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Watch: trailer drops for fashion designer doc ‘Halston’

Liza Minnelli, Marisa Berenson appear in the film

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Halston. (Screenshot via YouTube)

The first trailer for the new documentary about gay fashion designer Halston has been released.

“Halston” chronicles his rise to fame in the fashion world in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. He became a favorite to the stars including Elizabeth Taylor, Bianca Jagger, Liza Minnelli, among others.

“His clothes danced with you,” Minelli says in the trailer.

One model praises his work saying, “You were free inside your clothes.”

Halston also became known for designing Jacqueline Kennedy’s famous pillbox hat that she wore at John F. Kennedy’s presidential inauguration. He also designed the uniforms for the U.S Olympic team, Girl Scouts, NYPD and Braniff Airways.

His success began to fade after he signed a deal with J. C. Penney in 1983 which changed his brand from celebrity exclusive to mainstream and affordable. The company was later acquired by Revlon and in 1984 Halston was banned from designing for his fashion empire.

Minnelli, Marisa Berenson, Joel Schumacher, Gino Balsamo, Karen Bjornson, Walter Bregman, Alva Chinn, Pat Cleveland, Bob Colacello, Fred Dennis, Carl Epstein, Tom Fallon and Don Friese appear in the film directed by Frédéric Tcheng.

“Halston” hits select theaters on May 24.

Watch the trailer below.

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Sports

Anti-Trans activists claim trans women have an advantage at darts

Victoria Monaghan became the first trans woman to ever compete in the WDF World Darts Championship in England

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On Sunday, December 3rd, New Zealand's Victoria Monaghan made history as the first transgender woman to compete in the World Darts Federation’s World Darts Championship. (Screenshot/YouTube)

By Erin Reed | WASHINGTON – In recent years, those lobbying for restrictions on transgender individuals have focused heavily on sports. Some of the most influential anti-trans lobbyists in this arena, such as Terry Schilling of the American Principles Project, have stated that sports are an easy way to sell anti-trans policies to people who might otherwise reject discrimination.

Initially, the attacks on sports focused on contests of extreme endurance, such as elite swimming. Lately, however, these bans have entered new arenas. Now, there is a new sport where transgender participation is causing controversy: darts.

On Sunday, December 3rd, Victoria Monaghan made history as the first transgender woman to compete in the World Darts Federation’s World Darts Championship. Monaghan, who has played darts since she was 12, mentioned that the New Zealand Darts Council has been incredibly supportive of her participation.

However, recently, after qualifying for the international tournament, opponents of transgender rights attacked her participation. They argued that transgender women should be banned from women’s darts, claiming her participation was unfair due to supposed “biological advantages.”

Martina Navratilova, a famed retired tennis player known for making anti-trans comments, decried Monaghan’s participation, asking, “how the fuck is this acceptable?” The UK-based organization Fair Play For Women, which opposes transgender participation in sports, ridiculed Monaghan for participating, referring to her as a man.

One commentator claimed that trans women had physical advantages such as being able to throwing harder. One of the most outlandish claims, however, came from Dr. Linda Duffy, a sports psychology professor at Middlesex University. She stated that trans women have an advantage due to “cognition and brain structure.”

See Dr. Duffy’s comments here:

Quickly, however, people criticized the idea that trans women have an advantage in darts. Mark Grimshaw, a UK comedian, noted that the conversation swiftly shifted towards the notion that “women’s brains are biologically cognitively inferior to men,” ridiculing this idea as blatantly misogynistic.

TakedownMRAs, a Twitter account focused on opposing men’s rights activism, also ridiculed the notion that trans women have an advantage in darts. Even some who generally support bans on trans individuals expressed concerns, with one person stating, “okay, this is giving the trans movement ammo.”

There is no evidence supporting the idea that transgender women have a biological advantage in darts. Physical attributes such as strength or height are not significant in the game. For instance, one of the all-time best players, Phil Taylor, who is 5’8″, played in a World Darts Championship tournament at 59 years old. Similarly, there is no proof that transgender women possess a “cognitive advantage” over cisgender women in darts.

Recently, transgender participation in sports with no conceivable arguments for any “biological advantage” has come under fire. This is particularly evident in sports like pool. The same group that is attacking Monaghan’s participation in darts also targeted a transgender pool player for participating in a pool tournament.

Additionally, transgender participation in chess has recently faced scrutiny from FIDE, the leading international chess organization. FIDE stated that trans women “do not have any right” to compete in women’s chess categories.

As for Monaghan, she lost in the first round of the tournament. The woman she competed with, Suzanne Smith, gendered her correctly and stated that it was a hard won game that she was glad to get under her belt. Despite the hate that she is receiving from those who oppose her participation, Monaghan states that this is not the norm.

“Most of the women darts players have been really supportive,” she wrote in an article released the day of her match. “and the others are starting to come around.”

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here: https://www.erininthemorning.com/

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Music & Concerts

Bold and beautiful, R&B’s Idman gives us a risk we want to take

Idman’s newest release, the EP Risk, and the extended Risk-Reloaded version, is about the complexities and codependence of relationships

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Photo courtesy of IDMAN/Arista Records

HOLLYWOOD – Idman, the gorgeous R&B toned singer/songwriter from Toronto, knows that the ability to be a safely out LGBTQ person is a privilege. 

In a recent Los Angeles Blade opinion piece, they cautioned those progressives who are cavalier about the outing process. They became a spokesperson for those who are susceptible to its dangers.  “I wish we told queer and trans youth more often that there is no standard within which to measure the authenticity of one’s identity, and that they’re valid whether they decide to come out or not. That the world’s reactions to their truths are not their fault, and that they are no less valid in their identities for deciding to withhold it from those they believe cannot honor them,” they write, fully conscious that teens coming out can spark abuse, depression and in some cases homelessness. They observe, “Statistics show that LGBTQ+ youth, especially those of color, are disproportionately affected by homelessness… It’s crucial to challenge the idea that queer and trans people owe intimate details of their lives to others.”

The risk of coming out is one that they, themselves, have been willing to take however, and they do so in a new EP aptly titled “Risk.”

“I know that I get to live in a world and have an experience where I have the privilege of figuring that out for myself… I have the opportunity to explore.  I think I have more of a sadness now in me for my parents and for my relatives in the fact that I know that there are parts of them that they might not ever get to explore in this lifetime, and I know that it’s not their fault.” Idman tells me on the Rated LGBT Radio podcast

Born in Toronto within a very close-knit Somali immigrant community, Idman seems an unlikely candidate to stand courageously as a non-binary sexually fluid musician. They were raised fluent in their parents’ mother tongue . “They really instilled a love for my culture. I was really prideful for my heritage… we come from a religious Muslim community, but my parents were super unorthodox and open minded.” Their mother was a wedding planner and part of that gig was to have the house constantly filled with musicians, leaving an aesthetic impact on the talented Idman.

