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Anti-gay GOPer Aaron Schock locks down Instagram account as outing rumors swirl

Anti-gay GOP Cong. Aaron Schock locks down his Instagram account as gay rumors grow.

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04
Jan
2014

NYT kinda outs Aaron Schock

The NYT reported on Itay Hod's outing of an unnamed GOP congressman, then linked to multiple stories naming him.

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16
Jan
2014

Furor over closeted lesbian Queen Latifah officiating mass gay wedding at Grammys

33 couples got married at the Grammys this past Sunday, several of which were gay.

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28
Jan
2014

Ellen’s “coming out” interview on Oprah 17 years ago (video)

Ellen talks about how she was always afraid that Oprah wouldn't like her if she ever found out Ellen was gay.

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16
Feb
2014

Cartoon: Ellen Page comes out

Ellen Page, Human Rights Campaign, Juno, coming out, HRC, gay news, Washington Blade

Ellen Page comes out. (Washington Blade cartoon by Ranslem)

19
Feb
2014

Importance of openly gay elected officials

Jim Graham, Washington, D.C., gay news, Washington Blade, gay elected

Gay D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) (Washington Blade file photo by Jeff Surprenant)

Like so many others, I have gone through many stages as a gay man. Knowing who I am, and being comfortable with all that, has taken time. I have gone from denying my sexuality and marrying a woman (who I loved then and still do to this day), to divorce. What followed were awkward personal times working in the U.S. Senate where there was then zero tolerance for being gay.

But when I became the volunteer President of Whitman-Walker Clinic on April 1, 1981, I came out of the closet with a roar — for a time everyone (whether they liked it or not) had to be told by me that I was gay. Those were my “Billboard Years.” More change followed after 16 years as head of the Clinic. I became more “right sized.” Being gay was a key part but only one part of my make-up. When I ran for D.C. Council in 1998, I ran on that basis and got elected, and re-elected ever since.

With all that in mind, I was struck by a recent suggestion by a Blade columnist that it wouldn’t matter if the D.C. Council went from its current two gay members to none at all.

It’s amazing that a gay columnist for a gay newspaper would suggest that not having gay elected leaders is of no significance! Harvey Milk must be turning over in his grave.

I have never campaigned just as a “gay man.” Had I done so, I would never have won. When I was first elected in 1998, Ward One was 71 percent minority population — 46 percent black and 25 percent Latino. I ran against an incumbent, African-American male, well known for his leadership in D.C. and in the national Civil Rights Movement.  In 1998, one out of every four Ward 1 residents were living in poverty. My record at Whitman-Walker demonstrated a commitment to all people as well as poor people –especially those living with HIV and AIDS, from the earliest days of the pandemic.

Why do people vote a particular way? The reasons are limitless, and surely sexual orientation, race, gender, religion, are all part of it. “Identity politics” is hardly dead. It matters — sometimes positive, sometimes negative — that a candidate is gay. It can make a big difference.

My sexual orientation informs what I do and say. But being gay is only part of who I am. I work every day to integrate all aspects of my life.

Yet to suggest as the columnist did “that LGBT residents are fully integrated into the fabric of local life” — and that “sexual orientation of elected officials is inconsequential” is just plain wrong. LGBT candidates bring a unique experience to government.

For example, I was just honored by the DC Center for my work on a recently passed bill establishing an LGBTQ homeless services program with 10 beds for these kids only.

Would that have passed without the energetic support of a gay Council member? Maybe, maybe not. But the DC Center surely thought it made a positive difference.

And why else does the Victory Fund endorse openly gay and lesbian candidates?  It’s not because — as the columnist suggested — “that the gay community is fully integrated into our different communities.” It’s because that having one of our own at the table counts.

But that is just the start. I, along with hundreds of other out LGBT elected officials, cannot win without earning the trust of our communities to stand with them and fight for everyone.

14
Mar
2014

Ultimate launching pad

Crystal Bowersox, gay news, Washington Blade

Crystal Bowersox likes to test candidates for upcoming releases during her live show. She plays Wolf Trap next week. (Photo courtesy Wolf Trap)

Crystal Bowersox

The Barns at Wolf Trap

1635 Trap Road, Vienna, Va.

Wednesday

8 p.m.

Tickets: $24-28

Wolftrap.org

Conventional wisdom has it that the holidays are not a good time to come out.

Crystal Bowersox didn’t quite do it around a Christmas Day family meal, but she definitely didn’t follow the usual path either.

When Bowersox released her Christmas album last December, one of the songs was called “Coming Out For Christmas” and the singer came out as bisexual during her touting of the record.

“I think it’s important that people in the public eye be public about where they stand and who they are because it will give kids around the world the confidence to be who they are,” she says. “It’s not good for anyone to hate any aspect of themselves and I think it sets a good example for young people to love themselves.”

America was introduced to Bowersox in 2010 as a contestant on “American Idol,” a single mother with dreadlocks who had a voice that crossed the territories of blues, country, folk and rock. Although she finished second to Lee DeWyze, her star was on the rise.

“Before ‘Idol,’ I had never done any excessive touring. I did some local gigs in my hometown and I was happy doing what I was doing,” she says. “When I had my son, I realized I wasn’t doing it on the level I needed to be doing it on to provide a stable income and life for my child.”

Historically, “American Idol” has elevated a number of members of the LGBT community to fame, including former runners-up Clay Aiken (season two) and Adam Lambert (season eight) — but like Bowersox, none came out until after their time on the show was over. Still, their braveness paved the way for the show’s first openly gay contestant, MK Nobilette, to compete and make it to the top 10 this season.

“The show changes your life in every possible way. There’s no other way to be heard by 30 million people,” Bowersox says. “The show gave me everything. It gave me a sounding board, industry cred and taught me what I was capable of as a performer. I learned a lot and now I can take what I learned and go out there and do what I do.”

The “American Idol” fave makes her Wolf Trap debut on Wednesday. Bowersox will play tunes off her critically acclaimed debut album “Farmer’s Daughter,” her latest “All That For This” and an EP she released quietly pre-“Idol” called “Once Upon a Time.” She also plans some possible candidates for an upcoming EP. She likes to sing them live to gauge audience reaction.

“It will be an evening of songs and storytelling,” she says. “I really like to interact with my audience and my show is like an on-going conversation with them. During the show people are calling things out and we’re telling jokes and having a lot of fun. I just hope people come, are entertained and leave feeling good.”

One of the things she loves most about a concert date is seeing the audience singing along with her — something she never imagined would happen.

“It’s nice to have recognition in something you created and have a crowd know every single word and sing them back to you,” she says. “That’s the true reward of being a singer/songwriter and performer.”

Bowersox will also surprise one lucky audience member with a trip to join her on stage, and after the show, she will make herself available for photos and autographs to every single person who wants one.

“I love to say hello and meet people,” she says. “I get a lot of feedback from people after the show and I just want them to be honest and help me know what’s working for my fans and what isn’t.”

Bowersox is also attached to the musical, “Always … Patsy Cline,” which has been rumored to make it to Broadway sometime in the next year. The singer plays the famous title character and croons the best of Cline.

She’s fulfilling a dream she’s had since she was little. In first grade, Bowersox played Suzy Snowflake in a school production and from there on in, wanted to perform for a living.

“I always loved to sing and dance but didn’t know I could make money doing it,” she says. “Eventually, I learned I didn’t have to go and get a job at Burger King, I could get people to pay for this service. I haven’t done much else since then. I am very lucky that I could do what I love for a living.”

20
Mar
2014

PFLAG panel features parents of gays

PFLAG, Baltimore, Baltimore Pride Parade, Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, gay news, Washington Blade

PFLAG

When a child comes out as LGBT, parents often jump into that very same closet themselves by not revealing to others that their child is LGBT. At the regularly scheduled general meeting of the Columbia-Howard County chapter of PFLAG on April 8, there will be a panel discussion presented by parents of LGBT children. The panel members will share their experiences of their own coming out to family and friends. Following the panel presentation, an open discussion of the parental coming out process will transpire.

The meeting takes place between 7:30-9:30 p.m. at the Owen Brown Interfaith Center, 7246 Cradlerock Way in Columbia. All meetings are free, confidential and open to the public. For more information visit pflagmd.org.

01
Apr
2014

The 7 gayest Aaron Schock Instagram posts of 2013

Aaron Schock's not gay, but his Instagram account is.

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02
Jan
2014

Russian activist: Gay crackdown seeks to ‘shut down’ advocacy

Russia, anti-gay, gay news, Washington Blade

Protesters gathered outside of the Russian Embassy on Wednesday, July 31, 2013. (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

A member of a Russian LGBT rights group that was fined under the country’s “foreign agent” law said on Friday the ongoing gay crack down in Russia seeks to “shut down any kind of possibility for LGBT advocacy.”

“These laws are aimed at driving LGBT people back into silence, back underground, back to the invisibility,” Polina Andrianova of Coming Out, a St. Petersburg-based advocacy group, told the Washington Blade. “That’s the whole point of them.”

