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New LGBTQ+ streaming service wants to make viewers ‘Happi’

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All but the youngest members of the LGBTQ+ community can easily remember a time, not too long ago, when opportunities for viewing specifically queer-themed movies or shows were few and far between.

Even so, that era seems hard to imagine in 2020, when the vast landscape of streaming entertainment includes a comparative bounty of LGBTQ-focused content. Much of it can be found on the giant mainstream platforms (which is a sign in itself of how far we’ve come), but there’s a growing number of providers out there who are dedicated to offering exclusively queer programming – and they’ve just been joined by one more.

Happi TV, a brand-new streaming app and website that launched last week, has positioned itself to serve the LGBTQ+ community with a wide variety of films and TV geared towards queer audiences – with what they describe as “special emphasis on products made by their own members of the community.”

Available on the site are a wide variety of LGBTQ+ dramas, comedies, thrillers and documentaries, with highlights including the films “A Very Sordid Wedding,” “Dating My Mother,” “Sexing the Transman,” and “Folsom Forever.” There’s also an extensive selection of shorts.

In addition to the movies, the new service also focuses on showcasing short-form content, from “a curated selection of out and proud members of the community,” with genres ranging from comedy and music to travel, cooking, home improvement, and celebrity interviews.

Happi TV founder Daniel Bort says, “We’ve secured the presence of top-notch content creators that are relevant to the community. From stalwarts Sherry Vine, Buck Angel and Jason Stuart, to amazing new talent such as Travis Richey, Ben Jacob and Justin Root, starlettes such as Aurora Sexton, Arisce Wanzer, Cake Moss, and Rhea Litre, and TV figures such as Josh Rimer and 27 Travels. And we have more talent coming on to the site every week.”

Bort goes on to explain the mission behind Happi TV, saying, “Even though the main streamers have LGBTQ+ sections, none of them are particularly invested in making this content a priority. We believe audiences will benefit from having a go-to destination in which they’ll find both entertainment, representation and a sense of belonging.”

Daniel Berilla, the brand’s VP of marketing, agrees, saying, “Formats focusing on the ‘gay angle’ have been extremely popular on mainstream television. We hope to bring a whole new perspective to tried-and-through formulas that elevate the profile of the community and are incredibly entertaining.”

“Our goal is to bring as many pillars of the community as we possibly can,” Bort continues. “Creating a safe haven for our members will make us a viable choice for advertisers. We hope they take notice and increase their investment in the LGBTQ+ market, which is recognized as one of the smartest bets in the current marketplace. It’s good business for everybody.” says Bort.

 Happi TV is now available in the US and Canada, but Bort doesn’t plan to stop there. There’s an international rollout planned for the near future.

“America is leading the way in the marketing and monetization of the digital marketplace,” he says. “We plan to slowly expand to other key territories as soon as possible. We want to serve our audiences thoroughly.”

Berilla adds, “More than ever, we need choices that provide a source of entertainment to audiences confined and isolated. Our goal is to bring solace to these challenging times by offering content that will uplift our viewers’ spirits.”

Happi TV is available through all the major app platforms in North America – Roku, Fire TV, Android, Android TV and iPhone, with Apple TV to come shortly. In addition to the apps, the Happi TV website is available to stream content anytime, anywhere. Viewers need to register to access the content, but since it’s an AVOD (advertising video on demand) model, content is free if you don’t mind watching a few ads. There’s also offer a linear channel option (that means “Live” TV) available on the apps and site, and will soon be available through many devices such as the hardware TV digital channel systems (Samsung, Vizio, TCL, etc.), and Roku channel, among others.

You can see what Happi TV has to offer by checking out the video below.

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Online Culture

Nonbinary activist Alok Vaid-Menon; gender labels hurt everyone

“I’m nonbinary, which means it’s not just that I’m challenging the binary between male, female, man and woman, but between us and them”

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Nonbinary activist and poet Alok Vaid-Menon (Screenshot via Man Enough YouTube Channel)

LOS ANGELES – This past week on the Wayfarer Studios new national podcast “Man Enough,” nonbinary activist and poet Alok Vaid-Menon appeared alongside hosts actor Justin Baldoni, writer and MSNBC columnist Liz Plank and composer Jamey Heath.

During the broadcast Vaid-Menon noted that “people need to have compassion before “comprehension” — meaning they need to have empathy for trans people even if they don’t understand them.”

The activist-poet also deconstructed the gender binary — the idea that there are only two genders rather than a spectrum — and the traditional expectations associated with binary gender labels hurt everyone, not just transgender people, and these fixed ideas of what it means to be a man or a woman make it difficult for people to find out who they truly are.

In the podcast Vaid-Menon, who is the author of “Beyond the Gender Binary,” said in response to Heath, who had asked what he needs to “unlearn” and what he needs to do to help other men unlearn, in order to better support them, referring to trans and nonbinary people like Vaid-Menon;

“I’m nonbinary, which means it’s not just that I’m challenging the binary between male, female, man and woman, but between us and them,” Vaid-Menon said, adding, “And in your statement, you said, ‘Why don’t I help them?’ as if this struggle is not your struggle. The reason you don’t fight for me is because you’re not fighting for yourself fully.”

Reporting on the premiere of the podcast episode, NBC News OUT contributor Jo Yurcaba noted;

They said though trans and nonbinary people face violence and death for challenging traditional gender norms, they don’t want people to fight for their rights “because you want to protect me or you want to help me.”

“I don’t need your help,” they said, adding that they “have an unshakable and irrevocable sense of who I am” and don’t need to prove anything.

‘The Man Enough Podcast’ was launched in June in partnership with Procter & Gamble who will also co-finance and co-produce other projects with Wayfarer across film, TV and new media.

The Man Enough Podcast | ALOK | The Urgent Need for Compassion

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Sports

IOC: ‘Trans Women Are Women’ Laurel Hubbard set to make sports history

Laurel Hubbard is set to make sports history on Monday and the International Olympic Committee clearly has her back

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Screenshot via CBS Sports

TOKYO – The director of medicine and science for the International Olympic Committee praised weightlifter Laurel Hubbard’s “courage and tenacity” as she prepares for her upcoming competition as the world’s first out transgender woman Olympian. 

In speaking to reporters in Tokyo Thursday, Dr. Richard Budgett directly addressed those who have attacked and mocked the 43-year-old New Zealander and claimed she shouldn’t be competing with cisgender women, saying  “everyone agrees that trans women are women.”

“To put it in a nutshell,” he said, “the IOC had a scientific consensus back in 2015. There are no IOC rules or regulations around transgender participation. That depends on each international federation. So Laurel Hubbard is a woman, is competing under the rules of her federation and we have to pay tribute to her courage and tenacity in actually competing and qualifying for the Games.”

Hubbard herself has not made any public comments except for a statement following her qualifying for the Summer Games, saying she was “humbled” by the support which had helped her “through the darkness” following a near career-ending injury in Australia in 2018.

Reports around the world have claimed Hubbard is the first trans Olympic athlete, which is actually not the case. As the Los Angeles Blade has reported, Quinn, a trans nonbinary soccer midfielder for Team Canada, last Wednesday became the first out trans athlete ever to complete in the Olympic Games. They posted about it on Instagram, saying, “I feel proud seeing ‘Quinn’ up on the lineup and on my accreditation. I feel sad knowing there were Olympians before me unable to live their truth because of the world.”

The IOC is expected to review and likely revise its policies on transgender participation following Tokyo. Trans athlete and researcher Joanna Harper, who has advised the organization and other sports policy groups, told the Los Angeles Blade her recommendation will be for the IOC to continue to regulate trans athletes sport-by-sport. “There shouldn’t be a one-size fits all policy,” said Harper. 

She also noted how the mainstream cisgender media is consumed with coverage of Hubbard and missing out on the bigger picture, and what it will mean for the next generation watching on TV and online. 
“The lack of attention paid to Quinn and to Chelsea Wolfe has been interesting,” said Harper.

“A few news outlets have commented on their presence in Tokyo and in Quinn’s case the comments have been mostly favorable. On the other hand, the storm of mostly negative press heaped on Laurel Hubbard has been disappointing, although predictable. I hope that the negative press that Laurel has gotten won’t dissuade young trans athletes from following their dreams. I think that the next trans woman to compete in the games will get less negative press, and eventually (although probably not in my life) there will come a time when trans women in sport generate little or no controversy.”

Hubbard issued a statement Friday via the New Zealand Olympic Committee in which she said: “The Olympic Games are a global celebration of our hopes, our ideals and our values. I commend the IOC for its commitment to making sport inclusive and accessible.”

According to a French news outlet, NZOC spokesperson Ashley Abbott told reporters the committee had seen a “particularly high level of interest” in Hubbard’s Olympic debut, and much of it has been negative.

“Certainly we have seen a groundswell of comment about it and a lot of it is inappropriate,” Abbott said. “Our view is that we’ve got a culture of manaaki (inclusion) and it’s our role to support all eligible athletes on our team. In terms of social media, we won’t be engaging in any kind of negative debate.”

Abbott reminded the media that the NZOC’s job was to support its athletes, including Hubbard. “We all need to remember that there’s a person behind all these technical questions,” she said. “As an organization we would look to shield our athlete, or any athlete, from anything negative in the social media space. We don’t condone cyberbullying in any way.”

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Arts & Entertainment

LGBTQ+ ally Jamie Lee Curtis reveals her 25-year-old child is Trans

Curtis and her husband Christopher Guest, British screenwriter, composer, musician, director, and actor have two daughters.

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Screenshot via Page 6 YouTube channel

LOS ANGELES – In a new interview with the American Association of Retired Persons’ magazine, Golden Globe and BAFTA winning actress Jamie Lee Curtis disclosed that her youngest child is transgender. In the interview Curtis reflected that she has “watched in wonder and pride as our son became our daughter Ruby.”

Curtis and her husband Christopher Guest, British screenwriter, composer, musician, director, and actor have two daughters. Ruby, 25, works as a computer gaming editor while Curtis and Guest’s 34-year-old daughter, Annie, is married and works as a dance instructor. Curtis also noted that Ruby and her fiancé are getting married next year in a wedding that Curtis will officiate.

The longtime Hollywood couple have been married for more than 36 years but have no grandchildren, “but I do hope to,” she told the magazine.

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