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‘Kinky’ Grand ‘Candelabra’

Here is our Top 10 countdown of the entertainment world’s gayest moments of the year:

Thomas Roberts, gay news, Washington Blade

Thomas Roberts (Washington Blade file photo by Lee Whitman)

10. Gay MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts draws criticism for hosting the Miss Universe pageant in Russia in November. Roberts and Miss Universe co-owner Donald Trump claimed it was a chance to make a positive impact in the country where anti-LGBT laws are abundant. “We are good, regular, hard-working people who come from solid families,” Roberts said. “So when I heard there was a chance at this assignment, I aggressively went after it.” Many gay rights activists criticized any work in Russia with some even calling for a boycott of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.


Steve Grand, NGLCC National Dinner, National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Building Museum, gay news, Washington Blade

Steve Grand (Washington Blade file photo by Lee Whitman)

9. Gay country singer Steve Grand has a massive YouTube hit with his video “All-American Boy” in July. While many enjoyed the hot video,  some gay viewers objected to the storyline, which finds the friend ultimately rejecting Grand’s advances. Grand, who appeared at D.C.’s Town Danceboutique in November, said the video was more about “longing for someone” as opposed to “being gay.”


Frank Ocean, music, gay news, Washington Blade

Frank Ocean (Photo by Nabil Elderkin; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

8. Out hip-hop newcomer Frank Ocean won two Grammy Awards in February. His 2012 project “Channel Orange” won in the new category Best Urban Contemporary Album and he shared a joint award with Kanye West and Jay-Z in the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “No Church in the Wild.” He was nominated in four other categories. Ocean’s acceptance in the mainstream hip-hop world — where homophobic lyrics are not uncommon — was seen as a major sign of progress.


Kinky Boots, Broadway, theater, gay news, Washington Blade

The cast of ‘Kinky Boots.’ (Photo courtesy of Foresight Theatrical)

7. The hit Broadway musical “Kinky Boots” was a major triumph on Tony night in June when out actor Harvey Fierstein, ally Cyndi Lauper and out actor Billy Porter all won. The show, which tells the story of a struggling British shoe factory whose owner forms an unlikely partnership with drag queen Lola to save the business, was a critical and commercial success. Lauper performed one of the songs (“Sex is in the Heel”) in Washington in November at the Warner Theatre during her “She’s So Unusual 30th Anniversary Tour.”


6. However, gay themes can’t in and of themselves save a show, especially on TV. It was an uneven year for TV shows with gay characters. For every success, like Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black,” which features a lesbian lead character serving jail time, there were also high-profile failures such as the Ryan Murphy-helmed “The New Normal,” a sitcom about a gay couple that NBC cancelled in May, and “Partners,” the CBS sitcom cancelled at the end of 2012 before its remaining seven episodes were aired in the U.S.


5. MSNBC suspended Alec Baldwin from his weekly talk show in November two weeks after he used an anti-gay slur against a New York photographer. A TMZ-captured video appeared to show Baldwin calling a paparazzo who tried to take a photo of his wife and infant daughter a “cocksucking fag” though the actor claimed he said “fathead” and subsequently apologized. Baldwin has been in hot water before for similar comments. He apologized to GLAAD earlier in the year for calling British reporter George Stak a “toxic little queen.”


Matt Damon, Liberace, Scott Thorson, Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra, HBO, gay news, Washington Blade

Michael Douglas, left, as Liberace, and Matt Damon as Scott Thorson in ‘Behind the Candelabra.’ (Photo courtesy HBO)

4. The HBO Liberace biopic “Behind the Candelabra” starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon is a critical and ratings success when it airs in May. It won three Emmys in September including Best Miniseries or Movie and Best Director for Steven Soderbergh who said earlier that he originally planned the film for theatrical release, but couldn’t get backing. “Nobody would make it,” the straight director told the New York Post. “We went to everybody in town. They all said it was too gay.”


