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Elton John’s private jet forced to make emergency return to UK airport

The Sun noted that the singer, 74, was shaken by the ordeal — but hours later caught another flight to the US in time for a gig last night



Elton John lands in Adelaide, Australia aboard his twin-jet engine Bombardier Global Express, December 2020 via YouTube

FARNBOROUGH, United Kingdom – British musical superstar Sir Elton John was aboard his private jet bound for New York when the aircraft suffered hydraulic failure at 10,000 ft in the air. Declaring an in-flight emergency the singer’s pilot made a U-turn while approaching the coast of southern Ireland returning back to Farnborough Airport, 41 miles Southwest of London.

Complicating the flight were the storm front winds moving through the area of the airport with wind gusts that reached 80mph, forcing the pilot to abort landing the crippled jet twice.

British tabloid media outlet ‘The Sun’ reported a witness who was present when John’ s private jet was forced to make the emergency landing said it was a ‘horrible thing to see’.

Fire crews had raced to the runways at Farnborough Airport as the aircraft tried to make an emergency landing. According to another witness, the plane was being ‘rocked from side to side’ as it tried multiple times to land.

Due to the intense winds from the storm front, when the jet tried to land on the tarmac it would ‘soar back into the air’. “It was only at the third attempt to land that the plane got down,” a local plumber Philip Thomson, who was working at the time, explained to the ‘The Sun’.

The singer’s twin-jet engine Bombardier Global Express was buffeted by the strong crosswinds caused by the storm front surrounding the airport.

“The aircraft’s nose was far too vertical. The plane was descending and was halfway along the runway when it gave up trying to hit the tarmac,” Thomson said.

“It soared back in the air,” he continued. “A crowd had gathered after word went around that Elton was in difficulty. And as the plane came around again for a second attempt to land, the storm was doing its worst.”

“It was only at the third attempt to land that the plane got down. The pilot made a flatter approach and the wind had dropped slightly. Everyone watching was mightily relieved,” he added.

The Sun also noted that the singer, 74, was shaken by the ordeal — but hours later caught another flight to the U.S. in time for a gig last night. John was due to perform at Madison Square Garden in New York City as part of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour.

He has two dates scheduled at the venue, including February 22 and 23.



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LGBTQ+ ‘Swifties’ get emotional Pride month support in Chicago

Swift said that she was inspired to get vocal about LGBTQ activism after having a conversation with her friend Todrick Hall



Taylor Swift performing at Chicago's Soldier Field Friday night, June 2, 2023. (Screenshot/Twitter)

CHICAGO – The over fifty-thousand Taylor Swift fans packing Soldier Field Friday night as the singer brought her current “The Eras Tour” to the Windy City for a three-day sold-out stop-over were treated to a Vegas-style spectacle. But for her LGBTQ+ ‘Swifties’ she had a special message.

During a pause before performing her song ‘Champagne Problems’ the 33-year-old performer addressed the stadium telling the audience that it was a ‘safe space.’

“I’m looking out tonight, I’m seeing so many incredible individuals who are living authentically and beautifully, and this is a safe space for you,” Swift said.

“This is a celebratory space for you. One of the things that makes me feel so prideful is getting to be with you and watching you interact with each other, being so loving and so thoughtful and so caring.”

“Being with you during Pride Month, getting to sing the words to ‘You Need To Calm Down’ where there are lyrics like, ‘Can you just not step on his gown?’ or, ‘Shade never made anybody less gay,’ and you guys are screaming those lyrics.

“Such solidarity. Such support of one another and such encouraging, beautiful acceptance and peace and safety. And I wish that every place was safe and beautiful for people of the LGBTQ+ community,” she said addressing the fans.

“We can’t talk about Pride without talking about pain. Right now and recently there have been so many harmful pieces of legislation that have put people in the LGBTQ+ and queer community at risk,” she said acknowledging the flood of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation the first five months of this year. Then she urged her fans to carefully consider their options as the nation moves into another elections cycle.

“It’s painful for everyone. Every ally. Every loved one. Every person in these communities. And that’s why I’m always posting, ‘This is when the midterms are. This is when these important key primaries are,’ Swift said encouraging fans to vote for legislators that protect the LGBTQ+ community.

“Are they actually advocates? Are they allies? Are they protectors of equality? Do I want to vote for them?” she asked.

The proud recipient of no less than 12 GRAMMY Awards, 14 MTV Video Music Awards, and an astonishing 94 Guinness World Records, Swift has been a vocal ally and supporter of the LGBTQ+ community.

