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Dorian Awards; The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics names ‘NOMADLAND’ Best Film

GALECA’s Dorian Awards honor the best in all of film and TV, from mainstream to LGBTQ fare

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HOLLYWOOD, CA. – Nomadland, the spare and fact-based drama of a group of struggling Americans living off the grid; the vivid blueswoman biopic Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; the family-happy fish-out-of-water fable Minari; writer-director-actress Radha Blank and her biting showbiz satire The Forty-Year-Old Version; the death-to-misogyny revenge thriller Promising Young Woman; and the urgent human-rights documentaries Disclosure and Welcome to Chechnya all scored more than one Dorian Award from GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics tonight via a televised special Sunday night.

GALECA’s Dorian Awards honor the best in all of film and TV, from mainstream to LGBTQ fare, on separate occasions. As revealed in the group’s three-hour Dorians Film Toast 2021, shown on LGBTQ+ streaming platform Revry and hosted by famed entertainer and human rights hero Karel, Nomadland earned 3 Dorians: Best Film, Best Director for Chloé Zhao, and Most Visually Striking Film. Minari earned Best Non-English Language Film plus a supporting actress nod for Yuh-Jung Youn. Ma Rainey’s was deemed Best LGBTQ Film by GALECA, and the musical drama’s male lead, the late Chadwick Boseman, earned Best Film Performance—Actor.

Boseman was “such an incredible human, scholar, humanitarian, and a really wonderful actor,” said Ma Rainey’s costar Colman Domingo, accepting via a recorded video on behalf of Boseman and his family. “Creating complex roles about the African-American experience, and about people who are marginalized in society and trying to stand up and have a strong voice, fighting for representation—that is Chadwick Boseman’s legacy.”

Pretty Young Woman star Carey Mulligan, fascinatingly mischievous as a woman out to avenge the death of a female friend, and the mystery’s witty screenwriter, Emerald Fennell, both delighted with their humble acceptance videos for Best Film Performance—Actress and Best Screenplay, respectively. “I’m just so happy that (Woman) has resonated, and I’m so grateful to (Fennell) for inviting me along for the ride,” said Mulligan. Fennell, meanwhile, graciously spoke of her “admiration for (GALECA’s) members.”

In homage to Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, GALECA’s Dorian “trophies” are actually small pop-art portraits of the winner (sometimes in character) or a rendering of a memorable scene from the champion title (the pieces, fashioned from an existing photo, come with an easel). “This might be the coolest prize I’ve ever seen,” said Mulligan, holding up her Dorian. Fennell, taking a moment to lift the little velvet drape that covers each award when first received, called the art piece “amazing” and quipped that the artist (Jason Young) was “kind in giving me cheekbones.”

Chloé Zhao said her Dorian for directing Nomadland is “deeply meaningful” because “Oscar Wilde is one of my greatest heroes,” and because the film speaks to so many segments of society facing tough times. “Nomadland is about a woman who goes on a journey of grief and healing and ultimately of self-discovery and self-acceptance.”

Jessie Tyler Ferguson and Laverne Cox, both performers who’ve taken to producing documentaries, saw their respective projects, Welcome to Chechnya and Disclosure, tie for the win in two categories: Best Documentary and Best LGBTQ Documentary. A grave Ferguson said Chechnya, which details the persecution of LGBTQ people in the Eastern European republic, is about “people fighting genocide.” Cox, in discussing her film’s look at the history of transgender representation on screen, noted that “2020 was the deadliest year on record for trans people. We have to continue to highlight the humanity of trans people in the face of us being dehumanized.”

Also speaking truth to power, Best Supporting Performance—Actor winner Daniel Kaluuya, honored for his portrayal of martyred Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah, said he was glad that more people were learning about what Hampton “stood for, what he believed, and what he did for the Black community and the community at large. I really hope that he continues to live on in everyone’s hearts and minds.”

