News Round-Up: February 26, 2021

Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons
Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons
Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons (photo via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

KTNV: Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds (above) is donating his childhood home in Las Vegas to help LGBTQ youth. Reynolds’ home will serve as Nevada’s first-ever Encircle Resource Center which helps more than 70,000 kids and their families each year.

Instinct Magazine: Benjamin Davis has been charged with capital murder in the death of a man Harris County deputies said he targeted for robbery. His tool? The gay dating app Grindr.

Kenneth-in-the-212: Check out the weekly round-up of the what’s what in LGBTQ publications like Wilson Lai (below) covering DNA Magazine.

Cover of DNA Magazine
(image via DNA Magazine)

Reuters: The U.S. Justice Department has charged more than 300 people with taking part in the deadly storming of the Capitol by former President Donald Trump’s supporters, and at least 280 have been arrested.

The Advocate: A worker at KFC was fired for screaming ‘f*cking queers’ at a gay couple picking up food via the drive-through window.

Stonewall Gazette: The short film, The Dirt Between My Fingers, follows an unlikely friendship when two boys meet under strange circumstances. A coming (out) of age short film about first love.

Penn Lt. Gov. Won’t Back Down From Displaying Pride Flag

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D)
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D)
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (photo: Flickr/GovTomWolfCC License)

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is currently embroiled in a battle for free speech after he displayed the rainbow Pride flag and the pro-legalization green leaf flag from the balcony of his Capitol office.

Fetterman, an LGBTQ ally, hangs the flags to encourage support for an amendment to the state’s constitution that would outlaw LGBTQ discrimination and for the legalization of marijuana.

According to NBC News, during negotiations for an omnibus spending bill late last year, Republicans (who control the legislature) quietly added a provision that bans ‘unauthorized’ flags on Capitol grounds.

Once Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed the bill into law, state employees removed Fetterman’s flags, folded them, and left them in his office.

The 6-foot-8 Democrat promptly put the flags back on display.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman with his flags
(image via Twitter/JohnFetterman)

He told NBC News “he’ll continue to do so if they’re taken down again until the state legalizes marijuana and outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“It’s unbelievable that they actually passed a law to bar me from [flying his flags], so if they want to send the antigay flag police to take them down, then go ahead,” he told The Advocate.

“They came earlier this year and took them down, and I put them right back up,” he added. “Now this week, they took them down again, and when I’m back in Harrisburg on Monday, I’m going to hang them back up.”

On Twitter, Fetterman shaded the Republican lawmakers writing, “The same party that collectively shrugged at its members being photographed at the January 6th Capitol Hill riot, really really has a issues with my weed and Rainbow flag flags but ok.”

A spokesperson for State House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff told NBC News Republicans are just making an effort “to create some uniformity and decorum for what’s outside the Capitol.”

But Fetterman says the clause was a direct swipe and him and his flags.

“It’s flattering to be living rent free in their head like this,” he added.

For the record, the effort to expand the state’s anti-discrimination laws to include LGBTQ people failed this week by a vote of 90-112. Fetterman didn’t hesitate to call out the lawmakers who voted against the bill.

After graduating from Harvard University with a master’s degree in public policy, he ran for mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, in 2005 and won by a single vote. He would end up serving four terms as mayor of the Western Pennsylvania town.

He ran for the U.S. Senate in 2016 but lost in the primary. The Democrat in that race would ultimately lose in the general election. Fetterman was elected Lt. Governor in 2019.

Now, several sources say he is now considering another run for the Senate in 2022 as Republican Sen. Pat Toomey has announced his retirement.

My Favorite Thing Today: ‘Uncle Carl (Came Out On Christmas)’

Scrolling through the Land of Tweets this past weekend, I came across a music video titled, “Uncle Carl (Came Out On Christmas).”

The video was shared by country music artist Aaron LaCombe whose Twitter bio reads, “I write the songs that make most people mildly uncomfortable.” I figured I was probably going to like this.

In the video, ‘Uncle Carl’ comes out during a Christmas Day dinner (right before the Cowboys game) and it turns out that while the younger family members knew the what’s what, Carl’s brother is caught totally flat-footed by the news.

The song has an oh-so-comfortable hook, LaCombe’s vocals are confident and on-point, and the lyrics offer a touch of humor amid the song’s musical journey.