The singer-songwriter and musician revealed in an interview with Vogue, that she was inspired to get vocal about LGBTQ+ activism after having a conversation with her friend, choreographer and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” judge Todrick Hall.

Taylor Swift performing at Chicago’s Soldier Field Friday night, June 2, 2023. (Screenshot/Twitter)

“Todrick and I are in the car, and he asked me, What would you do if your son was gay? The fact that he had to ask me shocked me and made me realize that I had not made my position clear enough or loud enough. If my son was gay, he’d be gay. I don’t understand the question,” Swift says.

She added: “Rights are being stripped from basically everyone who isn’t a straight white cisgender male. I didn’t realize until recently that I could advocate for a community that I’m not a part of. It’s hard to know how to do that without being so fearful of making a mistake that you just freeze. Because my mistakes are very loud. When I make a mistake, it echoes through the canyons of the world. It’s clickbait, and it’s a part of my life story, and it’s a part of my career arc.”

Swift’s LGBTQ activism includes endorsing politicians who promote LGBTQ rights and she started a petition in support of the Equality Act. The singer also released the pro-LGBTQ single “You Need to Calm Down,” which featured Hall.

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We don’t need another hero, there will only ever be one Tina Turner

Her voice was not one of sweetness and ice cream sodas. She was the real deal. Right from the start, she sang from the edge



Tina Turner (Screenshot/YouTube Tina Turner)

HOLLYWOOD – Legendary singer Tina Turner, dubbed the ‘Queen of Rock’ n Roll,’ has died at the age of 83 at her home in Switzerland after a long illness, her publicist Bernard Doherty told the PA news agency. A statement read: “With her, the world loses a music legend and a role model.”

Today, upon her passing, everyone around the world is declaring Tina Turner “an icon.” 

It doesn’t fit. There are icons, an atmospheric leap, all of Heaven, and then, and only then, sitting above it all… is Tina Turner.

Simply, The Best.

For the non-conforming male personas amongst us, and for the female personas among us, she was our phoenix rising from the ashes of toxic masculinity, over coming it, and becoming the epitome of the queen, the warrior, the triumphant. She was the diva of rock, not just as in “Rock and Roll”, which was true, but as in “rocking your world”. When she borrowed Sir Elton’s “I’m Still Standing”, we knew she meant it.

In case you missed her story told many times, written about and immortalized on film, she was born Anna Mae Bullock. An up-and-coming musician named Ike Turner domineered her into his act and gave her the name “Tina Turner.” In classic “star is born” form, Tina Turner overcame her mentor in talent and popularity, and he married her.

Her voice was not one of sweetness and ice cream sodas. She was the real deal. Right from the start, she sang from the edge. She was not likely to be mistaken for Doris Day or Petula Clark, no, Tina Turner had grit, strength and even a tone of rage.

While other “iconic” singers debuted in film as sweet innocents, Tina’s launch was as the Acid Queen in Tommy. She played an erratic prostitute who advocated prophetic LSD in an effort to cure the title character.

With her humanness, her fight, and her willingness to be authentic, she spoke to, and for, many in the LGBTQ+ spectrum. 

As we enter an era where identities are valued and under siege, Tina Turner was a pioneer. While she was a cisgender woman of color, and none of those descriptions were ever challenged, she famously stood to fight for something that was… her name.  When, during their contentious divorce, and Ike sought to deprive her of the identity she had built for herself, she fought back and she fought back hard.

She gave up everything to keep what she treasured. She famously said, “Except my name. I’ll give up all that other stuff, but only if I get to keep my name. I’ve worked too hard for it, your Honor.”

For our transgender and drag brothers and sisters, hear her. She blazed a trail for the chosen identity, and who could deny that “Tina Turner” was not the real her?

The outpouring of love and respect from the world’s LGBTQ+ population is deserved. She has been a longtime supporter and adored queen diva of the gay and LGBTQ community forever. She pioneered when others wouldn’t, by performing at the opening ceremonies of the first ever Gay Games in San Francisco in 1982. It was a watershed moment in sports for LGBTQ athletes and allies.  She has been imitated by drag queens for decades on platforms all across the world in the best “imitation is the highest form of flattery” way, beyond the point of homage and in some cases, to the point of worship. 

She loved us back. Tina frequently expressed her gratitude and love for her gay fans in interviews and concerts. She did not capitalize on her own sexuality but acknowledged her bisexuality and her relationships with women. While being open about her sexuality, she did not consider it a defining factor of her identity or her music. 

