Podcast: Catholics Defy Vatican, Skittles Loses Rainbow For Pride, More States Ban Gay Panic Defense

The Randy Report podcast delivers the week's top stories in a quick, convenient podcast - 'the 60 Minutes of gay news - only shorter'

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 headlines:

• Catholic priests in Germany defy the Vatican and bless same-sex unions

• GLAAD looks at social media safety for LGBTQ users

• A 20-year-old gay man was beheaded by his own family in a brutal ‘honor killing’ in Iran

• The gay panic defense is banned in two more states…and counting

• Skittles defers to the true “rainbow” for Pride Month

• New music from out singer/songwriter Milahroy ‘Daylight’ (Link to music video)

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report

Study: Social Media Platforms ‘Categorically Unsafe’ For LGBTQs

A young gay man on social media
A young gay man on social media
(photo: Eddy Billard/Unsplash)

GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, has announced the findings of its inaugural Social Media Safety Index (SMSI), a 50-page report on LGBTQ user safety across five major social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok.

The overall takeaway is that  all five platforms are “categorically unsafe” for LGBTQ people.

From Axios:

GLAAD had planned to give each of the sites a grade as part of its inaugural social media index, but opted not to give individual grades this year after determining all the leading sites would receive a failing grade.

“They are categorically unsafe, across the board,” GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said. The findings follow a several month effort by GLAAD and a team of outside experts who looked at each of the sites, their policies and track record of enforcing those policies.

Ellis said that all of the sites hold themselves out as LGBTQ-friendly and nonetheless allow for LGBTQ people to be harassed on a daily basis as well as allowing harmful misinformation to spread unchecked.

Each of the social media platforms defended their efforts to protect LGBTQ people.

Facebook/Instagram CMO Alex Schultz declared their deep belief in “the representation of and visibility for the LGBTQ+ community that GLAAD champions.”

“Finding the right balance between giving voice and taking action on harmful content is hard,” added Schultz. “This is why we partner with experts, non-profits and other stakeholders – like GLAAD – to try to get it right.”

YouTube issued a statement noting its ‘significant progress’ in removing “hateful and harassing content against the LGBTQ+ community that violates our policies, prominently surface content in search results and recommendations from authoritative sources and limit the spread of extreme content by our recommendations.”

Twitter says it welcomes GLAAD’s initiative and the chance to “better understand the experiences and needs of the LGBTQ+ communities on our service.”

And TikTok promised it is “committed to supporting and uplifting LGBTQ+ voices on and off the platform and we care deeply about fostering a welcoming and supportive experience for everyone.”

Texas Senate Attempts To Stop Social Media From Blocking Users Based On Politics

Road sign reading Texas

A high school senior was expelled right before the school year for coming out as gay and proud

In the early morning hours on Thursday, the Texas Senate approved legislation that would “prohibit social media companies with at least 100 million monthly users from blocking, banning, demonetizing or discriminating against a user based on their viewpoint or their location within Texas.”

More from the Texas Tribune:

The measure, which would apply to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, among others, would also require the companies to disclose their content moderation policies, publish regular reports about the content they remove and create an appeals process for user content that has been taken down.

The Texas attorney general would be allowed to file suit against any company that violates a provision of the bill. If upheld in court, the attorney general could recoup “reasonable” attorney’s fees and investigative costs.

Hughes repeatedly referred to social media companies as “common carriers” (like cable or phone companies) even though they’ve never been classified as such.

The issue moves to the state House where two identical bills have yet to move out of committees.

It goes without saying that legal experts have raised doubts about the legality of the measure.

What’s interesting to me is: the same people who say a baker doesn’t have to bake a cake for a same-sex couple now say Twitter or Facebook can’t boot someone for violating their terms of service by spreading misinformation on their platforms.

QAnon Rep. Greene Scrubbing Years Of Social Media Posts

QAnon/GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (screen capture)

As more and more disturbing clips of freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene keep surfacing, several outlets are reporting Greene is quickly and quietly scrubbing her social media of her many inflammatory posts.

From CNN:

Searches of Greene’s Facebook show the posts from 2018 and 2019 have been removed. Links saved by CNN’s KFile during a review of hundreds of posts and comments from Greene’s Facebook page are no longer available.

Greene is facing backlash for her conspiratorial social media posts after CNN reported she indicated support for executing prominent Democrats in Facebook comments and videos.

