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Your daily guide to Outfest 2018: July 18

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“Just Past Noon on a Tuesday,” featured as part of the “Skin” program of shorts. Photo courtesy of Outfest.

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.

 

WEDNESDAY, JULY 18

The venues for today are:

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

THE FORD THEATRE (The Ford), 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, L.A., 90068

 

THE SCREENINGS:

“Dare,” photo courtesy of Outfest.

Alumni Spotlight: The Dare Project & Clay Farmers (DGA 2, 5pm):  Take a new look at two Outfest classics: The Dare Project (Dir: Adam Salky) picks up the story from the original 2005 short film and catches up with the gay theater kid and the curious jock as they accidentally run into each other as adults. And on the heels of a recent restoration, the moving rural drama Clay Farmers (Dir: A.P. Gonzalez) – cited by many queer film experts as an influential antecedent to Brokeback Mountain – has never looked better, 30 years after its debut.

“Bright Colors and Bold Patterns,” photo courtesy of Outfest.

Bright Colors and Bold Patterns (DGA 1, 7pm):  If you missed Drew Droege’s hilarious one-man show on stage, BroadwayHD has captured it for the screen. Writer-performer Droege stars as Gerry, the motor-mouthed house guest from hell at the Palm Springs wedding of his friends Josh and Brennan. Gerry is furious that the invitation forbids guests from wearing “bright colors and bold patterns,” which sets him off on a rant about gay assimilation and Lifetime movies, culminating in a riotous, coke-fueled meltdown. Directed by Michael Urie (for the stage) and David Horn (for the screen). Post-Screening Reception: DGA Atrium, 8:30-11:00pm.

Malila: The Farewell Flower (มะลิลา) (DGA 2, 7:15pm):  Pich and Shane are former lovers who reunite and rekindle their love, both coping with their own tragedies. Pich finds solace in creating intricate, ceremonial ornaments from folded banana leaves and white jasmine flowers, while Shane takes vows as a monk to heal from a loss. Directed by Anucha Boonyawatana, and reminiscent of fellow countryman and auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s work, this gorgeously lyrical and seductive tapestry weaves Thai traditions and Buddhist philosophy to explore love, death, and healing with tenderness and nuance.

“Bad Reputation,” featuring Joan Jett. Photo courtesy of Outfest.

Bad Reputation (The Ford, 8:30pm):  Rock-and-roll pioneer Joan Jett has been shredding hard since she founded The Runaways back in the 1970s, and at age 60, she shows no signs of slowing down. This breathlessly entertaining documentary spans the many eras and facets of her career, including interviews from a wide range of peers and protégés, including Michael J. Fox, Debbie Harry, Miley Cyrus, Billie Jo Armstrong, Kathleen Hanna, Kristen Stewart, Iggy Pop, and Laura Jane Grace, to name just a few. Revel in Jett’s trademark humble swagger as the film chronicles her journey to becoming one of the most influential figures in punk rock history. Directed by Kevin Kerslake. Preceded by Flu$h (Dir:Heather María Ács, 9 min). After Party: Altargirl at The Chapel (692 North Robertson Blvd, West Hollywood), 10:00pm–1:00am.

“The Cocoa Fondue Show,” featured as part of the “Wig Snatched” program of shorts. Photo courtesy of Outfest.

Wig Snatched – Shorts (DGA 1, 9:45pm):  In celebration of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and its tenth year of taking the untucked revolution to TV, we exalt the art of drag and the fearless queens who inspire and wow us with their jaw-dropping talents and vital stories on and off the runway. By turns hysterical and moving — and starring beloved queens such as Bob the Drag Queen and Latrice Royale — these films add up to one enormous eleganza extravaganza that will leave you gagged. Shorts: VIP (Dorian Electra Feat. K Rizz) (Dir: Dorian Electra & Weston Allen, 3 min.), The Cocoa Fondue Show (Dir: Andrew Wyatt Arnold, 15 min.), Dressed As Girl (Dir: Anna Mae Gordon, 20 min.), Run(A)way Arab (Dir: Amrou Al-kadhi, 12 min.), Marabou (Dir: Tiffany J. Johnson, 20 min.), Femme (Dir. Alden Peters, 18 min.). Pre-Screening Reception: DGA Atrium, 7:30-9:30pm.

“Set Me as a Seal Upon Thine Heart,” featured as part of the “Skin” program of shorts. Photo courtesy of Outfest.

Skin – Shorts (DGA 2, 9:45pm):  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.  Shorts: 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.).

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Books

New book explores ‘Breaking the Rainbow Ceiling’

The benefits of coming out at work

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(Book cover image courtesy of Bloomsbury)

‘Breaking the Rainbow Ceiling’
By Layla McCay
c.2024, Bloomsbury
$24/240 pages

You can see the CEO’s office from the outside of your workplace.

You’ve actually been in that office, so you know what it looks like inside, too. Big, expansive desk. Cushy, expensive chair. Ankle-deep carpet. The CEO got there through regular means over the course of his career – something you’d like to do, too. But as you know, and as in the new book, “Breaking the Rainbow Ceiling” by Layla McCay, you’ll have to take a different path.

Of all the thousands of board seats and C-suite occupiers in American businesses, only a very tiny number – less than one percent – are occupied by people who identify as LGBTQ. In London, says McCay, no one on the Financial Times Stock Exchange identifies as such. Just six of the world’s leaders, past or current, have come out as LGBTQ.

The reasons for this are many, from discomfort to a sense of a lack of safety or just plain mistrust. Employees often don’t talk about it and employers can’t or don’t ask, which can lead to a lot of issues that cis, heterosexual employees don’t have to think about.

LGBTQ employees make less money than their straight co-workers. They experience discrimination ranging from sexual violence on one end, to micro aggressions on the other. Discrimination can be found in educational settings, and networking events, in a lack of mentorship, and the feeling that one needs to “code-switch.” Even an overseas job offer can be complicated by identifying as LGBTQ.

And yet, says McCoy, there are benefits to coming out, including a sense of authenticity, and feeling as if a load has been removed from one’s shoulders.

If you are an employer, McCoy says, there are things you can do to help. Include LGBTQ people in your diversity programs at work. Insist on it for recruitment. Make sure your employees feel safe to be themselves. Make all policies inclusive, all the time, from the start. Doing so benefits your business. It helps your employees.

“It’s good for society.”

Pretty common sense stuff, no? Yeah, it is; most of what you’ll read inside “Breaking the Rainbow Ceiling” is, in fact, very commonsensical. Moreover, if you’re gay, lesbian, bi, trans, or queer, you won’t find one new or radical thing in this book.

And yet, inside all the nothing-new, readers will generally find things they’ll appreciate. The statistics, for instance, that author Layla McCay offers would be helpful to cite when asking for a raise. It’s beneficial, for instance, to be reminded why you may want to come out at work or not. The advice on being and finding a mentor is gold. These things are presented through interviews from business leaders around the world, and readers will find comfort and wisdom in that. You’ll just have to wade through a lot of things you already know to get it, that’s all.

Is it worth it? That depends on your situation. You may find nothing in “Breaking the Rainbow Ceiling,” or it may help you raise the roof.

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Movies

Two queer indies rank among the year’s standout films

Don’t miss ‘Big Boys’ and ‘Cora Bora’

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Isaac Krasner and David Johnson III in ‘Big Boys.’ (Photo courtesy of Dark Star Pictures)

If there is any downside to living in an era when movies about queer people are finally plentiful, it’s that sometimes the best of them are overshadowed by bigger, splashier films and end up getting lost in the mix.

Two such titles are a pair of indie projects, both of which focus on “outsider” queer characters, newly available on the VOD market after brief-and-limited theatrical runs; each of them deserves a better fate than that. 

The first of these, “Big Boys,” was a major hit in the 2023 queer festival circuit, winning multiple awards (including Outstanding Lead Performance honors for its young star, Isaac Krasner, at LA’s Outfest) and emerging as an audience favorite. It’s easy to see why.

Written, produced, and directed by Corey Sherman, it’s a small, slice-of-life story centered on Jamie (Krasner), a bright-but-awkward 14-year-old trying to navigate the dual challenges of growing up as a chubby gay-and-closeted teen, who sets out (along with his slick and more confident older brother Will, played by Taj Cross) on a camping trip with favorite cousin Allie (Dora Madison), though he’s initially disappointed when he finds out her new boyfriend Dan (David Johnson III) is also coming along. His attitude changes, however, when the interloper turns out to be a handsome young man who wears his physical “chunkiness” with an easy confidence. Yes, it’s an instant and impossible crush, leading to a weekend adventure that pushes awkward boundaries for all four campers. But aside from his attractiveness, Dan also emerges as a positive role model for Jamie, who begins to find a confidence of his own.

Equal parts bittersweet coming-of-age story and uncomfortable-yet-endearing comedy, Sherman’s movie wins us over early on, largely through the strength of Krasner’s performance; the young actor exhibits not just the comedic chops necessary to get laughs from even his most painful moments, but the vulnerability to make them ring true. Seemingly unafraid of exploring his own identity through his character, he turns in a tour-de-force which stands up to comparison with some of the greatest “young actor breakthrough” performances of all time.

He’s given an ideal foil in Johnson, whose easygoing charm as Dan still allows us subtle hints of an internal process that keeps him from coming off as callow and clueless – something that pays off well in the film’s quiet-but-heart-stirring climax, which is best left unspoiled here. Madison also provides invaluable support with a performance that captures the conflicted impulses that come between youth and adulthood, and Cross successfully gets past the casual toxicity of his aggressively hetero-centric character to remain sympathetic. 

It’s a stellar collection of performances from an ensemble of relative newcomers, and it goes a long way toward endearing “Big Boys” to a presumably queer audience, which will likely find resonance in the way they each – especially Kasner – convey its theme of trying to claim and define one’s young identity when it goes against the grain of the world around you. But it’s ultimately Sherman, who drew heavily from his own experiences growing up as a plus-size queer kid in creating the film, that deserves full credit – not just for putting it all together, but for having the courage and determination to deliver a queer story that foregoes the glitz and glamour of “gay romance” and connects with the lived experience of viewers who may feel left out of the typically glossy mainstream depictions of queer life.

Cut from a similar cloth is “Cora Bora,” starring “Hacks” fan favorite Meg Stalter as the title character, a bisexual musician who might just be the poster child for clueless self-centeredness. Openly rude, unrepentantly shallow, and blatantly manipulative, she steamrolls her way through life seemingly oblivious to the impact her attitude has on others. Having departed her native Portland – and left behind longtime girlfriend Justine (Jojo T. Gibbs), though ostensibly maintaining a “long-distance open relationship” with her – to pursue a music career in Los Angeles, success has proven elusive. She decides to make a surprise visit back home to re-evaluate, only to find that a new girl (Ayden Mayeri) has moved in to take her place. When her attempts to reassert her claim in the household just make matters worse, Cora is forced to recognize that both her professional and personal lives are a shambles – but can she find the humility it will take to get “real” enough to repair them?

Directed by Hannah Pearl Utt from a screenplay by Rhianon Jones, “Cora Bora” also relies heavily on the talents of its star player. Statler, in a turn that lends a darker, more desperate edge to the comedic persona that has made her “Hacks” character one of that show’s biggest assets, is at once monstrous and endearing, a ridiculously broad yet shrewdly-drawn caricature of modern bourgeois boorishness that serves as a fragile cover for something deeper and – without spoiling anything – profoundly traumatic. The journey we take with her is at once hilarious and powerfully affecting, echoing a time-honored comic tradition of transcending pain by finding humor in a pain that feels universal.

She’s aided by an equally gifted supporting cast, with both Gibbs and Mayeri finding enough heart to keep either of their characters – the other two points of the film’s romantic triangle – from being positioned as a “villain,” and a convincing turn from Manny Jacinto (known for his breakout “himbo” role on TV’s afterlife comedy “The Good Place”), as a character that would otherwise seem too good to be true, lending credibility to an eventual resolution that hinges on a pile of coincidences that would seem absurd without his sincerity. There are also appearances from other familiar faces in cameo roles – such as Margaret Cho as part of a polyamorous commune and Chelsea Peretti as an outraged dog owner – which serve as highlights in a movie already rich with them.

