Tom Daley – Taking the Plunge

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Tom Daley, stylishly relaxing poolside. |Image: Ben Quinton for the Guardian.

Excellent article in The Guardian yesterday, profiling British diver Tom Daley. I encourage you to read it.

Daley details where he is in his life, his career, his relationship with Dustin Lance Black. He’s cheeky and smart and humble. Generally, he comes off much more well-rounded than you would imagine for someone who is only 21 years old and who has been competing on the world stage since he was 14.

Good on ya, Tom. Not just another pretty face. (But is IS a damn pretty face!)

Tony Dungy, Michael Sam and Gay Players in the Locker Room

Good conversation on the Rubin Report about Tony Dungy and Michael Sam. I think Dungy really showed how close-minded he is. His unwillingness, as the first African-American NFL coach, to see how important Sam is to diversity in the game, is rather stunning.

Anyhow, watch. Rubin always has something interesting to say.

When Not Shutting Up When You are Told to Shut Up is Important

I’ve run across several articles recently that prove that I am not, in fact, alone in my thinking, mostly in regards to being vocal about being gay. Or bi. Or trans. Or just somehow perceived as different than the majority. At least there are a few people who are talking about these things now. I am always reminded of Dan Savage’s take on America: that we’re always the first to compliment ourselves about being the land of the free and the home of the brave but are always dead last with the actual freedom and the bravery.

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Michael Urie in “Buyer and Cellar.” |Image: Joan Marcus

The first of these articles is a little piece on Michael Urie in FrontiersLA. Urie is bringing the terrific one-man show Buyer and Cellar to Los Angeles after a tremendous run off-Broadway. In this piece, Urie says,

 “When I first started Ugly Betty in 2006, things were very different. I was encouraged to stay in the closet. This was before Neil Patrick Harris had come out. Even though I was playing an openly gay character, we thought we might want to keep the mystery of what I do behind closed doors. But, for me, coming out has only aided my career. It might not be good for everyone, but I have gotten to play so many wonderful roles.”

I find it so disheartening that today an actor would legitimately have to think about coming out because it could possibly damage his career. And, while I 100% get it, I also think that in 2014 you absolutely must say “No, I’m not lying about who I am so that I can be on a TV show.”

No one says you have to lead with it, for God’s sakes, but if someone’s askin,’ I’m tellin.’

Good interview. Michael Urie: Funny Girl Meets Funny Guy in Buyer and Cellar.

[As an aside, I was thinking, “What would noneofyourdamnbusiness-year-old me tell 25-year-old me about the benefits of coming out and working in or around “the business?” If I was 25 years old today, it’s a different answer than when I was actually 25 years old.]

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Matt Fishel. The singer’s refusal to “un-gay” his lyrics prompted him to start his own label. |Image: mattfishel.com

The next piece serves to validate my assumption here (Kit and Van and Cal and Thom and … Cassandra?) that we have barely moved the needle in the entertainment industry in terms of LGBT acceptance in the last three decades.

There has been some press in the U.S. recently about London-based singer Matt Fishel and his terrifically poppy single “Radio Friendly Pop Song,” which tells the artist’s side of my anecdote about “you can’t be gay on the radio.” Hell, I don’t even know that Fishel was even born when that happened to me.

But it’s still happening. Only now, alleges Fishel, artists are being told not to sing about same sex attraction. (Oh, you know it happens every damn day.) Fishel’s song — and his entire canon, actually — is devilishly clever. Steve Grand is doing a lot of the same envelope-pushing stateside.

Here’s the HuffPo article and an embed of Fishel’s video. The Music Industry Doesnt Want You To Hear These Songs Because They Arent Radio-Friendly.

OutSports’ Cyd  Zeigler wrote a great piece on Michael Sam and his acceptance of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPY’s. He calls 2014 “the year of Michael Sam” and, in many ways, I agree with him.

Michael Sam and boyfriend Vito Cammasano after the 2014 NFL draft. Sam, the first openly gay man in the draft, was picked up by the St. Louis Rams.

If you truly want to make progress on acceptance in this country, I think you do have to have a sports breakthrough. A baseball or basketball breakthrough is okay, but a football breakthrough, well, that’s where the rubber meets the road. If we can change the dialogue in football — with strong allies such as Brendan Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe leading the initial drive and a well-spoken, humble and talented out player like Michael Sam taking the first watch; things will start changing. Still, says Zeigler,

Everything isn’t suddenly better in sports for gay men like Michael. There is still a wall around conversations and banter. There are still those in sports who oppose men like Michael simply because he’s gay. Two hours before Michael accepted that award on stage, an athlete refused an interview by me because I simply wanted to talk about gay men in his sport. There is still a long way to go. We must do better.

He’s absolutely right about that. Read the whole thing: Michael Sams Courageous Tears Were Real, and So Were Yours | Cyd Zeigler.

Finally, a fiendishly good essay on /Bent from Kit Williamson about how, his words, “fucking hard it is” to crowdfund a web series. In this case, the second season of his show, EastSiders. Alert readers will know that already because I have written a lot about this series over the last year or so.

Kit Williamson flanked by Van Hansis (l) and John Halbach (r) from EastSiders. Williamson writes candidly about crowdfunding the upcoming second season.

And one of the reasons I have done so is that I believe that Kit’s series is one of those projects that does move the acceptance needle a bit. Thus, I find it important. Also, it’s damn good storytelling. It’s good storytelling because it is raw and real and allows all of humanity’s flaws to be shown, just like in this piece.

