Advocate Magazine
Subscribe To
The Advocate

Cover Stories

 Lady Gaga has just touched down in Los Angeles after a red-eye flight from New York City, following a meet-and-greet with fans at a Best Buy store—a crowded event that lasted until 2 a.m. The 25-year-old musician, who since the release of her debut studio album, The Fame, in 2008 has seen her celebrity rocket to stratospheric heights, is riding in a car on her way to rehearse for a performance she’ll give the next evening on American Idol.

Most entertainers with her schedule would be exhausted. Gaga feels euphoric. “I’m so, so happy,” she tells me. “I got to spend all night with the fans last night, and it was so much fun.” She sounds genuine. The inflection in her voice when she says the word “fans” is saturated with affection.

Gaga is a very busy lady, and consequently our interview has been postponed four times. Her wildly hyped, hugely anticipated album Born This Way was released the day before. First-week sales of the album have defied even the most optimistic estimates by her record label, and everyone from David Letterman to The Wall Street Journal wants a piece of her. I just want her to describe what she’s wearing.

An enormous part of Gaga’s appeal comes from her avant-garde fashion sense—from her surreal Alexander McQueen footwear to the facial spurs she sports in the Born This Way artwork. I tell her that I don’t want to sound like a pervert, but I want the details on today’s ensemble. Gaga laughs at this. “That’s OK, pervy is fine,” she says before describing her entire outfit down to her bra and panties (Calvin Klein), the dance tights, and the leather jacket with the new album artwork hand-drawn on the back. The jacket is a gift from one of the fans she met the previous night.

“My love for my gay fans is just pure, authentic love for them as supporters of me from the beginning, and me feeling connected to their struggles as someone who is a part of their fight,” she says.

The mutual love affair between Gaga and her intensely devoted — and largely gay — disciples has come into the conversation a second time within a few minutes. She has declared numerous times that, like many of her “little monsters,” she was bullied. In one instance, as a young girl in Manhattan, she was literally tossed into a trash can by classmates. It’s not just sympathy she feels, though. Her connection to her fans goes deeper, to the point of identification. She says she is one of them.

Though she’s recently ended an on-off relationship with musician Luc Carl, Gaga has discussed her attraction to other women in the past. As to whether she also considers herself an actual member of the LGBT community — “yes” is her response after a brief pause. Gaga draws the word out, perhaps steeling herself for the follow-up question, wondering if she’ll be forced to address the rumor that she has a penis. “The b letter,” Gaga answers, and lets out a giggle. She really is in good spirits today.

Is this declared affinity for LGBTs, the championing of equality, just pandering, so much lip service to an album-buying public, all in the service of promoting a new release? It would be easy to be skeptical of her enthusiasm, of her rainbow flag–waving. She’s been accused of not being gay enough to claim a letter in the acronym, and it’s been said that her activism for marriage equality, against the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and for AIDS awareness (she once appeared on Good Morning America dressed as a condom) is as superficial as her outré fashion.

“To say that I would use the gay community to sell records is probably one of the most ridiculous statements anyone can make about me as a person,” Gaga states. The timbre of her voice changes, deepening with frustration. “I would say the top thing I think about every single day of my life, other than my fans, loving the music, and my family being healthy, is social justice and equality.” Her conviction is convincing.
 

July 05 2011 9:00 AM

Including the people who finally care about bullying and straight dudes who are rooting for us.

May 18 2011 4:00 AM

Click here to read part one and click here to read part three of The Advocate's "193 Reasons to Have Pride in 2011."

 KATY PERRY X390 (PROMO) | ADVOCATE.COM 

 Because
GAY FAVES ARE HITTING THE ROAD THIS SUMMER
Sizzling music acts are going to make the hottest months of the year even more scorching. While Janet Jackson, Kylie Minogue, Ricky Martin, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Ke$ha, Katy Perry, and Britney Spears all have dates lined up across the country, Melissa Etheridge, the Indigo Girls, Cyndi Lauper, and k.d. lang are playing a few select dates. And if you like the Vegas heat, there’s always Céline Dion, who’s once again holding court at Caesars Palace in Sin City.

And while we’re speaking of the devils, P!nk, Ke$ha, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry have proved they care about their gay fans with a quartet of gay rights anthems — “Raise Your Glass,” “We R Who We R,” “Born This Way,” and “Firework.” Now we just need some from the fellas. Ricky? Enrique?

