News Round-Up: June 17, 2021

(image via Groupon)

Some news items you might have missed:

Groupon: I just learned the folks at the ‘deal of the day’ website highlight LGBTQ-owned businesses (above). “Our out and proud merchant partners inspire us every day in all of the myriad ways they uplift and support their communities.” Click here for more of Groupon’s Pride-ful ways.

The Advocate: A larger number of teenagers are identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual in the U.S. Surveys by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that between 2015 and 2019 those who identified as “non-heterosexual” grew from 8.3 percent to 11.7 percent in 15-to-17-year-olds.

Edge Media: Results from Planet Fitness’ fifth annual survey reveals 69% of men with dad bods say they are confident and comfortable with their physique. That said, half of all men with dad bods (50%) feel judged by others for their bodies — a number that’s jumped 10% since just last year alone.

New York Times: The U.S. government spent more than $18 billion last year funding drugmakers to make a Covid vaccine. Now it’s pouring more than $3 billion on a neglected area of research: developing pills to fight the virus early in the course of infection, potentially saving many lives in the years to come.

Andrew Christian: The venerable men’s designer shares his Top 5 Most Extravagant Pride Parades in the World.

NBC Out: Online advice columnist John Paul Brammer shares his amazing journey as a gay Latino in rural Oklahoma. Brammer weaves his experiences with letters from readers in his book, Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons.

Suspended For Nail Polish, Gay Texas Teen Speaks Out

Trevor Wilkinson (screen capture)

Texas high school senior Trevor Wilkinson was placed on in-school suspension (ISS) on November 30 after he showed up to school wearing nail polish.

Nail polish, it turns out, violates his school’s dress code – but only if you’re male.

According to Wilkinson, who attends Clyde High School in West Texas, he was told he would remain in suspension until he removed the nail polish.

Wilkinson took to Twitter that day to protest writing, “Imagine your school not allowing boys to paint their nails and giving boys iss for it. And the whole administration being okay with it, homophobic and sexist? Welcome to west Texas.”

Wilkinson’s story went national after he refused to remove the nail polish and instead launched a Change.org petition demanding that the school policy be changed.

At this writing, over 336,000 people have signed the petition.

“It is a complete double standard because girls are allowed to have any form of nails they want, and honestly they can express themselves in any way they want,” Wilkinson wrote on Change.org. “I am a gay male and I’m beyond proud. This is unjust and not okay.”

Monday night, Wilkinson addressed the school board again asking them to amend the dress code. And yes, he was wearing his nail polish.

He began by noting that the ACLU had sent letters to nearly 400 schools in September about school rules that might be discriminatory. Clyde High School was among those who received a letter.

(image via Trevor Wilkinson)

“With all due respect, there have been two times this issue could have been resolved,” he told the board. “Although frustrating, I know everything is not going to go my way. But this isn’t about me anymore – it’s about a discriminatory, sexist policy that needs to be changed.”

“I got my education taken away from me for something as minor as painting my nails because it’s against the dress code,” he continued. “The question is why? Why is it against dress code for a man to be comfortable with his masculinity and defy the gender norms society has imposed on us?”

“If it’s not harmful for girls to wear it, why is it harmful for males?” he added.

Wilkinson also pointed out that making a rule about nail polish only applicable to male students was sexist. “Having a double standard like this only shows that Clyde doesn’t accept kids for who they are.”

He also threw down some equality speak saying, “I understand that you guys have traditional values and I respect that, but to get respect you also have to give it.”

“There’s a certain beauty in uniqueness and nobody should have that taken away. Diversity is what makes this country so beautiful.”

He closed his remarks asking the school board to be “open-minded enough to accept and respect others for who they are.”

Wilkinson addresses the school board at the 2:45 mark in the video footage from local ABC News affiliate KTXS.

But it appears the school district will not be changing its dress code any time soon.

Superintendent Kenny Berry issued a statement which read, in part, “The District will conduct a thorough review of its dress code when it performs its annual review of the Student Handbook.”

There was no mention of when that annual review might take place.

Berry went on to note that, until that time, “the District will assure that no student is treated in a discriminatory or inequitable manner.”

Fort Worth’s Joel Burns Revisits Viral ‘It Gets Better’ Moment

Joel Burns today and in 2010 as he gave his ‘It Gets Better’ speech (screen captures)

Taking part in the ’10 Years Better’ series from the It Gets Better Project, former Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns revisits the viral video of his city council meeting speech in October 2010 where he shared aspects of his young gay life and spoke out about LGBTQ bullying.

