Mike Shows You His Orlando....
My name: Mike
My age: 28
My profession: writer and journalist
City/town: Gainesville and Orlando, Florida
Relationship status: in a relationship
Sexuality: gay male
Do you have a hometown crush? If so, describe (but don't name names).
I have a friend here who is a psychology major at UCF and I consider very very hot, yes. I would call him, at least at times, something of a crush.
What was the last vacation you took? Where did you go? Where do you most want to go?
My last short vacation was to Daytona Beach, which is not far from here yet a lot of fun. I love the beach and I surf so it was a natural choice. I would like to go back to Russia again though.
Are any famous people from your town?
Hmmm . . . Aaron Carter came of age here, would that count?
What are some of the things you love most about your town?
Most people associate Orlando mainly with Disney, but the theme parks are really only one side of our community and the Disney parks are in fact to our south and in another county, anyways. We have two
world-class malls, a great downtown and a lot of gay-friendly entertainment. It's also a great city to live and work in.
If someone came to your town for just four hours, what is the one thing he should do?
Unless he was from a large city with great shopping like Chicago, I would highly suggest the Mall at Millenia which is an impressive and varied shopping experience. The Mall at Millenia also has won numerous awards for its architecture. It's worth seeing.
What are some great restaurants for a night out with gay friends?
On East Colonial Drive, we have a variety of very good Vietnamese places because this is our "Little Siagon": Orlando has one of the largest Vietnamese populations on the East Coast and therefore some
very good restaurants. They tend to be high-quality, reasonably-priced places and as someone who lived in San Francisco and has had my share of Asian food, I can attest to their quality and value.
What are some great restaurants for a romantic gay date? What about these restaurants appeals to you?
Victoria and Albert's in Disney's Grand Floridian is very fine dining and despite being in a Disney hotel, it's a very posh and romantic atmosphere . . . not what one thinks of with "Disney" at all. It's a
classy, beautiful, place with food to match.
What are your favorite gay bars and/or dance clubs?
Pulse is a trendy, fun, dance club that is gay-themed and currently the hot spot with the twentysomething crowd: that's where I like to dance. I also like the gay-oriented nights at Firestone.
What are your favorite gay parties or events in your town, if any? What is the crowd or scene like at those places?
There are always throughout the school year (the University of Central Florida is in Orlando) house parties which beat, in my opinion, large-scale things in terms of fun. The scene here tends towards young, beautiful, and tropical with more and more of a latin beat.
Where is the best public place for a gay person to make out there (or isn't there one)?
Most anywhere within reason: it's a rather gay-friendly city.
What is the gay community like there? Do you consider yourself to be part of any particular "scene?"
I dislike the term "scene" but I am a kinda emo/alternative/rocker kinda guy and fit in with that scene but have a lot of friends who are more into a stereotypical gay scene here . . . the scenes here are pretty fluid but I am mostly familar with the younger set here.
Where do you shop for clothes?
The aforementioned Mall at Millenia has a wealth of various clothing options from Hollister to Hugo Boss. People here who can afford to wear very very nice cutting-edge streetwear with a tropical slant to
it . . . think Custo Barcelona or Morphine Generation. Most anything you desire clothing-wise will be found in the Mall at Millenia or if not, at one of the various independent boutiques in Winter Park.
Where do you go for other forms of entertainment -- live theater, concerts, movies, art exhibits? Are there any local gay performance groups, bands, or artists that you're a fan of?
The live music and theatre scene here, including opera and classical music, is one of the better ones in Florida actually. We get a lot of touring bands also and there's always something of interest to do if
you look. It's simply a matter of checking things out when-ever you arrive here and seeing what's happening.
Is there a local cocktail that's popular in your town?
Variants of the martini remain very popular.
Where do the hot boys in your town tend to hang out?
Pulse, and on weekends, try the Mall at Millenia too.
If you had to describe the "average gay boy" style of your town in two words, what would they be?
Most guys I know in their twenties or so dress very smartly, but streetwear and pretty cutting-edge stuff. We're very fun and fashion-forward here, somewhat following Miami's lead.
Do you have any local celebs?
Wendy Chioji, a local TV newscaster for years, recently retired and relocated to Colorado. We love her and miss her much!
What bar has the cutest/hottest bartenders? (Don't name people's names)
Pulse, once again, or Firestone.
Do gay men and lesbians hang out together in your town or is that just unheard of?
I have lesbian friends and most guys I know do, yeah.
Has your town ever had a "gay scandal?" If so, describe it -- but don't use names!
Not really, except the local conservative groups are often vexed by just how gay-friendly the city is. It seems to get their collective goats that we're as progressive as we are.
Learn more about Mike by clicking here.
[Editor's Note: To find out how to submit a Reader's Guide about YOUR town, click here -- you'll be happy you did...].