MATE Magazine Spring 2012
LGBT WINE - Gary Saperstein from New York and Mark Vogler run Out In The Vineyard in Sonoma and Napa Valley, A Company that offers LGBT-Oriented Wine country Tours and Events
Mark: "I met Gary, who was the unofficial gay mayor of Sonoma - a role he still fulfills today - years ago. We became friends through a shared passion for wine and realized that the wineries here would appeal to gay visitors"
Gary:"When I moved here from New York 17 years ago, I never could have imagined that I'd become a leader of the gay community in small-town America. It's too quiet here for gay bars or clubs but this is an amazing place to connect with other gay people - after San Francisco itself, Sonoma County has the largest number of gay couples in the country per capita. When we told locals we wanted to market the destination to the gay market everybody was so receptive and eager to contribute."
Mark: "Sonoma and the city are hugely diverse and I think us introducing more gay tourism to the region has helped to normalize what the gay community is. Somebody asked us if we'd like Out In The Vineyard to be in the 4th of July parade doing a gay pride-style display but that's not what we're about. We don't need to perpetuate the stereotype of what gay culture is - gay culture is us so we're showing people that we're just like everybody else."
Gary: "You can see people's attitudes changing. I think younger generations don't feel like they need to live in the Castro any more. We're being accepted and integrating into commented beyond the gay districts. Everyone as been truly supportive and welcoming; in all my time here I've never felt that I can't be who I am."