Both “Big Boys” and “Cora Bora” are linked by a common thread. Each of them features a queer protagonist, of course, but they are outsiders even within their own community. Ultimately, their struggles are born of a perspective that separates them from the rest of the world, a lived experience that others around them do not and cannot fully share. It would be easy enough for either film to make its lead character the butt of the joke, but neither of them makes that choice. The humor comes through their relatability, rather than from their “otherness,” and that makes all the difference. Despite these films’ occasional painfulness, their kindness is what comes shining through – not just toward their misfit characters, but toward the misfits in the audience, too.

For our money, that’s what the world needs a lot more of these days, and it places these two hidden gems among 2024’s best releases so far.

Megan Statler stars in ‘Cora Bora.’ (Photo courtesy of Brainstorm Media)
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Bars & Parties

Roosterfish to open new location in heart of WeHo

Venice gay bar’s second location will be in former Pump restaurant

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The former Pump location in West Hollywood has gotten a fresh coat of paint to match the color scheme of the iconic Roosterfish location in Venice. (Public domain photo)

The longtime Venice gay bar Roosterfish is expanding to a second location in West Hollywood, bringing the West Side vibe to the location vacated by Pump restaurant at the corner of Robertson and Santa Monica with a target opening date of late August.

The new location aims to be a big boost to the West Hollywood nightlife scene, offering both a full-service restaurant, and a dance and social space with two bars.

Pump closed its doors after 10 years at the iconic location and began sharing space with TomTom restaurant down the street last July. Roosterfish was quickly announced as the new occupant of the space. Vollera says the restaurant is just waiting for final permits from the city of West Hollywood to open the new location.

Owner Mario Vollera said it had long been an ambition to expand Roosterfish into the heart of Los Angeles’s gay community.

“We always wanted to have a Roosterfish in WeHo,” Vollera says. “When the location in Pump became available, we loved it. We liked that we could have a Roosterfish that’s bigger than what we have in Venice, so we took it.”

Vollera says the new location offers the opportunity to offer fine dining, which has also been a goal of the Rome-born owner.

“We are going to offer a small Italian-inspired menu. We’ll have five different dishes, light appetizers and desserts, and a weekend brunch, inspired by me. I’m the chef,” Vollera says. “The pasta is going to be homemade.”

“We would like to use this beautiful patio with the shade of these beautiful olive trees. We’ll have the same concept during the afternoons — less formal, more loungey,” he adds. “We designed the spot to be a nice comfortable spot to come for dinner or dancing, with two bars.”

WeHo clubbers already got a taste of what to expect from the new Roosterfish during a 10-day pop-up as part of WeHo Pride last month. Vollera says to expect more of the same with some surprises.

“We established a strong relationship with different promoters from the LGBTQ community that we already have a strong connection with. They’re going to help us have a very strong, proud, curated nightlife,” Vollera says.

Right now, the plan is to have DJs spinning music Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, along with occasional live music nights during the week.

Roosterfish first opened on Abbot Kinney in Venice in 1979 and served the West Side queer community for nearly four decades before closing in 2016. Vollera and his partners acquired the bar and reopened it in 2018. Vollera says he plans to keep the old Roosterfish open.

“We are very happy with what we are doing now. The original owners opened in 1979 and we decided to continue with the same name and logo to honor it,” he says. “We designed the new location similar to the accents and design we have in Venice.”

The new Roosterfish location is part of a big churn of nightlife venues in West Hollywood. Last month, the Abbey celebrated a reopening under new owner Tristan Schukraft, while across the street, the former Heart nightclub had a soft reopening under new owners as Beaches Tropicana.

Beaches Tropicana is eyeing a Labor Day weekend grand opening, with a new full-service restaurant offering Cuban fare. The original Beaches WeHo location at 8928 Santa Monica Blvd. is also getting a rebrand as Beaches Baja with a Tex-Mex menu.

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Sports

High hurdler Trey Cunningham comes out as gay

Florida State University alum grew up in Ala.

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Trey Cunningham (Photo courtesy of Cunningham's Instagram page)

He didn’t get to punch his ticket to the Olympics this summer but Trey Cunningham, 26, one of the world’s best high hurdlers, is in the news for a far more personal reason: He publicly came out as gay. 

“We say our goals out loud,” Cunningham told the New York Times Monday, explaining a technique he has relied upon in his training as an elite athlete. “If there’s something we want to achieve, we say it. Putting something in words makes it real.”

His sexuality isn’t exactly a secret. Cunningham came out to his parents and friends by phone five years ago at age 20. 

“It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done,” he told the Times, recalling that he found himself dripping with sweat as he waited for the ringing to end and for the calls to be connected. 

Cunningham revealed to the newspaper that he got the sense that at least some of his friends were not at all surprised by this news, and had been “waiting for me,” he said. “I was really lucky to have a group of people who did not care.”

He was in college then, starting to “explore the idea” of his sexual attraction. 

“It took me awhile to know it felt right,” he said. 

His high school years in Winfield, Ala., were a time for friends and fun, dreaming of playing pro basketball with the Boston Celtics before discovering he enjoyed “flinging myself at solid objects at high speed,” he said. It was not a place conducive to dating other boys. 

Cunningham recalled his hometown as “rural, quite conservative, quite religious: The sort of place where you did not want to be the gay kid at school,” he told the paper. “So, I had certain expectations of what my life would look like, and it took me a little while to get my head around it, looking different to that.”

So, it was not a surprise that his parents gave him some “pushback” — in his words — when he called them with the news five years ago. 

“They had certain expectations for their little boy, for what his life would be like, and that’s OK,” he told the Times. “I gave them a 5-year grace period. I had to take my time. They could take theirs, too.” 

Cunningham drew a parallel between his own process and theirs. “What was true for me was also true for my parents,” said the world-class sprinter. 

And he is world-class, even if he’ll be watching the Summer Games instead of competing in them. As the Times reported, Cunningham is ranked 11th in the world. In 2022, he won the silver medal in high hurdles at the world championships in Eugene, Ore., and last month he placed ninth in the 110-meter hurdles at the U.S. Olympic trials. 

“If you do well in the U.S. trials, you know you have a good shot at a medal,” he said.

Following his disappointing finish in what he described as a “stacked field” of competitors, he is coming out as gay in an interview with a journalist now because everyone who he feels needs to know has known for some time, he said. Also, he recognizes that being out is still rare. 

“There are lots of people who are in this weird space,” said Cunningham. “They’re not out. But it is kind of understood.”

What he hopes is that both sports and the wider world will someday get to a place where “people do not have to ‘come out,” he said, where people can “just get on with being them.”

In addition to being an elite athlete, Cunningham has a Master of Science degree from Florida State University, a deal with Adidas and — with his scruffy square jaw and pouty lips — he is a sought-after Ford model.

He said in the interview that he realized coming out comes with practical and potentially financial considerations: Competing in countries where being gay is a crime, like Qatar. Although he doesn’t think hiding his sexuality inhibited his performance or that some great weight is now lifted, he believes being public about it has value.

There are times, Cunningham said, when it pays to say something out loud, to make things real. This is that time. 

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Dorian Film Awards

LGBTQ critics announce Dorian Award nominations for best of TV

Honorees reflect widely diverse range of cultural experience

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Sam Reid and Jacob Anderson from ‘Interview with the Vampire.’ (Photo courtesy of FX)

They might not be as coveted or as prestigious as some of the other awards out there, but the Dorians — presented annually by GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, at separate ceremonies throughout the year, for excellence in film, television, and theater – nevertheless represent an important and much-needed perspective that “reminds society that the world values the informed Q+ eye on everything entertainment.” Fittingly enough, the 500+ member media journalists’ association, now in its 15th year, chose the 55th anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion to announce the group’s 2024 nominations for the best in television and streaming across 24 categories, and the competition – as one might expect –  skews a little bit on the queer side, even if the nominations reflect a widely diverse range of cultural experience.

“A lot of our nominated shows are focused on outcasts trying to punch through norms, and their own fears and flaws, to find peace – a not-easy road, but one our members obviously loved following,” says GALECA founder and Executive Director John Griffiths. “It’s fitting we’re flagging these stories on the same day that, years ago, the brave souls of Stonewall […] took to the streets of Greenwich Village to protest abuse and oppression and hate at the hands of bigots and bullies. Like those protesters, the writers of these Dorian Award-nominated shows remind us that you can’t just pout and clutch pearls if you want a better existence.” 

Leading the nomination tally among dramas are three very disparate series based on period novels, with “Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire” (AMC) snagging six nods, while “Shōgun” (FX/Hulu) and “Fellow Travelers” (Showtime/Paramount+) each earned five. In the comedy field, critical darlings “The Bear” (FX/Hulu) and “Hacks” (Max) – alongside Netflix’s shocking (if darkly amusing) “Baby Reindeer” – all grabbed six nominations. 

This year, GALECA has included a couple of new categories. One of those is Best Written Show, where nominees include the aforementioned “The Bear,” “Hacks,” “Reindeer,” and “Fellow Travelers,” alongside ABC’s “Abbott Elementary,” a show that has been a past favorite with the group and scored additional nods across several categories; the other is for Best Genre TV Show, where the deeply queer “Vampire” competes with Netflix’s haunting “The Fall of the House of Usher,” Amazon Prime’s future-trippy “Fallout” and comedic horror offerings “What We Do in the Shadows” (FX) and “Chucky” (SyFy/USA).

Under the category of “nice surprises,” beloved SNL alumnus Kristen Wiig landed a nod for Best Comedy TV Performance for her work on the fizzy Apple TV+ hit “Palm Royale,” joining fellow SNL vets Maya Rudolph (for “Loot”) and Martin Short (“Only Murders in the Building”) alongside rising stars like Devery Jacobs of “Reservation Dogs. The latter show, about an underdog cadre of Indigenous American friends in Oklahoma, is up for both Best Unsung TV Show – a unique-to-the-Dorians category – and Best TV Comedy.

In fact, each of the Dorians’ acting, performance, and tribute categories – which are all non-gendered (hello, other Awards bodies, time to catch up with the times) – are peppered with beloved names, both big and up-and-coming. Such revered performers as Emma Stone, Jodie Foster, Angela Bassett, Ryan Gosling, Christine Baranski, LeVar Burton, Carol Burnett and Meryl Streep join those races alongside relative newcomers like Kali Reis, Ncuti Gatwa, Moeka Hoshi, Nama Mau, Jessica Gunning, Benny Safdie, Emma D’Arcy and Julio Torres. 

Then there’s GALECA’s most irreverent Dorian Award, for the year’s Campiest TV Show, where  honors could go to doll-gone-wild tale “Chucky,” Netlix’s cheeky post-modernist period romance “Bridgerton,” Peacock’s opportunist reality/competition hit “The Traitors,” the 1970s Manhattan society “true gossip” dishfest “Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans” (FX/Hulu), and the aforementioned “Palm Royale,” which skewers high society in Palm Beach circa 1969 through the story of an average woman (nominee Wiig) seeking acceptance at a posh private resort while discovering there is more to life than the superficial trappings of glamor and ostentatious prosperity for which her fellow vacationers seem to hunger.

Of course, the biggest interest for most queer TV fans lies in knowing which of their fan favorites made the cut for recognition at the Dorians. In the TV Drama category, alongside “Travelers” and “Vampire” (our personal pick for the most thrilling and transgressively queer show of the year, hands down), contenders include fellow genre-labeled series “Fallout,” Broadway-star-slumfest “The Gilded Age,” and the feel-good YA romance “Heartstopper.”

On the comedy side, queer-inclusive critical darlings “Abbot Elementary” and “Hacks” are joined by the under appreciated gem “Reservation Dogs” and the literary remake “Shōgun,” with irreverent fan favorite “What We Do in the Shadows” and Hulu’s “The Bear” rounding out the race.

In the race for Best LGBTQ TV show, “Fellow Travelers” (which also received nods in the Lead and Supporting Performance categories, for Matt Bomer and Jonathan Bailey, respectively) and “Vampire” (likewise for series star and “Game of Thrones” veteran Jacob Anderson) are joined by “Heartstopper,” “Hacks,” and “Baby Reindeer,” while the Best Unsung TV Show category – which also includes “Vampire” – spotlights less high-profile shows like “Chucky,” “Reservation Dogs,” Peacock’s “We Are Lady Parts,” and Max’s now-canceled queer pirate dram-com “Our Flag Means Death.” Not to be ignored, “Ripley,” Netflix’s stylish black-and-white adaptation of iconic queer novelist Patricia Highsmith’s novel “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” scored noms for Best TV Movie or miniseries, Best Drama Performance (Andrew Scott), and Most Visually Striking Show – another category unique to the Dorians.

The Dorian Awards, presented by GALECA, the Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, are  chosen democratically by the full membership, and are presented to TV, film and Broadway/Off-Broadway winners at different times of the year. Members work or freelance for a variety of mainstream and niche media outlets, including the Washington and Los Angeles Blade. A nonprofit organization, GALECA also advocates for better pay, access and respect for entertainment journalists, especially the underrepresented. Winners of the 2024 Dorian TV Awards will be announced Aug. 12. The full list of nominees is available on the Blade website.

BEST TV DRAMA

Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire (AMC)

The Curse (Showtime/Paramount+)

Fallout (Amazon Prime)

The Gilded Age (HBO)

Heartstopper (Netflix)

Shōgun (FX/Hulu)

BEST TV COMEDY

Abbott Elementary (ABC)

The Bear (FX/Hulu)

Hacks (Max)

Reservation Dogs (FX/Hulu)

What We Do in the Shadows (FX)

BEST LGBTQ TV SHOW

Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire (AMC)

Baby Reindeer (Netflix)

Fellow Travelers (Showtime/Paramount+)

Hacks (Max)

Heartstopper (Netflix)

BEST TV MOVIE OR MINISERIES

Baby Reindeer (Netflix)

Fellow Travelers (Showtime/Paramount+)

Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans (FX/Hulu)

Ripley (Netflix) 

True Detective: Night Country (HBO)

BEST UNSUNG TV SHOW

Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire (AMC)

Chucky (Syfy/USA)

Our Flag Means Death (Max)

Reservation Dogs (FX/Hulu)

We Are Lady Parts (Peacock)

BEST WRITTEN TV SHOW (new category)

Abbott Elementary (ABC)

Baby Reindeer (Netflix)

The Bear (FX/Hulu)

Fellow Travelers (Showtime/Paramount+)

Hacks (Max)

BEST NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE TV SHOW

Elite (Netflix)

Lupin (Netflix) 

Shōgun (FX/Hulu)

Tore (Netflix)

Young Royals (Netflix)

BEST LGBTQ NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE TV SHOW (new category)

Drag Latina (Revry/LATV+)

Elite (Netflix)

Past Lies (Hulu)

Tore (Netflix)

Young Royals (Netflix)

BEST TV PERFORMANCE—DRAMA

Jacob Anderson, Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire (AMC)

Matt Bomer, Fellow Travelers (Showtime/Paramount+)

Jodie Foster, True Detective: Night Country (HBO)

Richard Gadd, Baby Reindeer (Netflix)

Ncuti Gatwa, Dr. Who (Disney+)

Lily Gladstone, Under the Bridge (Hulu)

Tom Hollander, Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans (FX/Hulu)

Anna Sawai, Shōgun (FX/Hulu)

Andrew Scott, Ripley (Netflix)

Emma Stone, The Curse (Showtime/Paramount+)

BEST SUPPORTING TV PERFORMANCE—DRAMA

Jonathan Bailey, Fellow Travelers (Showtime/Paramount+)

Christine Baranski, The Gilded Age (HBO)

Elizabeth Debicki, The Crown (Netflix)

Jessica Gunning, Baby Reindeer (Netflix)

Moeka Hoshi, Shōgun (FX/Hulu)

Jennifer Jason Leigh, Fargo (FX)

Nama Mau, Baby Reindeer (Netflix)

Jinkx Monsoon, Doctor Who (Disney+)

Kali Reis, True Detective: Night Country (HBO)

Benny Safdie, The Curse (Showtime/Paramount+)

BEST TV PERFORMANCE—COMEDY

Matt Berry, What We Do in the Shadows (FX)

Quinta Brunson, Abbott Elementary (ABC)

Ayo Edebiri, The Bear (FX/Hulu) 

Renée Elise Goldsberry, Girls5Eva (Netflix)

Devery Jacobs, Reservation Dogs (FX/Hulu)

Maya Rudolph, Loot (Apple TV+)

Martin Short, Only Murders in the Building (Hulu)

Jean Smart, Hacks (Max)

Jeremy Allen White, The Bear (FX/Hulu)

Kristen Wiig, Palm Royale (Apple TV+)

BEST SUPPORTING TV PERFORMANCE—COMEDY

Joel Kim Booster, Loot (Apple TV+)

Carol Burnett, Palm Royale (Apple TV+)

Hannah Einbinder, Hacks (Max)

Harvey Guillén, What We Do in the Shadows (FX)

Janelle James, Abbott Elementary (ABC)

Jamie Lee-Curtis, The Bear (FX/Hulu)

Sheryl Lee Ralph, Abbott Elementary (ABC)

Ebon Moss-Bachrach, The Bear (FX/Hulu)

Megan Stalter, Hacks (Max)

Meryl Streep, Only Murders in the Building (Hulu)

BEST TV MUSICAL PERFORMANCE

Miley Cyrus, “Flowers,” 66th Annual Grammy Awards (CBS / Paramount+)

Billie Eilish & Finneas O’Connell, What Was I Made For?,” 96th Academy Awards (ABC)

Ryan Gosling, “I’m Just Ken,” 96th Academy Awards (ABC)

Steve Martin, “Which of the Pickwick Triplets Did It?,” Only Murders in the Building (Hulu)

Maya Rudolph, “Mother,” Saturday Night Live (NBC)

BEST TV DOCUMENTARY OR DOCUMENTARY SERIES

Black Twitter: A People’s History (Hulu)

Girls State (Apple TV+)

The Greatest Night in Pop (Netflix)

Jim Henson Idea Man (Disney+)

Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV (Investigation Discovery)

BEST LGBTQ TV DOCUMENTARY OR DOCUMENTARY SERIES

Beyond the Aggressives: 25 Years Later (Showtime)

Jerrod Carmichael Reality Show (HBO)

Last Call: When A Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York (HBO)

Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed (HBO)

The Stroll (HBO)

BEST CURRENT AFFAIRS SHOW

The Daily Show (Comedy Central)

Hot Ones (YouTube)

Late Night with Seth Meyers (NBC)

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS)

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

BEST REALITY SHOW

Rupaul’s Drag Race (MTV)

Queer Eye (Netflix)

Top Chef (Bravo)

The Traitors (Peacock)

We’re Here (HBO)

