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Legendary anchor and journalist Barbara Walters has died at 93

From American presidents to interviews with regular folks, Walters touched on the lives of diverse and dynamic cross-sections of humanity

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Screenshot/YouTube ABC News

NEW YORK – If ever there was a gold standard for American broadcast journalists the likely two top choices would be famed CBS reporter and anchor Walter Cronkite and the groundbreaking ABC News reporter and anchor Barbara Walters.

The news came late Friday that the latter, a legendary broadcast journalist had died peacefully surrounded by family and friends at her home in New York City at age 93. Walters shattered the glass ceiling in her profession and became a dominant force in an industry once dominated by men. Walters is survived by her adopted daughter Jacqueline. 

Without a doubt Walters likely holds a record for the shear number of interviews of the rich and famous, political leaders, as well as celebrities from every walk of life and endeavor. Walters, who won 12 Emmy awards, 11 of those while at ABC News was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1989.

In her fifty-plus year career as a broadcast journalist she had earned nearly universal acclaim, respect and admiration for her work.

At ABC News as the co-anchor of the network’s extremely successful award winning 20/20 televised news magazine, she interviewed the people who made history in the mid twentieth century into the early twenty-first century conducting her last interview, of then businessman and potential presidential candidate Donald Trump, in 2015.

Walters began her national broadcastcareer on NBC’s The Today Show as a reporter, writer and panel member before being promoted to co-host in 1974. Her rising popularity with viewers resulted in Walters receiving more airtime, and in 1974, NBC executives promoted her to be the co-host of the program, the first woman ever to hold such a title on an American news program

Walters joined ABC News in 1976 after , becoming the first female anchor on an evening news program. Three years later, she became a co-host of “20/20,” and in 1997, she launched “The View.”

Bob Iger, the CEO of The Walt Disney Company which is the parent company of ABC News, praised Walters as someone who broke down barriers.

“Barbara was a true legend, a pioneer not just for women in journalism but for journalism itself. She was a one-of-a-kind reporter who landed many of the most important interviews of our time, from heads of state to the biggest celebrities and sports icons. I had the pleasure of calling Barbara a colleague for more than three decades, but more importantly, I was able to call her a dear friend. She will be missed by all of us at The Walt Disney Company, and we send our deepest condolences to her daughter, Jacqueline,” Iger said in a statement Friday.

She made her final appearance as a co-host of “The View” in 2014, but remained an executive producer of the show and continued to do some interviews and specials for ABC News.

“I do not want to appear on another program or climb another mountain,” she said at the time. “I want instead to sit on a sunny field and admire the very gifted women — and OK, some men too — who will be taking my place.”

From American presidents to her famed interview with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, along the way Walters touched on the lives of diverse and dynamic cross-section of humanity.

Her face to face conversations included face-to-face convos with folks like actors Katharine Hepburn, John Wayne, Patrick Swayze, Fred Astaire. She spoke with musicians such as Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber, Barbra Streisand, and without missing a beat the significant political figures of her day like Henry Kissinger, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vladimir Putin and Fidel Castro. Her interviews with Oprah and Monica Lewinsky shot the network’s ratings audiences through the roof.

The New York Times reported in 1999 that Walters’ interview with Lewinsky, the former White House intern who was a key component in the impeachment trial of then President Bill Clinton, “attracted an average of 48.5 million viewers, and an estimated 70 million people watched all or part of the two-hour program, in about 33.2 million homes.”

Walters directly asked Lewinsky, “You showed the president your thong underwear. Where did you get the nerve? I mean — who does that?” she said. She also asked the 25-year-old: “Where was your self-respect, where was your self-esteem?”

The list of people in front of the camera with her on The Barbara Walters Specials was breathtaking. Yet the stories of everyday folks, their lives, and struggles were a staple of her work searching out stories that needed to be told.

For the LGBTQ+ community, Walters often told the stories that painted a picture that was critical in putting a human face on an oft times maligned community. Her ABC Documentary on transgender children originally broadcast in 2007, introduced the world to trans girl Jazz Jennings, who was at six years of age at the time, and her hugely supportive family.

The Hollywood Reporter noted in an honest interview, Ellen DeGeneres talked to Walters about everything from her movie career to her decision to come out as a lesbian. She also opened up about her stepfather sexually abusing her and how she broke through a window one night to get away. 