Matthew Shepard, The Book of Matt, gay news, Washington Blade

Cover of ‘The Book of Matt’

3. “The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard” creates major controversy when it’s released in September. Gay journalist Stephen Jiminez, publishing around the 15th anniversary of Shepard’s death, claims Shepard had a sexual relationship with convicted murderer Aaron McKinney and that Shepard’s death was not a hate crime so much as a crystal meth-fueled attack based on alleged conflicts over a drug deal at a time when the two were working for rival drug suppliers. Many LGBT activists including the Shepard Foundation dismissed the book as “attempts now to rewrite the story” based on “untrustworthy sources, factual errors, rumors and innuendo.” Jiminez says he worked on the book for 13 years and interviewed more than 100 people on the record.


2. It was another big year for celebrities coming out. Among this year’s crop are “Prison Break” actor Wentworth Miller, “Cosby Show” vet Raven-Symone, Los Angeles Galaxy pro soccer player Robbie Rogers, Broadway vet Victor Garber, “Kyle XY” actor Matt Dallas and actress/singer Maria Bello. Perhaps most memorable — though hardly shocking — was Jodie Foster. While accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes in January, Foster she’d been out for years to her family and friends and though not ever using the word “lesbian,” acknowledged her former partner Cydney Bernard. In the political world, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) came out, making him the eighth openly LGB member of Congress.


Brendon Ayanbadejo, gay news, Washington Blade, Baltimore Ravens

Former Ravens player Brendon Ayanbadejo has been an outspoken supporter of LGBT rights since 2009 and served as guest editor of the Blade in August. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

1. If Hollywood seemed surprisingly squeamish about gays (see the “Candelebra” entry at No. 4), gay visibility in the sports world was unprecedented in 2013. Among the notables were basketball player Jason Collins who came out on the cover of Sports Illustrated in May; swimmer Diana Nyad, who swam from Cuba to Florida in August; British diver and Olympic Bronze medalist Tom Daley who came out in December; and Brendan Ayanbadejo who was part of the Super Bowl-XLVII-winning Baltimore Ravens in 2012 and has been a staunch advocate of same-sex marriage as a straight ally. Ayanbadejo guest edited the Aug. 30 edition of the Blade.


Chris Brown arrested in D.C.

Chris Brown in Australia in 2012. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia)

Chris Brown in Australia in 2012. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia)

Controversial R&B singer Chris Brown was charged early this morning with felony assault according to police and reports from several media outlets, including CBS News.

D.C. police spokesperson Paul Metcalf told CBS News the 24-year-old Brown got into a physical altercation with an adult male near the W Hotel located on K and 15th street around 4:25 a.m. local time. It occurred about 4:25 a.m., police said, between 35-year-old Christopher Hollosy of Glendale, Calif., and 24-year-old Christopher Brown of Hanover, Va.

Police said Hollosy was released from the hospital after sustaining non-life-threatening injuries.

In the police report, obtained by the Blade, Brown is quoted as saying, “I’m not down with that gay shit. I feel like boxing.” The report does not classify the incident as a possible hate crime; boxes for “yes” or “no” in regard to that are left blank.

Brown has been dealing with legal problems since 2009, when he was arrested for assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna and was first placed on probation.

He’s faced a spate of obstacles in recent months including four concerts in Canada that were canceled, a probation reinstatement this summer after an alleged hit-and-run accident and a seizure. In January, he was involved in a confrontation with out singer Frank Ocean. Reports of the incident said a member of Brown’s entourage called Ocean a homophobic slur.


Chris Brown allegedly assaults Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean, Chris Brown, R&B, music, gay news, Washington Blade

(left) Frank Ocean and Chris Brown were involved in an altercation at a Los Angeles recording studio on Sunday, according to sources. (Photo of Ocean by David Hwang; photo of Brown by Eva Rinaldi; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

According to several sources, out R&B singer Frank Ocean is considering pressing charges against fellow R&B artist, Chris Brown, after the troubled Brown allegedly punched Ocean during a fight Sunday night between two groups at a Los Angeles recording studio.

The fight involving six men began as an argument over a parking space at Westlake recording studio, according to celebrity gossip website, TMZ. Sources say that Ocean is accusing Brown of throwing the first punch in an altercation that began in the parking lot, and spilled over into the lobby of the recording studio, where video surveillance captured a destructive tussle between friends that were accompanying Brown and Ocean. Neither singers appear to throw any of the punches on the videotape. Staff at the studio called 911 when the fight moved indoors. Later Ocean posted an update to his Twitter account that he’d injured his finger in the brawl, which — according to the wording of the post — may affect a possible (but as yet unannounced) performance at the Grammy Awards.

Reuters confirms that Ocean is seeking to press charges against Brown over the fight.

Ocean “is desirous of prosecution in this incident,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore, according to Reuters.

Ocean also identified Chris Brown by name in a twitter update about the fight on Sunday.

“got jumped by chris and a couple guys. lol. i only wish everest [Ocean's dog] was there.”

While Brown left the scene of the altercation when it was over, Ocean apparently stayed to speak to police, and, according to MTV, filed a battery report.

Ocean has been nominated for six Grammy awards, and his debut Channel Orange album has topped many 2012 critics’ favorites lists, leading many to speculate the singer — who came out of the closet just prior to the album’s release — will likely walk away well awarded at the end of the night.

Brown is currently on probation for an infamous 2009 assault on then-girlfriend pop-star Rihanna, as well as a 2012 assault on Canadian rapper Drake. Another battery charge could spell jail time for the troubled star.

Brown and Ocean have traded barbs in the past, with Brown reacting negatively to Ocean’s coming out in 2012, and allegedly sending family to attack Ocean in 2011 after the two engaged in an argument on the social networking website, Twitter, according to LGBT news and entertainment website, Towleroad. Chris Brown has been known to use anti-gay slurs liberally in the past.

Here Ocean performs “Bad Religion,” a song about falling in love with a man, on the Jimmy Fallon show days after coming out of the closet.


Gays galore on Grammys

 Go here for a complete list of winners!

It was a pretty gay Grammys by most standards.

The Grammy Award. (Courtesy NARAS)

The Grammy Award. (Courtesy NARAS)

Early in the telecast, broadcast live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences’ 55th annual presentation, Elton John performed, Ellen DeGeneres made a show of ogling co-presenter Beyonce and Neil Patrick Harris quoted Katharine Hepburn in witty opening remarks.

The gay star of the night, though, was hip-hop newcomer Frank Ocean who won Grammys in the new category Best Urban Contemporary Album for his 2012 project “Channel Orange” and, in a joint award with Kanye West and Jay-Z, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “No Church in the Wild.” He was nominated in four other categories.

Melissa Etheridge, with hair raked back in a severe ponytail, was briefly seen in the audience a couple times. DeGeneres and wife Portia de Rossi were seen several times. Ellen, especially, was majorly getting down during the Bob Marley tribute.


Year in review: Gay is ‘The New Normal’

Adam Lambert, Tommy Joe Ratliff, marriage equality, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, 9:30 Club, music, Marylanders for Marriage Equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Adam Lambert (right) became the first openly gay musician to have an album debut atop the Billboard charts. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)


The old activist slogan “We are everywhere” proved true for arts and entertainment headlines in 2012. LGBT individuals and issues were omnipresent in the media this year, with very little controversy.

Here are some of the biggest moments from television, music and movies.


Gay dads are “The New Normal.” NBC’s gay-themed sitcom has sharply divided audiences but it’s still kicking around. Bryan (openly gay Andrew Rannells) and David (Justin Bartha) are a gay couple who want a baby. Single mother Goldie (Georgia King) decides to become their surrogate, which doesn’t sit well with politically incorrect grandmother (Ellen Barkin). The series could come back for a second season, although let’s hope if it does it’s better written.

“Modern Family” stays way gay. Still TV’s funniest and most awarded sitcom — and possibly its gayest, now in its fourth season on ABC — “Modern Family” doesn’t skimp on the interplay between male couple Mitchell (openly gay Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cameron (Eric Stonestreet), whose adopted young daughter has provided more comic fodder.