The Wilde Artist Award, meant for “a truly groundbreaking force in entertainment,” went to singer-songwriter-actress-humanitarian Dolly Parton, whose memorable role in the landmark feminist comedy 9 to 5 has generated revived interest just as she made headlines for her deep-pocketed advocacy in helping get Americans vaccinated during the pandemic.

“Thank you to all the members of the Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics for this lovely Wilde Artist award,” Parton relayed in statement via her publicist. “I’m not sure I’m as edgy as past winners (in the Wilde Artist category) like Todd Haynes, Kate McKinnon, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jordan Peele—but I am honored and humbled. I appreciate all of you entertainment journalists who are so passionate and are working so hard. Keep up the good work!”

Parton’s celebrated friend, septuagenarian actor and social media superstar Leslie Jordan, currently on screens in The United States vs. Billie Holiday—another fact-based drama about the fight against racism—was named the group’s latest Timeless Star, a career achievement accolade previously awarded to the likes of Sir Ian McKellen, Jane Fonda, George Takei, John Waters, Lily Tomlin, Betty White and Dame Angela Lansbury.

Paying tribute to Jordan in video form ahead of a segment featuring the star himself: Billie Holiday’s director Lee Daniels, Cheyenne Jackson (Jordan’s costar in the Fox sitcom Call Me Kat), Beth Grant (sharing a ribald behind-the-scenes story back from their days filming 2000’s cult hit Sordid Lives) and Leslie Grossman (a pal from TV’s American Horror Story 1984). Summed up Grossman about Jordan’s accomplishments, including a new gospel CD: “At a time when our world is as divided as its ever been, there is one thing that everybody can agree on and that is their love for Leslie Jordan. You’ve done it all: Book, television, movies, social media, an album . . . and we know you’re just getting started.”

Trans filmmaker and actress Isabel Sandoval (Lingua Franca), in a special interview segment with GALECA Board Member Jazz Tangcay of Variety, accepted the Society’s inaugural, Board-picked Trailblazer Award “for creating art that inspires empathy, truth and equity.”

Also offering accepting videos or appearing in segments were Ma Rainey’s director and Broadway legend George C. Wolfe, Welcome to Chechnya director David France, Nomadland producers Peter Spears and author Jessica Bruder, Turner Classic Movies host Jacqueline Stewart (trumpeting fall’s opening of A.M.P.A.S.®’s Academy Museum of Motion Pictures), and California Governor Gavin Newsom, who offered a special message to GALECA members as well as LGBTQs and allies in the entertainment community.

In perhaps the Wilde-est portion of the Toast, fun-loving entertainer Charo presented the Campiest Flick honors with her usual gusto—and Rachel McAdams, star of the winning title, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, popped up to accept with a knowing wink. Her costar Will Ferrell, she kidded, considers the movie “as a serious drama, a thespian’s opus, so he might be a little pissed.” Not to be outdone, celebrity impressionist extraordinaire Chad Michaels (RuPaul’s Drag Race) evinced his favorite stars, from Joan Crawford to Cher.

Among the presenters helping raise the proverbial glass in the special: Sex and the City favorite Cynthia Nixon, actor Jharrel Jerome (Moonlight, Concrete Cowboy), comedian Margaret Cho, Rosanna Arquette (Pulp Fiction, Crash), Harry Hamlin (the groundbreaking gay romance Making Love), acclaimed newcomer Danielle Zalopany (Waikiki), director Andrew Ahn (Driveways, Spa Night), Brad Rowe (the cult classic Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss), Rafael Silva (TV’s 9-1-1: Lone Star), Peter Kim (The Forty-Year-Old Version), writer-comic Bruce Vilanch, and satirist Deven Green.

Even GALECA members got the star treatment in the special, which included a half-hour pre-show. A couple dozen critics and journalists from the group discussed the nominees in choice categories, while groundbreaking media fixtures Jane Velez-Mitchell, Judy Wieder, Bobby Rivers and legendary film critic Kevin Thomas—all on the Society’s Advisory Board—shared thoughts on some of their all-time favorite films.

