News Round-Up: June 28, 2021

(Courtesy of Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Tishman Speyer)

Some news items you might have missed:

NYC Pride: It was nice to see Pride events return to NYC this past weekend. Rainbows were everywhere in the city from Rockefeller Center (above) to Washington Square and everywhere else. And ABC News covered the entire 3-hour parade! You can watch it here.

CNN: California will ban state-funded travel to five new states (Arkansas, Florida, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia) over their “discriminatory” LGBTQ laws, state Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Monday, citing the importance of “aligning our dollars with our values.”

Right Wing Watch: Right-wing pastor Greg Locke used his sermon on Sunday to allege that there are child-trafficking “tunnels” under the Capitol and White House and accuse Joe Biden, Oprah Winfrey, and Tom Hanks of being “a bunch of pedophiles.” This is a seriously hot cup of crazy. Hit the play button.

TMZ: In a recent interview praising Las Vegas Raider Carl Nassib for coming out, former NFL player Bruce Smith said there was a gay player (maybe two) on the 1990s Buffalo Bills teams but it “didn’t matter to us.”

NY Daily News: 24 people at a Sydney, Australia birthday party tested positive for the COVID delta variant. Only 6 party attendees — health care workers — were spared. Only those 6 were vaccinated.

Twitter: Donald Trump Jr., son of ‘the former guy,’ posted a wild, slurring, disjointed rant against President Joe Biden that careened from claims about hacking McDonald’s to Biden giving the nuclear football to Putin. The Twitterverse didn’t know what to think of the seemingly drunken/stoned performance.

NYC Pride Reverses On Gay Cops Marching In Parade, Then Reverses Again

The logo for NYC Pride 2021

The logo for NYC Pride 2021

Heritage of Pride, the group that organizes New York City Pride events each year, reversed it’s decision to ban gay armed police officers in uniform from marching in this year’s Pride Parade last night.

The original decision, announced last week, sparked days of controversy voiced by the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL).

So, last night the general membership voted to allow uniformed gay officers to march in the parade

“By a 55-40% margin (5% abstaining), they voted to let GOAL march in uniform with concealed weapons but NOT to have an ‘NYPD’ contingent in the parade,” wrote Andrew Humm on Facebook. “Andre Thomas, the co-chair, resigned as did some other people of color at the meeting who were left in tears.”

But at 1:30am, the HOP board announced they had reversed the reversal, saying they “voted to set a new policy regarding GOAL’s participation in an effort to be mindful and focus on our mission of creating safe space for marginalized communities.”

“It fell under our purview to do so, as elected representatives of this organization,” continued the board. “We firmly believe that this decision is in the best interest of our community.”

Having decided the officers “will not march armed and in police uniforms,” the board shared it may consider allowing gay officers to march out of uniform and without armed weapons.

The Executive Board of HOP cited past actions by police officers against LGBTQ people and POC as the reasons for excluding armed police officers in uniform.

The NYPD, and policing across America, is fundamentally flawed. These are institutions started as slave patrols, and continue to oppress Black, Brown, Indigenous, POC, LGBTQ+ individuals, and individuals who stand at the intersections of these identities.

Over their lifetime, Black men have a 1 in 1000 chance of being killed by the police. LGBQ people are six times more likely to be stopped by the police.

Nearly 3 out of 4 of lethal anti-LGBT hate crimes committed against transwomen and girls.

Transgender individuals who survive violence are 3.7 times more likely to experience police violence compared to non-transgender survivors and7times more likely to experience physical violence when interacting with the police.

Until 2021, transpeople in New York could be arrested for wearing clothes that did not correspond with their sex assigned at birth. And after over 267 complaints related to abuse of force by NYPD when dealing with protesters, only two officers have faced serious disciplinary action.

In the past year, as Black Lives Matter protests spread across the nation following the murder of George Floyd and other Black men, HOP notes that NYC police officers attacked queer people who took part in the protests.

HOP also points out that the gay rights movement was born out of a vicious 1969 police raid on the Stonewall Inn gay bar.

That said, due to pressure from LGBTQ advocacy groups, the NYPD issued an official apology in 2019 for the 1969 raid as well as for years of brutal treatment of LGBTQ people in the city. In their statement last week, GOAL made note of the work being done by gay  police officers to improve relations between police and the LGBTQ community.

As I reported last night, the New York Times editorial board penned an op-ed this week calling the banning of gay police officers by HOP a “misstep.” The Times added that the decision “disproportionately affects L.G.B.T.Q. police officers, many of whom have been fighting for reforms; they shouldn’t be judged, and even set back, by the worst behavior of their colleagues.”

NYC Pride Bans Gay Police Officers From Marching In Uniform

LGBTQ police officers will not be allowed to participate as a group in the annual Pride march, and organizers said they will rely on private security for their events.

