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Archive for May, 2011

Queer Film Spotlight: ‘Finding Me: Truth’

Finding Me: Truth is the highly anticipated sequel to Roger Omeus Jr.’s breakout gay indie Finding Me, about a clan of African American twenty-somethings grappling with friendship, love and homophobic families in New York City.

Here’s a synopsis from Finding Me from the film’s DVD distributor TLA Releasing:

A fresh, new “indie” film about a young gay black man’s journey of self-discovery, affirmation and love. Independent African-American gay cinema is given a refreshing, realistic twist in this seductive drama. Faybien Allan has it all going on; he’s young, stylish, and knows the importance of being seen with hip friends at NYC’s trendiest spots. But beneath the sparkle of his nightlife and his stunning good-looks, is a man buckling under his father’s homophobia. Filled with self-loathing and desperate for direction, he meanders through life until meeting Lonnie, a confident activist with a flirtatious smile. However, despite their obvious chemistry and fireworks in bed, Faybien’s insecurities have him looking for the door. Can a budding romance and a few good friends keep him from making the biggest mistake of his life? A true labor of love shot over the course of a dozen weekends, Finding Me marks the discovery of a promising and humanistic new talent, first-time Haitian-American filmmaker Roger Omeus, Jr.

In Find Me: Truth Faybien’s character returns with a new love interest, but finds himself in a comprising position when his fist love, Lonnie, returns. The film is set for a September 2011 DVD release.

The film recently saw major tragedy when Maurice Murrell, who stars in both films, suddenly died just last week from a still undiagnosed illness. Outside of Finding Me Murrell was a model, actor and well known gay activist in the urban LGBT movement. He was only 32. Murrell plays Faybien’s roommate Jay in Finding Me and becomes much more of the film’s focus in the sequel. His funeral is set for tomorrow near his parent’s residence in New Jersey. No word yet on how, or if, this tragedy will affect the film’s release. Our hearts go out to Murrell’s family and his friends.

Here’s the trailer for Finding Me. You can purchase the DVD here.

And here’s the trailer for Finding Me: Truth.

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Queer Corner Quickie #17: 30 Years of AIDS, Eddie Long, Grindr, Lady Gaga, Fleet Week

A quick roundup of this week’s gay happenings…

Video of the Week: ABC’s latest What Would You Do segment featured two gay parents as they dined with their families at a restaurant in a small conservative town, and were berated about their lifestyles by a rude waitress. Suprisingly a large number of people came to their defense.

Don Lemon spoke with Dr. Drew this week about his book and the damage homophobia is doing to the black community. He also wrote this amazing piece about “parying away the gay” for CNN’s Belief Blog.

No More Down Low recently released their latest episode featuring intersting segments on homophobia in hip hop and the Kobe Bryant controversy.

Homohop update: The Freaky Boiz have released their first original song, “Warning.” It’s definitely a departure from their usual fare, think Salt ‘n’ Peppa meets old school Snoop Dogg. And in case you’re interested, here’s video from their Chicago concert May 25th. | Loco Ninja just released the first single, “I’m in Love,”  off his new mix tape, “Flame On,” available June 14th. You can also see him on the PBS special “Out in America” premiering June 8th.

To recognize the 30th anniversary of the AIDS epidemic, CNN is running a series of stories on the history of HIV/AIDS told “through the eyes of people who lived it.” Here’s a piece featuring Edmund White, founder of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis.

The New York Times has gone live with a new interactive feature that lets gay teens tell their coming out stories. It’s extremely powerful and something you must peruse.

According to a new Gallup Poll, support of gay marriage in the U.S. has hit an all time high at 64 percent.

It was just announced that mega-church pastor Eddie Long has reached a settlement with the four men who accused him of “sexual misconduct.” Reports are coming in that he settled so damaging information found during the investigation wouldn’t surface. It’s estimated that the final settlement payment was in the millions.

Gay Bashing ReportNot guilty plea entered for NJ teen in Tyler Clementi case | Transgender woman beaten by mob in Virginia | Assault on two Portland, Ore. gay men investigated as a bias crime | 4 get prison, jail time in Utah gay man’s beating | 3 arrested after beating of gay man in Minnesota

Transgender individuals had a good week in Nevada as the governor signed a non-discrimination bill specifically protecting transgender citizens from employer discrimination into law. There’s also another law going through the state’s Congress that outlaws transgender discrimination in public establishments (restaurants, libraries, etc.).

Indie darling Violet Tendencies just got a DVD release. You can purchase it online here.

’80s pop singer Belinda Carlisle is interviewed by her out son James Duke Mason is this beautiful video (via The Advocate) about a family’s love and acceptance.

Vanity Fair profiles Grindr.

Two gay male teens are crowned prom king and queen at a high school in Maine. (I think it’s hilarious how no one who was against this had the balls to say so on television.)

Lady Gaga chats with the ladies of the The View about being bullied in high school.

Former New York Times food critic Frank Bruni becomes the first openly gay columnist in the paper’s 160 year history.

Photo of the Week: It was Fleet Week in NYC! And the popular Big Gay Ice Cream Truck got in on the fun.

Glee-cap: ‘New York’

In Glee’s Season 2 Finale, McKinley High’s New Directions took on The Big Apple as they flew to New York City to compete in the Show Choir National Championships, where of course loads of drama ensued.

When the kids get there we discover that they haven’t even written the original songs they plan to sing at Nationals (a big moment of foreshadowing by the writers). So instead of staying locked in a hotel room like Mr. Shu’s instructed, they go out on the town for some inspiration, which leads to a Madonna/Frank Sinatra mashup of “I Love New York/New York, New York.”

The Quinn-Finn-Rachel love triangle continues to annoy us in NYC. Finn decides to pursue Rachel and takes her on a date and romantic walk where Artie, Puck, Sam and Mike provide the mood music (“Bella Notte” from Lady and the Tramp). But Rachel decides that she needs to focus on her dreams and a relationship with Finn would just hold her back. This is further realized when she and Kurt break into the Gershwin Theater, where they somehow aren’t arrested, and sing Wicked’s “For Good” on stage with the Broadway backdrop and sets.

Mr. Shu sneaks off to meet with April Rhodes and the cast of her new Broadway show “Cross-Rhodes” and does a practice number on the empty stage, where a random person associated with the show tells him he’s talented and has “got it.” But when he gets back to the hotel Vocal Adrenalin coach Dustin Goolsby (Cheyenne Jackson) has told the kids Mr. Shu is leaving them for Broadway to shake their confidence right before the competition. And in that moment Mr. Shu decides to give up Broadway for the kids. (Really!?)

The New Directions take the stage with two quickly written (yet somehow still fully harmonized, orchestrated and choreographed) original numbers (“Pretending,” “Light Up the World”) during which Finn does some ad-libbing and kisses Rachel. We later find out the kids don’t make it in the Top 10 and are sent home in 12th Place. Santana has a pretty hilarious meltdown and Jesse St. James (Jonathan Groff) shows up out of nowhere blaming Rachel and Finn’s kiss for the loss. We then get a quick Kurt/Blaine scene, two quick Santana-Britney/Rachel-Finn make-up scenes and a final act surprise when it’s revealed that Sam and Mercedes are now together.

And that’s what you missed on…GLEE.

Fave moment: I just loved how many old New York movie/musical references there were from On the Town and Taxi Driver to Wicked and Hair, and there was even a Patti LuPone cameo thrown in for good measure. But my fave was the Breakfast at Tiffany’s moment between Kurt and Rachel. That’s one of my favorite movies and my heart melted a little as soon as “Moon River” started playing in the background. I also loved how everything wrapped up this year. I thought them not placing at Nationals was a nice realistic touch. And as for the love stories: Kurt has Blaine for the summer, Finn has Rachel Santana has Britney (sort of) and now Sam has Mercedes. Though, I’m not sure why Sam and Mercedes are keeping their relationship a secret. But that’s definitely a storyline I’m look forward to next season.

Annoying moment: I still can’t believe these writers are trying to push the fact that these kids can just whip out an original hit song in a matter of days. But I guess that just goes along with the magic of Glee. And what talented 30-year-old would give up on his second chance at making it big on Broadway? Really, Mr. Shu?

Fave quote: Santana – “I think I know how to make you feel better.” Quinn – “I’m flattered Santana, but I’m really not that into that.” Santana – “No, no I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about a hair cut.”

Fave song: I am a musical hag so I definitely have to go with Kurt and Rachel’s “For Good” rendition. Although I was somewhat annoyed that they cut out parts of the song. I also fell in love with the all-girls choir who did “Yeah!” by Usher. That was definitely a nice surprise. The original songs at the end were good but “Get It Right” and “Loser Like Me” were way better.

You can watch full episodes of Glee here.

Ohio Queers: Is Ibiza meltdown the end of Columbus’ Short North?