Because
WE’VE WON OVER THE VOTERS
The November 2010 election saw record wins by out LGBT candidates. Among the 106 elected were our fourth member of Congress, Rhode Island’s David Cicilline; another mayor of a major Southern city, Jim Gray in Lexington, Ky. (after Annise Parker’s 2009 Houston victory); the nation’s first openly transgender elected judge, Victoria Kolakowski in Alameda County, Calif.; and one of our few statewide officials, Connecticut comptroller Kevin Lembo. Wins have kept coming in communities large and small, with April’s election of James Cappleman as Chicago’s second out gay city council member (joining the reelected Tom Tunney) and John Buchheit as mayor of Delaware City, Del. (population roughly 1,500).

Because
A GLBT HISTORY MUSEUM OPENED IN SAN FRANCISCO
Harvey Milk’s pink-rimmed sunglasses are among the items on display at the GLBT History Museum in San Francisco. Believe it or not, the 1,600-square-foot space operated by the GLBT Historical Society in the Castro is the first gay museum in the country. San Francisco seems like the ideal place.

 

 DANIEL RADCLIFFE X390 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM  

 Because
HE DOESN’T NEED A WAND
Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe will be honored with the Hero Award by the Trevor Project, the LGBT-teen suicide prevention organization he’s tirelessly supported since 2009.

Because
BY THE TIME YOU READ THIS, A GAY MAN IS LIKELY TO HAVE BEEN CONFIRMED TO THE FEDERAL BENCH
President Barack Obama nominated J. Paul Oetken, a Yale law graduate who once worked for President Bill Clinton, to the U.S. district court for the southern district of New York. He appeared on track to be confirmed before Edward DuMont, an out nominee for the U.S. court of appeals for the federal circuit, who still awaits a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Alison Nathan, an out lesbian nominee, could join Oetken in the southern district.

 

 BARBARA BUSH X390 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM  

 Because
BARBARA BUSH SUPPORTS MARRIAGE EQUALITY
Former first daughter and Manhattan resident Barbara Bush appeared in the New Yorkers for Marriage Equality video series from the Human Rights Campaign, leaving advocates to wonder, Would her voice encourage state senate Republicans to support the bill?

May 17 2011 4:00 AM

Click here to read part two and click here to read part three of The Advocate's "193 Reasons to Have Pride in 2011."

 ROBB PRUITT ANDY WARHOL XLRG (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM 

 Because
CHROME BECOMES A LEGEND MOST
Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, the Virgin Mary, and…Andy Warhol? The late gay pop art icon has been immortalized once again—this time by sculptor Rob Pruitt (pictured above) with a metallic statue that will be on public display near effigies of those other notables until October 2 in New York’s Union Square, not far from where Warhol ran his legendary Factory.

Because
MARRIED BINATIONAL COUPLES ARE DEMANDING THEIR RIGHTS
The Defense of Marriage Act that precludes gays and lesbians from sponsoring their foreign spouses for citizenship + President Obama declaring that law unconstitutional = conundrum. The result? Binational couples and their advocates are pushing for parity in ever-increasing numbers. As Stop the Deportations’ Lavi Soloway puts it, “We cannot sit by while the government destroys the hopes and dreams of loving couples.”

Because
A JUNE WEDDING IN MEXICO CITY SOUNDS DELIGHTFUL
In Mexico’s first year of marriage equality, 367 male couples and 333 female ones were legally joined. All but 73 people married were Mexican citizens, and nine were between the ages of 71 and 90. While ceremonies are currently being performed only in Mexico City, the unions are recognized throughout the country. ¡Viva México!

 DAVID BOWIE STAR X390 | ADVOCATE.COM 

  Because
HE’S A STAR, MAN!
With his candid admission in 1972 that he was bisexual, David Bowie forever liberated pop music and paved the way for other button-pushing artists to come from Freddie Mercury to Lady Gaga. Starman, a new biography of the first truly modern rock star, will likely define Bowie for years to come.

 CHARLIE SHEEN MUG X390 | ADVOCATE.COM 

  Because
CHARLIE SHEEN IS VERY HETERO
He’s still resolutely not on our team. Who’s winning now? Yes, it’s us.

May 16 2011 4:00 AM

Click here to read the rest of the Forty Under 40 Honorees and here to read our cover interview with Chris Hughes and Sean Eldridge.
 