Walters in later years did have her share of detractors among younger journalists and writers including Alex Pareene, the former editor-in-chief of online news site Gawker and later a staff writer at The New Republic in 2019.

Pareene penned an unflattering profile of Walters on May 13, 2013 in Salon headlined Good riddance, Barbara Walters.

He noted: “[…] current co-host of “The View,” is a national icon and a pioneer, and probably as responsible as any other living person for the ridiculous and sorry state of American television journalism. She has announced her retirement a year in advance, so that a series of aggrandizing specials can be produced celebrating her long and storied career. So let’s get things started off right, by reminding everyone how her entire public life has been an extended exercise in sycophancy and unalloyed power worship.

Pareene also took aim at her relationship with ” Roy Cohn, the notorious scumbag McCarthyite mob attorney.”

Writing about the relationship between the two Pareene notes: […] she, legendarily, pretended to be seeing (romantically) Roy Cohn, the notorious scumbag McCarthyite mob attorney who was also, notoriously, a closeted gay man (who had persecuted closeted “deviants” while working with McCarthy). Cohn was one of the slimiest and most detestable characters of the entire 20th century.

He was finally disbarred, in part for his hospital visit to a dying and incapacitated millionaire in which Cohn held up the man’s hand and had him “sign” a codicil to his will naming Cohn the trustee of his estate. Despite his moral bankruptcy, Cohn remained a member of elite Washington and New York society his entire life.

Walters said she was and remained close to him because he helped her father with a legal matter when she was a girl. But this also seems to explain why they were “dating” in the 1950s:

Did Cohn have a secret “nice” side? She was asked.

“I would not use the word nice,” she laughs. “He was very smart. And funny. And, at the time, seemed to know everyone in New York. He was very friendly with the cardinal, he was very friendly with the most famous columnist in New York, Walter Winchell, he had a lot of extremely powerful friends.”

Barbara Walters dies at 93 l ABC News

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Jodie Foster honored at TCL’s Chinese Theatre handprint event

Foster holds the distinction of being the 2nd person to win multiple Oscars before age 30 & the only openly LGBTQ woman to win 2 Oscars

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Jodie Foster at her Hand & Footprint Ceremony outside Hollywood's TCL Chinese Theatre Friday, April 19, 2024. (Screenshot/YouTube ET)

HOLLYWOOD – Celebrated Oscar winning actor Jodie Foster marked her 10th wedding anniversary to her wife director Alexandra Hedison with her addition to a legendary list of Hollywood stars, by leaving her hand and footprints in cement outside Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre on Friday.

The ceremony was emceed by her longtime pal and friend actor Jamie Lee Curtis and Turner Classic Movies host, television personality Benjamin Mankiewicz. As she added her handprints, footprints, and autograph to the cement casting she took her shoes off and went barefoot.

“The person that I have to thank the most, really, is my wife Alex, who I cannot believe was so generous to give up our 10-year anniversary day to come and do this with me,” said Foster, adding, “This is my life,” she told the standing room only crowd. “I love my life, and I’m so grateful that all of you guys think I’m OK.”

Foster’s over fifty year career in Hollywood has seen her win Oscars for her performances in the category of Best Actress for 1988’s film The Accused and 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs. She was also nominated as Best Supporting Actress for the 1977 film Taxi Driver, 1995’s Nell. This past year Foster was nominated for her role as Best Supporting Actress in 2023’s Nyad.

Nyad, is a biographical sports drama film about sixty-year-old swimmer Diana Nyad’s multiple attempts in the early 2010s to swim the Straits of Florida, starred Annette Bening in the leading role as Foster portrayed Bonnie Stoll as Nyad’s athletic trainer. 

Also attending Friday’s ceremony was Diana Nyad who stood alongside Foster’s wife.

Foster holds the distinction of being the second person to win multiple Oscars before the age of 30. She is also the only openly LGBTQ woman to win two Academy Awards for acting, although she was not publicly out until after both wins.

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Elton John & Bernie Taupin awarded Library of Congress’ Gershwin

Elton John & Bernie Taupin: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song will air on PBS April 8 at 8pm local time

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Bernie Taupin and Elton John awarded Library of Congress’s Gershwin Prize. (Screenshot/YouTube The Hill)

By Rob Salerno | WASHINGTON – The Library of Congress honored legendary songwriting duo Elton John and Bernie Taupin with the prestigious Gershwin Prize at a lavish ceremony and tribute concert in Washington, D.C. March 20, that will be broadcast on PBS on April 8.

