Two years after the Virginia DMV sent a letter of apology to a Virginia resident for demanding he return his ''poofter'' license plate, 41-year-old Sidney Antommarchi of Herndon, Va., is reaping the benefits of what he calls an ''open-minded'' DMV.
Sitting on the back of his Toyota Corolla, framed by a rainbow sticker and an HRC decal, is his new ''boy4boy'' license plate, just a few months old.
''My last plate was 'hotboyz,''' says Antommarchi, ''but I got that with my ex-partner, and it was time for a change.''
Antommarchi chose "boy4boy" with his new boyfriend, who is 27.
''The top suggestion was 'man4boy,''' says Antommarchi, ''but I live next to a high school, so I didn't think that was going to fly.''
Antommarchi says this sort of visibility is important, as he works at a military installation.
Chris Torres, owner of Reincarnations Furnishings, also opted to pay extra for a personalized Virginia plate -- his reads ''guy2guy.''
''I don't think they realize what they say,'' Torres says of the DMV.
Torres says he's been pushing the envelope ever further, with his latest license following on the heels of auto identities such as ''bemyex,'' ''diva1'' and ''elhombre.''
Obviously of interest to Torres, he adds that he was recently on the state's DMV Web site, where customers can try different combinations of letters to see what personalized combinations are available and preview their plates.
''I was trying things like ''imabtm'' or ''top me,'' he says. ''You'd be amazed what you can get away with.''
However, plates that pass the DMV's review do not always stay on their cars. Former Virginia resident David Philips had his ''poofter'' plates for 11 years before receiving a letter in 2007 from the DMV demanding that he return them. He eventually won his fight to keep them, but he adds that he met two Virginia women having similar trouble with their ''2dykes'' plate.
Based on his experience, Philips guesses that ''boy4boy'' is safe.
''It helps that it's not explicitly sexual,'' Philips says.
Philips will nevertheless lose his license plate during an upcoming move to Maryland, where ''poofter'' is already taken.
''I'm thinking about 'bigpoof,''' Philips says of his next motor moniker.
Antommarchi says his own "boy4boy" plate hasn't caused any problems so far.
''People take pictures, they giggle, but I haven't had anyone say anything negative or stop me to say any slurs,'' he says. ''Attitudes have changed a lot. I'm very grateful for that.''
And while sporting an obviously gay plate in a state that is home to one of the nation's most homophobic laws, banning any recognition whatsoever of same-sex couples, there could be another explanation for his smooth sailing: ''Most people don't look, to tell you the truth.''
To test a Virginia DMV license plate combination, visit www.dmv.virginia.gov/dmvnet/plate_purchase/intro.asp.