News Round-Up: July 9, 2020

Robbie Rodriguez (via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: So, who noticed openly gay Florida nurse and Crossfit athlete Robbie Rodriguez (above) on NBC’s ‘Titan Games’ recently? Follow the inspiring healthcare provider on Instagram here.

Washington Blade: The African nation of Gabon has decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations becoming one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa to legalize them. A 2019 law that criminalized same-sex relationships by a maximum penalty of six months in prison and a 5 million Central African CFA franc ($8,561) fine was repealed by both chambers of Parliament and the president of Gabon signed the measure on Tuesday.

Instinct Magazine: Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family) and Broadway producer Justin Mikita are officially fathers. The couple announced that their newborn baby boy, Beckett Mercer, was welcomed into the world on Tuesday, July 7.

CNBC: As the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues, 32% of U.S. households have not made their full housing payments for July yet. About 19% of Americans made no housing payment at all during the first week of the month, and 13% paid only a portion of their rent or mortgage.

NY Times: Joy Reid has been announced as the new anchor for the 7 p.m. ET hour on MSNBC. Her new show, “The ReidOut,” will premiere in the slot previously held by Chris Matthews’ “Hardball” on July 20. The new assignment makes Reid one of only a few Black women who have anchored a major American evening news program.

AP News: Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said Wednesday Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa in late June that drew thousands of participants and large protests “likely contributed” to a dramatic surge in new coronavirus cases. Tulsa County reported 261 confirmed new cases on Monday, a one-day record high, and another 206 cases on Tuesday. During the week before the Trump rally, there were 76 cases on Monday and 96 on Tuesday.

LGBTQ Nation: Out actress Javicia Leslie has been cast as the new Batwoman in the CW series, following Ruby Rose’s departure after just one season in the titular role. She will be playing Ryan Wilder, a different character from Rose’s Kate Kane. She’s described as “likable, messy, a little goofy and untamed.” While Ryan is “nothing like Kate Kane,” the new character is also a lesbian. Ruby Rose congratulated her successor on social media.

Taylor Swift Makes Surprise Appearance At Stonewall Inn

Pop star Taylor Swift surprised the crowd at the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City last night with an impromptu performance of her hit, "Shake It Off."
Taylor Swift makes surprise appearance at historic Stonewall Inn

Pop star Taylor Swift surprised the crowd at the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City last night with an impromptu performance of her hit, “Shake It Off.”

From Variety:

After a rousing pair of songs from Sara Bareilles — including a version of “Brave” that had virtually all of the 100-odd lucky people inside singing along — Swift was greeted by the evening’s headliner, “Modern Family” star Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

She thanked him for inviting her and said, “I heard this is Jesse’s favorite song to do at karaoke — which is an incredible rumor, I really want to believe it’s true,” she laughed and then turned to him. “So if there’s anything you feel like you want to jump in on, a part that you’re really good at, just sing, dance and be yourself — this is a really safe space!”

Before Swift performed, AEG, which co-hosted the event, presented Stonewall with a $50,000 check to support its Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative’s (SIGBI) development of an LGBTQ+ anti-bias training standard in conjunction with anti-bias training experts.

The performance occurred on the same day she dropped her latest single, “You Need To Calm Down,” which name checks GLAAD and chastises homophobes.

This is all just the latest in a string of actions by the 29-year-old artist in support of the LGBTQ community.

On May 31, Swift surprised folks by posting an open letter to her U.S. Senators asking them to support and pass The Equality Act, which would create federal protections against LGBTQ discrimination by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

During the 2018 midterm elections, she declared her opposition to virulently anti-LGBTQ U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). She also donated $113,000 to the Tennessee Equality Project to fight several anti-LGBTQ bills that have been introduced in the state.

Desperate Housewives’ Tuc Watkins vs Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Over the weekend, an “inner-tribe” debate began between Tuc Watkins (formerly of Desperate Housewives and Showtimes Beggars and Choosers) and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (of Modern Family).

In a recent Facebook post, Tuc said he found it difficult to watch Modern Family because the gay couple (played by Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet) were too stereotyped: ‘It feels a little bit like the gay equivalent of “blackface.” It doesn’t feel “modern” at all.’

Tuc went on to say, ‘I’m sure I scrutinize their characters more than the others. Maybe I can’t see the forest for the trees. But there’s probably a kid stuffed into a high school locker answering to that stereotype who doesn’t think it’s very funny either. The writers on that show are some of the funniest writers on television today. Why spend their time promulgating stereotypes that polarize us?’

