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Country singer T.J. Osborne comes out

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T.J. Osborne is the first artist on a major country label to come out publicly as gay. (Image via Instagram)

NASHVILLE – Another celebrity has joined the ranks of those who have made the decision to come out publicly, and this one represents an important milestone.

T.J. Osborne, lead singer of the country duo Brothers Osborne, came out as gay in an exclusive interview with Time Magazine, which was published February 3. While other ostensibly country artists are openly LGBTQ (such as Orville Peck, Brandi Carlile, Lil Nas X, Chely Wright and Billy Gilman, all of whom are name-checked in the Time article), Osborne’s revelation makes him the first – and so far, only – openly gay artist signed to a major country label.

Osborne told interviewer Sam Lansky he had been aware of his sexuality from an early age, and has long been out to his family and friends.

“I’m very comfortable being gay,” he says. “I find myself being guarded for not wanting to talk about something that I personally don’t have a problem with. That feels so strange.”

In response to the oft-parroted notion that being gay shouldn’t be an issue anymore, he told the magazine, “People will ask, ‘Why does this even need to be talked about?’ and personally, I agree with that… But for me to show up at an awards show with a man would be jaw-dropping to people. It wouldn’t be like, ‘Oh, cool!”

He also says he doesn’t anticipate too much blowback. “I don’t think I’m going to get run off the stage in Chicago,” he muses. “But in a rural town playing a county fair? I’m curious how this will go.” 

He admits that country music is not hugely popular with many LGBTQ people, but proffers the question, “But is that just because they’ve never had the opportunity to relate to it?”

After news of Osborne’s coming out, GLAAD issued a statement from Anthony Ramos, the advocacy organization’s Head of Talent:

“T.J. Osborne’s decision to publicly come out and share his story is a major step forward to increase LGBTQ acceptance and inclusion in the country music world. He is now the only openly gay artist signed to a major country music label, and I hope that the business continues to realize that there is a space for LGBTQ artists, and that they can be commercially successful. Brothers Osborne are one of today’s most successful country music acts and T.J.’s decision to share his true and authentic self with their many fans has the power to change hearts and minds when it comes to acceptance for the LGBTQ community.”

T.J. formed the Brothers Osborne duo with his brother John, a guitarist, in 2012. Signed with EMI Records Nashville, they’ve released seven country Top 40 singles and three studio albums, to date. Their platinum hit “Stay a Little Longer,” was a crossover to mainstream radio, and the duo has four CMA Awards, in addition to being nominated for seven Grammys.

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LGBTQ journalist Chuck Colbert died: reported on Catholic sexual abuse

“Chuck was extraordinarily principled and helpful, especially when addressing issues related to the LGBTQ community and the Catholic Church”

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National LGBTQ Task Force Communications Director Cathy Renna (L) with journalist Chuck Colbert (Photo courtesy of Cathy Renna)

By Karen Ocamb | WEST HOLLYOOD – Chuck Colbert had a touch of old Cary Grant in him — dashing and debonair in his tuxedo at swank LGBTQ events. But he was also deeply humble and bursting with joy from his lifelong devotion to the core beliefs of the Catholic Church.

His journalistic discipline controlling his personal anguish over the proclamations about homosexuality enabled him as an out gay man to report professionally on the sex abuse scandals that rocked the Catholic Church in the early 2000s.

As a regular freelance contributor to the National Catholic Reporter and other media outlets, Chuck debunked tirades against gays and often underscored how girls and young women had been raped and abused by priests and church officials, too. 

I thought about this a lot when I heard that Chuck had died on June 30. He was 67. 

I was shocked by his sudden passing and how long it took to find out he had died. I met him decades ago through the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association. Why did it take a month and a half for news of his passing to spread? 

Chuck’s friend Karen Allshouse posted news on his Facebook page:  “I’ve learned that while visiting in Johnstown [Pennsylvania] he developed a serious medical issue (involving his esophagus reportedly) and he needed to be transferred to a higher level of medical care and was transferred to a Pittsburgh hospital. Respiratory complications developed and he died. For those who are concerned about his mom – a former high school teacher of his (English) accompanied his mom to the cemetery for the committal service.”

I considered Chuck a loving friend and a journalistic colleague but I realized I actually knew little about him. Our friendship ranged from email exchanges to quick chats at events to deep conversations about religion, including the influence of Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ.

If anyone sought to imitate Christ, it was Chuck Colbert. He was kind without thinking about it. He walked the walk and scolded those who didn’t but claimed to have created the path. 

On March 17, 2002, two months after the Boston Globe exposed the sexual child abuse by priests rotting the foundation of the Boston archdiocese (depicted in the movie “Spotlight”), Chuck wrote an op-ed in the Boston Herald entitled Leaders of Catholic Church Must Listen to All the Faithful.”  

