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Your Daily Guide to Outfest 2018: July 15

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Outfest is a great experience for LA film fans, but it can be a little intimidating.  With so many films and events to choose from, it can be difficult to even know where to start.  That’s why the Los Angeles Blade is here to break it all down for you, on a daily basis.

For the duration of the festival, we’ll be posting a daily roundup here with a brief look at the selections of the day.  Whether you’re a hard-core movie buff who plans to see as many screenings as possible, or a casual moviegoer looking for a date night treat, we’ve got you covered!

Just take a look at the offerings of the day and then head on over to www.outfest.org for ticket information.

 

SUNDAY, JULY 15

The venues for today are:

DGA 1 and DGA 2, at Director’s Guild of America, 7920 Sunset Blvd., L.A., 90046

Harmony Gold Theatre, 7655 W. Sunset Blvd., L.A., 90046

REDCAT: Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theatre at Walt Disney Concert Hall, 631 W. 2nd St., Downtown L.A., 90012

 

THE SCREENINGS:


Alifu, The Prince/ss
(DGA 1, 11am):
  An Altman-esque mosaic of LGBTQ storylines intersect in this portrait of gender identity in present-day Taiwan by director Yu-Lin Wang (Seven Days in Heaven). Alifu works as a hairdresser in Taipei and longs for gender-confirmation surgery, which may affect his status within his tribal Paiwan family. Sherry, a trans woman who owns a drag bar, is in love with a plumber who appears not to share her feelings. Chris is a government worker and lives with his girlfriend Angie — and also moonlights as a drag queen. Wang weaves these narratives into an empowering tapestry of love and its many forms.

Beyond the Opposite Sex (DGA 2, 11:15am – Free Screening):  Fourteen years after winning Outstanding Documentary Feature here at Outfest Los Angeles, Showtime returns with the long-awaited sequel to The Opposite Sex, their groundbreaking portrait of life in transition for two transgender individuals — Rene and Jamie — awaiting gender-confirmation surgery. While trans visibility and social awareness have increased in the interim, they find that living authentically comes with its own set of unique challenges both at home and in the world around them.

“The Ice King,” photo courtesy of Outfest.

The Ice King (Harmony Gold, 11:30am):  Before Johnny Weir or Adam Rippon, there was John Curry. A legend on and off the ice, Curry elevated figure skating from a technical trade to a sophisticated art form with balletic grace and precision. Blending his private letters, public performances, and interviews with his closest circle, this portrait of an icon celebrates his tenacious spirit from the Olympics to Royal Albert Hall while also doubling as a document of burgeoning gay life in the 1970s and 80s.

“Anchor and Hope,” photo courtesy of Outfest.

Anchor and Hope (DGA 2, 1:30pm):  On a houseboat in the canals of London, couple Eva (Oona Chaplin) and Kat (Natalie Tena) are reunited with Kat’s boisterous best friend Roger. After a drunken night of celebrating, Roger offers to donate his sperm to help them conceive a child. But is their unconventional lifestyle possible with a baby? This charming dramedy, the second feature by Catalan filmmaker Carlos Marques-Marcet, explores the intricacies of love, relationships, and what it means to be a family. This SXSW premiere was written by Screenwriting Lab alum Jules Nurrish.

“Bao Bao,” photo courtesy of Outfest.

Bao Bao (親愛的卵男日記) (DGA 1, 1:45pm):  This deeply felt feature film debut by Shie Guang-cheng tells the story of Taiwanese expats Cindy and Joanne, living in London, who are about to have their first child. Their marital bliss is threatened when Cindy discovers that Joanne has promised their unborn son to another gay couple, their friends Charles and Tim. Told through an array of flashbacks, the film explores issues that affect many same-sex families, and is anchored by moving performances from Ke Huan-ru and newcomer Emma Reis.  Preceded by Happy Birthday (Dir. Penny Chen, 5 min).

“Deviant,” part of the “Born Again This Way” program of shorts, photo courtesy of Outfest.

Born Again This Way – Shorts (Harmony Gold, 2pm):  Faith and queer voices have historically intersected in surprising and complicated ways, whatever your congregation. In our collection of religious shorts, young women break the rules in Jewish summer camps and the all-male rituals of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, men struggle against the faith of their fathers in Islam and Christianity, and a trans woman intertwines the beauty of religious ritual with her authentic self. The Most Beautiful Butterfly (Dir: Mukesh Vidyasagar, 4 min.), Summer (Dir: Pearl Gluck, 18 min.), Noora (Dir: Tommy Naess, 20 min.), Ablution (وضوء) (Dir: Omar Al Dakheel, 15 min.), Deviant (Dir: Benjamin Hooward, 10 min.), Wren Boys (Dir: Harry Lighton, 11 min.), Would You Look At Her (Dir: Goran Stolevski, 19 min.).

“Riot,” photo courtesy of Outfest.

Riot (DGA 1, 4:30pm):  In 1978, when the push to decriminalize homosexuality had stalled, a group of friends decide to make one final attempt to celebrate who they are. Led by a former union boss, they get a police permit and spread the word, unaware that the courage they find will finally mobilize the nation. Directed by Australian Academy Award-winner Jeffrey Walker (Hulu’s “Difficult People”), this vivid retelling of “Australia’s Stonewall” is brought to life by a superb ensemble cast playing the real-life figures whose activist work led to the creation of the first-ever Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

“Shopping for Fangs,” photo courtesy of Outfest.

Shopping For Fangs (DGA 2, 4:30pm – Legacy Screening): A lycanthropic accounting clerk, an unfulfilled housewife, and a mysterious lesbian waitress in a blonde Marilyn wig are a few of the “hyphenated Americans” whose stories converge in this comedy-thriller mashup that turns a queer eye toward suburban Asian America. Quentin Lee (“The People I’ve Slept With”) and Justin Lin (“Fast Five”) were still film students at UCLA when they co-directed this 90s indie cinema werewolf pastiche, which co-stars John Cho in his feature film debut.  In Person: Quentin Lee Preceded by Chickula! Teenage Vampire (Dir: Angela Robinson, 1994, 4 min.).