John, 76, and Taupin, 73, are known for a fifty-year career of hit songs that have become pop and rock music standards, including “Tiny Dancer,” “Your Song,” and “Goodbye, Yellow-Brick Road.” 

“Elton John and Bernie Taupin have written some of the most memorable songs of our lives. Their careers stand out for the quality and broad appeal of their music and their influence on their fellow artists,” says Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. 

The story of their longstanding collaboration was dramatized in the 2019 film Rocketman, named for the 1972 single that became one of John’s signature songs.

The Tribute concert is hosted by POSE star Billy Porter and features performances by Garth Brooks, Charlie Puth, Brandi Carlile, Joni Mitchell, Annie Lennox, Marin Morris and Metallica covering some of John and Taupin’s greatest hits. Many of these artists have recorded covers or duets of their songs, or have been covered by Elton John in the past.

Established in 2007, the Gershwin Prize recognizes lifetime contributions made to popular music. Elton John is the first openly gay recipient of the honor.

John and Taupin met in London in 1967 after they both responded to an ad looking for people to collaborate on songwriting. John was a pianist and Taupin a lyricist. From there, a nearly sixty-year partnership was born.

Elton John has been since been feted with all four of the major performing arts awards – the Grammy, Oscar, Tony, and most recently, the Emmy for Farewell from Dodgers Stadium at this year’s Emmy Awards. He is only the third gay man among the 19 people who have achieved this distinction.

John is also known for his philanthropic work, having founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1986 at the height of the HIV epidemic, after losing his close friend Freddie Mercury. The Foundation has raised more than $600 million to support HIV prevention and care in more than 60 countries. The Foundation also hosts Elton John’s annual Academy Awards viewing party fundraiser in Hollywood. In recognition of his philanthropic work, John was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998.

“If you’re successful, you have to give back. That was my mantra in 1980 when I got sober, and it’s been my mantra ever since,” John told The Associated Press on Wednesday night.

Taupin has also shared an Oscar win with John and been nominated for two Grammys.John first came out as bisexual in a Rolling Stone interview in 1976, a revolutionary act for a mainstream musician at the time. Later, in 1992, he would come out as gay also in Rolling Stone.

Elton John & Bernie Taupin: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song will air on PBS April 8 at 8pm local time, and will be available to stream on PBS.org and the PBS app.

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Rob Salerno is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, California, and Toronto, Canada.

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Colton Underwood opens up about fertility struggles

On a new podcast Daddyhood the former Bachelor star says learning he had a low sperm count was “not a great feeling”

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Reality star Colton Underwood joins Hoda & Jenna to reveal his latest project, a new series called “Daddyhood” and — spoiler alert — Underwood says he and his husband, Jordan C. Brown, are on a “path to parenthood.” He also opens up about their difficult journey, saying, “I’ve had, already, some fertility struggles and it’s time we talk about this.” (Screenshot/YouTube NBC Today)

By Rob Salerno | LOS ANGELES – Former Bachelor star Colton Underwood wants to end the stigma around fertility treatments by letting the world follow his and his husband’s journey to create a child together on their new podcast Daddyhood, available now on Apple, Spotify, and YouTube.

In an interview with People Magazine, Underwood opens up about he and husband Jordan C. Brown began the process of creating a child shortly after they got married last year. Underwood says they’ve created embryos and are in the process of implanting them in a surrogate.

But before they could do that, both men were tested to ensure their sperm were viable. While Brown’s sperm count was normal, Underwood says his sperm count was too low. The couple both wanted to contribute sperm so that they wouldn’t know who was the genetic parent of their offspring, and could treat the child as equally there.

“I mean right away, my husband gets his results back for his sperm count and he had incredible, great numbers, and I got mine back and all my sperm was dead. And I think immediately I was just like, ‘Oh, what does this mean? It means I’m sterile and can’t have kids now.’ And it was not a great feeling,” he told People.

Underwood says he hopes that talking about it can help reduce the shame around fertility difficulties.

