News Round-Up: June 9, 2020

Joe Blizzard (via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Woofy Joe Blizzard (above) is back in the gym, offering up selfies. Don’t mind if I do… 🙂 Follow him on Instagram here.

Mr. Man: The world’s leading online library of male nude scenes in film has revealed its ‘Hottest Gay TV Scenes of All Time.’ The diverse list features several men of color like Billy Porter and Omid Abtahi, an actor with cerebral palsy, and some of Hollywood’s top stars who have dared to portray gay sex on the small screen.

Gay Star News: Puerto Rico’s governor has signed a new Civil Code that leaves out LGBT+ protections despite a rise in LGBT+ murders. The new Civil Code makes no mention of protection from hate speech or discrimination in employment, goods and services. Governor Wanda Vázquez has already received backlash for her response to the killing of at least 10 LGBTQ Puerto Ricans in 2019 and 2020.

Poz: During a study researching a vaccine for HIV, scientists found that soon after taking the participants off antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for a period of close monitoring, the virus rapidly rebounded in their semen. The discovery raises concerns that men who participate in such trials while taking a break in their usual HIV meds are at risk of transmitting the virus through sex.

Roll Call: After the recent dust-up between Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Donald Trump over protests in the DC area, House Democrats plan to bring up a vote on statehood for the District. Expect it to pass in the House, but Senate Republicans will never let it happen. DC voters are overwhelmingly Democratic, and statehood would give the Dems two more Senators plus a voting member of the House.

Twitter: Social media star Sarah Cooper’s latest lip-dub of Donald Trump takes on ‘How to lobster.’ If you don’t follow her yet, you really should. Funny, funny stuff.

Podcast: Aaron Schock, HIV In The Military, Sherry Pie, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg,

TJ Osborne makes history at the CMA Awards, new documentary 'Mayor Pete' takes you behind the scenes of the 2020 presidential campaign, LGBTQ people are getting vaccinated at much higher rates than heterosexuals

The Randy Report podcast delivers the week's top stories in a quick, convenient podcast - 'the 60 Minutes of gay news - only shorter'

In this week’s podcast:

• The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals issues important decision for those with HIV

• Disgraced former Rep. Aaron Schock comes out as gay

• Former Vice President Joe Biden’s plans to advance LGBTQ equality
Link to The Biden Plan To Advance LGBTQ Equality in America
Link to Bernie Sanders LGBTQ Plan

• Pro golfer loses sponsors after sharing a homophobic meme on social media

• ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ cancels Sherry Pie after admitting to cat-fishing young actors nude photos and videos

• RuPaul’s scripted Netflix series ‘AJ and the Queen’ canceled after one season

• Mayor Pete Buttigieg ended his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report

After Bungled HIV Outbreak, Pence Is The Guy To Head Up Coronavirus Efforts?

L-R Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump (public domain)

Donald Trump’s announcement that Vice President Pence would head up U.S. efforts against the spread of the coronavirus caused many to raise eyebrows given Pence’s woeful handling of one of the biggest HIV outbreaks in Indiana’s history.

From the Washington Post:

“He’s got a certain talent for this,” Trump said at a White House briefing about the virus, which has infected nearly five dozen people in the United States so far.

The announcement has cast light on Pence’s record as a lawmaker and his handling of a major public health crisis during his time as governor of Indiana. The worst HIV outbreak in the state’s history happened on his watch in 2015, which critics blamed on Pence’s belated response and his opposition to authorizing a needle-exchange program.

In 2011, as a member of Congress, he voted to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. Two years later, a Planned Parenthood clinic that had been the only HIV-testing center in Scott County, Ind., closed after public health spending cuts, HuffPost reported.

Two months passed from the start of the outbreak in 2015 before Pence declared a public state of emergency.

Pence’s solution for the HIV outbreak was to turn to prayer.

It wasn’t until after 75 more people were diagnosed as HIV+ that Pence finally allowed a 30-day needle exchange program to be implemented.

Pence also opposed condom distribution to combat HIV. That led, in part, to his overseeing the defunding of Planned Parenthood in Indiana. As a result, the Planned Parenthood clinic in Scott County, which housed the county’s only HIV testing center, closed in 2013.

But this is the guy to spearhead the federal government’s response to a worldwide virus…?

Sen. Bernie Sanders weighed in on the choice of Pence via Twitter:

HIV Campaign Using Condoms With Risqué Double-Entendres Cancelled As ‘Lewd’

(image via Utah Dept. of Health)

A fun, new campaign in Utah meant to bring awareness to HIV has been summarily canceled by Gov. Gary Herbert over the use of condoms labeled with risqué double-entendres.

Ben Winslow at Salt Lake City’s FOX 13 reports Utah’s Department of Health was ready to hand out 100,000 condoms with wrappers that took various Utah memes and gave them a sexy spin.

Among the humorous designs were: “Greatest Sex on Earth” a riff on the state’s ski slogan ‘Greatest Snow on Earth;’ “SL, UT” as a play on the abbreviation for the state’s largest city; “Fillmore, Beaver” referencing a local landmark; “Don’t Go Bare” featuring an image of a bear; and “This is the Place” pictured over a bed – the phrase was famously uttered by Brigham Young when pioneers found the Salt Lake Valley.