Even though musically, Idman was initially exposed to the “love is forever” style wedding music, their relationship-oriented songs exhibit a deeper complexity. The songs do not depict a heroine and a villain, but rather two humans trying to figure things out. “When I was challenged to write about love, I was confronted with the fact that the R&B space was really in this energy of toxicity, that we are in an era of ‘ghosting’ and that you need to leave before you are left. I found this genre could only be done through honesty and I wanted my music to be the place where people can tap into the depth where it is not always black and white, and the other person isn’t always in the wrong.”

Idman leapt into the music scene in 2020 with their debut single Down for It. Right from the get, they seemed to signal that they were prepared for the challenges, confrontations and potential fight for individuality that lay ahead. “Feel like I was born for this (this), feel like it was calling me
Never been down for the comfortable, that’s just impossible Never walked the road that was paved for Me,” they sing. The song also projects Idman’s attitude towards those who are trans- and homo- phobic. “Have you ever met a hater, If you know (one) play this loud as hell, I can not hate you for not seeing for me what you can not see for yourself And I cannot hate me,
blessed highly favored while you sit o’ there by ya self.”  It is an attitude that they also reflect in their Blade article when they say, “It’s a shame, it’s a stain and it should be the regret of a lifetime for someone to deny themselves the love of a queer or trans person because they can’t see beyond their own projection. What a flop. It is always their loss. I promise.”

Idman’s newest release, the EP Risk, and the extended Risk-Reloaded version, is about the complexities and codependence of relationships. From the prominent track Hate, which is an ode to hating one’s own feeling of longing for the object of one’s desire, to In My Feels, which laments the inability to let go, Idman examines the layers that could bring emotions in any Romeo and Juliet style romance gone afoul. 

It is in the songs and videos for the tracks Beach and Still where Idman takes their own “risk” by truly revealing themselves. The object of affection in Beach is spelled out in the first line of the song. “I know you’re somebody’s girlfriend but I know you ain’t innocent, I can tell by how you lookin’ That you’re likin’ what you’re seein’ I can show you something better baby all you gotta do is say when.” Idman realized that when that song came out, they had essentially outed themselves as being LGBTQ. Their article that appears in the Blade was meant to be a letter to accompany that event, and to fully underscore what she was saying, and why.

The video for Still took things to a whole new level of representation. The video and song depict a fighting couple who are clearly not straight cisgender. It could be, in fact, a musical video first, showing a song featuring two trans people in a relationship, fighting emotions and attachment just as any other couple might.

I asked Idman if they felt brave in making the video. “I was scared. I tried to back out of it a couple times like the week before I called the director and was like actually can we switch? If you switch the lead out with my trainer, he’s 6’4…”  but they did not switch. “I wanted to use it as an opportunity to show some love on the screen in a different way. I think it is often depicted in a really hyper sexualized way, and I wanted to show the romantic nature of this love, that there are arguments and break ups hurt as much as anyone else’s…I have this opportunity to show that we are here. I’ll take this shot for all the younger kids who need to see themselves in that.”

In 2022, Idman released the single Look at What I’m Doing to You, an ode to the heartbroken who turn tables and choose happiness instead. In it, she coyly teases us, “Look at what I’m doing to you. Told you that I’m trouble times two. It is what it is. So influential. It’s my effect on you.”

It is perfect instruction for those who are listening and vibing on all music Idman.  From the self-talking “Down for It” through to the going for it “Risk”, Idman dares us to look at what they are doing to us.

They are pushing our consciousness on gender identity, and releasing our need to label and judge. They bathe this principle in rich rhythmic music and Somali poetic cadence, which speaks to our hearts and our souls.They are indeed “trouble times two”. 

The effect, if you listen and absorb, is that Idman is “so influential.” We can only hope that influence explodes, and inspires strength for the vulnerable who need its confidence. 

If that happens, the Risk will have been worth it, and that will be Idman’s legacy:

The ultimate effect on us.

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Rob Watson is the host of the popular Hollywood-based radio/podcast show RATED LGBT RADIO.

He is an established LGBTQ columnist and blogger having written for many top online publications including The Los Angeles Blade, The Washington Blade, Parents Magazine, the Huffington Post, LGBTQ Nation, Gay Star News, the New Civil Rights Movement, and more.

He served as Executive Editor for The Good Man Project, has appeared on MSNBC and been quoted in Business Week and Forbes Magazine.

He is CEO of Watson Writes, a marketing communications agency, and can be reached at [email protected] 

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Online Culture

Did Marvel Comics just reveal a classic X-Men character is trans?

Until now, the X-Men have never had a trans member That may have just changed with the publication of X-Men Blue: Origins #1

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X-Men antihero Mystique was portrayed by actress Jennifer Lawrence in four films. (Disney/Los Angeles Blade graphic)

By Rob Salerno | HOLLYWOOD – Marvel Comics’ mutant superheroes the X-Men have always been a metaphor for the struggle against prejudice, boasting a diverse cast of characters that have represented a wide spectrum of characters of different races, sexual orientations, and even species. But until now, the X-Men have never had a trans member.

That may have just changed with the publication of X-Men Blue: Origins #1 by Si Spurrier, Wilton Santos, and Marcus To this week, a story that finally gives the full origin of the mysterious Nightcrawler, who had previously been established as the son of the shape-changing Mystique and a demon named Azazel – all three characters who have appeared in Fox’s X-Men films.

Courtesy Marvel Comics

Be warned, spoilers follow from here.

In the new issue, Mystique finally confesses the truth of Nightcrawler’s birth. As Mystique now tells it, she didn’t actually give birth to Nightcrawler – her female partner and longtime lover Destiny did. And Nightcrawler’s father? Well, Nightcrawler’s biological father is actually Mystique, who explains that with her shape-changing powers, she has lived as both male and female.

Does that make Mystique trans? Well, the T-word is never actually uttered in the comic, but Mystique’s own words when Nightcrawler protests that she’s female are a firm rejection of the gender binary.

“Don’t be pathetic. I have lived for years as sapiens males. Years more as females. Do you know what I have observed? They’re all as awful as each other. The only true binary division lies not between the genders or sexes or sexualities. It lies between those who are allowed to be who they wish, and those denied that right,” she says.

Courtesy Marvel Comics.

The revelation isn’t entirely unprecedented. It has long been known in fan circles that Mystique’s creator and longtime X-Men writer Chris Claremont had intended to reveal that Mystique and Destiny were Nightcrawler’s parents, but that Marvel Comics wouldn’t permit queer characters in their books in the 1980s. 

Eventually Marvel reversed that policy, and Mystique and Destiny’s relationship is a main story in current X-Men comics, with Marvel even referring to them as “the greatest love story in mutant history” in a recent press release. Marvel has also published comics set in an alternate universe where Mystique is portrayed as male. 

While more openly trans characters have appeared in mainstream comics in recent years, these characters have mostly been relegated to guest-starring and supporting characters. For example, Marvel introduced the trainee member Escapade in the X-Men spinoff comic New Mutants last year, while Marvel’s TV shows Jessica Jones and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law gave both heroines trans assistants. 

Mystique is now arguably the highest-profile trans character in mainstream superhero comics, as a major character in comics’ biggest franchise, and having been portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence and Rebecca Romijn in seven X-Men films.

Drawing of Mystique kissing Destiny – Variant Cover to X-Men Blue: Origins #1, art by Russel Dauterman, courtesy Marvel Comics.

Early reaction to the story has been incredibly positive from X-Men’s queer fandom.

“The heart of the story is Mystique embodying the trans ideal of complete and total bodily autonomy, transcending sex and gender to create life with the woman she loves,” wrote @LokiFreyjasbur on Twitter.

Marvel Comics is wholly owned by Disney.

Marvel advancing a story about a gender-nonconforming character flies in the face of a disturbing recent trend in corporate America of being overly cautious about LGBT issues in the wake of far-right backlash after Bud Light partnered with a trans influencer and Target put up its annual Pride display.

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Rob Salerno is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, California, and Toronto, Canada.

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Movies

Gnarly ‘Saltburn’ takes us on a sexy, savage ride

Buzzed-about film manages to shock even when we expect the jolt

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Alison Oliver, Jacob Elordi, and Barry Keoghan in ‘Saltburn.’ (Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios/Prime Video)

When a movie comes with as much buzz behind it as “Saltburn,” one can’t help but have expectations.

This is especially true when the buzz is fueled by rising talent, both in front of the camera (in this case, Oscar-nominee Barry Keoghan in his first leading role, alongside “Euphoria” sensation Jacob Elordi) and behind it (Oscar-winning writer/director Emerald Fennell, following up her debut feature, “Promising Young Woman”). When you add a deliberately vague, shamelessly provocative publicity campaign, which offers little more than a suggestion of the film’s premise while luring us in with imagery that implies a dark but sexy wild ride through the world of the decadent upper class, it’s almost impossible not to walk into the theater without feeling like you’re in for a thrill.

That, of course, is exactly what Fennell and company want you to feel. “Saltburn,” which opened in wide release the day before Thanksgiving, is a movie that counts on both your expectations and your ignorance; it needs you to be prepared for anything while knowing next to nothing, and it relies on your imagination to make assumptions and draw conclusions as you go. It’s the story of Oliver Quick (Keoghan), a first-year student attending Oxford University on scholarship in the mid-2000s. Relegated at first to outsider status among his privileged peers, he becomes infatuated with wealthy Felix Catton (Elordi), a handsome and popular classmate, and gains his attention through a chance encounter. The two become close companions, and when the school term ends he is invited to spend the summer with Felix at Saltburn – his family’s sprawling country estate.

It’s there the movie begins to follow a more gnarly path. Immersed in the idyllic, dilapidated luxury of Saltburn, Oliver finds himself entangled in the dysfunctional dynamic of the household; he easily wins the approval of Felix’s father and mother, Sir James and Lady Elspeth (Richard E. Grant, Rosamund Pike), but jealous sister Venetia (Alison Oliver), and scheming cousin Farleigh (Archie Madekwe), a “poor relation” who sees him as a threat to his own tenuous position in the family, are a different matter, and he must learn to navigate the behind-the-scenes politics required to keep them at bay.

It’s impossible, really, to say much more about the events that unfold beyond that point, other than to say that it’s a far cry from the nostalgic, semi-sweet gay coming-of-age story it might seem to be in the beginning, if the occasional ominous chord in the soundtrack and the glimpses of ugly human behavior on the screen didn’t suggest otherwise. “Saltburn” is one of those movies that demands to be seen knowing as little as possible about its plot if one is to get the full experience, and we won’t be revealing anything here that would ruin that – not even whether the “will-they-or-won’t-they?” steaminess of Oliver and Felix’s bromance ever comes to fruition.

What we will tell you is that Fennell – whose first film electrified audiences with a devastating twist ending – knows how to play an audience. She sets up “Saltburn” as a flashback; we know from the beginning that something big and presumably bad has happened, and its protagonist is a likable misfit who proceeds to narrate how it came to pass. From the film’s first moments, we are anticipating the twist – which begs the question of how a twist can be a twist if we already know it’s coming.

“Saltburn” addresses that question, though some viewers might not like the answer, by playing not just on our expectations, but on our hopes. While we may expect to be shocked, we also hope for a certain outcome; more than that, we become so attached to that hope that it can blind us to reality, so that when it finally hits us, it feels like we never saw it coming even though it was in plain view all along. That’s the best we can do in explaining how Fennell’s wickedly subversive, deeply disturbing mindfuck of a movie manages to shock us even when we expect the jolt.

Of course, it also delivers plenty of other shocks — drugs, sex, homoeroticism, lots of full-frontal nudity — before it gets there, and quite a few more disquieting, transgressive moments in which we see things that jar our understanding of what we are seeing or simply can’t believe what we’re seeing. When the gravesite scene comes up, you’ll know that’s one of the moments we’re talking about.

Still, it takes more than shock value to make a movie worth watching, and “Saltburn” doesn’t rest its laurels on a bag of manipulative tricks, no matter how skillfully they’re executed. Fennell’s movie delves deep into the economic class divide – a worldwide phenomenon epitomized by the genteel squalor of its upper-crust English setting – through its microcosmic portrait of the Catton family, whose benign and polite demeanor barely conceal the casual cruelty and shallow banality of their lifestyle. Even Felix – who, as superbly played by Elordi, seems genuinely kind and much more grounded than the rest of his clan – is ultimately a spoiled “golden child” used to getting what he wants and not above using his considerable charms to do make it happen. More than that, it plays with the uncomfortable notion that there’s a part in all of us, no matter how much we may deplore the perceived excesses of the one percent, that would be willing to do anything to live in that world. Indeed, it’s this conflicted idea that gives Fennell’s movie its teeth, made even sharper by the fact that, no matter how ridiculous or downright awful her characters may be, she makes us feel for – and even like – all of them.

Of course, she’s also an extremely literate Englishwoman, and she peppers her movie with references and themes from Shakespeare to Dickens to Agatha Christie, while paying ironic homage to the entire “country house” genre of British fiction. Her film craft is bold and distinctive, delivering (with the help of cinematographer Linus Sandgren) pastoral pleasures and Fellini-esque Bacchanales with equally arresting style. She deploys the talent of composer Anthony Willis to provide a stately-yet-gothic musical score that thrums with a low warning of menace, keeping us on edge throughout. And she has the good sense to assemble a superb cast – with the dryly hilarious Pike and the quietly heartbreaking Oliver as standouts, alongside Elordi – to make it all work. 

It’s Keoghan, though, who is ultimately the glue holding “Saltburn” together. His Oliver Quick is a character destined to become iconic, a one-of-a-kind portrait of enigmatic humanity that bestows movie star status upon the young Irish actor after a steadily impressive roster of high-profile supporting roles. When the film is over, you will either love him or hate him, but you will never forget him.

In fact, the same can be said about “Saltburn” itself, which has had its share of negative reviews from critics put off by its over-the-top style and manipulatively orchestrated storytelling. We’d have to respectfully disagree; it’s an outrageous movie, to be sure, but purposefully so – and as for the storytelling, it is through its unapologetic manipulation that a movie which might easily otherwise have been just another mindless, lurid thriller into a savage piece of cinema that you’ll want to see again and again.

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Books

Cunningham’s ‘Day’ is one of the best books of the year

Characters are resilient, even hopeful, in the midst of disease, death

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(Book cover image courtesy of Random House)

‘Day’
By Michael Cunningham
c. 2023, Random House
$28/273 pages

“She always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day,” Virginia Woolf, the groundbreaking, queer, gender-bending, feminist, novelist and essayist, writes in “Mrs. Dalloway” of Clarissa, a society woman, wife of a Parliament member and mother, who’s giving a party on a June day in 1920s London. 

Since the pandemic, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, during the Lavender Scare, going back to the dawn of time, who, especially if they’re queer, hasn’t often felt like Clarissa? Even on lovely June days.

“Day,” a new novel by Michael Cunningham, his first novel since “The Snow Queen” in 2014, beautifully and eerily reflects this feeling. Its characters are fearful and fragile, yet, resilient, even hopeful, in the midst of disease and death.

Like “Mrs. Dalloway,” “Day,” takes place during one day – April 5. Only, the day is spread over three years.

The morning of the day is in April 2019 – before the pandemic. When no one’s talking about, let alone heard of, COVID.

The afternoon of the day is in April 2020 – at the height of the pandemic. Before the COVID vaccines have been developed. When everyone (except low-income, essential workers) is locked down by themselves or with their loved ones. 

The evening of the day is in April 2021 when people, wondering what to make of the “new normal,” are beginning to emerge from the pandemic.

As it is in several of Cunningham’s novels, the main characters of “Day,” are a family (along, with a few friends and relations, who are supporting characters).

As with “Mrs. Dalloway,” and with Cunningham’s luminous “The Hours,” in “Day,” the city, New York, and the passing of time, itself, are characters.

“A man pulls up the metal shutter of his shoe repair shop,” Cunningham writes in “Day,” “A young woman, ponytailed, jogs past a middle-aged man who, wearing a little black dress and combat boots, is finally returning home.”

Dan, his wife Isabel, and their two children — five-year-old Violet and 10-year-old Nathan — live in a brownstone in Brooklyn. Dan is a musician. He’s had his struggles with cocaine and has performed in a rock band. Now, he does a lot of house husband/child care tasks as Isabel, a photo editor, works hard to keep her magazine from dying.

Isabel’s charming younger gay brother lives in their attic loft. It’s a New York City real estate/break up thing. Robbie, a sixth grade school teacher, has just broken up with his boyfriend. He can’t afford to live on his own. He questions why, 15 years ago, he decided against going to medical school.

Dan and Isabel decide that Robbie has to move out and find a place of his own because their kids are too old to share a bedroom.

Though, “Day” references George Eliot, it’s a 21st-century narrative. When Robbie, after the virus (never explicitly called COVID) enters the world, gets stuck in Iceland, he develops Wolfe, an idealized version of himself on Instagram.

You never see the word “COVID” or “pandemic” in “Day.” Yet it’s clear that a virus (likely COVID) has entered the characters’ world. Their world, as with real life at the time, has reminders of AIDS. Rob develops a cough that’s reminiscent of a symptom at the height of the AIDS epidemic.

Dan and Isabel’s marriage is becoming strained. They are both in love with Robbie. Thankfully, it’s not what you think! It’s not a lust thing. Robbie represents something ideal to them.

Few have more evocatively channeled the sensibility and style of Woolf than  Cunningham. 

Woolf – her awareness that a novel about a day featuring nothing more than a woman giving a party; a man, at a street corner, taking off his hat to greet a woman he knows; or a wife trying to calm her husband, a “shell-shocked” World War I vet; can be as interesting as  murder-and-battle-filled fiction –  is as tightly etched in Cunningham’s DNA as a pair of skinny jeans.

As a teenager in Pasadena, Calif., he devoured Virginia Woolf’s novels as avidly as his friends turned on to Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, Cunningham told me when I interviewed him for the Blade before the release of “The Hours,” the 2002 movie of his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name.

(“The Hours” was adapted into an opera with the same name in 2022.)

But Cunningham, who is married to psychotherapist Ken Corbett and Professor of the Practice in Creative Writing at Yale University, is no mere imitator of Woolf.

The alchemy of Cunningham’s talent is his own. “Day” was well worth waiting almost a decade for. It’s one of the best books of this or any year.

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

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a&e features

The ultimate guide to queer gift giving

Perfect presents for everyone from roommates to soulmates

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Searching for special deliveries for that special someone? Consider these elf-approved, consciously curated presents perfect for everyone from roommates to soulmates. 


Star Wars Home Collection

Movie nights in bed get a comfort upgrade from the Force – for those who uphold Jedi code in the streets but embrace the Dark Side in the sheets – with Sobel Westex’s Star Wars Home Collection, five- to seven-piece twin, queen and king sets suitable for either alliance. Cop a bootleg of the infamous “Star Wars Holiday Special” (legal copies don’t exist, nor has it been rebroadcast since its one-and-only airing in 1978) and settle in for a snacky screening with premade Johnson’s Popcorn (a Jersey Shore staple) or Pop ’N Dulge’s DIY gourmet kits. SobelAtHome.com, $350-$390; JohnsonsPopcorn.com, $27+; PopNDulge.com, $23


Bird Buddy Smart Feeder

Avian enthusiasts get up close and semi-personal with feathered friends thanks to the Bird Buddy smart feeder that allows safe viewing via a solar-powered, app-enabled camera, along with adorable add-ons like a suet ball holder and three-in-one nutrition set to keep the neighborhood’s population happy and healthy. MyBirdBuddy.com, $299-$415


Jewelry – but make it an experience. That’s the premise behind Link x Lou, a quick-fitting accessory service providing recipients with in-person appointments for custom-linked, clasp-less 14-karat white- and yellow-gold necklaces, bracelets, anklets, and rings that wear until they’re worn out. Money’s on ’em lasting longer than the situationship you’ve got goin’, but may the odds be ever in your favor. LinkxLou.com, $55-$500


Orttu Shelton Puffer

Guess who’s coming to dinner? It’s you as an alt-timeline Tom of Finland in Orttu’s fully quilted, oversized Shelton Puffer comprised of double-layered high-sheen fabric and press-stud fastening that results in a slick style statement vers-er than you are. Orttu.com, $203


Winter Discovery Mini Scented Candle Set

Apotheke takes the guesswork out of choosing just the right ambiance-inducing aroma with its Winter Discovery Mini Scented Candle Set, featuring six fragrant two-ounce tins in seasonal smells that include birchwood apple, black cypress, blackberry honey, cardamon chestnut, charred fig, and firewood (with a combined 90-hour burn time), and packaged in a nostalgically illustrated gift box accentuated by festive gold detailing. ApothekeCo.com, $64


Polaris General 1000 Sport

Resort communities across the country have adopted golf carts as a preferred mode of transportation, and you can establish yourself as a local baddie in Polaris’ General 1000 Sport – in ethereal colorways like ghost gray – equipped with a four-stroke DOHC twin-cylinder engine, 100 horsepower, 1,500-pound hitch-towing capacity, and enough street cred for Boomers to shake their fists at. Polaris.com, $17,500+


‘Arquivistas’ Crystal Book

Brazilian crystal devotee Tatiana Dorow has curated an impressive collection of more than 1,000 rare and exquisite minerals – ranging from one ounce to over 5,000 pounds – the comprehensive record of which is now compiled in the sizable coffee-table tome “Arquivistas” (Portuguese for archivist) that’s sure to satisfy, delight, and provide endless holiday-party talking points to the New Agers in your life. (You know they will.) ArtAndAnthropologyPress.com, $350


Bovem Globe Trimmer 2.0

There are plenty of manscaping tools on the market, but perhaps none are designed with your delicate bits in mind like the handsome second-gen Bovem Globe body and groin trimmer with its ergonomic textured grip, powerful 6500 RPM with low vibration, varying guards, and replaceable TrimSafe blades that tidy you up without cutting skin or pulling rough hair. Deck the halls! – no more bloody Christmas balls. Bovem.co, $60-$87


Lexington Glassworks Decanter Set

Pour one out from Lexington Glassworks’ hand-blown whiskey decanter, each one individually crafted in the company’s Asheville, N.C., studio and detailed with an elegant crackle finish that lends an air of sophistication to any home bar cart. Pair with a set of LG’s complementary rocks glasses, in the same distinguished style, for a cherished gift. LexingtonGlassworks.com, $280


Joule Turbo Sous Vide

Your fave chefs’ autopilot cooking technique hits home countertops in Breville’s sleek Joule Turbo Sous Vide stick, which cooks seasoned-and-bagged meats and veggies to a faster-than-ever optimal internal temperature (unattended, no less) before a lickety-split sear and serve results in restaurant-quality dishes deserving of at least a couple Michelin stars for your minimal-mess kitchen. Breville.com, $250


Outlines Shower Liner System

Holiday hosts can practice responsible replenishment amid our planetary plastic-waste crisis when you gift Outlines’ thoughtfully designed Shower Liner System that provides users with a machine-washable cotton top piece and fully recyclable bottom to replace when it’s time to ditch the grime. Set it and forget it with three-, six- or nine-month auto-deliveries. LivingOutlines.com, $50


Barbie Perfume

Fight the patriarchy doused in Barbie’s sweet-and-fresh fragrance that, from top to bottom, features notes of strawberry nectar and red cherry, peony and pink magnolia, and sandalwood and soft musk for an extraordinary scent that’s more than Kenough. DefineMeCreativeStudio.com, $65


AiRROBO Pet Grooming Vacuum

Posh pets enjoy salon-style luxury in the comfort of their homes when treated to a grooming session by the AiRROBO vacuum (think Flowbee for cats and dogs), a five-tool, one-stop solution for keeping furbabies’ hair, dander, allergens and mites to a minimum. The portable pamperer includes an electric clipper, crevice and de-shedding tools, and grooming and cleaning brushes housed in a space-saving, HEPA-filtered capsule. US.Air-Robo.com, $110


Aura Smart Sleep Mask

What does the future of total relaxation and deep sleep look like? Blackout darkness and complete serenity in a dream-state sanctuary when you spend your nights in the Aura Smart Sleep Mask with built-in speakers for guided meditation and snooze-inducing ASMR, zero-pressure eye cushioning, and light and sunrise therapy to help you wake rested and refreshed at home and (especially) away. Indiegogo.com, $190


Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBTQ lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyroxtravels.

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Online/Digital Streaming Media

Star Trek’s “Space Boos” return for one last Trek in 2024

Star Trek: Discovery, the streaming sci-fi show starring the steamy gay couple played by out gay actors- Paramount+ reveals new cast photo

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Star Trek: Discovery, the streaming sci-fi show starring the steamy gay couple played by out gay actors Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz, will return in April 2024. (Photo courtesy of Paramount+)

SÁO PAULO, BRAZIL — Star Trek: Discovery, the streaming sci-fi show starring the steamy gay couple played by out gay actors Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz, will return in April 2024, Paramount+ revealed today at CCXP, a comic book convention in this South American metropolis. 

It was announced earlier this year that season five of the popular series, set in the 32nd century, will be the show’s final season. Rapp and Cruz have won accolades and worldwide recognition for playing an out gay couple on the show, and they have nicknamed each other their “Space Boo.”

According to the studio, this fifth and final season will find Captain Burnham and the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery uncovering a mystery that will send them on an epic adventure across the galaxy to find an ancient power whose very existence has been deliberately hidden for centuries. But there are others on the hunt as well; dangerous foes who are desperate to claim the prize for themselves and will stop at nothing to get it.

The series star, Sonequa Martin-Green, who plays Captain Michael Burnham, introduced the clip at the convention alongside out gay showrunner and executive producer, Michelle Paradise. 

In addition to Cruz, who plays Dr. Hugh Culber, and Rapp, who plays Commander Paul Stamets, the cast includes queer actor Mary Wiseman as Sylvia Tilly and out trans nonbinary actor Blu del Barrio as Adira. The cast also includes Doug Jones as Saru, David Ajala as Cleveland “Book” Booker and this season welcomes Callum Keith Rennie as Rayner and guest stars Elias Toufexis as L’ak and Eve Harlow as Moll.

Notably absent from the cast photo and press release are out queer actor Emily Coutts, who plays the helmsman Keyla Detmer, Oyin Oladejo who plays Joann Owosekun, the starship’s navigator, and Patrick Kwok-Choon, as Rhys. All three have been regular cast members since the first season, and both Coutts and del Barrio have given interviews about how appearing in such an LGBTQ+ supportive company of actors and production people helped them come out. 

The Blade asked the Paramount+ publicity team about them and a spokesperson said this season, Coutts, Oladejo and Kwok-Choon will all appear in season five, but as recurring guest stars. 
Star Trek: Discovery seasons one through four are streaming on Paramount+, and is available to be viewed via subscription in the U.S. the U.K., Switzerland, South Korea, Latin America, Germany, France, Italy, Australia and Austria. Seasons two and three are also available on the Pluto TV “Star Trek” channel in Switzerland, Germany and Austria. In Canada, it airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel.

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Notables

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor dies at 93

O’Connor was a trailblazer as the first woman nominated and then confirmed to have a seat on the High Court

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Retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the U.S. Sandra Day O’Connor. ( Screenshot of C-SPAN 2009 Interview with O’Connor)

“Do the best you can in every task, no matter how unimportant it may seem at the time. No one learns more about a problem than the person at the bottom.” ~ Sandra Day O’Connor

PHOENIX, Az. – Retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Sandra Day O’Connor died this morning in Phoenix, Arizona, of complications related to advanced dementia, probably Alzheimer’s, and a respiratory illness. She was 93 years old.

Justice O’Connor was appointed to the Court by President Ronald Reagan during his first term in office in 1981 and retired in 2006, after serving more than 24 years on the nation’s highest court. 

A widely respected jurist, O’Connor was also a trailblazer as the first woman nominated and then confirmed by the Senate to have a seat on the Court. Her judicial record showed progressive support on issues ranging from LGBTQ+ rights, abortion, affirmative action and campaign finance.

In a statement released by the Court Friday morning, Chief Justice John Roberts said: “A daughter of the American Southwest, Sandra Day O’Connor blazed an historic trail as our Nation’s first female Justice. She met that challenge with undaunted determination, indisputable ability, and engaging candor. We at the Supreme Court mourn the loss of a beloved colleague, a fiercely independent defender of the rule of law, and an eloquent advocate for civics education. And we celebrate her enduring legacy as a true public servant and patriot.”

A lifelong Republican, O’Connor’s early judicial record mirrored conservative values on most cultural legal issues. In 1986, O’Connor joined with Justice Byron White’s five-member majority in Bowers v. Hardwick, in a case out of Georgia regarding the state’s statute that criminalized sodomy.

According to court documents, Michael Hardwick was observed by a Georgia police officer while engaging in the act of consensual homosexual sodomy with another adult in the bedroom of his home. After being charged with violating a Georgia statute that criminalized sodomy, Hardwick challenged the statute’s constitutionality in Federal District Court. Following a ruling that Hardwick failed to state a claim, the court dismissed. On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, holding that Georgia’s statute was unconstitutional. Georgia’s Attorney General, Michael J. Bowers, appealed to the Supreme Court and was granted certiorari.

The majority, including Chief Justice Warren Burger, Justices Lewis Powell, William Rehnquist, O’Connor with White writing the opinion, ruled that there was no particular constitutional protection against states prohibiting specific sex acts between consenting adults.

White argued that the Court has acted to protect rights not easily identifiable in the Constitution only when those rights are “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty” (Palko v. Connecticut, 1937) or when they are “deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and tradition” (Griswold v. Connecticut, 1965). The Court held that the right to commit sodomy did not meet either of these standards. White feared that guaranteeing a right to sodomy would be the product of “judge-made constitutional law” and send the Court down the road of illegitimacy.

Seventeen years later however, O’Connor reversed her position in a later case, in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), voting with Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy who wrote for the majority overturning a Texas “Homosexual Conduct” law, which criminalized sexual intimacy by same-sex couples, reversing the Court’s ruling in Bowers v. Hardwick.

According to court documents, responding to a reported weapons disturbance in a private residence, Houston police entered John Lawrence’s apartment and saw him and another adult man, Tyron Garner, engaging in a private, consensual sexual act. Lawrence and Garner were arrested and convicted of deviate sexual intercourse in violation of a Texas statute forbidding two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct. In affirming, the State Court of Appeals held that the statute was not unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, with Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986), controlling.

Justice Kennedy wrote in the 6-3 opinion, after explaining what the Court deemed the doubtful and overstated premises of Bowers, the Court reasoned that the case turned on whether Lawrence and Garner were free as adults to engage in the private conduct in the exercise of their liberty under the Due Process Clause.

“Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government,” wrote Justice Kennedy. “The Texas statute furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual,” continued Justice Kennedy. Accordingly, the Court overruled Bowers.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, with whom Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist joined, filed dissents.

Interestingly enough though, Justice O’Connor weighed in on LGBTQ+ rights in a case prior to Lawrence v. Texas, seven years earlier when she joined with Justices Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer and Justice Kennedy, again writing for the majority, in Romer v. Evans.

Colorado voters had adopted Amendment 2 to their State Constitution precluding any judicial, legislative, or executive action designed to protect persons from discrimination based on their “homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual orientation, conduct, practices or relationships.”

Following a legal challenge by members of the state’s LGBTQ community and other aggrieved parties, the state trial court entered a permanent injunction enjoining Amendment 2’s enforcement. The Colorado Supreme Court affirmed on appeal.

The high court was weighing in on the question of did Amendment 2 of Colorado’s State Constitution, forbidding the extension of official protections to those who suffer discrimination due to their sexual orientation, violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause?

In the ruling, the Court said Yes. In a 6-to-3 decision, the Court held that Amendment 2 of the Colorado State Constitution violated the equal protection clause. Amendment 2 singled out homosexual and bisexual persons, imposing on them a broad disability by denying them the right to seek and receive specific legal protection from discrimination.

In his opinion for the Court, Justice Kennedy noted that oftentimes a law will be sustained under the equal protection clause, even if it seems to disadvantage a specific group, so long as it can be shown to “advance a legitimate government interest.” Amendment 2, by depriving persons of equal protection under the law due to their sexual orientation failed to advance such a legitimate interest.

He concluded: “If the constitutional conception of ‘equal protection of the laws’ means anything, it must at the very least mean that a bare desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot constitute a legitimate governmental interest.”

In 2006, she retired from the bench. In its 2019 eleven part profile of O’Connor, the Arizona Republic highlighted her record writing:

Sandra Day O’Connor disliked the term “swing vote” because “it suggests something that’s not thoughtful,” according to Ruth McGregor, a former Arizona Supreme Court chief justice and a longtime friend to O’Connor.

And because O’Connor saw herself as an old-school conservative, the opinions she wrote on controversial matters — such as abortion and gay rights — didn’t come out of liberal leanings, but rather out of a firm belief in the rights of individuals to decide crucial issues in their own lives, free of government interference,” the Republic noted.

On other issues such as women’s reproductive rights, in the landmark ruling Roe v. Wade, which arose during her confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1981, because as the Republic noted, O’Connor was a woman who had presided over the Arizona Senate when it decriminalized abortion in that state, she was suspect, even though she declared her personal abhorrence for abortion.

However during the course of that confirmation hearing, she maintained that she had respect for opinions handed down by the Supreme Court, and she believed there needed to be good reason to overturn them.

In the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, then Justice O’Connor joined with fellow Justices Blackmun, Stevens, Kennedy and Souter, in upholding Roe v. Wade.

In a bitter 5-to-4 decision, the Court again reaffirmed Roe, but it upheld most of the Pennsylvania provisions. For the first time, the justices imposed a new standard to determine the validity of laws restricting abortions. The new standard asks whether a state abortion regulation has the purpose or effect of imposing an “undue burden,” which is defined as a “substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability.” Under this standard, the only provision to fail the undue-burden test was the husband notification requirement.

In a rare step, the opinion for the Court was crafted and authored by three justices: O’Connor, Kennedy, and Souter.

Retired Justice O’Connor received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama on August 12, 2009 in a White House ceremony. The nation’s highest civilian honor, the award is given to individuals who make an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
(Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Washington D.C. based lawyer, journalist, and LGBTQ+ rights activist Mark Joseph Stern writing in a Slate magazine article dated Oct. 30, 2013, about O’Connor’s stance on same-sex marriages noted:

“On Tuesday, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor officiated a same-sex marriage at the Supreme Court, the first gay wedding to take place in the court’s halls. (It wasn’t the first officiated by a justice, though; Ruth Bader Ginsburg beat O’Connor to that honor.) The event serves as a heartwarming confirmation that O’Connor’s shift to the left has continued through retirement—but it’s also a poignant reminder that the justice’s early retirement cut short what might have been an evolution from Reagan conservative to gay-rights luminary.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statement on the passing of O’Connor Friday:

“Jennifer and I are saddened by the passing of Justice O’Connor, an American icon who left a profound mark on history as the first woman to serve on our nation’s highest court.

“Surmounting countless barriers, Justice O’Connor graduated from Stanford Law School near the top of her class, rose to prominence in the Arizona statehouse as the first woman in the nation to serve as a majority leader, and served on the bench in Arizona before being nominated to the Supreme Court by President Reagan – with widespread support on both sides of the aisle.

“A strong voice for judicial independence and the rule of law, Justice O’Connor was known for her discerning and fair-minded approach and served a pivotal role at the center of the Court, including key votes reaffirming the right to abortion and upholding affirmative action in higher education.

“With deep Arizona roots, Justice O’Connor was also an important voice on the Court for the entire American West, championing states’ freedom to craft solutions that meet local needs across our diverse country.
      
“Justice O’Connor opened doors for generations of women in politics and public service, and her enduring legacy is an inspiration to all of us. Our thoughts are with her family, colleagues and friends during this time of loss.”

O’Connor was born in El Paso, Texas, on March 26, 1930. She married John Jay O’Connor III in 1952. She received her B.A. and LL.B. from Stanford University. She served as Deputy County Attorney of San Mateo County, California, from 1952 to 1953 and as a civilian attorney for Quartermaster Market Center, Frankfurt, Germany, from 1954 to 1957.

From 1958 to 1960, she practiced law in Maryvale, Arizona, before serving as Assistant Attorney General of Arizona from 1965 to 1969. She was appointed to the Arizona State Senate in 1969 and was subsequently reelected to two two-year terms, during which she was selected as Majority Leader. In 1975 she was elected Judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court and served until 1979, when she was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals.

O’Connor authored five books: Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest (2002); The Majesty of the Law: Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice (2002); Chico (2005); Finding Susie (2009); and Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court (2013).

Following her tenure on the Supreme Court, she founded and led iCivics, the Nation’s leading civics education platform.

She is survived by her three sons, Scott (Joanie) O’Connor, Brian (Shawn) O’Connor, and Jay (Heather) O’Connor, six grandchildren: Courtney, Adam, Keely, Weston, Dylan and Luke, and her beloved brother and co-author, Alan Day, Sr. Her husband, John O’Connor, preceded her in death in 2009.

Additional research and legal records material provided by Oyez, the free law project from Cornell’s Legal Information Institute (LII), Justia, and Chicago-Kent College of Law.

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Sports

NFL’s Kirk Cousins: Anti-LGBTQ group’s ‘Ambassador for Christ’

The Vikings proudly boast they were the first in the NFL to host a summit and fundraiser focused exclusively on LGBTQ inclusion in sports

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Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. (Photo Credit: NFL/Minnesota Vikings)

ORLANDO, FL. — Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has made no secret of his Christian faith; just the opposite. But his recently recorded sit-down interview with the chief operating officer of the rabidly anti-LGBTQ group, Focus on the Family, has caused a massive backlash by fans. 

Even though their chat did not include references to what the group’s website calls the gay and lesbian “lifestyle” or the “threat” of “transgenderism,” Cousins used coded language that reinforced the group’s dogma that “same-sex attractions” are a “choice.”

“There are consequences to the choices you make in life, good or bad,” Cousins told Focus on the Family COO Ken Windebank in the Nov. 3rd Focus on the Family Broadcast on YouTube. “And if you sow good things you’ll reap good things. But if you sow poor decisions, you’ll reap poor decisions.”

Their conversation was recorded before a packed house at the Sand Lake campus of his father’s mega church in Orlando. Don Cousins is lead pastor at Discovery Church.  The church also has two other campuses in the Central Florida city that ranks fourth highest in the nation for gay and lesbian couples and was ranked the most LGBTQ+ friendly travel destination in the U.S.

In fact, Cousins and Windebank sat in front of a large projection of Lake Eola, site of Come Out with Pride’s annual celebration of the city’s thriving LGBTQ+ population, held Oct. 21, just two weeks before their talk. 

Reports revealing their conversation followed complaints by an anonymous fan of the Minnesota Vikings, who alerted LGBTQ sports journalists about the video.

“It doesn’t matter how innocuous the content in the video is,” said the fan. “Focus on the Family has consistently pushed for abhorrent policies and to enshrine their views into American law. For the Vikings’ franchise quarterback to partner with them is shocking, disappointing, and runs counter to the image the Vikings have tried to project.”  

The Vikings proudly boast on the team’s website that they were the first in the NFL to host a summit and fundraiser focused exclusively on LGBTQ inclusion in sports, back in 2018, and that a front office employee who’s in her 8th season with the team is an out lesbian. 

The fan also noted what they saw as the hypocrisy of the four-time Pro Bowl player, who Focus on the Family calls an “Ambassador for Christ” and whose Instagram bio describes him as “Believer. Husband. Father.”

“It also runs counter to Cousins’ public image, that of ‘all are welcome’. Focus on the Family has built their political arm on trying to drive people they don’t approve of out of American society.”

It’s easy to see what Focus on the Family says about homosexuality, since it’s right on the group’s website

“Focus on the Family is committed to upholding God’s design for the expression of human sexuality: a husband and wife in a marriage relationship. We also hold to the scriptural truth that a relationship with God through Jesus Christ brings transformation and power over sin. We reach out with compassion and respect to individuals, families, and churches affected by homosexuality.”

Focus on the Family has been headquarted in Colorado Springs since 1977. In the 1990s, the group’s anti-LGBTQ leaders led the fundamentalist charge in support of Amendment 2, a Colorado ballot measure that banned municipalities from including LGBTQ people in their anti-discrimination policies. Although the initiative passed in 1992, in 1995 the Supreme Court found that it violated the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Almost a decade ago, Cousins himself called homosexuality a sin, saying he’d still welcome a gay teammate because “nobody’s perfect” and he would try to teach him to “follow Jesus.”

“Now, there are a lot of teammates in my locker room right now who may not have a homosexual lifestyle, but they have sins, too,” he told MLive in 2014. “They’re not perfect. So, I don’t say they can’t help us win. Nobody’s perfect. To that degree, we’d welcome him into our locker room and say come help us win, and hopefully I can love him like Jesus and hopefully show him what it means to follow Jesus.”

Fans expressed their anger at Cousins in social media posts: 

Neither Cousins nor the Vikings responded to a request for comment.

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Spotify Top Trends are Out- let’s call them #RepresentationSoFluid

2023 was defined by return of major female pop stars, & sonic diversity topped charts & global music that gave rise to powerful genres

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Spotify/Los Angeles Blade graphic

HOLLYWOOD – Spotify released its top songs, artists, podcasts and listening trends of 2023. While the podcast top 25 with its politics, conspiracy and other themes were decidedly non-queer, the music trends celebrated artists who are gender and sexual orientation fluid, and/or queer friendly.

The top artists globally were led by three artists who have embraced the LGBTQ community: Taylor Swift (hello, anyone surprised this lady is on top?), Bad Bunny and The Weeknd. At #8 in the list is presumed bisexual artist SZA. SZA, after speculation she was into women teased “It’s not wrong lol.”  

The top songs globally are led by four artists who exude fluidity. Leading that pack is Miley Cyrus (“Flowers”). “”My whole life, I didn’t understand my own gender and my own sexuality. I always hated the word ‘bisexual,’ because that’s even putting me in a box. I don’t ever think about someone being a boy or someone being a girl. My eyes started opening in the fifth or sixth grade. My first relationship in my life was with a chick. Once I understood my gender more, which was unassigned, then I understood my sexuality more,” she has said.

The second most played song (“Kill Bill”) artist is SZA, who, as mentioned, has teased her fluidity as well.  Next on the list are Harry Styles and Jung Kook. Styles has felt no need to define himself calling it “outdated” to do so, saying, “It doesn’t matter, and it’s about not having to label everything, not having to clarify what boxes you’re checking.” While unconfirmed gay rumors swirl around Jung Kook, he too seems label adverse. When asked about what defines great fashion, he replied, “Wearing anything you like, regardless of gender.”

Appearing at #8 in the top songs list, Selena Gomez, is another artist whose sexual orientation fluidity has kept fans guessing.

Bad Bunny, on Spotify’s top artist list (#2) and is #1 on the top albums list (“Un Verano Sin Ti”) is a proponent of Kook’s gender fluid assertion. “Everybody has to feel comfortable with what they are and how they feel. Like, what defines a man, what defines being masculine, what defines being feminine? I really can’t give clothes gender. To me, a dress is a dress. If I wear a dress, would it stop being a woman’s dress? Or vice versa? Like, no. It’s a dress, and that’s it. It’s not a man’s, it’s not a woman’s. It’s a dress.”

Probably to no one’s surprise, the Spotify lists reflect the attitude of the youngest LGBTQ activists. Nothing is necessarily out-and-out “gay”, and while there does seem to be a bit of closeting, albeit with gender non-specific clothing, fluidity seems to be queering of the day. In the end, the artists are all very much LGBTQ affirming. Just as they do not have an appetite to discuss who is sleeping with whom, we too should just give a big “who cares?”

Here are the key lists:

Top 10 Artists

Spotify/Los Angeles Blade graphic
  1. Taylor Swift
  2. Bad Bunny
  3. The Weeknd
  4. Drake
  5. Peso Pluma
  6. Feid
  7. Travis Scott
  8. SZA
  9. KAROL G
  10. Lana Del Rey

Top 10 Songs Globally

Spotify/Los Angeles Blade graphic
  1. Flowers- Myley Cyrus
  2. Kill Bill- SZA
  3. As It Was- Harry Styles
  4. Seven (feat. Latto)- Jung Kook
  5. Ella Baila Sola- Eslabon Armado & Peso Pluma
  6. Cruel Summer- Taylor Swift
  7. Creepin- Metro Boomin, The Weeknd & 21 Savage
  8. Calm Down- Rema & Selena Gomez
  9. Shakira Bzrp Music Sessions Vol 53- Bizarrap and Shakira
  10. Anti-Hero- Taylor Swift

Top Albums Globally

Spotify/Los Angeles Blade graphic
  1. Un Verano Sin Ti- Bad Bunny
  2. Midnight- Taylor Swift
  3. SOS- SZA
  4. Starboy- The Weeknd
  5. MANANA SERA BONITO- KAROL G
  6. One Thing at a Time- Mroagan Wallen
  7. Lover- Taylor Swift
  8. Heroes & Villains- Metro Boomin
  9. GENESIS- Peso Pluma
  10. Harry’s House- Harry Styles

******************************************************************************************

Rob Watson is the host of the popular Hollywood-based radio/podcast show RATED LGBT RADIO.

He is an established LGBTQ columnist and blogger having written for many top online publications including The Los Angeles Blade, The Washington Blade, Parents Magazine, the Huffington Post, LGBTQ Nation, Gay Star News, the New Civil Rights Movement, and more.

He served as Executive Editor for The Good Man Project, has appeared on MSNBC and been quoted in Business Week and Forbes Magazine.

He is CEO of Watson Writes, a marketing communications agency, and can be reached at [email protected] 

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