  Jeff Sheng
30, Los Angeles, Photographer

Photographer-activist Jeff Sheng’s work proves art can make a difference. His “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” series, showing gay and lesbian service members with their faces hidden, caught the attention of military brass and politicians — one of the subjects even noticed his boss, the chief of the Air Force, reading one of the books that featured the photos. “He had no idea that someone who was working for him was part of the series,” says Sheng, who believes the project helped bring about the repeal of DADT. “It had a really profound effect, more than I ever imagined when I started,” he says. Once repeal is implemented, he plans to do a photo book revealing the subjects’ identities. Sheng, whose work includes a series on gay athletes, also has plans for one featuring LGBT adults who attempted suicide as teens. He thinks it will have a profound effect as well, with audiences seeing people who were “a razor blade away from that.”

 Kyrsten Sinema x200 | ADVOCATE.COM 

 Kyrsten Sinema
34, Phoenix, Arizona state senator

Arizona state senator Kyrsten Sinema juggles a breathtaking range of duties and interests. The bisexual Sinema, a Democrat beginning her first term in the senate after three in the house, is an advocate for causes including LGBT rights, public education, and economic development and an outspoken opponent of the state’s controversial immigration law and lax gun control. “My number 1 priority is common sense, because we don’t see a lot of that in the state capitol,” she says. Outside the capitol, Sinema has a private law practice and teaches at Arizona State University, where she earned her law degree and is now working on a Ph.D. in justice studies. She was the only Arizona state legislator on the White House Health Reform Task Force, and she finds time for yoga, marathons and triathlons, reading, and filmgoing. “People always ask how do I get so much done,” she says. Her answer: “I don’t own a television.”

  DANIEL BAYLIS XCIRCLE | ADVOCATE.COM 

 Daniel Baylis
30, Montreal, World traveler

Like many kids, Daniel Baylis grew up wanting to travel the world. In November, after turning 30 and spending two years working in tourism for the city of Montreal, he decided to actually do it. Baylis quit his job and announced on his blog, The Conversationalist (DanielBaylis.ca), that he’d be spending every month in 2011 in a different country — two countries per continent (his apologies to Antarctica). Four months into his adventure — after New Orleans, Costa Rica, and Peru — Baylis has built a loyal following of fans, fellow travelers, and dreamers hoping to one day set out across the world like him. “My blog has become a facet for the ‘armchair traveler’ to see the world,” he says. The focus of this year is personal growth, and while he’s not running away from gay culture, he’s not seeking it out either. “I spent two years as an ambassador for gay life in Montreal, and that completely satiated my desire for gay culture for the time being,” Baylis says. Instead, he’s hoping to spend his year learning and teaching, with the locals he meets through his volunteer work and with his readers through photographs and blog posts. “In Peru, I was walking through the market and had a man stop me and tell me with pride in his eyes that his son was learning English at the school I was volunteering at. That affirmed my choice to go into the world and share.”

 SAVANNAH DOOLEY XCIRCLE | ADVOCATE.COM  

 Savannah Dooley
25, Los Angeles, Producer, writer

Together with her mother, Savannah Dooley cowrote, coproduced, and developed Huge, a series for the ABC Family network. Though the show, about teen weight-loss campers including Alistair, who was perceived as gay, ran for just one season, Dooley is already at work on a slate of new projects. “I’m interested in breaking from traditional queer narratives, because my own sexuality never followed a narrative that I saw in the media,” she says. One of the greatest joys of Huge was representing a group that’s typically marginalized in the media and seeing the impact that had on viewers. My mother had often told me how rewarding that was, but experiencing it firsthand has strengthened my resolve to tell stories that aren’t typically seen, particularly LGBTQ stories.” (Dooley’s mom should know; she is My So-called Life creator and Wicked librettist Winnie Holzman.) Next up, Dooley will follow her short film Snapshot, which screened at Outfest, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, in 2010, with another lesbian-themed short, a lesbian-inclusive feature, and a young adult novel that “will definitely include one or more queer characters.”

