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Hate group attacks Muppets- Out journalist looks back at Muppet history

Seattle based Out journalist Matt Baume ran a story detailing some of the rich history of LGBTQ+ culture and influences on the popular Muppets

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Out journalist Matt Baume on pioneering gay Muppeteer Richard Hunt (Screenshot via YouTube)

SEATTLE – In a rather predictable fashion this past week a subset component of the Tupelo, Mississippi based self-labeled conservative Christian family values organization, the American Family Association, (AFA), which is listed as an anti-LGBTQ extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, (SPLC), attacked the Disney Junior show, the Muppets babies.

The AFA’s ‘One Million Moms’ led by Monica Cole took aim at Disney Junior on the group’s website and their Facebook page decrying what the group sees as “LGBTQ indoctrination” of children.

“Disney Junior has really outdone itself recently, this time pushing the LGBTQ agenda on children as young as toddler age. All parents should be aware of Muppet Babies and its Season 3 Episode 37. The July 23 episode, titled “Gonzo-rella,” features a male main character cross-dressing.”

From One Million moms website

Although OMM has just over 4,100 Twitter followers, and 102,969 people like their Facebook page, LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD has speculated that the organization could be even smaller than that.

“This is outrageous that Disney Junior is normalizing gender dysphoria to young children. With such a liberal push in children’s entertainment, it is obvious where Disney Junior stands. Parents who are not already aware of the network’s agenda, please be forewarned now. This program makes it clear that Disney Junior has an LGBTQ agenda that it is forcing on extremely young audiences.

Take Action

Sign the Disney Junior pledge stating you and your family will no longer support Disney nor watch Muppet Babies as long as it veers away from family-friendly entertainment. And please share this with your friends and family.”

FROM ONE MILLION MOMS WEBSITE

Disney ran a trailer on YouTube but has turned off commenting.

Against this backdrop of anti-LGBTQ angst, Seattle based Out journalist Matt Baume, a popular YouTube creator whose channel is akin to a queer version of the storied CBS News episodic segments of ”On The Road’ with Steve Hartman, last month ran a story detailing some of the rich history of LGBTQ+ culture and influences on the popular Muppet creations of Jim Henson and his band of merry puppeteer’s.

“For over sixty years The Muppets have been entertaining kids and adults alike. You probably know their creator, Jim Henson, who brought everyone together, and you might be familiar with Frank Oz, Jim’s close collaborator. But there’s another Muppet performer you might NOT know — part of the core group who was there from almost the very beginning, and in the 1970s became one of the most famous gay men in the world… who nobody recognized,” Baume reported.

Richard Hunt: The Gay Man Behind the Muppets

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Sports

Sweat for a cause: OUT Foundation partners with local gyms

In L.A. and nationwide applications now open for fitness spaces to join network welcoming out LGBTQ+ athletes

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Courtesy of The OUT Foundation

NEW YORK — Whether they are out or closeted, members of the LGBTQ+ community often struggle to find a place where they feel comfortable working out, as many gyms and fitness-based businesses tend to be hetero-normative and mostly cisgender-oriented. The OUT Foundation, based in New York City, seeks to change that. 

Applications opened Tuesday for LGBTQ+ friendly fitness centers to join its already large network of partner gyms, coast to coast, including more than 15 in Southern California, from Burbank to San Diego and from Santa Monica to San Bernardino. 

“Members of the LGBTQ+ community want a space to feel like themselves and not worry about the danger of wearing a rainbow shirt, bringing their partner, or using the restroom they want in gyms,” the organization says on its website. 

The group’s mission, according to its website, is “to remove the barriers that block LGBTQ+ individuals’ from access and participation in fitness, health, and wellness, ensuring their success.” 

The group got its start in 2011 by hosting the first “OUTWOD” gay CrossFit meetup in New York City. Its OUTAthlete Program, sponsored by the athletic wear company Puma, facilitates free, year-long gym memberships for LGBTQ+ young adults between the ages of 18 and 32. Already, the program has helped more than 50 athletes in 32 cities. 

OUTAthletes also receive a 30% discount on branded OUT Foundation apparel, access to a networking group of the 27 current OUTAthletes as well as former members, gifts from participating sponsors, monthly educational sessions, and more. 

The Out Foundation’s Inclusive Fitness Finder is an online tool that provides locations in the nationwide network. To be placed on the map, fitness spaces must raise more than $250 by hosting an OUTAthletics event and meet other requirements. 

Tina Weaver, who took over as executive director in April, outlined at that time their goals in leading the organization. “We are introducing programs that will assist in breaking down the systemic divide of health and wellness for the LGBTQ+ community,” they said. “The OUT Foundation is needed more than ever.” 

Interested business can email the Out Foundation’s director of community and partner engagement, Karina Damiani, at karina@theoutfoundation.org for information on becoming a partner gym.

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Sports

End of an era: Megan Rapinoe ends her USWNT career

The two-time World Cup winner and Olympian will finish with Seattle’s OL Reign- As for Sunday’s game, Rapinoe played 54 minutes

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Megan Rapinoe lines up a shot in her final match playing for the U.S. Women’s National Team. (Screenshot/YouTube USWNT)

CHICAGO — The final score was United States 2, South Africa 0. But Team USA’s victory in Sunday’s international friendly was not as significant to the country or to the world as the loss of out gay soccer icon Megan Rapinoe, who played her final match for the U.S. Women’s National Team. 

“To have this night come and to actually feel it and see it from my teammates and from our staff and certainly from the fans, really, it was very special,” Rapinoe told the Washington Post. For this final match, she donned the former captain once again donned the captain’s armband.