BEST GENRE TV SHOW (new category)

Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire (AMC)

The Fall of the House of Usher (Netflix)

Fallout (Amazon Prime)

What We Do in the Shadows (FX)

Chucky (SyFy/USA)

BEST ANIMATED SHOW

Blue Eye Samurai (Netflix)

Bobs Burgers (Fox)

Harley Quinn (Max) 

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off (Netflix)

X-Men 97 (Disney+)

MOST VISUALLY STRIKING TV SHOW

Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire (AMC)

Fallout (Amazon Prime)

Palm Royale (Apple TV+)

Ripley (Netflix) 

Shōgun (FX/Hulu)

True Detective: Night Country (HBO)

CAMPIEST TV SHOW

Bridgerton (Netflix)

Chucky (SyFy / USA)

Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans (FX/Hulu)

Palm Royale (Apple TV+)

The Traitors (Peacock)

WILDE WIT AWARD

(To a performer, writer or commentator whose observations both challenge and amuse}

Joel Kim Booster

Quinta Brunson

Ayo Edebiri

Hannah Einbinder

Julio Torres

GALECA TV Icon Award

(To a uniquely talented star we adore)

Gillian Anderson

Angela Bassett

Carol Burnett

LeVar Burton

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

GALECA LGBTQIA+ TV Trailblazer Award

(For creating art that inspires empathy, truth and equity)

RuPaul Charles

Margaret Cho

Alan Cumming

Emma D’Arcy

Ncuti Gatwa

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Books

‘The Other Olympians’ explores the making of modern sports

New book highlights Fascism and queerness

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(Book cover image courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

By Michael Waters
c.2024, Farrar, Straus and Giroux
$30/368 pages

He’s going to win.

It’s apparent: much as you’re trying, hard as you’re running, as much as your lungs burn, he’s ahead by two paces. You had a good start but he’s the better athlete. You know this now. He’s going to win this competition and you’re going to lose. But, as in the new book “The Other Olympians” by Michael Waters, there may be another outcome.

Young Zdnek Koubek avoided sports as much as possible.

Born nearly seven years before the creation of the Czechoslovakian state, he always understood that he was “different”: in school, he had a fierce reputation for fighting, but he couldn’t relate to rough-and-tumble male classmates or their games. The world of girls was also baffling to him, even though, “To the world, he was a girl.”

At eight years old, Koubek participated in his first organized sporting event, a sprint he lost by “a second” that he never forgot. Seething with years-long anger, “his contempt for sports only grew” as he matured but in the fall of 1927, he had a change of heart: he’d landed a ticket to a track and field sporting event, at which he noted how “free” it must feel to run.

“In the following months,” says Waters, “Koubek couldn’t get enough of track and field.” He began competing in – and winning – women’s events, unaware that ” he wasn’t alone” in his differences.

In the early 1930s, in fact, several world-class athletes were quietly questioning their own gender; meanwhile, coaches and second- and third-place finishers cried foul over losses to “manly” women. Some athletes, assigned as female at birth, “could not evade the gender anxieties of the era.” Others lost their chance to be an Olympic competitor due to politics, and some just quit.

For other athletes with Olympic dreams, the 1936 games loomed large as they rose to celebrity status. They did so, even though Adolph Hitler and his followers had “launched a campaign to crush Germany’s queer community.”

If a book starts out with a long list of acronyms, pay attention. Take that as a sign that you may be in for a deep look and some confusion.

Indeed, author Michael Waters seems to leave no pebble unturned in this story, which tends to drag sometimes. Readers of “The Other Olympians,” for example, may wonder why long pages are sometimes devoted to people who are never mentioned again in the narrative. Were those individuals imperative to the history here? You may never know.

And yet, there’s that depth.

Waters takes his audience back to a time when heterosexuality was the absolute norm and LGBTQ people were considered to be anomalous and intriguing. The turn-around from that perception doesn’t end well, and its causation feels particularly familiar here – in more ways than one.

This is probably not anyone’s true idea of a beach read; instead, it’s timely, relevant, serious and interesting – but only if you study it fully. Don’t, and you’ll be lost. With patience, though, “The Other Olympians” is a win-win kind of read.

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Theater

Odyssey Theatre’s Design for Living tracks an ever-shifting queer love triangle

Noel Coward’s classic comedy searches for new ways of living

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Garikayi Mutambirwa, Brooke Bundy, and Kyle T. Hester in 'Design for Living.' (Photo by Cooper Bates)

Nearly 100 years before Challengers lit up screens with its teasing story of a bisexual love triangle, Noel Coward scandalized Broadway and London stages with his daring play Design for Living, that challenged norms around monogamy and sexuality with its frank portrayal of a three-way relationship. And now, Odyssey Theatre is bringing the queer classic back to the stage for a summer run from July 6-Aug 25 at the West Los Angeles venue.

Design for Living follows a trio of artists – playwright Leo, painter Otto, and designer Gilda – as they navigate an ever-shifting triangular relationship in the 1930s. It’s full of the characteristic wit that’s made Noel Coward one of the twentieth century’s most-produced comedic playwrights, but the play was considered so scandalous at the time that it the official censor of London theatre banned productions of it for six years.

Coward was inspired to write it by the open and polyamorous relationship of his longtime friends, the Broadway stars Alfred Lunt and Lynne Fontane, with whom he starred in the original Broadway production.  

And while polyamory and bisexuality are hardly the taboo topics they were during the Great Depression, director Bart DeLorenzo says open and fluid relationships still challenge many people’s perceptions of propriety.

“I wouldn’t say that’s the last taboo, but it’s unusual. You see people struggling with their families and there are all sorts of heteronormative pressures,” DeLorenzo says. “I do think there are people in the world who aren’t happy themselves and don’t want other people to be happy.

“I don’t know why people want to regulate the intimate details of other people’s lives, but for some reason there’s a desire to do that. And so, I don’t think the issues of this play have really gone away.”

DeLorenzo says the play documents an important point in Coward’s life, shortly after his rise to fame, as he tries to navigate the limited opportunities he had to pursue romance and happiness as a gay man. 

“He’s writing it in the 1930s, and he’s had his first bath of success, and I think he’s looking around at the world and trying to figure out what kind of life he wants to live,” De Lorenzo says. “What’s funny about the play is that he will go on to invent a kind of a new family and a new way to live, not exactly like the play but similar. But he had no idea that that’s where he was headed.”

