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Ellen Degeneres tweets Oscar photos

Posted by David Zimmerman January 9, 2014 09:03 AM

Ellen Degeneres is starting to get excited about her upcoming role as host of the 86th annual Oscars. The daytime television host, and recent Peoples Choice Award winners as Favorite Daytime TV Host, has tweeted out a series of promotional pictures which were part of a photo shoot for the awards show. One of the pictures, which has Degeneres posing while sitting crossed legged on floor with an Oscar, will be the official poster for the show.

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In addition to the photos the Oscars has also released the official trailer for the upcoming show which features Degeneres, surrounded by a group of dancers, walking through city streets to a soundtrack provided by the group Fitz and the Tantrums.

See the trailer below:


St. Louis chorus pays up on World Series bet

Posted by David Zimmerman November 6, 2013 10:47 AM

The Gateway Men's Chorus of St. Louis has 'paid up' on their World Series bet.

The chorus made a friendly wager with the Boston Gay Men's Chorus prior to the start of the 2013 World Series. If they lost the bet (which, of course, they did!) they would need to produce a video of the group singing Sweet Caroline, in honor of the Red Sox.

From their YouTube Page;

So, the Gateway Men's Chorus of St. Louis had a little wager with the Boston Gay Men's Chorus regarding the outcome of the 2013 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox. Needless to say, we're now fulfilling our obligation with this video. Congratulations, Boston! And much love to our brothers in BGMC!


For today's 5 biggest stories in the LGBT world, check out Boston Spirit magazine's Fab 5

Bostonians at the Toronto Int'l Film Festival

Posted by Jim Lopata September 15, 2013 02:03 AM

by Loren King

TORONTO — I knew I could only be at the Toronto International Film Festival when one minute I was sitting next to Matthew McConaughey as he talked about losing weight to play a man with AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club and the next I was talking with Boston filmmaker Mark Phinney about his low-budget indie film Fat.

The mix of red carpet glitz and unknown names, of high profile films and obscure indies, is what makes the TIFF, which runs to September 15, such a heady event for filmmakers and viewers alike. Often it’s the little film that dazzles — yes, it was cool to be at a press conference just two feet away from Jake Gyllenhaal or to spot Juliette Lewis in a hotel lobby. But for cinephiles the real kick is the under the radar film that turns out to be a real gem.

Boston writer/director Mark Phinney and the cast and crew of Fat (which includes lots of Boston talent) made the trip to Toronto by van and were clearly basking in the glow of a break-out films that’s garnering lots of buzz. Shot entirely in Boston, Fat is a funny and poignant film about a man’s battle with food addiction and the toll it takes on his emotional and physical health. It won’t be in theaters until 2014 but keep your eyes open for a local screening before that.

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Nat'l same-sex ballroom dance competition swirls into Boston

Posted by Jim Lopata September 11, 2013 10:17 AM

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Same-sex ballroom dancing champions Kalin Mitov and Michael Winward (photo: courtesy Kalin Mitov)

Note: This article is adapted from the May/June 2013 issue of Boston Spirit magazine.

Massachusetts is home to one of ballroom dancing’s most lauded same-sex partner dance couples. Yet the Bay State has yet to host a competition.

That changes later this month.

You may have seen them last summer, gliding, turning, stepping, snapping around the streets of Provincetown.

Kalin Mitov and Michael Winward are North American Same-sex Partner Dance Association champions.

They have danced to critical acclaim in competitions across the country and all over the world. And now Mitov thinks it is time to bring a sanctioned competition to the dance partners’ home state of Massachusetts.

On Saturday, September 21, at the Hynes Convention Center, New Englanders will be able to witness some of the most beautiful ballroom dancing on the planet.

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'Acrobaddict': new memoir by local gay boy

Posted by Jim Lopata September 3, 2013 07:22 PM

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Acrobat, Author ... Addict

Joe Putignano kicked heroin, launched a career as a Cirque du Soleil star and wrote about it all in a new memoir, Acrobaddict, released this week. He will have a book signing on October 16 at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Note: This story originally ran in the May/June 2013 issue of Boston Spirit magazine.

By Tony Giampetruzzi

“I was training to become a contortionist and detoxing from heroin at the same time — I don’t recommend that to anyone. Ever. At all.”

That pretty much sums the dogged, no-nonsense and humorous spirit of 36-year old gymnast/performer/model and now author, Joe Putignano.

Heroin? Contortionist? Model? It’s a dichotomy that’s only likely to play itself out in the most outrageous Lifetime movie specials. So, to hear Putignano’s story — a promising pre-teen gymnast from Raynham, Massachusetts, who went on to endure nearly 15 years of extreme drug use and endless bouts of rehab, only to finally take the stage for a late-career comeback in his 30s as a Cirque du Soleil performer — is quite inspiring if not fantastical.

Putignano recently took a hiatus from the stage and, although six years clean, was forced to face his demons again: in March, he was in Atlanta recuperating from surgery to correct a superior labral tear in his shoulder which, among various other localized injuries, was caused by more than five years and nearly 1,000 performances in Cirque’s Totem. The surgery was successful, but, for someone with Putignano’s relapse rap sheet, rehab would need to be narc-free, a must for someone who has used as much as him.

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"All American Boy" video a YouTube sensation

Posted by David Zimmerman July 9, 2013 09:25 AM

Chances are you have never heard of country singer Steve Grand. He doesn’t have a record label, isn’t touring with a big band, and his latest music video cost only $7,000 to produce. That video, however, is currently taking the YouTube world by storm.

The song/video, titled “All American Boy” has topped 600,000 views in only one week.

The song is about a young gay man who thinks he is falling in love only to find that the object of his affection is not gay. The lyrics reflect a true life event for Grand. "I was a 13-year-old boy (at camp)," said the 23-year-old singer-songwriter. "One of my counselors was warm and strong and he took an interest in me — not sexually, but as a friend, and it really moved me. I remember leaving with a horrible ache in my heart."

The song has resonated not only with gay youth, but all youth. Grand has received messages from people across the country who have idenitifed with his lyrics of heartbreak. "Just the hundreds of people who have said, `Your story is my story. Thank you for this,' is enough for me," he said recently.

Grand realized he was gay in the eighth grade. When his parents found out they forced him to go to conversion therapy (which he did for five years).

As for the future, Grand doesn’t know what is in store just yet, but he does know that finally, after years of ‘failed conversion therapy’ and heartache he is finally happy. "Like I said, I would die a happy man today," Grand said. "And it's the first time in my entire life I can say that."

New Divine, Almodóvar films screen at P'town Fest next week

Posted by Jim Lopata June 10, 2013 03:57 PM

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Divine (photo: Lynn Davis)

15th Annual Provincetown International Film Festival — June 19-23 — keeps getting bigger and better

By Loren King

A documentary about Divine, director John Waters’ muse and star, is just one of many LGBT-themed films that will grace the 15th annual Provincetown International Film Festival (PIFF), running June 19-23. From its first year, when Waters himself was honored as the festival’s “Filmmaker on the Edge,” PIFF has championed LGBT films and filmmakers. For this milestone year the festival will do it again — but even bigger.