The legend walks away from the USWNT at age 38, 17 years and 63 days after her Team USA career began. Sunday marked her 203rd appearance, with a total of 63 goals scored, 73 assists, two World Cup trophies, an Olympic gold medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, not to mention several hair colors. 

And Rapinoe didn’t just score on the pitch, but also led a successful fight for pay equity with the U.S. Mens National Team, as well as being an outspoken advocate for human rights and transgender equality. 

Following the win at Soldier Field, with her fiancée Sue Bird and family among the 25-thousand fans in attendance, the soccer federation paid tribute to Rapinoe with a video.  

“I felt like I was able to grow up in front of you,” she said during a tear-filled address to the crowd. “It has been such an honor to wear this shirt and play out my childhood dream.” 

It seemed fitting that Rapinoe should wrap up her USWNT career in the Windy City, having once played for the Chicago Red Stars, as well as the Philadelphia Independence, MagicJack, Sydney FC, Seattle Sounders Women, Olympique de Lyon, and currently for Seattle’s OL Reign. The team will commemorate Rapinoe’s incredible career at its final match of the regular season at Lumen Field on Oct. 6 against the Washington Spirit.

As for Sunday’s game, Rapinoe played 54 minutes, and although she did not score a goal or an assist, she came mighty close. 

Four minutes into the second half, Rapinoe’s corner kick was returned by South Africa;s goalkeeper but USA’s Emily Sonnett scored with her head. Although Rapinoe set up the goal, she wasn’t awarded an assist since the ball had been deflected. 

Sonnett leaped into Rapinoe’s arms and teammates joined the group hug. They then backed away to allow Rapinoe to strike her famous arms outstretched stance, one last time.

A few minutes later, Rapinoe’s 25-yard free kick sailed just inches too high and rode the top of the net, denying the champion one final goal. 

“I almost got one,” Rapinoe said. “So close. Damn.”

But if there was any doubt Rapinoe felt her work on the field mattered more than what she and her teammates had accomplished off of it, she told reporters at a news conference Saturday that is what she remains most proud of. 

“By a mile,” she said, smiling.

USWNT vs. South Africa: Highlights – September 24, 2023:

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Sports

Conn. Sun torch NY Liberty in game 1 of WNBA semifinals

The Sun are led by Out lesbian & coach of the year, Stephanie White. Game 2 of the WNBA Semifinals pit the Sun against the Liberty Sept. 26

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Connecticut Sun Forward Alyssa Thomas & teammates celebrate their win over New York Liberty in game 1 of WNBA semifinals. (Screenshot/YouTube WNBA)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Despite going 0-4 against the New York Liberty during the 2023 season, the red-hot Connecticut Sun burned their way to a win Sunday at the Barclays Center. 

The victory comes just one week after the WNBA named Sun Coach Stephanie White its 2023 Coach of the Year, and two weeks after receiving the same honor from the Associated Press

The out lesbian is in her first year as coach of the Connecticut team. White has been outspoken as an LGBTQ+ advocate and as the wife of Michelle Fletcher, with whom she is raising three children. 

In Sunday’s game, DeWanna Bonner — who got engaged to teammate Alyssa Thomas back in July — carried the Sun in Game 1, repeating her stellar performance in the previous round’s decisive Game 3 against the Minnesota Lynx, to once again lead Connecticut to victory.

Bonner scored 15 points in the second half on Sunday, notching seven of those in the fourth quarter, and finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists, one steal and three blocks, ensuring her team a chance to take home-court advantage later on in the series.

With six field goals made in the game, Bonner moved into fourth all-time in WNBA postseason history, with 362. Her fiancé, Alyssa Thomas, moved into ninth all-time in assists in WNBA postseason history with 10 assists in the game for a total of 213.

Rebecca Allen finished with a postseason career-high 18 points, along with seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks.

Connecticut shot 44.9% on the day, while holding New York to just 33.8. 

Game 2 of the WNBA Semifinals pit the Sun against the Liberty on Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 8:00 PM EDT at Barclays Center.

Connecticut Sun vs. New York Liberty | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | September 24, 2023:

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Movies

Bernal shines as real-life gay wrestler in ‘Cassandro’

A polished, engaging film about a real-life figure that carries message of hope

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Gael García Bernal in ‘Cassandro.’ (Photo courtesy of Prime Video)

For most Americans, any knowledge of the Mexican wrestling style known as lucha libre is probably limited to what they gleaned from the 2006 Jack Black comedy “Nacho Libre,” which (it should go without saying) is not a movie that anyone should consider “factual.”

Now another movie about the subject has arrived, and this time it’s not an anything-for-a-laugh fantasy but a biopic about a real luchador who rose to international fame in the 1980s and remains one of the most celebrated and popular figures in Mexican professional wrestling to this day.

The luchador in question is Saúl Armendáriz – better known to his fans as “Cassandro” – and the eponymously titled movie about his ascendency begins streaming on Amazon Prime Video Sept. 22 after a limited theatrical release on Sept. 15.

Directed by Roger Ross Williams (who may not be a household name but has the distinction of being the first Black director to receive an Oscar, thanks to the 2009 win of his “Music by Prudence” for Best Documentary Short), “Cassandro” stars Gael García Bernal – a longtime ally who became a queer fan-favorite thanks to his work in films like “Y tu mamá también” and “Bad Education” – as the openly gay Armendáriz and tells the story of his rise to fame in direct defiance of the culturally reinforced homophobia that permeated the professional environment of his field. Set in the 1980s, it follows the future superstar from the early days of his career, tracing his steps as he forges a path to success as an exótico – a wrestler who assumes a flamboyant persona based in queer (and largely homophobic) stereotypes – while simultaneously rising above the stigma of his sexuality and his impoverished upbringing to become a pioneering force in LGBTQ+ acceptance within the deeply traditional Latino culture to which he belonged.