Last month The Columbus Dispatch broke the news that the Ibiza Condo Project to be built in the Short North in Columbus, Ohio, was no more because the condos owners, Apex Realty Enterprises, is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

For those unaware, the Ibiza Condo Project was a major condominium that was to be built on the corner of Hubbard and High in the Short North. The condos were going to be sold for 159,999 to 1,549,999 depending on the view and was to include pent houses, top deck indoor swimming pools and a state-of-the-art fitness center. They’ve been advertising this as the place that the movers and shakers of Columbus would be living once it was built.

Apex’s four partners — Raymond Brown, Michael Council, Rajesh Lahoti and Wilbur Ischie — announced their plans for Ibiza in 2006 and apparently everything went downhill from there. According to various reports funding for the project fell through early on and in order to keep the project afloat they started selling the condos before even breaking ground. But 15 months ago they announced that they were abandoning the condos concept and building regular apartments, at which point people started asking for their money back. When Apex couldn’t produce, the onslaught of suits began, which has led to the company filing bankruptcy. (I personally think that anyone who would spend $1 million to live in Ohio, deserves to loose their money, but I digress.)

The evidence against Apex is mounting (i.e. emails between Council and Brown where they actually say they’re going to start lying to clients who’ve asked for their money back) and it looks like the courts could be processing this one for years. The lawsuit lists liabilities of $10 million to $50 million and Apex’s assets at less than $10 million.

However, that may not be the worst of the news. Apex and it’s partners also have major investments in such popular Short North hot spots as Union Cafe, Havana, Axis Nightclub (which are all gay clubs) and a host of other commercial buildings in the area. This could mean bad news for the Short North if businesses (especially gay ones) start shutting down. (I reached out to the Short North Business Association for comment on how the failed Ibiza deal would affect the district, but received no response.)

It’s a known fact in Columbus that the Short North is the “gay district” and the reason why Columbus has one of the largest numbers of gays per capita in the country. And as they say, once the gay dollars go, so goes the neighborhood. It would also be extremely ironic as gentrification is the reason the Short North is what it is today. Twenty years ago it was overridden with drugs and was the area with one of the highest crime rates in the city.

Also according to the dispatch, Apex listed the Community Loan Fund amongst it’s largest debtors, at $5.1 million. The Community Loan Fund is a Columbus-based nonprofit group that helps fund projects in low-income areas, which means tax-payers may also be taking the fall for this massive conspiracy.

Sports world exploding with gay-friendly coverage lately

Will Sheridan

I recently asked the question, “Is American professional sports becoming gay friendly?” and apparently the answer is yes. Since that post a little over a week ago, major sports figures have been coming out and more and more straight players are also coming out in support of equality. For example…

Phoenix Suns president and CEO Rick Welts shocked the sports world when he came out of the closet in a New York Times article last week, becoming the first openly gay professional sports team owner in America. Above is video of ESPN breaking the story about Welts and he appeared on NPR to talk about his decision to come out and the changing atmosphere for gays in sports.

Right after Welts’ big announcement,  former Villanova all-star athlete Will Sheridan went on ESPN and came out publicly. In the above video he chats about how his teammates knew he was gay and it didn’t affect them or their game at all. He did however have to deal with some homophobic chants from sports fans.

 Thursday Jared Max, one of the best-known voices in New York sports radio and current ESPN New York 1050 morning host of ‘Maxed Out in the Morning’, came out on his radio show.

Then the same day professional bowler Scott Norton came out in a piece he wrote for the Professional Bowlers Association, titled “Being gay doesn’t define who I am as a person or as a professional athlete.” Norton sites Welts’ courage as the reason he decided to come out.

And it hasn’t just been the gays chiming in. NBA legend Charles Barkley also made a statement of support for gay athletes after hearing about Welts’ coming out.

First of all, every player has played with gay guys. It bothers me when I hear these reporters and jocks get on TV and say: ‘Oh, no guy can come out in a team sport. These guys would go crazy.’ First of all, quit telling me what I think. I’d rather have a gay guy who can play than a straight guy who can’t play.

Baltimore Raven wide receiver Donté Stallworth expressed his support for equality via Twitter after CNN anchor Don Lemon came out recently.

And The New York Times recently did an article called “Two Straight Athletes Combat Homophobia,” profiling international rugby star Ben Cohen and wrestling star Hudson Taylor, who are leading the fight against homophobia in sports internationally.

Grant Hill has also lent his name to equality. I’ve posted the PSA he appears in for the “Think Before You Speak” Campaign before, but he also has been going on talk shows to discuss to promote the PSA. In his below interview on CNN he says he’s “happy” for Wetls and cheers his courage to come out.