As the PIFF has grown in reputation and popularity, its organizers have been savvy about attracting not just A-list talent more than happy to spend a few days in P-town but the funding to put on a destination event. This year, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded grants to PIFF for its 15th annual fest. It will be used to bring back several “Filmmaker on the Edge” awardees from the past 15 years.

Besides Waters, directors Mary Harron and Gregg Araki and producer Christine Vachon are among past guests slated to return. PIFF will screen seminal films from each of these filmmakers, who all have strong LGBT ties. These include Waters’ legendary Pink Flamingos; Vachon’s Kids; Harron’s I Shot Andy Warhol; and Araki’s Mysterious Skin, the 2004 drama starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and based on gay writer Scott Heim’s novel. Other past honorees Jim Jarmusch, Todd Haynes and Quentin Tarantino have been asked to invite a rising director they admire to attend. PIFF artistic director Connie White says this underscores and continues the festival’s mission to recognize independent filmmakers “on the edge.”

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Soderbergh on Liberace, Michael Douglas and Matt Damon

Posted by David Zimmerman May 15, 2013 10:06 AM


Behind the Candelabra, Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming movie about Liberace and Scott Thorson, is getting great pre-release buzz. The movie stars Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his lover, Thorson.

In a recent interview Soderbergh discussed his memories of Liberace (comparing him in one instance to Lebron James), the movie, and the performances of both Douglas and Damon.

Soderbergh worked with Douglas on the movie Traffic and it was then that he first approached the actor with the idea of playing Liberace. “Well, that’s the first time I discussed the idea with him, and he did do a little impression, which I thought was excellent”.

After coming across Thorson’s book on his life with Liberace, Soderbergh know he had his storyline for the movie. After initially trying to tackle the storyline with Liberace as the centerpiece he changed his thinking and used Thorson as the “trojan horse” to get into Liberace’s life. “It gave me a definitive time period, and it gave me a structure because of the arc of the relationship,” said Soderbergh.

As for Damon, Soderbergh recalled “(Matt) was in Spain doing his cameo in Che, and I gave him the book. I can only imagine what was going through his mind five years later before we started shooting. But Matt doesn’t have anything to protect. That’s not how he makes his decisions. He makes his decisions based on whether he’s engaged by the piece or not. If it turns out to be something that’s really gonna push him as a performer, even better. And Michael, he was just fearless. They both are. The movie just doesn’t work if they don’t both literally join hands and jump off the cliff. It’s intimate stuff, even if it was a guy and a girl. But for a lot of people it’ll be hard to see Jason Bourne on top of Gordon Gekko.”

For anyone who is old enough to truly remember Liberace, count Soderbergh in that group, the memories are of a truly unique performer. That, above all, is what drew the director to the movie. “I’m old enough to have seen him on TV at my parents’ place, and found him very entertaining. I was kind of intrigued by the incredible technical skill being masked by this flamboyant persona. Underneath this performer who was all about entertaining his audience and giving them a good time was actually a concert-level skilled keyboardist. It’s kind of like if LeBron James decided to play for the Harlem Globetrotters. There really wasn’t anybody like him. And there are a lot of people now that owe him a real debt because of how he presented himself. This guy invented bling,” said Soderbergh

Boston’s LGBT Film Festival sets high bar this year

Posted by Jim Lopata April 25, 2013 04:32 PM

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G.B.F. (Gay Best Friend) (photo: courtesy Boston LGBT Film Festival)

NOTE: STORY UPDATED TO INCLUDE THE LATEST SCHEDULING AND IS ADAPTED FROM THE MARCH/APRIL 2013 ISSUE OF BOSTON SPIRIT MAGAZINE.

The 29th Annual Boston LGBT Film Festival holds its annual launch party this coming Sunday, April 28, at Post 360 (406 Stuart Street, Boston). The event is free and open to the public. Those interested can RSVP through the festival web site at www.bostonlgbtfilmfest.net.

By Loren King

That Boston marches to its own drummer is hardly news in the political or LGBT arenas. That this is also true in rarified atmosphere of film festivals, particularly in the niche world of LGBT film festivals, is one more reason to wear the badge of Bostonian with pride.

The Boston LGBT Film Festival, which runs May 2 through 12, has, at 29 years, earned the distinction as one of the oldest LGBT film fests in the nation. Through many changes in both the film and the LGBT scene, Boston has managed to annually deliver a celebration of international queer cinema that’s as diverse as the city itself.

“We’ve learned what works here. Our audience doesn’t mind subtitles; one of the biggest hits of recent years was the Tom Twyker film 3. Gay Hollywood movies don’t work for us. We program rom-coms for a date night film, but what sells out in Phoenix doesn’t do well in Boston. Women’s films do well here, sometimes better than men’s,” says James Nadeau, the festival’s executive director.

Among the more than 100 fiction features, documentaries and shorts that will screen at six local venues — the Museum of Fine Arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Brattle Theatre, the Coolidge Corner Theatre, Theater 1 at the Revere Hotel and the Paramount Center — are several films that deal with LGBT history and others that offer transgender characters. Notable among these is Laurence Anyways (5/5, 7 p.m., MFA), from Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan who directed Heartbeats (2010) and I Killed My Mother (2009).

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‘Looped’ reunites Stefanie Powers and Tallulah Bankhead

Posted by Jim Lopata April 21, 2013 01:36 PM

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Stefanie Powers as Tallulah Bankhead in Looped (photo: courtesy Looped)

Boston’s Cutler Majestic Theater hosts 'Looped' through May 5.

NOTE: The following story is adapted from an article in the May/June 2013 issue of Boston Spirit magazine.

By Loren King

When the curtain went up on the current tour of Looped, Matthew Lombardo’s comedy about Tallulah Bankhead, it was a bittersweet moment for all.

Valerie Harper, who earned a Tony nomination when she starred in Looped on Broadway in 2010, was in the middle of a rehearsal for the current tour when Lombardo and the play’s director, Rob Ruggiero, who had also directed Harper in the Broadway production, realized something was wrong.

“She just wasn’t herself. She was forgetting lines, and this was a role she’d played hundreds of times,” recalls Lombardo. “She went to the hospital the following day and three days later we all found out it was brain cancer. It’s always difficult to see someone you love go through this, but Val is handling it with grace and courage.”

Tickets had been sold and theaters booked — Boston’s Cutler Majestic Theater hosts Looped April 30 to May 5 — so, with Harper’s unequivocal blessing, the show went on. Stefanie Powers, who had co-starred with Bankhead in the movie at the center of the play — 1965 camp classic Die! Die! My Darling! — stepped in to play Bankhead.

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Ryan Landry dishes on 'M' at the Huntington Theatre

Posted by Jim Lopata March 30, 2013 01:58 PM

landry_blog.jpg"Prestigious? What exactly is that supposed to mean?" Landry replied in response to a question about his new play 'M' being produced by the "prestigious" Huntington Theatre. "In my humble opinion, the word 'prestigious' should go the way of 'upscale' and 'High End.' All should be wiped away, flushed and left for the sanitation department to handle."

Ryan Landry tackles Fritz Lang’s masterwork M for the Huntington Theatre. He shares more of his vibrant mind in this exclusive interview with Boston Spirit magazine.

By Loren King

[Note: the following story first appeared in the March/April 2013 issue of Boston Spirit magazine. Ryan Landry's 'M' opens plays at the Huntington Theatre in Boston through April 27. For tickets and more information, visit The Huntington Theatre's website.]

Ryan Landry refuses to be compartmentalized as an artist.

Landry is the master of gay camp with his original, theatrical riffs on classic movies that have entertained audiences for years in both Boston and Provincetown.

His last show, Mildred Fierce, a lavish musical about the mother of all pie-baking mothers, starred Varla Jean Merman and played this Winter at the nightclub Machine, the Boston home of Landry’s longtime troupe, The Gold Dust Orphans.

Now, the hard-working, prolific Landry is debuting a bold new work, his adaptation of M, German director Fritz Lang’s 1931 film noir classic starring Peter Lorre about a child killer hunted down by the criminal underworld.

Ryan Landry's M is being staged from now through April 27 at the Huntington Theater Company where Landry has been a Playwriting Fellow since 2008. The Huntington’s Artistic Director Peter DuBois calls the production an “amazing collaboration between two Boston theatre legends.”

Boston Spirit recently had the following e-mail interview with Landry whose responses are characteristically opinionated, thoughtful and very funny as he prepares for his most challenging work to date.

[Boston Spirit] A German film from 1931 about a child killer ... what made you want to turn this into a play?

[Ryan Landry] Because it is a beautiful masterwork. A goal to which other artists should aspire.

I chose this film because I wanted to write a play based on the most unfunny thing in the world and still make it [the play] funny.

It is a sad play too. It is a human play.

People often say that I am a funny person but I also think of myself as somewhat sad at times. This is not because I am a depressed individual. It is because I am a human being.
I like to be sad, for brief periods anyway. Because I am human, I possess all the colors in the spectrum within my soul, as anyone who has the courage to let those colors in must have in order to live out a full existence.

I am not made up of just “happy” colors. By these I mean the obscenely bright Barbie pinks and putrid Easter Day purples so often used in today’s most offensive toys. These colors are also used (in the most violent manner imaginable) to decorate the bedrooms of innocent teenaged girls. Poor things. Their msothers should be arrested.

To me, these are simply put: ungodly colors.

They are the colors I see on my television. The colors I see within the eyes of our current “celebrity” zombies.

People like Justin Bieber, Beyonce and Kim Kardashian appear freakishly inhuman to me. Like cheap marshmallow chicks gone past their expiration date, I want them out of sight as soon as possible. They are plastic, they are phony and worse of all, they rot your teeth.

[Boston Spirit] Were you a fan of Fritz Lang or the film before taking this on?

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Massachusetts Charter School takes heat for staging gay play about Biblical 'Adam and Steve'

Posted by Jim Lopata March 9, 2013 12:07 PM

Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Public Charter School in South Hadley, Massachusetts, is taking heat for staging a play that imagines Adam's partner in the Garden of Eden as Steve rather than Eve.

According to CBN News, the school has received e-mails and calls from people who oppose the selection and who say they may protest the production during its run, which begins March 15. But the school is defending its decision. According to CBN News:

In a letter to parents, administrators at the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Public Charter School said the play is consistent with the school's philosophy and appropriate for a high school audience.

But they did admit to receiving email petitions and phone calls describing the production as "blasphemous and hateful."

Some of the messages from opponents also say they plan to organize protests through local churches.

The school's website announces performance dates and times and provides a description of the play:

What if Adam’s partner in the Garden of Eden wasn’t Eve, but … Steve? In The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, two First Couples—not only Adam and Steve but also Jane and Mabel—experience life’s joys and perils from the biblical world to the modern day. This satirical comedy by Paul Rudnick (author of I Hate Hamlet and Jeffrey) is cheeky, raucously funny, surprisingly tender and ultimately wise as it dissects history, relationships, gay politics and the mystery of faith.

Miami calling

Posted by Jim Lopata January 31, 2013 10:29 AM

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The Standard Spa Miami

As the cold weather is expected to hit the Hub again, Boston style maven Ricardo Rodriguez shares the secrets of warm Miami, as divulged by his friend, Southern Florida insider and style maven Louis Aguirre

Note: Fabulous videos that accompany this story can be accessed here.

By Ricardo Rodriguez

Forget what you think you know, these days Miami is much more than just a beachside resort town. The party still rages, but it’s the art and design scene that rage stronger and have transformed Miami into one of the most exciting and cosmopolitan cities in the world. Once known as the gateway to Latin America, now Miami is the gateway to the world, as people from all over the globe have rediscovered this tropical slice of paradise.

So I recruited the help of my dear friend Louis Aguirre to help us build the chicest, most amazing insider guide to this exciting new Miami. And he definitively knows best. Louis is the host of the popular South Florida entertainment TV show Deco Drive and an actor appearing on hit shows like Sex and the City, JAG, and Burn Notice. His newest project LouisList.com is a perfectly curated video insider guide to the city.

So now that the winter is in full force you might want to plan a little escape. Go ahead. This is his Miami.

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Live Laugh Love comedy to benefit Boston Living Center

Posted by Jim Lopata January 24, 2013 09:09 AM

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Jim Lauletta

Nationally renowned, Boston-based, stand-up comic Jim Lauletta leads the second annual Live Laugh Love benefit for the Boston Living Center

By Erik Borg

When standup comedian Jim Lauletta needed support, he turned to the Boston Living Center to get it. Now that he’s back on his feet, he’s organized a night of comedy to return the favor.

On January 27, the second-annual Live Laugh Love show will bring a handful of regional and national standup acts back to the Machine Nightclub in support of the Boston Living Center, an organization that provides education and support services for the HIV-positive community.

For Lauletta, a fixture of the Boston comedy scene and a regular guest in standup comedy specials and on stages in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, a night of comedy is the perfect pairing to benefit the organization with deeply personal ties.

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Celebrities respond to Jodie Foster's Golden Globes 'coming out' speech

Posted by David Zimmerman January 14, 2013 02:58 PM

While accepting the Cecil B. Demille award at the Golden Globes Sunday night actress Jodie Foster revealed what many have know for years…that she is a lesbian.

"While I’m here being all confessional, I just have the sudden urge to say something I’ve never been able to air in public,” said Foster. “A declaration that I’m a little nervous about. Not quite as nervous as my publicist, huh, Jennifer? But uh, you know, I’m just going to put it out there. Loud and proud. I’m going to need your support. I am -- single!" she continued.

"I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago, back in the Stone Age. In those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends, and family, coworkers and then gradually, proudly, to everyone who knew her."

Foster concluded by adding, "If you had to fight for a life that felt real and honest and normal against all odds, then maybe you, too, would value privacy above all else."

A host of celebrities have commented on her speech including former Red Sox player Jose Canseco who, apparently, was so moved that he would like to become a lesbian too!

Here are a few celebrity tweets:

Jose Canseco:

Wow Jodie Foster at golden globes makes me want to join the lesbians

Marlee Matlin:

Pure Jodie, rightfully defending her privacy while doing it with brains and a smile. She is pure class.

Kathy Griffin:

Yep, the Jodie Foster speech got me. Well done lady.

Richard Dreyfuss:

Jodi Foster is one of the most amazing actresses of all time. More than that she is one of the most amazing people.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson:

Jodie Foster. You are perfection. I love you.

Ricky Martin:

Jodi Foster On your terms. Its your time! Not before nor after. Its when it feels right!

Emmy Rossum:

Jodie Foster is an inspiration. Incredible speaker. So moving.

Matt Damon discusses Liberace, kissing Michael Douglas and gay rumors

Posted by David Zimmerman December 17, 2012 12:56 PM

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Matt Damon recently finished shooting for the upcoming movie Behind the Candelabra. In the movie Damon plays Scott Thorson, the long time partner of Liberace (Michael Douglas has been cast in the role of Liberace). Recently Damon sat down with Playboy Magazine for an interview on a variety of topics, including the relationship between Thorson and Liberace, having to kiss another man, gay rumors that have dogged Damon and Benn Affleck, and more.

On the relationship between Thorson and Liberace:

These two men were deeply in love and in a real relationship-a marriage-long before there was gay marriage. That’s not an insignificant thing. The script is beautiful and relatable. Their conversations when they’re dressing or undressing or having a spat or getting ready for bed? That’s every marriage. It feels like you’re witnessing something really intimate you would normally see with a man and a woman, but instead it’s two men, which was thrilling. There’s stuff I think will make people uncomfortable. Great. It’s HBO—they can change the channel.

On preparing for the role with Douglas:

We both have a lot of gay friends, and we were not going to screw this up or bulls**t it. It wasn’t the most natural thing in the world to do, though. Like, for one scene, I had to come out of a pool, go over to Michael, straddle him on a chaise lounge and start kissing him. And throughout the script, it’s not like I kiss him just once. We drew it up like a football plan. I remember asking Heath Ledger after Brokeback Mountain, "How’d you do that scene with Jake"-meaning the scene where they start ferociously kissing. He said, "Well, mate, I drank a half case of beer in my trailer." I started laughing, and he goes, "No, I’m serious. I needed to just go for it. If you can’t do that, you’re not making the movie."

On Douglas as a kisser:

Michael was a wonderful kisser. My concerns ended up mattering a lot less once we were filming. The dynamic between the men was complex and interesting. Liberace was very powerful and adored, a great showman making $50,000 a week doing his act in Vegas. Scott was much younger and grew up in foster homes, so there was a lot to play.

On the rumors of Damon and Affleck being gay:

I never denied those rumors because I was offended and didn’t want to offend my friends who were gay—as if being gay were some kind of (curse deleted) disease. It put me in a weird position in that sense. The whole thing was just gross. But look, there have been great signs of progress—the fact that Anderson Cooper and Ellen DeGeneres can come out so beautifully and powerfully, and it’s a big (curse deleted) deal that it turns out nobody gives a (curse deleted). If Liberace were alive today, everybody would love his music and nobody would care what he did in his private life. Like with Elton John.

Queer Renaissance in Lynn, Massachusetts? Yep.

Posted by Jim Lopata December 15, 2012 10:07 AM

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After years of disrepair, the 2100-seat Lynn Memorial Auditorium was reopened in 2006 following a full refurbishing. It now hosts major talent on both the local — Boston’s Gay Men’s Chorus — and national scale.

Just ask the leaders of NAGLY, Go Out Loud, Art After Hours, Lesbiatopia.com and other locals—the formerly maligned suburb is turning around, and LGBTs are leading the way

By Scott Kearnan

“Everyone deserves a second act.”

So says DJ Brian Halligan. Halligan stepped away from spinning for nearly a decade. But dance music remained a passion, so last year he decided to get back into the groove. He had few connections in the current local landscape, but networked away. Gig by gig, doors reopened. Now he’s not only a regular on the Cambridge and Boston scenes, but has a Friday night residency at gay club Cirque—a revamped version of gay bar 47 Central in Lynn, Massachusetts.

Halligan sees a certain commonality between his own experience, and that of the city.
“I feel like my story is a parallel to Lynn’s,” says Halligan. “There can be a certain condescension that comes across from people outside it. But it deserves that second act.”
Ah, Lynn. She’s sort of like Boston’s hardscrabble little sister: only a fraction of the size (about 90,000 people) but with a big reputation. That rhyme “Lynn, Lynn, city of sin” is ubiquitous enough to go on coffee cups, and associations with high crime rates and economic malaise have been hard to shake. But as one of the largest cities in Massachusetts, and located just a few miles outside Boston, Lynn has a thriving gay community. It’s becoming an increasingly popular pick for LGBT folks seeking a cost-effective alternative to living in the Hub, and those looking to enjoy the city’s revitalized dining, entertainment, and arts scene as a visitor.

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Big City Homosexual Art Comes to Small Town Maine

Posted by Jim Lopata November 20, 2012 10:11 AM

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Kymara Longran, of The Kymara Gallery and a director on the Leslie-Lohman Gay Art Foundation’s board, with Forrest Williams' "Two Men on a Porch" (2006/7, Collection of Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art)

Editor's note: The Kymara Gallery's “Two Loves — Sex, Art, and the Love that Dare not Speak its Name” runs through November 30. The following is adapted from a story that is running in the November/December issue of Boston Spirit magazine.

Andy Warhol, Paul Cadmus and Keith Haring show up in Biddeford via New York’s Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art

By Tony Giampetruzzi

Biddeford, Maine is the embodiment of the typical, not-quite-yet rehabilitated New England mill town. A handful of the seemingly ancient textile factories have been completely polished-up and inhabited by both the young professionals looking for inexpensive lofts and the entrepreneurs who enjoy the reasonable rents they won’t find in Boston or Portland for their cafés and galleries. But, despite the gentrification, this still-largely Franco-American Catholic community is the last place you’d expect to find an exhibit featuring a series of explicit, homoerotic Andy Warhol screen prints from the ‘70s; an equally provocative Keith Haring original ink on paper titled “Three Men” (use your imagination) from the ‘80s; a Paul Cadmus etching from the ‘30s; and dozens of other pieces of homoerotic art, all on loan to the The Kymara Gallery from the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York.

Tucked well inside a maze of hallways at the North Dam Mill complex, the gallery, which originated in nearby Kennebunkport (home of George H.W. Bush) is hosting the exhibition Two Loves—Sex, Art, and the Love that Dare not Speak its Name, which runs through November 30. Comprised of selections from the Leslie-Lohman Museum’s permanent collection of important original paintings, sculpture, and photography ranging from the years 1650 to 2010, visitors to Biddeford can visually feast on rarely seen works by the likes of Warhol and Haring, as well as a host of other artists who worked in various mediums.

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Modern Family Stars Auction off Dinner in Support of Marriage Equality

Posted by David Zimmerman October 12, 2012 11:30 AM

The Human Rights Campaign is launching a sweepstakes opportunity that will send a winner and a guest to California, where they will have dinner with Modern Family stars Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet.

The participation of Ferguson and Stonestreet represents one of the first times celebrities are lending their voices to raise funds for the nationwide marriage equality fight in the 2012 election cycle and beyond.

“Jesse and Eric are longtime allies both of the LGBT equality movement and of the Human Rights Campaign,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “We’re thrilled to have them once again speak out for marriage equality and help us in raising funds for the critical work we have to do in ensuring that all families are treated with dignity and respect. Jesse and Eric have magnetic personalities, and we’re confident that with their help we’ll be able to continue making impactful investments in this fight.”

In the video, the two make the case for why they’re getting involved in the fight for marriage:

“Whether you are gay or straight, the family we portray on TV might remind you a little of your own and this election year couldn’t be more important for securing equality for committed relationships, like the one we are,” says Ferguson. “…on TV”, adds straight ally Stonestreet.

Bruce Springsteen speaks out for marriage equality

Posted by David Zimmerman October 3, 2012 12:45 PM

A new website called 'The Four 2012' has launched in an effort to keep people informed on upcoming votes in 4 states for marriage equality for gays and lesbians. The 4 states in question are Maine, Minnesota, Washington and Maryland. Among the celebrities highlighted on the site as supporters of marriage equality is Bruce Springsteen, long an ally to the lgbt community.

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Other celebrities on the site include Lady Gaga, Josh Charles (who spoke at the HRC dinner in Boston recently) and Pink.

According to the website, polling in all 4 states is showing that a majority of voters are in favor of allowing same-sex marriage with Maine showing the largest lead.


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From the site:

Marriage equality is about to take a huge step forward. Momentum is on our side and - if we can create a massive groundswell - we can create a massive victory for marriage equality in the United States. In FOUR states there are marriage ballot initiatives - FOUR states we have to win.

With enough of us talking about marriage, sharing, tweeting and donating - we can drive people out to vote on November 6 and deliver marriage equality in 3 states while fighting off a total ban in another.

We can make history by winning marriage equality ballot initiatives in Maine, Maryland and Washington State. In Minnesota the fight is a different one - we’ll be stopping a total ban on same-sex marriage.

Every day, The FOUR will be putting out a new piece of interesting content from a celebrity or artist - if you like it, all you need to do is share it.

Anti-gay and anti-human rights organizations in our country are mobilizing - putting vast sums of money and resources into all four states to defeat us. In the past, despite great polls - we have lost ballot initiatives. Our opposition is organized and well-funded. But we have what they don’t - we’re fighting for love, not against it.

Gay Pride for Worcester, Vermont, and Boston Latin@s held in September this year

Posted by Jim Lopata September 14, 2012 03:22 PM

By Alan Tran

The last of this year’s New England LGBT Pride festivities are in Worcester on Saturday, September 15, in Vermont on September 22, and for the New England Latina and Latino community from September 21 through 29.

VERMONT PRIDE

It’s been a year of record-breaking Pride participation across the country, but the season is finally winding down. The last of this year’s New England LGBT Pride parades and festivals is Pride Vermont — which is the creative name Vermonters don for their gay Pride festivities — which will be held on Saturday, September 22, at Battery Park in Burlington.

The annual Vermont Pride cruise on Lake Champlain will be held Friday the 21st. During the festival there will be a NOH8 Campaign photoshoot, turning everyday citizens and celebrities alike into icons of equality, and the Northern Decadance Food & Travel Expo, showcasing LGBT-friendly businesses that encourage Vermonters to have their equal rights cake and eat it too, among other culinary delights.

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Rapper Jay Z supports same-sex marriage, says to those who don’t 'It’s discrimination, plain and simple'

Posted by David Zimmerman September 8, 2012 09:00 AM

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Rapper and media mogul Jay-Z spoke recently about the topic of same-sex marriage and whether or not he thought that President Obama’s support of same-sex marriage will cost him votes in the upcoming election. The rapper was very clear that he is a supporter of same sex marriage as well as the President.

On the topic of same-sex marriage:

I’ve always thought of it as something that is still holding the country back. What people do in their own homes is their business, they can choose to love whoever they love. That’s their business. It’s no different then discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination, plain and simple.

Regarding whether or not the President’s views will cost him votes in the upcoming election:

I think it’s the right thing to do, so whether or not it costs him votes … it’s really not about votes, it’s about people. So whether or not it costs him votes, it’s the right thing to do as a human being.

Any chance we can get Jay Z on the phone with Stevie Wonder????

New York avant-garde to blitz Provincetown in September Afterglow Festival

Posted by Jim Lopata September 5, 2012 11:45 AM

aJustinBond-MichaelDoucette_blog.jpgJustin Vivian Bond (photo: Michael Doucette)

Festival reclaims P’town’s Bohemian roots with the best of ‘downtown’ artists, like John Cameron Mitchell and Starsky + Cox, from September 11-16. In the words of performer Justin Vivian Bond, "Dare to suck."

By John O'Connell

“From the time of Eugene O’Neill and the Provincetown Players up through the 1970s, Provincetown remained synonymous with experimental, progressive stage work,” asserts Quinn Cox, founder of the Afterglow Festival. “As a theater professional, I have a goal of helping Provincetown reclaim its birthright as the birthplace of modern American theater.”

The second Afterglow Festival will be held this September 11 through 16, just after the crowds have left the seaside town and many of the “uptown” acts on Commercial Street have closed for the season. While summer is still in full force at the tip of the Cape, the lack of crowds offers space for creative energy to flow.

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Stevie Wonder thinks gay people might be "confused"

Posted by David Zimmerman September 1, 2012 02:03 PM

In a wide ranging interview with The Guardian (UK edition) music legend Stevie Wonder was asked, among other things, what he thought of rapper Frank Ocean’s announcement this past summer that Ocean is gay. Wonder replied that;

I think honestly, some people who think they're gay, they're confused. People can misconstrue closeness for love. People can feel connected, they bond. I'm not saying all [gay people are confused]. Some people have a desire to be with the same sex. But that's them.

Ocean’s announcement, back in early July of this year, came courtesy of a public letter on his tumblr page. In the letter Ocean explained

4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile. I’d hear his conversation and his silence…until it was time to sleep. Sleep I would often share with him. By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love, it changed my life.

Does that sound like someone who is confused? I don’t think so either.