Yet another highlight: Singer Morgan Mallory also performed an original song, “Look Into The Light,” a tribute to the power of film written and composed by Karel and Mallory.

The Dorians Film Toast 2021 is currently available on-demand on Revry including The Roku Channel, Samsung TV Plus, Comcast Xfinity X1, Cox, Distro TV, Plex, Galaxy TV, Local Now, VIZIO, Zapping TV, STIRR, TiVo, and LGBTQ+ virtual reality channel on RAD available on PlayStation devices.

The show was also co-written and executive produced by Karel, and coproduced by Brandon Riley Miller (“Life in Segments,” “High”) and John Griffiths for GALECA.

See DoriansToast.com and GALECA.org for more information.

COMPLETE LIST OF DORIAN FILM AWARD WINNERS (noted in bold)

Best Film

FIRST COW

MINARI

NOMADLAND

PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

SOUND OF METAL

Best LGBTQ Film

AMMONITE

THE BOYS IN THE BAND

I CARRY YOU WITH ME

MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM

SUPERNOVA

UNCLE FRANK

Best Non-English Language Film

ANOTHER ROUND

BACURAU

I CARRY YOU WITH ME

LA LLORONA

MINARI

TWO OF US

Best Director

CHLOÉ ZHAO, NOMADLAND

EMERALD FENNELL, PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

KELLY REICHARDT, FIRST COW

LEE ISAAC CHUNG, MINARI

REGINA KING, ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI

Best Screenplay (original or adapted)

CHLOÉ ZHAO, NOMADLAND

ELIZA HITTMAN, NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS

EMERALD FENNELL, PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

LEE ISAAC CHUNG, MINARI

RADHA BLANK, THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION

Best Unsung Film – Presented by Stoli®

DRIVEWAYS

FIRST COW

THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION

MISS JUNETEENTH

NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS

SHIRLEY

THE ASSISTANT

Best Documentary (tie)

COLLECTIVE

CRIP CAMP

DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD

DISCLOSURE

TIME

WELCOME TO CHECHNYA

Best LGBTQ Documentary (tie)

A SECRET LOVE

BORN TO BE

DISCLOSURE

MUCHO MUCHO AMOR: THE LEGEND OF WALTER MERCADO

WELCOME TO CHECHNYA

Best Film Performance — Actress

CAREY MULLIGAN, PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

FRANCES MCDORMAND, NOMADLAND

NICOLE BEHARIE, MISS JUNETEENTH

SIDNEY FLANIGAN, NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS

VIOLA DAVIS, MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM

Best Film Performance — Actor

ANTHONY HOPKINS, THE FATHER

CHADWICK BOSEMAN, MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM

DELROY LINDO, DA 5 BLOODS

RIZ AHMED, SOUND OF METAL

STEVEN YEUN, MINARI

Best Film Performance — SUPPORTING Actress

AMANDA SEYFRIED, MANK

CANDICE BERGEN, LET THEM ALL TALK

MARIA BAKALOVA, BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM

OLIVIA COLMAN, THE FATHER

YUH-JUNG YOUN, MINARI

Best Film Performance — SUPPORTING Actor

CHADWICK BOSEMAN, DA 5 BLOODS

DANIEL KALUUYA, JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

LESLIE ODOM JR., ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI

PAUL RACI, SOUND OF METAL

SACHA BARON COHEN, THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

Most Visually Striking Film 

BIRDS OF PREY (AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN)

MANK

NOMADLAND

SOUL

WOLFWALKERS

Campiest Flick

BAD HAIR

BIRDS OF PREY (AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN)

EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA

THE PROM

WONDER WOMAN 1984

“We’re Wilde About You!” Rising Star Award

ALAN S. KIM

KINGSLEY BEN-ADIR

MARIA BAKALOVA

RADHA BLANK

SIDNEY FLANIGAN

Wilde Artist Award

(to a truly groundbreaking force in entertainment)

CHADWICK BOSEMAN

CHLOÉ ZHAO

DOLLY PARTON

ELLIOT PAGE

REGINA KING

GALECA Trailblazer Award (Special Board-picked accolade)

For creating art that inspires empathy, truth and equity

ISABEL SANDOVAL

Timeless Star

Honoring an actor or performer whose exemplary career has been marked by character, wisdom and wit

LESLIE JORDAN

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Michael Kearns, the Godfather of LGBTQ+ authenticity

Michael’s work has been described as “collisions of sex and death, of eroticism and grief,” but he has truly dug to an even deeper level

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Michael Kearns by Keida Mascaro

HOLLYWOOD – The arc of LGBTQ+ history over the past 50 years has been one of constant upheaval and evolvement. From a period when it was both illegal and insane to be gay, through the achievement of being able to serve openly in the military, to marriage equality and the ability to create families to today’s fight against the tyranny against Trans people, the movement has not stopped to take a breath.

Michael Kearns, the first recognized “out” actor on the Hollywood landscape, has been a visible presence through it all. More importantly, he has always” been visible on the gay scene. In the seventies he epitomized the free love and erotic freedom that many gay men lived. He was featured in classic gay porn movies and did a PR stint as the face of the “happy hustler.”  

“That was my introduction to a lot of people,” Michael told me when we sat down for a chat on Rated LGBT Radio. “I kind of captured the zeitgeist of the times, the freewheeling seventies. We forget that there was that period of time when sexuality was joyful and exciting and thrilling.”

In the eighties he was visible in mainstream media as a gay man playing gay men characters. In 1983, Michael was cast in a minor role on the Cheers Emmy winning episode “the Boys in the Bar.”  He was instantly recognized for his gay sexual iconic status by LGBTQ audiences, even though the population at large did not know who he was. The casting director who fought for his casting was Stephen Kolzak, who would himself become a prominent AIDS activist before he died at 37 in 1990. Stephen casted Michael to make a statement. He wanted to signal to the LGBTQ community that Cheers had our backs. “He was one of the only ones that had the guts,” Michael remembers.

“There were a lot of stereotypes in television regarding gay portrayals. I was pegged and cast in some of those roles. I did play the stereotype, but rather than a straight guy playing those roles, I brought authenticity. I was real. Straight guys playing gay would always spoof the role. They were always ‘winking’ and signaling to the camera ‘I am not really that way.’  So, the performances are by in large horrible, even with some academy award winners. The actors were constantly saying that it was not who they were—if they weren’t making that clear on the talk shows, they were doing it in the performance itself.’ Michael says.

Michael soon morphed into an HIV positive man playing HIV positive characters, while off camera becoming a visible and vocal AIDS activist. “It was a new kind of cliché. They had to always make me look horrible. The ghastlier the better. They could not have an HIV character who looked normal—as I did when I arrived at the set. Finally, I had enough and refused to do that anymore.” Michael then immersed himself in theater where he found greater character honesty and truth.

 As gay men captured their identities in the 90s as husbands and fathers, Michael was there too—becoming one of the first gay men to adopt a child.  It is that role, as a father, that Michael has said is his greatest.

Today, Michael has been a driving force behind QueerWise, a multigenerational writing collective and performance group. Through QueerWise, Michael gives poetic voice to talent that would otherwise be voiceless. Its members include published poets, writers of fiction and non-fiction, playwrights, singers, musicians, social activists, dancers, actors artists and teachers. 

This weekend, on Sunday October 17th, QueerWise launches its latest work, The Ache for Home. 