“Happy Birthday, Marsha,” part of the “Desires and Resistance: Unearthing Trans* Legacies” program of shorts, photo courtesy of Outfest.

Desires and Resistance: Unearthing Trans* Legacies – Shorts) (REDCAT, 4:30pm):   Anonymous sexual encounters and flirtations with the camera, dress-up with Flawless Sabrina, and a night at the Stonewall Inn with Marsha P. Johnson: this program proposes alternative modes of retrieving and disseminating a trans* past through an erotic gaze. Addressing an erasure of trans* legacies, these works place trans* sexual expression and resistances in conversation with a non-linear idea of history that is both real and fabricated, defiantly looking toward a future of pleasure, play, and beauty.  Curated by Finn Paul.  Outlaw (Excerpt) (Dir: Alisa Lebow, 16 min.), Flyhole (Dir: Malic Amalya, 6 min.), Mighty Real (Dir: Vicente Ugartechea, 6 min.), Phineas Slipped (Dir: Cary Cronenwett, 16 min), At Least You Know You Exist (Dir: Zackary Drucker, 16 min.), Familiar Memories (Dir: Pol Merchan, 3 min.), Beside The Water, 1999-2003 (Dir: Finn Paul, 12 min.), Desperado (Dir: Andre Keichian, 3 min.), Happy Birthday, Marsha! (Dir: Reina Gossett & Sasha Wortzel, 14 min.).

“Vida,” photo courtesy of Outfest.

Vida (Harmomy Gold, 5pm): “Vida” is a new STARZ Original series about two Mexican-American sisters from the Eastside of Los Angeles who couldn’t be more different or distanced from each other. Circumstances force them to return to their old neighborhood, where they are confronted by the past and by the surprising truth about their mother’s identity. Catch an exclusive overview of the entire show along with the season finale episode.  Followed by a Q&A with the cast and crew.

“Every Act of Life,” photo courtesy of Outfest.

Every Act Of Life (DGA 1, 7pm):  Playwright Terrence McNally has redefined contemporary gay theater with an extraordinary body of work that includes “The Ritz,” “Corpus Christi,” “Lips Together, Teeth Apart,” and “Love! Valour! Compassion!,” to name just a few. But his life offstage has been just as fascinating, encompassing activism, addiction, romance, and the constant pursuit of artistic excellence. McNally shares his story onscreen with the help of friends and colleagues like Angela Lansbury, Rita Moreno, Nathan Lane, F. Murray Abraham, and many more, as captured by documentarian Jeff Kaufman (“The State of Marriage”).  This one will also screen again later in the Festival (July 22).

Evening Shadows (DGA 2, 7pm):  While visiting his hometown in southern India, Kartik comes out to his loving mother, throwing her for a loop. Surrounded by a punitive patriarch and medieval societal norms, the duo of mother and son enters a series of nightmares, mirroring the nation’s resolve to keep its LGBTQ children in the closet. In his most nuanced and realized work yet, Sridhar Rangayan, long a champion of queer stories in India, gives us the queer film we’ve been wanting to watch with our mothers.  In Person: Sridhar Rangayan will be in attendance for Q&A.

 

Eva & Candela (¿Cómo Te Llamas?) (Harmony Gold, 7pm):  A portrait of two strong, independent women: a female director and the star of her first film, drawn together by a powerful attraction and their shared desire to take on the movie world. The passion between them creates a seductive and fascinating intimacy. But over time, their relationship evolves, swinging from infatuation to sensuality, which turns to tenderness, and then routine. They never wanted to be a conventional couple, and yet that’s just what they’ve become. Can Eva and Candela withstand the inevitable effects of time to overcome the metamorphosis of their relationship?  This one will also screen again later in the Festival (July 16).

“Narcissister Organ Player,” photo courtesy of Outfest.

Narcissister Organ Player (REDCAT, 7pm):  Narcissister’s uncompromising, masked, mannequinesque performances are sexy and subversive, exhibitionist and anonymous. She explores gender, sexual, and racial identity while revealing how her family formed her creative practice in this weirdly erotic and sentimental hit from Sundance and SXSW. Juxtaposing the Narcissister character’s formation with the artist’s family history, the film, like Narcissister’s performances, conceals even as it exposes intimate insights into the creative process and embodied ancestral knowledge.  Preceded by Precious Stones (Dir: Matthew Kaundart, 3 min.).

“Cola de Mono,” photo courtesy of Outfest.

Cola De Mono (Harmony Gold, 9:30pm):  It’s Christmas Eve, 1986, and Borja is a precocious teenager with a passion for film. As his extended family comes together to celebrate the holiday, the combined forces of the suffocating Chilean heat, free-flowing drinks, and repressed desire contribute to the eruption of long-held secrets. This hypnotic story from Chile is both an enticing family melodrama and an explicit erotic thriller about the ways that passion and desire control our lives — from our pop-culture tastes to our sexual fantasies.  Directed by Alberto Fuguet.

Bixa Travesty (REDCAT, 9:30pm):  Black Brazilian transgender singer Linn da Quebrada weaponizes the trans body and music for political protest. Linn and childhood friend Jup do Bairro use extravagantly costumed performances to dazzle audiences while opposing their country’s white heteronormative order. Figuring her embodied existence as resistance, Linn eschews the role of cis woman, instead choosing a fluid gender identity. Full of funny and intimate moments, the film advocates for personal choice against a society that imposes static gender identity.  Directed by Claudia Priscilla and Kiko Goifman.  Preceded by Behind Me is Black (Dir: Kirsty Cameron, 1999, New Zealand, 10 min.), These Are My Hands (Dir: Evi Tsiligaridou, 2018, Brazil, 8 min.).

