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Top 10 moments in 2011 pop culture

Coming out stories, dancing with Chaz among year’s top stories

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It was another big year for LGBT visibility in pop culture. Here are our picks for the top 10 pop culture stories of 2011.

No. 1 Chaz Bono on ‘Dancing with the Stars’

Chaz Bono became the first transgender participant to compete on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” this year on the show’s 13th season. He was partnered with professional dancer Lacey Schwimmer for the season, which premiered Sept. 19.

From the start there was controversy over Bono’s inclusion in the show. There was backlash from conservative supporters and threats of boycotts, leading producers to hire extra security for his time on the show.

Bono’s mother, Cher, spoke out on Twitter in support of her son as did many others. He was voted off the show during week six.

No. 2 Celebrities come out

Several celebrities and sports figures came out this year.

Zachary Quinto, star of 2009’s “Star Trek” and currently on FX’s “American Horror Story,” came out in October, explaining on his blog that after the suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer, he realized “living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it, is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality.”

Evan Rachel Wood, who played teen lesbian Jessie on “Once & Again” and starred in HBO’s “True Blood,” came out as bisexual in an interview with “Esquire” in April.

CNN anchor Don Lemon came out in his memoir “Transparent,” released in May.

No. 3 MLB teams make ‘It Gets Better’ videos

Several Major League Baseball teams filmed videos for the “It Gets Better” campaign, starting with the San Francisco Giants. And while the videos were similar, each team added a personal touch.

The Chicago Cubs included a message from lesbian part owner Laura Ricketts and the L.A. Dodgers were the only team to specifically mention gender identity. The Boston Red Sox included their fans and the Tampa Bay Rays featured a personal message from Johnny Damon, who was bullied as a child.

The Seattle Mariners produced their video with Seattle’s other professional sports teams. All the videos are available on YouTube.com.

No. 4 Lady Gaga rallies around LGBT fans

Lady Gaga has done a lot for her LGBT fans in terms of making noise.

The title track off her most recent album, “Born This Way,” deals with self-acceptance and specifically mentions sexual orientation and gender identity.

Lady Gaga

She appeared at Europride this summer, giving a speech in which she criticized the state of gay rights in many European countries.

Most recently, during the iHeartRadio Festival held in September in Las Vegas, Gaga dedicated her performance of “Hair” to 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, who committed suicide after being bullied the same week as the concert.

No. 5 Arizona and Callie wed on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

In the May 5 episode of “Grey’s Anatomy,” orthopedic surgeon Callie Torres, played by Sara Ramirez, and pediatric surgeon Arizona Robbins, played by Jessica Capshaw, tied the knot.

The couple became engaged after getting into a car accident that nearly cost Callie and her unborn child’s lives.

There haven’t been many lesbian weddings on television and even fewer weddings that were actually shown and involved lead characters.

The lesbian wedding between Ross’s ex-wife Carol and her girlfriend Susan on “Friends” in 1996 was one of the first.

No. 6 Tracy Morgan, other celebs make homophobic remarks

“30 Rock” star Tracy Morgan went on a homophobic rant during a stand-up routine at a show in Nashville this summer saying kids should get over being bullied and threatening to kill his son if he were gay. He later apologized for the remarks and agreed to make appearances with GLAAD.

L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant was fined for using an anti-gay slur against a referee, as was Chicago Bulls’ Joakim Noah and Atlanta Braves coach Roger McDowell.

No. 7 Gay-helmed talk shows proliferate

What is it with talks shows and gay hosts?

There is of course Ellen DeGeneres, who began her eighth season this year and Rosie O’Donnell has returned to television with her talk show on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN, which premiere in October.

Then there’s Sara Gilbert, famous for her role of Darlene on the sitcom “Roseanne,” who is not only one of five hosts, but is also an executive producer on “The Talk.” Nate Berkus also has his own show as does Rachel Maddow. And Anderson Cooper debuted a talk show this year; it’s rumored that he’s (finally) planning to come out during February’s ratings sweeps period.

No. 8 Gays host award shows

Neil Patrick Harris, star of CBS’s “How I Met Your Mother,” hosted the Tony Awards this year, opening the show with a musical number that included lines like  “Broadway has never been broader, it’s not just for gays anymore,” had a “host-off” with Hugh Jackman and rapped a wrap-up of the evening’s events that was written as the show progressed.

Jane Lynch

Jane Lynch of “Glee” fame hosted the Emmys this year. Lynch spent her hosting gig making fun of the celebrity crowd as well as herself.

Neither Harris nor Lynch are the first gays to host either award show, still the visibility was impressive for such high-profile events.

No. 9 Another coming out on ‘Glee’

There have already been three main characters to openly acknowledge being somewhere on the LGBT spectrum on Fox’s hit show “Glee” and yet another main character has joined them. Santana Lopez, played by Naya Rivera, was outed in a third season episode in a political ad targeting Sue Sylvester.

The following episode, titled “I Kissed a Girl” featured the club rallying around Santana as she came to grips with being out and singing P!nk’s “F****** Perfect,” Melissa Etheridge’s “I’m the Only One,” a slowed down version of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” and k.d. Lang’s “Constant Craving.”

No. 10 ‘A-List: Dallas’ stars attacked

Logo expanded its “A-List” franchise this year with “The A-List: Dallas” starring Levi Crocker, James Doyle, Chase Hutchinson, Ashley Kelly, Philip Willis and Taylor Garrett.

There was controversy surrounding the show when Garrett, a Republican fundraiser, tweeted that his house was vandalized and included a picture of a broken window. Bloggers found this suspect when a producer tweeted back to Garrett about making headlines and it was discovered that Garrett didn’t make a police report. Both tweets have since been removed.

Later, Logo provided the Huffington Post Gay Voices with copies of two police reports, one reported by Garrett’s building manager and another made by Garrett himself.

In an unrelated incident, Crocker said he was attacked at a gay bar in Oklahoma City, Okla., in November.

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Arts & Entertainment

Olympian Tom Daley launches knitting line

A journey for me that started when I first picked up my knitting needles- fast forward 18 months & I’m so proud to introduce these kits

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Photo courtesy of madewithlovebytomdaley Instagram

LONDON – During the entire course of the Olympic games in Tokyo 2020 this past summer, audiences following the diving competitions were certain to see British Olympian Tom Daley quietly and intently focused in-between matches- on his knitting.

The Gold medalist diving champion only picked up his first set of knitting needles in March of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic first spread across the globe, strangling normal daily routines in its deadly grip.

Now, the 27-year-old British athlete has launched a company to encourage others to take up the hobby.

Photo courtesy of madewithlovebytomdaley Instagram

“It’s been a journey for me that started when I first picked up my knitting needles in March 2020. Fast forward 18 months and I’m so proud to introduce these kits to you all so that you can experience the joy I found learning to knit,” Daley said on his newly launched website.

“I designed these knit kits to help encourage you to pick up those needles, learn the basics, and fall in love with knitting at the same time – all whilst creating something to show off or pass on.

Ready? Pick up your needles, learn the basics and let’s have some fun!”

 

The website offers various kits for beginners, intermediate and experienced knitting and crocheting enthusiasts. One of the kits, a winter warmer hat already sold out but the collection ncludes a vest, scarves, cardigans, jumpers, stockings, and a blanket.

Kits include needles, biodegradable yarn made of Merino wool, and knitting patterns. 

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Out & About

Studio House, Visual AIDS partner for educational program

Day With(out) Art 2021 to be held at Lamont Plaza

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One Tent Health, gay news, Washington Blade
World AIDS Day is next week.

Studio House and Visual AIDS will join forces for “Day With(out) Art 2021” on Tuesday, Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. at Lamont Plaza. 

This event is a community outdoor screening of “Enduring Care,” a video program that highlights strategies of community care within the ongoing HIV epidemic followed by a discussion about the video.

There will be an open house in the neighborhood at the David Bethuel Jamieson (1963-1992) Studio House and Archives featuring newly commissioned work by Katherine Cheairs, Cristóbal Guerra, Danny Kilbride, Abdul-Aliy A. Muhammad and Uriah Bussey, Beto Pérez, Steed Taylor, and J Triangular and the Women’s Video Support Project.

For more information, visit Eventbrite

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Movies

‘Tick, tick… BOOM!’ explodes with the love of Broadway

A perfect film for fans of musical theater

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Andrew Garfield shines in ‘Tick, Tick… BOOM!’ (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

If you are a person who love musical theater – or if you know someone who does – then you know there is something about this particular art form that inspires a strong and driving passion in those who enjoy it, often to the point of obsession. For this reason, perhaps it’s no surprise that those who work in musical theater – the creators, performers, and all the other people who make it happen – are often the biggest musical theater lovers of all.

Because of this, “tick, tick… BOOM!” (the new film directed by Lin-Manuel “Hamilton” Miranda and written by Steven “Dear Evan Hansen” Levenson) might be the most perfect movie ever made for such fans. Adapted from an autobiographical “rock monologue” by Jonathan Larson, it follows the future “Rent” composer (Andrew Garfield) for a week in the early 1990s, when he was still an unknown young Broadway hopeful waiting tables in a New York diner. He’s on the cusp of turning 30, a milestone that weighs on his mind as he prepares for a showcase of a musical that he hasn’t quite finished – even though he’s been writing it for eight years. With limited time left to compose the show’s most crucial number, his race against the clock is complicated by major changes in his personal life; his lifelong best friend Michael (Robin de Jesús) has quit acting in favor of a five-figure career in advertising, and his girlfriend Susan (Alexandra Shipp) is moving away from the city to accept a teaching job and wants him to come with her. With reminders everywhere of the ongoing AIDS epidemic still raging in the community around him, and with his own youth ticking away, he is inevitably forced to wonder if it’s time to trade in his own Broadway dreams for a more secure future – before it’s too late.

As every musical theater fan knows, the young composer’s obsession with time (hence the title) is laced with bittersweet irony in the context of what eventually happened in his real life: the day before “Rent” opened on Broadway and became a smash hit that reshaped and expanded the boundaries of what musical theater could be, Larson died of an aortic aneurysm at the age of 35. He never lived to see the full fruition of all those years of hard work, and that tragic turn of events is precisely what makes “tick, tick… BOOM!” relevant and provides its considerable emotional power. In that light, it’s essentially a musical “memento mori,” a reminder that the clock eventually runs out for all of us.

That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s not also a celebration of life in the theater, and Miranda is probably better suited than anyone to make us see that side of the coin. Now unquestionably in the highest echelon of status as a Broadway icon, he came of age in the era of “Rent,” and he takes pains to make his depiction of Manhattan in the ‘90s as authentic as possible.

Capturing the era with touches like Keith Haring-inspired murals and the use of “Love Shack” as a party anthem, his movie keeps Larson’s story within the context of his time while drawing clear connections to our own. His reverence for Larson – whom he cites as a seminal inspiration for his own future work – manifests itself palpably throughout. Yet despite that (or perhaps because of it), so does an infectiously cheery tone. Yes, things get heavy; there are hardships and heartbreaks at every turn, because that’s what a life in the theater means. But at the same time, there’s just so much fun to be had. The camaraderie, the energy, and the joy of simply living in that world comes leaping off the screen (often thanks to the enthusiastic choreography of Ryan Heffington) with the kind of giddy, effortless ease that might almost make us jealous if it didn’t lift our spirits so much. No matter that the lead character spends most of the movie second-guessing his path; we never doubt for a moment that, for him, the rewards of following his passion outweigh the sacrifices a thousand times over.

That’s something Miranda also understands. His movie drives home the point that the joy of doing theater is its own reward, and he’s willing to prove it by turning up in a bit part just for the sake of being a part of the show. And he’s not the only one. The screen is littered with living legends; in one memorable sequence alone, a who’s-who of Broadway’s brightest stars – Chita Rivera, Bernadette Peters, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Andre DeShield, Bebe Neuwirth, Joel Grey, and at least a dozen more – serve as a high-profile backup chorus of extras for a song at the diner, but there are blink-and-you’ll-miss-them cameos in almost every scene. It almost feels like a gimmick, or an effort to turn the movie into a “spot the star” trivia game for hardcore fans – until you realize that these are the best and brightest people in their field, who have willingly chosen to show up and participate even though they did not have to. They are there purely for love, and you can see it in their faces.

Miranda scores big across the board as a director – this is his feature film directorial debut, which confirms the standing assumption the man can do anything. But “tick, tick… BOOM!” is a star turn for its leading player, and full credit must also go – and emphatically so – to Garfield, who surpasses expectations as Larson. The one-time “Spiderman” actor trained extensively to be able to master the demands of singing the role, and it shows; he comes off as a true musical theater trouper, worthy beyond doubt of sharing the screen with so many giants. Even better, he integrates that challenge into the whole of a flamboyantly joyful performance that makes Larson endearingly, compellingly three-dimensional. It’s a career-topping piece of work.

The rest of the principal cast – a refreshingly inclusive ensemble that reminds us that Larson was instrumental in making Broadway a much more diverse place – are equally fine. De Jesús gets a long-deserved chance to shine as Michael, and Shipp brings a quiet calm to the easily-could-have-been-overshadowed Susan that makes her the perfect balance to Garfield’s high-octane energy.

Joshua Henry and Vanessa Hudgens contribute much more than their stellar vocal talents to their pair of roles as Larson friends and collaborators, and there are delicious supporting turns by Judith Light and Bradley Whitford – who gives an affectionately amusing and dead-on accurate screen impersonation of Broadway legend-of-legends Stephen Sondheim, one of Larson’s (and Miranda’s) biggest influences and inspirations, who accordingly looms large in the story despite his relatively short amount of screen time.

It should be obvious by now that “tick, tick… BOOM!” is a delight for people who love musical theater. But what if you’re not one of those people? The good news is that there is so much to enjoy here, so much real enjoyment, so much talent, so much hard work on display that nobody will have any reason to be bored.

Even people who DON’T love musical theater.

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