Saturday, June 23, 2018

News Round-Up: June 23, 2018

(image via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

• InstaHunks Justin & Nick say "Celebrate Pride!" with a kiss. #sweet

• For the first time, the Vatican has used the term 'LGBT' in an official document and has invited an LGBT-friendly priest to speak at a major conference. #SmallStepsForward

• The Czech government has agreed to support same-sex marriage with the draft of a first of its kind bill in the former communist bloc country. While the Czech Republic has allowed domestic partnerships since 2006, Germany is the only formerly communist country to legalize same-sex marriage.

• Conservative family groups in Canada are hoping to force Canadian schools to be required to alert parents when their children join LGBTQ groups on school campuses. LGBTQ advocates say that would amount to outing students.

• New York state gubernatorial candidate and actress Cynthia Nixon shared that her oldest child is transgender in a celebratory graduation post on social media.

• The Hungarian National Opera in Budapest was forced to cancel 15 performances of the musical Billy Elliot following a story on a conservative site that accused the musical of turning boys gay.

• Watch LGBTQ seniors read letters to their younger selves.

“I’m very pleased to tell you that you are happy, married to a wonderful man, have two dogs, a cat, and a mortgage.”

“It will come full circle. The word ‘queer’ will be an empowering, pride-filled word.”

Check out the three minute from vlogger Davey Wavey below:

New Web Series 'Fathers' Imagines Who Would We Be If AIDS Never Happened?

In 'Fathers' AIDS activist Vito Russo
becomes president instead of dying of AIDS

In his latest project, filmmaker Leo Herrera posits, “If AIDS never happened, who would we be?”

The new web series Fathers imagines in fictional documentary-style an LGBTQ utopia called ‘Stonewall Nation,’ a collection of queer communes in a parallel universe where the AIDS crisis never happened.

The official website for the series describes the sci-fi “documentary” as “Cruising meets Black Mirror meets Beyonce’s Lemonade.”

In the alternate timeline, communities called ‘Stonewall, Oregon’ and ‘Stonewall, Nevada’ exist peacefully as LGBTQ folks openly thrive.

The Fathers Project imagines AIDS never existed.
Everyone shown here represents someone we lost.

Instead of the LGBTQ community being decimated by disease and seeing the nascent gay rights movement stymied by rising anti-LGBTQ animus in the 1980s, Herrera envisions gays running for president, unconstrained by discrimination and disease, living openly across the country.

The 1980s were a golden age for the gay population.
It was a decade defined by our dominance of the arts, victories in politics
and groundbreaking developments in healthcare.

Relying on LGBTQ historians for accuracy, the characters/people featured in Fathers are actual gay leaders of the past as well as survivors, friends, and family members.

The web series 'Fathers' imagines a widespread collection of 'queer colonies' called Stonewall Nation

The pilot episode (below) is just the beginning as Herrera plans future installments to explore “the election and presidency of gay president Vito Russo (the real AIDS activist who was killed by the disease in 1990), and will be a direct reflection on the political climate today. They will also deal with the plight of gay seniors and the sexuality of modern queer culture.”

The name ‘Stonewall Nation’ comes from an actual group of queer separatists who hoped to establish their own city in Alpine, California, in 1970. Without proper resources, the plan was never implemented.

You can help fund the project here, and check out the first episode below:

Sarah Huckabee Sanders Unwelcome At Virginia Restaurant

Joyless wonder and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders left a Virginia restaurant when it was made clear she wasn't welcome in the establishment due to the owner's 'moral convictions'

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a restaurant in Virginia Friday night when the owner apparently decided he didn't want to serve her party out of "moral conviction."

The news was shared in a Facebook post by the waiter from The Red Hen who shared, "I just served Sarah huckabee sanders for a total of 2 minutes before my owner asked her to leave and she complied. Her family left on their own accord, we didn't actually refuse service or 'kick her out.'"

Sanders tweeted the news herself on Saturday morning, writing, "Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left."

"Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so," Sanders added.

After the waiter's social media post went viral, hundreds of competing Yelp and Facebook reviews began being posted from both Democrats and Republicans. The reviews ranged from low one stars to top five stars.

According to Newsweek, most reviewers thanked the restaurant for taking a moral stand.

Netflix Drops Mini-Episode Of 'Queer Eye' In Australian Town Of 'Yass'

The cast of Netflix's 'Queer Eye' goes down under to Australia to help out folks in a town called Yass

It's only been a week since Netflix dropped its second season of episodes of Queer Eye, but some binge-watching fans are already hungry for more.

So give a happy-dance as Netflix shares one final 'mini-episode' on YouTube of the 'Fab 5' visiting Australia where they visit a town named - no joke - Yass.

In the 20-minute episode, the men of Queer Eye help out a farmer named George and revamp a local pub.

ABC's "What Would You Do?" Takes On Anti-LGBT Baker Scenario

Inspired by the SCOTUS Masterpiece Cakeshop case and others like it, ABC’s What Would You Do? allowed customers at a bakery to witness a lesbian couple getting turned down for their wedding cake.

Hit play for the reactions of the customers.

p.s. The man playing the 'baker' named Peter is actually a longtime friend of mine, Peter Gregus, who I've known since my acting days in NYC :)

Gov. Mike Huckabee's Racist, Anti-Nancy Pelosi Tweet

Gov. Mike Huckabee tweets racist image of Hispanic gang members saying "Nancy Pelosi introduces her campaign committee for the take back of the House"

This tweet is not “racially charged."

It’s not “racially divisive."

This tweet is straight up racist.

The Shoulders On Which We Stand: LGBT Activist Dick Leitsch Passes Away At 83

The now-famous 'Sip-In' where gay men were refused service
The now-famous 'Sip-In' where gay men were refused service 

In a world where we, thankfully, have high school gay/straight alliances and Pride parades galore, it's important to remember a time when being gay didn't come with so many allies.

As we know, there was a time when it was outright dangerous to walk down the street being openly gay.

It's with that in mind that we take a moment to acknowledge the passing of Dick Leitsch, an important, early leader in the gay rights movement.

Dick Leitsch died June 22 at a hospice center in Manhattan due to liver cancer. He was 83.

From The Washington Post:

A bartender, freelance journalist and onetime Tiffany sales representative, Mr. Leitsch was a self-described “hick from Kentucky who didn’t known anything about gay rights” when he followed a boyfriend to New York in 1959. He soon became a member and young leader of the Mattachine Society, an early gay advocacy group named after a group of medieval jesters who, disguised by masks, protested the oppression of peasants.

Mr. Leitsch rarely donned a mask himself. After being named president of the organization’s New York chapter in 1965, he took the group in a more aggressive direction, taking on the city’s police chief and newly elected liberal mayor, John V. Lindsay, in campaigns that drew on the tactics of the African American civil rights movement and became a model for other gay rights groups across the country.

In that pre-Stonewall era, a few years before an uprising at a Greenwich Village gay bar galvanized a broader protest movement for equality and acceptance, few gays used their name or showed their face on television. Mr. Leitsch was a notable exception, appearing on “The David Susskind Show,” in local news and radio broadcasts and at town-hall-style meetings.

In 1960s New York Leitsch actively opposed anti-gay entrapment by police and organized the very first major act of civil disobedience by a gay rights group — a 'sit-in' that came to be known as the Sip-In.

Here's the history on that now-famous 'Sip-In' which occurred on April 21, 1966, at a Greenwich Village bar named 'Julius:'

Dick Leitsch, Craig Rodwell, the society’s president and vice president respectively, and another society activist, John Timmons, planned to draw attention to the practice by identifying themselves as homosexuals before ordering a drink in order to bring court scrutiny to the regulation [against serving gays]. The three were going to read from Mattachine stationary “We are homosexuals. We are orderly, we intend to remain orderly, and we are asking for service.”

The three first targeted the Ukrainian-American Village Restaurant at St. Mark’s Place and Third Avenue in the East Village, Manhattan which had a sign, “If you are gay, please go away.” The three showed up after a New York Times reporter had asked a manager about the protest and the manager had closed the restaurant for the day. They then targeted a Howard Johnson’s and a bar called Waikiki where they were served in spite of the note with a bartender saying later, “How do I know they’re homosexual? They ain’t doing nothing homosexual.”

Frustrated, they then went to Julius, where a clergyman had been arrested a few days earlier for soliciting sex. A sign in the window read, “This is a raided premises.” The bartender initially started preparing them a drink but then put his hand over the glass which was photographed. The New York Times ran a headline the next day “3 Deviates Invite Exclusion by Bars.”

The Mattachines took their case to court and the courts agreed with them saying that gays had a right to peacefully assemble.

Thanks to that ruling, the practice of licensed, legally operating gay bars began.

Oregon Supreme Court Declines To Review Anti-LGBTQ Bakers' Case

The Oregon Supreme Court has declined to review the case of Aaron and Melissa Klein, who as Sweet Cakes by Melissa, refused to serve a lesbian couple in 2013.
Aaron Klein of Sweet Cakes by Melissa

The Oregon Supreme Court has declined to review the case of Aaron and Melissa Klein, who as Sweet Cakes by Melissa, refused to serve a lesbian couple in 2013.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries found that the Kleins were guilty of discriminating against the couple when they refused to sell a cake for a commitment ceremony.

The bakers were fined $135,000 for emotional damages in 2015.

They Kleins took their case to the Oregon Court of Appeals which ultimately upheld that decision.

The business owners' lawyers now say they intend to head to the U.S. Supreme Court.

While the Kleins exhaust all their options for appeal, the check they wrote for $135,000 is being held.

In the aftermath of the story coming to light, Christian crowdfunding efforts raising over $500,000 to more than cover the bakers' loses after they decided to stop making wedding cakes for anyone.