“Sodom’s Cat,” part of the “Skin” program of shorts, photo courtesy of Outfest.

Skin – Shorts (DGA 1, 9:45pm – Pre-screening Reception in DGA Atrium):  Get ready to be turned on, both in body and mind. Not for the faint of heart, this collection of explicit shorts explores many facets of gay sexuality. From saunas and art porn, through orgies and casual encounters, to mourning a loss — sex is at once intimate, raw, and often ironically lonely.  Curated by Ernesto Foronda.  This one will also screen again later in the Festival (July 18).  Set Me As A Seal Upon Thine Heart (Dir: Omer Tobi, 10 min.), Stanley (Dir: Paulo Roberto, 19 min.), Penis Poetry (Dir: Antonio Da Silva & Andre Medeiros Martins, 14 min.), Just Past Noon on a Tuesday (Dir: Travis Mathews, 22 min.), Sodom’s Cat (Dir: Huang Ting-chun, 30 min.).

“Game Girls,” photo courtesy of Outfest.

Game Girls (DGA 2, 9:45pm):  In this personal and moving documentary, we follow Teri and her girlfriend Tiahana as they struggle to navigate life on the streets of Los Angeles’ Skid Row. Recently released from prison for selling drugs, Tiahana returns to find Teri desperate to get off the streets. In intimate and sometimes unsettling scenes that include group therapy sessions and domestic violence, we are transported into the lives of these two women and root wholeheartedly for their love and survival. This local story spotlighting L.A.’s homelessness epidemic premiered at the 2018 Berlin Film Festival.  Directed by Alina Skrzeszewska, who has dedicated the past 12 years of her life to telling stories from L.A.’s skid row.  This one will also screen again later in the Festival (July 22).

 

 

 

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Events

WeHo is co-sponsoring 1st ever Inglewood Pride Festival, June 22

The pride event, co-sponsored by the City of West Hollywood, will offer live entertainment, DJ sets, and free food

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Graphic: Creative House Gallery/WeHo Times

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – The City of West Hollywood is co-sponsoring the first annual Inglewood Pride Festival in the City of Inglewood on Saturday, June 22, 2024. Events are set to take place at the Creative House Gallery at 122 N Market Street and outdoors in the Historic Market Street Shopping District.

The pride event, co-sponsored by the City of West Hollywood, will offer live entertainment, DJ sets, and free food. An RSVP was required and has already sold out.

Inglewood Pride Festival 2024 will be an indoor/outdoor event with plenty of options to captivate and educate the community. Booths will provide resources to the LGBTQ+ community, and there will be a wide range of sponsor vendors. The festival offers free food, free entry, and a family-friendly environment.

The Los Angeles Department of Public Health will also be on hand to provide mpox vaccinations and offer information and resources on various health concerns, including COVID-19 vaccines.

The event schedule is as follows:

GALLERY SECTION
12:00 PM to 1:00 PM
Guest Red Carpet Photos
$50 Grocery Gift for Best Dressed

CABANA SECTION
12:00 PM to 3:00 PM
DJ TLA Storm
70s, 80s, 90s R&B/Soul/Deep

GALLERY
2:00 PM to 3:00 PM
County of Los Angeles Presentation (Cholesterol)
Roberto Luno, Emergency Preparedness; Public Health Nurse, Einique Forris, Health Educator

CABANA
3:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Di P-Nasty
Hip-Hop/R&B/Latin; Dance Contest

CABANA
6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Artist Performances

To learn more about this event, visit:
Inglewood Pride Festival

The Creative House Non-Profit:

The Creative House Gallery is a non-profit art gallery with a goal of helping the community transition, survive, develop, and thrive through art access and art education.

The Creative House Gallery is committed to enhancing the quality of life through artistic programming that serves all ages, ethnicities, backgrounds, and economic statuses, with an emphasis on marginalized, underserved, and underrepresented persons.

The Market Street Shopping District:

Since Inglewood’s founding in 1908, Market Street has served as the central shopping district. When automobiles came to Market Street in the 1920s, sidewalks were installed to serve pedestrians. In 1927, the chain store S.H. Kress was built at 233 S. Market Street with a signature architectural style. J.C. Penney moved to 139 S. Market Street in 1940.

The late 1960s brought city and county facilities just south of Market Street. During the 1990s, a rehabilitation of Market Street brought street trees and new tenants. Today’s Market Street district has art galleries, bookstores, the Inglewood Senior Center, and the light rail Florence Boulevard station.

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Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist. Murillo began his professional writing career as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! newspaper. His work has appea

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The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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Online/Digital Streaming Media

Amazon Prime’s series ‘The Boys’ gets fascism

If the series points to what’s happening now in the world feels too blunt, perhaps it’s because it’s the blindingly obvious

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Images courtesy of Amazon Prime Videos

FAIRFAX, Va. – Perhaps nothing else in media gets the nature of modern fascism better than Season 4 of the Boys.  For those who haven’t seen it, this Amazon Prime show is a gory, dark drama/comedy series about a world where superheroes are real, managed (fairly poorly) by a mega-corporation, and who are–for the most part–entirely awful human beings whose absolute power has corrupted them absolutely.

When the first season aired in 2019, its best moments were linked to events in the real world. Season 2 built on this, exploring how a world with actual Nietzschean supermen could devolve into fascism and fascist ideology.