Only Tina Turner defined Tina Turner.

She meant something to all of us. Grief and wonder is pouring out from everyone from Diana Ross to NASA.

NASA, not an organization to normally recognize celebrities, but an absolute authority on things Heavenly, tweeted, “Simply the best. Music legend Tina Turner sparkled across the stage and into millions of hearts as the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Her legacy will forever live among the stars.” 

Mick Jagger said, “She was inspiring, warm, funny and generous. She helped me so much when I was young and I will never forget her.” 

“Rest in peace to one of my favorite artists of all time, the legendary queen of rock n’ roll Tina Turner,” stated Magic Johnson.

Speaking for many under and over the rainbow, George Takei stated, “She was our River Deep and our Mountain High, the Private Dancer in our hearts. She showed us that love really does has everything to do with it, and that we really did need another hero. And she was it.” 

It was not just that Tina Turner was a hero. It was that she was a survivor, trailblazer and hero to so many. From women of color who needed to see their strength demonstrated, to people in abusive relationships who needed to see their possibilities illuminated, to beaten gay boys who needed to see the power in standing and fighting, she gave hope to them all.

She showed us all how to embody our authentic selves and capture our creativity, our innovation and our truth. She said, “Sometimes you have to let everything go – purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything – whatever is bringing you down – get rid of it. Because you will find that when you are free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”

There is a line from We Don’t Need Another Hero: “So what do we do with our lives? We leave only a mark. Will our story shine like a light? Or end in the dark? Give it all or nothing.”

She gave us her all, and the mark she left?

Her story does not just shine like a light, it seared every person, every walk of life, she touched. She lived as any true hero would and has gone out in a fierce blaze of glory.


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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Drag performer Shangela accused of rape, denies allegations

“I can’t begin to explain how hurt & disgusted I am by these totally untrue allegations They’re offensive & perpetuate damaging stereotypes”



DJ Pierce, performs as the drag queen Shangela on HBO's acclaimed series "We're Here." (Photo courtesy of HBO)

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday evening that Darius Jeremy “DJ” Pierce, who performs as the drag queen Shangela on HBO’s acclaimed series “We’re Here,” denies a production assistant’s rape allegations.

People magazine also reported that Pierce, 42, is being sued by former production assistant, Daniel McGarrigle, 39, for sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender violence, false imprisonment, negligence and violation of the Ralph Act.

In a lawsuit McGarrigle filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, the former production assistant claims that Pierce sexually assaulted him after a crew party in February 2020. McGarrigle is alleging that he and Pierce were in a Louisiana hotel room when Pierce allegedly overpowered him and had sex with him despite McGarrigle screaming “no” and trying to push him away.

McGarrigle is seeking unspecified damages for sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender violence, false imprisonment and negligence.

In a statement to the Times, Pierce denied McGarrigle’s allegations, saying:

“I can’t begin to explain how hurt and disgusted I am by these totally untrue allegations. They are personally offensive and perpetuate damaging stereotypes that are harmful not only to me but also to my entire community… An external investigation into this embittered individual’s claims previously concluded that they were completely without merit. This newest filing is nothing but an attempt to shake down both me and a well-regarded television company. No one should be fooled: It has no basis in fact or in law, and it will not succeed. As a hardworking and outspoken drag entertainer for more than a decade, I know that I am far from alone in battling ignorance, bigotry and prejudice, all of which played a role in the filing of this complaint. That is why I will fight this entirely meritless lawsuit and not allow it to destroy me and those I love, or harm the causes we all stand for.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for We’re Here says of the lawsuit: “Buckingham Television, the production company for ‘We’re Here,’ received a complaint late summer 2021 regarding an incident that was alleged to have occurred in early 2020. Buckingham and HBO take the safety and well-being of personnel on our shows very seriously, and Buckingham immediately launched an investigation. The investigation concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support these allegations.”

Pierce is best known for competing in seasons 2 and 3 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. He later appeared on the third season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.

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Former NBA star moves family, cites DeSantis’ anti-LGBTQ policies

Wade & Gabrielle Union-Wade’s 15-year-old daughter, Zaya came out as trans in 2020 & granted a legal name & gender change this past February



Former Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade with journalist Rachel Nichols (Screenshot/YouTube SHOWTIME)

LOS ANGELES – Journalist Rachel Nichols sat down recently with former Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade in a one-on-one for her new series “Headliners with Rachel Nichols” on Showtime. During the wide-ranging interview, Wade told Nichols he moved his family out of Florida because of the state’s increasing hostility to LGBTQ people — including his daughter, Zaya.

