Tag Archives: LGBTQ

Vic Mensa Takes A Stand

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Vic Mensa, the outspoken, Grammy-nominated rapper from Chicago is using his voice to bring attention to the on-going stand-off between water protectors and militarized police over the Dakota Access Pipeline. The pipeline will run under the Missouri River and connect North Dakota to Illinois, where oil will then be transported to the Gulf and East Coast.

The indigenous tribal lands’ water supply is at risk for oil leaks and contamination. The pipeline would also destroy Native American burial sites. Protestors have taken camp and have been met with extreme violence by police through the use of water cannons in freezing temperatures, rubber bullets, pepper spray and other horrific means of force.

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The news media is virtually turning a blind eye to what is happening with most reports coming directly from protestors via social media. Vic tweeted, “Standing Rock is the most important struggle to support right now. What has been done to Native Americans for 500+ years can’t continue. If we don’t take a stand at Standing Rock and stop BIG OIL polluting drinking water we could all be next. Standing Rock is BLM.  Standing Rock is LGBTQ rights. Standing Rock is the Latino struggle. All this shit is one.”  For food and clothing donations please visit: http://standingrock.org

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This is not the first time Mensa has spoken out against police brutality.  His new music video for “16 Shots” recreates the slaying of friend, Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old gunned down by police. Vic remains an advocate for criminal justice reform and other social justice issues.

On a side note, I am featured as one of the officers – in the opening scene. I’m honored to be featured  in the video and to be part of this important movement.

http://vicmensa.com

 

Relationship Status

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Dating in the digital age can be downright dreadful. I recently set up a Tinder profile in hopes of finding more relationship oriented guys than the ones trolling Scruff and Grindr. After hundreds of swipes and likes, my best match was already in a relationship with my former real estate agent. WTF.

Relationship Status, an 11 episode digital series available on Verizon’s go90 app from executive producers James Frey and Milo Ventimiglia, tackles the subject head on. It follows 30 guys and girls in New York and Los Angeles navigating through love and friendship – all told though the lens of social media. Gilmore Girls and Heroes hottie Ventimiglia stars as “Jack” a light hearted, fun gay bartender.

I met Milo while working background on the show. I found myself blushing while chatting briefly near the craft service table. To me, it was love at first sight. Milo featured me in a scene and gave positive feedback on my reactions.

After a long day of dancing in a simulated gay club, I checked one of my social accounts and noticed a guy who resembled Ventimiglia checked out my profile. I wondered if this was a case of life imitating art or just wishful thinking? My imagination ran wild. The experience inspired me to start writing a screenplay about a straight actor who in research for his role hooks up with an over eager extra via a sex app.

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In good fun, I tweeted Milo a picture of his character “Jack” remarking how hot he is. Here’s the problem, I mistakenly called him “Jake”  – the doppelgänger I chatted with online! A case of mistaken identity. How embarrassing. But this is Hollywood, who can tell what is real? Good thing Milo has a sense of humor.

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Make sure to check out this funny, smart and relevant show. If you watch it in slow motion you just might spot me too.  As for my dating life, my Relationship Status remains the same – SINGLE!

Relationship Status premiered last week on StyleHaul’s YouTube channel. Additional episodes are streaming on Verizon’s go90 app now.

Later this year, Ventimiglia returns to Gilmore Girls for its Netflix reboot.

Who’s The Boss? Star Danny Pintauro Makes A “Positive” Change

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Actor Danny Pintauro  is best known for playing the adorable Jonathan Bower on the 80s sitcom “Who’s the Boss?” which ran  from 1984 to 1992.  Danny came out as gay in an 1997 National Enquirer interview; the same year as Ellen DeGeneres. But due to his struggle with crystal meth addiction, feels he “missed the opportunity to become a beacon of light” as revealed on Saturday’s episode of Oprah: Where Are They Now?  Danny announced he is HIV-positive, a secret harbored for 12yrs.

It is a new day and Danny is now living his truth. He is launching a campaign to raise awareness about the problem in the gay community and hopes to vanish the stigma associated with the disease. His mission doesn’t end there, Danny is also speaking out against the use of “dating” apps like Tinder and Grindr which are used by many to engage in casual sex and to score drugs.

Since the announcement, Danny has received support by fans; his followers on Twitter nearly doubled. “Who’s The Boss?” co-stars Judith Light and Alyssa Milano have also rallied behind him.

Watch “The Talk” guest co-host Alyssa Milano weigh in on her former co-stars revelation.

Follow Danny (Twitter: @dannypinauro) on his inspirational journey to educate and enlighten others.  Check out his latest heart-felt blog post here https://medium.com/@dannypintauro/scratching-the-surface-2154629dd52c Thanks Danny for sharing your story!

