 181st street is being turned into a three-story commercial center, and residential buildings are being renovated to fit a more expensive clientele.



A post shared by Boxers NYC (@boxersnyc) on

The inclusion of the gay bar Boxers just adds more wealth to the area, and could eventually make the location too expensive for the historic Latinx community that has lived there for decades.

But, could Boxers instead become a staple for the community?

The bar is at least trying to reach out to multiple demographics, and it’s not trying to be just a typical meat-fest bar (despite it’s nearly naked staff).

The bar is planning a weekly line up of Sunday morning NFL games, Monday Latin nights, Tuesday karaoke parties, Thursday urban nights, weekly “RuPaul’s Drag Race” screenings, and after-dark open mics/drag performances.

“The original concept behind Boxers and what we try to do was to market to the sports community,” Hynds says. “But we want it to be a place for everybody. It always annoyed me as a kid that certain bars were women bars; men bars; black bars; leather bars; you had to be a certain thing to get in and feel comfortable.”

He added: “Our staff is gay, it’s straight, black, Latino, every ethnicity you can imagine. We want women to come and have a great time and men to come and have a great time. We just want good people.”



A post shared by Boxers NYC (@boxersnyc) on

While the inclusion of Boxers is another sign of gentrification in the neighborhood of Washington Heights, it is one that’s trying to connect with the community. The bar owners are providing a service for a network of people who need a gay bar, a sports bar, and a place to call their own.

But, does that excuse its direct influence on the change in the neighborhood? Or, is it just a example that things, and specifically neighborhoods, naturally change? We’ll see in time.



A post shared by Boxers NYC (@boxersnyc) on

Big Apple Realness: The Top 10 'RPDR' Queens From New York City

Perhaps I’m a bit biased (as I live here), but it doesn’t come as much of a shock to me that queens from New York City have won 4 out of the 10 regular seasons of RuPaul’s Drag RaceDusty Ray Bottoms said it right about how “competitive” the drag scene is here, as we have birthed some of the most legendary queens to have ever graced our presence on and off the hit reality series. 

Over the past decade, the show has given tons of Big Apple queens the star power that they deserve. Whether its touring in every crevice of the world, booking gigs with entertainers outside of the drag community and even producing major motion pictures, these “All Stars” have worked their butts off to get to where they are today.

Take a look at who we think are the 10 best queens from New York City to have ever competed on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Do you agree or disagree? Let us know.

10. Miss Fame (Season 7). Easily one of the most stylish and gorgeous queens to have ever competed on RPDR, Miss Fame came into season 7 as a frontrunner from the start due to her being one of the bigger names in the drag community. She made it halfway to 7th place but has since then become a force in the fashion industry, making the pages of Vogue and being a spokesperson for L’Oreal Paris. Not too shabby for a queen who used to hang with chickens on the farm.

9. Ivy Winters (Season 5).  Ivy brought theatrics and tricks to her drag that combined her incredible drag aesthetic with something you would see at a fabulous circus of sorts. She also is the considered to be one of the most congenial queens (won Miss Congeniality in her season) to have ever competed and continues to be a force in and out of New York City all these years.




A post shared by Monét X Change™ (@monetxchange) on

8. Monet X Change (Season 10). Another deserved Miss Congeniality queen, Monet came into the most recent season as a fan favorite from the get due to her bubby personality and fantastic wit. She’s heavily rumored to be on the upcoming season of All Stars, which gives this writer hope that a New York queen will finally win a title on the RPDR spinoff.



@sheacoulee - the sister I always wanted!

A post shared by Miz Cracker (@miz_cracker) on

7. Miz Cracker (Season 10). Monet’s season 10 castmate also came in very popular yet had a hard time actually winning a challenge until her buddy Miz Cookie arrived and helped her score her only win of the season (so wrong).



Caption this...

A post shared by Miss Peppermint (@peppermint247) on

6. Peppermint (Season 9). Peppermint was already a New York City legend prior to entering the werk room on season 9 but only elevated that status as the competition went on. She became runner up to another New York based queen, and since then has released some stellar music with openly gay rapper Cazwell and landed a starring role on Broadway.



@ageofaquaria I'm that one crazy aunt who doesn't dress her age! We all have one...and it's me! Tita Manila

A post shared by Manila Luzon (@manilaluzon) on

5. Manila Luzon (Season 3). The first true NYC queen to have a shot for the title and gave eventual winner Raja a good run for her money. She won three challenges, had a killer aesthetic and a very memorable lip sync to Donna Summer’s “MacArthur Park.” Another queen to be rumored on AS4... will she finally get what’s hers and take the crown?

4. Sasha Velour (Season 9). Did anyone predict Sasha would win early on in S9? Not so sure, but she shut down that mindset pretty much from the get that season. She’s one of the rare queens to have never LSYFL and made up for that in the finale with a reveal that no one saw coming. Her avant- grade type of drag is widely considered to be one of the best out there, as she continues to stun the world with each new look she creates.




@benjitobypants last night at home before he goes off to college. I'm so emotional right now!!!!

A post shared by Bob/ Caldwell Tidicue (@bobthedragqueen) on

3. Bob The Drag Queen (Season 8). Just an unstoppable force of hilarity and personality that millions fell in love with in season 8. A true force to be reckoned with this has gone onto bigger things post Drag Race.

2. Aquaria (Season 10). Easily one of the most fashion forward queens to ever compete and is wise beyond her years when it comes to mastering her craft of drag (she’s only 22). Came into the show a bit of a brat but softened up and earned a ton of respect from her fellow sisters and the show’s fan base in the process. Expect to see her on several catwalks and the face of many makeup and fashion brands very soon.



WHOEVER STOLE MY FAVORITE BRUSH AT WIGSTOCK........ FUCK YOU! #probablyladybunny #shadyassqueens #canthavenothingnice

A post shared by Bianca Del Rio (@thebiancadelrio) on

1. Bianca Del Rio (Season 6). I mean… was there any other choice? Bianca has topped the lists of several RPDR countdowns as many consider her to be the best queen to have ever competed on the show… period. She’s sold out packed audiences on a worldwide level, hung out in bed with Joan Rivers, and created two motion picture movies over a 4-year-span. Not too bad for this self-described “clown.”

This was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject.

Get Hyped For Flame Con, The World's Biggest LGBTQ Comic Con

The fourth annual Fame Con is almost underway and we can’t wait to see what happens this year!

While geek and fandom-centric conventions have become mainstream with San Diego Comic Con now being the go-to place for movie and tv news, LGBTQ fans are still struggling with representation and comfort in comics/tv shows/movies, and more.

To help create a space for LGBTQ fans/geeks (and creators trying to give create that representation), Flame Con was created.

"Flame Con is by and large the refuge for the weird queer kid," said convention chair Steve Gianaca says in the latest episode of The Fandom Files. "You go to New York Comic Con and it's a needle in a haystack to find queer content. That's actually how the organization was formed, a lack of representation at New York Comic Con. Everywhere you go, there's open queerness. People are happily in drag as Princess Peach. Last year's cosplay contest winner was Rita Repulsa. It was a dude and he looked fabulous."


A post shared by Elffi (@elfficosplay) on

Flame Con will be happening this weekend on August 18 and August 19 at the Sheraton in Times Square, according to Syfy.

Each year, the convention is getting bigger and bigger with this year’s space having enough room to fit 10,000 guests.

From LGBTQ-themed merch to LGBTQ themed comics/properties, and LGBTQ panels, this convention is all about celebrating LGBTQ geeks.

To hear more, check out the Fandom Files podcast with guest star Steve Gianaca.


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h/t: Syfy