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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.

02
Jan
2014

Queery: Kevin Buice/Mona Lotts

Although Kevin Buice says he loves performing and wishes he had started his drag career earlier, his alter ego was almost an afterthought.

Working in restaurant management, some friends at Partners (now Rigby’s Bar & Grill) in Rehoboth Beach, Del., were talking about ways to bolster their brunch about 10 years ago.

“I said, ‘You should have a drag queen,’ and they said, ‘OK, you’re on this Sunday,’” the 49-year-old Atlanta native says. “I said, ‘I don’t do drag.’ They said, ‘You do now.’”

Buice, who performs as Mona Lotts every Thursday and Friday night at the Blue Moon (bluemoonrehoboth.com) year round (except when it’s closed in January), says, “it became obvious very quickly that entertaining was something I was supposed to do.”

Splitting time between Washington and Rehoboth, Mona also performs regularly at Freddie’s Beach Bar, Ziegfeld’s/Secrets, and other gay bars. She has a basement in D.C. and a storage unit in Rehoboth where she keeps more than 100 wigs and “probably” 500 gowns. Mona never likes to be seen in the same gown more than twice a year, Buice says with a laugh.

“Mona has her own personality, I would say,” Buice says. “I know that sounds like mental illness, but I find it’s much easier to say things, do things and be more outgoing as her. Kevin’s actually a pretty shy person. Mona is very extroverted.”

Buice and partner John Foley have been together 13 years. Buice was married to a woman years ago and has a daughter, Katie, 24. He enjoys singing, reading, movies and time with friends in his free time.

“I love meeting new people,” he says. “If you’re in Rehoboth, definitely come by and say hi.”

 

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? 

Twenty-five years. My daughter Katie.

 

Who’s your LGBT hero? 

I have two. Tim Ragan, one of the owners of the Blue Moon where I work. Tim is a very successful businessman and has lived his life with his partner Randy for over 30 years. He is a hero of mine because success in public and personal life does not come easy and I have huge respect for the way he’s mastered both! Also the individuals who participated in the Stonewall Riots in New York. These individuals were the catalyst that started the movement that changed the perception of LGBT persons in the USA.

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? 

Ziegfeld’s/Secrets

 

Describe your dream wedding.

Twenty to 30 friends and family gathered to share a short ceremony with me and my partner at the National Cathedral in D.C. followed by a HELLACIOUS party at Blue Moon in Rehoboth!

 

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Literacy. If you cannot read and write your chance of survival and success in life is almost nonexistent.

 

What historical outcome would you change? 

I would have stopped 9-11. America and the world were changed forever that day.

 

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? 

The cell phone.

 

On what do you insist? 

Honesty and loyalty.

 

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? 

I posted Shania Twain’s video of “Dance With The One That Brought You” to my partner John’s FB page. It was my way of telling him I was thinking of him and that he’s the only one for me!

 

If your life were a book, what would the title be? 

“Mona – Life In and Out of Lipstick Was Never A Drag”

 

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? 

Run like hell!

 

What do you believe in beyond the physical world? 

Somebody bigger than me has got to be looking out for me. Otherwise I’d be dead.

 

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? 

Keep on going! We have to leave this world better than we found it.

 

What would you walk across hot coals for? 

My mother’s cooking.

 

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? 

Everyone who does drag wants to be a woman.

 

What’s your favorite LGBT movie? 

“To Wong Foo”

 

What’s the most overrated social custom? 

Shaking hands

 

What trophy or prize do you most covet? 

The applause and smiles of an audience every time I perform.

 

What do you wish you’d known at 18? 

I wish I had known that I could have a career performing. I love what I do and wish I had started the art of female impersonation as early as possible.

 

Why Washington? 

You tell me — I’d rather be at the beach!

14
May
2014

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)

By JIM FARMER

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.

TV

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.

Music

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.

Film

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.

 

27
Dec
2012