Seasons 2 and 3’s primary antagonist superheroes were Homelander (imagine a Superman raised by white supremacists) and Stormfront (an actual German Nazi from WWII who was brought back from cryogenic stasis). The show’s reflection of the evils of the real world became more and more direct as the seasons progressed, but there was still a bit of a distance from reality. It was easy to treat Stormfront as something altogether different from modern Americans. A viewer could still see the evil character as a cartoonish relic from another country in a bygone age.

Season 4 of The Boys, however, has dispensed with even the pretense that it isn’t talking directly to the situation in the U.S. today. It asks the question, “what if Fascism came to America, and half the public really, really liked it?” 

While some critics have panned the new season for its overly blunt analogies, they do reflect real life rather than science fiction. Our country is now seeing serious proposals that would normally be red flags.

We have politicians supporting things like the mass arrests of political opponents; open discussions of seizing power for generations; the institution of a state religion; the eradication of transgender people; the execution the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for treason; and dispensing with the constitution. And yet, just like in the Boys, many people don’t see these ideas as a threat. In fact, some actively welcome them.

While I was watching the new season, I was struck by how many times I found myself ticking off things that I wrote about in my book, American Fascism, and in Jason Stanley’s How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them.

The show fundamentally gets that, at its core, fascism is indeed the politics of us and them. Fascism frames everything as a fight between the good, pure herrenvolk against the atheistic, hedonistic profligates destroying the country; as a battle between the real Americans versus those who would destroy them.

At every opportunity, The Boys reminds viewers that corporations, the media, politicians, celebrities, and commentators will all ruthlessly exploit this for their own ends, even if many of them aren’t buying what they’re selling. 

The show acknowledges this directly. Season 4’s new superhero villain is Firecracker, who’s basically a young and pretty female version of Alex Jones. She admits that she doesn’t actually believe the culture war conspiracy-theory baloney she peddles. It is transactional: her viewers get to feel outraged and powerful, and she gets the power.

Almost everyone in this fascist ecosystem is spouting vranyo, a Russian word which loosely translates as “useful lies that most people know are lies”, and the villains are fine with that. The outrage bait, and the rubes who do believe the vranyo, give them that power.

While watching Season 4’s first three episodes, I was often surprised by the writers’ familiarity with, and understanding of, fascism’s less obvious aspects. In one episode the megacorp Vought puts on an Ice Capades-style show whose theme is that saying “happy holidays” is a war on Christmas and Christians…but does so in a smiley-happy upbeat way, complete with music in a major key.

This is a classic example of the phenomenon described in Hacker and Pierson’s book, “Let Them Eat Tweets,” where corporations exploit cultural grievances to build political movements friendly toward their own bottom line. The book draws a direct line between right wing populist movements and the corporations using them as a vehicle to put politicians in place who will ensure the government takes a very hands-off approach to their shenanigans (and profits). 

The show’s writers get the difference between istina (the real truth), pravda (the truth we create), and vranyo.  They fundamentally understand how news outlets can create pravda with the “firehose of falsehood” model.  The news media in The Boys is 100% on board with fascism, with some of the parody hardly being parody at all.

When three pro-superhero dupes are murdered (by superheroes), the corporate-controlled media in the show blames it on “socialists”, while elevating the deceased to martyrdom. It’s not hard to see shades of Horst Wessell in this. 

The Boys also understands that “us versus them” fascism requires an enemy, ideally “enemies [who] are at the same time too strong and too weak,” as Umberto Eco wrote in his essay on Ur-Fascism. He was referring to Jewish people when he wrote it in 1995; but in Season 4 of the The Boys, the writers correctly identified the .5% of the population in the US that meets Eco’s criteria for targeting by fascism: transgender people.

As Eco noted, “Ur-Fascism grows up and seeks consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders.”

When we meet Firecracker at a convention for conspiracy theorists, she tells her gullible and adoring audience that Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey are operating a secret child trafficking ring that will home-deliver “a child forced to have trans surgery.”

Later, when Homelander is whipping up a crowd, he tells them that “They want to replace you with some Godless, non-binary socialist like them. Their depraved leader commands it.” He next tells the crowd that “we are the defenders of real Americans.” 

After the rally, Fircracker tells reporters, “”If she (a protagonist) really cares about women, why does she let these transgenders into girls’ bathrooms?” The Boys is perhaps the only mass market media to have correctly recognized that fascist movements globally have zeroed in on transgender people as their primary target.

The pairing of superheroes and fascism is a natural one, too. Eco noted that, “in [fascism] everybody is educated to become a hero. In every mythology the hero is an exceptional being, but in Ur-Fascist ideology heroism is the norm.” It’s almost certainly not a coincidence that completely amoral, vain, petty, narcissistic, thin-skinned,  fascist Homelander repeatedly tells his audiences of adoring fans, “You’re the real heroes,” without believing a word of it.

Homelander sees people as “toys” who exist only to boost him to his rightful place as ruler. Umberto Eco perfectly captured Homelander’s attitude towards people: “the Leader, knowing that his power was not delegated to him democratically but was conquered by force, also knows that his force is based upon the weakness of the masses; they are so weak as to need and deserve a ruler.” At the same time, the masses who support Homelander and his aspirations believe that they are the best sort of “real Americans.” Or, as Eco put it, “the members or the party are the best among the citizens.”

Even the gory, blood-soaked tone of the series captures an important element of fascism. In Robert Paxton’s 2005 book The Anatomy of Fascism, he describes how a key characteristic of fascism is the beauty of violence when dedicated to the group’s success. Fascism glorifies this violence and disdains existing legal restrictions on their exercise.

In Season 4, the baddies deliberately amp up tensions and hostility to spur their supporters to even more violent acts directed against the opponents of superheroes. All the while the mob is dressed in red, white, and blue.

The Boys explores a world where the Nietzschean supermen are free to use unspeakable levels of violence for petty personal reasons and in pursuit of power, without repercussions.  It directly answers the question of what could happen if a leader with the personality of Homelander legally had the right murder anyone they wanted on a whim. Unsurprisingly it’s a dystopian bloodbath, with Homelander keeping those around him in line with violence and extreme levels of intimidation.