“The Ache for Home is a video presentation of heartfelt stories from formerly homeless/unhoused individuals in and around West Hollywood. It was developed through a mentorship program facilitated by QueerWise members. The production represents citizens-turned-writers who share their inspirational stories from those glamorous streets and sidewalks, ranging from soaring self-acceptance to narratives of truth-telling defeats,” states Michael. The production can be seen on QueerWise’s YouTube Channel starting 5pm October 17.

The Ache for Home features a young cis male with a passion for music and art, who finds joy “when I can put a smile on someone’s face and give back”, a retired mixed race bisexual government worker who is a voracious reader and literacy advocate, two trans males share their experiences of living on the street, and a former resident playwright who was homeless for 44 days and nights in the city. “I am thrilled at our inclusion of transmen in this work,” Michael says. “It is a poorly represented community within a poorly represented community.”

On current controversies with media and transgender targeting, particularly the Dave Chappelle issue, Michael remarks, “I am glad it is generating passion. It is bringing up conversation on the plights of black trans women who are victimized at an alarming rate, we should not say victimized… we should say murdered. I am glad we are shedding light on that.”

Michael’s work has been described as “collisions of sex and death, of eroticism and grief,” but he has truly dug to an even deeper level. The Ache for Home takes its inspiration from the Maya Angelou quote, “The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” Michael Kearns work has always encouraged us to go, and live, “as we are.” He is the amalgamation of eroticism, grief, healing, and appreciating the richness of life itself.

He is the godfather of LGBT+ authenticity. In earlier days, he may have represented sex, he may have walked us through a period of darkness and death into the arms of the creation of the new family. He has now brought us home, and when we look at him, we see a new quality.

Wisdom.

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

Rob Watson is the host of RATED LGBT RADIO, a national podcast and he’s one of the founders of the evolequals.com.

A gay dad, business man, community activist and a blogger/writer, Watson is a contributor to the Los Angeles Blade covering entertainment, film, television, and culture with occasional politics tossed in.

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

Listen to the show here:

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Schock treatment: an interview with Gina Schock of the Go-Go’s

Drummer on her new book and upcoming Hall of Fame induction

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Too much of the Go-Go’s is never enough. In the 40 years since the all-female punk band burst on the scene with its unforgettable debut album “Beauty and the Beat” to some of the band members’ solo careers that followed its break-up to its ongoing reunion and the eye-opening 2020 documentary about the band, we just can’t get our fill. 

But wait, there’s more! Gina Schock, the Go-Go’s legendary drummer (she’s got the beat!), has just published a sensational coffee-table book, “Made In Hollywood: All Access with the Go-Go’s” (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2021) that features photos from Schock’s own stock, as well as her own personal recollections of her life in music. She made time for an interview before the publication of the book as well as the Go-Go’s long-awaited induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later this month.

GREGG SHAPIRO/WASHINGTON BLADE: I’d like to begin by congratulating you, as well as the rest of the Go-Go’s, on your upcoming induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. How do you feel about it?

GINA SCHOCK: It took so long for this to happen, and at first we were sort of like, “Hell’s bells! We don’t even care anymore.” Every year, we’d think “Maybe it’s gonna happen next year,” and it just wasn’t happening. Then it happens! We were all dumbfounded. We couldn’t really believe that we were nominated and then we got inducted! Everybody was pleasantly surprised. This is kind of great, kind of neat. I’m really happy about this now [laugh].

BLADE: At the same time, your memoir “Made in Hollywood: All Access with the Go-Go’s,” is being released. What did the experience of writing such a book mean to you?

SCHOCK: Actually, Gregg, it’s not a memoir. Kathy (Valentine) wrote a memoir. Mine is actually a book of photography.

BLADE: Right, but you also tell your story in the book.