Mom and grandma got up next and cleared the plates without a sound
And us remaining, we said ‘We love y’all both and dad will come around’
One by one we filled the TV room spilling out into the hall
The Cowboys lost, of course, which didn’t help at all…

I grew up in Texas, so I know a little something about country music. You can’t fake it when it comes to country – either the heart and soul are there or they aren’t.

And speaking of heart and soul, LaCombe showed some of his when a promotions company told LaCombe they couldn’t work with him on ‘Uncle Carl’ due to their ‘faith-based’ views. Our hero clapped back in no uncertain terms.

I reached out to LaCombe to ask about the video and its message. It turns out the video came out a year ago, but he just hadn’t been able to get the song and video out to the right folks.

The LGBTQ ally was gracious to answer my questions about the song, its inspiration, and more.

Aaron LaCombe (center) in ‘Uncle Carl’

The Randy Report: I just discovered your song “Uncle Carl Came Out On Christmas.” What a perfect balance of catchy melody, pitch-perfect vocals, and lyrics that land with authenticity. What inspired the song?

Aaron LaCombe: Thank you very much! A couple of years ago I was invited to participate in a Christmas Songwriting Contest. I maybe take myself a little too seriously as a songwriter, so the idea of writing a Christmas song just seemed cliche to me and I wanted to sort of see if there was a way to make it catch people off guard.

I took cues from some experiences some close friends and family have had, and once I got started I found myself on a tightrope of making it a little bit funny, a little sad, and a little sweet.  It came in dead last at the contest, which is when I started to think I might really have something.

TRR: I totally appreciated the visuals in the music video. From the home’s holiday decor to the band’s on-point Christmas sweaters and the dad’s red hat, it all rings so true. I also love that the boyfriend is the most properly dressed for the occasion. How did the video come together?

AL: We can thank countless hours of watching Roseanne for all the visuals. The way that first shot circles the dining room table as everyone is sitting down is no accident. A friend’s media company called NMCO out of Las Cruces, NM shot it, and the characters are a mix of paid actors and friends.

Joshua, who played ‘Uncle Carl,’ was hired and I’d just met him that day, but the part he was playing was very close to home for him. He told me that doing take after take of that dinner scene brought him right back to his own coming out.  I think that authenticity is what makes the video feel so real. The whole cast and crew were in tears shooting that last scene, myself included.

TRR: Your Twitter profile reads, “I write the songs that make most people mildly uncomfortable,” which I love. Can you expand on that a bit?

AL: I’m a big fan of getting to the point of things in my songs, and I think people just aren’t used to that, particularly in modern country music. The people that like my stuff seem to really like it, but it’s not for everyone. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a lot of joy from playing “Uncle Carl” in front of some of these rural Texas audiences.

TRR: What are three things you can’t live without?

AL: Coffee, a certain amount of time to myself, and my girl who is somehow understanding of that and very supportive all at once.

Aaron LaCombe and Potter (courtesy photo)

TRR: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

“The truth is the shortcut to everything.” Sometimes it’s the hardest thing to live by, but it’s a real time-saver in the end.

TRR: Tell me about your upcoming album Outside Dog.

AL: It’s the exact opposite of the last record I put out, in that it’s pretty light-hearted for the most part. I’ve written countless songs in the last year, but I chose the ones that weren’t going to drag the listener down any further than the world already has this year. I like to say, it’s from a world where the worst thing that can happen is you get your heartbroken. That’s enough for this year.

Discovering ‘Uncle Carl’ was one of those happy accidents that happen on the interwebs. Trust and believe, Mr. Aaron LaCombe has a new fan.

His upcoming album, Outside Dog, is scheduled for release on December 15 on all digital platforms. You can check out the pre-order page here.

Dolly Parton On #BLM: ‘Do We Think Our Little White Asses Are The Only Ones That Matter?’

International superstar Dolly Parton (via Instagram)

Sometimes, it’s the divas that lead the way.

In a new interview with Billboard, international music superstar Dolly Parton makes her support for the Black Matters Lives movement clear and unequivocal: “I understand people having to make themselves known and felt and seen. And of course Black lives matter. Do we think our little white asses are the only ones that matter? No!”

The Billboard article offers a detailed profile of Parton’s extensive business empire and explores some of the secrets to her success.

Being flexible in business situations is one skill that’s served her well both financially and in showing the world her authentic self.

Years before talk of Confederate flags and statues leaped to the forefront of political discourse, Parton renamed her Dixie Stampede dinner venue Dolly Parton’s Stampede in an effort to be sensitive to the painful history of slavery.