“What do you have to say to some of those state legislators who maybe have your jersey in their closets, who came and brought their kids to your games to cheer for you?” Nichols asked referring to the apparent hypocrisy of certain Florida lawmakers who claim to be his fans yet pass the DeSantis anti-LGBTQ+ policies negatively impacting his family.

“That’s another reason why I don’t live in that state,” Wade responded. “A lot of people don’t know that. I have to make decisions for my family, not just personal, individual decisions.”

Wade and his wife actress Gabrielle Union-Wade’s 15-year-old daughter, Zaya had come out as trans in 2020. After a long legal battle with with his ex-wife and Zaya’s mother, Siohvaughn Funches, the teen was finally granted a legal name and gender change this past February.

In a March 15, 2023 interview with Dazed magazine, Zaya spoke about her role as an activist, a Miu Miu model.

“I think it’s not my job, but it’s my honor to continue and further my family’s education and appreciation for the entire LBGTQ+ community as we grow together,” she told Dazed.

“As our understanding of acceptance has broadened over the past couple of years, we have made the strides to keep ourselves educated and combat the ignorance,” she continued.

Despite the learning curve, Zaya expressed that her family has been “such a giant support system” and that she feels “strongest when I’m with them.”

The former Heat shooting guard is also father to 8-year-old son Xavier Zechariah, 20-year-old son Zaire and daughter Kaavia James, 4.

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Kevin Bacon & wife Kyra Sedgwick back “Drag Defense Fund”

In a video which went viral with over 2 million views, Bacon and Sedgwick are seen dancing to the Taylor Swift song “Karma”




SHARON, Conn. – Actors Kevin Bacon and his wife Kyra Sedgwick, posted a video on their social media accounts Sunday that defends the American drag community, protesting legislative efforts in more than a dozen states to make drag performances illegal.

In the video which went viral with over 2 million views, Bacon and Sedgwick are seen dancing to the Taylor Swift song “Karma” and wearing t-shirts with the slogan “Drag is an art and drag is a right”.

On Bacon’s Twitter account he posted:

#DragBans are bad karma. Right now, drag performers and the LGBTQIA+ community need our help. Shop the @SixDegreesofKB campaign supporting the @ACLU Drag Defense Fund or make a gift

In partnership with production company World of Wonder, MTV, and RuPaul’s Drag Race, the ACLU’s Drag Defense Fund will support the ACLU’s work defending LGBTQ rights, including censorship of drag performers themselves.

The ACLU in a statement said the organization is committed to the importance of drag as a First Amendment right and an important form of artistic expression. It will also fuel the ACLU’s expansive advocacy work in support of the LGBTQ community, which includes everything from courtroom battles, to guidance on state-level legislation, to challenging LGBTQ censorship in classrooms.

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Tom Daley & Lance Black announce birth of second son

The couple shared an image of the family with their new addition on Instagram revealing the birth of their second child



Robert "Robbie" Ray Black-Daley, Phoenix Rose Black-Daley, Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black (Black-Daley/Instagram)

LONDON – “Our family has grown in the last week, we welcomed Phoenix to the world on 28/03/23 and he’s just perfect. Robbie is loving being a BIG BRO!” British Olympic diver Tom Daley announced on Instagram Wednesday.

Daley, who is married to Oscar winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black will celebrate six years of marriage in May. The couple’s oldest son Robert “Robbie” Ray Black-Daley is five-years-old.

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Des has been showered with praise that has come at a huge cost

“I’m going to that library, I’m going with a bucket of dog shit and I’m pouring it on your parents and rubbing it into their eyes”



Desmond Napoles (Photo by Andrey Strekoza)

NEW YORK – Like the proverbial EVITA, amazing wunderkid, Desmond Napoles (known by their drag name as Desmond the Amazing) has experienced being “high flying adored.” As the Andrew Lloyd Weber song ponders “Where do you go from here? What happens now? For someone on top of the world, the view is not exactly clear.”

The song talks about someone doing it all by the age of 26. Desmond did it at 8.

It was at that age where they appeared in full drag walking down the avenue as part of NYC Pride. That kicked off a media frenzy that had them in the spotlights of The New York Times, NBC News, Teen Vogue, OUT Magazine, among many others. 