Andrianova spoke to the Blade from St. Petersburg after an appellate judge in the city on July 25 overturned a lower court’s ruling that fined Coming Out 500,000 rubles or slightly more than $15,000 for violating a 2012 law that requires groups that receive funding from outside Russia to register as a “foreign agent.”

“We were extremely surprised the appeal judge actually dismissed the decision of the lower court and sent our case back for trial,” she said. “Even though it’s clear we’re not guilty of anything, we did not expect that.”

The Coming Out case comes against the backdrop of growing outrage over Russia’s LGBT rights record.

President Vladimir Putin in late June signed a broadly worded law that bans gay propaganda to minors across the country. A second statute that prohibits foreign same-sex couples and any couple from a country in which gays and lesbians can legally marry from adopting Russian children took effect last month.

Andrianova told the Blade only a handful of people have been charged and found guilty of violating the gay propaganda law. She said the statute’s true impact, however, is felt outside the Russian legal system.

“The propaganda terminology is so vaguely defined that nobody knows what is right or wrong to do,” Andrianova said. “All I know is it has something to do with me being openly gay. If I am on the streets and I hold hands with my girlfriend or kiss my girlfriend — something that any heterosexual couple can do at any time — I’m afraid now that somebody will call the police. Some mother with a child will call the police and the police will arrest me and harass me.”

Authorities in the Russian capital in May arrested 30 people who tried to stage a Pride march outside Moscow City Hall. Police in Murmansk on July 21 arrested four Dutch LGBT rights advocates who were filming a documentary about gay life in Russia.

St. Petersburg police on June 29 took dozens of LGBT rights advocates into custody as they tried to stage their own Pride event.

Andrianova, who did not attend the gathering, told the Blade that several Coming Out volunteers and clients are among the roughly 50 people whom authorities arrested. She said her organization is representing them in court.

Anti-gay laws way for Putin to ‘gain more conservative support’

Andrianova told the Blade she feels the ongoing anti-LGBT crackdown is part of what she described as a “much wider campaign” for Russia to “define itself and define itself in opposition to the West, Europe and the United States.”

“Russia is defining traditional values and Christian orthodox heterosexual values, patriarchal when a man has a role and a woman has a role with a traditional family with kids,” she said. “Gay people, non-Christian orthodox people, all of them are viewed as kind of dangerous to the traditional values of Russia and so they’re viewed as non-Russian and [have] imported values from the West.”

Andrianova added she feels Putin signed the gay propaganda to minors and adoption bans into law as a way to maintain his popularity within the country, especially after protests erupted after the country’s 2012 presidential election the former KGB officer won.

“He got a bit worried about it,” Andrianova said. “He’s trying to gain more conservative support.”

Andrianova blasts Russian sports minister over Sochi comments

Andrianova spoke to the Blade as concerns over whether Russian authorities plan to exempt athletes and visitors who will visit Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics in February from the country’s gay propaganda law mount.

The Associated Press on August 5 reported the International Olympic Committee is engaged in “quiet diplomacy” with senior Russian officials on the issue.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told a Russian sports website last week the gay propaganda law will apply to those who travel to Sochi for the Olympics. He told reporters during a Moscow press conference on Thursday that the statute’s critics need to “calm down.”

“Does that mean that during all the rest of the time you don’t need to be tolerant and we don’t need to be correct in your behavior towards your own citizens?” Andrianova asked, referring to Mutko’s statements. “This double standard and hypocrisy needs to be picked up and highlighted by the rest of the world.”

All Out and Athlete Ally on August 7 presented a petition with more than 340,000 signatures to the IOC in Lausanne, Switzerland, that urges it to pressure Russian officials to protect the rights of their LGBT citizens. Andre Bank, executive director of All Out, on Thursday discussed the issue with Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Cherkin before he met with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York.

The Associated Press earlier on Friday reported IOC President Jacques Rogge sought further clarification from the Russian government over the application of the gay propaganda ban during the Sochi games.

Andrianova suggested to the Blade that President Obama’s decision to cancel his meeting with Putin that had been scheduled to take place in Moscow before next month’s G-20 summit in St. Petersburg is among the ways to continue to highlight Russia’s LGBT rights record. She said she does not support calls to boycott the Sochi games.

“It’s going to be much more effective to use the Olympics to raise this issue as loud and as visibly as possible,” Andrianova said. “We should call on the athletes and the sponsors and staff and volunteers to make this issue as visible as they can, to speak as loudly as they can to speak about how shameful it is and how absurd it is for Russia to be acting like this towards its LGBT citizens. That’s going to be more effective and more visible in Russia than some athletes not coming to the Olympics.”

09
Aug
2013