The new series features celebrities and everyday people who recorded It Gets Better videos early on, rewatching and reacting to their video. Host Emile Ennis Jr. speaks with guests about their life since — how it’s gotten better/evolved, and their message today for LGBTQ+ youth.

After video footage of his 2010 city council speech went viral, Burns found himself in the national spotlight regarding LGBTQ bullying and teen suicide.

Burns says he’s “still wowed that these few minutes have had this lasting impact some ten years later.”

As someone who grew up in Fort Worth, watching the speech – by the first man who had run for office as an openly gay man – had a powerful and very personal impact on me.

The morning of the city council meeting Burns read of 19-year-old Zach Harrington taking his own life in nearby Norman, Oklahoma, due to homophobic bullying.

Burns used his announcement time during that meeting to share some of his own coming out story (including being bullied in high school) and then segued to the growing epidemic of suicides by young LGBTQ people.

The 4-term city councilman’s prepared remarks originally included his own history with having had suicidal thoughts, but as he shares with Ennis Jr. in the video below, he stopped himself. “I realized, oh my god, my parents are probably watching this right now and I never told them I thought about committing suicide.”

While Burns was still in that council meeting, news outlets began reporting on his story.

Former Fort Worth city councilman Joel Burns (screen capture)

In the following days, he remembers thinking maybe 300 people might see the video. Then, the numbers climbed to 3,000, then 30,000, then 300,000 and eventually garnered over 3.1 million views on YouTube.

Burns says he received over 20,000 emails regarding the speech and countless letters. One letter was addressed simply to ‘Joel Burns, Fort Worth. Inside was a note on a torn piece of paper.

“This is what remains of the letter I wrote for my roommate to find with my body,” remembers Burns. “I happened upon your speech and I decided to burn the rest of it.”

“It’s a reminder that there’s a lot of pain experienced by people all over the world. And they need reminders like the It Gets Better Project gives them that things will, indeed, get a lot better.”

The It Gets Better Project began as a viral social media movement in 2010 and has grown to an organization with global affiliates across 17 countries and 4 continents.

You can watch Burns’ powerful 2010 speech below.

Joe Biden: ‘I Stand With LGBTQ+ People And Their Allies Around The World’

Former Vice President Joe Biden (photo via campaign)

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, issued this statement today in honor of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.


Today, on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, I stand with LGBTQ+ people and their allies around the world to celebrate and champion the inherent dignity and worth of all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Around the globe, including here at home, brave LGBTQ+ activists are fighting for equal protection under the law, freedom from violence, and recognition of their fundamental human rights. The United States should have their backs. We belong at the forefront of this struggle — speaking out, standing strong for our most dearly held values. We should be sending a clear message that bigotry is bigotry, prejudice is prejudice, and hate is hate, no matter where we find it. American leadership must mean moral leadership in the fight for equality for all.

The Obama-Biden Administration took unprecedented steps to ensure that our government delivered real progress on the promise of equality, both at home and abroad. From signing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law, to repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” to supporting marriage equality, we fought to advance the civil liberties of LGBTQ+ people in the United States and, for the first time ever, established the advancement of LGBTQ+ equality as a foreign policy goal.

Instead of building on this progress, the Trump-Pence Administration has done everything it can to undermine LGBTQ+ rights: giving safe harbor to hate and rolling back protections for LGBTQ+ persons, blocking the ability of transgender individuals to openly serve their country, denying LGBTQ+ people access to critical health care, and failing to address the epidemic of violence against transgender people, among other odious policies.

Today, many LGBTQ+ people in the United States live in fear, and LGBTQ+ activists in other countries, who are often fighting desperately for their rights and personal safety, are no longer sure that the United States is their friend and ally.

As President, I will reinvigorate and expand U.S. efforts to advance the human rights of LGBTQ+ people at home and around the world.

The United States will again be a beacon of hope for people anywhere in the world who suffer violence and discrimination for the simple fact of who they are or who they love. We will strengthen the coalition of countries determined to eliminate discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Anything less would be un-American.

Billy Porter To Deliver LGBTQ State Of The Union Address

On February 4, Donald Trump will deliver his State of the Union address.

Emmy, Grammy and Tony Award winner Billy Porter has announced he will deliver the LGBTQ State of the Union address at Noon ET on Logo TV, Facebook Twitter and YouTube.

Porter notes that his speech will contain ‘more complete sentences’ than the Donald’s.

Watch the video announcement below.

Porter offered his own LGBTQ State of the Union address last year as well. You can watch the 2019 speech below.

New Music: Crazy, Sexy Ride On The Adam Roberts Side “Glue”

Adam Roberts (photo: WadleyWadley)

Singer Adam Roberts has just released his debut single and music video, “Glue.”

Roberts created the track and video while on the road with the National Broadway Tour of Miss Saigon, integrating different musical genres, changing up musical and visual textures.

In true collaborative form, several musicians and actors in the Miss Saigon company took part as the creative team for “Glue” including choreography, videography, orchestrations, recording session players, and the music video love interest played by Garrick Macatangay.

Beautifully shot and directed by Anna-Lee Wright, the video takes the viewer on a rollercoaster ride of romance as Roberts’ vocals shift with equal ease from effortless, whispering falsetto to rich, robust musical muscle.

Roberts describes his songs as being, “Based in truth and experience.”

“‘Glue’ is about getting out of your own way, taking a risk and giving love a chance to bloom and flourish despite doubts or fears of the unknown,” says the artist. “Something I believe we can all relate to in some capacity.”

I recently spoke with the handsome artist about the new track and video.

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The Randy Report: Congratulations on the debut single. Musically, “Glue” moves in and out of different tempos and sonic textures. What inspired the change-ups?

Adam Roberts: My favorite type of music that impacts me most is the kind that builds, is dynamic and that takes me on a ride. I wanted the mood of the song to musically fit the narrative journey of the text. For instance, I crafted the middle orchestral section paired with my vocals to be indicative of the ebb and flow of a relationship and to have a yearning quality to it, while the final chorus has more of a sprinting urgency to it.

TRR: With years of experience on stage in Broadway shows, did you find story-telling via the recording studio to require a different approach?

AR: Amazing question! I did actually. On stage, you’re playing to the back row. In a recording studio booth, it’s just you and a mic several inches from your face, which is much more intimate. I found that I allowed myself to let go of the physical and facial expressions and reroute the emotions into a more concentrated and zeroed-in manner, pouring it all into my voice. I was very strategic with how I played with a whispery softness versus a chesty belt or a chilly straight tone opposed to a ringing vibrato.

TRR: What do you do outside of music that contributes to your creativity?

AR: I get my biggest kicks traveling the world because it broadens my horizons and helps me gain perspective. I never get so inspired as I do experiencing life outside of my comfort zone, in a new setting, surrounded by beauty in all its forms. If I’m not in a place financially to jet set, I take myself on a date wherever I am to have an adventure. Constantly shocking the system sparks new ideas and gets the juices flowing more-so than being sedimentary.

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

AR: In a 1997 essay written by Mary Schmich she implores the reader to, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” I try to abide by her wise words daily, training myself to be more brave than I innately really am. I recently hiked a scary, haunted, ghost tower in Bangkok alone and I was petrified. On the way down, I fractured my foot and spent the rest of my vacation in a cast sprawled out. Initially, I was bummed, but then I made the most of my forced downtime, picked up my guitar, and ended up writing some of the best songs to date by the pool. Climb the ghost tower! LOL

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Roberts made his Broadway debut in Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, which was followed by the critically-acclaimed Broadway revival of Pippin. Prior to his current gig in the national tour of Miss Saigon (where he covers the lead role of ‘Chris’), he traveled the country in the national company of Dirty Dancing.

He also recently served as co-director/co-choreographer for Broadway Backwards, the annual celebration where men sing songs originally written for women and vice versa. In doing so, gay and lesbian stories are told through the great songs of musical theatre and sung by our favorite Broadway performers.

“Glue” is available on iTunes here, and you can follow Adam Roberts on Instagram here.

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Freeze Frame 📷: @wadleywadley

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Gay-For-Pay Porn Performer Tells Documentary: “I’m 100% Straight”

Gay-for-pay porn actor Dan McGraffin says he does his job for the money
Daniel McGraffin (image via Instagram)

In a new documentary from Channel 5 in the U.K., former military service member Daniel McGraffin says he found it difficult to find a decent paying job until he discovered he could earn up to £1,000 a day as a gay-for-pay porn actor.

Sharing his story in The Sex Business: Swinging Both Ways, McGraffin says he spent six years as a soldier in the artillery until one day, due to lack of sleep, he snapped. At the end of a two-week leave, he went AWOL for a year.

He was sentenced to 8 months in a military prison, and upon his release went in search of a job.

After working as a janitor in a gym, then as a personal trainer and a DJ, a friend (who works as a dominatrix) told him about a guy who was “totally straight but does gay porn.”

She put him in contact with a producer who told McGraffin “the majority of it’s fake” and hired the former military service member for £750 for a shoot.

McGraffin liked the experience – and the money – so he researched the porn industry and eventually landed a 3-year contract with Lucas Entertainment.

 

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He says he looked into the straight porn industry but found “in gay porn, there’s way less competition, and there’s no money in straight porn. For a straight guy, there’s way more money in gay porn.” And so, he decided to work as a gay-for-pay performer.

McGraffin, who goes by the stage name Geordie Jackson, pointedly shares in the documentary, “My sexual identity is straight, one hundred percent straight.”

His girlfriend, Freya, appears in the documentary as well and she’s totally onboard with McGraffin’s career choice.

“It’s fake,” she tells the viewer. “People say he must be a little bit gay, [but] when he gets back, he doesn’t want to think about anyone with a d**k.”

Freya explains if he was working in straight porn it might bother her since there would be the potential for him to be attracted to co-stars, but with men “that risk isn’t there.”

McGraffin admits there are people who say he’s gay because he looks so at ease in his videos, but he just takes that as a compliment on his acting skills.

“They don’t know the tricks of the trade,” he explains. “They say ‘you look like you’re enjoying it’. And I say, ‘thanks, that means I’m a good actor.’”

Asked if he considers himself an ally to the LGBTQ community, he’s unsure but shares that his brother is openly gay.

He also explains the logic, at least for him, for remaining in the adult entertainment industry as a gay-for-pay performer.

“I ain’t smart, academically,”  he admits. “It’s either this or going to work in a warehouse, ’cause I have no qualifications. I have driving qualifications, but obviously, I’ve had one of them lifestyles where I’ve been banned from driving. So driving jobs are a no go.”

“You need to make your money, man,” he continues. “I’m glad I found porn because I make more money now than I ever have. I see the perks of it now, I don’t even think about what I’ve got to do anymore, it’s that easy.”

Some viewers, however, took to Twitter to express their skepticism about the “100% straight” label and also take offense at the gay-for-pay idiom.

We’re not here to judge, though. How McGraffin identifies is his own business.

And speaking of ‘business,’ check out some of the adult entertainer’s Instagram account below.

 

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(source: Daily Mail)

SNL Cold Open Tweaks LGBTQ Town Hall

Billy Porter on SNL (screen captures)

Saturday Night Live’s cold open could not resist putting its twist on this week’s LGBTQ Town Hall.

Alex Moffat’s Anderson Cooper opened the sketch informing the audience that the town hall would address those issues important to “LGBTQ people and straight girls who make Pride about them.”

Newly-minted Emmy Award-winner Billy Porter comes out (playing himself) to introduce the ‘presidential candidates.’

Beginning with Chris Redd’s Cory Booker, Porter said, “He may live in the projects, but ladies, he ain’t no project.”

Chris Redd as Sen. Cory Booker

When Booker is asked about some questionable writing he did about gays in the early 90s: “I don’t want you to think I’m dodging the question, so I’m going to go now.”

Porter intros Colin Jost’s Mayor Pete Buttigieg: “Representing House of Booty Gig, it’s Mayor Pete.”

Colin Jost as Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Asked how he’d respond to folks who say he’s not gay in the right way: “There’s no wrong way to be gay – unless you’re Ellen (DeGeneres) this week.”

Buttigieg also wondered aloud why he’s not doing better in the polls: “Why am I not winning this? I’m a veteran, I’m under the legal retirement age, and when I talk, it makes sense. Is something wrong with me?”

Says Cooper: “You’re a great guy, just, as a friend. Not for president.”

Next up, Porter brings the audience to attention saying, “Warning. Warning. The sentencer is here. She’s got a plan for the future. It’s Elizabeth Warren.”

Kate McKinnon as Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Kate McKinnon delivers a spot on Warren on her entrance: “I am so excited to be here. I had some apple slices backstage and they are hitting me like cocaine. You all know I’m not a lesbian but all the ingredients are there.”

Obviously, SNL had to touch on the big viral moment of the Town Hall when Warren was asked how she would respond to a ‘traditional marriage’ supporter on the campaign trail who may underscore that they believe marriage is between one man and one woman?

McKinnon’s Warren riffs: “I would say, ‘Sir, tell me your bus stop because I want to know where you get off.’ What else, what else? If someone doesn’t want to serve gay people at their small business? I bet that’s not the only thing that’s small. And when people say gay and trans shouldn’t be included in civil rights protections, well…I wish their parents had used protection.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda as Secretary Julian Castro

Lin-Manuel Miranda takes a turn as “the House of Urban Deliciousness,” Julian Castro: “As a Democrat. I want to apologize for not being gay. But I promise to do better in the future.”

He adds, “However, I am Latino, which we can all agree is something. I’m young, I’m diverse, I’m LatinObama. So let’s get that hashtag going.”

Woody Harrelson as Vice President Joe Biden

Special guest Woody Harrelson offers his take on former Vice President Joe Biden, as Porter intros, “the Delaware daddy whose only vice is the Choo Choo train.”

Biden drops bon mots along the likes of “The vast majority of people in America are not homophobic – they’re just scared of gay people. You know me – I went to bat for marriage equality and I believe we’re all equal whether you’re gay, lesbie, transgenital or queer.”

Check out the full segment below.

Kamala Harris Releases Her Plan For LGBTQ Equality

Sen. Kamala Harris releases her plan for LGBTQ+ equality

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) mixed and mingled with supporters at the West Hollywood gay bar The Abbey on Wednesday night prior to the LGBTQ Town Hall co-sponsored by HRC & CNN on Thursday night.

At one point during the event, the California senator also got a lesson from RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Shangela on how to properly clack a fan.

Certainly a skill the first woman president would need, yes?

Shangela shared the moment on Instagram with 1.2 million followers:

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HALLELOO for HARRIS!! SENATOR Kamala Harris, that is. I met her tonite to chat with her about her advocacy for LGBTQ rights and Equality, and I can tell you that she has been and will continue to be a fierce ally for our community. I don’t agree with every decision she’s ever made but I can tell you my hope is that as she pushes forward she grows even more in tune with the needs of every member of the LGBTQIA+ family. I can for sure say I am proud to see a strong, intelligent, dedicated Black/Indian woman going after the Democratic nomination, and I urge all you to get informed about these candidates so you can make an educated VOTE for yourself, whoever that may be. And hey, check out her skills with the Halleloo fan! Now that’s a PRO! ❤️🇺🇸🌈 @kamalaharris

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Today, Harris released her proposal for LGBTQ Equality titled, “Kamala’s LGBTQ+ Plan to Provide Equality and Dignity for All.”

Harris announced the plan on Twitter writing, “Today, I introduced a plan to ensure everyone in the LGBTQ+ community is able to live proudly and openly, without fear of discrimination. We can restore equality and dignity in the White House.”

In the plan, Harris says she will repeal the Trump/Pence Hate Agenda:

• Reverse Trump’s ban on transgender service members

• Ensure that questions about the LGBTQ+ community are included in the census

• Enforce federal civil rights laws that protect LGBTQ+ people

• Ensure religion cannot be used to discriminate against LGBTQ+ individuals

Additionally, Harris promises to establish a Chief Advocate for LGBTQ+ Affairs in the White House, sign the Equality Act into law, sign the Student Non-Discrimination Act into law, and require homeless shelters that receive federal funds cannot discriminate again LGBTQ+ youth.

Regarding HIV, the California senator proposes requiring all insurance plans to cover PrEP as well as bring the cost of the medication down using the government’s authority.

Also in the medical arena, Harris wants to ensure health care coverage of gender confirmation surgery and other gender transition health services as well as guarantee coverage for reproductive services for all LGBTQ+ people including trans and gender non-binary people through her Medicare For All plan.

In terms of crime and the justice system, Harris proposes improving the tracking and reporting of hate crimes, end profiling of LGBTQ+ people by law enforcement, and reform the criminal justice system addressing the disproportionate hard the system has on LGBTQ+ people.

There’s much more on Harris’s campaign website here.

Earlier today, fellow Democratic White House hopefuls Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, released their plans for LGBTQ Americans.

Don’t forget to watch the LGBTQ Town Hall tonight on CNN beginning at 7 p.m. ET.