The freshman congresswoman from Georgia also deleted videos she posted on Facebook Live where she said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is “guilty of treason” and that she will “suffer death or she’ll be in prison” for her “treason.”

Read the full report at CNN.

Misinformation Dropped Dramatically After Trump Banned From Twitter

Misinformation dropped dramatically after Twitter suspended Donald Trump's account

Misinformation dropped dramatically after Twitter suspended Donald Trump's account

Color me shocked, but a new report shows misinformation on social media dropped dramatically after Donald Trump was banned from Twitter.

From the Washington Post:

Online misinformation about election fraud plunged 73 percent after several social media sites suspended President Trump and key allies last week, research firm Zignal Labs has found, underscoring the power of tech companies to limit the falsehoods poisoning public debate when they act aggressively.

The new research by the San Francisco-based analytics firm reported that conversations about election fraud dropped from 2.5 million mentions to 688,000 mentions across several social media sites in the week after Trump was banned from Twitter.

Election disinformation had for months been a major subject of online misinformation, beginning even before the Nov. 3 election and pushed heavily by Trump and his allies.

The drop in misinformation was seen across numerous platforms after Trump was kicked off social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Spotify and more.

And it wasn’t just removing Trump that made the difference.

Twitter also removed more than 70,000 accounts affiliated with the conspiracy movement known as QAnon, which played a large role in raising temperatures that led to the Capitol invasion on January 6.

Read the full article at The Washington Post.

Failed GOP Candidate Says Fiancé Was Fired For Attending Trump NYE Soiree

George Santos and his fiancé at Mar-a-Lago
George Santos and his fiancé at Mar-a-Lago
George Santos and his fiancé at Mar-a-Lago

George Santos, a failed gay GOP congressional candidate who lost his New York state race in November, says that his fiancé, a pharmacist, lost his job after the couple attended Donald Trump’s $1,000-per-head COVID-unsafe New Year’s Eve bash at Mar-a-Lago.

Santos shared pics of himself and his fiancé at the soiree on his social media accounts but somehow blames the New York Times for the firing of his fiancé because the newspaper included a link to his Instagram posts from the party.

The Times had written the piece in regard to the flouting of Palm Beach County health guidelines during the pandemic.

In the photos, Santos and his boo can be seen in formal attire and meeting folks from Trump’s orbit like Rudy Giuliani.

Santos meeting Rudy Giuliani

Social media post shared by George Santos

In a Facebook post, he claimed that the couple was forced to “leave our home this evening with our 4 dogs” due to the Times having reported on the party.

Santos claimed that his fiancé, “a pharmacist who worked 12h/7 days shifts for 9 months was fired!” after the Times article.

He added, “The violence against us is real,” although what violence he had faced was not clear.

Facebook post from George Santos
(via Facebook)

Twitter was neither impressed nor sympathetic to the failed GOP candidate in his plight. Perhaps if he hadn’t shared the photos in the first place, no one would have seen them…?

RuPaul Found A Great Reason To Return To Social Media

RuPaul takes to the SNL stage as host
RuPaul takes to the SNL stage as host
RuPaul is back on social media (screen capture via SNL)

Back in July, RuPaul quietly and inexplicably erased all posts from his Instagram and Twitter accounts. He even temporarily deactivated his Twitter.

Was it the coronavirus pandemic? Social unrest across the country after the killing of George Floyd?

It’s not like Ru went into hiding. We’ve seen the drag star hosting his show and making a virtual appearance during the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards to accept his 5th trophy for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program

At the time, no one seemed to know what or why the Supermodel of the World retreated from social media.

But now we know what brought him back to the Gram of Insta and Twitterverse.

Wednesday night, Mama Ru reactivated Twitter to post a photo of international pop star Dame Olivia Newton-John along with the caption, “Olivia Newton-John has started a new foundation to find kinder ways to treat, prevent & cure all cancers, with a strong focus on plant medicine. Follow & support @onjfoundation #beyondcancer @therealonj#onjfoundation onjfoundation.org.”

RuPaul also shared the message on Instagram.

The messages came just a day after Olivia announced the launch of the Olivia Newton-John Foundation which will “fund the discovery of kinder therapies and advocate for more effective ways to prevent, treat and cure all cancers.”

Olivia, who shared in recent years her breast cancer from 1992 had reoccurred, has said in interviews she’s interested in helping explore the science behind more plant-based medicine.

As fans of both stars know, Ru and Olivia have been friends for a long time.

Last fall, RuPaul attended Olivia’s charity auction at Julien’s where the Grease star put her famous black leather jacket and pants from the movie’s finale on the bidding block and garnered over $500,000 for charity.

Dame Olivia Newton-John and RuPaul at Julien’s Auctions
Dame Olivia Newton-John and RuPaul at the Flamingo Las Vegas (photo: Denise Truscello)

Ru also traveled to attend the “Physical” singer’s opening night of her Las Vegas residency. And of course, ONJ has been a guest on The RuPaul Show, the web series RuPaul Drives…, and a guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Here’s hoping this is just the beginning of RuPaul’s return to social media.

Gays Gone Wild? Fire Island Social Media Posts Go Viral

In this episode of ‘Gays Gone Wild,’ “Fire Island” was trending on Twitter today after several social media posts went viral featuring tons of shirtless gays at shoulder-to-shoulder parties at the gay summer mecca, Fire Island.

No masks, no social distancing.

Journalist Chris Weidner curated the following posts and reports via Twitter.

Among the ‘Covidiots’ is an apparent 23-year-old Giancarlo Kristian Albanese, currency analyst at EverythingFx. It looksl like he was planning on returning to his parents house (where he lives) in White Plains, NY.

Except – his mother reportedly if undergoing chemotherapy, and his brother commented on Giancarlo’s post saying he is now unwelcome at home.

And then there’s Corey Hannon who told social media that he had been suffering from COVID-19 for over a week but went to Fire Island anyway.

Hannon later posted an ‘apology’ video which seemed to twist and turn itself in knots.

On one hand, he said he never actually tested positive for COVID-19, but he believed he had experienced it. BUT – even though he took a test for the virus, he still headed out to Fire Island to frolic in the sun amid the gays.

He ‘apologized’ for the ‘misrepresentation’ of his COVID story and that his video rant was never meant to be posted to his account as it was just ‘bad humor’ intended to be shared among friends.

He also denounced so-called ‘cancel culture’ for how his own posts on social media came back to bite him in the ass.

First of all, pal, stop posting every second of your life on social media if you don’t want to deal with the ramifications. You’re not that cool.

Second, we can’t cancel what hasn’t happened. I’d never heard of Hannon before today. The idea of ‘cancel culture’ is to ‘cancel’ prominent individuals who have abused public trust in having a following.

Dude, you ain’t that famous…

Twitter was NOT havin it:

Poof! Gone! What Happened To RuPaul’s Social Media Accounts?

RuPaul (screen capture)

Where in the virtual world has RuPaul gone?

Fans noticed on Thursday, the 6-time Emmy Award winner had deactivated his Twitter account (“This account doesn’t exist”) and removed all posts on his Instagram account (“No posts yet”).

Just gone. Poof. Shantay-ed away.

The move has left many fans feeling confused, with one user tweeting: “Can someone please check on @RuPaul. Mother deleted everything on her Instagram.”

“Why did RuPaul just totally decimate his entire Instagram tho — what is happening?” tweeted another fan.

One fan, referencing the recent reports that Ru seemingly admitted to allowing fracking on his Wyoming/South Dakota property, responded asking “Did the oil wells dry up in Wyoming??”

Another posited that the world’s most successful drag queen had been hacked, posting a recorded video showing posts disappearing from Instagram one by one.

The fan wrote, “@RuPaul someone is hacking your Instagram and deleting your photos.”

Multiple outlets, including The Randy Report, have reached out to RuPaul’s reps about the deletions but received no comment.

Page Six points out that Season 10 Drag Race alum Kameron Michaels also wiped his Instagram account on the same day.

But early this morning, Michaels posted a note on the Gram of Insta saying he is ‘fine.’

“There is no stunt. No scandal. No big reveal,” wrote Michaels. “Without going into all the whiney details about my own personal issues, I simply want to start over.”

Michaels went on to say he cringed at many of his past posts because he began to tie his self-worth in reality “to that of my online content and I’m erasing that toxic behavior.”

He added, “As far as someone else doing the same thing I did, weirdly on the very same day…I have mo idea why they or their team erased their content.”

Another coincidence – or not? – the timing of RuPaul’s deletions happened the same day as the debut of Canada’s Drag Race, the 4th iteration of the popular reality series.