“I think one of the reasons why men don’t talk about it is it’s sort of a blow to the ego. They’re just like, ‘Why me, I’m an alpha man? How can I not do the most simple task a man can do?’” he said.

His doctor helped Underwood realize that parts of his lifestyle were causing his low sperm count, and put him on a plan to get his numbers up. 

“My doctor did list the most common reasons why sperm count could be low and I was doing literally everything you could possibly do to kill your sperm, which was hot tub and sauna, baths. Exercising more than four or five times a week actually has an adverse effect on sperm. Pelotoning, riding a cycle or a bike,” he said. “And then I was taking synthetic testosterone. I was prescribed testosterone after my days in football and what my body went through. So I was quite literally doing everything you possibly could do to hurt your sperm count.”

And Underwood is no stranger to putting his life on public display. After briefly playing in the NFL off season in 2014 and 2015, he competed on the reality show The Bachelorette before taking on the star role in the 2018 season of The Bachelor. He publicly dated Bachelor season winner Cassie Randolph for a year, ending amid allegations that he stalked her, leading to a restraining order. 

In 2021, Underwood publicly came out after saying he was blackmailed by someone who had spotted him at a bathhouse. He later starred in the Netflix reality series Coming Out Colton, which followed his journey learning about his sexuality and the gay community.

In a promo for Daddyhood, a supercut of interviews Underwood has done over the years highlights how often he’s spoken of how much he wants to have kids. 

Underwood says that Daddyhood will examine the issues that male couples face when seeking to have children, including medical procedures, legal issues, and the emotional toll that the journey can take. 

“I’m ready for this. I’m really excited to take this on,” he says of the podcast. “I cannot wait to share this dream with you.”

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Rob Salerno is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, California, and Toronto, Canada.

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High flying & adored, Chita Rivera charts her path to heaven

Rivera who seemed immortal passed away at age 91. Her support of LGBTQ artists unflinching & she was personally touched by the AIDS crisis

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Chita Rivera being interviewed on the Red Carpet at a 2018 event in New York by ET. (Screenshot/YouTube ET)

HOLLYWOOD – She never danced Evita, but she was still “high flying adored.” Today, Chita Rivera has left the stage, but she clearly will never dance out of the hearts of all who loved, admired and respected her.

Clearly, she was a talent no one could reckon. Born in 1933 as Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero, Chita Rivera’s rise to stardom began with ballet classes at the age of 11. Her undeniable talent led her from the School of American Ballet to the spotlight of Broadway, where she broke ground as one of the first Hispanic women to achieve leading roles in theater during a time when representation was minimal.

She is known in critical circles as “the greatest musical-theater dancer ever.”  Jason Alexander has been one of the first Broadway voices to speak of her passing and said, “This extraordinary woman, the incomparable. Chita Rivera was one of the greatest spirits and colleagues I’ve ever known. She set the bar in every way. I will cherish her always. Dance in heaven, my friend.”

She was the original Velma Kelly in Chicago and racked up ten Tony nominations and two wins. Her performances were life changing. In 2009, she was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contributions to American culture.

It is not a surprise that she was revered at her passing. What was shocking was that she passed at all. If there was anyone who you could anticipate had the spirit and will to live forever, it was Chita Rivera. She somehow seemed immortal. 

And she loved LGBTQ+ people.

It was a mere decade ago when Rivera chose to celebrate her 80th birthday by headlining a sold-out show, Chita-A Celebration, at the August Wilson Theater. The event benefited Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS.

“The roar for her was deafening,” they report. After six rapturous standing ovations, Rivera stood proud, having raised $413,660 for the cause in that single performance. “I had no idea celebrating my 100th birthday would be so much fun,” quipped the then 80-year old.

If Rivera was at all a diva, she was a generous one. “I’m not comfortable with just me, me, me. That’s boring,” she has said. Rivera was publicly vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. She was among the luminaries who supported many AIDS benefit concerts and took a firm stance for equality. Through her philanthropic efforts, Rivera contributed to nurturing acceptance and championing the visibility of LGBTQ+ individuals in the arts.

