“It bothers me when I hear these reporters and jocks get on TV and say: ‘Oh, no guy can come out in a team sport. These guys would go crazy.’ First of all, quit telling me what I think. I’d rather have a gay guy who can play than a straight guy who can’t play.”
NBA Hall of Famer and now sports analyst Charles Barkley (Washington Post, May 17)
“Just got spam letter from M. Bachmann! My reply! Woman go back 2 school take history! & if I was on my deathbed & your best friend was JESUS!!! I WOULDN’T VOTE 4 YOUR GAY HATING, BULLY LOVING, POSER CHRISTIAN ASS!”
Music icon Cher, mom to transgender son Chaz Bono, on Twitter, explaining why she will not vote for U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann for president. (On Top Magazine, Aug. 1)
“Should I talk about [having breast cancer]? Because how many things could I have? You know black, lesbian — I’m like, I can’t be the poster child for everything. At least with the LGBT issues we get a parade and a float and it’s a party.”
Comedian and actress Wanda Sykes, discussing her battle with breast cancer for the first time in an interview with out talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. (“The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” Sept. 26)
“I’ve just never talked about it. But it’s so liberating. It was interesting to be coming to have a conversation that I was always afraid to have. This is my coming out ball. I’ve been dying to do this.”
Actor Sean Maher, star of the short-lived NBC series “Playboy Club,” where he played a closted gay man married to a lesbian Bunny, coming out in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. (EW.com, Sept. 26)
“Justin Bieber looks just like a lesbian, so I’m gonna say hot as shit.”
Lesbian singer k.d. lang, asked on an Australian talk show to answer the random question, “Justin Bieber: hot or not?” (SheWired.com, Nov. 7)
“I’ve never been turned down for a role because I’m gay. I’m a character actor, and that’s probably why. I don’t find Hollywood, in my own experience, to be homophobic. … But I do think the straight folks will continue to play the straight roles.”
Actress Jane Lynch, who plays cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester on “Glee,” explaining that studios still want straight actors in straight romantic leads. (AfterElton.com, Jan. 12)
“I have lived my life very openly and have never hidden the fact that I am gay. Apparently the prerequisite to being a gay public figure is to appear on the cover of a magazine with the caption ‘I am gay.’ I apologize for not doing so if this is what was expected.”
Jonathan Knight of the now-reunited boy band New Kids on the Block, responding to questions after ‘80s pop star Tiffany, whom he once dated, discussed his sexual orientation in a recent television interview. (MSNBC.com, Jan. 31)
“He became gay later. I didn’t do it. I had issues with that. I was thinking maybe I did. Now looking back when we were dating, he was so much fun. We used to do facials together. He was so easy to talk to.”
‘80s pop singer Tiffany, discussing former boyfriend Jonathan Knight from boy band New Kids on the Block, on Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live.” (MSNBC.com, Jan. 31)
“You know just because you don’t like the way it sounds when I say it or you don’t like my haircut or you don’t like that I’m gay, it does not mean that what we say is not true. If you squint a little bit, it is true I do sometimes look like a dude, and I am definitely gay.”
Rachel Maddow, host of “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC, denying claims that she erred in reporting on the Wisconsin labor union controversy. (On Top Magazine, Feb. 27)
“My family knew I was gay when I was 15, long before I got famous. But it’s a very different thing coming out to your family and coming out to the universe. That’s a big step. Maybe without me, there wouldn’t be Adam Lambert. Without Bowie, there wouldn’t be me. Without Quentin Crisp, there wouldn’t have been Bowie. So everything is part of a big daisy chain.”
Culture Club singer Boy George, known for his androgynous style in the ‘80s band, in an interview promoting the band’s reunion (Hollywood Reporter, Feb. 23)
“Why shouldn’t gay people be allowed to be able to marry? Those against gay marriages say marriage should only be between a man and a woman. God, I of all people know that doesn’t always work!”
Actress Elizabeth Taylor in a speech accepting the 2000 Vanguard Award from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Taylor, who was married eight times, was an early HIV advocate. She died March 23 at age 79. (E! Online, March 25)
“Well, obviously, I’m not allowed to speak about the legal battles, but I love lesbians.”
Jennifer Nettles of Atlanta superstar country group Sugarland, responding to this question: “Let’s talk about the legal battles that you had with ex-member Kristen Hall [who is gay], who sued you last year for profits she said she was owed. Did it leave a bad taste in your mouth for lesbians?” (South Florida Gay News, April 11)
“I guess you could say that I’m coming out tonight!”
Country music icon Dolly Parton, who has at times been rumored to be gay despite her marriage to a man, presenting the GLAAD Award to NBC’s Robert Greenblatt, with whom she worked on “9 to 5.” (GLAAD.org, April 11)
“I’m very gay, but I love women. I’m not attracted to men in any way. … But yes I am gay, I’m so happy. I’m a gay, heterosexual male. … I got major love for the gay and lesbian community, and I just want to push less separation.”
Rapper Lil B on why he is titling his next album “I’m Gay,” despite negative reaction and even threats from fans. (MTV News, April 21)
“We all agree that marriage is a fundamental right. And in our country, and in our society, there are no second-class citizens.”
Dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones in a video for the Human Rights Campaign’s New Yorkers for Marriage Equality effort. (On Top Magazine, April 26)
“So when I was about 13 or 14, I realized I was attracted to women and then made the assumption that I was a lesbian, and didn’t realize that that wasn’t the case. It was the fact that I was a man and a heterosexual man. The issue wasn’t my sexual orientation, but rather my gender identity.”
Chaz Bono, the child of entertainers Cher and Sonny Bono, on coming out first as a lesbian and then as a transgender man. His book about the experience, “Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man,” was released May 10. (Time, May 9)
“I was like, ‘Oh, my God, girls are so pretty and soft. No stubble burn! What am I doing with guys?’ I haven’t dipped back since, but I was very appreciative of the experience.”
Actress Rashida Jones on kissing Zooey Deschanel in the upcoming film “Our Idiot Brother,” which she says was her first lesbian kiss both on screen and off. (The Advocate, June-July 2011)
“I mean, really: He called me 33 percent lesbian, which was a gross underestimation of my lesbian-ness.”
Actress Reese Witherspoon, responding to ‘Twilight’ actor Robert Pattinson’s comments as she received the Generation Award at the 2011 MTV Movie Awards. Witherspoon rated herself as “at least” 55 percent. (MTV News, June 6)
“The truth is if I had a gay son, I would love him just as much as if he was straight. I might have to try to love even more because I know of the difficulty that he would have in society.”
Comedian Tracy Morgan in one of his many apologies since going on an anti-gay tirade at a June 3 show in Nashville including saying he would stab his son if he were gay. (ABC News, June 21)
“NEW YORK! I [love] U! You’re OFFICIALLY the coolest place on the planet!”
Pop star Katy Perry, via Twitter, reacting to the New York Senate vote to legalize same-sex marriage. (MTV News, June 25)
“Being gay is fabulous…I have six new Facebook fan pages. And for every sponsor that falls out, I’ve gotten two more.”
Fictional news anchor Shannon Love, a character played by Queen Latifah on the July 11 episode of the VH1 show “Single Ladies,” discussing the impact of coming out in the media. Queen Latifah, who is also executive producer of the show, which is set in Atlanta, has long been the subject of speculation about her own sexual orientation. (BET.com, July 13)
“The Republican Party would be well advised to get the heck out of people’s bedrooms.”
Former GOP presidential candidate and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, discussing gay marriage on CNN. Giuliani said he believes New York legalizing gay marriage is wrong, but “the reality is that this is something that New York decided by a democratic vote.” (New York Post, July 18)
“Why must she dress that way? I think she’s confused about her gender.”
Gay “Project Runway” host Tim Gunn, describing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s penchant for pant suits, in an interview on “Lopez Tonight.” (Huffington Post, July 27)
“If your Bible tells you that gay people ought not be married in your church, don’t tell them they can’t be married at city hall. Marriage is a civil rite as well a civil right, and we can’t let religious bigotry close the door to justice to anyone.”
Civil rights icon Julian Bond, speaking at the first ever NAACP town hall meeting on LGBT issues, held late last month in Los Angeles. (Florida Independent, Aug. 1)
“Most gay people are very tasty people — they like beautiful stuff in their lives. If they like me, it means they have taste. They don’t follow me for my butt shots.”
Actor Jean-Claude Van Damme in a recent interview with Sabotage Times (Towleroad.com, Aug. 14)
“I’m attracted to girls and that’s what’s going to make me happy. … I’ve actually had two boyfriends but I know at the end of the day who I want to come home to and it’s going to be a girl. That’s what I like.”
“So You Think You Can Dance” runner-up Sasha Mallory, in a recent interview about the Fox reality show, where she said she is “not afraid to tell people I’m gay,” but viewers “didn’t really need to know if I was gay or straight.” (AfterEllen.com, Aug. 25)
“You’ve got audiences cheering at the prospect of somebody dying because they don’t have health care and booing a service member in Iraq because they’re gay. That’s not reflective of who we are.“
President Barack Obama, criticizing recent GOP presidential debates, speaking at a Sept. 25 campaign fundraiser. (Americablog.com, Sept. 26)
“Throughout my career, I’ve always portrayed characters that were humorous, but also weren’t afraid to speak their minds, especially when it came to racy or controversial topics. I think this struck a chord with the LGBT community. We both also share a very strong love for animals. When you combine the two, it’s a very strong match.”
Actress Betty White, asked in a recent interview why “the LGBT community embraces and loves you so much.” (Frontiers LA, Sept. 23)
“By the power invested in me by the state of New York and the Universal Life Church, I now pronounce you husband and husband. You can kiss the groom.”
Talk show host Conan O’Brien after officiating the televised Nov. 3 wedding of Scott Cronick, O’Brien’s costume designer, and David Gorshein. (LA Times, Nov. 4)
“Gay and lesbian couples believe in commitment, family and love. If you don’t believe me, did you happen to notice that all that is being asked for is the right to be married, which ironically promotes commitment, family and love?”
Actress Mo’Nique in a video released late last month for the Human Rights Campaign’s Americans for Marriage Equality campaign (HRC, Oct. 26)
“I consider myself a lower-case gay, not screaming like my good friend [porn director and drag queen] Chi Chi LaRue. I love all my friends in the community, and if the moment came [for induction into the Hall Of Fame], it would be a tremendous moment, not just for the band and our fans, but for the whole LGBT community.”
Rob Halford, vocalist of heavy metal band Judas Priest, when asked whether his being gay may be why the band hasn’t been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (Xtra!, Nov. 21)
“I’m for gay marriage. I don’t want to do it, but I certainly think people should be allowed to, and I wouldn’t vote for anybody that would be against it. But at the same time, why do we have to be good now? Why can’t we be villains in movies?”
Gay cult film director John Waters (“Hairspray, “Cry-Baby”) on the mainstreaming of gay culture. (Slate.com, Nov. 20)
“This means more to me than any Grammy I could ever win … It will take a village and an army, [some] countries and continents to make bullying a hate crime.”
Lady Gaga, accepting the Hero Award from the Trevor Project, which fights suicide among LGBT youth. It was presented by the family of Jamey Rodemeyer, a teen fan who killed himself earlier this year. (Eonline.com, Dec. 5)
“I basically took something that was extremely erotic and very intentional, and I reduced it to a simple kiss. I got a lot of criticism for that.”
Director Stephen Spielberg on his treatment of “the more sexually honest encounters between Shug and Celie” in his 1985 film adaption of “The Color Purple,” the novel by Alice Walker that included an explicitly sexual relationship between the two women. (Entertainment Weekly, Dec. 5)
PHOTOS: GMCW Holiday Show
Chorus performs at Lincoln Theatre
The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington performed its “Holiday Show” at Lincoln Theatre on Saturday. The Chorus has performances on Dec. 11 and 12. For tickets and showtimes, visit gmcw.org.
(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)
PHOTOS: International LGBTQ Leaders Conference opening reception
Politicians and activists from around the world met and mingled at the JW Marriott
The LGBTQ Victory Institute held an opening reception for the 2021 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference at the JW Marriott on Thursday.
(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)
Meet the husbands and creative partners behind ‘Christmas Angel’
A funny, redemptive world premiere with a diverse cast
‘The Christmas Angel’
410 South Maple Avenue
Falls Church, VA 22046
Tickets: $35. Students $20.
Masks and proof of vaccination are required
“Ours is like a lava lamp,” says composer Matt Conner describing the collaborative creative process he shares with musical writing partner and husband Stephen Gregory Smith. “We move together in motion in a continual ebb and flow.”
A couple for 23 years, married for eight, and making musicals together for 11, the talented pair’s current offering is “The Christmas Angel,” opening on Dec. 9 at Creative Cauldron in Fairfax.
A musical adaptation of the same-named 1910 novel by Abbie Farwell Brown, it’s the story of Angelina Terry (Kanysha Williams), a wealthy embittered recluse who learns the lessons of Christmas from a box of old toys that she casts into the street. Also featured in the hour-long one-act are Ryan Sellers as Horton, Angelina’s butler, and Carl Williams who plays her brother. The angel and toys are brought to life by an ensemble of a dozen teens plucked from the company’s musical theater training program.
Via phone from their home in Arlington, Smith and Conner shared thoughts on their new show and working style. In attendance are pug dogs Edgar Allan Pug and Lord Byron, whom they call Eddie and Byron in public – otherwise “it’s just too much,” says Conner whose ultimate fantasy involves living on a pug farm where he’d write music and present the occasional show.
Rather than finish each other’s sentences, the duo (both Helen Hayes Award winners – Smith for acting and Conner for directing) expound on one another’s thoughts.
While Conner composes the music, Smith writes the book and lyrics, and together they co-direct. “But there’s no end and beginning where my job ends and his begins,” says Smith. “What we do complements each other’s work.”
Still, there are differences. Smith’s approach is focused. He writes pages at night and edits in the morning. Conner’s method is more relaxed, preferring to sit at the keyboard and talk rather than writing things down. But throughout the creative process, there’s never a moment when the project isn’t on their mind. They can be watching TV or buying milk when an exciting idea pops up, says Conner.
A clever nod to Dickens, the novel is more than just a female “Christmas Carol,” says Smith. And in some spots, he’s beefed up the 55-page book, fleshing out both storyline and characters including the toys whose shabby appearance belies a youthful confidence.
He adds, “Every holiday season you go to the attic and pull down the box, or boxes in my case, of holiday decorations and it’s all old but it’s new. That’s the nostalgic feeling of toys from the attic that we’re trying to find through the show.”
The music is a combination of traditional carols performed by a hand bell chorus, and original Christmas songs that intentionally sound very familiar. The score includes songs “Don’t Hide Your Light,” “The Sweetest Gift,” and “Yestermore” – the moment when the past, present, and future come together.
Also, there’s Angelina’s Bah! Humbug! number “Fiddlesticks,” her great renunciation of the holidays. She believes the world a disappointing place to be, and the sooner realized the better.
Conner and Smith aren’t new to Creative Cauldron. Through the company’s Bold New Works project, the team was commissioned to write five world premiere musicals in just five years. The result was “The Turn of the Screw,” “Monsters of the Villa Diodati,” “Kaleidoscope,” “Witch” and “On Air.”
Judging from some of the titles and their slightly macabre content, it seems the duo was better poised to write for Halloween than Christmas, but nonetheless, they were commissioned. Creative Cauldron’s producing director Laura Connors Hull brought them the obscure yet charming book that surprisingly had never before been reworked for stage or celluloid, and the pair got to work last spring.
Conner and Smith agree, “The show is a lot of things rolled up into one.”
Not only is it a funny, redemptive world premiere with a diverse cast, but it’s also a story largely unknown to today’s audiences. Additionally, the show boasts intergenerational appeal while holding messages about Christmas, family, and finding light when you’re in a darker place.
More information about Conner and Smith, including links to their music and popular podcast “The Conner & Smith Show,” can be found on their terrific website at connersmithmusicals.com.
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