6 LGBT Labor Day vacation beach reads

Posted by Jim Lopata August 23, 2012 11:53 AM

by Loren King

“Summer’s beginning to give up her fight,” say the lyrics of a song by the lesbian folk duo Indigo Girls.

It’s getting darker earlier, but there’s still a few good beach days ahead.

Here’s a handful of new, gay-authored or queer-themed books to settle down with in the sun and sand before autumn gets the upper hand.


1_AreYouMyMother_Bechdel.jpgAre You My Mother?
[Houghton Mifflin Harcourt]
by Alison Bechdel

For those who think the memoir reached its tipping point long ago, Are You My Mother? Alison Bechdel’s follow up to her 2006 bestselling memoir Fun Home, is so lively, brilliant and incisive that it breathes unimagined life into the genre. The author of the wildly popular Dykes to Watch Out For comic strip has illustrated and written this dense, ultimately generous account of her prickly but close relationship with her complicated mother, the former actress who was a memorable character in Fun Home. Bechdel covers some of the same autobiographical details in her “Mom book” that she did in her “Dad book,” particularly her gay, closeted father’s suicide and her own coming out. But Bechdel this time delves even deeper into her own psyche. Are You My Mother? takes the reader into Bechdel’s universe. She writes honestly but with keen wit about therapy, the publication of Fun Home and her mother’s cool response to it, her lovers, her ambivalence and ambition, and all while shifting effortlessly from past to present and back again. The writing is funny, heartfelt and smart—Bechdel references everything from Virginia Woolf and Adrienne Rich to psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, with a little Sondheim thrown in for good measure- and the artwork is beautifully detailed. This is a first-rate book that you won’t be able to put down.

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Dishin’ with the celebs of P’town: Margaret Cho, Kate Clinton, Judy Gold, Varla Jean Merman, and Miss Richfield 1981

Posted by Jim Lopata August 9, 2012 10:44 AM

Twenty-six years! OMG! Can you imagine performing in Provincetown for 26 years?! Margaret Cho can. She’s done it. We caught up with her and a few other P’town legends who each boast a decade or more of keeping demanding tourists entertained at the tip of Cape Cod.

Editor's Note: The following was adapted from a story that ran in the July/August issue of Boston Spirit magazine.

by John O'Connell


chomissmissyphotography.net - Miss Missy bear rug1_a.jpgMARGARET CHO

How many years have you performed in Provincetown?
26 years

What is your most marked characteristic?
Honesty

What quality do you like in a person?
Intelligence

What quality do you abhor in a person?
Stubbornness

What do you value in Provincetown?
The light. My friends. The water.

What is your greatest fear?
Irrelevance

What is a perfect Provincetown day?
Riding bikes through the beech forest, breakfast at Edwidge, laying around with Ryan Landry, Showgirls, late night rides to John Waters’.

What is your idea of misery?
Endless boredom

What do you think when people recognize you at Stop and Shop?
I don’t generally get recognized! I wish I would!

What do you most regret about your experience in Provincetown?
That I don’t yet have a house there and live there year round!

What unnatural gift would you most like to possess?
I’d love to fly!

Who’s act would you like a night off to see?
Ryan Landry or John Waters

What do you have from home that makes Provincetown bearable?
Mosquito repellent!

What three words would you use to describe this year’s show?
Profane, profound, powerful.

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Broadway divas Betty Buckley, Megan Mullally and more descend on P’town

Posted by Jim Lopata August 4, 2012 09:14 AM

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Megan Mullally

Pianist and performer Seth Rudetsky brings the best of New York—including Alice Ripley, Megan Mullally, Betty Buckley, Marilyn Maye and Billy Stritch—to the tip of Cape of Cod this August

by Loren King

Can’t decide whether your summer getaway should be to New York City or Provincetown? Now you don’t have to. The Art House again is bringing a bit of Broadway to Provincetown this summer with a series of big name performers who normally play venues much larger than the cozy confines of the cabaret on Commercial Street. From Cats phenom Betty Buckley to stage and TV star Megan Mullally, the Art House is the place to be this summer when your inner Broadway baby needs some TLC.

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The Secret of Ryan Landry’s Success

Posted by Jim Lopata July 31, 2012 01:44 PM


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The Secret of Ryan Landry’s Success

With Mary Poppers—one of his earliest works—landing in P’town, Boston Spirit finally asked this hardcore New Englander what makes him so brilliantly hilarious

Note: The following post is adapted from a feature in the July/August 2012 issue of Boston Spirit magazine.

By Tim Sarbuals

Ryan Landry’s back in Provincetown, this time with one of the first scripts that he and the Gold Dust Orphans ever worked on, Mary Poppers. Boston Spirit caught up with the entertainment mastermind of New England to find out what keeps this brilliant performer ticking season after season after season.

BOSTON SPIRIT: So, I read that Mary Poppers was originally created in the early ‘90s but never made it to the stage. What inspired you and the Gold Dust Orphans to revisit the musical parody in 2012, almost 20 years after it was originally created?

Ryan Landry: We finally found the right “Mary” in Olive Another. Olive is everything you could want in a magical, mystical, schizophrenic, drug pushing, domestically abusive, megalomaniacal nanny. Besides the fact that she also fits in the costumes. Since we are a parodic company, it is no exaggeration that we are literally bursting with ideas at any given moment. Look at the world we live in! People are actually taking reality shows seriously! I don’t care if it’s the Kardashians or The Real Surviving Housewives of RuPaul’s Bunghole People have been dumbed down to Neanderthal levels. We as a society are in REAL trouble. So it would make sense that some ideas, even the ones we cherish, are put on the back burner to make room for the more “pressing” subjects at hand. But all the while, we had definitely planned on bringing Mary Poppers to the front. Now’s our chance.

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5 Little-Known Tourist Sites Gays Love

Posted by Jim Lopata July 11, 2012 12:59 PM

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The Crane Estate in Ipswich, Massachusetts

A Handful of Under-Rated LGBT New England Destinations

Including Bette Davis’ birthplace, Emily Dickinson’s home, Walden Pond, and a Cher filming location

Editor’s Note: The following is adapted from a feature that ran in Boston Spirit magazine, March/April 2010.

By Sam Baltrusis

Provincetown? Ogunquit? Been there, done that.

Why not head out to a handful of hidden gay-fave gems scattered throughout New England, like Emily Dickinson’s home, Bette Davis’ childhood home in Lowell, or Walden Pond?

What’s so gay about them? Fasten your seat belts ...


aBetteDavisHome_Vertical.jpgBETTE DAVIS HOUSE
22 Chester Street, Lowell, Massachusetts.

If the vibrant pink color of this old-school Victorian isn’t enough to tip off tourists, the historical plaque displayed on the front of this Lowell home dating back to the 1890s should set the record straight. The birthplace of movie legend icon Bette Davis is still standing amid a row of triple-deckers in the heart of the Highlands neighborhood near the UMass Lowell campus. In fact, most of the home’s original woodwork dating back to when Ruth Elizabeth was born in 1908 is still in tact. While the LGBT landmark is currently occupied by tenants and is off limits to Davis fans, locals seem to embrace out-of-towners wanting to sneak a peek of where the saucy Jezebel icon was reared.