Other states, including Alaska and Wyoming, have taken part in similar campaigns.

The sex-positive messages were created by the advertising firm Love Communication, which was hired by the Health Department.

Before the governor’s action, Erin Fratto, of the Utah Department of Health’s Prevention Treatment and Care Program, told the Salt Lake Tribune, “It’s really just to destigmatize HIV in Utah, and get everybody talking about sexual health.”

“If the condoms are fun, relatable, sex-positive — people are more apt to talk about them, which we’ve already seen,” added Frotto.

But in a statement to FOX 13, Anna Lehnardt, a spokesperson for the governor wrote, “The Governor understands the importance of the Utah Department of Health conducting a campaign to educate Utahns about HIV prevention. He does not, however, approve the use of sexual innuendo as part of a taxpayer-funded campaign, and our office has asked the department to rework the campaign’s branding.”

The Health Department issued an apology regarding the “offensive packaging,” and admitted, “the designs did not go through necessary approval channels.”

“We remain committed to running a campaign to help in the prevention of HIV and intend to do so in a manner that better respects taxpayer dollars, and our role as a government agency.”

(Source: FOX 13, Salt Lake Tribune)

News Round-Up: December 7, 2019

Some news items you might have missed:

Instahunks: Fashion designer Daniel Sheehan calls his white t-shirt the ‘sexiest basic’ you’ll own, but I don’t see anything ‘basic’ in this pic (above).

Newsweek: The Hallmark Channel has yet to produce any gay-themed Christmas movies, but a petition launched by outraged evangelicals is aimed at thwarting any future attempts at making a film with LGBTQ themes or characters.

• The Hill: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) – “The President doesn’t give a shit about what’s good for our country, what’s good for Ukraine. It’s all about what’s in it for him personally and for his reelection campaign.”

Advocate: A Republican congressman has introduced a bill he positions as a compromise answer to the Equality Act, but it includes broad religious exemptions.

Twitter: Donald Trump said today that “it is wrong” that “laws allow a baby to be born from his or her mother’s womb in the 9th month.” #WhoWantsToTellHim?

Instinct Magazine: For the first time since the HIV/AIDS crisis began, 2019 saw more straight men in Western Australia diagnosed with HIV than their gay peers.

CNBC: Donald Trump has asked the US Supreme Court to void a subpoena from the House that seeks the president’s financial records from his accounting firm. #WhatIsHeHiding?

Playbill: Tony and Oscar nominee Adam Driver (Burn ThisBlacKKKlansman) sings “Being Alive” from Company in Marriage Story.

Driver sings the iconic Stephen Sondheim tune as his character, Charlie, is coming to terms with having to rely on himself, to stay strong, to be alone in the next phase of his life.

News Round-Up: November 7, 2019

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: From the looks of woofy Jeff Ferreira’s photo (above) today, the high of 57 degrees in NYC must have felt preeeety warm 🙂

Iowa Caucuses: The latest polling from Quinnipiac University shows Mayor Pete Buttigieg moving into the number two spot. Senator Elizabeth Warren receives 20% support among Iowa likely Democratic caucus-goers, with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg getting 19%, Sen. Bernie Sanders at 17%, and former Vice President Joe Biden at 15%.

NY Times: The Trump administration has filed a lawsuit against Gilead Sciences, which sells Truvada used as HIV-prevention medication for PrEP, accusing the company of earning billions from research funded by taxpayers without paying taxpayers back.

Advocate: Scientists say they have discovered a new strain of HIV for the first time in nearly two decades.

Watch What Happens Live: Queer Eye guy Karamo Brown initially told the press he and former White House press secretary Sean Spicer had become “friends” during his time on Dancing with the Stars. But on WWHL this week, Brown backpedaled on that saying there “was no friendship.”

Washington Blade: Two judges have now struck down a controversial Trump administration rule allowing health care providers to opt-out of procedures to which they have religious or moral objections, a policy that threatened care for LGBTQ people and others.

Christmas Music: Political satirist Randy Rainbow releases a 7-track EP titled, HEY GURL, IT’S CHRISTMAS! tomorrow featuring guests Kathy Griffin, Alan Cumming, Norm Lewis, and Lorna Luft.

News Round-Up: October 14, 2019

Michael and I getting our Pride on at Las Vegas Pride this year

Some news items you might have missed:

Pride: We do LGBTQ Pride later in the year here in Las Vegas because June, the traditional month for Pride, is swelteringly hot. That’s Michael and I (above) briefly striking a pose. Check out more from Las Vegas Pride 2019 at the bottom of this post via Instagram.

Boy Culture: Scotty Bowers, the purported pimp and hustler to a slew of Golden Age of Hollywood stars, praised by some for his frankness and bashed by others as a fabulist, died Sunday at 96.

Politico: Sen. Elizabeth Warren is increasing pressure on Facebook to police false political ads on the social media platform. Her campaign made an ad with false claims and it was quickly approved.

Unilad: This gay couple from Argentina adopted a baby living with HIV that was rejected by ten other families.