Rivera was personally touched by the AIDS crisis having lost dozens of friends to the disease. She spoke publicly about it when she was performing in Kiss of a Spider Woman. “It’s a very difficult role for me to play in these times, when you’ve lost so many friends, and suddenly you’re standing there and you’re playing ‘Death.’ And you’ve just heard about some friends (who have died), you know? Sometimes it’s really, really hard. But then I get all kinds of things from it: I get strength from having to go right through it. When Larry Kert (her ‘West Side Story’ co-star) passed away, I thought I saw him in the balcony when I was singing ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman.’ There’s a lot going on. It’s a serious play, an important play. And this a good time right now because we need all of these channels open. We gotta get them in there to get the message out there.”

GLAAD put out a statement at her passing on Tuesday, “Broadway legend Chita Rivera has sadly passed away at age 91. Rivera spent much of her long career advocating for LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV and AIDS. Our hearts go out to everyone who loved her.”  

GLAAD president and CEO, Sara Kate Ellis, wrote her own personal tribute, “So sad to hear about the death of Chita Rivera. I had the pleasure of spending time with her at Remember the Ribbon: A Tribute to World AIDS Day in 2022. She spent much of her life advocating for the LGBTQ+ community and people living with HIV and AIDS. Sending love to her family.”

Rivera observed of her own legacy, “Many of the shows I danced in don’t exist on film, but they do exist in the memories of those who were in the theater for that single moment in time. And nothing can replace that.”

She lived her life in single moments. The record of what she accomplished is imbedded in hearts, minds, memories and the forever told stories of Broadway. She will always be known by reputation and by legacy. As she makes her way up the red carpet, we can only hope she is greeted by her throng of angels, all those who passed before her. They know the exact name that we, who she has left, should have for her.

Legend.

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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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Homophobic threat after HRC dinner in D.C. rattled Out actor

Bailey related a story from just this past October, when he was in Washington D.C. attending the annual Human Rights Campaign National Dinner

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President Joe Biden, British actor Jonathan Bailey, & First Lady Dr. Jill Biden at the Human Rights Campaign's annual National Dinner on October 14, 2023. (Official White House photo by Adam Schultz)

LONDON, UK – The London Evening Standard’s Culture Editor and weekly columnist Nancy Durrant recently sat down with award winning British actor Jonathan Bailey known for his comedic, dramatic, and musical roles on stage and screen.

The 35-year-old actor, who stars as Anthony Bridgerton in the Netflix streaming service series Bridgerton and as the character of Tim Laughlin, a fictional aide to Wisconsin Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy in the Showtime series Fellow Travelers, is openly gay.

Based on the book series by Julia Quinn, Bridgerton’s period drama storyline revolves around a fictional family and is set in the world of Regency era London during the social season where marriageable youth of nobility and gentry are launched into society.

During the interview with the Evening Standard about his role in Fellow Travelers, Bailey gave the publication rare insight into his own relationship status, and confirmed that he does have a partner, who he described as a “lovely man.”

As they discussed the actor’s new series Fellow Travelers, based on a 2007 novel by Thomas Mallon, in which he co-stars opposite Matt Bomer as Hawkins Fuller a World War II veteran and official at the State Department who vigilantly hides his homosexuality.

The story line of the two closeted gay political staffers who fall in love at the height of the 1950s Lavender Scare in the series chronicles their hidden romance over several decades, navigating through various historical events such as the Vietnam War protests and the AIDS crisis.

As the interview progressed the Evening Standard delved into a discussion comparing the storyline of the ‘Travelers’ and the current political and cultural landscape for the LGBTQ+ community with “rights for women and LGBTQ+ people are being rolled back across the world. Hate crimes based on sexuality have risen by 112 per cent in the last five years in England and Wales alone. How does he feel?”

Bailey related a story from just this past October, when he was in Washington D.C. attending the annual Human Rights Campaign National Dinner, and had an opportunity to meet President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden.

Reflecting on the dinner he told the Evening Standard, “It was an incredible experience,” he said. “I met President Biden. I was there with Shonda Rhimes, she was being given an award, Matt Bomer was given another one; I was introducing him. My first political gala. I had the most amazing night; had a drink; couldn’t sleep; buzzing.”

However, it was his experience the next morning at a coffee shop that was rather jarring. He continued his narrative:

“I woke up the next morning, it was like a montage. Sunshine, I was like, this is brilliant. I went into a coffee shop, and I was wearing a Human Rights Campaign cap from the night before. And the young lady who I was ordering from recognised me from Bridgerton, we were just chatting.

“And a man arrived behind me and he said, ‘Are you famous?’ And I said something like, ‘I’m really famous for ordering coffee,’ which is actually quite an annoying thing to say,” he laughs. “And then he got my cap, and he pulled it off my head and he threw it across the room and he said, ‘get out of this fucking coffee shop, you queer.”

The room went still, Bailey told the Evening Standard. But he related that he walked over, picked up his hat, and put it back on his head. “If you don’t take that cap off, I’m gonna fucking shoot you,” it came again. “Where I’m from, people like me kill people like you.”

It was, of course, terrifying. But “in the moment, everything slows down,” he says. “No one knew what to do, apart from one girl, she was amazing. Angela, she came up, and she got her phone out and she said, ‘I’m recording this message, I think you are welcome in this country. And what you’re saying, I think, is appalling.’ That happened sort of five minutes in, and he left.”

The Evening Standard noted that the man was from Pennsylvania according to Bailey who apparently asked him, and what Bailey took from the experience, he said, is that “potentially, there is a kid who – that’s his father. That’s his uncle. That’s his teacher.” 

He pauses. “My life was threatened. My body believed it; my brain didn’t and it took me a while to really catch up with it. But I’ve got friends and security. There are so many people that don’t. They are surrounded by that every day, and the torment of what that must be like, the amount of fear that was generated… If that’s what children are surrounded by, they’re not going to be able to grow in any way.

“And of course, that’s not just an American story,” he continues. “It’s international. And it’s terrifying, that [here in the UK] we’re not looking after queer people, in terms of allowing them into the country. Because that is the reality; people’s lives are literally at risk.”

Before shifting into other topics, Bailey told the Evening Standard reflecting on both Fellow Travelers and the incident in the Washington coffee spot:

“People are still living in the closet. Or they’ve had a moment where they’re watching and they realise, that was their father’s story, or their mother’s story; or it’s people who have been affected by this, but for the first time are understanding the trauma.

“People are so shocked that this is such recent history, but the majority of people in the world are living under that sort of belief system. And people on Instagram message from areas in the world where just getting through the day without being outed is survival.”

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Taylor Swift named TIME’s Person of the Year for 2023

In a tradition that dates back to 1927, TIME’s Person of the Year is the annual designation for the person that most shaped the headlines

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Taylor Swift (Screenshot/Era's Tour, film documentary release)

NEW YORK – In a tradition that dates back to 1927, TIME’s Person of the Year is the annual designation for the person, group or concept that most shaped the headlines, for good or bad, and this year mega-pop star musical artist Taylor Swift was the magazine’s choice for 2023. 

Swift was among a list of nine candidates which included Hollywood strikers, Chinese President Xi Jinping,  CEO of OpenAI Sam Altman, Trump Prosecutors, Barbie, Russian President Vladimir Putin, King Charles III and Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell. The magazine revealed its selection Wednesday morning.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was Time’s 2022 person of the year.

Photograph by Inez and Vinoodh for TIME

The 33-year-old native of Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, has been dominating headlines between her record-breaking Era’s Tour, film documentary release and her relationship with Kansas City Chief’s tight end Travis Kelce — among other accomplishments. The Berks County, Pa. native also reached billionaire status this year, thanks to her Era’s tour.

As reported by the Blade, Swift effortlessly incorporates politically charged messages through her music.

Swift’s activism – and on-stage advocacy – includes her pro-LGBTQ+ messaging. In her song, ‘You Need to Calm Down’, Taylor tells homophobic individuals to “calm down” and that they are being “too loud.”

This especially rings true with a slew of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being forwarded in the United States. In the same song, she brings awareness to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation by singing, “Why are you mad? When you could be GLAAD?” 

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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.

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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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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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Lil Nas X Toronto Film Festival appearance delayed by bomb threat

The 48th Toronto International Film Festival had opened on September 7th and runs till September 17th, 2023

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Singer-songwriter & rapper Lil Nas X answering questions after the premiere of the documentary at Roy Thomson Hall Saturday. (Screenshot/YouTube TIFF)

TORONTO, Canada – The widely anticipated global premiere of the documentary “Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero” at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) was forced to be delayed after homophobic bomb threat festival organizers said.