 AKIL PATTERSON XCIRCLE | ADVOCATE.COM  

 Akil Patterson
28, College Park, Md., Wrestler

When he’s not training with his mat partner, Akil Patterson is advising up-and-coming wrestlers or competing for the New York Athletic Club’s wrestling team, with his eye on representing the U.S. at the 2012 London Olympics. His life is all wrestling, all the time. But that’s not always been the case. After making the All-American football team in high school, Patterson went on to play ball in college. But while he excelled in the sport, school itself was largely a dark period in which he avoided dealing with his sexual orientation. A trip to Europe changed all that. After seeing gay men live their lives openly and happily, Patterson came out of the closet to his friends and family and finished his education. Then, after a quick stint in Montana playing semipro football, Patterson was ready for another change. He returned to the wrestling mat — and shed 110 pounds. “I look at those people on The Biggest Loser, and I just think they’re a bunch of crybabies,” he jokes. “I did it through wrestling. It’s goal-oriented, and you’re constantly being challenged.” In one of his first matches, Patterson faced a Pan American Games champion — and won. Now, when he’s not training, he counsels teenagers and young adults in Washington, D.C. “I try to keep them involved in activities,” he says. “I’m filling their world in terms of athletics. Sports helped me, so it can help them too.”

April 13 2011 4:00 AM

Check back to Advocate.com on Tuesday and Wednesday to see the other Forty Under 40 honorees.

***

Chris Hughes hadn’t planned to propose to Sean Eldridge on New Year’s Eve — it seemed like such a cliché. But, in the moment, it just felt right.

A storm had delayed their journey from New York City to Thailand by three days, one spent waiting in the airport before ever getting on a more than 20-hour flight. “We finally got there, it was a beautiful night, and we were relaxed,” Hughes says. So, as 2011 loomed, he got down on one knee at the Four Seasons Resort in Chiang Mai and proposed to his boyfriend of more than five years.

“I had two or three sentences I’d prepared. I think I got through one sentence, and I was like” — Hughes laughs as he mimics a squeal — “ ‘I love you so much!’ ”

“Chris had gone out of his way to hide the rings and make sure I didn’t know it was coming,” says Eldridge, who acknowledges that he was surprised. “For a couple of days, we were all smiles. Then we realized we have to plan a wedding.”

“It’s six weeks later,” Hughes says today, sitting in a leather chair in the library of the SoHo home he shares with Eldridge, “and we haven’t done anything yet. It’s embarrassing.”

For most people, there’s nothing embarrassing about a long engagement. But to overachievers like Chris Hughes and Sean Eldridge, six weeks is an eternity.

Hughes was 19 and at Harvard on scholarship when he and three friends founded a student website called The Facebook. After graduation four years later, he moved to Palo Alto, Calif., to work on the site as it became a bona fide phenomenon. Then in 2007 he headed to Chicago, where he oversaw the social media efforts of then–long shot presidential candidate Barack Obama. Now 27, Hughes is no longer involved with Facebook, except as a user and a major shareholder who has also made a significant fortune off the site. (More on that later.) Late last year he launched his newest online venture, Jumo.com, a social networking hub aimed at connecting donors and volunteers to nonprofits around the world.

A graduate of Brown University, Eldridge, now 24, also campaigned for Obama, as part of the team that put together Students for Obama. In 2009 he enrolled in law school at Columbia University, where in December of that year, he watched on his laptop during a seminar as the New York senate — in a move that shocked even the most politically savvy — voted against extending marriage equality.

“Knowing Chris and I were going to be living in New York for the foreseeable future, it was personally frustrating [and] deeply disappointing,” he says today of the vote, which caused him to drop out of law school in order to fight full time for the right to marry.

Eldridge became communications director for the national group Freedom to Marry in early 2010 and was soon promoted to political director. He and Hughes are major financial donors to the group (they gave more than $100,000 in 2010), and Hughes is also a valued adviser.

The two are interested in effecting progressive change on a host of issues, but Eldridge and Hughes’s current focus is on marriage — which comes at a moment that fits rather well with their personal lives.

“We’re at this natural point in our relationship,” Eldridge says. They considered waiting to exchange vows until marriage is legal in New York, but now they say they hope the law catches up to them. “We certainly won’t shy away from talking to the governor and other elected officials about it and telling them our story and why we want to get married,” Eldridge says. “But at the end of the day it’s our wedding. It’s about us. It’s not purely a political thing.”

With the luxury of money, the force of passion, and the gift of wisdom beyond their years — not to mention considerable charm — Hughes and Eldridge are bound to be major forces in progressive politics. “As much as I welcome the money — who wouldn’t? — I have to say that really is not what I think of as their primary contribution,” says Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry. “The money is great. Their presence is even greater.”
 