Instagram: Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Holland (currently starring together in Spiderman: Far From Home) almost broke the internet when jokingly posting, “Forget the Biebers… We’re getting married.”

Deadline: Billy Porter on trying to break into Hollywood, “We must speak life into ourselves, even when everyone around us is doing the opposite. I never saw anything that looked like me, and visibility – when we see ourselves reflected back – is so important.”

And now, more shiny, happy people (including Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Chasten Buttigieg) at this year’s Pride celebration here in Las Vegas:

Podcast: Buttigieg’s Big Bucks; Former Mr. Leather Europe Aids African Refugee; Church Steps Up For LGBTQ Teen Prom

In this week’s podcast:

• Mayor Pete Buttigieg announces largest campaign donations of any Democratic candidate for the second quarter

• A former Mr. Leather Europe comes to the aid of an African lesbian refugee as she starts a new life in Manchester. To help Shadia, click here.

• A local church stepped up after haters shut down an LGBTQ teen prom

• A new study shows there’s still a LOT of stigma to overcome regarding HIV

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report

You can also listen to The Randy Report podcast (for free!):

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For portability, its useful to know all of those outlets have apps you can install on your phone – for free!

Thanks for listening, folks!

Study Shows 48% In UK Would Feel Uncomfortable Kissing Someone HIV+

A survey from the UK shows 48% of respondents say they would be uncomfortable kissing someone who is living with HIV, even though 97% of those diagnosed in the UK are virally supressed thanks to modern antiretroviral medications.

The survey, commissioned by the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) and executed by YouGov, found high levels of stigma still abound when it comes to HIV.

Multiple studies have shown that people living with HIV and on effective treatment report viral levels as ‘undetectable’ which means the virus can’t be passed on to sexual partners.

The PARTNER study, published in 2016, followed 58,000 instances of sex without a condom where one partner was HIV positive and one was HIV negative.

The resulting research showed there were zero cases of HIV transmission where the HIV+ partner was on effective treatment reducing viral levels to ‘undetectable.’

The PARTNER 2 study, released in May 2019, found zero cases of HIV transmission among 782 serodiscordant couples having condomless sex when the HIV+ partner had undetectable levels of HIV.

Dr. Michael Brady, Medical Director for the Terrence Higgins Trust, says “We are now saying with confidence – and without doubt – that people living with HIV who are on effective treatment cannot pass the virus on to their sexual partners.”

But the survey found only 19% of British respondents are aware of that fact. A surprising 41% believe the virus can be passed on even with the virus suppressed in the patient.

Also from the survey:

• 38% would feel uncomfortable going on a date with someone living with HIV

• 64% say they would feel uncomfortable having sex with someone living with HIV

• People aged 35-44 were most comfortable with the proposition of kissing someone with HIV (43%) while older respondents (55+) were much less comfortable (25%)

A campaign by the THT, titled ‘Can’t Pass It On,’ aims to tackle outdated beliefs regarding HIV and the stigma/discrimination associated with the virus.

While noting that condoms are still the most effective way to avoid all sexually transmitted diseases, the campaign hopes to ensure that people know the facts about HIV and effective treatment.

For more info about the THT/YouGov survey, click here.

Australia: Man Receives HIV Diagnosis While Using PrEP ‘On Demand’

Steven Spencer, who lives in Sydney, told the Sydney Morning Herald he received the diagnosis in December.

“I was in complete, as were my doctors,” said the 27-year-old.

With an estimated half a million people currently taking PrEP (aka Truvada) to prevent HIV infection, Spencer is believed to be the 7th person in the world to be diagnosed as HIV+ while taking the medication.

Taking PrEP “on demand” is a dosing strategy aimed at taking the medication only at specific times before and after sex.

Dr. Darren Russell, of the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine – which helped develop Australia’s clinical guidelines for PrEP – told the Morning Herald, “Taking PrEP only around the time of sexual events allows for fewer tablets to be taken overall, resulting in less exposure to medication, potentially fewer side-effects, and lower costs.”

Medical experts in Australia stressed to the media that people shouldn’t doubt the drug’s effectiveness in light of Mr. Spencer’s diagnosis.

Andrew Grulich, program head of HIV Epidemiology and Prevention at the University of NSW’s Kirby Institute, underscored the point that PrEP had been a “game-changer for HIV prevention in Australia” since it was made available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (which provides subsidized prescription drugs) in April 2018.

“Individuals should remain confident of PrEP’s effectiveness,” he added.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control say daily PrEP reduces the getting HIV by more than 90%.

According to Grulich, most of the cases where patients acquired HIV while using PrEP involved a virus that is resistant to the anti-viral medication.

Steven Spencer of Sydney, Australia

Immediately after his diagnosis, Spencer was put on HIV medications, and within six weeks was declared to have an ‘undetectable viral load’ meaning he couldn’t transmit the virus to anyone.

And Spencer still believes in the PrEP protocol.

“What happened to me doesn’t change the fact that PrEP is still the most powerful HIV preventative we have ever had,” said Spencer.

“It is protecting hundreds of thousands of people from HIV in an empowering way, alongside effective treatment for people living with HIV,” he added.