By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com May 23 2013 6:30 PM ET
Will (left) and Sen. Rob Portman
Because everyone has a gay, bi, or trans family member
As more people come out, straight folks realize that LGBT rights are more than just some abstract issue. It’s about their cousins, siblings, and children. This helps legitimize LGBT rights, especially for conservatives like Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts, whose lesbian cousin Jean Podrasky had a seat waiting for her during this spring’s hearings on Proposition 8. Republican U.S. senator Rob Portman, who had opposed marriage equality, now says his son Will Portman, who’s gay, led him to become the first sitting GOP senator to support equal marriage rights. And we can tell that Republican congressman Matt Salmon’s gay son, Matt R. Salmon, who endured years of reparative therapy, is working on getting his father on board.
Because HIV is no longer something to hide in the closet
Both country singer-songwriter Jimbeau Hinson (pictured left) and John Grant, formerly of the alternative band the Czars and now a solo performer, sing openly about being HIV-positive. It’s a part of life now, not death.
Because a straight ally designed our defining viral campaign
The blue-and-yellow equal sign has been the Human Rights Campaign’s logo for decades, but HRC marketing director Anastasia Khoo came up with the red-and-pink version that spread like wildfire across Facebook. Though her standing rule has been not to mess with the HRC’s famous logo, she had the instinct that changing it to the color of love would be the right way to break the rule.
Because these two Time covers were in almost every supermarket in the country for an entire week
By the way, that’s Antigone Rising’s Kristen Ellis-Henderson and her wife, Sarah Kate, who, after struggling to conceive a while back, both became pregnant at the same time and gave birth to kids they call the “wonder twins,” which they wrote about in their book Times Two. The men are Russell Hart and Eric LaBonté.
Because children of LGBT parents get it
In 2011, Zach Wahls’s (pictured left) testimony before the Iowa legislature, extolling the virtues of his two loving mothers, captivated the nation. Now other offspring of gay parents are following his lead with letters, videos and testimony, proving that they grow up just as normal as any other child in America with loving parents. Daniel Martinez, 12, of California, wrote a letter to Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts about being adopted by his two dads. Another 12-year-old, Rhode Islander Matthew Lannon, told his state’s Senate Judiciary Committee that his family was just like any other, but unlike families with straight parents, “they have to come here again year after year and explain over and over why their love is equal to yours.” And President Obama wrote back to 10-year-old Sophia Bailey-Klugh, who had told the commander in chief, “I am so glad that you agree two men can love each other because I have two dads and they love each other, but at school kids think that it’s gross and weird, but it really hurts my heart and feelings.” Obama replied, “Our differences unite us. You and I are blessed to live in a country where we are born equal no matter what we look like on the outside, where we grow up, or who our parents are. A good rule is to treat others the way you hope they will treat you. Remind your friends at school about this rule if they say something that hurts your feelings.”
Because Facebook’s ads are truly inclusive
Kudos to Facebook Home for including a cast of transgender and gender noncomforming characters in one of its recent advertisements. In the commercial, a seemingly straight-laced traveler encounters a number of unexpected surprises while boarding an airplane. Shirtless men are lying in the overhead compartments, the drag queen Shangela bursts from the refreshment cart to wild applause (a tactic she used more than once on Logo’s RuPaul’s Drag Race), and transgender performer Calpernia Addams croons a Marilyn Monroe song in the seat behind him. When the traveler glances down at his Android phone to see a photo of his nephew in a birthday hat, the child materializes on the plane, revealing to the viewer that social media can be a powerful and inclusive tool for keeping up with family and friends — both in and out of drag.
Because basketball legend Magic Johnson; his wife, Cookie; and their out son, E.J., make up a real modern family
Earvin “E.J.” Johnson III, 20, had tongues wagging in April when he waltzed down L.A.’s Sunset Boulevard holding his boyfriend’s hand. Speaking to TMZ, E.J. displayed not only a keen knowledge of sports but also an impressive confidence. He owes much of that to his kind and supportive parents, who’ve spent the last two decades advocating for minority communities and HIV funding. But when it comes to E.J., Magic would tell TMZ, “I love E.J. so much, that’s my main man.… I think he really wanted to be out. But he was torn.… And I said, ‘Go, E.J., go.’ ”
Because 2.7 million people supported marriage equality on Facebook during the Supreme Court hearings in March
This spring, the Facebook feeds of millions of Americans bore the sign of equality, as users changed their profile pictures to equal signs in solidarity with octogenarian DOMA plaintiff Edie Windsor and the millions of queer Californians affected by Proposition 8. Facebook recorded a 120% increase in profile pic changes the week of the hearings compared to the previous one (the biggest increase was in Michigan’s Washtenaw County, home of the University of Michigan). The best thing about the supportive images was the number of straight allies who attached their names to them.
Because the history of AIDS is being told
A new exhibit at the New York Historical Society uses photos, posters, and artifacts to tell the story of the early years of AIDS, when activists rallied to push government and business to take action. The show, “AIDS in New York: The First Five Years,” runs from June 7 to September 15 at the society’s museum in New York City.
Because we’ve got staying power
Move aside, Les Mis! Lesbian singer, bandleader, and comedian Terese Genecco (pictured right)holds the record for the longest-running major engagement for a cabaret act on Broadway. She and her eight-piece “little big band” have been headlining at the Iridium jazz club in Manhattan on the last Tuesday of every month for four years, and she’ll be approaching 100 performances this summer. Be there when she hits that milestone!
Because J.Lo making good makes for good TV
Jennifer Lopez is making amends for playing a “turned” lesbian in the box-office bomb Gigli by producing The Fosters, an ABC Family comedy about lesbian parents and their brood, premiering June 3. Bolstering the show’s queer cred is that another of its exec producers is Peter Paige, the out actor who played Emmett Honeycutt on Showtime’s Queer as Folk.
Because Marie Osmond proves Mormon and LGBT-supportive are not mutually exclusive
Our warm feelings for entertainer Marie Osmond were reinforced when she talked to ABC News about her lesbian daughter, saying, “I believe in her civil rights, as a mother. I think that my daughter deserves everything that she desires in life. She’s a good girl. She’s a wonderful child.”
Because we operate under our own steam
There’s good stuff coming from the independent music scene. Bisexual electro-pop artist IAMEVE (a.k.a. Tiff Randol) has been described as the musical descendant of Kate Bush and David Bowie (in that imagined coupling) and is receiving favorable attention for her album The Everything Nothing. Not only has she been spoofed on IFC’s Portlandia, her music has been heard on TV series like Royal Pains, Degrassi, and The Hills, and her vocal talents will be featured in the upcoming film Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. And she’s done it all without a major label contract!
Above: USMC Captain Matthew Phelps and his new husband Ben Schock married in Seattle on Saturday, May 25th. The newlyweds' engagement went viral in December when Phelps proposed to Schock at the White House.
Because relationship recognition continues to spread around the nation
Colorado OK’d civil unions legislation this year, and a marriage equality bill, still pending at press time, may well pass in Illinois. Delaware is also considering a marriage equality bill, and as in Illinois, the governor supports the measure. And last fall, when voters in Maine, Maryland, and Washington State were asked to affirm legislatively approved marriage equality laws, they did so resoundingly. In Minnesota voters quashed an attempt to amend the state’s constitution to prevent same-sex marriage, and now a marriage equality bill is before state lawmakers. Further evidence of citizen support comes from a spring ABC News/Washington Post poll that found 58% of respondents back our right to marry, with 36% opposed — numbers that have essentially flipped in the past decade. Support was particularly strong among younger people, including Republicans, where a slim majority of those under 50 endorsed equal marriage rights, and there’s evidence that support doesn’t wane as generations age. The results led Post blogger Chris Cilizza to make this optimistic declaration: “Outside of Republican primary fights, gay marriage will disappear from the national political dialogue as an issue.”
Because we’re making a difference in gun safety
The David Bohnett Foundation, endowed by its L.A.-based gay philanthropist namesake, is working with policy makers and activists to reduce gun violence. Since 2000, it has funded important work by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Women Against Gun Violence, and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, among others.
Because now the White House can be romantic for us too
In June 2012 at an LGBT Pride Month celebration, Scout, the director of the Network for LGBT Health Equity at the Fenway Institute and a transgender man, dropped to one knee in Cross Hall of the White House and proposed marriage to Liz Margolies (pictured at left), the executive director of the National LGBT Cancer Network. Liz said yes as the U.S. Marine Band played, and the two were married in December (after going on Melissa Harris-Perry’s MSNBC show to talk about the historic proposal). Also in December, while on the holiday tour at the White House (earlier, the site of their first date), Matthew Phelps, an active duty U.S. Marine Corps captain, popped the question to his partner, Ben Shock. Ben said yes too! (See photo of their wedding at the top of the page.)
Because being pro–marriage equality is no longer a political liability
Not long ago, even liberal politicians, like President Obama, tiptoed around the issue, but after giving unqualified support to marriage equality last year, he was reelected handily. Both Clintons, Bill and Hillary, have endorsed our right to marry. They’ve been joined by almost every Democrat in the U.S. Senate, including most of the moderate-to-conservative ones, and even a couple of the Republicans, including Rob Portman of Ohio, who has a gay son. Also, over 100 GOPers signed on to a brief urging the Supreme Court to strike down California’s antigay Proposition 8; most of them don’t currently hold office, but still it’s progress. Political pundits are warning the Republican Party to back off the antigay stuff or become permanently marginalized. And let’s not forget that the legal team trying to overturn Prop. 8, David Boies and Ted Olson, is bipartisan.
Because Christine Quinn could preside over the most populated city in the U.S.
Many New Yorkers love Quinn (pictured left), and even her critics haven’t made an issue of the fact that she’s an out lesbian. And come this fall the current front-runner may be elected the city’s first female or LGBT mayor, in New York’s first mayoral race without Michael Bloomberg since 1997.
Because the nation's only LGBT network has a hot summer lineup
This Pride season, Here TV (which is owned by The Advocate’s parent company, Here Media) will unveil several sensational new programs that parade the best and brightest of queer culture. Amazing artists, hilarious drag queens, unbelievable activists — they’re all here.
She’s Living for This!: It’s fun to watch drag queens compete and lip-synch for their lives. But it’s even more fun watching them do hilarious comedy sketches, musical performances, and celebrity interviews.
New York drag sensation Sherry Vine brings her off-kilter sense of comedy to the second season of this drag variety showcase, with special appearances by Varla Jean Merman, Jackie Beat, Pam Ann, and Blondie front woman Debbie Harry. You won’t believe what these crazy queens do for laughs.
Varla Jean and the Mushroomheads: After small-time cabaret sensation Varla Jean Merman has her drunken rampage broadcast on the news, she decides to reboot her career by turning her stage show into a regional children’s television program. But her campy antics, addiction to glamour, and morally questionable cast members threaten to sink her show before it even airs. You’ll love the “sassiest, silliest, and sluttiest” kids’ television show ever in this over-the-top mockumentary by director Michael Schiralli.
Just Josh: Here TV’s bearded gent around town, Josh Rosenzweig, will host a very special Pride edition of Just Josh to highlight some surprising (and often overlooked) aspects of New York City LGBT Pride. Rosenzweig’s candid interviewing style will guide viewers around the city as he interviews the organizers, participants, and other players in one of the world’s largest annual queer celebrations.
The Gayest Show Ever: Forget the shirtless vodka jockeys and glittering drag comedians of standard gay television. The Gayest Show Ever takes a smart, sexy, and hilarious bite out of global gay culture with such esteemed guests as John Waters, Bruce LaBruce, Cyndi Lauper, and Margaret Cho. The show fearlessly tackles topics like radical trans activism and the politics of porn, making it one of the sexiest, most provocative queer TV shows you’ve ever seen. —Daniel Villarreal
Because we were kinky long before Fifty Shades of Grey
Laura Antoniou, the author of the legendary Marketplace series, which introduced BD/SM to the masses decades before Fifty Shades of Grey, is back with a quirky, funny police procedural set in the leather underground, The Killer Wore Leather (Cleis, $16.95). But does erotica get respect now? “Oh, hell no,” she says, calling the genre “the rented mule of publishing.” She adds, “But I’ll admit I will trade any basket of whatever ‘respect’ weighs in exchange for sales — and that, I think, we are starting to get. The advent of e-books and the ease and privacy in buying them has liberated erotica readers.”
Because Carly Rae Jepsen said no to the Boy Scouts and yes to gay party boys
After Carly Rae Jepsen (pictured left), the Canadian pop star behind “Call Me Maybe,” learned of the Boy Scouts’ ban on out scouts and troop leaders, she withdrew from performing at the group’s annual jamboree. She did, though, say yes to performing at the gay bacchanal of the year, the White Party in Palm Springs, Calif.
Because straight kids don’t want to be a part of the problem
High school senior Maxwell Ulin, who is not gay, returned his Eagle Scout badge in protest of the organization’s antigay policies, writing to the Boy Scouts of America in February, “For all that finally earning Eagle last month meant to me, I know that I can only honor my own beliefs and personally uphold the twelfth scout law by standing up against injustice to the fullest of my ability.”
Because our revolutionaries are seeing change happen before their eyes
Holly Near, one of the originators of the women’s music movement in the 1970s, is back with a new two-disc album called Peace Becomes You, which includes contributions from 22 musicians, her own famed songwriting, and material written or sung by artists including Irving Berlin, Ferron, Gnarls Barkley, Cris Williamson, and Keb’ Mo’. It’s an amazing triumph, but the legendary Near, whose legacy goes beyond music to LGBT activism, is more surprised by what’s been accomplished around her.
“I am very moved by the legacy and take it seriously,” she says. “There were lesbians and feminists doing music all over the country and the world. We didn’t all know each other, but each one of us skipped a stone and the ripples began. If I had been asked in 1975 if I thought we would soon have out lesbian singers and comedians working in the music industry, be winning Grammys, be showing up at events with our sweethearts, be producing and directing films with positive lesbian images that are distributed by Hollywood companies, see gay characters on many TV sitcoms, have gay people in Congress and legislatures and on the bench, out gay athletes, marriage equality, and on and on — well, I would have been happy with the fantasy, but I’m not sure I would have believed it possible in such a short amount of time. It is worth pausing to celebrate. I believe the songs we wrote and sang that traveled around the world contributed a great deal to the achievements of the past 40-plus years, not only regarding sexuality and gender but race and class and disability, in all the ways women struggle when they fall in love with one another.”
Because lapsed Mormons make the best gays
Spencer Day (at right) was once a lonely Mormon kid in Arizona, harboring suicidal thoughts after his parents’ divorce. Now the gay jazz singer is confident and poised, using his struggles as fodder for his songwriting, as shown on his new album, The Mystery of You. Earlier in his career, “I didn’t think I’d be anywhere in five years,” Day told the San Francisco Chronicle. “There was no sense of vision on my part. I’d never really had any education or mentoring to visualize what I wanted out of life.” Now his vision seems clear.
Because there’s one more way to worship an icon
Kylie Minogue will soon be sprawling across coffee tables from Hell’s Kitchen to Silver Lake, thanks to Kylie Fashion (Running Press, $40), the glossy oversize book, out May 28, that chronicles the diva’s many looks, with an introduction by Jean Paul Gaultier.
Because a trans MMA contender is still fighting, even after Fallon Fox (pictured above) was forced to come out about her gender status several years after entering the MMA world.
Because Chaz Bono is back to acting
Chaz Bono appeared as himself on The Secret Life of the American Teenager and Degrassi: The Next Generation, symbolically thumbing his nose at right-wing pundits who deem him a bad role model for teens. He also made a stage acting debut in L.A. this spring, in Roadhouse the Rock Opera, a hilarious parody of the Patrick Swayze cult classic.
Because the Met is going through a punk phase
From May through August, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City celebrates the fashion inspired by punk rock in “Punk: Chaos to Couture.” “Although punk’s democracy stands in opposition to fashion’s autocracy, designers continue to appropriate punk’s aesthetic vocabulary to capture its youthful rebelliousness and aggressive forcefulness,” says Met Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton. Work from Alexander McQueen, Dolce and Gabanna, Karl Lagerfeld, and several others will be displayed alongside the DIY styles shredded, cut, studded, patched, and pieced together by rockers like Sid Vicious and punk fans through the decades.
Because a few dozen colleges and universities get it
As of May, health plans at 36 colleges across the U.S. currently or soon plan to cover gender transition surgeries, 25 schools cover hormone therapy, and 20 have similar plans for employees.
Because good music doesn’t pick a side
Just because devotees of Christian music are divided over LGBT rights, that doesn’t mean that the members of Wilmington, N.C.–based band Micah’s Rule, have given up on Jesus. Mary Anne Hewett and Greg McCaw are lesbian and gay, respectively, and Chasity Scott is a transgender woman, and all are devout. They perform gospel music at St. Jude’s Metropolitan Community Church, and their new CD, Walk the Road, is a mix of tightly harmonic country, blues, and Southern gospel, with a strong Christian message.
Because Because LGBT history is being preserved through dance
Over the course of two years, renowned transgender choreographer Sean Dorsey sought LGBT people ages 55-88 to record their own version of history, ranging from joyous to heartbreaking. The stories then sprouted his show The Secret History of Love, (pictured right) which celebrates the lives and loves of LGBT people throughout the 20th century.
Because Chris Culliver choked at the Super Bowl after saying he had a problem with hypothetically having a gay teammate. Coincidence? We think not.
Because of Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer
With her lawsuit against the Defense of Marriage Act being weighed by the Supreme Court (no verdict as of press time), Edie Windsor personifies DOMA’s insidious inequalities — because the federal government didn’t recognize her marriage to Thea Spyer, Windsor was hit with a $363,000 tax bill after Spyer’s death. Windsor is smart and determined, has a gorgeous smile, and is possibly the hippest octogenarian in the nation (just look at that wardrobe). Edie Windsor is our 83-year-old heroine and proof the Stonewall generation is still bustin’ heads (only this time, not literally).
Because for gay visibility and advocacy, Star Trek goes where no sci-fi franchise has gone before
OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but George Takei (pictured right) of the original TV series has long been an out activist, and his straight costar Nichelle Nichols is a dedicated LGBT rights supporter; Zachary Quinto (pictured left), now the big-screen Spock, came out a couple years ago; and Patrick Stewart, Captain Picard of The Next Generation, is a straight ally who just received PFLAG’s Straight for Equality in Entertainment award. OK, William Shatner — take us to the final frontier!
Because Even Our Department Stores Become Movie Stars
There really is no other store like the 111-year old Manhattan institution, Bergdorf Goodman's, and you will come to learn that watching Matthew Miele’s new documentary, Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's. It’s where Jackie Kennedy got her dress for her husband's inaugural ball, Grace Kelly ordered her wedding invitations, and John Lennon and Yoko Ono had furs delivered by phone. From the store’s transformation to the parties, fashion icons, and behind-the-scenes gay glitterati, it all come together to offer up a intimate, flashy, and quintessentially American story. Always a gay-fave, the fairytale shopping stories of New York's elite will leave you believing anything is possible at Bergdorf's. Among the notables in the film: Giorgio Armani, Candice Bergen, Manolo Blahnik, Dolce & Gabanna, Marc Jacobs, Naeem Khan, Michael Kors, Karl Lagerfeld, Lauren Bush Lauren, Susan Lucci, Christian Louboutin, Catherine Malandrino, Gilles Mendel, Isaac Mizrahi, Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen, Thakoon Panichgul, Joan Rivers and Jason Wu.
Because a lesbian fighter put up a serious fight in the first female match in the UFC
Liz Carmouche (pictured left) has become so respected by her peers that even her opponent, champion Ronda Rousey, opted not to engage in the normal amount of trash-talking that she is known for.
Because linebackers Scott Fujita and Brendon Ayanbadejo have each won Super Bowls after becoming active LGBT rights supporters
Fujita’s New Orleans Saints won in 2010, and Ayanbadejo’s Baltimore Ravens in 2013 (pictured right).
Because a British lesbian soul singer is getting her due
The musical Forever Dusty, which just closed an off-Broadway run and may soon be touring, tells the story of Dusty Springfield without de-gaying her love life or leaving out her battles against injustice.
Because the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art is making sure our artists don’t fade away
The New York City space mounts exhibits of pioneering artists others wouldn’t touch, as in the current “Paul Thek and His Circle of Friends,” exploring the frankly gay work Thek produced in the repressive 1950s (preceding his 1960s fame for pieces that resembled slabs of meat), plus that of the artists who influenced and were influenced by him.
Because MSNBC is now gayer than ever with its third out anchor, Steve Kornacki (pictured left), who joins Thomas Roberts and Rachel Maddow.
Because our artists honor our heroes
The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus 35th Anniversary Concert, with the theme “Harvey Milk 2013,” will feature the world premiere of the choral work “I Am Harvey Milk,” with words and music by Andrew Lippa. The concert will include several pieces of performance art celebrating Milk’s legacy as well. This year is also the 35th anniversary of the assassination of San Francisco city supervisor Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials, so the event commemorates “the death of one icon and the birth of another,” as organizers put it. Performances will be June 27 and 28.
Because Jane Lynch will not stop making you laugh
Funny lady Jane Lynch will leave the tracksuit at Glee when she joins another Fox show, Murder Police, an animated series set in a police precinct. The show, by Family Guy’s David A. Goodman and up-and-comer Jason Ruiz, will debut this fall. Ruiz stars as nerdy, clumsy, but well-meaning cop Manuel Sanchez, whose partner, Tommy Margaretti (Will Sasso), takes bribes, breaks rules, and loves to punch perps. Lynch plays self-righteous detective Justice, and Wilmer Valderrama portrays tricky undercover officer Donel.
Because you can make a comedy series about trans people starring trans people
The Switch is the first comedy series about trans people, using trans actors in all the roles, and much of the creative team behind the entertaining Web series is also transgender. Domaine Javier (pictured right) plays Sü, a 27-year-old who just came out as trans at work before getting laid off and losing her apartment. It sounds heavy, but it’s actually funny and relatable. A Kickstarter campaign aims to keep the episodes coming.
Because pro athletes know they influence the everyday sports fan
That’s why dozens of gay and allied players, administrators, and sports personnel sent a friend of the court brief supporting marriage equality to the U.S. Supreme Court for the hearing challenging California’s Proposition 8. Their rationale, according to the brief, was that if they show their support, gay players may feel more comfortable coming out, and more fans may feel more sympathetic to gay rights. Looks like a win-win situation.
Because gays can be reality TV newlyweds
The May-September couple Blair Late and Jeff Pedersen are among four pairs followed for the first year of marriage in Bravo’s new docu-series Newlyweds: The First Year, which premiered May 6. The show is premised on the statistic indicating half of all marriages end in divorce — and harmony rarely makes for riveting reality TV. So do we wish them a happy union or a good TV show?
Because lesbians can be musical theater
Lesbian Love Octagon, billed as “a musical comedy about dyke drama,” which had a sold-out limited run in 2010, is being revived in June at the Kraine Theater in New York City, and the out hip-hop–soul duo God-des and She will be guest stars on opening night, June 5. Playwright-director Kimberlea Kressal based the tale about a circle of friends, girlfriends, and ex-girlfriends on her life, and gay composer–musical director Will Larche wrote the original score, with the two collaborating on the lyrics. They hope to move the show to an off-Broadway theater or even Broadway next year.
Because there are still battles to be won
This lesson makes up much of I Do, the new film directed by Glenn Gaylord and written by and starring David W. Ross (out star of indie winner Quinceañera). It explores the plight of binational same-sex couples through the passionate relationship of Ross’s British photographer character and a Spanish-American, U.S. citizen architect, played by Maurice Compte. The well-done tearjerker, costarring Alicia Witt and Jamie Lynn-Sigler, is in select theaters and on VOD May 31.
Because Laurence Anyways will go beyond the festival circuit
After seeing Laurence Anyways at the Toronto International Film Festival, acclaimed gay director Gus Van Sant knew he had to make sure director Xavier Dolan’s latest piece of work would be seen by as many people as possible. That’s why he became an executive producer of the French film, set in the 1990s, about a young couple and how their relationship develops after one comes out as transgender. “For me to be endorsed by Gus Van Sant is like telling an 8-year old that Batman is his uncle,” Dolan says. Look for the film this summer.
Because bears aren’t just in the woods
Travis Smith and Chris Bale’s Guide for the Modern Bear: A Field Study of Bears in the Wild is an adorable combination of quirky graphic design, retro beefcake, pinups, and insider know-how on bears from Atlanta to London. Woof!
Because our younger generation doesn’t need labels
Musician Anna Haas, who wrote a beautiful song about another woman she fell in love with — “Lilla” from her new debut album, Crazy — tells The Advocate, “I have never labeled my sexuality. I’ve had experiences and I’m always open to beautiful people, but personally try to avoid labeling myself. However, I’m a huge advocate of LGBT rights, and my father does HIV research for a living.”
Because not all fraternity brothers are meatheads
After the brothers at Emerson College’s Phi Alpha Tau learned that member Donnie Collins’s transition surgery would not be covered by the school’s health insurance provider, Aetna, they all joined forces to raise cash for the surgery on IndieGogo. They smashed through their $2,000 goal raising a whopping $21,300. But the attention led the insurance company to reverse its decision, so the money went to help other transgender people undergo surgery through the Jim Collins Foundation (no relation to Donnie).
Because like it or not, pornography is sex ed in this country
That’s what author Dan Savage reminds us in director Dan Hunt’s riveting new documentary, Mr. Angel. A film that looks at the career, childhood, and marriage (to queer author Elayne Angel) of transgender adult educator, advocate, and performer Buck Angel — a man who has outraged many with his insistence that he’s is simply “a man who happens to have a vagina.” We meet his parents in tearful scenes, hear about his days as a female fashion model (and the drug addiction that went with hiding his gender identity issues), and witness his home and professional lives (the wife and seven dogs live in Mexico; his adult films sell out in Europe). But what’s most riveting (besides a hilarious scene with porn maven Michael Lucas, who clearly does not “get” why gay men would be attracted to Angel) is watching Angel become the man he was meant to be (despite, or because of, his anatomy) and turn that around to educate others on gender, sexuality, and self-acceptance.
Because we finally get the Saturday morning cartoon we needed
Remember I’m Just a Bill or any of the 35 other Schoolhouse Rock! interstitials that ran on Saturday mornings in the 1970s? There’s finally a queer counterpart. Sufferin’ Till You’re Straight is a delightful musical history of gay rights from ancient Greece to today, with some antigay groups and politicians thrown in for good measure. Sufferin’ is the third installment in a 10-part independent animated series called Hard Knock Rock! created by David Scheve and produced by TDA Animation, which pays homage to Schoolhouse Rock! Even better: The three-minute Sufferin’ Till You’re Straight features lead vocals by former Frank Zappa bandmate Essra Mohawk (who did the original Schoolhouse Rock! films Interjections! and Sufferin’ Till Suffrage), and backup vocals by two Supremes. In late May the film will be shown in India at a queer film festival, while the creative team is working on another new segment, this time a gay-friendly bit about safe sex and STDs (with vocals by Martha Wash).
Because Another Star is Born
James Mason earned an Academy Award nomination for his role alongside Judy Garland in the classic 1954 film A Star Is Born. Today, his grandson, gay rights activist James Duke Mason (whose mother happens to be Go-Go’s front woman Belinda Carlisle) is putting the family acting genes to a test in the upcoming film Disappear Here. The movie, directed by Matthew Mishory, follows a closeted gay actor, played by Mason, who finds himself at the center of a blackmail scandal. Initial funding for the project was raised via Kickstarter.com and the film is currently in production, with a 2014 release date.
Because Because a biracial lesbian could be the next Miss America
Analouisa Valencia, a 19-year-old lesbian, is currently Miss Lyman, S.C. In July she’ll vie to become Miss South Carolina, and with copious amounts of intelligence, grace, and candor, she has a pretty darn good shot. Says Valencia, who works with South Carolina’s Special Olympics organization: “I’ve seen so much discrimination toward people with special needs, and I’m Hispanic and African-American and seen a lot of discrimination there as well as with other minorities. So I try to be an advocate for equality for everyone and be that positive role model.”
Because traveling should be comfortable
Cities are often top of the list for international gay travelers, and short-term apartment rentals are a godsend to cost-conscious travelers who’d rather skip sketchy hostels. But gone are the days of property owners’ raised eyebrows if you check in with your same-sex companion, or stay out all night only to miss the appointed B&B breakfast hour. MisterBNB, founded in a collaboration between travel guide MyGayTrip.com and Sejourning.com, offers welcoming apartment rentals for gay travelers — and it’s insured against damage and fraud. And who better than a gay-friendly host to give you a city’s insider tips and direct you to the best addresses?
Because Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon is bringing his straight guy’s gay sensibility to Shakespeare
Much Ado About Nothing gets the Whedon treatment, with fan favorites like out actor Tom Lenk and Nathan Fillion starring in the film, out June 7.
Because a Gen-X icon is keeping up with the times
Molly Ringwald, a stalwart of John Hughes classics and many a gay girl’s fantasies, is finally rewarding those daydreamers: She’s a hip middle-aged mom on The Secret Life of the American Teenager — and her character is a bona fide lesbian.
Because we have a sexy telepath in our camp
HBO’s True Blood, the only TV series with an openly bisexual lead actor, Anna Paquin as Sookie Stackhouse, is back for a sixth season, beginning June 16. What’s more, the series features lesbian Jessica Clark as Lilith, literally the mother of all vampires.
Because anyone who fights for freedom of expression in Russia needs A LITTLE help
The HBO documentary Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer tells the story of Nadia, Masha, and Katia, three members of the feminist activist collective whose musical protest of censorship at a Moscow cathedral made international headlines and landed them in jail. Premiers Monday June 10 at 9 p.m.
Because damn, baby, we make middle age look good
Queer girls especially will love Susan Seidelman’s new film, The Hot Flashes, which stars not only lesbian comic Wanda Sykes but also LGBT advocates Camryn Manheim, Virginia Madsen, Brooke Shields, and Daryl Hannah. The film follows a group of (ahem) middle-aged women who form a basketball team to challenge the state champ girls’ high school team to a series of games as a benefit to keep a cancer screening facility open. Manheim’s pot-smoking role may be the funniest and Shields’s character the most heartwarming, but Hannah gets to play to type: Think of her as Annelle in Steel Magnolias, except she’s finally coming out of the closet and letting the folks in her tiny Texas hometown know that her longtime “roommate” is really her girlfriend. Bonus: Robin Roberts makes a cameo. You know why.