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Urban Pride celebrates a new generation of Black LGBTQ Pride for all

Identity and the melting pot of modern Los Angeles

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Brandon Anthony’s Urban Pride event kicks off Friday, June 22 at the Hard Rock Café in Hollywood, with a special performance by Superstar Trina. (Photo Anthony’s Facebook Page)

Brandon Anthony is an outside-of-the-box thinker.

Urban Pride is his passion project, and as its event promoter, he wants to make sure everyone who loves urban culture and hip-hop music feels absolutely included.

Urban Pride has become this year’s most highly anticipated LGBTQ event among young African American and Latino people and is one of the largest urban, hip-hop Pride events in Los Angeles and SoCal.

Anthony has worked as a program and talent coordinator on the Christopher Street West, LA Pride for several years, and took over promoting Urban Pride three years ago.

He says he chose the term Urban for the name with intention: he wants to remove race from the event and focus simply on a Pride based hip-hop culture.

“Growing up I always felt I was too straight to be gay and too gay to be straight. I was too black to be white and too white to be black. I just adjust and adapt,” Anthony says.

He says it’s important to him the event removes color because it’s more welcoming to everyone who enjoys urban culture. Also, the name “looks and sounds great for sponsorships,” he says.

A local nightlife impresario behind some of West Hollywood’s big recurring club nights, including Starboy Sundays at Rage and ACCESS at Villa Lounge, Anthony grew up in the Ninth Ward in New Orleans, Louisiana. He’s a proud African American/Creole of Haitian descent, which gives him an intimate understanding of America’s melting pot.

His plan for this year’s Urban Pride aka “Summer Bash 2018,” happening on the same weekend as the many Black Entertainment Television (BET’s) events, is to offer a place where the young, hip and often brown LGBTQ kids can come out and party.

“BET weekend generally offers a lot of events that non-celebrity people can’t easily get into,” Anthony told the Los Angeles Blade. He says he’d like Urban Pride goers to have a place where they can go and celebrate their culture.

Traditionally held on the Fourth of July, this year Urban Pride will kick off the Friday before, on June 22 as the 4th falls on a Wednesday.

Anthony is well aware of the issues facing gay men, particularly gay men of color. He says it’s vital for the event to be fun, while still addressing the issues of HIV, it’s stigma and mental health. According to the CDC, African Americans account for a higher proportion of new HIV diagnoses, those living with HIV, and those who have ever received an AIDS diagnosis, compared to other ethnicities. In 2016, African Americans accounted for 44 percent of HIV diagnoses, though they comprise 12 percent of the U.S. population.

“Racism, homo-negativity and the experience of violence and discrimination contribute significantly to mental disorder burden and morbidity in this community,” Louis F. Graham, lead study author and a Kellogg Health Scholars postdoctoral fellow in the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor told Black Radio Network.

Thirty percent of men in the study reported depression and 33 percent reported anxiety, which is higher than rates for people in the general population – with 95 percent of study participants experiencing them at least once in the last year.

Anthony says, “You can enjoy urban culture, but let’s not forget why we do this. I may have not experienced racial profiling, but I have experienced friends passing away from HIV.”

Jeffrey King, founder of In The Meantime Men’s Group, a 20-year-old non-profit community service organization for gay black men, says club promoters like Anthony are keeping things alive when it comes to providing a space for young, black LGBTQ to come and party.

King says he believes Anthony is one of the few who’s been able to get in the door, represent the community effectively, and is doing a great job of getting black talent involved in Pride, and most importantly he’s bringing the kids into the mainstream Pride.

Anthony says he just wants to create an event that “really means equality.” A place he says, where no one feels left out of experiencing the weekend.

The event kicks off Friday, June 22, with a party from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., at the Hard Rock Café in Hollywood (6801 Hollywood Blvd.), with a special performance by Superstar Trina.

For those early-bird folks, Urban Pride offers a “Day Party,” Saturday, June 23rd, at Boulevard3 (6523 Sunset Blvd.) from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturday night, there’s a special performance by 702 at the Roxy Theatre (9009 Sunset Blvd.) from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Lastly, Sunday, June 24th, party kids can let loose at Rage (8911 Santa Monica Blvd.) in West Hollywood from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., with a performance by City Girls.

All Access passes for the entire weekend are $75 dollars. Individual Location General Admission Tickets are $20. Individual Location VIP Passes are $30.

Brandon Anthony’s Urban Pride event kicks off Friday, June 22 at the Hard Rock Café in Hollywood, with a special performance by Superstar Trina. Day Party Tickets are $15.

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Celebrity News

“Sex and The City” star Willie Garson has died at age 57

Garson found professional success on shows including “Sex and the City” but his favorite job happened when the cameras stopped rolling

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Willie Garson image via Titus Welliver Twitter

NEW YORK – In a tweet on Tuesday, actor Titus Welliver broke the news of the death from pancreatic cancer of his friend and fellow actor Willie Garson. Garson’s 20 year-old son Nathan, a student at The College of Wooster, a private liberal arts college in Wooster, Ohio, added his own heartbreaking tribute to his father in an Instagram post.

The actor was in New York City reprising his role of Stanford Blatch in HBO’s Sex and the City‘s revival series,  And Just Like That.

According to an exclusive interview by Page Six in 2020, the actor’s favorite role however was that of ‘Dad.’

Willie Garson found professional success on shows including “Sex and the City” and “White Collar,” but his favorite job happened when the cameras stopped rolling. […] “He’s an adult and soon to be taking care of me which is really why I got him to be honest,” Garson said at the time. “He’s lovely and a really special guy. He’s wonderful and he’s in college in Ohio.”

The New Jersey-born actor also told us that he “always wanted to have a child,” so he decided to pursue adoption as a single parent.

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Online Culture

Video: A straight & a gay guy react to “That’s what I want” by Lil Nas X

StanChris is a 20-something vlogger from the Northeastern U.S. who chronicles his life as a young everyday average gay guy

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StanChris (Screenshot via YouTube)

LOS ANGELES – The twenty-something StanChris, the Out YouTuber who has been building his audience on his channel by vlogging about the ordinary everyday experiences of his life as a young gay guy, is back with his straight friend and together they react to the brand new Lil Nas X’s new music video THATS WHAT I WANT which was released on September 16, 2021.

WATCH:

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Out & About

Audra McDonald and Chita Rivera come to Gay Days Disneyland

During Gay Days thousands of LGBTQ+ Disney fans celebrate in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure in Anaheim

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Photo courtesy of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, Inc.

ANAHEIM- Broadway is back, and it’s come to Anaheim. The legendary Audra McDonald and Chita Rivera, two absolute Titans of musical theatre, stopped by Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel Friday night for two intimate back to back engagements for the crowds at the annual Gay Days Anaheim, or as it is more popularly known: Disneyland Gay Days. 

During Gay Days thousands of LGBTQ+ Disney fans celebrate in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, with a weekend filled with scavenger hunts, meetups and parties. The park and the hotels almost feel like West Hollywood on a Friday night. The energy this year is especially lively, as Covid prevented last year’s celebration. 

Gay Days began in 1998, attracting a crowd of 2,500 visitors. The weekend now pulls in over ten times that, with 30,000 visitors joining in on the magic in 2019. In a massive group photo outside Sleeping Beauty’s castle, the entire group is decked out in the signature Gay Days red t-shirts – the 2019 edition featured a fabulous Star Wars Storm Trooper with the text “May the Fierce Be With You.”

While the event is not officially sanctioned by Disney, it is supported by it. Disney Pride, as well as several other branches of the Disney empire, have joined in as sponsors for the weekend. It’s also a favorite weekend for the Disneyland cast and staff. 

Photo courtesy of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, Inc.

The schedule is simple: Friday is arrival day, Saturday is about Disneyland and Sunday is about  California Adventure and the pool party. But Gay Days has got so much more than just a park visit: it now has Hollywood Bowl level-talent coming in for concerts. Kicking off the return to Disneyland this year is Audra McDonald and Chita Rivera. 

The two stars headlined Broadway Night at the 23rd annual Gay Days, kicking off the weekend-long celebration which ran from September 17–19. Drag Race fan favorites Nina West, Jackie Cox and Jan Sport joined in the weekend’s entertainments, with shows on Saturday and Sunday.

Friday night is buzzing. In the hotel lobby, Gay Days visitors are striking up conversations, getting to know each other, sharing stories about Gwen Verdon, Bob Fosse and that time they worked with Debbie Reynolds. Gay Days is definitely a great way to meet your Prince Charming. 

Three-time Tony Award winner Chita Rivera began the evening with An Intimate Conversation With Chita Rivera featuring the Broadway legend in conversation with theatre historian Eddie Shapiro. She’s a decorated performer with a score of firsts. She was the original Velma Kelly in Chicago, she was the original Anita in West Side Story, and she’s the first Latino American to receive a Kennedy Center Honor. 

When Rivera was called out on the stage she kicked her leg out high from behind the curtain, and then strutted her way to her chair. She’s 88 years old, but has the bright energy, wit and sparkle of someone decades younger. With charm and humor she tells a captivated audience about that time she won the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama, dancing with Dick Van Dyke and why she loves gay audiences – “they get it.”

She looks back on her storied career with humble gratitude, unexpected for someone who has an award named after themselves (The Chita Rivera Awards for Dance and Choreography). When asked about a star studded concert she appeared in recognizing entertainment’s greats she simply said “it’s God’s way of saying you’re doing something right.” Chita Rivera left the Disney audience spellbound. 

An hour later, Audra McDonald walked out on the same stage for a piano concert – with Chita Rivera in the front row! Audra is a record-breaking icon. She’s a 6-time Tony winner, and has won at least one Tony in all four acting categories. But, like Chita, she is down to Earth, well-spoken and incredibly gracious. Between songs she peppers in stories about her daughter, playing Mother Superior in Sound of Music Live and Chita Rivera’s influence. 

Audra McDonald sings with a flawlessly smooth, often operatic quality. Standouts from her set include her cover of “Children will Listen” from Sondheim’s Into the Woods and an eerie reimagining of the title track from “Cabaret”, which she performed at The Met Gala by Anna Wintour’s request. She also included a moving performance of the song “I’ll be Here” from the lesser known musical Ordinary Days. The narrative of the song centers on a woman’s relationship with her husband who dies in 9/11. In the capable hands of McDonald, the audience is moved to tears.

The evening is a shining example of the exceptional programming Gay Days has added to an already incredible weekend. The two live performances are signs that a pre-Covid world is slowly returning.

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