“Clearly, the Catholic Church in Boston is in crisis. Some blame ‘militant homosexuals’ among the clergy, branding them ‘a true plague on the priesthood.’ Is the crisis, in fact, rooted there?Let me offer another perspective—one based on more than 25 years of faith life as a convert. First, I have failed, somehow, to encounter any Catholic church culture characterized by ‘priestly homosexuals run amok with no fear of condemnation.’ The reality is significantly more boring,” Chuck wrote. 

He went on to describe his scholarly and theological journey from the University of Notre Dame to Georgetown University, Harvard University and Weston Jesuit School of Theology, receiving degrees at each stop. 

“Still, it was not until I arrived in Cambridge 15 years ago that my spiritual desolation over the conflict between my sexual identity and my religious conviction found its positive counterpart: consolation,” Chuck wrote in the Boston Herald. “The catalyst for that life-saving, personal transformation began when a bright and theologically astute Jesuit priest became my spiritual director.

“He listened,” Chuck continued. “Over time, I broke the silence of my anguished pilgrim journey and its struggle with homosexuality. He understood that I carried with me the heavy baggage of church teaching, those deeply wounding, soul-shaming words from the Catechism, ‘objective disorder’ and ‘intrinsic evil,’ that pathologize (and objectify) same-gender love and its sexual expression. Through the respectful, nonjudgmental listening and guidance of spiritual direction and through richer encounters of God’s grace in the sacraments, therapy, and prayer, I came to experience God’s unconditional love. I now feel, to the core of my being, that God loves me (I suspect you) along with all my quirky postmodern, American, but very human, strengths and vulnerabilities.”

Chuck became an expert reporter covering the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal. During a May 7, 2002 appearance on CNN, Chuck responded to a question about the culpability of Cardinal Bernard Law, Archbishop of Boston. 

“I think the question raises a very interesting question, or point,” Chuck said. “And it is not just the personality of the cardinal. Other bishops who were auxiliary bishops at the time [of  Fr. John Geoghan’s arrest for child molestation and release] and are now bishops in other places, as the [Father Paul] Shanley documents have been revealed, these show higher levels of involvement of knowledge. And so it is systemic — but it is also the leadership, the broad leadership that Cardinal Law mustered to either handle or mishandle this scandal, and I think that we will see more of that come out in court.”

Chuck’s expertise was invaluable to the LGBTQ community, as National LGBTQ Task Force Communications Director Cathy Renna told the Windy City Times.

“Chuck was a friend and colleague—one who was extraordinarily principled and helpful, especially when addressing issues related to the LGBTQ community and the Catholic Church. He was instrumental in helping us frame and address the abuse scandal when church leaders scapegoated gay priests, as a person of faith and an intellectual,” Renna said. “[W]orking with him was a vital part of my work taking on the Catholic Church hierarchy while at GLAAD, along with other queer and allied groups. But he was also a pleasure to be friends with, who found joy in life and our community, and was one of the people I most looked forward to seeing at the NLGJA convention and other events. He will be greatly missed.”

Chuck caused some ripples in my life after an interview we did for the online LGBTQ press trade newsletter Press Pass Q in 2016 about my being laid off as news editor by my longtime publisher Frontiers Newsmagazine.

Chuck had interviewed Bobby Blair, chief executive officer of Multimedia Platforms Worldwide, and the new publisher of Frontiers. “Unfortunately, Karen fell where we realized we were moving toward a digital and Millennial audience, and we wanted to give the generation of Millennials a real shot at creating our content,” Blair told Chuck. “Did you get that on tape?” I asked him. 

Chuck Colbert summed up his philosophy via a quote from Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace:

“Life is everything. Life is God. Everything shifts and moves, and this movement is God. And while there is life, there is delight in the self-awareness of the divinity. To love life is to love God. The hardest and most blissful thing is to love this life in one’s suffering, in the guiltlessness of suffering.”  

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

Karen Ocamb an award winning veteran journalist and the former editor of the Los Angeles Blade, has chronicled the lives of LGBTQ+ people in Southern California for over 30 plus years.

She is currently the Director of Media Relations for Public Justice.

She lives in West Hollywood with her two beloved furry ‘kids’ and writes occasional commentary on issues of concern for the greater LGBTQ+ community.

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Online Culture

Twitter adds monkeypox info panel on searches

GLAAD has reached out to Meta, TikTok, and YouTube to add similar information and resources to searches related to monkeypox

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Courtesy of Twitter

SAN FRANCISCO – GLAAD announced in a media statement Monday that the social media platform Twitter added a “Know the Facts” HHS info panel for searches on monkeypox. The panel appears when users search on Monkeypox or MPV and links to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) information about monkeypox (MPV).

“Twitter’s action will not only help stem the tide of MPV misinformation, but is also a clear example of leadership underscoring that institutions across all of civil society can play roles towards addressing this public health emergency,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Though anyone can contract MPV, it is disproportionately impacting the LGBTQ community, especially men who have sex with men, and it is urgent and critical to get the facts around vaccines, treatment, and prevention widely and equitably distributed.”