However, the road to full equality in American professional sports is a long way off. A fact that was proven just yesterday when Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah was caught on film during a game yelling “f–k you, faggot” to a fan who was taunting him. The press has jumped all over the incident making references to the Kobe Bryant incident. Noah responded with: “I got caught up. I don’t mean no disrespect to anybody.” No word yet on if Noah will be receiving the same punishment as Bryant, who had to pay a $100,000 fine for her offensive wordplay. Here’s the video of Noah’s altercation with the fan:

[Long sigh] Baby steps, right?

JOAKIM NOAH UPDATE: According to a New York Times article, Noah was fined $50,000 by the NBA and made a public apology about the gay slur he used in Sunday’s game. (That was a quick turnaround!)

UPDATE #2: Following Sean Avery‘s lead, Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash became the second professional sports player to appear in a video for HRC’s New Yorkers for Marriage Equality Campaign. I wonder if he’ll get the same heat Avery got over this? The video is below.

Ohio Queers: High Fashion on High taking over Short North Thursday

This Thursday Fashion Week Columbus, Fashion Art Board and Heyman Talent Agency are presenting “High Fashion on High,” a glamorous three-hour fashion show that will showcase the summer fashions of a handful of local designers.

According to Facebook, the event will feature “summer looks from Lady Bird, Brigade, Arthlene Legair, and LP Miller Jewelry while models strut the catwalk in a fashion photo session setting with photographer Kyle Widder.” You ticket will also get you complimentary hors d’oeuvres, an open bar and music by DJ Haus, who’ll be spinning out tunes throughout the event.

“High Fashion on High” will be held 6-9 p.m. Thursday, March 26, in the upper level of La Fogata Grill, 790 N. High Street. Admission is $30 and you can purchase tickets online here before they sell out.

Fashion Week Columbus was founded last year by Dont’e Young and Thomas McClure and kicked off a fashion revolution in the city, getting major backing from the local media and even Mayor Michael Colman himself. (Check out an in-depth article I wrote on Young and McClure and the founding of FWC, and my coverage of last year’s major event.)

To keep interest alive and build the brand events have dotted the calendar since the debut week in October last year. A event at Sacks Fifth Avenue to introduce local spring lines was held earlier this year. And Fashion Week Columbus 2012 has already been scheduled to take over once again October 9-15.

Marriage Equality Roundup #9: Minnesota, Rhode Island, New York, Judge Walker, Brazil

The big news this week will be coming out of Minnesota as the state’s House voted late Saturday to pass an anti-gay amendment with a vote of 70-62, and it will now be put to the voters in 2012. The bill passed a the Senate level a couple weeks ago and, though a fierce fight was  mounted by Democrats and gay lobbying groups, the bill was expected to also pass in the Republican-dominated House. The saddest part about all of this is that Minnesota already has a law on the books that defines marriage between one man and one woman, however, this new bill would make it so the law can’t be overturned by the judicial system, like it was in Iowa. Below is a video of a speech given by the lone Republican who voted against the bill, and video of protests at the Statehouse before, during and after the bill was passed.

Now for some good news. Last week the Rhode Island House overwhelming passed a bill that would legalize civil unions in the state. The bill is set to head to the Senate next where it is expected to pass. This comes after a fight for gay marriage was lost recently. If this does pass, at least gays will have the same rights as married couples event if it’s not called marriage, which is more than can be said for most states.

New York Democrats are decrying a bill that was introduced into the state’s Senate by Republicans that would invalidate out-of-state gay marriages in New York.

I’ve mentioned before that proponents on Prop 8 in California are now trying to have Judge Walker’s ruling against the proposition invalidated because he came out as gay recently. Earlier this month The New York Times put out an amazing editorial in support of the Walker’s ruling.

The Brazil Supreme Court has approved civil unions for same-sex couples!

Completely ignoring progress, Virgina Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said recently that a new Washington Post poll showing that Virginians are closely divided over whether gay marriage should be legal doesn’t matter because voters overwhelmingly agreed to amend the state Constitution to ban gay marriage just five years ago. Yes, because nothing can change in five years.

The New York Times is reporting that major donors of the Republican Party in New York are also donating major dollars to the fight to legalize gay marriage.

The DeVote Campaign has released a powerful video that highlights Out4Immigration (an organization of volunteers fighting for immigration equality for LGBT families in the U.S.) and features same sex, bi-national couples who are being gravely affected by the government’s refusal to recognize their relationship. You can watch the full video above.

And speaking of same sex, bi-national couples, David W. Ross, an ex-boy bander that topped the European charts in the ’90s and star of the popular 2006 gay indie Quinceañerahas penned a new film called I Do, about a gay bi-national couple and the green card problems they face. The project recently celebrated reaching it’s funding goal on Kickstarter and filming should commence later this year.