Ferguson issued a rebuttal of sorts in the form of an open letter to Watkins:

Sorry you feel that way Tuc. I know lots of guys who are just like Cam and lots of guys who are just like Mitch. We can’t be expected to represent every gay person. We can only represent these two people.

Also, Mitch is basically a version of me…so I never know how to take it when people say that he is stereotypical. And in defense of Cam, I still can’t figure out how a clown & football coach who also happens to be gay is a stereotype.

When all is said and done, it’s a family sitcom. I feel our writers do a fantastic job of servicing 11 characters each week in just 22 minutes.

I am incredibly proud to play Mitch and I have a lot of pride in our show. As a closeted kid of the 80′s I would have loved to have had a show like Modern Family to watch with my parents. It would have meant a lot to me to see who I secretly was reflected on television.

TV has come a long way and it continues to forge new ground. I am thrilled with the work that you did on Desperate Housewives. It opened the door for shows like ours and hopefully we can hold that door open for many more shows to follow us. At the end of the day we can’t please everyone..and we shouldn’t try to.

Kinda just like life, right?

Take care. Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

So, today, Watkins comes back with an apology of sorts. Kinda sorta.

Dear Jesse,

I’m glad to see that a FB post can stoke a fire that burns in the LGBT community, and supporters of our community.

Many doors have opened in gay people’s fight for equality. Civil rights, marriage rights, and depictions of us individually and collectively on television. Great strides have taken us from tolerance into acceptance and towards true equality.

Stereotypes still exist. They probably always will. And while the truth is usually somewhere in the middle, stereotypes polarize us. No news there. But while an explanation of a stereotype can make good, logical sense, it still leaves the stereotype intact.

I’m glad to have played gay characters, but at the same time have been frustrated by the stereotypes I feel I’ve been party to in playing those roles. I’ve begged wardrobe designers so I wouldn’t have to wear paisley shirts, directors to reconsider a “snap” at the end of a scene, and writers to remove “Hey, gurl!” from dialogue.

I did it because when I was growing up, trying to figure out where I fit it in, I couldn’t seem to locate a role model. The stereotypes I saw made me think, “Well, I don’t identify with that so I must not be gay.”

I can appreciate that one man’s roadblock may be another man’s role model. I feel like my growth was stunted, but understand that another person’s may have been bolstered. I believe that, as a community we want to make the path easier for those who come after us. I want that. I’m certain you do to.

Some audience members can laugh through a character, but it can also distance others. We each come to the fight with our own baggage…as well as our own weaponry. “Revolutionary times call for revolutionary means.” My comments were extreme, and my use of the word “blackface” inexcusable. I regret creating dissension among the ranks, especially when we’re all in this fight together.

I see your point. I hope you’ll consider mine.

Sincerely, Tuc

What do you think readers? Does the Modern Family couple of Cam and Mitch hurt or help the LGBT community more?

(via Gay Star News)

Modern Family Stars Crash Frat House Party

On Conan last night, Jesse Tyler Ferguson recounts the tale of visiting Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas – his co-star Eric Stonestreet’s alma mater.

After a night of exploring the campus, Stonestreet suggests dropping by his former frat house. In doing so, the guys discover the fraternity had just held a party that basically trashed the place.

So, being who they are, they explore the trashed house and take pics along the way, including in Stonestreet’s old bedroom where a frat brother is in the middle of “entertaining” a lady friend.

What next? PICTURES!

Billy Porter, Jonathan Groff, Zachary Quinto and Jesse Tyler Ferguson celebrate Marvin Hamlisch

KINKY BOOTS Tony Award winner Billy Porter shared shots of himself and fellow Broadway headliners Zachary Quinto, Jonathan Groff, Jessie Tyler Ferguson and more at last night’s celebration of Marvin Hamlisch and the 40th anniversary of the birth of A CHORUS LINE.

The event was held at The Public Theatre in New York City.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson gets married to longtime bf

Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson got married in NYC  yesterday.  Congratulations to the happy couple!

According to US Weekly:

“Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Justin Mikita tied the knot yesterday in downtown New York City,” the rep said. “Tony Kushner officiated the ceremony.”

The pair, feted by over 200 guests, including Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, Julie Bowen, Ty Burell, Jerry O’ Connell, Rebecca Romijn, Zachary Quinto, Isaac Mizrahi and husband, Arnold Germer, Nigel Barker, Cat Deely, Mary Murphy, Tyce Diorio, and Eric Stonestreet, celebrated their nuptials at the 82 Mercer space and the afterparty at the Crosby Street Hotel, which was organized by planner, Bryan Rafanelli.

Later that night, Ferguson sent out one last tweet on his wedding day: