Star-Studded Streaming Event ‘Night of A Thousand Judys’ Set For June 24

Guest post by Lawrence Pfeil Jr.

What better way to start Pride Weekend 2021 than with a galaxy of stars paying tribute to the iconic, Judy Garland?  Even better you don’t have to be in Hollywood, Kansas or in Oz to do it!

You can enjoy the event from the comfort of your own home when the ninth annual “Night of A Thousand Judys” – the Pride concert to benefit The Ali Forney Center  written and hosted by Justin Sayre – will be presented as a streaming online event on Thursday, June 24 at 8:00 PM Eastern.

“A rambunctious, uproarious, unpredictable all-star concert” — The Wall Street Journal

 “Night of a Thousand Judys” will honor the iconic Judy Garland with tributes and songs from her legendary career as movie star, recording artist and stage performer. The virtual event is written and hosted by Justin Sayre, featuring Tracy Stark as music director.

Performers will include Alan Cumming (Cabaret, “The Good Wife”), Vivian Reed (two-time Tony nominee), Sam Harris (The Life, Grease), Mary Testa (three-time Tony nominee), Karen Mason (Netflix’s “Halston,” Sunset Boulevard), Nathan Lee Graham (Zoolander, CW’s “Katy Keene”) Jose Llana (The King & I, Here Lies Love), Margo Seibert (Rocky, Octet), Jane Monheit (two-time Grammy-nominated vocalist), Grace McLean (The Great Comet of 1812, Alice by Heart), Kevin Smith Kirkwood (Kinky Boots, The Wiz), Nadia Quinn (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, The Robber Bridegroom), Duchess Trio (“Vocal Group of the Year” – Jazz Journalists Association), and Gabrielle Stravelli (award-winning vocalist), with others to be added.

The Ali Forney Center is the nation’s largest agency dedicated to helping LGBTQ homeless youth. Watch the concert – which will be broadcast live and then available online for a month after the show – and donate to the cause at ThousandJudys.com

“We’re all getting back to normal, but maybe we can make a new normal,” says Sayre. “A normal where LGBTQIA kids don’t experience homelessness at such a larger rate than most.”

“Maybe our new normal can be better, for these kids. Maybe we can insist that it is,” Sayre added. “We all had to stay at home this year to be safe. We all deserve a home where they can be safe. That’s what the work, that’s the new normal that the Ali Forney Center is fighting for. We’re all honored to help them creating this new normal.”

The Ali Forney Center is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive agency dedicated to LGBTQ homeless youths—assisting nearly 1,400 youths per year through a 24-hour Drop-In Center which provides over 65,000 meals annually, medical and mental health services through an on-site clinic, and a scattered site housing program. AFC’s goal is to provide them with the support and services they need to escape the streets and begin to live healthy and independent lives.

Support the lifesaving work of the Ali Forney Center by donating HERE

Night of a Thousand Judys – Written and Hosted by Justin Sayre, musical direction by Tracy Stark, produced by Dan Fortune and Adam J. Rosen.

Lawrence Pfeil, Jr., is a freelance writer/playwright who has written for media outlets including The Randy Report, the New York Blade, and Edge Publications. You can follow him at TheOUTfront.com.

News Round-Up: May 5, 2020

(via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaFunny: My buddy Greg Chase shared the above meme about Cinco de Mayo. And I love tacos, I love margaritas and I even like Corona Beer. Dang coronavirus…

Buzzfeed News: LGBT parents are suffering homophobic and transphobic abuse from their own children during the lockdown, a charity has revealed — while young LGBT people are being thrown out onto the street by parents who discover their child’s sexuality or gender identity.

Washington Blade: The DC Eagle, the District’s oldest continuously operating gay bar that first opened in 1971, informed its employees Monday night in an online meeting that it was going out of business after learning the building it rented was sold and it would have to move out by September.

NowThis News: Every time I see these video clips all I can think is, “Imagine what would have happened if the protesters getting in the police officers’ faces had been people of color?” As one person on Twitter wrote, “And just like that, blue lives didn’t matter anymore.” Here are just some of the shocking moments from anti-lockdown protests happening across the U.S.

The Friendly Atheist: Ohio State Rep. Nino Vitale says he doesn’t want to wear a face mask during the coronavirus health threat because God doesn’t wear one either. “This is the greatest nation on earth founded on Judeo-Christian Principles. One of those principles is that we are all created in the image and likeness of God. That image is seen the most by our face. I will not wear a mask.”

Vanity Fair: According to sources, an investor group aligned with Donald Trump Jr. and the Dallas-based Hicks family has acquired a major stake in One America News Network, the fledgling conservative cable-news channel that has been reliably pro-Trump.

Outsports: Dennis Del Valle, a pro volleyball player from Puerto Rico now playing in Switzerland, said it was time to tell the world he is gay. The website 24 Hours reports Del Valle is the first member of a major Swiss men’s team in any sport to come out as gay.

 

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A post shared by Dennis (@delvalle427) on

Happy Thanksgiving From The Randy Report (And A Request)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

At The Randy Report, I talk a lot about politics and the political positions we all have.

The official policies here today are definitely “pro-Thanks” and “pro-Giving.”

I’m thankful for so many things this year – especially my hot hubby, Michael, and the 1st Amendment 🙂

That said, it’s easy for so many to enjoy this day. Whether wealthy or not, most of us have family, friends and a warm place to be today. I’m thankful that’s the case for me and my family today.

But there are many less fortunate.

Today I’m thinking of LGBTQ kids who have been turned out of their homes because their families won’t accept them for who they are, and they become homeless. And that’s just the beginning of a nightmare journey for these kids in crisis.

The mission of the Ali Forney Center in NYC is to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) youth from the harm of homelessness, and to support them in becoming safe and independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood.

The Center is committed to providing these young people with safe, dignified, nurturing environments where their needs can be met, and where they can begin to put their lives back together.

I humbly ask you to please take one minute – 60 seconds – and consider what a small donation could mean to help these young people.

If you feel so moved, click over to the Ali Forney Center website and consider this worthy organization when you think of “giving” today.  No amount is too small to help.

For anyone willing to help, donations can be made online via credit card or PayPal.

Or they can be mailed to:
Ali Forney Center
224 West 35th Street, 15th Floor
New York, NY 10001

I’m thankful every day that I get to share, post and pontificate here on The Randy Report.  Hopefully, I entertain a bit, help crack a smile, and every now and then inform.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for being here.

Happy T-day everyone!

Gay Teen Survives Being Disowned & Homelessness, Now He Helps Others In Need

Travis shares his story of homelessness

At 17-years-old, Travis was disowned for being gay.

In a heartbreaking video from Now This, Travis explains, “In my mom’s house, it’s God first and then family.”

His family signed a document informing him he would be arrested for trespassing if he stepped foot on their property again.

He used all his savings to move to Los Angeles and lived, for a time in a youth hostel.

But when his money ran out, he lived on the LA streets for weeks until the Los Angeles LGBT Center could secure a bed for him. The organizations also helped him find a job.

Now he’s helping others in his situation.

A 2012 study found 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ, and 68% of those cases were due to family rejection.

Check out his story below.

‘The Thrown Out Flag’ To Represent Homeless LGBTQ Youth

(all photos – Luke Gargano)

For many people, Pride Month means proudly flying the rainbow flag that has come to represent the values, characteristics and freedom that we celebrate as a community.

Those rainbow stripes appear outside homes and businesses, as well as on dozens of products as corporate America seeks to join the celebration.

But a new campaign notes that not everyone is celebrating.

The folks at Out Not Down, a non-profit outreach program at Calvary-St. George’s Parish located in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood, have created the “Thrown Out Flag” initiative to bring added awareness to the fact that 40% of homeless teens who come out are thrown out of their homes.

The campaign features photos by Luke Gargano of homeless LGBTQ teens wrapped in tattered, ripped rainbow flags dubbed the “Thrown Out Flag.”

Made from discarded fabrics in traditional rainbow colors, the flags represent those teens who have also been thrown out of their homes.

Each tatter and tear is meant to tell the stories of their struggle for acceptance.

The campaign targeted teens living on the streets with outdoor posters, bus kiosks and even billboards in Times Square. Its goal was to alert at-risk youth to the services and resources provided at Out Not Down which include housing, counseling and healthcare.

There’s also an Instagram account (here) to promote the initiative.

Additionally, flags were sent out as invitations to people to attend a gathering where teens could meet caring adults and share their stories.

According to Out Not Down, teens who were discarded by their biological parents can find supportive ‘rainbow parents,’ social workers and doctors.

The message to homeless LGBTQ teens from Out Not Down is “just because you’ve been thrown out doesn’t mean you can’t pick yourself up again.”

Watch the short film about the campaign above, and then click over to OutNotDown.org for more information.

Cyndi Lauper’s ‘True Colors Fund’ Is Now ‘True Colors United’

Cyndi Lauper

Pop icon and human rights advocate Cyndi Lauper announced via Instagram that her True Colors campaign, which works to help homeless LGBTQ youth, will now expand its work to advocate for all homeless youth as True Colors United.

From Lauper’s Instagram:

Big News! The True Colors Fund is now @truecolorsunited. Advocate. Educate. Collaborate. End youth homelessness. We have to solve this issue by working together.

Via press release:

The True Colors Fund, a leader in the pursuit to prevent and end youth homelessness, has announced a major rebrand, including a new name, logo, and visual identity.

The new name, True Colors United, emphasizes the importance of working together to create an equitable world and reflects the responsibility we have as a society to eliminate the barriers youth experiencing homelessness face in achieving happy and healthy lives.

In the United States, 4.2 million youth experience homelessness each year, with LGBTQ youth 120% more likely to experience homelessness than their non-LGBTQ peers. Furthermore, up to 40% of all youth experiencing homelessness are LGBTQ, while only 10% of the general youth population is LGBTQ. Black/African American youth have an 83% higher risk of homelessness, while Hispanic youth have a 33% higher risk. True Colors United has set bold new goals for the future to bring these numbers down. By 2024, the organization aims to:

• Establish and implement LGBTQ inclusion standards for organizations and communities working to address youth homelessness.
• Activate policymakers to center the experiences of LGBTQ youth and youth of color to create equitable policies and practices.
• Establish youth collaboration as an industry standard for youth homelessness work.
• Expand the work of True Colors United internationally, beginning in Europe and Canada.

As they move into their second decade, True Colors United is also expanding their work to help ensure they are preventing and ending homelessness for all disproportionately affected youth, not just those who identify as LGBTQ.

They will continue to partner with young people with lived experience of homelessness to ensure they’re in positions of power to drive change through their ideas, skills and talents so their peers in the future won’t have to experience homelessness.

Teen Kicked Out Of Home For Being Gay Becomes Valedictorian, Scores Internship In Congress

Formerly homeless valedictorian Seth Owen is thriving at Georgetown University
Formerly homeless valedictorian Seth Owen is thriving at Georgetown University

Who wants to hear some good news?

Ooh – me! Me!

Last summer, I reported on the story of Seth Owen, a high school student who became homeless after his father did a deep dive into his cell phone and discovered Seth was gay.

The intrusion into Seth’s personal life began a series of events that led to a year of being subjected to so-called ‘conversion therapy,’ forced to attend a church that was virulently anti-gay, and eventually being thrown out of his home.

However, homelessness would not deter Seth.

Incredibly, while couch-surfing throughout his senior year of high school, he maintained a 4.16 GPA and graduated as co-valedictorian of his class.

Even as he celebrated his amazing achievement, Seth learned after he was accepted to prestigious Georgetown University that his parents reneged on any financial support leaving him far short of the funds to attend his first semester this fall.

One of Seth’s teachers who recognized his strength and burgeoning potential launched a GoFundMe campaign to help him cover the shortfall. Seth’s story and the campaign went viral exceeding all expectations by raising over $141,000.

Thanks to the LGBT media covering the story, Georgetown University took another look at Seth’s situation and granted him a full ride to the school.

Seth Owen

Fast forward to today where the good news is Seth is not only thriving at Georgetown, but The Hill is reporting that he has recently landed an internship in the office of Florida Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy (D).

After reading about Seth and his past challenges, the congresswoman reached out to Georgetown to offer her support and an internship in her office.

“I am proud that Seth chose to be a part of our team,” Murphy told The Hill. “He will always be welcomed here, and I’m am happy to see him thrive. Our entire office is rooting for his continued success.”

Seth began interning at the congresswoman’s office in January and will be working with the office for the remainder of his spring semester.

Additionally, Seth told the Orlando Sentinel this week that he has launched a scholarship focused on helping “students in marginalized communities access post-secondary education.”

The $25,000 donation he received from Ellen DeGeneres last year was used as the seed money to begin the Unbroken Horizons Scholarship Foundation.

Seth gave a big shoutout in the Sentinel interview to thank his supporters for their “incredible generosity to help me achieve my dream of getting to college. Each and every day, I am humbled by the opportunities I find in our nation’s capital.”

He is also seeking for more donations for the scholarship foundation, and is urging students to apply for scholarships at this link.

Ellen Celebrates Disowned Gay Valedictorian Seth Owen

Ellen DeGeneres surprises formerly homeless gay valedictorian Seth Owen
Seth Owen and Ellen DeGeneres (screen capture)

This past summer, I reported on the story of Seth Owen, a high school student who became homeless after his father did a deep dive into his cell phone and discovered Seth was gay.

The intrusion into Seth’s personal life began a series of events that led to a year of being subjected to so-called ‘conversion therapy,’ forced to attend a church that was virulently anti-gay, and eventually being thrown out of his home.

However, homelessness would not deter Seth.

Incredibly, while coach-surfing throughout his senior year of high school, he maintained a 4.16 GPA and graduated as co-valedictorian of his class.

Even as he celebrated his amazing achievement, Seth learned after he was accepted to prestigious Georgetown University that his parents reneged on any financial support leaving him far short of the funds to attend his first semester this fall.

One of Seth’s teachers who recognized his strength and burgeoning potential launched a GoFundMe campaign to help him cover the shortfall. Seth’s story and the campaign went viral exceeding all expectations by raising over $141,000.

Thanks to the LGBT media covering the story, Georgetown University took another look at Seth’s situation and granted him a full ride to the school.

This week Ellen DeGeneres welcomed Seth to her show to celebrate him and his amazing fortitude in the face of so many obstacles.

This week Ellen DeGeneres welcomed Seth to her show to celebrate him and his amazing fortitude in the face of so many obstacles.
Ellen DeGeneres welcomes Seth Owen to her show

Chatting on the show, Seth gave credit to Ellen for his becoming co-valedictorian saying many late nights he would look up her videos for uplift and inspiration. “There were so many times, so many times that you really pulled me through,” said Seth. “I really do appreciate that.”

He also shared the story of how his dad invaded his privacy searching through his phone which led to ‘ex-gay therapy’ treatment.

“The dangerous part about that is that, as a patient, I believed this healthcare professional was doing what was best for me,” Seth explained. “I didn’t see any progress, so it’s very depressing.”

But after his incredible journey to college, Seth gushes about his first two weeks at Georgetown saying, “I love it – It’s amazing. I would not want to be anywhere else but Georgetown.”

The 18-year-old also mentioned that the school’s staff has been very supportive.

“As a Jesuit university, we have residential ministers on our floors, and she told me that she was here to support me,” said Seth. “As someone who’s been through something like this with religion, it meant the world to me to hear from a spiritual advisor to say they have my back.”

Asked about the amazing GoFundMe campaign, Seth explained that after college he’ll use leftover funds to establish a scholarship program for LGBTQ youth who find themselves in a similar situation heading to university.

Following that news, Ellen stunned Seth announcing that she and Cheerios would be donating $25,000 to help begin Seth’s scholarship program.

Homeless Gay Valedictorian Gets Full Scholarship To Georgetown University

Seth Owen

What wonderful news.

Via The Hill:

Seth Owen, a high school valedictorian from Florida whose parents ostracized him because of his sexuality, has reportedly been offered a full-ride scholarship to attend Georgetown University in the fall. Owen, who graduated from First Coast High School in Jacksonville with a 4.16 GPA, captured headlines late last month after one of his teachers set up a fundraising page to raise money for his first year’s tuition at Georgetown.

“While the campaign has been ongoing, the professionals at the Office of Student Financial Services have continued to work with me to make my dream a reality,” Owen said on Friday in a statement sent to NBC News. “Due to their efforts and attention, they were able to adjust my aid package even further, my expected contribution is now $0. With these new adjustments, I will be able to attend Georgetown University this fall.”

Seth says he’s going to set up a scholarship fund for LGBTQ students “who find themselves in the circumstance I was in earlier this year.”

At this writing, the GoFundMe campaign is over $139,000.

Just spectacular news.

UPDATED: Rejected By Parents, Homeless Gay Teen Becomes Co-Valedictorian

Seth Owen

UPDATE: Since the LGBTQ media covered Seth’s story, the GoFundMe campaign has raised over $111,000 to help Seth in his college journey at Georgetown University. #HappyDance!

**************************************

Just about everyone’s senior year of high school is fraught with stress, obstacles and challenges.

But its safe to say most teens don’t have the year Seth Owen just faced.

In the middle of his sophomore year in Jacksonville, Florida, his father decided to take an unapproved dive into his son’s cell phone, and in doing so realized Owen was gay.

His “Christian” parents gave him an ultimatum: submit to so-called “conversion therapy” counseling and attend their anti-LGBTQ church or leave the house.

Speaking to News4Jax, Owen explained, “They made it clear the intention was to make me straight.”

While he continued to live with his parents, Seth found reasons to stay away from home. From after-school programs to swimming, Owen says he felt like he was “doing something good with the struggle instead of doing something damaging.”

When he finally put his foot down about the anti-LGBTQ church, he was forced to move out this past February with no financial or emotional support from his parents.

“I was really, really upset,” Owen shares. “It was extremely hurtful to know that I was walking out that door not knowing what lay ahead and feeling I don’t know how to explain it, it was devastating, absolutely devastating.”

Sleeping on friends couches and holding down jobs to support himself, Owen did what seems almost impossible: he maintained a 4.16 GPA becoming the co-valedictorian of First Coast High School’s class of 2018.

Owen had already been accepted to Georgetown University receiving a $50,000 scholarship. But, the remaining $27,000 of the $77,000 annual tuition was to be covered by his parents.

With no support in sight from his parents, one of Owen’s teachers created a crowd funding campaign to help the 18-year old. (Please hit the link and donate even a small amount).

“I don’t think thank you is good enough,” Owen says. “Of course I am extremely grateful, but I think thank you doesn’t say it. Now it’s time to pay it forward.”

With an inspiring attitude, Owen says he plans to become a defense attorney for neglected teens who find themselves in situations like his.

Watch the report from News4Jax below.

UPDATE: A Georgetown University spokesperson reached out after I published this report with this statement:

“Georgetown University admits and enrolls students without regard to their financial circumstances and is committed to meeting the demonstrated financial need of eligible students through a combination of aid programs that include grants, scholarships, employment and loans from federal, state, private, and University resources. While we cannot comment on any individual case, we work closely with students whose financial circumstances change after admission to modify financial aid assistance and ensure they can still enroll regardless of their ability to pay.”