I’m not quite down with this decision. I understand the politics, but I think when you want to to be the ‘good guys,’ you have to be the ‘good guys.’

From the New York Times:

New York City’s annual Pride celebration, which began 51 years ago as a defiant commemoration of an anti-police uprising and has evolved into a city-sanctioned equality jamboree, will take steps to reduce the presence of law enforcement at its events.

Starting this year, police and corrections officers will also not be allowed to participate as a group in the annual Pride march until at least 2025. The ban includes the Gay Officers Action League, an organization of L.G.B.T.Q. police, which announced the news in a statement on Friday night.

The New York Police Department will also be asked to stay a block away from the edge of all in-person events, including the march. Heritage of Pride, which organizes events, will instead turn to private companies for security and safety, calling police officers in emergencies only when necessary, they said.

2nd Annual Criminal Queerness Festival Goes Global As Part Of NYC Pride

L-R Karen Eilbacher and T Thompson in Waafrika 123 (photo: Sean Velasco Dodge)

Guest post by Lawrence Pfeil Jr.

The uprising for social justice and equality in America, which has been expanding exponentially over the past weeks, is not unique to this country.  It has become the catalyst for demonstrations and protests around the world.

But in some countries conversations about equality especially for LGBTQ+ people are illegal and silenced.  Queer artists have no stage for their voice or work and are forced to go outside their own countries for the freedom to express who they are.

National Queer Theater and Dixon Place, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and NYC Pride, are proud to present the second annual Criminal Queerness Festival, running online June 13–29, 2020.

This one-of-a-kind event showcases queer and trans artists from countries that criminalize or censor LGBTQ+ communities.

The festival, an official event of NYC Pride, builds a global queer community rooted in activism and dedicated to the equitable treatment of LGBTQ+ people around the world.

Through a dozen online performances, conversations, and masterclasses, the Criminal Queerness Festival brings together queer artists, activists, and audiences to address global homophobia and transphobia. All events are free.

A schedule, event details, and direct links can be found at dixonplace.org.

Originally curated as a live theater festival, the second annual Criminal Queerness Festival has been modified in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The programming centers on the work of four international queer artists whose new plays were scheduled to premiere at Dixon Place in June.

Migguel Anggelo, a Venezuelan-born, Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary artist

Mashuq Mushtaq Deen, a resident playwright at New Dramatists and a 2019 Lambda Literary Award Winner

Amahl Khouri, a queer, transgender, Jordanian playwright and theater-maker based in Berlin

Omer Abbas Salem, a Chicago-based actor and playwright originally from Syria, Turkey, and Egypt.

Adam Odsess-Rubin, Artistic Director of National Queer Theater said, “While we can’t gather in person to experience the work of these brave playwrights, I’m humbled that the second edition of the Criminal Queerness Festival has transformed into a truly global event. By moving online, audiences all over the world can now experience the festival’s powerful message that all people deserve the basic human rights of happiness, respect, and safety.”

Detailed descriptions for each event available HERE 

 

Lawrence Pfeil, Jr., is a freelance writer/playwright who has reviewed film and theatre, both on and off-Broadway, for media outlets including The Randy Report, the New York Blade, and Edge Publications. You can follow him at TheOUTfront.com.

Podcast: NYC Pride’s Big 2020 Plans, Uganda, Albania, Daytime Emmys, PrEP

In this episode: the NFL's homophobic email scandal, Pete Buttigieg claps back, and new music from out singer/songwriter Michael Lazar.

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:

• Prosecutors in Uganda have dropped charges against 19 LGBTQ people held in jail for 49 days

• A ‘once every two months’ injectable version of PrEP has shown very positive results in clinical trials

• Albania bans so-called ‘conversion therapy’

• NYC Pride has announced a huge 50th anniversary Pride television special featuring Billy Porter, Dan Levy, Janelle Monae, and more.

• The 2020 Daytime Emmy nominations are out with big love for LGBTQ actors and shows

Here’s the link to my recent interview with the Emmy Award-winning creators of the Amazon series ‘After Forever’

• Out singer/songwriter Clinton John’s new single “Cry” taps into those frustrating times when you realize you’re really not over that lost love. Link to download “Cry.”

All that in this episode of The Randy Report.

NYC Pride March Canceled For 1st Time In 50-Year History

(photo via TheOUTfront.com)

For the first time in its half-century history, the NYC Pride March, has been along with all in-person events leading up to the annual June event, has been canceled.

From NBC News:

Heritage of Pride, the organization that runs the march, made the announcement Monday, shortly after New York Mayor Bill De Blasio announced the cancellation of permits for all large events for the month of June.

“This probably will not surprise you,” De Blasio said at a coronavirus briefing before announcing the cancellation of June’s Celebrate Israel, Puerto Rican Day and LGBTQ pride parades. The mayor promised these events would go on in some format “when it’s the right time.”

“This year is the 50th anniversary of the pride parade, and it’s a very, very big deal,” De Blasio said in Monday’s briefing. “That march is such an important part of life in this city, but this year in particular it was going to be something that was a historic moment.”

That first pride march, held in June 1970 a year after the Stonewall riots, is often regarded as the beginning of the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

Last year’s events, celebrating the Stonewall uprising, drew more than 5 million people to the city.

This year’s NYC Pride events were scheduled to commence June 14 with Janelle Monaé and Pussy Riot set to perform.

Heritage of Pride has announced a plan to coordinate with InterPride, an international organization comprised of local, regional and national pride planning organizations, to participate in a 24-hour virtual, online “Global Pride” scheduled for June 27.

“The plan is to have this 24-hour program that will be a worldwide celebration of pride,” said Ron deHarte, co-president of the United States Association of Prides and a member of the InterPride organizing committee.

“It will peak in time zones around the world, and in each of those time zones, those regional pride organizations and those local pride organizations will be directly involved in that programming component,” added deHarte.

Several major cities in the U.S. have already announced similar news about their local Pride events. Los Angeles postponed, San Francisco canceled and Seattle plans to “go virtual.”

World Pride Closing: At The Crossroads Of The World

Melissa Etheridge kicked off the festivities (photos: Lawrence Pfeil Jr)

By Lawrence Pfeil, Jr.

There could not have been a more ideal setting for World Pride Closing Ceremonies than Times Square at the “crossroads of the world.” 
As twilight fell across New York City and Pride marched on down in the Village, thousands gathered for a star-studded finale to Pride Month for one last official celebration of the LGBT+ Community where it all began. 
 It was electric, fabulous, fierce, funny, emotional, and PROUD.

Grammy Award winner, Melissa Etheridge took to the stage opening the evening with her brand of ferocious acoustic music which has inspired both the LGBT+ community as well as cancer survivors for decades.

Melissa Etheridge

Comedian Margret Cho brilliantly hosted the evening with hilarious observations on gay men. 

Cho said she “prefers being a ‘Bear Hag’ because she knows there’s going to be food, with “twinks there’s no regularly scheduled meals.” She also pointed out that “twinks are having so much work done, they look like a “queer caught in headlights.” 
Later, Cho did a full discussion of her “fat pussy” with surprisingly detailed descriptions of different kinds, ie Keto, sandwich, etc. Watching the muscle-stud ASL interpreter sign her graphic descriptions was hilariously horrifying.

Hunky sign language guy

More of hunky sign language guy
I think Lawrence was trying to tell me something 😉

Broadway’s The Prom stopped by strutting their stuff in a celebration of Love is Love with the entire cast thrilling the audience with the show’s finale, “It’s Time to Dance.”

Mel C – ‘Sporty Spice’ – of the Spice Girls

Big electrifying numbers from MNEK, Spice Girl Melanie C with Sink the Pink, and Jake Shears wowed the capacity audience, but it was an unexpected small moment that spoke to the occasion. 

Accompanied only by a guitar closing out his set, Shears sang:

Why are there so many

Songs about rainbows
And what’s on the other side
Rainbows are visions
They’re only illusions
And rainbows have nothing to hide
So we’ve been told and some chose to
Believe it
But I know they’re wrong wait and see
Someday we’ll find it
The Rainbow Connection
The lovers, the dreamers and me

Jake Shears

Those who came together last night as a global community united in pride were not prepared for what happened next.

In a flowing white gown, Deborah Cox took the stage like a twister hitting Dorothy’s farmhouse with “Absolutely Not,” and from her Broadway debut in Aida at the Palace Theatre across the street, “Easy as Life.”

Cox talked about spending 18 months touring in The Bodyguard the Musical in Whitney Houston’s iconic role. On the giant video screen, a rainbow ribbon could be seen on her dress. 


She explained, it wasn’t just a rainbow ribbon but an “Orlando Ribbon,” given to her by a survivor of the Pulse Nightclub massacre. Dedicated to their memory she sang, “I Will Always Love You” as tears streamed our cheeks.

I don’t know if at Pride Island they could hear what was happening in Times Square; but if they did, what they heard was, “Madonna, go home and try again.”

Deborah “Nobody’s Supposed to be Here” Cox Threw. It. Down. and blew it up! Taking a crowd from emotional heartbreak to ecstatic joyous dance party like it’s nothin but a thing takes a fierce dancefloor diva. It was a feat not many performers could pull off. Deborah Cox didn’t just drop the mic, she dropped it, buried it, never to be seen again.

Empire State Building lit up in rainbow for Pride

Special thanks to Lawrence Pfeil Jr. for his awesome work this weekend as special World Pride correspondent for The Randy Report!

Make sure you click over to his own site, theOUTfront.com, for more of his uplifting pride and prose.

World Pride March: Creativity United Under The Rainbow

With 165 units from around the world, across the country, and from every borough of the city, New York City’s Pride March was a spectacular show of love, community, and most of creativity.
Heritage of Pride (all photos: Lawrence Pfeil Jr)

By Lawrence Pfeil, Jr.

With 165 units from around the world, across the country, and from every borough of the city, New York City’s Pride March was a spectacular show of love, community, and most of creativity.

Estimated to last eleven hours before it began, the dazzling rainbow extravaganza was still going strong as the midnight hour approached with NYC Pride organizers revising their estimated finishing time to 1:00AM, or later.

Which begs the obvious question, “was anybody still watching it at that hour?” Absolutely!

According to marchers whose pride light up the night, crowds were still lining the route when one couple finished at 11pm and hadn’t gone anywhere when another couple finished at midnight.

Considering Madonna was simultaneously performing at Pride Island while Deborah Cox was closing World Pride in Times Square, it gives you some indication of the fabulously creative, spectacle of Pride winding through the streets of Chelsea and the Village.

Here’s a look at the first several hours of the largest Pride March in history, which the world gathered to witness and as they celebrated “Stonewall 50.”

Paying respect to those who were the reason for the celebration of Pride, the lead car honored two of the Community’s heroines.

With New York City hosting the first bi-annual celebration of World Pride in the US, some of the 1200 InterPride were welcomed down Fifth Avenue. Each of the 57 member units brought their own creative greeting from as far away as Australia, Germany and London; or as close to home as Nevada and Palm Springs.

Nordics for Equality

Amsterdam Pride

Many LGBT+ organizations brought the Pride, including Trevor Project, also serving as one of the Grand Marshals), New York’s own LGBT Center, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and GALA of the NYPD.

Gay Men’s Health Crisis

NYC Pride Center

Trevor Project

There has been some controversy regarding corporate takeover of the Pride March and commercialism overshadowing activism. So much so that it caused a schism and an anti-march was held.

It’s worth noting the first corporate float didn’t appear until 2:30 minutes into the March, after international and national LGBT+ groups and government officials who fight for equality and civil rights.

Certainly, there were corporations, like Deutche Bank and CapitalOne, whose presence were egregiously offensive considering they finance and launder money for and/or are a tenant of the President actively rolling back LGBT+ civil rights and promoting hate.

Pride and creativity were not only on display in the street but was everywhere in the crowd as well.

You never knew when you might spot a fabulous celebrity ally.

Longtime LGBTQ ally – film/TV/recording star Vanessa Williams

Broadway actor Jim Newman (L) enjoying the march

At some point, you gotta march!

The crowds were huge!

Some political statements were made along the way…

Historic Stonewall Inn

Madonna Closes Out World Pride 2019

Madonna (image via Instagram/Donatella_Versace)

Madonna closed out the massive World Pride celebrations in New York City last night with a 4 song set during the festival’s ‘Pride Island’ on Manhattan’s Pier 57.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots, New York Pride hosted this year’s World Pride festivities.

Taking to the stage, the Queen of Pop began with a raucous rendition of her 1990 classic, “Vogue,” which was quickly followed by her 2003 hit, “American Life.”

Madge’s longtime friend, Donatella Versace provided social media coverage throughout the performance.

Madonna then stopped to address the weekend’s celebrations.

“It’s weird, I know we’re on a pier and this pier has a lot of history; God knows it has a lot of history,” she began, referencing the piers history as a cruising area for gay men in the 1970s and 80s.

“So, fifty years people,” she continued. “Fifty years of revolution, fifty years of freedom fighting, fifty years of putting up with discrimination, hatred and indifference, fifty years of blood, sweat and tears, fifty years of not bowing down to fear. That’s what I’m talking about.”

“We have been on this journey together, and I am so proud and honored to share this historical evening with you,” added the 6-year-old pop-star.

“Since I came to New York as a wee little girl, I have always been embraced by queer nation,” bringing the conversation to the personal. “I always felt like an outsider but you made me feel like an insider. You must know how much I love and appreciate everyone here tonight – all members of the LGBTQ community.”

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” she concluded before launching into her latest single from Madame X, “God Control,” a controversial (what’s new?) meditation on gun violence in the U.S.

She closed with the anthemic “I Rise,” also from Madame X.

According to organizers, approximately 4.5 million people took part in the multiple NYC Pride events throughout the weekend.

Head over to Boy Culture where Matt Rettenmund has lots of fantastic pics of the 4-song set by Madge.

(h/t Hollywood Reporter)

Twitter Celebrates NYC Pride | World Pride 2019

(image via Twitter/NYCPride)

Scrolling through my Twitter feed, I’m thrilled to see all the sharing of the excitement at this year’s NYC Pride experience.

Just a few from the g-g-g-gay Twitterverse: