Reasons For Pride 2013
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.)
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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).
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.
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.
Fujita’s New Orleans Saints won in 2010, and Ayanbadejo’s Baltimore Ravens in 2013 (pictured right).
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.