Gay Factor: Birthplace of the woman who uttered some of the cattiest lines in film, like “But you are Blanche, you are in that chair!” from What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? If these walls could talk.

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Pride, Pride, and MORE Pride

Posted by David Zimmerman June 15, 2012 09:50 AM

The Boston Pride parade and festival might be over but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other Pride festivals taking place in the area. In fact, there are several coming up in the next few weeks. From Southern Maine down to Providence (with a couple in the middle) there are some great options coming up that Boston Spirit recommends.


Saturday, June 16th – Rhode Island Pride
THIS SATURDAY get your Rhody Pride On for one of the most unique pride parades in the country....at Night!

12:00 - 8:00 pm. South Water Street , Providence along Providence River

Pride's Illuminated Night-Time Pride Parade begins at 8:30 pm

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Saturday, June 16th – Southern Maine Pride
This is one of Boston Spirit’s favorite Pride festivals as it takes place in a beautiful park in Portland, Maine (which means that after the festival you can head off to one of the great bars and/or restaurants in downtown Portland!)

The Parade begins at Monument Square in Portland at 12:30pm
The Parade route ends at Deering Oaks Park
The Festival in the park is from 1pm-5pm


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Saturday, June 16th – Sinful BBQ brings the 1st Annual Pride Event to LynnJune 16th 12-4PM
@Lynn Museum, 590 Washington Street
Presented by Arts after Hours join Sinful BBQ, DJ Brian Halligan, for an afternoon of amazing food, music, raffles and fun.


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Wednesday, June 20th – Boston Spirit Magazine’s Annual Summer Sunset Cruise Join Boston Spirit and 700 of our closest friends as we take a 2 hour sunset cruise around Boston Harbor. Enjoy amazing food from Jasper White’s Summer Shack, great music from DJ Mocha, and beautiful sunsets courtesy of the Boston skyline. Tickets are only $35 (including food) and every dollar goes to benefit Fenway Health.


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Saturday, June 30th – North of Boston Pride Be a part of the first ever North of Boston Pride Parade and Festival!! The festival will take place in Salem and feature Grand Marshall Randy Price. The parade will kick off at noon on Margin St., turning right on Norman St. and heading down New Derby. It will continue to Derby St. and onto Hawthorne Boulevard where it will end up on Salem Common, where the Pride festival will take place from 1-5pm. Then join in for the official NS Pride afterparty at the Hawthorne Hotel.

How Sweet It Is ... Cupcake: The Musical!

Posted by Jim Lopata May 31, 2012 02:06 PM

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The cast of Cupcake (photo: Joel Benjamin)

Cupcakes.

Yum.

With so many people hankering after those cute little icing-topped cake treats these days, it seemed inevitable that there would eventually be a musical about them.

It is a distinct pleasure to report that Cupcake, the musical, is just as sweet and satisfying as the most delectable of the frosted delicacies.

Based on a true scandal that made headlines in Provincetown a couple of years ago, the storyline features a baker wanted by the law for allegedly illegally peddling cupcakes on the street.

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'America's Mom' Betty DeGeneres Discusses Ellen, Parenting, and Lady Gaga

Posted by David Zimmerman April 30, 2012 11:30 AM

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(Photo Credit: Marilym Humphries)


Recently I had the chance to sit down with ‘America’s Mom’ Betty DeGeneres, mother of Ellen DeGeneres, for an interview with Boston Spirit magazine. Betty was in Boston to speak at the 10th annual Pride and Passion fundraiser benefiting Greater Boston PFLAG.

Upon arriving at Betty’s hotel room I found myself sitting next to her on a couch watching the Ellen show in what can only be described as a ‘surreal moment.’ When I asked if the day’s episode was “a good one?” she replied—as only a mother can—“aren’t they all?”


Boston Spirit: Tell us a little bit about your upbringing and life prior to being “Ellen’s Mom” to the entire world.

Betty DeGeneres: Well, I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, as was my mother. My father moved there when he was three, so we are all New Orleanians. I am the youngest of three daughters. I went to LSU [Louisiana State University], and finally finished and got my masters after I turned 50.

BS: Before Ellen’s coming out, and all of your subsequent fame, what was your experience, or interaction, with the LGBT community?

BD: Zero. Before Ellen came out to me, which happened when she was 20 years old—and now she is 54—nobody talked about it back then. So, as far as I knew I had no interaction with anyone who was gay or lesbian.

BS: When Ellen did come out to you—now more than 30 years ago—what was that conversation like? What was your reaction?

BD: She cried when she told me, because she didn’t know what I would do. And I hugged her, and I thought she’ll suddenly be an object of discrimination and bigotry and that was not okay. But we had a very, very good relationship, a very close relationship, and that helps tremendously. I think if people come out to their parents and they don’t have a close relationship to begin with, that can make it very hard.

BS: What about the rest of the family and friends?

BD: They were fine. At first we didn’t tell anybody else. But then we told my sisters and my mother and everybody in the family, and everybody was just fine. My mother was in the Catholic Church, as was one of my sisters. My other sister was Episcopalian and very active. But everyone just loved Ellen.

BS: I assume you knew before the rest of us that Ellen was going to make her ‘coming out’ announcement on her old show. Were you worried about what might happen?

BD: You know, she had so many professional people around her at that time, so she didn’t say ‘mother what do you think?’ She said, ‘mother this is what we’re doing.’ She just had to do it. She was tired of dancing around the subject, and it just wasn’t a healthy way to live. Nobody should have to do that.

BS: Were you worried?

BD: No. I was too dumb to be worried. I figured, if she does it, it’s all right. It’s what she felt she had to do. And, of course, she lost the show. She lost her career for a while. But, as she says, she doesn’t regret it for a minute because she felt so free. So you can’t be sorry about that. And it worked out rather well.

BS: How has all of this changed you? These days you speak at PFLAG events and attend GLAAD and HRC events. These are organizations you had probably never heard of before, and now you are immersed in all of them.

BD: You’re right. I had never even heard of the Human Rights Campaign and they were the first ones to contact me. They asked me to be their first non-gay spokesperson for their national coming out project. That’s what launched me on this late blooming career, speaking at their dinners all over the country. Then universities started asking me to speak, then corporations. So it’s been 15 years of a lot of speaking, and traveling, and educating, and it’s been great.

BS: How does it feel being up there with Cher and Lady Gaga as a straight icon in the gay community?

BD: I am not. I’m just Ellen’s mother!

BS: You’re America’s mother!

BD: Yes, people always call me ‘mama.’ The woman in the airport yesterday called out ‘Hey mama’.

BS: What is like to go from a ‘normal, regular everyday person, kind of life’ to the life of celebrity and fame?

BD: It happened gradually, thank goodness. When Ellen came out on her show, I had just retired from Cedar Sinai Medical Center in L.A., and I was looking forward to a lazy life. And, like I said, it grew rather gradually and it’s been wonderful.