So even though the play is a hilarious comedy, DeLorenzo says it’s still one of the most serious dramatic works Coward wrote.

“I think it’s a look for new models because there should be more choices. There should be more possibilities. And I think it really helps to have models of people who have found other ways to be happy,” he says. “It’s about trying to find a way to live the life that you want to live, even when Society doesn’t appreciate it.”

One luxury this production has over the original Broadway production – and perhaps even over modern Hollywood fare exploring polyamory – is its freedom to bring the homoerotic sides of the polyamory polygon.

“There’s a very sexy and romantic scene between the two men. It’s a very funny scene. But I think it’s a very sexy scene but between them,” DeLorenzo notes of his production. “That’s what’s interesting about the play too. Is that Coward gives the biggest scene in the play to the two men. There’s a very nice seduction of a hetero couple in the piece but in a way, I think the gay couple gets the best romantic scene.”

Design for Living plays at the Odyssey Theatre July 6-Aug 25. 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. Los Angeles CA 90025. Tickets $20–$37, Fridays Pay-What-You-Can. OdysseyTheatre.com 

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Sports

‘Woke up an Olympian’: Transgender nonbinary sprinter Nikki Hiltz makes Team USA

Hiltz qualified for the Summer Olympic Games in Paris with a record-breaking run

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By Dawn Ennis

EUGENE, ORE. — They ran like the wind, broke the tape at the finish line and clutched their chest with the broadest smile on their face. Then Nikki Hiltz collapsed to the track, having set a new record in the 1,500-meter race at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials and earned a spot on Team USA. 

As the realization sank in that they would be representing the United States in Paris as an out transgender nonbinary athlete, what the Paris-bound Olympian did next was to scribble a message of LGBTQ+ representation on the last day of Pride Month, writing with a red marker upon the glass of the camera that records each athlete’s signature on a whiteboard: 

“I ❤️ the gays,” they wrote, and above it, they signed their first name. 

Hiltz, 29, finished the race on Sunday at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field in first-place with a final time of 3:55:33, breaking third-place finisher Elle St. Pierre’s 2021 record of 3:58:03. 

Hiltz credited St. Pierre, the top-finishing American and third-place finisher in the women’s 1,500 at the Tokyo Olympics, with motivated them and the other competitors to race faster. With a first lap time of 61 seconds, St. Pierre led the race for the majority of its duration. St. Pierre and Emily Mackay, who placed second, also both earned spots in the Paris Olympics.

“If someone would have told me this morning that 3:56 doesn’t make the team, I don’t want to know that. I’m just in the race to run it and race it and that’s what I did,” Hiltz said after the race. The Santa Cruz native who came out in 2021 as trans nonbinary told NBC Sports that the accomplishment is “bigger than just me.”

“I wanted to run this for my community,” Hiltz said, “All of the LGBT folks, yeah, you guys brought me home that last hundred. I could just feel the love and support.” 

On Monday, Hiltz reflected on the race and how they became an Olympian in a post on Instagram.

“Woke up an Olympian. 🥹 Yesterday afternoon in Eugene Oregon a childhood dream of mine came true. I’m not sure when this will fully sink in… All I know is today I’m waking up just so grateful for my people, overwhelmed by all the love and support, and filled with joy that I get to race people I deeply love and respect around a track for a living. 🙏”

Hiltz also shared a photo with their girlfriend, runner Emma Gee, and captioned it: “Remember in Inside Out 2 when Joy says “maybe this is what happens when you grow up… you feel less joy”? Yeah I actually have no idea what she’s talking about. 🎈🌈🤠🦅🥐🇫🇷”

They shared photos in their new Team USA garb, too. 

While they will be the first out trans nonbinary member of the U.S. track and field team, Hiltz will not be the first nonbinary Olympian. That honor goes to Quinn, who played soccer for Canada in Tokyo and holds the record as the only nonbinary athlete to have won a gold medal. So far. 

Many of the posts by Hiltz, Team USA and others have been trolled by bigots and ignoramuses who have mistaken them for a transgender woman who was presumed to be male at birth and transitioned genders. Right-wing outlets and anti-trans activist Riley Gaines have commented on their victory and questioned their gender identity and decision to compete against cisgender women. 

But in the spirit of the late Marsha P. Johnson, who famously said the “P” stood for “pay no mind” to the haters, Hiltz shared a photo of a handwritten motivational note to themself, which ends: “I saw a quote online the other week that said, ‘respect everybody, fear nobody,’ and that’s exactly how I’m going to approach this final. I can do this.” 

And they did. 

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Books

Ever taken a cross-country drive in the back seat?

Then ‘Here We Go Again’ is the book for you

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(Book cover image courtesy Atria)

‘Here We Go Again’
By Alison Cochrun
c.2024, Atria
$17.99/368 pages

Can you do me a solid?

Just one little favor, a quick errand, it won’t take long. You can do it next time you’re out, in fact. Consider it your good deed for the day, if it makes you feel better. A mitzvah. An indulgence to a fellow human. As in the novel, “Here We Go Again” by Alison Cochrun, think of it as a life-changing thing.

She couldn’t remember the woman’s first name.

Did Logan Maletis really ever know it? Everybody at her job – administration, students, other teachers – called everyone else by their last name so the colleague she’d been hooking up with for weeks was just “Schaffer.” Whatever, Logan didn’t care and she wasn’t cold-hearted but when Savannah broke up with her in public, she did wonder if maybe, possibly, the awful names she called Logan were fair or true.

Rosemary Hale would’ve agreed with every last one of those nasty names.

Once, she and Logan were BBFs but after a not-so-little incident happened the summer they were 14, she hated Logan with a white-hot passion. Every time Rosemary ran into Logan at school, she regretted that they worked in the same place. Seeing her old nemesis, even just once in a while, was an irritation she could barely stand.

They had nothing in common at all, except Joseph Delgado.

He’d been their English teacher years ago, and they both followed in his footsteps. He kept them from going stir-crazy in their small Oregon town. He was friend, father figure, and supporter for each of them when they separately came to understand that they were lesbians.

They loved Joe. They’d do anything for him.

Which is why he had one favor to ask.