The 48th Toronto International Film Festival which opened on September 7 and runs till September 17, was briefly delayed Saturday night after a threat was made according to a TIFF spokesman. Variety reported:

The gala screening was scheduled for a 10 p.m. start at Roy Thomson Hall, one of TIFF’s premier venues. The documentary’s co-directors Carlos López Estrada and Zac Manuel and editor Andrew Morrow arrived on the red carpet first, posing with fans that lined the entryway. But as their subject, pop superstar Lil Nas X, pulled up in his car to join them, organizers were informed that a bomb threat had been called in and the artist was told to hold, sources told Variety. The threat specifically targeted the rapper for being a Black queer artist, one source added.

In statements to Variety and other media outlets Saturday after the incident, the TIFF spokesperson said:

“Earlier this evening, we were made aware by the Toronto Police Service of an investigation in the vicinity of the red carpet for the ‘Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero’ screening. Our standard security measures remained in place during this time and the screening commenced with a slight delay. To our knowledge, this was a general threat and not directed at the film or the artist.”

A spokesperson for Toronto Police on Sunday said: “Yesterday, at the TIFF, a passerby uttered a threat towards private security,” “Out of an abundance of caution, the Toronto Police and the private security swept the scene and cleared within 20 minutes. The threat was general and did not target any one person.”

LIL NAS X: LONG LIVE MONTERO at TIFF 2023 | Q&A with Lil Nas X:

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The parrothead nation mourns, Jimmy Buffett has died at 76

He regaled audiences with songs about the faces and places he’d seen during his lifetime journey along the road less travelled

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Jimmy Buffett 1946-2023 (Screenshot/YouTube CBS Mornings)

SAG HARBOR, New York, – His was a voice that chronicled an easy going homage to beach bum lifestyles speaking to generations with storytelling lyrics once compared with writers’ Ernest Hemingway’s eye for detail and Mark Twain’s inclination for mischievous humor.

Singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett has died at age 76 according to an announcement on his social media accounts. The September 1st statement noted that Buffet was surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs.

He had rescheduled concerts this past May and acknowledged he had been hospitalized for an unspecified illness. Buffett had been fighting Merkel Cell Skin Cancer for four years. He continued to perform during treatment, playing his last show, a surprise appearance in Rhode Island, in early July.

In addition to being a bard for several generations of Americans needing the escapism and feel good vibe his music brought, the self-described workaholic was very much a shrewd businessman whose empire beyond concerts and music landed him a place on Forbes’ America’s Richest Celebrities list with a worth of over a billion dollars in 2023.

Based on the title of Buffett’s beloved signature song, ‘Margaritaville’ his holdings included nightclubs, restaurants, a musician’s typical business model of album sales, concert tickets and souvenir T-shirts. Buffett was also accomplished writer with several New York Times bestselling novels published.

Buffett’s music tells the stories of the hustlers, the beach bums and the pirates from all corners of the world. Through it all are woven the themes of escapism, wanderlust and an unbridled curiosity that makes life a journey worth taking.

The White House issued a statement Saturday from President Joe Biden who said:

“A poet of paradise, Jimmy Buffett was an American music icon who inspired generations to step back and find the joy in life and in one another.
 
His witty, wistful songs celebrate a uniquely American cast of characters and seaside folkways, weaving together an unforgettable musical mix of country, folk, rock, pop, and calypso into something uniquely his own.
 
We had the honor to meet and get to know Jimmy over the years, and he was in life as he was performing on stage – full of goodwill and joy, using his gift to bring people together.
 
Over more than 50 studio and live albums and thousands of performances to devoted Parrot Heads around the world, Jimmy reminded us how much the simple things in life matter – the people we love, the places we’re from, the hopes we have on the horizon.
 
A two-time Grammy nominee and winner of multiple country music awards, he was also a best-selling writer, businessman, pilot, and conservationist who championed the waters and Gulf Coast that he so loved.
 
Jill and I send our love to his wife of 46 years, Jane; to their children, Savannah, Sarah, and Cameron; to their grandchildren; and to the millions of fans who will continue to love him even as his ship now sails for new shores.”

Buffett embraced a litany of progressive causes including LGBTQ rights. In 2016, and although several other music headliners had canceled concerts due to an anti-LGBTQ law in North Carolina, Buffett, as always loyal to his fans decided to play the two concerts scheduled but took to his social media and released a statement castigating the law as “stupid.”