I was so stressed out that I broke out in hives all over my body.  I gained ten pounds.  My health took a nosedive and I contracted a gum infection— I didn’t even know people got gum infections.  I crashed my car.  Twice.  But through it all I did my best to present an image of success and ease, both on social media and in real life.  I think, in part, I was afraid that people would take me less seriously if they knew just how fucking hard it all was.  It sounds oxymoronic until you consider that I live in LA, land of a million web series, where the majority of people you meet are looking for any opportunity to dismiss you as unworthy of their attention.  But I’m confident enough now in what I’m doing to admit that I sacrificed a lot, I rarely slept, I lived in squalor and I regularly forgot to feed my cat.

Keep a weather eye out for Williamson. He’s the stuff, I guarantee you that.

How I Raised $150,000 on Kickstarter: The Secret Is There Is No Secret |/Bent.

Sam, Takei, a Kiss, Much Ado About Nothing, and Getting Over It

I was going to write about this, then I read the great George Takei’s take and, well, why try to reinvent the wheel when the master has already said everything that needs to be said. Let Uncle George have the last word.

Much has been said about the moment when Michael Sam kissed his boyfriend on national television, as they joyfully and spontaneously celebrated the news of Sam’s drafting by the Rams. They embraced and kissed just like many other happy heterosexual couples do when one of them receives life-changing, great news. CONTINUE READING

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Michael Sam kisses his boyfriend after learning that he had been drafted by the St. Louis Rams.

That was the Gay Week That Was

The Week of February 10, 2014 is really one for the history books. The LGBT history books, for sure.

February 10 would have also been my dad’s 84th birthday. I wonder if he would recognize this brave new world?

Red EqualsMy old home, the Commonwealth of Virginia, had its constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage struck down this week. This comes after the new Virginia attorney general determined that he could find no legal foundation, since the Windsor decision, to support upholding the statute, outraging conservatives.

The courts also held this week that Kentucky had to recognize same-sex marriages of Kentuckians who were married in Equality States but who resided in the commonwealth. Now same-sex couples are asking that Kentucky allow same-sex marriages to happen within its borders. So, keep a weather eye out for this; still a developing story.

Also in Nevada, the Silver State’s attorney general said that his state’s constitutional same-sex marriage ban was “no longer defensible.” An about-face from a state where the constitutional restriction was put in place more than a decade ago.

Of course, this comes on the heels of recent decisions in Utah, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

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#52 from Mizzou, Michael Sam comes out. |Image: nbcnews.com

College football’s best defensive end, an odds-on favorite in the upcoming NFL draft, boldly came out this week before the draft. Michael Sam‘s decision set the entire sports world on its ear and prompted lots of conversations about gays in pro sports in places where they normally wouldn’t talk about such things. Good on him.

It also elicited this:

Dale Hansen is my new hero. Other people think so, too, which is how he got a trip here:

The magnificent Ellen Page came out at an HRC event and gave a terrific, moving and uplifting speech. Overnight, she has gone from quirky young star to just full-on awesome.

It wasn’t all good LGBT news, of course, because it seldom is, when you are fighting for what is right. The legislature in Indiana passed the first round of a same-sex marriage constitutional ban. The only good thing about this is that the earliest it could possibly go before Hoosier voters is 2016. Hopefully by that time, it will be so out-of-step with the rest of the country that it won’t go forward.

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Kansas: Trying to become the Inequality Heartland of America

And in Kansas — Oh, Kansas, moan ‘Friends of Dorothy’ everywhere — the legislature was caught up in a time-travel drama that sent their collective consciousness back to concocting Reconstruction Era policies. Some say the Kansas bill to enshrine LGBT discrimination into law under the (laughable) guise of being non-discriminatory — I know, I know — won’t pass, but I am afraid that stranger things have happened.

And there’s Sochi, and Nigeria, and, and, and ….

But, on Valentine’s Day, daytime television’s only gay supercouple, Days of our LivesWill and Sonny, officially got engaged. I am fairly confident that this is a first for daytime, although some have said that Kyle and Oliver of One Life to Live were the first. I’m not sure that’s correct, but I’ll happily be proven wrong. We’ve come a long way since January 2009 when As The World Turns’ Luke and Noah, daytime’s very first gay male couple finally consummated their relationship, but were never shown in bed together! DAYS gets a gold star in my book for the way they’ve been treating these guys. Here’s a sample:

I wonder what next week will bring? An early spring? Please? Anyone?

How to Behave Around Your Gay Teammate in the Locker Room

At the absolute worst, this teammate finds you attractive and has a moment of weakness and lets one little glance slip that you catch, and you notice because you’re (of course) already staring at him. Now you know how the thousands upon thousands of breasts you’ve stared at slack-jawed in your lifetime feel. Congratulations, Margaret, you’ve just become a woman!

via How to Behave Around Your Gay Teammate in the Locker Room | The Second City Network.

Priceless. It’s funny as hell — because it’s from Second City — but it rings pretty true. Take a read. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll want to head to a locker room!

New Doc Premieres About Jerry Smith, Gay Washington Redskin

You know I don’t “do” football, but if you live in Washington long enough (and I did) you start to absorb Redskins knowledge by osmosis. Jerry Smith was one of those Redskins who achieved a mythic quality among a certain generation of fans. And he was gay.

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Tight end Jerry Smith during his playing days with the Washington Redskins. |Image: Outsports.

And he couldn’t admit it.

It’s astonishing — I just wrote a post about a same-sex proposal on mainstream Days of our Lives — and here’s a reminder of how far we have come and how far we have to go. Pro football has given us many strong equality advocates recently, people like Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo, but we still don’t have an out player in the NFL. Soon, I hope.

Anyhow, this looks like a terrific documentary. Reporting from Outsports below.

Documentary delves into life of Redskins tight end Jerry Smith, a star who hid that he was gay – Outsports.