Since then, Desmond and alter ego Desmond the Amazing has been busy. They were described in a meeting with their hero RuPaul as “the future of the world.” In the past seven years, Desmond has become a multi-awarded LGBTQ+ advocate, genderfluid editorial and runway model, motivational public speaker, performer, clothing designer, actor, singer, host, social media influencer and published author.

With these projects, Desmond has been showered with praise and admiration, however, all that has come at a huge cost. They and their family have also been harassed, threatened and publicly abused. Recently, a book reading that Desmond was headlining at a public library was shut down by a bigot who threatened physical violence.  Specifically, the troll threatened “I’m going to that library, I’m going with a bucket of dog shit and I’m pouring it on your parents and rubbing it into their eyes.” 

Desmond’s parents have been reported to child protective services hundreds of times, for letting their child be themselves, and subjected to investigations that proved they were completely innocent of any wrong doing. They have inspired at least one horrible propaganda video filled with obvious lies on You Tube called “The Dark Side of Desmond Napoles.”

As we talked on our show, high schooler Desmond indicated that they have a new vision for their steps ahead. They are working on a skin care line, but are retiring from their drag persona. The passion for that expression seems to be waning, even while their passion for LGBTQ+ youth rights and their own nonbinary identity has not.

They look forward instead to engineering trains and studying the science of locomotion.

As we listened to Desmond’s baby drag princess anthem “We Are Amazing” released in 2021, their spirit and attitude of the life they are facing rang out:

“I am amazing, you are amazing, we are amazing, we are all AMAZING

Even baby drag queens grow up it seems, and potentially having to deal with petty adult hatred has taken the fun out of their self-expression of the recent past. In any case, the amazement will not be taken from young Desmond, and if their best self-expression and next chapter is skin care and trains, we are thrilled for them.

We know theirs will be the most fabulous train that Amtrack has ever seen.



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 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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PFLAGProud mom & Paw Works supporter Jamie Lee Curtis fêted

Paw Works, an amazing no-kill, nonprofit animal rescue based in Southern California is honoring Curtis, a long time supporter



Jamie Lee Curtis accepting her 2023 SAG Award for best supporting actress. (Screenshot/YouTube Netflix)

LOS ANGELES – Jamie Lee Curtis picked up the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award for best supporting actress for her role as IRS agent Deirdre in Everything Everywhere All at Once this past weekend and there is buzz about her and a potential Oscar win.

In the spirit of giving the incredibly talented actress well deserved accolades, Paw Works, an amazing no-kill, nonprofit animal rescue based in Southern California is honoring Curtis, a long time supporter.

To give a “round-of-a-paws” to Jamie on her recent SAG win and cheer her on in advance of this year’s Academy Awards, some of Paw Works’ adorable rescues are celebrating her with looks from a few of her iconic roles.

Everything Everywhere All At Once (rescue – Ziggy, owner – Greta Vanhersecke)
Christmas with the Kranks (rescue – Pom Pom, owner – Michelle Kim)
A Fish Called Wanda (rescue – Jaxon)
Halloween (rescue – Ziggy, owner – Greta Vanhersecke)
Knives Out (rescue – Tilda, owner – Michelle Kim)
Trading Places (rescue – Jameson, owner – Kristi Foley)
True Lies (rescue – Winston, owner – Kristi Foley)
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Surprise appearance by Brittney Griner at NAACP Image Awards

The WNBA star & her wife called for the return of other detainees: “Let’s keep fighting to bring home every American still detained overseas”



WNBA’s Brittney Griner & her wife, Cherelle, stunned the audience by walking out onto the stage at the NAACP Image Awards (Screenshot/YouTube CBS2 New York)

PASADENA, Calif. – A standing ovation greeted the WNBA’s Brittney Griner over the weekend when the basketball star and her wife, Cherelle, stunned the audience by walking out onto the stage at the NAACP Image Awards in Pasadena, Calif. 

As Deadline reported, Queen Latifah was speaking about the resilience of Black people Saturday night, when she said, “We stay overcoming because that’s what we do!” Then, she introduced the Griners: “As we gather here tonight, In the spirit of overcoming adversity, I want to take this moment to recognize someone who has done just that.”

The crowd roared as they appeared on stage with broad smiles, holding hands. Brittney wore an elegant black tuxedo and unbuttoned button-down white shirt, with Cherelle decked out in a regal purple pantsuit. 

“It feels so good to be here,” said Griner, “especially with my beautiful, amazing wife and with all of y’all here today.”

“Thank you for that beautiful applause,” Cherelle Griner said. “We are just truly so thankful to all the people, many of whom are Black women and Black-led organizations who fought so hard to bring BG home tonight.” 