Like most biopics, it also focuses on the personal: much of the film’s first half is dominated by the relationship between Armendáriz and his mother, Yocasta (Perla De La Rosa), a professional “good-time girl” whose acceptance of his queer identity is absolute yet tempered by her fear for his well-being. There is also a long-running thread about his desire for approval from his father – a married man with a “legitimate” family in which he is decidedly not included – and the pattern in his personal life of repeating that dynamic in romantic relationships with unavailable lovers like closeted big-name luchador “El Comandante” (Raúl Castillo) and an apparently fluid but firmly “on the DL” associate named Felipe (Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, aka Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny for those unfamiliar with his “real” name) who clearly meets more than just his need for a reliable supplier of cocaine – it is the ‘80s, after all – while maintaining a strict-if-not-quite-convincing “no homo” stance.

Ultimately, though, as presented by first-time narrative feature director Williams (who co-wrote the screenplay with David Teague after previously covering Armendáriz’ story in the 2016 documentary short “The Man Without a Mask”), “Cassandro” is driven by a narrative about overcoming and reclaiming the pejorative cultural tropes around queer sexuality and turning them on their ear as a means toward fully inhabiting queer identity. Blessed with a relatively supportive mother – a plainly-implied career sex worker who is depicted as much as a kindred spirit as she is a maternal figure – and comfortable enough in his own skin to flaunt his “deviance” in the public eye, the film’s version of Armendáriz moves through a clearly defined arc toward self-acceptance on his own terms.

Much of this is mirrored, of course, in the tale of his accelerated rise to stardom, in which he wins the hearts of lucha libre fans enough to subvert the accepted formula that the exótico is always the loser, and reinforced by the ways in which he responds to the various long-term relationships in his life – some nurturing, some toxic – as his career trajectory helps him to recognize his own worth. In this way, “Cassandro” becomes a true-life tale of queer affirmation, the saga of a person who overcomes hardline traditional expectations and deep-rooted social prejudice to use his own queer identity as an avenue to personal empowerment.

That, of course, is exactly what it sets out to be: it’s an unabashedly pro-queer narrative that brings the highest level of professional artistry into the mix, using it to convey that subtle blend of aloof observation and emotional engagement that can sometimes win viewers’ hearts and minds.

In recognition of that artistry, the foremost acknowledgement must go to Bernal, who turns in a career-highlight performance as both Armendáriz and his over-the-top titular alter-ego, which requires an impressive display of physicality in addition to keen emotional intelligence. The actor is more than capable on both fronts, and while it would frankly be nice to see one of our queer heroes portrayed in a mainstream film by an actual queer actor, it’s hard to complain when the actor is someone like Bernal, who finds within his own lived experience the authenticity to make it all ring true. Kudos are also deserved for both De La Rosa, who establishes an emotional core to the story that endures even after she leaves it, and openly-queer actor Roberta Colindrez as the trainer (and friend) that helps “Cassandro” conquer the world of professional lucha libre wrestling by literally flipping the script.

Still, though there is clearly a heartfelt desire to inspire behind the movie’s portrayal of its hero’s unlikely rise to glory, “Cassandro” doesn’t quite deliver the kind of unequivocal “feel-good” validation for which it aims. There’s something rote about the story as it’s told to us; Armendáriz’ success seems a foregone conclusion, and his personal struggles – though impeccably acted and depicted with sincerity – feel somehow manufactured for the sake of a desired emotional response. There’s a sense of “Hollywood” about the film’s approach, a deliberate framing of the material which makes this real-life success story seem much too easy, its subject’s struggles too much like tropes to deliver the kind of authentic satisfaction the movie clearly aims for. Built on familiar formula, it all feels a little too predictable – especially for a saga centered in such a messy, wild-and-wooly environment as professional lucha libre. Yes, it inspires, but much of that is accomplished by playing to sentiment, by what seems a deliberate effort toward building and reaffirming a legend rather than revealing the real human experience behind it, and many details of Armendariz’ real story are left out  – a suicide attempt, a struggle with substance abuse, even the origin of his iconic stage name as a tribute to a brothel-keeper of whom he was fond – that might have made for a less-sanitized and much more interesting story.

Such quibbles, however, are probably a moot point for most viewers; while “Cassandro” might feel a little too hollow to satisfy completely, it’s a polished, entertaining, and engaging film about a real-life figure that should – and does – carry a message of hope and transcendence for queer audiences.

Why would we ever complain about that?

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Books

New book goes behind the scenes of ‘A League of Their Own’

‘No Crying in Baseball’ offers tears, laughs, and more

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(Book cover image courtesy of Hachette Books)

‘No Crying in Baseball: The Inside Story of ‘A League of Their Own’
By Erin Carlson
c.2023, Hachette Books
$29/320 pages

You don’t usually think of Madonna as complaining of being “dirty all day” from playing baseball. But that’s what the legendary diva did during the shooting of “A League of Their Own,” the 1992 movie, beloved by queers.

“No Crying in Baseball,” the fascinating story behind “A League of Their Own,” has arrived in time for the World Series. Nothing could be more welcome after Amazon has cancelled season 2 of its reboot (with the same name) of this classic film.

In this era, people don’t agree on much. Yet, “A League of Their Own” is loved by everyone from eight-year-old kids to 80-year-old grandparents.

The movie has strikes, home runs and outs for sports fans; period ambience for history buffs; and tears, laughs and a washed-up, drunk, but lovable coach for dramady fans.

The same is true for “No Crying in Baseball.” This “making of” story will appeal to history, sports and Hollywood aficionados. Like “All About Eve” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “A League of Their Own” is Holy queer Writ.