April 11 2011 4:00 AM

Watch a behind the scenes interview with Martina Navratilova below.   

Martina Navratilova has seen better years. She started 2010 with a fractured wrist she sustained while playing hockey — the first time, as it happens, that one of the titans of the professional sports world has ever broken a bone. Then in February, Navratilova was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was noninvasive but required a lumpectomy, followed by radiation therapy. Add to that the reported $3 million settlement of a lawsuit brought by a former partner that had spawned tabloid headlines like “Martina Navratilova Sued for Millions by ‘Wife’ After Being ‘Dumped Without Warning.’” Then bookend those misfortunes with a charity trek up Africa’s tallest peak in December that ended in a high-altitude pulmonary edema scare, an emergency descent, and days of hospitalization.

“Goodbye 2010,” she wrote on her website as the year drew to a close. “If you were a fish, I’d throw you back.”

But talking with her today, it seems almost as though the last straw came when the 54-year-old Navratilova was in a hospital bed in Nairobi, Kenya, watching CNN. “They were showing a five-minute segment on World Sport, about Martina Navratilova and the climb, they talked about what happened, and it was very accurate, and I was like, Oh, that was nice,” she says.

“Then on the ticker underneath it says, ‘Martina Navratilova Quits Her Mount Kilimanjaro Attempt,’” she continues with a wry smile. The emphasis is hers. It’s clearly an unpalatable word, even though she relates this story with a heady dose of humor threaded through the exasperation. “I can say that I quit, but nobody else can say that I quit! Because the only option of not quitting was to go up and die. So it was not a good solution. Quitting suggests that you had a choice. I did not have a choice.”

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that precise language is a sticking point for the woman whose record 167 singles titles may never be surpassed in professional tennis (Venus Williams, who has captured the most singles titles of any player competing today, sports 43 by comparison). A few days before we were scheduled to meet, either at or near her residence north of Aspen, Colo., I received an e-mail from Navratilova’s assistant, relaying a message from her business manager. The manager didn’t demand that any subject be off limits, but wrote that she needed to discuss “editorial control” — a term that basically means pre-approval for any piece to be published. That wasn’t going to happen, so I figured the assignment would be axed. But my editor made some calls, and on a 17-degree morning in Colorado I was given Navratilova’s address off a winding country road. I was told to arrive at 3 p.m.

Showing up in Aspen to interview Martina Navratilova in this context and in her own home comes with a certain set of assumptions (and anxiety: I doubted I’d fare well in the face of a recalcitrant Navratilova; during her career she was known for pouncing on press conference questions that annoyed her). I expected an imposing gate leading to an even more imposing house, the kind where Silicon Valley moguls spend long weekends. I expected the assistant to answer the door when I knocked and make me wait in an entryway for just enough time to sweat a few bullets. For some reason I expected Navratilova would have a small, expensive breed of dog.

I was wrong about all three. She has two dogs in Aspen, but neither is a shih tzu (she does own a small dog, but had to give it to a friend in New York to take care of for fear it’d be eaten by coyotes here, she says). Her two-story log cabin–style house is not gated, nor is it a marvel of modern architecture or opulent interior design. Outside is a rusty 4x4 with a "For Sale" sign in the window — the model year likely preceding Navratilova’s first Wimbledon win in 1978 — and a view of the looming Mount Sopris, unsullied by any neighboring multimillionaire pad: Navratilova owns the land in front of her home, where elk often graze. It’s quiet here, sunny, and freezing. Inside the high-ceilinged, cozy home is an old green spectator bench from Wimbledon and a local artist’s sculpture from her onetime archrival, Chris Evert. “It’s very comfortable,” she says of her friendship with Evert as she shows me around the main floor. “I know I can say anything I want to Chris about what’s going on in my life, and it’s going nowhere. And she’s going to give me exactly what she thinks with no censorship, no ulterior motive — and vice versa. We give our best to each other.”

As we sit down on a plush sectional sofa, I brace myself again for a standoffish interview, plotting my exit when we’ve reached the one-hour mark. The press, after all, essentially forced her out of the closet. Any stance the Czech-born Navratilova may take against American foreign policy or prevailing antiliberal sentiment is reliably met with an “If you don’t like it, why don’t you go back to where you came from?” response from Bill O’Reilly and his ilk. Despite her wins on the court, it’s always seemed to me that with the media, she often loses.

Story continues on next page. 

4:00 AM
1