The more I watched, the more it became abundantly clear that the writers of The Boys get fascism at a fundamental level. Whether they have read Hacker, Pierson, Stanley, Eco, Paxton, or even me (I apologize if they did), I don’t know. Regardless, they capture so many of the crucial underlying aspects of a fascist movement.

If the show’s analogies to what’s happening now in the real world feel too blunt, perhaps it’s because they’re merely pointing out the blindingly obvious.

Season Four of The Boys is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

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TONY Awards

Queers clean up at 77th annual Tony Awards

It was a banner night for queer theatre artists at the 77th annual Tony Awards, honoring the best in Broadway theatre at the Lincoln Centre

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(Photo Credit: Tony Awards/Facebook)

NEW YORK – It was a banner night for queer theatre artists at the 77th annual Tony Awards, honoring the best in Broadway theatre at the Lincoln Centre in New York June 16. Some of the biggest honors of the night went to the revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical Merrily We Roll Along and the dance-musical based on Sufjan Stephens’ album Illinoise.

Merrily We Roll Along, which follows three friends as their lives change over the course of 20 years, told in reverse chronological order, picked up the awards for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Orchestrations. 

Out actor Jonathan Groff picked up his first Tony Award for his leading role as Franklin Shepard in the show, while his costar Daniel Radcliffe earned his first Tony Award for featured performance as Charley Kringas. 

Groff gave a heartfelt and teary acceptance speech about how he used to watch the Tony Awards as a child in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

“Thank you for letting me dress up like Mary Poppins when I was three,” he said to his parents in the audience. “Even if they didn’t understand me, my family knew the life-saving power of fanning the flame of a young person’s passions without judgment.”

Groff also thanked the everyone in the production of Spring Awakening, where he made his Broadway debut in 2006, for inspiring him to come out at the age of 23.

“To actually be able to be a part of making theatre in this city, and just as much to be able to watch the work of this incredible community has been the greatest pleasure of my life,” he said. 

This was Groff’s third Tony nomination, having been previously nominated for his leading role in Spring Awakening and for his featured performance as King George III in Hamilton. 

Radcliffe, who is best known for starring in the Harry Potter series of movies, has long been an ally of the LGBTQ community, and has recently been known to spar with Harry Potter creator JK Rowling over her extreme opposition to trans rights on social media and in interviews. It was Radcliffe’s first Tony nomination and win.

Lesbian icon Sarah Paulson won her first Tony Award for her starring role in the play Appropriate, about a family coming to terms with the legacy of their slave-owning ancestors as they attempt to sell their late father’s estate. It was her first nomination and win.

In her acceptance speech, she thanked her partner Holland Taylor “for loving me.” Along with Paulson’s Emmy win for American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson, she is halfway to EGOT status.

The Sufjan Stephens dance-musical Illinoise, based on his album of the same name, took home the award for Best Choreography for choreographer Justin Peck. It was his second win.

During the ceremony, the cast of Illinoise performed “The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades is Out to Get Us!”, a moving dance number about a queer romance.

A big winner of the night was the adaptation of the S.E. Hinton novel The Outsiders, which dominated the musical categories, earning Best Director, Sound Design, Lighting Design, and Best Musical, which earned LGBTQ ally Angelina Jolie her first Tony Award.

Also a big winner was Stereophonic, which dominated the play categories, winning the awards for Best Play, Featured Actor, Director, Sound Design, and Scenic Design.

Suffs, a musical about the fight for women’s suffrage in the United States, which acknowledges the lesbian relationship that suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt had in song called “If We Were Married,” took home awards for Best Book of a Musical and Best Score, both for creator Shaina Taub. 

Had Suffs also won for Best Musical, producers Hilary Clinton and Malala Yousafzai would have won their first Tony Awards. 

Other winners include Maleah Joi Moon for her lead role and Kecia Lewis for her featured role in the Alicia Keys musical Hell’s Kitchen, Jeremy Strong for his lead role in An Enemy of the People, and Kara Young for her featured role in Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch.

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Notables

Beloved LGBTQ+ philanthropist Bruce Bastian dies at 76

Bastian co-created a word-processing program which later became WordPerfect as a graduate student at Brigham Young University

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Bruce Bastian (Screen capture via Mormon Stories Podcast YouTube)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Bruce Bastian, a successful Utah businessman and pioneering computer software developer who co-founded the word processing company WordPerfect before becoming a beloved philanthropist who donated millions of dollars to LGBTQ rights causes and the performing arts, passed away on June 16, according to an announcement by the LGBTQ organization Equality Utah.

“No individual has had a greater impact on the lives of LGBTQ Utahns,” Fox 13 TV News of Salt Lake City quoted Equality Utah Executive Director Troy Williams as saying. “Every success our community has achieved over the past three decades can be traced directly back to Bruce,” Williams was quoted as saying. 

Fox 13 reported that Bastian co-created a word-processing program which later became WordPerfect as a graduate student at Brigham Young University with co-founder Alan Ashton, who was a Brigham Young computer science professor. The two developed the software under contract with the city of Orem, Utah, but they retained ownership of it, according to Fox 13.

“Bruce was definitely a legend, running one of the most successful companies, and an out and proud gay individual,” his friend David Parkinson said in a 2022 interview with Equality Utah, Fox 13 reports. “Not only does he give his money, but he gives his time, he gives his connections, he gives his knowledge, to help change Utah,” Parkinson told Equality Utah, of which Bastian was a founding member.

Fox 13 reports that among the organizations to which Bastian was a generous supporter and financial donor were the Utah AIDS Foundation, Utah’s Plan-B Theatre, the Utah Symphony and Opera and Ballet West, and the University of Utah.

A Wikipedia article on Bastian’s life and career says that in 2003, he donated more than $1 million to the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization. It says he donated $1.7 million in 1997 for the renovation of the University of Utah’s Kingsbury Hall in 2000 donated $1.3 million to support the university’s purchase of 55 Steinway pianos. The article says he also supported the university’s LGBTQ Resource Center on campus.

Both Fox 13 and Wikipedia report that in 2010 President Barack Obama appointed Bastian to the Presidential Advisory Committee of the Arts.  

Wikipedia, citing the OUTWORDS archive, reports that Bastian was born March 23, 1948, in Twin Falls, Idaho, was raised as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and served as a missionary in Italy. It says he received a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s degree in computer science from Brigham Young University. As an undergraduate, he served as director of the university’s Cougar Marching Band, the article says. 

It says Bastian married Melanie Laycock in 1976 and the couple had four sons before they divorced in 1993. It says Bastian later married Clint Ford. 

“Bruce’s impact reached far beyond Utah, as a leading supporter of the national marriage equality movement, and a major benefactor and board member of the Human Rights Campaign,” the Equality Utah statement says, as reported by Fox 13. “He has been a rock and pillar for all of us,” the statement continues. 

“Our community owes more to Bruce than we can possibly express,” it says. “We send our love, gratitude and condolences to Bruce’s wonderful husband Clint, and his friends and children.”

In a statement released on Monday, HRC said Bastian joined the HRC board in 2003. It says the following year he joined fellow HRC board member Julie Johnson to serve as co-chair of “the board’s successful effort to help defeat the Federal Marriage Amendment, a proposed amendment to the constitution that would have specified marriage as legal only between a man and a woman.” 

The HRC statement says Bastian passed away peacefully “surrounded by his four sons, his husband, Clint Ford, and friends and other family members.” The HRC and Equality Utah statements did not disclose a cause of death. 

“We are devastated to hear of the passing of Bruce Bastian, whose legacy will have an undeniably profound impact on the LGBTQ+ community for decades to come,” said HRC President Kelley Robinson in the HRC statement. “Bruce was in this fight, working at every level of politics and advocacy, for over here decades,” Robinson said. 

“He traveled all across this country on HRC’s behalf and worked tirelessly to help build an inclusive organization where more people could be a part of this work,” she said. ‘Bruce stood up for every one of us and uplifted the beautiful diversity of our community,” Robinson said. “It’s the kind of legacy we should all be proud to propel forward.”

The HRC statement says that in addition to his four sons, Bastian is survived by 14 grandchildren, two sisters, a brother, and numerous other extended family members. 

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Notables

Pete & Chasten Buttigieg on fatherhood

He’s a Harvard grad, Navy veteran, Mayor of South Bend, Ind. & Secretary of Transportation, but Pete Buttigieg has another title: Papa

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Pete and his husband, Chasten Buttigieg, raise their two-year old twins, Penelope and Gus, in Traverse City, Michigan, where they recently moved full-time from Washington to be closer to family. (Screenshot/YouTube CBS Sunday Morning)

By Jonathan Vigliotti | (CBS Sunday Morning) TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – When it comes to handling a pair of toddlers, Pete Buttigieg, the unflappable Secretary of Transportation, may appear a little jet-lagged. Pete and his husband, Chasten Buttigieg, raise their two-year old twins, Penelope and Gus, in Traverse City, Michigan, where they recently moved full-time from Washington to be closer to family.

The kids call Pete “Papa,” and Chasten “Daddy.”

He’s a Harvard grad, Rhodes scholar, Navy veteran, Mayor of South Bend, Ind., presidential candidate, and Secretary of Transportation, but Pete Buttigieg has another title: Papa. He and husband Chasten Buttigieg share with correspondent Jonathan Vigliotti their journey to parenting twins Penelope and Gus.

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Online/Digital Streaming Media

‘Making Gay History’: Podcast remembers Stonewall 55 years later 

One New Yorker is making sure that the events leading up to one of the most pivotal points of gay and American history are remembered

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Screenshot/'Making Gay History' website

By Gus Rosendale | NEW YORK, N.Y. (NBC 4 New York) – This month is the 55th Anniversary of the Stonewall uprising and one New Yorker is making sure that the events leading up to one of the most pivotal points of gay and American history are remembered through a podcast called “Making Gay History”. 

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Editor’s Note: Making Gay History is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that addresses the absence of substantive, in-depth LGBTQ+-inclusive American history from the public discourse and the classroom. To learn more go here: (Link)

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Movies

Gender expression is fluid in captivating ‘Paul & Trisha’ doc

Exploring what’s possible when you allow yourself to become who you truly are

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Paul Whitehead and Trisha van Cleef in ‘Paul & Trisha.’ (Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures)

Given the polarizing controversies surrounding the subject of gender in today’s world, it might feel as if challenges to the conventional “norms” around the way we understand it were a product of the modern age. They’re not, of course; artists have been exploring the boundaries of gender  – both its presentation and its perception – since long before the language we use to discuss the topic today was ever developed. After all, gender is a universal experience, and isn’t art, ultimately, meant to be about the sharing of universal experiences in a way that bypasses, or at least overcomes, the limitations of language?

We know, we know; debate about the “purpose” of art is almost as fraught with controversy as the one about gender identity, but it’s still undeniable that art has always been the place to find ideas that contradict or question conventional ways of viewing the world. Thanks to the heavy expectation of conformity to society’s comfortable “norms”  in our relationship with gender, it’s inevitable that artists might chafe at such restrictive assumptions enough to challenge them – and few have committed quite so completely to doing so as Paul Whitehead, the focus of “Paul & Trisha: The Art of Fluidity,” a new documentary from filmmaker Fia Perera which enjoyed a successful run on the festival circuit and is now available for pre-order on iTunes and Apple TV ahead of a VOD/streaming release on July 9.

Whitehead, who first gained attention and found success in London’s fertile art-and-fashion scene of the mid 1960s, might not be a household name, but he has worked closely with many people who are. A job as an in-house illustrator at a record company led to his hiring as the first art director for the UK Magazine Time Out, which opened the door for even more prominent commissions for album art – including a series of iconic covers for Genesis, Van der Graaf, Generator, and Peter Hammill, which helped to shape the visual aesthetic of the Progressive Rock movement with his bold, surrealistic pop aesthetic, and worked as an art director for John Lennon for a time. Moving to Los Angeles in 1973, his continuing work in the music industry expanded to encompass a wide variety of commercial art and landed him in the Guinness Book of World Records as painter of the largest indoor mural in the world inside the now-demolished Vegas World Casino in Las Vegas. As a founder of the Eyes and Ears Foundation, he conceived and organized the “Artboard Festival”, which turned a stretch of L.A. roadway into a “drive-through art gallery” with donated billboards painted by participating artists.

Perera’s film catches up with Whitehead in the relatively low-profile city of Ventura, Calif., where the globally renowned visual artist now operates from a combination studio and gallery in a strip mall storefront. Still prolific and producing striking artworks (many of them influenced and inspired by his self-described “closet Hinduism”), the film reveals a man who, far from coming off as elderly, seems ageless; possessed of a rare mix of spiritual insight and worldly wisdom, he is left by the filmmaker to tell his own story by himself, and he embraces the task with the effortless verve of a seasoned raconteur. For roughly the first half of the film, we are treated to the chronicle of his early career provided straight from the source, without “talking head” commentaries or interview footage culled from entertainment news archives, and laced with anecdotes and observations that reveal a clear-headedness, along with a remarkable sense of self-knowledge and an inspiring freedom of thought, that makes his observations feel like deep wisdom. He’s a fascinating host, taking us on a tour of the life he has lived so far, and it’s like spending time with the most interesting guy at the party.

It’s when “Art of Fluidity” introduces its second subject, however, that things really begin to get interesting, because as Whitehead was pushing boundaries as an in-demand artist, he was also pushing boundaries in other parts of his life. Experimenting with his gender identity through cross-dressing since the 1960s, what began tentatively as an “in the bedroom” fetish became a long-term process of self-discovery that resulted in the emergence of “converged artist” Trisha Van Cleef, a feminine manifestation of Whitehead’s persona who has been creating art of her own since 2004. Neither dissociated “alter ego” nor performative character, Trisha might be a conceptual construct, in some ways, but she’s also a very authentic expression of personal gender perception who exists just as definitively as Paul Whitehead. They are, like the seeming opposites of yin and yang, two sides of the same fundamental and united nature.

Naturally, the bold process of redefining one’s personal relationship with gender is not an easy one, and part of what makes Trisha so compelling is the challenge she represents to Paul – and, by extension, the audience – by co-existing with him in his own life. She pushes him to step beyond his fears – such as his concerns about the hostile attitude of the shopkeeper next door and the danger of bullying, brutality, and worse when Trisha goes out in public – and embrace both sides of his nature instead of trying to force himself to be one or the other alone. And while the film doesn’t shy away from addressing the brutal reality about the risk of violence against non-gender-conforming people in our culture, it also highlights what is possible when you choose to allow yourself to become who you truly are.

As a sort of disclaimer, it must be acknowledged that some viewers may take issue with some of Whitehead’s personal beliefs about gender identity, which might not quite mesh with prevailing ideas and could be perceived as “problematic” within certain perspectives. Similarly, the depth of his engagement with Hindu cosmology might be off-putting to audiences geared toward skepticism around any spiritually inspired outlook on the world. However, it’s clear within the larger context of the documentary that both Paul and Trisha speak only for themselves, expressing a personal truth that does not nullify or deny the personal truth of anyone else. Further, one of the facets that gives “Art of Fluidity” its mesmerizing, upbeat charm is the sense that we are watching an ongoing evolution, a work in progress in which an artist is still discovering the way forward. There’s no insinuation that any aspect of Paul or Trisha’s shared life is definitive, rather we come to see them as a united pair, in constant flux, moving through the world together, as one, and becoming more like themselves every step of the way.

That’s something toward which we all would be wise to aspire; the acceptance of all of our parts and the understanding that we are always in the process of becoming something else would certainly go a long way toward making a happier, friendlier world.

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Books

Film fans will love ‘Hollywood Pride’

A celebration of queer representation in Hollywood

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(Book cover image courtesy of Running Press)

‘Hollywood Pride: A Celebration of LGBTQ+ Representation and Perseverance in Film
By Alonso Duralde
c.2024, Running Press
$40/322 pages

You plan to buy lots of Jujubes.

They’ll stick to your teeth, but whatever, you’ll be too busy watching to care. You like the director, you know most of the actors as first-rate, and word is that the newcomer couldn’t be more right for the role. Yep, you’ve done your homework. You read Rotten Tomatoes, you’ve looked up IMDB, and you bought your ticket online. Now all you need is “Hollywood Pride” by Alonso Duralde, and your movie night is complete.

William Kennedy Laurie Dickson likely had no idea that what he’d done was monumental.

Sometime in the very late 1800s, he set up a film camera and a wax cylinder to record a short dance between two men, hands around one another’s waists, as Dickson played the violin. It “was one of the very first movies ever shot,” and probably the first film to record men dancing rather intimately alone together.

Back then, and until well into the 20th century, there were laws against most homosexual behavior and cross-dressing, and very rigid standards of activity between men and women. This led to many “intense relationships between people of the same gender.” Still, in World War I-era theaters and though LGBTQ representation “was somewhat slower to get rolling” then, audiences saw films that might include drag (often for comedy’s sake), camp, covert affection, and “bad girls of the era.”

Thankfully, things changed because of people like Marlene Dietrich, Ramon Novarro, Claudette Colbert, George Cukor, Alfred Hitchcock, and others through the years, people who ignored social mores and the Hays Code to give audiences what they wanted. Moviegoers could find LGBTQ actors and themes in most genres by the 1940s; despite politics and a “pink scare” in the 1950s, gay actors and drag (still for comedy’s sake) still appeared on-screen; and by the 1960s, the Hays Code had been dismantled. And the Me Decade of the 1970s, says Duralde, “ended with the promise that something new and exciting was about to happen.”

So have you run out of movies on your TBW list? If so, get ready.

You never want to start a movie at the end, but it’s OK if you do that with “Hollywood Pride.” Flip to the end of the book, and look up your favorite stars or directors. Page to the end of each chapter, and you’ll find “artists of note.” Just before that: “films of note.” Page anywhere, in fact, and you’ll like what you see.

In his introduction, author Alonso Duralde apologizes if he didn’t include your favorites but “Hollywood has been a magnet for LGBTQ+ people” for more than a century, making it hard to capture it completely. That said, movie-loving readers will still be content with what’s inside this well-illustrated, well-curated, highly readable historical overview of LGBTQ films and of the people who made them.

Come to this book with a movie-lover’s sensibility and stay for the wealth of photos and side-bars. If you’re up for binge-reading, binge-watching, or Date Night, dig into “Hollywood Pride.” Popcorn not necessary, but welcome.

The Blade may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made via this post.

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Photos

PHOTOS: GLSEN LA Pride Reception Fundraiser

Education organization holds event at The Abbey

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GLSEN Executive Director Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, center, Poses with Disney stars Aly & Aj at the LA Pride Reception Fundraiser (Photo by David Laffe; courtesy GLSEN)

WEST HOLLYWOOD – GLSEN hosted its LA Pride Reception Fundraiser on Wednesday, June 12 at The Chapel at The Abbey in West Hollywood. There were featured performances from Disney stars Aly & AJ, Angeria Paris VanMicheals of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” as well as Mo Heart. DJ Stacy Christine provided the music.

(Photos by David Laffe; courtesy GLSEN)

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Events

Trans Pride LA celebrating 25 Years with series of events

Trans Pride LA celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, making it one of the oldest, dedicated celebrations of Trans Pride in the country

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Trans Pride Los Angeles/WeHo Times

By Mike Pingel | LOS ANGELES – Trans Pride LA celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, making it one of the oldest, dedicated celebrations of Transgender Pride in the country, lifting trans, non-binary, and gender-expansive folks! Spotlighting the Trans*Lounge program as well as other services provided at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, this all-ages, free event expects 1,400+ attendees over two days.

Friday evening, June 14, will kick off with a vibrant TPLA Welcome Mixer, followed by a line dancing lesson by Stud Country instructors Kira and Abigail, and a viewing of the new gallery exhibition “Ides of Gender” by artist Zach Oren.

Saturday, June 15, the Trans Pride Festival will once again take over The Village and McCadden Pl. with interactive workshops, 40+ market vendors and resource partners, six different food vendors, a portrait studio by photographer Devyn Galindo, and a Trans Pride Talent Showcase featuring the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, Fei Hernandez, Amilia, Bailey Moses, and more.

This event is entirely free on both days, June 14 · 6 pm – June 15 · 6 pm PT. All events will take place at the Center’s Village at Ed Gould Plaza and Anita May Rosenstein Campus in Hollywood. Admission is completely FREE all weekend. To grab your tickets and see the up-to-date schedule, visit: lalgbtcenter.org/tpla202.

Here is the two-day schedule of events:

Friday, June 14th:

6:00 PM – 8:15 PM – TPLA Welcome Mixer Join us in the Village Courtyard at 1125 North McCadden for a welcome cocktail mixer unveiling this year’s Trans Pride exhibit titled “Ides of Gender” by artist Zach Oren. Non-alcoholic beverage options are available.

8:30 PM – 9:30 PM – Queer Country Line Dancing Performance & Lesson by Stud Country instructors Stud Country’s instructors, Kira Kull & Abi Hamilton, will provide a performance that will make you say “yeehaw.” It will be followed by a queer country line dancing lesson open to all.

8:15 PM – 10:00 PM – Cocktail Mixer & Gallery Viewing Continue exploring Trans Pride’s Gallery Exhibit “Ides of Gender,” grab a bite or simply grab a drink while catching up with (new) friends.

Saturday, June 15th:

12:00 PM – 6:00 PM – Trans Pride Festival We are shutting the street down and spreading Trans Joy everywhere! This event includes a Children & Families Activity Area, Live Performances & Entertainment, Educational Workshops, Market Vendors & Resource Fair, Free Food Vendors, and a Trans Pride Talent Showcase! ASL Interpreters will be available throughout the festival stages & workshops.

Trans Pride Los Angeles is hosted by the Trans* Lounge program, the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s groundbreaking education & empowerment program dedicated to serving Los Angeles’ trans and gender expansive community. ASL and bilingual (Spanish/English) interpretation will be available both days.

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Mike Pingel

Mike Pingel has written six books, Channel Surfing: Charlie’s Angels & Angelic Heaven: A Fan’s Guide to Charlie’s Angels, Channel Surfing: Wonder Woman, The Brady Bunch: Super Groovy after all these years; Works of Pingel and most recently, Betty White: Rules the World. Pingel owns and runs CharliesAngels.com website and was Farrah Fawcett personal assistant. He also works as an actor and as a freelance publicist. His official website is www.mikepingel.com

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The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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