Miley Cyrus: From Wild Child To Happy Hippie

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Photos: @mileycyrus

People like to give Miley Cyrus a hard time for her over-the-top antics. But as of late, Miley is being recognized as a major LGBTQ advocate. Reflecting back on her 2013 VMAs performance. In an interview with Ryan Seacrest Miley said, “I just didn’t realize my platform, I didn’t realize my power. If I’m going to be given this loud of a voice and this big of an image and this big of a platform; this is a huge opportunity to talk to young people in America right now.”

Through her nonprofit Happy Hippie Foundation, Miley is raising awareness and funds for LGBTQ homeless youth. In addition, The Happy Hippie foundation launched a popular social media campaign #InstaPride that celebrated portraits and stories of transgender and gender expansive individuals.

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Miley was also recently recognized by The American Foundation for AIDS Research for her charitable contributions; awarded top honors at their annual gala. In her moving acceptance speech, Miley informed the crowd “1.6 million young people are homeless each year, and 40% of homeless young people identify as LGBT. This community is disproportionately affected by this disease, and discrimination can lead to homelessness, and once these young people are on the street, many young people find that exchanging sex for food, clothing, and shelter are their only chance for survival, putting them at a much greater risk for contracting HIV and AIDS.” The event raised 1.5 million dollars. Go Miley!

To learn more about Happy Hippie and how you too can get involved visit: https://www.happyhippies.org/

 

Sally Jessy Raphael: The People’s Queen

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Photo: Andrew Werner

Some of my most fond memories are the days where I would come home from school and watch daytime television. I’d start off by watching soaps like Days of Our Lives, then as the afternoon progressed, I’d immerse myself into daytime talk shows. This was a simpler time, which predates the internet (you do the math)!  Daytime talk provided an arena for debate, education and hours of entertainment with unusual guests and celebrities. The Sally Jessy Raphael Show, later shortened to Sally, was the first to challenge Phil Donahue’s rule over the daytime talk world.

Sally known for her trademark red glasses, aired from 1983-2002. She was soft spoken and relatable, but would also ask the tough questions. The landscape of television has changed dramatically over the years and I will always hold those afternoons with Sally close to my heart. Since I can’t go back in time, I thought it would be fun to track Sally down and pick her brain about the good old days, what she’s up to now and more…

Sally, in preparing for this interview, I jumped on YouTube to watch clips of your show. It made me really appreciate and miss daytime talk shows. There was an intimacy about them that you really can’t find these days. Is there anything on air you feel comes close?

No. I honestly don’t see any intimacy on daytime TV now. It’s all filled with gimmicks and trying to be fun. On that note, I do love Wendy Williams. She is fun and was very gracious when I was on her show a few years ago.

Talk shows, did just that…they invoked thought and conversation into American homes – was it your goal to encourage dialog and social change?

Absolutely. We wanted to get people talking about issues that no one had ever talked about before, and I feel that we reached that goal – whether it was teen pregnancy, religion, being transgender, adultery or even female impersonators. I’m very proud of the issue-oriented shows we did back in the day. Well, most of them!

In 1989, you won the Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show. What does it feel like beating Oprah?

Well the Oprah we all know & love today was not that Oprah back in 1989. She had only been on the air for a few years, and we all knew (including Phil) that she was going to be a major force in American culture, but Phil & I were already the old pros at that point. So I was elated and extremely grateful for the honor, but I wasn’t thinking about it in terms of “beating Oprah”!

Be honest, who was your best guest and worst guest?

By far, my best guest was Audrey Hepburn. She appeared on our show only a few months before she passed and was grace personified. When you look at some of the worst guests, well of course, there were some loud-mouthed teens, domineering husbands, racists, etc. But celebrity-wise, it would have to be Woody Allen. He flat out smelled. Maybe I shouldn’t say that?

As more and more talk shows flooded the air waves in the 1990’s and topics became more sensational, did it bother you?

Yes it did bother me, but we all fell victim to it to keep our shows on the air – and as you know, sometimes you have to do whatever it takes to stay afloat in this business and keep the hundreds of employees on your staff working.

If you were to jump back into the interview seat today, who would you want to interview and why?

Since she is running for President now, and I feel like she’s got a good shot at winning, I’d have to say Hillary. #Hillary2016 !!!

I know you love watching RuPaul’s Drag Race, what else do you enjoy watching?

I do love my drag queens, hunty! But I also love CBS Sunday Morning…that is still one of the best shows on TV now. And of course I also enjoy Scandal, Girls, Downton Abbey, Orange Is The New Black – there are so many! Clever writing is key!

If you were on The Real Housewives, what city would you choose and what would be your tag line?

Well first of all, I would never appear on one of those shows. I know it’s America’s guilty pleasure, but they’re garbage. Instead, I would rather start my own show in the little town where I have a house in upstate New York called Pawling. And our tagline would be “These Housewives are truly A-Pawling”. : )

Being that it is Pride month, what would you like to say to your LGBTQ fans?

I’d say “You’ve come a long way baby!” Especially in the last few years!! I was just talking about how far trans issues have come recently, and I have to credit social media and the Internet in general. I’d also say thank you to all of the fans who still care about what I have to say on Twitter! (@sjraphael, thank you very much!, lol). I’m also on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TheSallyJessyRaphael 😉

I loved your web series Sally Rides, what do you have planned next?

Well, it was Sally JESSY Rides, so there’s that, lol. Planned next? Well, I’m about to go out to dinner. After that it’s anyone’s guess. At my age you don’t plan TOO far ahead! haha.

Being that you are a legendary Emmy winning journalist, I’m am honored but nervous interviewing you. How’d I do?

Meh. Just kidding – you did fantastic… all bases were covered and you didn’t ask me about red glasses. Good boy! Thank you for the interview. XO

No, thank you! Thank you for making a dream come true.  XOXO, back at ya!

We R All People!

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Natsuya Uesugi is living proof that in spite of being bullied as a child for being intersex, you can rise above and emerge a superhero.

Natsuya was raised with no particular sense of gender. Natsuya was brought up with the notion that you could be anything you want with the right education. Natsuya excelled in academics, music, language and won multiple medals for running track all though high school. Like with any race there are hurdles and Natsuya did not have it easy “I was bullied in high school and had a hard time finding who I was.” Natsuya wants gay, trans, intersexed and questioning teens to know it is alright and no one should bully you for being who you are.

Like many gay, trans and intersexed youth, Natsuya struggled with a sense of self. In school, Natsuya continued to make achievements like earning a track scholarship to college to Georgetown University at age 16. Natsuya turned it down but still attended school there. While on the outside, it appeared as if everything was just fine that wasn’t the case. “In freshman year, I tried to commit suicide because my body did not align with my mind. Finding the way to your genuine self can be a long and difficult road. There is family to think about, society and friends. Finding my genuine self was a battle that I had to wage. I spent much of my teenage years trying to understand my feelings and get in touch with myself. The direction of society weighed on my mind and at that time psychiatrists were not familiar with transgender and questioning. Much of the pain I faced was because people were trying to tell me who I was.”

When Natsuya become involved in a relationship, things started to change for the better. “When I met my boyfriend who was gay in college I had a sense that I was a gay man, the thought of being straight never crossed my mind. My boyfriend was openly gay it was a badge of honor for him. I can even say he helped me embrace gay culture and understand my place in the LGBTQ spectrum. In a sense, it was liberating because for the first time I was expressing my genuine self and being who I was. I had always had to explain myself and where I was coming from. My boyfriend just got it and I didn’t have to explain everything to him.”

Natsuya graduated from Georgetown, took a huge leap of faith by moving to New York City. Natsuya didn’t have a job lined up and ended up sleeping on the streets. “When I first got to New York City straight out of college I left with $120 in my pocket, a bag of stuff and no place to live. I ran away to New York City. I thought that if I could make it there I could make it anywhere and that is why I went.” Natsuya’s unique look caught the eye of talent agent and while walking down the street was stopped and offered a modeling contract. Natsuya didn’t want to become a model, it just happened and provided much needed income. “I started modeling and was neither happy nor unhappy that I was doing it. It was a way to put food on the table. I tried to keep my gender identity out of it.  When I was modeling I had to “be a woman.” It was difficult to reconcile these two worlds.” Natsuya eventually quit modeling to pursue a business career. “I quit modeling because it was superficial. Even though I had a modeling contract and made good money at it, I wanted more. I wanted to be known for my mind not my body.”

Once again, Natsuya was forced to assimilate. “When I first entered the business world, I soon learned that I was going to have to conform to a gender. I learned that woman and men are not equal. Later on, when I went to work for a large Fortune 500 technology company, I learned that transitioning can cause problems. My resume said one thing and I was accepted as that but when I went to change my exterior people around me had issue with it. It was very uncomfortable at my work many years later when I told them that I was transgender and would be taking hormones. When I did that, everything seemed to change. Before I declared that, my gender was not really an issue I was androgynous and presented like that. Actually, declaring I was transgender seemed to change the dynamic. Today I have changed my name at work and present in my target gender. My current job does not have an issue with it like my last job did. I think, I am excelling at my current job because I can be gender neutral, transition and be myself. Having the weight of gender over my head would be an extra worry. I am glad my workplace is LGBTQ friendly.”

As a creative outlet, Natsuya began to take acting classes and started to write which lead to The Grydscaen series. In addition to being a successful systems analyst, Natsuya is also a celebrated science fiction author!  The Grydscaen series features an array of heroic characters representing the LGBTQ community. Writing has provided Natsuya with a platform to present LGBTQ characters in positions of power; depicting role models living as their genuine selves. “I want to relay that LGBTQ people deserve equal rights like non-discrimination, marriage equality and equal pay for equal work. Transgender rights play a big theme in my sci fi Grydscaen series. There are actually 1 MTF and 1 FTM character in Grydscaen, a bisexual character and an asexual character. The main character of the series Ameliano Dejarre is a gay male.”

Natsuya is currently recovering from gender assignment surgery and is fully male…“I now know who I am and I am whole. Some people chose not to transition for one reason or another. I have chosen to walk the transition path, this is who I am, I will not be defined by the gender box someone wants to put me in. Being intersexed the box might be a little different but in the end we are all people!”

 

 

Married at 19 and going strong…

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Every day, we are inundated with news stories of the challenges facing the LGBTQ community. While informative and necessary, the news can be slightly depressing. It seems our stories of success and love get lost in the debates. Spotlight on David Harris and Tre’Darrius Anderson, David and Tre’Darrius made national news, in 2013, when at the age of 19, married in front of the Lincoln Memorial becoming possibly America’s youngest African American gay couple to wed in the country. It’s been two years now and these young Millennials, who meet on Twitter, are going strong. Through their non-pro-fit organization Guys With Pride, they are on a mission to promote self-affirmation, dignity and equality rights. I too met David and Tre’Darrius on Twitter and through an exchange of tweets, direct messages and emails, I learned more about their inspiring journey.

I have to ask, why did you guys marry so young?

We didn’t think getting married age 19 was such huge milestone in the world, ya know?! People called us brave, bold, and daring for getting married at such a young age. It was the love between us both that brought us together.

Getting married at 19 – whether gay or straight makes a statement. Did you feel like you were making a statement?

We did not think the world was going to take this serious. Expressing our love is what we were doing, but the outcome was truly amazing. We went from no family wanting to support us, to thousands of people sending us love from all over the world. We did not know marrying each other would make headlines. We shared our video on YouTube and we went to sleep that night. The next morning everyone was talking about our video. The world was praising us but then we had people telling us we wasn’t going to make it a week, or even a month.

All the attention must have been over whelming. No family support, really? Has that changed?

Yes, a lot of more family is supporting us now. We have the support of both of our mom’s now. Our relationship is being accepted more by our family as the days go by. Everything takes time and we believe things will work out for the better. Sooner or later.

You live in the south, what’s everyday life like in Memphis?

So normal, not so progressive. Our marriage is not legal here which also upsets us! That’s why we chose to get married in D.C.

What are your thoughts on the religious freedom act?

The religious freedom debate has touched a particularly raw nerve in Indiana, where a GOP pushed to amend the state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage and civil unions was defeated last year — exposing tensions within Republican caucuses that already have more than two-thirds super majorities in both the Indiana House and Senate. Several Indiana cities already have anti-discrimination laws that include sexual orientation, but the legislative fix to the religious freedom law will be the first time protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity are recognized statewide. We have faith that things will get better.

How have you been embraced by the African American community particularly?

Indeed, we have met tons of people on this journey. People of all races has supported us equally.

In gay culture, it seems, gay men in their early twenties are looking to explore their freedom and sexuality; leaning in the opposite direction of marriage.  Why do you think that is?

When you’re in the early twenties you are still trying to figure out who you are as a person individually. You want to live life to the fullest, with no strings attached. Marriage is not for everyone.

What has been the best thing about marriage? Do you have plans to start a family?

The best thing about marriage, is knowing that there will always be someone to run to. Having someone to love, grow old with, and share memories is the best! Of course, we want kids! Two boys and a girl. We have already named them also, lol! We are huge on family and would love to have our own someday. We have decided that we will be going the surrogacy route.

As advocates of love and marriage equality, what do you hope to achieve? What are your dreams?

Honestly, we just want to inspire others and help make change for the LGBTQ community. Whether is through television/film, social networking or etc. We want to be that voice that uplifts and motivate our peers. Just let them know that they are not in this alone. Our dreams are to be television stars. There are so many people who come to us in support and for guidance. We get tons of emails, witter messages, and facebook messages for help. We would love to have our own show one day.

If you were to be given that opportunity to share your story on a greater platform, what would you like people to learn from you? What advice would you give to other young gay couples?

Always to stay true to yourself! Believe that tomorrow will be a new day and things get better! Not to care what others think; you can only live for yourself.

Lastly, tell me about Guys With Pride?

Guys With Pride (GWP) A non-profit organization, we started takes a positive stance against discrimination, violence and bullying toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Our mission is to promote self-affirmation, dignity and equality rights.  As well as to increase their visibility as a social group, build community awareness, and celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance, as opposed to shame and social stigma of being gay.  Our marriage equality movement starts later this year with the launch of our website GuysWithPride.org

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