”Time has fortunately reversed a lot of that way of thinking. But now another stupid law, based on stupid assumptions, has sprung up like kudzu in North Carolina,” the singer-songwriter wrote adding a quote from the movie Forrest Gump, telling his fans, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

Read Jimmy Buffett’s full statement here:

As a traveling musician for 40 years, I played many shows years ago, in many states where you could go to prison for 20 years for smoking a joint. It was a stupid law based on stupid assumptions. Time has fortunately reversed a lot of that way of thinking. But now another stupid law, based on stupid assumptions, has sprung up like kudzu in North Carolina, where we are scheduled to play shows next week in Raleigh and Charlotte.

North Carolina was there for me as a performer in the early days and I have always felt a loyalty to fans there that goes deep. Rightly so, a lot of people are reacting to the stupid law. I happen to believe that the majority of our fans in North Carolina feel the way I do about that law. I am lucky enough to have found a job in the business of fun. These shows were booked and sold out long before the governor signed that stupid law. I am not going to let stupidity or bigotry trump fun for my loyal fans this year. We will be playing in Raleigh and Charlotte next week.

That said, as for the future of shows in North Carolina, it would definitely depend on whether that stupid law is repealed. That is up to the good people of North Carolina and there are many, and I am confident that they will see that the right thing will be done. As Forrest said, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

Fins Up,
Jimmy Buffett

For over 50 years Buffett regaled audiences with songs about the faces and places he’d seen during his lifetime journey along the road less travelled. 

His biography reads:

Buffett was born on Christmas day 1946 in Pascagoula, Mississippi and raised in the port town of Mobile, Alabama. His grandfather, James Delaney Buffett, was a captain on a steamship and his father J.D. traveled to India and Africa with the Army Corps of Engineers before settling in Mobile. For young Jimmy, the Gulf of Mexico was the doorway to a world of adventure where the characters he heard about in his grandfather’s stories were waiting to be discovered. The siren call of exotic ports was in contrast to his days as a parochial school student and an altar boy, and it only took a guitar to take him off course from the life his parents had imagined for him.

When Jimmy saw how a fraternity brother in college with a guitar garnered the attention of the girls, he quickly learned a few basic chords and started playing himself. Suddenly Jimmy’s world opened up – while he still attended classes, he quickly had his first band and went from busking the streets of New Orleans to playing 6 nights a week at Bourbon Street clubs.

After graduation, Jimmy headed to Nashville to work for Billboard Magazine and to try his luck as a folk-country singer, releasing his first record, “Down To Earth” in 1970. However it was a fateful trip to Key West, Florida with Jerry Jeff Walker in 1971 that would give Jimmy the inspiration to merge his musicality, wanderlust and storytelling.

Key West in the 1970s was not the tourist-friendly town it is today – it was the last outpost of smugglers, con-men, artists and free-spirits who simply couldn’t run any further south in the mainland United States. It was there that the young musician thrown into the midst of this eclectic mix found his true voice as a songwriter – telling the stories of the wanderers, the adventurers and the forlorn.

In 1974, his song “Come Monday” from the fourth studio album “Living and Dying in ¾ Time” entered the Billboard charts, eventually peaking at number 30. That year found Jimmy touring solo-acoustic and performing at well-known folk venues across the country, from the Troubadour in Los Angeles to Club Passim in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He hasn’t stopped touring since.

And then in 1977 came “Margaritaville.” A laid-back anthem about escapism and life in the tropics, the song spent 22 weeks on the Billboard chart, peaking at number 8. It catapulted Jimmy to national fame and, nearly a decade later, inspired Jimmy to launch a business empire.

After 27 studio albums, New York Times bestselling books, a Broadway play, numerous movie and television appearances, Grammy nominations and Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association awards, it was still the music that inspired Jimmy. He was just as likely to pop up and play an impromptu set alone at a Caribbean beach bar as he was to be on stage in front of 30,000 loyal ‘Parrothead’ fans.

And after logging millions of miles on the road, on the ocean and in the air, distant ports still beckoned and the same unbridled curiosity drove him to keep looking for that next story to share via song.

Jimmy Buffett’s classic – Come Monday with a never before seen introduction from the man himself.

and the song that began it all:

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