“American Horror Story” queers and scares. From Ryan Murphy of “Glee,” who’s gay, comes this scary, twisted series. Its fall/second season follow-up “Asylum” is more popular than its first, with plenty of gay and lesbian touches and out performers such as Zachary Quinto and Sarah Paulson.

“Partners” breaks up. Michael Urie, who’s gay, of “Ugly Betty” starred in this comedy as one half of a straight/gay best friend bromance. Louis (Urie) and Joe (David Krumholtz) are lifelong friends and now co-workers, but new people in their life (including Brandon Routh as Louis’ boyfriend) have changed the dynamics. Unfunny and forced, it has already been canned by CBS after a few months.


Frank Ocean comes out. Hip hop/R&B artist Frank Ocean came out at the beginning of the year about falling in love with a man, though he does not like to label his sexual orientation, and got little to no flack for his announcement. In December he was nominated for six Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year for “Channel Orange.”

Adam Lambert tops Billboard charts. Adam Lambert became the first openly gay musician to have an album debut atop the Billboard charts. Released in May, “Trespassing” had both ballads and his traditional dance-until-you-drop music.

Madonna delights LGBT fans. After a successful performance at the halftime show of the Super Bowl this year, Madonna’s long-awaited new album, “MDNA” dropped in March. The immortal one came to Washington and the audience was packed with LGBT fans.


Enjoying “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” One of the year’s best films, this adaptation of the Stephen Chbosky novel about an outcast and the new crowd he falls in with was well cast, with Logan Lerman as the main character whose new best friend Patrick (Ezra Miller) is gay. The likes of Emma Watson, Dylan McDermott, Paul Rudd, Joan Cusack and Melanie Liskey shone, but Miller (who came out as queer earlier this year) was the standout.

“Pariah” brings visibility. Out director Dee Rees turned her acclaimed short film into a feature, detailing the coming out of 17-year-old, poetry-writing Alike, played wonderfully by newcomer Adepero Oduye.  Bold and beautifully shot, it is one of the few films with African-American lesbians.

“Keep the Lights On” wins raves. Ira Sachs’ heavy-hitting tale of a love affair between a filmmaker and young man with a drug problem started the year winning raves at Sundance and ended the year shocking many by getting a number of Independent Spirit Award nominations alongside some heavyweight motion pictures.

“Any Day Now” worth waiting for. Out actor Alan Cumming, in one of the finest performances of his career, stars as a gay man/drag queen by night in the ‘70s who tries to get custody of a teenager with Down Syndrome, who lives down the hall and whose mother is unfit. Based on a true story, it’s heartbreaking stuff.



Year in review: Better late than never: Anderson Cooper comes out

Anderson Cooper, CNN, gay news, Washington Blade

Anderson Cooper (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A number of celebrities, politicians and other officials came out during 2012.

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper publicly acknowledged being gay for the first time in a statement gay commentator Andrew Sullivan posted to his blog on July 2. Sam Champion, weather anchor for “Good Morning America,” announced on-air in October that he was engaged to his long-time partner, photographer Rubem Robierb. (The couple attended a Freedom to Marry fundraiser in Miami Beach, Fla., a few days later.)

Gay singer Ricky Martin was among those who applauded Puerto Rican boxer Orlando Cruz after he came out on Oct. 3. R&B singer Frank Ocean in July acknowledged his homosexuality, while Jamaican singer Diana King came out on her Facebook page in June. British singer Mika told Instinct Magazine in August he is gay.

Pennsylvania state Rep. Mike Fleck, a Republican who attended Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., earlier this month came out during an interview with a local newspaper. Stefany Hoyer Hemmer, daughter of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.,) came out as a lesbian during an exclusive interview with the Washington Blade in June.

“My father, as you know, just came out in support of gay marriage,” she said. “The momentum in Maryland right now for the adoption of the gay marriage law is fast-paced. I’m 43 years of age, and I’ve been gay my whole life and I just figured this is a good time to lend my name to the cause.”

DC Comics in June announced the Green Lantern is gay as part of its effort to reinvigorate the “Earth 2” series.