SCHOCK: There’s a lot of writing in it, too. But I basically put this together because I had tons and tons of photographs. I’ve been moving them all over. Putting them in the closet here, under the bed there. I was like, “I have to do something with this. All these years of taking photos of the band.” Of course, everybody in the band was like. “Gina, you really need to put a photo book together!” I finally found the right guy to do it with and he helped me get it together, organize it, and help me work on the book. I couldn’t believe that along with the list of my credits will be photographer and author. It’s kind of mind-blowing. Things that you don’t think you’re capable of, and then when you have an opportunity to do something and maybe make a difference…certainly for The Go-Go’s. This needed to be out there. This is way long overdue; a book of photos with all of us. Photos that I’ve had that people have never seen. Also, you’re getting these photos from a band member’s perspective. With writing from one of the band members about what was going on during that period of time.

BLADE: I’m sure that looking at the pictures brought back lots of memories, but were you also a journal or diary keeper?

SCHOCK: Check this out! I don’t have a journal, but since 1978, Gregg, I have been keeping daily planners every single year. I’ve written down things that were going on during that time period. Not big, long stories, but this happened today, that happened yesterday, next week we’re going to be doing this. I used that as my reference. It was invaluable in the process. I now need to make room for them in the closet. I’ve got them all in drawers in cabinets in my office. It’s like, “OK, there’s no more room here [laughs]!” They were invaluable, like I said, in putting this together. What exact date did this happen? What was going on in November of ’83? It was important to have.

BLADE: Do you see the book as an extension of Alison Ellwood’s 2020 Go-Go’s documentary?

SCHOCK: No, but I’ll tell you that 99% of the photos in Alison’s documentary are mine.

It’s not an extension of that. This book has been in the works for decades. I just needed to find the right person to help me get it together. But when Alison was interviewing, I’d show her a photo and she would say, “Gina, can we come back and get some of these photos for the documentary?” I was like, “Of course, you can!” The majority of what you saw are my photos.

BLADE: The book is full of marvelous personal history details, such as performing with the late Edith Massey, known to many from her performances in some of John Waters’ movies. What do you think Edie would think of the book?

SCHOCK: She would be, [imitating Massey] “Oh, Gina, I’m so happy about your book! Finally, it’s about time!” Bless her heart and soul. I was doing an interview yesterday and I said, “If it wasn’t for Edie, I don’t know if The Go-Go’s would exist. Certainly not in the way that they have for the last more than 40 years. Things happen in a magical way, how it all comes together. No one really knows why somebody meets someone on that particular day at that particular time, and then something comes out of that that you can’t believe. Edie gave me the opportunity to come out to LA and San Francisco and New York and actually play in clubs. We got to play at Max’s Kansas City and CBGB’s; what a thrill that was. Then to come to LA and do three nights of the Nuart Theater and then play The Warfield up in San Francisco. That was the first time I’d ever been on a plane! After doing that with Edie, the minute I got back to Baltimore I realized it was time to make a move. It gave me the courage to believe that I could go back to any one of these places and I’m going to do something! By the way, Edie was such a lovely person. A sweetheart.

BLADE: Another scoop for the readers that I loved was the part about the Go-Go’s performing with ska in the early 1980s, leading to the collaboration with Terry Hall on the song “Our Lips are Sealed,” which was a much bigger hit for the Go-Go’s than for Terry’s band Fun Boy Three. Do you know how he felt about that?

SCHOCK: I have no idea how he felt, but I’m sure he was happy because all Terry Hall  was hearing was “ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching [laughs].” I think Terry was quite happy about that. I would be. When Jane brought in the song, she was scared to death to play it for us because it was basically like a love letter that she readjusted a little bit lyrically and put some chords and a melody to. She played it for us, and we were like, “Jane, this song’s great!”

BLADE: We are all saddened by the recent passing of Charlie Watts, drummer for the Rolling Stones. In your book, you wrote about the Go-Go’s opening for The Rolling Stones. Can you please say a few words about what Charlie meant to you as a fellow drummer?

SCHOCK: There were two drummers that were my heroes growing up. That was Charlie Watts and John Bonham (of Led Zeppelin). Those two guys are part of the reason I started and kept playing drums. To think that many years later I actually got to meet my hero and talk to him. I got to sit on his drum kit! I talked to his drum tech!