Screenshot/Twitter

According to GLAAD, it had reached out in publicly shared calls for Meta, TikTok, and YouTube to add similar information and resources to searches related to monkeypox.

“Social media platforms have an opportunity to step up now and be part of the solution, instead of allowing misinformation about MPV and stigmatizing posts about LGBTQ people to run rampant. The window is closing for Meta, TikTok, and YouTube to make good on their commitments to protect LGBTQ users, and everyone, by implementing tools they have used to help curb other public health emergencies,”  Ellis added.

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Celebrity News

Anne Heche dead; Actor removed from life support after organs harvested

“Hopefully, my mom is free from pain and beginning to explore what I like to imagine as her eternal freedom”

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Screenshot/YouTube Inside Edition

LOS ANGELES – Actress Anne Heche died after she was removed from life support on Sunday, nearly 2 weeks after her Mini-Cooper crashed through a two-story house in L.A.’s Mar Vista neighborhood. Investigators with the Los Angeles Police Department believe she was intoxicated at the time.

She sustained a severe anoxic brain injury along with severe burns and was being treated at the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital, near Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley.

The 53-year-old actress who was a star of films like Donnie Brasco, the political satire Wag the Dog and the 1998 remake of Psycho, had been declared legally dead under California law on Friday, however, her family kept her alive long enough to be an organ donor.

In a statement Friday, the LAPD announced that: “As of today, there will be no further investigative efforts made in this case. Any information or records that have been requested prior to this turn of events will still be collected as they arrive as a matter of formalities and included in the overall case. When a person suspected of a crime expires, we do not present for filing consideration.” LAPD detectives had previously made public that investigators into the crash found narcotics in a blood sample taken from Heche.

The actress’s family released a statement on Friday:

“Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend. Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy. Her bravery for always standing in her truth, spreading her message of love and acceptance, will continue to have a lasting impact,” the statement added.

Heche was married to camera operator Coleman Laffoon from 2001 to 2009. The two had a son, Homer, together. She had another son, named Atlas, during a relationship with actor James Tupper, her co-star on the TV series “Men In Trees.”

Laffoon left a moving tribute on an Instagram reel in which he also gave an update on how their 20-year-old son Homer Laffoon is coping with the loss of his mother.

“I loved her and I miss her, and I’m always going to,” he said adding: “Homer is okay. He’s grieving, of course, and it’s rough. It’s really rough, as probably anybody can imagine. But he’s surrounded by family and he’s strong, and he’s gonna be okay.”

“Rest In Peace, Mom, I love you, Homer,” the actor’s 20-year-old son, Homer, said in a statement after Heche was declared legally dead on Friday.“ My brother Atlas and I lost our Mom,” read the statement. “After six days of almost unbelievable emotional swings, I am left with a deep, wordless sadness. Hopefully, my mom is free from pain and beginning to explore what I like to imagine as her eternal freedom. Over those six days, thousands of friends, family, and fans made their hearts known to me. I am grateful for their love, as I am for the support of my Dad, Coley, and my stepmom Alexi who continue to be my rock during this time. Rest In Peace Mom, I love you, Homer.”

James Tupper a Canadian actor who starred alongside Heche in the ABC television series Men in Trees, had a 13-year-old son, Atlas, with her. “Love you forever,” Tupper, 57, wrote on his Instagram post’s caption with a broken heart emoji, which shared an image of the actress from Men in Trees.

Between 1997 and 2000, Heche was also in a relationship with Out talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. “This is a sad day,” DeGeneres posted on Twitter. “I’m sending Anne’s children, family and friends all of my love.” The year after her break-up with the comedian, in September 2001, Heche recounted in her memoir “Call Me Crazy,” about her lifelong struggles with mental health and a childhood of abuse.

KTLA’s entertainment reporter Sam Rubin noted that over the past two decades, Heche’s career pivoted several times. In 2017, she hosted a weekly radio show on SiriusXM with Jason Ellis called “Love and Heche.”

In 2020, Heche made her way into the podcast world. She launched “Better Together” which she cohosted alongside Heather Duffy Boylston. The show was described as a way to celebrate friendship. 

She also worked in smaller films, on Broadway, and on TV shows. She recently had recurring roles on the network series “Chicago P.D.,” “All Rise,” and was a contestant on Season 29 “Dancing With the Stars.”

People Magazine reported that several of Heche’s acting projects are expected to be released posthumously.

These include Girl in Room 13, expected to be released on Lifetime in September 2022, What Remains, scheduled to be released in 2023, and HBO Max TV series The Idol, created by Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd) and Euphoria creator Sam Levinson.

In her Insta post from earlier this year Heche stands between her sons Atlas, 13 and Homer, 20.

From KTLA:

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