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Are you ready for some football?

Local gay flag league players model in benefit calendar

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(Photo by William Waybourn; courtesy D.C. Gay Flag Football League)

The D.C. Gay Flag Football League enlisted some of its hottest players to create its first 24-month calendar. The theme is Shirts & Skins, with many players exposing their well-defined chests, while other models dress in snazzy attire.

“The calendar is not risqué, no nudes, no underwear shots, just a great professional product,” says William Waybourn, a volunteer photographer on the project. “Something people can send home to their family and something people can be proud of.”

At least half of the profits from the sales will go to LGBT projects, mostly scholarships for openly gay high school athletes. Brandon Waggoner, commissioner for the league and a model in the calendar, says the standards and selection process are still being determined but the league hopes to award the first scholarships in 2012.

“We really want to help students,” Waggoner says. “We are determined to make this happen.”

A launch party is planned for Tuesday from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Longview Art Gallery (1234 9th St., N.W.) with open bar and hors d’oeuvres. Sponsors include Nellie’s Sports Bar, JR.’s Bar & Grill, Hugo Boss, Victory Fund, Washington Blade, Hollywood Tans and Blue Moon.

(Photo by William Waybourn; courtesy D.C. Gay Flag Football League)

The league is a competitive flag football group that caters to the gay and lesbian community and its supporters. When the 2010 fall season started, there were seven teams and 102 players. Interest has increased and now there are 12 teams with nearly 200 players.

“The players are very dedicated to the sport and to their respected teams,” says Jeff Spitko, the league’s communications director and a calendar model. “Some travel long distances just to participate. We have one player, for example, that travels all the way from Richmond.”

This dedication spilled over into the development of the calendar.

“Many people allocated a lot of time, energy and talent developing this calendar,” says Tony Frye, a volunteer designer on the project. “It was a five-month project, worth every second.”

Frye says the calendar offers a stereotype-busting irony — masculine men in a masculine sport, yet most of the models shown are gay.

“It is commonly known that there is a stereotype that gay men are simply not masculine,” Frye says. “I think this stereotype hinders people from coming out, especially teenagers, and especially high school athletes.” Frye hopes when teens see the calendar, it shatters preconceived notions.

There are 36 players in the calendar and all are gay except one. Sean Bartel, a league board member and model, says, “The straight model plays in the league because he enjoys the sport and to support his gay brother, who is also a player. That shows dedication to family and dedication to matters that are important to his gay brother.”

The selection process for the models was difficult because many players tried out.

“All had talent but unfortunately, not all could have been selected.” Frye says.

“I was thrilled when I learned I was selected,” Waggoner says, but he points out that being selected came with a personal sense of responsibility and burden.  Leading up to the shoots, many of the models — all of whom were amateurs at modeling — were anxious and many altered their normal routines.

“As soon as I found out I was selected, I increased my workouts and went on a strict diet,” Waggoner says. The day of the shoot, Waggoner had two glasses of wine prior to the shoot to help him relax, and after, celebrated the completion by going to one of his favorite places to eat and ordering macaroni and cheese.

“I was kind of relieved when it was all over,” he says.

Like Waggoner, Bartel was also nervous.

(Photo by William Waybourn; courtesy D.C. Gay Flag Football League)

“After talking several deep breaths, I kept telling myself these are just pictures,” Bartel says.

Both say it was a fun experience and they were glad to be selected.

The idea to start a fundraiser came from the league’s role in helping Team D.C. raise money for scholarships last year. Team D.C. is a charitable organization established to educate the LGBT community on the benefits of individuals and team sports participation.

The inspiration to use a calendar as a marketing tool to help raise money originated with the successful launch of a D.C. Strokes Rowing Club calendar. They made it a point, though, to not produce a copycat product.

“The rowing calendar had hot pretty boys, the football calendar has hot muscular men,” Frye says. He also wanted models who actually played football.