Carlson, a culture and entertainment journalist who lives in San Francisco, is skilled at distilling Hollywood history into an informative, compelling narrative. As with her previous books, “I’ll Have What She’s Having: How Nora Ephron’s three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy” and “Queen Meryl: The Iconic Roles, Heroic Deeds, and Legendary Life of Meryl Streep,” “No Crying in Baseball,” isn’t too “educational.” It’s filled with gossip to enliven coffee dates and cocktail parties.

“A League of Their Own” is based on the true story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). From 1943 to 1954, more than 600 women played in the league in the Midwest. The league’s players were all white because the racism of the time prohibited Black women from playing. In the film, the characters are fictional. But the team the main characters play for – the Rockford Peaches – was real.

While many male Major and Minor League Baseball players were fighting in World War II, chewing gum magnate Philip K. Wrigley, who owned the Chicago Cubs, founded the league. He started the AAGPBL, “To keep spectators in the bleachers,” Carlson reports, “and a storied American sport–more important: his business afloat.” 

In 1943, the Office of War Information warned that the baseball season could be “scrapped” “due to a lack of men,” Carlson adds.

“A League of Their Own” was an ensemble of women’s performances (including Rosie O’Donnell as Doris, Megan Cavanagh as Marla, Madonna as Mae, Lori Petty as Kit and Geena Davis as Dottie) that would become legendary.

Girls and women  still dress up as Rockford Peaches on Halloween.

Tom Hanks’s indelible portrayal of coach Jimmy Dugan, Gary Marshall’s depiction of (fictional) league owner Walter Harvey and Jon Lovitz’s portrayal of Ernie have also become part of film history.

Filming “A League of Their Own,” Carlson vividly makes clear, was a gargantuan effort.  There were “actresses who can’t play baseball” and “baseball players who can’t act,” Penny Marshall said.

The stadium in Evansville, Ind., was rebuilt to look like it was in the 1940s “when the players and extras were in costume,” Carlson writes, “it was easy to lose track of what year it was.”

“No Crying in Baseball” isn’t written for a queer audience. But, Carlson doesn’t pull any punches. 

Many of the real-life AAGPBL players who O’Donnell met had same-sex partners, O’Donnell told Carlson.

“When Penny, angling for a broad box-office hit chose to ignore the AAGPGL’s queer history,” Carlson writes, “she perpetuated a cycle of silence that muzzled athletes and actresses alike from coming out on the wider stage.”

“It was, as they say, a different time,” she adds.

Fortunately, Carlson’s book isn’t preachy. Marshall nicknames O’Donnell and Madonna (who become buddies) “Ro” and “Mo.” Kodak is so grateful for the one million feet of film that Marshall shot that it brings in a high school marching band. Along with a lobster lunch. One day, an assistant director “streaked the set to lighten the mood,” Carlson writes.

“No Crying in Baseball,” is slow-going at first. Marshall, who died in 2018, became famous as Laverne in “Laverne & Shirley.” It’s interesting to read about her. But Carlson devotes so much time to Marshall’s bio that you wonder when she’ll get to “A League of Their Own.”

Thankfully, after a couple of innings, the intriguing story of one of the best movies ever is told.

You’ll turn the pages of “No Crying in Baseball” even if you don’t know a center fielder from a short stop.

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Celebrity News

Angelica Ross becomes latest Trans talent to choose advocacy over Hollywood bullsh*t

Ross is done. Done with Hollywood, done with us. She says “I’m moving back to Georgia to prepare to run for office

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Angelica Ross appearing on the Tamron Hall Show. (Screenshot/YouTube Tamron Hall Show)

HOLLYWOOD – Angelica Ross, Pose and American Horror Story star, appears set to chuck Hollywood’s fantasy horror stories for America’s REAL horror show…. Politics.

To quote the late Peter Finch of the yesteryear film about media, Network, she is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. She is not the first major transgender talent to do so either. Pose writer, director and producer Janet Mock also came out blazing against Hollywood with both guns a fire, “I am angry” she shouted in a speech she delivered at a Pose premiere party a few years back.  ““F–k Hollywood … Does this make you uncomfortable? It should. It should make you f–king shake in your motherf–king boots. This is speaking truth. This is what ‘Pose’ is.” She asserted about the lesser pay she received than other white producers. “It’s a show, but it means so much to everyone to ‘ensure that we enable black and brown trans women to make it’ because that sounds good. It makes you comfortable to talk like that because then I don’t scare you into facing the f–king truth. You all have stomped on us.”

One black trans woman who stood and cheered her on that night was Angelica Ross.

Ross speculated to The Hollywood Reporter that her spiritual support of Mock that night may have inspired bad blood with top boss Ryan Murphy. “I was in the audience, and I was standing up and supporting her and telling her vocally, ‘I’ve got your back.’ I’m not saying that I agree with the way that she did things, but I’m like, ‘Janet’s very smart. Why would she do something so dramatic?’ And I knew there had to be a reason. And when I talked to her, she told me, ‘Girl, you think this is the first time Ryan Murphy’s hearing me say any of this? I’ve said this all to him.”

Angelica Ross thought Murphy was going to be her hero. Instead, he turned out to be her ghost. She had pitched the idea of an AHS with an all black woman cast. He was on board and enthusiastic.

Until he wasn’t. Then he was gone, no explanation, and no renewal of her for a future season of AHS either.

As Ross tried to make sense, and capitalize on exercising power in Hollywood, (“What I witnessed — my eyes just bucked open. I just wasn’t sure what I was witnessing. I definitely was witnessing a lot of white men on set in kind of a white-male-dominated space”), she found herself embracing another power that was not so insanely confusing: advocacy.   ‘Ever since I’ve been on Pose, your white actors aren’t clocking in like we’re clocking in. We have to go out there now because Pose is this big show. And you’re saying that Pose is not just entertainment, it’s an act of advocacy. You’re not calculating that you have turned your actors also into advocates.”