“There’s such a thing as innocent ignorance, and so many of us are guilty of that,” Parton tells Billboard. “When they said ‘Dixie’ was an offensive word, I thought, ‘Well, I don’t want to offend anybody. This is a business. We’ll just call it The Stampede.’”

“As soon as you realize that [something] is a problem, you should fix it,” shares the 74-year-old wise woman. “Don’t be a dumbass. That’s where my heart is. I would never dream of hurting anybody on purpose.”

(image via Billboard)

Of course, Parton has a long history of supporting and uplifting her LGBTQ fans. She’s often been quoted as saying, “If I hadn’t have been a girl, I’d have been a drag queen.”

In a 2009 interview with Joy Behar, she was asked about her support for same-sex marriage to which replied with a smile, “Why can’t they get married? They should suffer like the rest of us do.”

She reiterated that stance in 2014 telling HuffPost, “I think everyone should be with who they love.”

“I don’t want to be controversial or stir up a bunch of trouble but people are going to love who they are going to love,” she continued. “I think gay couples should be allowed to marry. They should suffer just like us heterosexuals, hahahaha.”

And last November, promoting her Netflix series Heartstrings (which featured a gay romance episode “Two Doors Down”), she told Logo, “I’ve always been proud of my gay following. I think they care about me because I care about them.”

And around that same time, the country diva jumped into the dance music world with her terrific collaboration with Galantis, “Faith,” giving us all something to dance about.

Happy Friday, folks! Here’s to celebrating a diva who gives back to all her fans.

Hearse Carrying Rep. John Lewis Pauses At Rainbow Intersection

The hearse carrying the late Rep. John Lewis pauses at Rainbow Intersection

As the motorcade for the late civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) made its way through the streets of Atlanta on Wednesday heading to the Georgia State Capitol, the hearse carrying his body paused in tribute to his support for the LGBTQ community at an intersection marked by rainbow-painted crosswalks.

Supporters were already waiting at Piedmont and 10th Street where the scheduled stop had been previously announced.

When the hearse paused in the intersection, supporters clapped and cheered the memory of the civil rights legend. And as the motorcade resumed its journey, Terrence James, a downtown Atlanta resident, began singing “We Shall Overcome.”

In addition to his lifelong commitment to equal rights for Black Americans, Lewis was an early ally to the LGBTQ community

In 1996, long before gay rights were widely embraced by mainstream America, Lewis took to the floor of the House of Representatives to denounce the heinous anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as a “mean” and “cruel” bill.

“This bill seeks to divide our nation, turn Americans against Americans, to seed fear, hatred, and intolerance,” declared Lewis. “Marriage is a basic human right. You cannot tell people they cannot fall in love.”

A few years later, he penned an op-ed for the Boston Globe urging equal rights for LGBTQ Americans.

“This discrimination is wrong,” he wrote in 2003. “We cannot keep turning our backs on gay and lesbian Americans. I have fought too hard and too long against discrimination based on race and color not to stand up against discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

“I’ve heard the reasons for opposing civil marriage for same-sex couples. Cut through the distractions, and they stink of the same fear, hatred, and intolerance I have known in racism and in bigotry.”

And in 2017, he compared the struggles by the LGBTQ community to those of other marginalized Americans.

“It doesn’t matter whether they are black or white, Latino, Asian American or Native American, whether they are straight or gay, Muslim, Christian or Jews,” Lewis said during a Congressional hearing. “We all live in the same house. The American house.”

Rest in power, Rep. John Lewis.

Video: Sassy Firefighters Shade Anti-LGBTQ Twitter Trolls

When firefighters in the UK added a Pride flag to its Twitter profile last year, the first responders received several ugly, homophobic comments.

In response, the South Yorkshire firefighters have clapped back with a cheeky video reciting many of the actual hate tweets they received while rainbow flags, socks, and hats are surreptitiously included in the background.

A hunky fireman recites in a droll tone, “I don’t see or understand why you feel the need to celebrate,” as Pride flags wave and confetti rains down.

Another fire official tells the camera, “Constantly going on and on about who wants to shag who shouldn’t be a fire service priority,” while an eggplant emoji floats on a TV screen in the background.

In between the mini-scenes, the firefighters make their point with the statement:

LGBT+ people still face prejudice at home and at work. We celebrate LGBT+ pride in solidarity with all those we serve and employ. Fires don’t discriminate, neither do we.

In a statement on the South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue website, Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson wrote, “We fully expect the video will have a mixed reaction but some of the comments we received last year were awful and totally unacceptable.”

Johnson explained the heroes had a couple of reasons for producing the video.

“Firstly we wanted to support the month and let our staff, and communities, know that we are proud to employ and serve them, regardless of those comments,” said Johnson.

“Secondly, we wanted to demonstrate that we are a genuinely inclusive organisation that values the contribution of all our staff, whatever their LGBT+ status.”

Crew Manager Rebecca Savin, who acts as the South Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union LGBT rep said she was “really pleased with the video.”

“It’s great that, as an employer, SYFR wants to challenge these comments and stand up for its staff and the people it serves.”

Check out the deliciously defiant video below.
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Trans People Go Home For The Holidays In #BeautifuLGBTQ Pantene Ad

Since 1943, the wistful holiday classic “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” has resonated deeply for those who can’t go home for the holidays.

While the song was written with World War II soldiers in mind who were separated from their families, LGBTQ people often have their own difficulties in heading home for the holidays.

Pantene has partnered with GLAAD and the 42-member Trans Chorus of Los Angeles on an inclusive ad for this Christmas season featuring the song with the hopes of raising awareness of the challenges LGBTQ folks face during returning home at Christmas time.

“137 million Americans will travel home this holiday season,” reads an official statement from Pantene for the ad. “But, 44% of LGBTQ+ people feel they can’t come home as their true selves, fearing their identity (including hair, makeup, and personal style) won’t be accepted.”

“Let’s make the most wonderful time of year wonderful for all,” the message continues. “Because no matter when you come home, where you call home, or who you come home to—coming home should be #BeautifuLGBTQ.”

Procter & Gamble Vice President Ilaria Resta said in a statement, “Inclusion is at the heart of Pantene’s mission to celebrate the beauty of all transformations and of all people.”

In addition to the ad, Pantene has also produced several videos with Trans Chorus members who share their personal struggles with family acceptance.

“Hearing these LGBTQ individuals speak about the trials and triumphs of going home for the holidays — as well as their irrepressible desire to be their true selves — will inspire others in the community and remind us all what true beauty is about,” said Resta.

Earlier this year, Pantene promoted Spirit Day and National Coming Out Day. As part of this collaboration with GLAAD, the hair giant has pledged to donate $100,000 to Family Equality, a group dedicated to making sure LGBTQ people have the same opportunities and parental rights as heterosexual couples.

The campaign also includes videos sharing the personal stories of Chorus members Crystal S., Steven H., MJ and Miliana S.




Pete Davidson: I Used To Get Off To Leo DiCaprio

In an interview with Paper Magazine, SNL’s Pete Davidson (he who almost became Mr. Ariana Grande) was asked about what it feels like be a sex symbol and realize you are someone’s “sexual awakening.”

In response, Davidson reveals a surprising tidbit from his past.

“Well, I used to jerk off to Leonardo DiCaprio,” said the funny man before clarifying, “Uhh, like his acting.”

“I used to have a HUGE crush on Leonardo DiCaprio,” he continued. “I had this huge poster of him from The Beach in my room, and there used to be, like, ‘Leo love books’… Do you remember? Like, right when Titanic came out [when I was] in like third or fourth grade, he was just like, ‘teen milk.’ There were love books and I had all of them. He was the coolest.”

Davidson has since met the Academy Award & Golden Globe winner, but kept the encounters brief.

“I’ve met him twice and I’ve just shaken hands and run away fast.”

Now, we all know it’s possible to crush on an artist for his talent, so let’s leave it at that.

Davidson is also asked about having lots of gay friends and being an LGBTQ ally, and he gushes in his response.

“Well, nothing’s cooler to me than seeing my friends crush it,” says the 26-year-old comic. “I also have the most talented friends ever. And I think my friends are a good reflection of me… anybody that I fuck with is sweet and morally sound, you know?”

I find it super weird that it’s weird that a straight dude has gay friends,” he adds. “Like, some straight dudes do have gay friends, but like they make like a big show of it as opposed to them genuinely being a friend.”

Davidson has also noticed how some pop stars seem to “use gay men as props,” and he has an opinion about that.

“If you really listen to any of the songs that they’re doing, or any of the things that they’re doing, it’s to promote them[selves]. It’s rarely for the LGBT community. It’s to make them look good. Like, how cool they are that they’re hanging out with gay people.”

You can read more of Davidson’s candid interview over at PaperMag.com.

(lead image via Instagram)