That was one of the biggest thrills of my life. Then to be able to just open for the Stones, I mean, God! Wow, what a thrill! He was, of course, a gentleman. Very quiet kind of guy; soft-spoken. A lovely guy; very personable, very sweet. I didn’t have a lot of time to talk to him, but when I did my heart was pounding. I couldn’t believe it. Meeting David Bowie was the same sort of thing. You have such adoration for these people. The impact they have on your life in many ways, not just musically.

BLADE: You put some personal thoughts and experiences in the book, including your open-heart surgery to correct an atrial septal defect, yours and the band’s encounters with drugs and recovery, the break-up of the band and issues with songwriting revenue. Was it painful or freeing to revisit these subjects?

SCHOCK: It was a little bit of both. It brought up some really heavy things that went down. But all those things have been ironed out and taken care of. Everything is good now and it has been for many years. The songwriting splits were a big part of why the band broke up. It seemed very unfair to me. I have to tell the truth [laughs]. I have to be honest with the people that I’m working with. They are my family, and nobody can hurt you worse than somebody in your family. I think I explained it all in the book the best that I can.

BLADE: Following the original break-up of the Go-Go’s, you formed the band House of Schock with Vance DeGeneres, brother of Ellen DeGeneres. What are the chances that, aside from the Smothers Brothers, two funny people would come from the same womb?

SCHOCK: Yeah, right [laughs]? It’s crazy, right? Vance was fresh out of New Orleans and I don’t know how I met him; (through) a friend of a friend or something. We hit it off right away. I don’t like to do anything by myself, Gregg. I always want a partner in crime. I like a team! That’s why I always want to be in a band. I never want to be a solo anything. I like being in a band. I like having other people to bounce ideas off of. I’m not the greatest at anything, but I’m pretty good when you put me with somebody else who’s talented as well. Vance and I worked great together. Ellen had just come to town and she was just starting out in the comedy clubs. We’d meet and have dinner. She’d ask me lots of questions about who I thought was a good agent to see. It was very sweet to watch everything happen for her. One of the funniest things, I told this to somebody the other day, I’ll never forget this. Ellen said to me, “Gina, do you think if I make a lot of money one day, would you sell me your house [laughs]?” I don’t remember what I said, but I’ll never forget her asking me that. Because Ellen could buy a city block!

BLADE: In 2018, the Go-Go’s went to Broadway with the musical Head Over Heels, featuring the band’s music. What was that experience like for you?

SCHOCK: That was another unbelievable moment being in the Go-Go’s. To think that this punk band, so many years later, has a musical on Broadway is absurd. But it happened! It’s another crazy thing that just happened! There’s a lot of work involved, don’t get me wrong, and years and years of being in this band and working our butts off to achieve the status that we have in the industry. But it was still an incredible thrill. To meet all the Broadway actors and all, my God, those people can really sing and act! I was never a big fan of Broadway, but I am now. I was knocked out! They’re so fucking talented. It’s such a thrill to watch them interpreting our songs woven into this 17th-century short story.

BLADE: Recently, Belinda’s son (James) Duke (Mason), posted a happy birthday message to you on social media in which he referred to you as his “Auntie.”

SCHOCK: Yes! I love Dukie! I watched that little boy grow up. I just adore him. I will always be in his life. He’s very precious to me.

BLADE: When Duke came out, Belinda became a very outspoken advocate for the community. Would you mind saying a few words about your connection to the LGBTQ+ community?

SCHOCK: I don’t know what my relationship really is. All I know is that I’m who I am. I’m a musician and I will fight for anything or anybody that has had a difficult time in society. Just live your life. Society creates its own do’s and don’ts and rights and wrongs for people, which is just a load of crap to me. Everyone should be allowed to be who they are, and love who they want to love, and marry who they want to marry. Love is love; it has no gender. It’s the most important thing we can give to one another. It’s what this world needs now more than ever. Never think for a second you haven’t got the right to love whomever you fall for because love is always right. It is a human right! 

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Everything you need to know about WorldPride 2021

Party in Scandinavia with the happiest people on Earth

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Confetti rained down in New York’s Times Square at Stonewall 50 WorldPride New York’s closing ceremony two years ago. (Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

By Mikey Rox| NEW YORK – It’s been two years since Stonewall 50 – WorldPride NYC 2019 became the largest international Pride celebration in history, but the “bye” year of 2020 wasn’t due to the pandemic. 

The global celebration has been held every odd-numbered year since 2017 given its massive logistical undertaking (with sporadic celebrations in 2006, 2012 and 2014 before then), and WorldPride Copenhagen – Malmö 2021 couldn’t have come at a better time. 

Hundreds of thousands of cooped-up queer revelers and allies will flock to the twin host cities in Denmark and Sweden, respectively, from Aug. 12-22, to party with the happiest people on the planet, a delightful distinction provided to the Scandinavian countries by the United Nations’ famous World Happiness Report. (The United States ranked No. 19 in the most recent report, FYI.) 

So what’s in store for this year’s all-out progressive-flag-flying festival? Read on for more.

Two LGBTQ anniversaries in Denmark

If you can believe it, it’s been 70 years since Danish doctors in 1951 performed the world’s first successful genital reconstruction surgery, a medical marvel that provided hope to transgender people the world over. This year is also the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Gay Liberation Front’s Danish chapter, which has been instrumental in blazing trails toward equality for the country. Look how far it’s come.

Opening ceremonies kick off in Copenhagen

In conjunction with Copenhagen Pride, WorldPride will officially start late afternoon on Aug. 13, but in adherence with COVID-19 protocols the opening ceremony won’t be held in WorldPride Square (at least not as of press time; things could – and probably will – change). That potential snafu notwithstanding, Denmark welcomes vaccinated U.S. travelers, and if any testing is needed, both PCR and antigen tests will be available free to everyone, including tourists, 24/7. Copenhagen is OPENhagen again.

WorldPride Square will be open for the rest of the fest

WorldPride Square, a makeshift village of sorts (similar to the Olympics) located within Copenhagen’s main square, will provide a gathering place for all attendees that have traveled far and wide. LGBTQ+ and non-governmental organizations spanning the globe will set up shop in the square to greet pedestrians, provide information, and invite folks to get involved. Art exhibits also will be a centerpiece of the village, alongside a street-food market and bars with plenty of space to relax. 

EuroGames will be held simultaneously

If you enjoy watching athletes compete in variety of sports that range from boxing and badminton to dancing and dodgeball, add the spectator-friendly EuroGames to your list of to-dos while you’re in Copenhagen. If you want to get hands-on, consider signing up to become a volunteer at the games, to be held Aug. 18-20; EuroGames’ website is currently accepting those applications. 

Spread out and explore other WorldPride villages

While WorldPride Square will serve as the jump-off for the 10 days of festivities, other available villages will allow crowds to spread out and explore their individual interests. In addition to Sports Village for EuroGames athletes and fans, other villages will focus on kids and families, youth, women, and the queer community, among others. Programs and content of these villages will be target-audience specific but open to everyone.

You might have a brush with royalty

Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark, Countess of Monpezat, is patron of Copenhagen 2021, making her the first-ever royal to serve in the role for a major LGBTQ+ event. Say hi if you spot her; she knows a queen when she sees one.

Despite pandemic protocol, the show will go on

Organizers have said in an official statement that despite some COVID-19 restrictions, they’re “continuing to plan for full delivery of all Copenhagen 2021 events taking into account the guidance and recommendations” of government agencies. Doubling down, organizers have promised they will not cancel or postpone events. 

Now there’s only one thing left to do: Let’s go!

Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT 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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