So, with the ambition of an artist, and the integrity of an advocate, Ross observed the power brokering of those who might not have had power in the past: white women. She was both admiring, and appalled. “Somehow folks like Emma Roberts and others — I mean even Billie Lourd, but Billie Lourd I’m cool with — those girls were able to make moves on the set. They were able to open up their mouths and things moved. Sometimes I didn’t know if I was watching a mean girl or if I was just watching a woman standing up for herself.”

She took the observation to heart and stood up against transphobia and racism on the set. One incident was reportedly when Roberts mistook making a transphobic comment as an “innocent” attempt to be shady. Ross called her out on it. According to Ross, Roberts later regretted her behavior “Emma’s got big balls…This girl is no damsel in distress, ever” and she called to apologize. What ensued was a poignant discussion on what it means to be an “ally.”  Roberts earnestly told Ross she wanted to be one, and that she saw Ross’s advocacy. Ross responded, “You can’t call yourself an ally. It is an action. You need to be real with me in this conversation. I’m being real with you. You were being messy…Oh, so you see me? You see me talking about the anti-Blackness? Are you using your platform to amplify the work that I’m doing? No, you haven’t. So what kind of ally are you?” 

Mic drop.

Ross also found herself having to stand up against the harassment of a crew member who was frequently by her side sporting Trump-ian ilk racism including BUILD THAT WALL and I DON’T KNEEL. She put her foot down and demanded that director John Gray do something about it. Gray did something. He ran to HR,

As the bureaucrats poured though employment manuals trying to find the homogenous “make everyone happy” solution, Ross got pissed and posted about the situation on the X that used to be Twitter. This freaked everyone out, including Murphy himself, and they all demanded she take her post down. 

Clearly all involved were oblivious to the fact that they were suppressing Ross’s ”free speech” while ruminating over the “free speech” rights of the white dude grip on the set.

“I’ve dealt with this before. This is not my first time at the rodeo of dealing with that energy of white people who think that they are doing good but won’t check their own selves when someone Black or of the people they’re trying to help is telling them, ‘You have a blind spot” Ross says.

That is all in the past now though. Ross is done. Done with Hollywood, done with us. She tells the Hollywood Reporter, “I’m moving back to Georgia to prepare to run for office. I’ve been consulting with Renitta Shannon, a former Georgia state representative who also just recently ran for lieutenant governor. I go into candidate and campaign training next month. I have also been speaking with folks like Bruce Franks Jr., who is also a Black politician from Missouri who shook the table. So I’m fully walking away from Hollywood. But I’m always going to be who I am. You don’t have to be on TV to be a creative person, to live a creative life.”

So. A powerful actress got her feelings hurt, but may have learned how to be a better and true ally, and we all are waiting to see her prove it. A hugely powerful, talented and progressive media titan got spanked (again) and hopefully will cherish, elevate and value the well spring he heralded publicly: beautiful forthright trans women of color.

And an advocate burned in the capitalistic, transphobic, racist heat of American business has risen as a phoenix to become a professional powerful ADVOCATE, no more to fight using subtleties and stories, but to star as herself taking on the establishment head on.

That is a show we all need.

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

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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Events

Queerceañera: Celebrating LAtinx Heritage Month

Queerceañera is an inclusive take on the coming-of-age quinceañera tradition throughout Latin America and the United States

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Queerceañera hosted by RuPaul's Drag Race Season 15 alum, Salina EsTitties. (Photo-Graphic Credit: Los Angeles LGBT Center)

LOS ANGELES – Get Ready, LA! This September, the Center will host its inaugural Latinx Heritage Month commemoration with Queerceañera (queer-seh for short), an inclusive take on the coming-of-age quinceañera tradition throughout Latin America and the United States.

Hosted by RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15 alum, Salina EsTitties, our Queerce is a cultural summit and community cotillion rooted in accessibility and unbridled celebration; quinceañeras are often regarded as out-of-reach status symbols, and our event breaks the gender norms and structures of said celebrations. Both vibrant and bold, Queerce will spotlight LA’s richly diverse queer, Latinx diasporic experiences.

RuPaul’s Drag Race México host Valentina will be honored at the event, kicking off a year-long ambassadorship with the Center to uplift and support outreach within the Latinx community. She will sit down for a keynote conversation with Mexican-Native American entertainer, Miss Benny. The duo will be honored for their trailblazing work in entertainment as breakout, culture-shifting nonbinary and trans artists, respectively.

PROGRAM

● 5:30PM – Doors + Bars Open

● 6:00—7:15PM – Quince-style cocktail reception and a mixer in our courtyard, and then guests will be escorted into our Renberg Theatre.

● 7:15—8:30PM – Emceed by celebrity host Salina EsTitties, the stage program will consist of show stopping performances, special honoree presentation and keynote conversations with influential figures from the LAtinx community.

● 8:30—10:30PM – Tiempo de Vals — the post-program offers more cocktails and surprise live performance elements in the courtyard for guests to enjoy before dancing into the evening.

ASL provided for the program. Event venue is wheelchair accessible.

Date and time

Friday, September 29 · 5:30 – 10:30pm PDT

Location

The Village at Ed Gould Plaza1125 N McCadden Place Los Angeles, CA 90038

More event + special guest announcements coming soon!

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Celebrity News

Declared an Icon, John Waters gets Hollywood Walk of Fame Star

His first words as he ascended the podium for the Walk of Fame honor: “Here I am…closer to the gutter than ever”

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John Waters receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Screenshot/YouTube Variety)

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – Today, the famed Hollywood Walk of Fame became a little more rainbow than it had been before. With gilded star etchings depicting icons on every corner, the powers that be dedicated September 18th to a man who arguably helped thrust LGBTQ visibility into a culture that was probably not ready at the time to receive it. The modern-day fascists amongst us might even call him a “groomer.”

We call him John Waters.

Waters first arrived in Hollywood in 1970. He parked at Hollywood & Vine and received his first bit of Los Angeles recognition.

He got a jaywalking ticket.

Outspoken and brash, Waters introduced outsider culture and heralded gay and transgender visibility into American cinema when the Stonewall uprising was still a very recent memory. His 1972 film Pink Flamingos was brazenly transgender affirming. It powerfully and glamorously flew in the faces of audiences while trans people only faced marginalization and were stigmatized in the Nixon Viet Nam and Watergate era.

His film Hairspray was first a cult favorite and in later iterations, a hit Broadway musical, and a second mainstream hit movie. It featured LGBTQ characters and a leading character in drag. Waters has also written several LGBTQ themed books including Shock Value and Role Models.

Part of the charm of John Waters is his knack for not taking himself, or any of us, too seriously. His first words as he ascended the podium for the Walk of Fame honor: “Here I am…closer to the gutter than ever!”

“I hope the most desperate showbiz rejects walk over me here and feel some sort of respect and strength,” he said later paying tribute to his greatest inspirations: the underdogs.

Waters dedicated his star to his parents. Pat and John Waters, who had been horrified by his earliest films, but encouraged him to pursue Hollywood none-the-less.  “What else could I do?” he mused.

All in all, Waters was “astonished” over the tribute.  He thanked Outfest for sponsoring the event and for thinking he was “gay enough to receive it.”

Ever the director, and thinking ahead, he took a moment to make a recommendation for whom he thinks should be Hollywood Boulevard’s next star recipient:

 Divine.

Film critic and historian Leonard Maltin summed up John Waters this way: “John Waters is a national treasure, a unique and original voice in American cinema. His films are subversive, hilarious, and thought-provoking, and they have helped to change the way we think about outsider culture and LGBTQ+ representation.”

Now Waters has his day, and his star, immortalized forever on the famous Hollywood path. We can only hope his effect on American culture, where the “outsider” can stand tall, proves to be as solid.

John Waters Walk of Fame Ceremony:

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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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Movies

Despite Hollywood strikes, a number of queer films, TV shows coming in fall

‘Rustin,’ ‘Nyad’ among season’s highlights

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Colman Domingo starts in ‘Rustin.’ (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

We’re not going to lie: the prospects for our fall entertainment (and beyond) are looking grimmer than usual, thanks to the strikes that have Hollywood’s writers and actors off the job for an indefinite chunk of the future. Sure, there are lots of titles that were in the can and ready to go before the talent walked off the set, but with no certain end date in sight and a union-mandated ban on participation in publicity efforts, much of the ready-to-go content remains in release-date limbo, while prospects for new material being produced anytime soon are pretty much nil.

Even so, we’ve managed to put together a solid list of titles that are officially on the slate for this autumn, and we think it will give you more than enough to look forward to while we all wait for the entertainment industry to cobble together some kind of mutually acceptable agreement that will allow it to get back to work.

The list, by release date, is below.

Cassandro, Sept. 15 (Theaters)/Sept. 22 (Prime Video)

Mexican actor Gael García Bernal, long a queer fan favorite thanks to his roles in films like “Y tu mamá también” and “Bad Education,” stars as the real-life Saúl Armendáriz, a gay amateur wrestler from El Paso who reinvents himself as the flamboyant title character and rises to international stardom as the “Liberace of Lucha Libre” – turning both the macho wrestling world and his own life upside down in the process. Acquired by Amazon even before its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Festival, this wild-and-wooly biopic was directed by Roger Ross Williams, who became the first African-American director to win an Oscar for his 2009 short film “Music by Prudence,” and it has all the earmarks of a “must-see.” Also starring Roberta Colindrez, Perla de la Rosa, Joaquín Cosío, and Raúl Castillo, with special appearances from El Hijo del Santo and Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio (aka Bad Bunny, for those who didn’t know).

Sex Education, Season 4, Sept. 21 (Netflix)

The cast of this runaway UK hit has come a long way since the series debuted in 2019, with the imminent debut of breakout star Ncuti Gatwa as the new titular Time Lord of the venerable cult sci-fi series “Dr. Who” and his appearance, alongside co-stars Emma Mackey and Connor Swindells, in Greta Gerwig’s blockbuster hit “Barbie,” but that’s not enough to keep the whole student body from reuniting for a final season as they join fellow headliners Asa Butterfield and Gillian Anderson to wrap up the deliciously scandalous storylines that have made this good-natured dramedy about life and sexual discovery in a rural English secondary school a favorite for queer and straight audiences alike. Besides taking us along with its irresistible cast of misfits on a new set of adventures, it features “Schitt’s Creek” star and co-creator Dan Levy in special appearance as a new character – but even without that extra icing on the cake, we would have been ready to click “watch now” the second this one drops. If you’re already a fan, you don’t need our endorsement to bring you on board; if you’re not, we advise you to do a catch-up binge on seasons 1-3 in time to join the rest of us as we enjoy the final batch of episodes from this refreshing, queer-embracing, sex-positive slice of saucy absurdity. 

American Horror Story: Delicate, Sept. 21 (FX/Hulu)

Can Kim Kardashian act? Find out as she stars in ‘American Horror Story.’ (Photo courtesy of FX)

The 12th season of Ryan Murphy’s now-venerable and uncompromisingly queer horror anthology series has been, like the preceding installments, shrouded in mystery – though the inclusion of reality star Kim Kardashian in a starring capacity has garnered much publicity, and not a little controversy, due to skepticism about her acting chops. Despite these misgivings, it’s still probably one of the most anticipated entries on this list, the return of a queer fan favorite that – while it may have a reputation for uneven quality, haphazard storytelling, and fizzling out before it reaches the end – continues to draw the kind of audience numbers that has made it a tentpole autumn TV staple for a dozen years and counting. Sure, it’s a guilty pleasure, but we all have our share of those, and when they come in as slick and stylish a package as this elegantly garish and unapologetically campy pulp culture stalwart, who can resist? Also starring series veteran Emma Roberts, with fellow alums Zachary Quinto, Billie Lourd, Denis O’Hare, and Leslie Grossman also coming to the table, as well as Golden Globe winner Michaela Jaé Rodriguez and newcomer to the Murphy fold Matt Czuchry (“Gilmore Girls,” “The Good Wife”).

Dicks: The Musical, Oct. 6 limited/Oct. 20 wide (Theaters)

Comedy legend Larry Charles (“Seinfeld,” “Borat”) directed this outrageously titled and absurdly satirical farce, adapted by screenwriters and co-stars Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp from a stage production they created as members of the Upright Citizen’s Brigade. The pair star as two self-obsessed, conspicuously heterosexual businessmen and very close friends who discover they are also long-lost identical twins, sparking a “riotously funny and depraved” plot to reunite their eccentric divorced parents (Nathan Lane, Megan Mullally). Also starring Megan Thee Stallion and Bowen Yang (as God, no less), and teasing the kind of campy, transgressive vibe that marks all the true classics of underground queer cinema, the press for this one touts it as “a queer, hard-R musical comedy which may very well additionally be a future midnight-movie classic.” Frankly, that’s more than enough to earn it a place on our not-to-be-missed list.

Eismayer, Oct. 6 (Theaters/Oct. 10 Digital)

Fans of queer foreign movies can look forward to this Austrian entry, an award-winner at Venice and other prestigious film festivals, from director David Wagner. Gerhard Liebmann stars in the title role, a legendary real-life drill instructor in the Austrian Armed Forces; renowned for his brutal toughness and his uber-macho image, he leads a double life of anonymous sexual encounters with men behind his wife’s back, but when an openly gay new recruit (Luka Dimić) challenges both his authority and his rigid ideas about masculinity, he finds himself drawn into a relationship that will leave “his closeted existence shaken to the core.” A boot camp drama that challenges toxic traditional conceptions of what it means to “be a man” – especially one that is based on a true story – is always welcome, and this one comes with a substantial amount of praise to recommend it. Also starring Julia Koschitz and Anton Noori, it might not be “feel-good” entertainment, but the buzz says it’s worth seeking out for anyone with a taste for raw and uncompromising cinema. 

The Matthew Shepard Story: An American Hate Crime, Oct. 9 (ID Discovery)

Just in time for the 25th anniversary of his death, Investigation Discovery premieres a new documentary honoring Matthew Shepard’s life and legacy, featuring interviews from Matthew’s friends and allies, as well as local journalists and community members, and commentary from key celebrity voices deeply affected by Matthew’s tragic story, including Rosie O’Donnell, Andrew Rannells and Adam Lambert. Considered one of the worst anti-LGBTQ hate crimes in American history, Matthew’s shocking murder captured America’s attention and became a turning point in the fight for queer rights, jump-starting a long-overdue conversation about the discrimination, danger, and violence that many LGBTQ Americans face – especially in rural communities – every day, and if we’re being honest, there’s been no shortage of documentaries about it. Even so, this one, which benefits from the perspective granted by time and also casts attention on the progress society has made toward queer acceptance (as well as the work that still need to be done), promises to offer the kind of scope that gives it a relevance beyond simply lamenting the unjust cruelty perpetrated against a young gay man who – like all martyrs – became an unwilling touchstone in the eternal fight against bigotry, bullying, and brutality fueled by hate.

Candela, Oct. 10 (Digital)

Another international offering with a somewhat more exotic premise, this festival-acclaimed thriller co-produced by France and the Dominican Republic is set in the city of Santo Domingo, where the fates of three strangers – a privileged young high society woman, a lonely and alcoholic police lieutenant, and a charismatic cabaret drag performer – are entwined by the death of a young poet and drug dealer on the eve of an advancing hurricane. Directed by Andrés Farías Cintrón and touted as “a Caribbean pop movie,” it’s been noted by advance reviewers for its stunning imagery and visual style, its offbeat and captivating characters, and an “edge-of-your seat” suspenseful plot full of meticulously-crafted twists and turns. Starring Cesar Domínguez, Félix Germán, Sarah Jorge León, Ruth Emeterio, Frank Perozo, Yamile Scheker, and Katherine Montes, you won’t find this one at your local multiplex, but it should be well worth the handful of clicks it takes to queue it up on your VOD platform of choice.

Anatomy of a Fall, Oct. 13 (Theaters)

French filmmaker Justine Triet’s (“Sibyl”) latest film was entered as a competitor for the Queer Palm at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, but it ended up taking the festival’s top prize, the prestigious Palme d’Or. Publicized as “a Hitchcockian procedural,” it centers on a German writer (Sandra Hüller) accused of murdering her French husband, who must prove her innocence at trial with only the testimony of her blind son – the sole witness – to back up her claims. Hüller’s performance has won raves, and the film was a hit when it went to general release this summer in its native France (only “Barbie” topped it at the box office); as for details about the nature of the movie’s queer relevance, you’ll have to find out the details firsthand, because advance press on this side of the Atlantic has remained scrupulously spoiler-free, though Triet has revealed that she drew inspiration from the case of Amanda Knox, who was notoriously accused of murdering her roommate during a trip to Italy. Our verdict is that it will be worth the effort.

Nyad, Oct. 20 (Theaters/Nov. 5 Netflix)

Jodie Foster and Annette Bening star in ‘Nyad.’ (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Billed as “a remarkable true story of tenacity, friendship and the triumph of the human spirit,” this high-profile biopic stars four-time Academy Award nominee Annette Bening as marathon swimmer Diana Nyad, who, three decades after exchanging the life of a world-class athlete for a prominent career as a sports journalist, becomes obsessed with becoming the first person to complete the 110-mile journey from Cuba to Florida – known as as the “Mount Everest” of swims – without a shark cage. The screenplay by Julia Cox is adapted from Nyad’s own memoir (“Find a Way”), two Oscar-winning documentarians (Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, responsible for the popular and acclaimed “Free Solo”) make their narrative film debut at the helm, and Bening is joined onscreen by two-time Oscar-winner Jodie Foster as her best friend and coach. What else could anyone ask for in a strong, inspirational piece of lesbian-themed filmmaking? Count us in.

Rustin, Nov. 3 (Theaters/Nov. 17 Netflix)

Probably the most high-profile piece of queer filmmaking of the upcoming season is this biopic about the gay Black architect of 1963’s world-changing March on Washington, Bayard Rustin. Starring Emmy-winner Colman Comingo in the title role and helmed by five-time Tony-winning director George C. Wolfe, this ambitious fictionalized portrait of an extraordinary, history-making queer hero shines a long overdue spotlight on a man who, alongside giants like the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Adam Clayton Powell Jr., and Ella Baker, dreamed of a better world and inspired a movement by marching. Notably, it also comes from Higher Ground, a production company founded by Barack and Michelle Obama, and its August premiere at the Telluride Film Festival resulted in a 100% (so far) approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes from the critics who were there to see it. Besides the powerfully charismatic Domingo, the film features an all-star cast including Chris Rock, Glynn Turman, Aml Ameen, Gus Halper, CCH Pounder, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Johnny Ramey, Michael Potts, and special appearances from Jeffrey Wright and Audra McDonald.

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Books

Season’s best new books offer something for every taste

History, YA, horror and more on tap

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(Book covers courtesy of the publishers)

Shorter days, cooler temps, and longer nights can send you skittering inside, right? Don’t forget to bring one of these great books with you when you settle in for the fall.

Releasing in September, look for “Between the Head and the Hands” by James Chaarani, a novel about a young Muslim man whose family turns him away for being gay, and the teacher who takes him in (ECW Press, Sept. 10). Also reach for “Cleat Cute: A Novel,” by Meryl Wilsner (St. Martin’s Griffin, Sept. 19), a fun YA novel of soccer, competition, and playing hard (to get).

You may want something light and fun for now, so find “The Out Side: Trans and Nonbinary Comics,” compiled by The Kao, Min Christiansen, and Daniel Daneman (Andrews McMeel Publishing). It’s a collection of comics by nonbinary and trans artists, and you can find it Sept. 26.

The serious romantic will want to find “Daddies of a Different Kind: Sex and Romance Between Older and Younger Gay Men” by Tony Silva (NYU Press), a book about new possibilities in love; it’s available Sept. 12. Historians will want “Glitter and Concrete: A Cultural History of Drag in New York City” by Elyssa Maxx Goodman (Hanover Square Press, Sept. 12); and “Queer Blues: The Hidden Figures of Early Blues Music” by Darryl W. Bullock (Omnibus Press, Sept. 14).

In October, you’ll want to find “Blackouts: A Novel” by Justin Torres (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), a somewhat-fantasy novel about a dying man who passes a powerful book on to his caretaker. Look for it Oct. 10. Also on Oct. 10, grab “Love at 350º” by Lisa Peers (Dial Press Trade Paperback), a novel about love at a chance meeting at a baking-show contest and “The Christmas Swap: A Novel” by Talia Samuels (Alcove Press), a holiday rom-com.

You’re just warming up for the fall. Look for “Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date” by Ashley Herring Blake (Berkley, Oct. 24) and “Let Me Out,” a queer horror novel by Emmett Nahil and George Williams (Oni Press, Oct. 3).

Nonfiction lovers will want to find “Dis… Miss Gender?” by Anne Bray (MIT Press, Oct. 24), a wide, long look at gender and fluidity; “Friends of Dorothy: A Celebration of LGBTQ+ Icons” by Anthony Uzarowski and Alejandro Mogollo Diez (Imagine, Oct. 10); and “300,000 Kisses: Tales of Queer Love from the Ancient World” by Sean Hewitt and Luke Edward Hall (Clarkson Potter, Oct. 10).

For November, look for “Underburn: A Novel” by Bill Gaythwaite (Delphinium), a layered novel about Hollywood, family, and second chances. It comes out Nov. 14. For something you can really sink your teeth into, find “The Bars are Ours: Histories and Cultures of Gay Bars in America, 1960 and After” by Lucas Hilderbrand (Duke University Press, Nov 21). It’s a huge look at the spaces that played strong roles in LGBTQ history.

And if you’re looking for yourself or for a special gift in December, check out “Trans Hirstory in 99 Objects” by David Evans Frantz, Christina Linden, and Chris E. Vargas. It’s an arty coffee table book from Hirmer Publishers of Munich. You can find it Dec. 20. Also look for “Second Chances in New Port Stephen: A Novel” by T.J. Alexander (Atria / Emily Bestler, Dec. 5) and if all else fails, ask for or give a gift certificate.

Season’s readings!

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