About 11,000 photographs were taken and only a small portion was used.

“I wish we had more pages to work with because there are several other good pictures that I would like to use,” Frye says. A secondary product with some of the outtakes is being discussed but they’re waiting to see how sales go on the calendar before divulging details.

The stress of calendar sales is weighing heavily on a lot of minds.

“We have to have strong sales for the first printing of 1,500 calendars,” Waggoner says.

Although many volunteered to put the calendar together, producing it was not free.

“We have the printing costs, promotional costs, launch party costs, security for the night of the event, and we have to pay the bartenders and servers, not to mention we have to make a profit in order to fulfill the goal of helping LGBT causes, including scholarships.”

Waggoner, however, remains optimistic that sales will meet or exceed expectations and will require a second printing. Several media outlets have mentioned the project and orders are coming in from Europe and beyond. A German order for 50 copies was recently placed.

A fashion show will be held at the party with models wearing Hugo Boss fashions. Guests can meet the players/models there.

Launch party tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. A calendar can be reserved for $20. Those at the party can buy one for $15. Go to dcgffl.org for details.

“What’s great about all this is it is for a great cause and it brings people closer together,” Frye says.

 

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Lizzo makes $50K donation to Marsha P. Johnson Institute

Singer is vocal LGBTQ ally

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Lizzo at the 65th Grammy Awards (Screenshot from the Grammy Awards)

When Lizzo sings “If I’m shinin,’ everybody gonna shine,” in her hit song, “Juice,” she means it. Proof of that came this week on Instagram when the LGBTQ ally announced the first winner of her annual Juneteenth Giveback Campaign is the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, a national nonprofit based in Richmond, Calif., dedicated to the protection and defense of Black transgender people. 

And she did so in song: “On the first day of Juneteenth, Lizzo gave to me,” she sang in her video, posted Tuesday, as she revealed her $50,000 gift to MPJI.

“That’s right, we know who Marsha P. Johnson is. We know what Marsha P. Johnson has done for the LGBTQ, emphasis on that ‘T,’ Q community,” said Lizzo to her 13.5 million followers. “Thank you so much to the people at the Marsha P. Johnson Institute. You deserve this, and I hope this helps you so much as you help protect our Black trans family.” 

“What the Marsha P. Johnson Institute does is protects and defends the rights of Black transgender people. They do this by organizing community, advocating for the people, and creating an intentional healing community, developing transformative leadership and promoting collective power,” she said. 

“We are overjoyed for the shoutout from Lizzo today, the generosity of her sharing her platform and the recognition of MPJI and its work,” said Elle Moxley, MPJI’s executive director. “The resources from this campaign will ensure the protection and defense of Black transgender people continue at a time where it is so vitally needed. We are so grateful for the support of Lizzo and her fans.”

As one of Time Magazine’s Persons of the Year for 2019 and a 2023 Grammy winner, Lizzo is more than a pop star but an inspiration to millions of fans for her body-positive attitude, her self-confidence on stage and in her videos, her empowering music and her activism. She’s also the founder of her own clothing line, Yitty. In 2021, she made headlines when she publicly corrected a paparazzo for using “she/her” pronouns and misgendering Demi Levato.

As part of her campaign, now in its 4th year, Lizzo recognizes Black-led grassroots organizations and businesses and encourages her fans to join her in supporting each of the five organizations she highlights this week. Fans who take action by donating are  entered into a drawing for an all-expenses paid trip to see her perform at Fuji Rock in Japan later this year. 

This week’s other nonprofits receiving gifts are: Black Girls Smile, Sphinx Music, the University of Houston and Save Our Sisters United.

Find out more about Lizzo’s 4th annual Juneteenth Giveback Campaign by clicking here.

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Anne Heche dies after removal from life support

Actress dated Ellen DeGeneres in late 1990s

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(Screenshot/YouTube Inside Edition)

Actress Anne Heche died after she was removed from life support on Sunday, nearly two weeks after her Mini-Cooper crashed through a two-story house in Los Angeles’ Mar Vista neighborhood. Investigators with the Los Angeles Police Department believe she was intoxicated at the time.

She sustained a severe anoxic brain injury along with severe burns and was being treated at the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital, near Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley.

The 53-year-old actress who was a star of films like “Donnie Brasco,” the political satire “Wag the Dog” and the 1998 remake of “Psycho,” had been declared legally dead under California law on Friday, however, her family kept her alive long enough to be an organ donor.

In a statement Friday, the LAPD announced that: “As of today, there will be no further investigative efforts made in this case. Any information or records that have been requested prior to this turn of events will still be collected as they arrive as a matter of formalities and included in the overall case. When a person suspected of a crime expires, we do not present for filing consideration.” LAPD detectives had previously made public that investigators into the crash found narcotics in a blood sample taken from Heche.

The actress’s family released a statement on Friday:

“Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend. Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy. Her bravery for always standing in her truth, spreading her message of love and acceptance, will continue to have a lasting impact,” the statement added.

Heche was married to camera operator Coleman Laffoon from 2001 to 2009. The two had a son, Homer, together. She had another son, named Atlas, during a relationship with actor James Tupper, her co-star on the TV series “Men In Trees.”

Laffoon left a moving tribute on an Instagram reel in which he also gave an update on how their 20-year-old son Homer Laffoon is coping with the loss of his mother.

“I loved her and I miss her, and I’m always going to,” he said adding: “Homer is okay. He’s grieving, of course, and it’s rough. It’s really rough, as probably anybody can imagine. But he’s surrounded by family and he’s strong, and he’s gonna be okay.”

“Rest In Peace, Mom, I love you, Homer,” the actor’s 20-year-old son, Homer, said in a statement after Heche was declared legally dead on Friday.“ My brother Atlas and I lost our Mom,” read the statement. “After six days of almost unbelievable emotional swings, I am left with a deep, wordless sadness. Hopefully, my mom is free from pain and beginning to explore what I like to imagine as her eternal freedom. Over those six days, thousands of friends, family, and fans made their hearts known to me. I am grateful for their love, as I am for the support of my Dad, Coley, and my stepmom Alexi who continue to be my rock during this time. Rest In Peace Mom, I love you, Homer.”

Tupper, a Canadian actor who starred alongside Heche in “Men in Trees,” had a 13-year-old son, Atlas, with her. “Love you forever,” Tupper, 57, wrote on his Instagram post’s caption with a broken heart emoji, which shared an image of the actress from Men in Trees.

Between 1997 and 2000, Heche was also in a relationship with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

“This is a sad day,” DeGeneres posted on Twitter. “I’m sending Anne’s children, family and friends all of my love.” The year after her break-up with the comedian, in September 2001, Heche recounted in her memoir “Call Me Crazy,” about her lifelong struggles with mental health and a childhood of abuse.

KTLA’s entertainment reporter Sam Rubin noted that over the past two decades, Heche’s career pivoted several times. In 2017, she hosted a weekly radio show on SiriusXM with Jason Ellis called “Love and Heche.”

In 2020, Heche made her way into the podcast world. She launched “Better Together” which she cohosted alongside Heather Duffy Boylston. The show was described as a way to celebrate friendship. 

She also worked in smaller films, on Broadway, and on TV shows. She recently had recurring roles on the network series “Chicago P.D.,” and “All Rise” and was a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars.”

People magazine reported that several of Heche’s acting projects are expected to be released posthumously.

These include “Girl in Room 13,” expected to be released on Lifetime in September, “What Remains,” scheduled to be released in 2023, and HBO Max TV series “The Idol,” created by Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd) and Euphoria creator Sam Levinson.

In her Instagram post from earlier this year Heche stands between her sons Atlas, 13 and Homer, 20.

From KTLA:

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‘Star Trek’ actress Nichelle Nichols dies at 89

George Takei tweets ‘we lived long and prospered together’

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(Screenshot/YouTube The Smithsonian Channel)

She was a groundbreaking cultural icon who broke barriers in a time of societal upheaval and battling for the civil rights of Black Americans. An actress, a mother and thoroughly devoted to the legions of fans of “Star Trek,” Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek’s Lt. Nyota Uhura, has died at 89.

The announcement on her Facebook page by her son read:

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Friends, Fans, Colleagues, World

I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years.

Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration.

Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.

I, and the rest of our family, would appreciate your patience and forbearance as we grieve her loss until we can recover sufficiently to speak further. Her services will be for family members and the closest of her friends and we request that her and our privacy be respected.

Live Long and Prosper,

Kyle Johnson

Nichols was born in Robbins, Ill., in 1932, according to her IMDb page. Legendary composer Duke Ellington “discovered” Nichols and helped her become a singer and dancer. She later turned to acting, and joined Gene Roddenberry’s “Star Trek,” where she played Uhura from 1966 to 1969.

Out actor George Takei who played ‘Sulu’ on Star Trek the original series with Nichelle Nichols who played Lt. Nyota Uhura, at a Star Trek convention in this undated photo. (George Takei/Twitter)

It was in that role of Uhura that Nichols not only broke barriers between races, most famously her onscreen kiss, the first between a Black person and a white person, with castmate William Shatner, who played Capt. James T. Kirk, but she also became a role model for young Black women and men inspiring them to seek out their own places in science, technology, and other human endeavors.

In numerous interviews over the years Nichols often recalled how the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a fan of the show and praised her role and personally encouraged her to stay with the series.

When the first series ended Nichols went on to become a spokesperson for NASA, where she “helped recruit and inspire a new generation of fearless astronauts.” She later reprised her role in several successful “Star Trek” films and continued to advocate for the advancement of Black Americans especially in the areas of science and technology.

Formerly a NASA deputy administrator, Frederick Gregory, now 81, told the Associated Press he once saw an advertisement in which Nichols said “I want you to apply for the NASA program.”

“She was talking to me,” he recounted. The U.S. Air Force pilot would apply and later become the first African American shuttle pilot.

President Joe Biden weighed in Sunday afternoon on her passing in a statement issued by the White House:

In Nichelle Nichols, our nation has lost a trailblazer of stage and screen who redefined what is possible for Black Americans and women.
 
A daughter of a working-class family from Illinois, she first honed her craft as an actor and singer in Chicago before touring the country and the world performing with the likes of Duke Ellington and giving life to the words of James Baldwin.
 
During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, she shattered stereotypes to become the first Black woman to act in a major role on a primetime television show with her groundbreaking portrayal of Lt. Uhura in the original Star Trek. With a defining dignity and authority, she helped tell a central story that reimagined scientific pursuits and discoveries. And she continued this legacy by going on to work with NASA to empower generations of Americans from every background to reach for the stars and beyond.
 
Our nation is forever indebted to inspiring artists like Nichelle Nichols, who show us a future where unity, dignity, and respect are cornerstones of every society.

Nichols son said that services will be private for family members and her closest friends.

In 2008 the actress at a news conference, coordinated by the filmmakers of the motion picture “TRU LOVED,” in honor of the more than 900 students at Los Angeles’ Miguel Contreras Learning Complex’s School of Social Justice who participated in the GLSEN Day of Silence.

Nichelle Nichols speaks on LGBTQ rights:

Her fellow castmate and life long friend, openly Out actor George Takei shared his sadness on hearing of Nichols’ passing on Twitter:

From the September 2016 edition of the Smithsonian Channel: “Star Trek’s decision to cast Nichelle Nichols, an African American woman, as major character on the show was an almost unheard-of move in 1966. But for black women all over the country, it redefined the notions of what was possible.”

Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols on Uhura’s Radical Impact:

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