BS: Do you ever get used to it?

BD: I guess I’m used to it now. Although last month I spoke at Lockheed Martin in Bethesda, Maryland, for goodness sakes. It was huge! So sometimes I’m a little stunned by the places where I speak. But it’s wonderful to bring this message.

BS: We just sat here together and watched your daughter on TV. She is one of the most famous people in the world. I have a seven-year-old daughter and cannot imagine what that must be like.

BD: Well, if I had known she was going to grow up to be Ellen Degeneres, I would have taken more pictures (laughing), so take a lot of pictures! Ellen’s brother is three years older and, oh, do we have pictures of him! Ellen gives me a hard time all the time because we don’t have that many pictures of her.

BS: Do you ever have moments when you are watching Ellen on TV, or sitting in the studio audience, when you think to yourself, ‘I still can’t believe I’m watching my daughter on television?’

BD: The thing is, when I sit in the studio, the audience just goes crazy. And it’s such a cross section of America in the audience. You have older couples, every ethnicity, race, and it’s really wonderful and they love her message of happiness and joy and positive energy.

BS: What was the house like when your kids were growing up?

BD: Well, their dad is very funny, so Ellen and Vance [Ellen’s older brother] grew up hearing funny remarks about everything, so it was natural to them. Vance is very funny. He used to be on the Daily Show, and he and his roommate created Mr. Bill for Saturday Night Live. When Ellen and Vance are together it is very funny because they are zinging each other back and forth, and it all goes right over your head if you’re not paying attention.

BS: Did you have any inkling when Ellen was in high school and growing up that she would be a world famous comedian?

BD: No. She was very funny, but it was a quiet funny not a class clown. And she didn’t know it either. She had so many jobs after high school, and she tried college for a couple of months but that didn’t work and she just kind of fell into this. She performed at a high school fundraiser and someone was there and told her, ‘you should get an act and perform at the coffee house at the University of New Orleans.’ And she did and then little by little …

BS: Last question, if you had the opportunity to speak to any parents whose kids have come out or are coming out, what advice would you give them?

BD: If they need a pep talk, I would tell them to make sure they are thinking for themselves, because I think a lot of people are just brainwashed about this subject. And the only unconditional love there is, is the love that a parent has for a child. No matter what, we love our children. So don’t forget that.

American Idol Semi-finalist Natalie Weiss Comes to Boston

Posted by Jim Lopata March 21, 2012 09:35 AM

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Natalie Weiss

You Should Hear This Woman Sing!

By John O'Connell

On Monday, March 19, the cast of Les Miserables came to Club Café to perform a benefit cabaret for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, an organization that helps to fund Boston's AIDS Action Committee. While word of mouth pre-event wasn't super hot, the word of mouth post-event has been ripping through the internet. "Best cabaret EVER!" raved Amit Dixit, communications director for the Boston Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in a Facebook post. The lucky few that were in attendance were blown away not only by the range of talent—to be expected from such a vocally challenging show—but also by the performers' wit and heart. The audience reaction stopped the show a few times with performers receiving applause mid-number and standing ovations at the end of individual performances.

One of the "lovely ladies" who brought the audience to their feet was swing Natalie Weiss. For those not in the know, a swing is a type of understudy who is responsible for knowing numerous roles or "tracks"—vocally and physically—in a show thus allowing the primary understudies to step in whenever needed. After opening the show with an incredible rendition of Beyonce's "Listen" from Dreamgirls, a number she covered at the last minute for another performer who bowed out due to illness, she also closed the show with a hysterical "6-Minute Les Mis" that included songs from the show re-interpreted through current pop rhythms and stylings. The crowd was also thrilled to hear that Weiss will be making her solo Boston concert debut next Monday evening at Club Café. The Penn State grad was a semi-finalist on American Idol, season 4, and has since developed a huge YouTube following gathering over 2.5 million views. The Boston Spirit blog was able to catch up with Weiss and talk about her work.

Boston Spirit: You totally stole the show last night. Twice. When did you find out about the Beyoncé number?

Natalie Weiss: I got a text at 3 p.m. saying that the girl who was singing "Listen" had dropped out. I said I would try it. I knew the song PRETTY well, so we just did a quick rehearsal at sound check, prayed I would remember lyrics, and fortunately I did. [laughs] These situations tend to happen to me a lot. ... The "someone backed out so can you learn eight songs in an hour and GO!" situations.

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Homosexual History to be Dramatized in Lyric Stage Production

Posted by Jim Lopata March 17, 2012 11:42 AM

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Nael Nacer and Will McGarrahan in the roles of Rudi Gernreich and Harry Hay in the Lyric Stage production of The Temperamentals

The Temperamentals provides a focused view on the pre-Stonewall, gay rights movement, before it was called 'gay'

By John O’Connell

“Temperamental.” “Nervous.” “Musical.” “That way.” These whispered phrases seem to scream the shame of the homosexual men of the early 1950’s. Yet they were the only means of identifying who might be a potential ally or paramour. “This was before even the word ‘homosexual’ was used,” explains Jeremy Johnson, director of the Lyric Stage’s production of The Temperamentals opening March 30. “There was no sense of ‘gay.’ There was no concept of identity.”

The award-winning play by Jon Marans takes place in some of the darkest moments in the pre-Stonewall era. It may come as a surprise to some that Harry Hay, often touted as the founder of the modern gay rights movement and the subject of The Temperamentals, was at one time married with two adopted daughters. “You had to be married and have children,” insists Johnson. “There was something inherently wrong with a 40 year old bachelor. These men constantly lived with the risk of imprisonment. They took great care to remain anonymous because the sense of danger was constant.”

The measure of distance that gay men and lesbians have come is often lost on not only society at large, but the members of the community itself. “We don’t know our own history. Our parents didn’t teach us our history,” says Johnson. “If you’re not in the history books you don’t exist.”

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Thomas Derrah Shines in SpeakEasy’s ‘Red’

Posted by Jim Lopata January 14, 2012 01:50 PM

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Karl Baker Olson and Thomas Derrah in a scene from the SpeakEasy Stage Company production of Red (Photo: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo)

Those of us who follow Boston's theater scene were not surprised to see actor Thomas Derrah garnering rave reviews for his performance of Mark Rothko in the SpeakEasy Stage Company's production of Red.

"Derrah’s nuanced performance is never less than breathtaking," wrote Terry Byrne in The Boston Globe.

Although Derrah gathered considerable theatrical honors across the U.S. including appearing on Broadway in Jackie: An American Life, New Englanders can be grateful that the talented Derrah steadfastly claims Boston as his home.

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About the author: Boston Spirit Magazine’s daily blog brings you all of the information you need on New England’s LGBT community. In addition to highlighting local and national LGBT news, we will also highlight local leaders from the worlds of business, politics, fashion and entertainment and keep you up-to-date on all the latest events and parties, hot spots for travel, shopping, dining, and more!
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