With a recent diagnosis of incurable cancer, Joe didn’t want to die surrounded by hospital walls. Would Logan and Rosemary drive him and his dog to Maine, to a cabin he owned? Would they spend time crammed side-by-side in a used van, keeping Joe alive, coast-to-coast? Could they do it without screaming the whole way?

Can you avoid laughing at this convoluted, but very funny story? Highly unlikely, because “Here We Go Again” takes every nightmare you’ve ever had of busted friendship, bad vacations, and long-lost love, and it makes them hilarious.

It’s not the story that does it, though. The story’s a bit too long and it can drag, but author Alison Cochrun’s characters are perfectly done, each one of them. Logan is profane in all the right ways and yes, she’s a jerk but an appealing one. Rosemary is too prim, too proper, too straight-laced, but Cochrun lets her be unlaced in a steamy passage that’s not misplaced. You’ll love how this story moves along (although sometimes slowly) and you’ll love how it ends.

If you’ve ever endured a cross-country trip stuffed in the back seat of a hot car for miles and miles, sharing a seat with an abrasive sibling, this is your book. “Here We Go Again” is a solid vacation read.

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

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Sports

Dodgers, Padres, Giants and every MLB team except this one celebrated Pride

Right-wingers react to ‘backlash’ against Rangers: ‘This kind of bullying is unacceptable’

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MLB Pride Logo

ARLINGTON, Texas — Once again, the Texas Rangers opted not to celebrate Pride this month with a dedicated day or night on its 2024 promotion schedule. And once again, the American League West team is the only Major League operation to do so. 

So? Well, this repeated omission by the reigning World Series champs has sparked what one conservative news site calls a “ridiculous backlash.” As the Washington Examiner’s Kimberly Ross wrote this week:

“There is no getting away from these ubiquitous celebrations. Instead of ‘to each his own,’ major league teams are nearly required to give in and perform in an effort to placate the loudest crowds. It’s not good enough to include everyone at all times. You must kowtow or else. This kind of bullying is unacceptable, and it’s worth pushing back against whether you’re a regular citizen or the 2023 World Series champion Texas Rangers.”

But the only evidence of the “backlash” was a balanced report by Schuyler Dixon of the Associated Press that appeared on the website of KSAT-TV in San Antonio, detailing the frustrations of local LGBTQ+ advocates and fans. His report was a fair and straight-forward (no pun intended) report was also posted by the AP under the title: “Why are the Texas Rangers the only MLB team without a Pride Night?” Oh, and the virulently anti-trans British tabloid, the Daily Mail rehashed that same AP piece but added that LGBTQ+ groups were “FURIOUS” (yes, in all caps) without substantiating that claim with a single quote. 

At most, DeeJay Johannessen, the chief executive of the HELP Center, an LGBTQ+ organization based in Tarrant County, where the Rangers play, told the AP he felt “kind of embarrassed.” The Daily Mail’s headline writer was apparently “kind of” clickbaiting. 

“It’s kind of an embarrassment to the city of Arlington that their team is the only one that doesn’t have a Pride Night,” Johannessen said. While also not furious, local advocate Rafael McDonnell said, “It pains me that this remains an issue (after) all these years.”

How painful? McDonnell told the AP he considered not attending the championship parade with his boyfriend when the Rangers celebrated their first World Series championship last fall. Ultimately, he decided to go. So much for “FURIOUS.” 

McDonnell is the communications and advocacy manager for the Resource Center, which is an organization that grew out of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. He added that his group has worked with the Rangers, at their invitation, to help them develop a policy of inclusion, starting about five years ago.

The team has sent employees to volunteer for programs supporting its efforts in advocating for marriage equality and transgender rights.

Although McDonnell said members of the Rangers staff keep in contact with him, he told the AP he can’t recall any conversations with the team since its five-game victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in last year’s World Series. 

“For a long time, I’ve thought that it might be somebody very high up in the organization who is opposed to this for some reason that is not clearly articulated,” McDonnell said. “To say that the Rangers aren’t doing anything for the community, well, they have. But the hill that they are choosing to stake themselves out on is no Pride Night.”

Which stands out because the Rangers did celebrate Mexican heritage during a game earlier this month, and also host nights throughout the season dedicated to other groups as well as the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, first responders, teachers and the military. The team also recognizes universities from around the Dallas-Fort Worth area and other parts of the Lone Star State. But not Pride. 

Why? The Rangers issued a statement, very similar to one from 2023. It lists various organizations the team has sponsored and steps it has taken internally to “create a welcoming, inclusive, and supportive environment for fans and employees.”

“Our longstanding commitment remains the same: To make everyone feel welcome and included in Rangers baseball — in our ballpark, at every game, and in all we do — for both our fans and our employees,” the team said. “We deliver on that promise across our many programs to have a positive impact across our entire community.”

“I think it’s a private organization,” said Rangers fan Will Davis. “And if they don’t want to have it, I don’t think they should be forced to have it.” Davis is from Marble Falls, about 200 miles southwest of the stadium in Central Texas and attended a recent game with his son’s youth baseball team.

“I think if it were something where MLB said, ‘We’re not participating in this,’ but the MLB does participate in it. And the Rangers have chosen not to,” said Rangers fan Misty Lockhart, who lives near told the ballpark. Lockhart told the AP she attends almost three dozen games every season. “I think that’s where I take the bigger issue, is they have actively chosen not to participate in it.”

While Lockhart says she doesn’t see Pride Night as a political issue, she suggested there would be more pressure on the Rangers if their stadium was downtown, in the heart of Dallas County, where the majority of elected officials are Democrats. Tarrant County, home to Arlington, Fort Worth and Global Life Stadium, is generally more conversative, just like the governor, lieutenant governor, legislature, and fans like Will Davis. 

“In something like this, this is a way for people to go as a state,” Davis told the AP. “We don’t want the political stuff shoved down our throats one way or the other, left or right. We’re coming out here to have a good time with friends or family and let it be.”

Unfortunately, some Rangers fans decided they could not “let it be” the one time the team welcomed local LGBTQ+ groups to a game as part of a fundraising event, as it does for other groups. This was in September 2003, two years after the Chicago Cubs hosted what is considered the first-ever Pride game. At that time, Rangers fans raged about the invitation on a website, and showed up to protest outside the stadium before that game. 

The Rangers never extended that invitation again. 

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