The Phoenix Mercury player, who just re-signed with the team this month, regained her freedom in December 2022 in a prisoner swap between Russia and the United States. 

The 32-year-old missed the entire 2022 season following her arrest in Moscow one year ago. Russian authorities said she broke their law by packing vape canisters with cabbabis oil in her luggage. In August, Griner was sentenced to nine years in a penal colony for drug smuggling, and that sentence was upheld upon appeal in October

Griner was finally exchanged in the United Arab Emirates for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. He had served 10 years of a 25-year-sentence for conspiring to sell weapons to a terrorist group. Russia balked at the Biden administration’s request to secure the release of businessman and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who is still serving a 16-year prison sentence in Russia for spying.

“Let’s keep fighting to bring home every American still detained overseas,” Griner told the audience at the award ceremony. 

As NPR reported, almost three dozen Americans are wrongfully detained by foreign governments each year, a rate nearly seven times greater than the average compared to just ten years ago, according to a study by the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation. That group advocates for the release of Americans who are held hostage or wrongfully detained.

According to the foundation, right now there are at least 60 Americans who are currently being held hostage or wrongfully detained in foreign countries. Iran, China, Venezuela, Syria and Russia are holding the vast majority of those Americans prisoner. 

Griner and the Phoenix Mercury open their 2023 season against the Los Angeles Sparks at the Arena on May 19. The team’s first home game is May 21 when Phoenix hosts the Chicago Sky.

Surprises at 54th NAACP Image Awards:

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Out WWE star Sonya Deville is engaged!

This proposal was a fairytale, not only for me, but she proposed to my daughters, blending our worlds together



Wrestling star Daria Berenato with her partner, fitness model Toni Cassano. (Photo Credit: Kali McCarthy)

TOWACO, N.J. — Wrestling star Daria Berenato, whose moniker in the ring is Sonya Deville, is celebrating a double engagement with her partner, fitness model Toni Cassano. The pair got engaged in a wine cellar cave in northwestern New Jersey the day after Valentine’s Day.

“It was always you,” Berenato captioned her post on Instagram. “I could go on for days about the way I feel about this woman, I never knew love could feel so happy and safe all at the same time. I found my best friend, my soul mate and my life partner all in one incredible human,” she told People magazine, which broke the story. 

Berenato, 29, popped the question on Feb. 15 at Rails Steakhouse, in front of their family and friends, including Cassano’s two daughters, ages 7 and 11. The out WWE star gave her fianceé a custom-designed ring, and was shocked when Cassano, 31, surprised her with an engagement ring of her own.

“I proposed, then Toni’s like, ‘Grab my purse.’ And she pulls out a freaking ring box, and she’s like, ‘I’ve been carrying this around in my purse for four months,’” Berenato recalled. “’So, whenever you proposed, I could give you a ring immediately back.'”

“I could have never imagined a love being so magical,” Cassano told the magazine. “I still wake up every day and truly feel like we’re living in a dream. This proposal was a fairytale, not only for me, but she proposed to my daughters, blending our worlds together. I can’t say it enough, but life with her is a true dream and we are so lucky to have found this love.”

“She is the epitome of my ride or die,” Berenato told the magazine. “To be able to show her and her two daughters how much they all mean to me was what this proposal was all about. They are my world and now we are one family forever together.”

Cassano said she first met Berenato at one of her shows last April. “This is going to sound really cheesy,” she told People, “but I knew, the second I saw her,” that she was the one for her. Cassano was seated in the front row. “The first time I ever saw Toni was when I was coming out doing my entrance ready to wrestle, and I looked into the crowd,” she recalled. 

After the show, the couple spent the night eating pizza at a random dive bar, and talked until 5 a.m. “I was instantly like, ‘This girl is the love of my life,’ ” said Berenato.

“It’s so cool to me to be in this position right now,” she said, “to be engaged as a gay female in the WWE, and to have proposed to my fiancée. Because I look back at seven years ago, eight years ago when I wasn’t even openly out yet, and I was hiding relationships, and I was still trying to figure out my comfortability with being gay and who I was.”

Wrestling star Daria Berenato with her partner, fitness model Toni Cassano.
(Photo Credit: Kali McCarthy)

And she told the magazine she has a message for her fans and everyone LGBTQ+. 

“I never thought I’d be here, but look guys, I’m here and you guys can do it too. And it’s okay to be who you are. It’s okay to love who you love, and it’s so special and so important to accept yourself.”

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