While Mama Ru’s personal social media pages have been deleted or deactivated, for now, the official RuPaul’s Drag RaceInstagram account remains active, although the most recent post was from June 12.

The 5th Season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars is currently airing on VH1.

‘Rona Rave’ Guests Denounce Social Media Attacks & Gay ‘Cancel Culture’

L-R Chris Weaver, DJ Alec Brian (screen captures)

Two attendees of last week’s now-infamous ‘Rona Rave’ in New York City have posted statements to the community at large admitting attending the shindig was a mistake, but also denouncing social media’s ‘cancel culture’ for the attacks the party-goers have experienced online.

As I reported last week, videos of the party were posted by adult entertainment performer Ian Frost to his Instagram Story during the event. And when I say ‘videos,’ I mean some 31 videos were shared tagging many of the attendees with their Instagram handles.

In the clips, you can see the 30+ party-goers were not of a mind to keep ‘social distancing’ practices in place, nor was anyone seen wearing a face mask amid the purple/pink party light.

Twitter user Phillip Henry downloaded some of the clips and shared them to his followers, and quickly news of the event went viral.

Many were angry that, with New York City being THE hotspot in the U.S. for COVID-19, the party seemed reckless and dismissive of the efforts of frontline workers.

Chris Weaver, who performs drag under the stage name Nedra Belle and is a past contestant on NBC’s The Voice, began his video message on Facebook saying that he respects all those medical and essential workers. In fact, he shares he has friends “serving on the front lines,” and he’s “reached out to a couple of them to let them know that if they need anything, I’m there and would love to help in any way I can.”

He then segues into the social media “dragging” aimed at the party-goers and adds that there’s now a “call for us to be ‘canceled.'”

“I’m a human,” says Weaver. “I make mistakes just like you make mistakes. It’s life.”

“I fully understand that I have to deal with the repercussions of what I did and that it’s just a reality that we have to face,” he adds. “But, I won’t be scared or run into a hole or a box because you don’t agree. Okay?”

Admitting that attending the party was ‘dumb,’ Weaver says in hindsight, “If I had to do it all over again, would I have attended the event? I would have not.”

“Everybody’s all up in arms and so upset – that I can understand,” he continues. “There are thousands and thousands of people who have perished from this, and that is unfortunate.”

“But I didn’t go out with the intent to hurt anyone,” explains the singer. “I didn’t go out with the intent to say, ‘Oh I’m gonna go out to this party and not wear a mask to get the virus and to spread the virus.’ That’s not what I did, that’s not what I plan on doing and that’s not who I am.”

Weaver also shares that he’s suffered a personal loss during the COVID-19 health threat as his 31-year-old cousin succumbed to the disease last week.

“So, for all these negative comments, let me tell you something about the gay community, the LGBTQ+ community. What we do is we are so good at building each other up. But we’re even better at tearing each other down. And the problem with that is, we can drag and drag and drag folks all day and all night, but there’s never a chance – where is the chance for redemption? Where’s the chance for somebody to make up for their mistakes or to get it right? We don’t give that, but we wanna cancel folks.”

“Some people are going to look at this video and say… that’s the thing, people can issue an apology and people are never satisfied,” he continues, although there’s no apology in the 11-minute video. “People just want something to attack people on. If you want to cancel me, cancel me, I mean that’s, it is what it is. And I’m hoping that you open up your hearts, not just for me but for those who you have attacked. Please know that your reaction causes reaction. Think about the person on the other side.”

“And so I love you all,” he says concluding his message. “And for those of you who are still on this train with me, thank you. For those of you who aren’t, I’ll see ya.”

He then sings an a cappella “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and signs off with a call to keep practicing social distancing. “It’s hard, I know. I just needed a moment, y’all.”

The DJ who was captured in one of the videos, Alec Brian, also posted a Facebook video with similar sentiments saying he regrets accepting the gig, he took the job on the spur of the moment, and since then he says he’s been attacked on social media by people who didn’t bother to learn the “whole story.”

Again, there was no ‘apology’ to anyone but he does say he used the money he earned at the party to buy 300 face masks that will be donated to those that need them.

According to the New York City Health Department, at the time of the party, there were 171,723 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the city; 43,383 hospitalized, 13,724 confirmed deaths and another 5,383 probable deaths.

Today, those numbers have escalated to 178,766 confirmed cases. 44,812 hospitalizations, 14,753 confirmed deaths, and 5,178 probable deaths related to COVID-19.