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Year in review: 2012 in quotes

The year’s most memorable remarks on LGBT issues

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From left, President Obama, Jason Mraz, Christopher Plummer and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. (Obama and Cuomo photos Blade file photos; Mraz and Plummer photos courtesy Wikimedia)

From left, President Obama, Jason Mraz, Christopher Plummer and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. (Obama and Cuomo photos Blade file photos; Mraz and Plummer photos courtesy Wikimedia)

From President Obama coming out in support of marriage equality to celebrities like Anderson Cooper just plain coming out, 2012 provided plenty of notable quotables.

Here is a look back at some of the most memorable LGBT media moments of the year.

OBAMA SAYS ‘I DO’

“For me personally, it is important to affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

President Barack Obama, announcing his support for marriage equality in an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts (ABC News, May 9)

“With his embrace of phony ’gay marriage,’ Obama outs himself as a soulless panderer with no core beliefs. He mocks his own Christian profession.”

Peter LaBarbera, founder for Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (via Twitter, May 9)

“Let me make it very clear, that my preference is to have a national standard that defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.”

— GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney (CNN, May 9)

“Obama is for same-sex marriage. When the president is saying that, who am I to go the other way? It’s cool.”

50 Cent, speaking out on gay marriage after also being asked his reaction to fellow hip-hop artist Frank Ocean’s decision to reveal a past relationship with a man. “Anyone that has an issue with Frank Ocean is an idiot,” 50 Cent said. (BET.com, July 16)

POLITICAL MILESTONES

“Now you can be proud of serving your country, and be proud of who you are.”

— U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta thanking gay and lesbian military members for their service on June 15, as the Pentagon prepared to mark June as Gay Pride month with an official salute.

“I’m well aware I’m the first woman elected to the Senate from Wisconsin, and I’m well aware I will be the first openly gay member. I didn’t run to make history. I ran to make a difference.”

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), who on Nov. 6 became the first openly gay candidate elected to the U.S. Senate, in a recent interview on her historic victory. (Green Bay Press-Gazette, Nov. 18)

“When I decided to run, I said either you come out and become an activist and have a major role there or I run for Congress. There was no way I could have been out and won.”

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) on his first run for Congress in 1980. Frank, who came out in 1987 while serving in Congress, is retiring after 32 years in the U.S. House. (Washington Post, Dec. 3)

CELEBS SPEAK OUT

“For me, it is a choice. I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me.”

— Actress Cynthia Nixon in an interview with the New York Times after her recent remark that “I’ve been straight and I’ve been gay, and gay is better” drew criticism from some LGBT activists. (ABCNews.com, Jan. 24)

“While I don’t often use the word, the technically precise term for my orientation is bisexual. I believe bisexuality is not a choice, it is a fact. What I have ‘chosen’ is to be in a gay relationship.”

Cynthia Nixon in a written statement clarifying her remark. (Advocate.com, Jan. 30)

“I have an important message, all the bling and Mercedes aside: I’m an openly gay Persian man. According to the president of the country I was born in, I don’t even exist.”

Reza Farahan, a star on Bravo’s new reality series “Shas of Sunset.” (AP, March 10)

“I’ve never dealt with the question of my personal life in public. It’s just not gonna happen.”

— Actor and singer Queen Latifah, explaining that it “definitely wasn’t the case” that she came out when performing at Long Beach Gay Pride last month, while adding, “To me, doing a gay pride show is one of the most fun things.” (Entertainment Weekly, June 1)

“The fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud.”

— CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, ending years of speculation by coming out via email to gay writer Andrew Sullivan. (Andrew Sullivan/The Dish, July 2)

“I’m a black, gay woman. I think the only way to make the GOP hate me more is if I sent them a video of me rolling around on a pile of welfare checks.”

— Comedian Wanda Sykes in a clip from her two-part Logo special, “NewNowNext Vote with Wanda Sykes.” (Huffington Post, Sept. 10)

FAMOUS FRIENDS

“I think everyone sort of understands it might be the last leg of the civil rights movement.”

Actor George Clooney, a gay marriage supporter, speaking for LGBT rights in an interview at the Golden Globe Awards, where he won Best Actor. (Politico.com, Jan. 16)

“I sing songs about love and just as people have a right to choose to listen to songs about love, I believe people have a right to marry the person that they love.”

— Singer-songwriter Jason Mraz in a video for Americans for Marriage Equality, an HRC campaign to let gay couples marry. (HRC.org, March 21)

“I think that gay marriage is going to happen. It must. We are not actually equal — humanity — if we are not allowed to freely love one another. What the Pope thinks of being gay does not matter to the world. It matters to the people who like the Pope and follow the Pope. It is not a reflection of all religious people.”

Lady Gaga, who is Catholic, responding in a radio interview to Pope Benedict XVI’s comments against gay marriage. (Fox News, Sept. 25)

“You can’t change the way you are or who you fell in love with … We support Uncle Poodle and all the other poodles in the world too.”

— TLC reality star Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson, age 7, in a statement publicized by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation about her gay uncle. (GLAAD.org, Oct. 19)

PLAYING GAY

“In some ways, gender should be irrelevant. It shouldn’t matter who someone is connected to and finds love and a life with. I hope [full federal equality] will come to be a reality for the LGBT world.”

— Actress Glenn Close, who plays a woman who lives as a man in 19th century Dublin in her film “Albert Nobbs.” (Windy City Times, Jan. 25)

“Gay characters are human beings. We’re all exactly the same. That’s the reason I played it the way I did, not as a caricature. … I know there is a lot of anti-gay sentiment in our society at the moment and I abhor it.”

Actor Christopher Plummer, who portrayed a gay man who came out after age 70 in the film “Beginners.” (On Top Magazine, Jan. 30)

“’Truth’ is our small chance to ask that you try and understand someone who lives their life in a way that is a little bit different from yours, even though all of our hearts are the same. We want to stop the hate and find understanding.”

— Pop icon Janet Jackson on why she is serving as executive director for “Truth,” a documentary about transgender people and their fight for equality. (Advocate.com, June 4)

GOOD SPORTS

“I guess [coming out publicly] seems like a weight off my shoulders. I’ve been playing a lot better than I’ve ever played before. I think I’m just enjoying myself and I’m happy.”

Megan Rapinoe, a midfielder for the US women’s soccer team, who scored three goals on the way to the team’s gold medal. Rapinoe came out in the press before the start of the London Olympics. (Associated Press, Aug. 8)

“I find it inconceivable that one of your players, Mr. Brendon Ayanbadejo, would publicly endorse same-sex marriage… I am requesting that you take the necessary action, as a National Football Franchise Owner, to inhibit such expressions from your employee…”

— Maryland General Assembly Delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. in an Aug. 29 letter, sent on official letterhead, to Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti. (Yahoo Sports, Sept. 6)

“I’ve also been vocal as hell about the issue of gay marriage so you can take your ‘I know of no other NFL player …’ and shove it in your close-minded, totally lacking in empathy piehole and choke on it. Asshole.”

— Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe in a hilariously profane open letter to Md. State Delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. (Deadspin.com, Sept. 7)

COURTING CONTROVERSY

“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’”

Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, noting that his company is “guilty as charged” in opposing same-sex marriage. (Comments published by Baptist Press on July 16)

“The comments …  that sought to link the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy to our state’s embrace of marriage equality are as offensive as they are ignorant.”

— New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, responding to Rabbi Noson Leiter, who called Hurricane Sandy “divine” retribution for New York legalizing gay marriage. (New York Daily News, Nov. 5)

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Theater

Queers win big at 77th annual Tony Awards

‘Merrily We Roll Along’ among winners

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(Photo courtesy of the Tony Awards' Facebook page)

It was a banner night for queer theater artists at the 77th annual Tony Awards, honoring the best in Broadway theater at the Lincoln Center in New York on Sunday. Some of the biggest honors of the night went to the revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical “Merrily We Roll Along” and the dance-musical based on Sufjan Stephens’ album “Illinoise.

“Merrily We Roll Along,” which follows three friends as their lives change over the course of 20 years, told in reverse chronological order, picked up the awards for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Orchestrations. 

Out actor Jonathan Groff picked up his first Tony Award for his leading role as Franklin Shepard in the show, while his costar Daniel Radcliffe earned his first Tony Award for featured performance as Charley Kringas. 

Groff gave a heartfelt and teary acceptance speech about how he used to watch the Tony Awards as a child in Lancaster County, Pa.

“Thank you for letting me dress up like Mary Poppins when I was three,” he said to his parents in the audience. “Even if they didn’t understand me, my family knew the life-saving power of fanning the flame of a young person’s passions without judgment.”

Groff also thanked the everyone in the production of “Spring Awakening,” where he made his Broadway debut in 2006, for inspiring him to come out at the age of 23.

“To actually be able to be a part of making theatre in this city, and just as much to be able to watch the work of this incredible community has been the greatest pleasure of my life,” he said. 

This was Groff’s third Tony nomination, having been previously nominated for his leading role in “Spring Awakening” and for his featured performance as King George III in “Hamilton.” 

Radcliffe, who is best known for starring in the “Harry Potter” series of movies, has long been an ally of the LGBTQ community, and has recently been known to spar with “Harry Potter” creator JK Rowling over her extreme opposition to trans rights on social media and in interviews. It was Radcliffe’s first Tony nomination and win.

Lesbian icon Sarah Paulson won her first Tony Award for her starring role in the play “Appropriate,” about a family coming to terms with the legacy of their slave-owning ancestors as they attempt to sell their late father’s estate. It was her first nomination and win.

In her acceptance speech, she thanked her partner Holland Taylor “for loving me.” Along with Paulson’s Emmy win for “American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” she is halfway to EGOT status.

The Sufjan Stephens dance-musical “Illinoise,” based on his album of the same name, took home the award for Best Choreography for choreographer Justin Peck. It was his second win.

During the ceremony, the cast of “Illinoise” performed “The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades is Out to Get Us!”, a moving dance number about a queer romance.

A big winner of the night was the adaptation of the S.E. Hinton novel “The Outsiders,” which dominated the musical categories, earning Best Director, Sound Design, Lighting Design, and Best Musical, which earned LGBTQ ally Angelina Jolie her first Tony Award.

Also a big winner was “Stereophonic,” which dominated the play categories, winning the awards for Best Play, Featured Actor, Director, Sound Design, and Scenic Design.

“Suffs,” a musical about the fight for women’s suffrage in the U.S., which acknowledges the lesbian relationship that suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt had in song called “If We Were Married,” took home awards for Best Book of a Musical and Best Score, both for creator Shaina Taub. 

Had “Suffs” also won for Best Musical, producers Hilary Clinton and Malala Yousafzai would have won their first Tony Awards. 

Other winners include Maleah Joi Moon for her lead role and Kecia Lewis for her featured role in the Alicia Keys musical “Hell’s Kitchen,” Jeremy Strong for his lead role in An Enemy of the People, and Kara Young for her featured role in “Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch.”

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Theater

‘Rose: You Are Who You Eat’ an irreverent romp at Woolly Mammoth

Solo performance by John Jarboe offers much to consume

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John Jarboe in ‘Rose: You Are Who You Eat’ at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. (Photo by Teresa Castracane)

‘Rose: You Are Who You Eat’
Though June 23
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
641 D St., N.W.
$60-$82
Woollymammoth.net

With “Rose: You Are Who You Eat,” a solo performance by John Jarboe (she/her), now at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, there’s a lot to uncover and consume.  

For much of the show, you might think the appealing Jarboe is playing dress up in a pair of tighty-whities and sparkly go-go boots, but it’s something else and she’s ready to go there. 

Jarboe is a cannibal. Not in the usual sense. She learned from a well-meaning aunt that while still in the womb, she ate her twin, and that’s what made Jarboe the way she is (a reference to gender queerness).

Despite the aunt’s awkward delivery of family dish, the prenatal news struck a chord with Jarboe: the vanishing twin who would have been named Rose, became increasingly connected to her own identity. Along with the inevitable jokes about eating her sister’s spaghetti thin hair and tasty eyeballs, there’s meaty matter unfolding onstage. 

Not entirely unexpected, Jarboe also harbors mommy issues. Mom, here referred to as “Mother” for the sake of anonymity, is a buttoned-down tax accountant who the more perturbed she becomes the wider her forced smile grows. And while Jarboe needs to have that long overdue talk with Mother, something always seems to get in the way; invariably it’s tax season.

Assisted by some primary source props (a baby book, notes, a string of pearls filched from Mother’s jewelry box), Jarboe further digs into gender expression and identity. Her performance career began in her child bedroom closet with a flashlight and makeshift costume, an obsession to which her parents initially subscribed, later not as much. 

Among the 75-minute-long show’s highlights are five or so songs, rock numbers and redolent ballads composed by Jarboe, Emily Bate, Daniel de Jesús, Pax Ressler and Be Steadwell. 

It’s definitely a solo show conceived and delightfully performed by Jarboe; however, she’s supported by a terrific four-person band (costumed in what appeared from Row D to be rosebush inspired jumpsuits) including Mel Regn, Yifan Huang, Daniel de Jesús, and music director Emily Bate. Bate is a singer, composer and performer who runs a queer and trans community chorus in Philadelphia called Trust Your Moves, an experiment in collective singing designed around liberation and co-creation.

As Jarboe moves into her 30s, she celebrates and incorporates her lost twin as part of herself with a new intensity. She writes letters, yearning for even the most tepid reply. Her obsession with Mother remains a thing too.

Dressed in a sylphlike rosy red gown (by costume designer Rebecca Kanach) Jarboe uses call-and-response (with the audience standing in for Mother) in search of some resolution. It’s beautifully done. 

With various kinds of backing coming from CulturalDC, the Washington Blade, Capital Pride, the Bearded Ladies Cabaret and other New York-based groups, there’s nothing itinerant cabaret looking about “Rose.” Directed by MK Tuomanen, it’s an elevated, visually engaging production. 

For instance, set and video designer Christopher Ash’s projections shown on both a serviceable scrim and later a wondrously huge toile curtain, beautifully feature photos from an ostensibly idyllic Midwestern childhood. We see a young Jarboe not only enjoying hockey, fishing, and hunting, but also pulling off a strikingly girly, cheesecake pose.  

At the top of the show, there’s live video of Jarboe’s outsized mouth devouring wings fished from a bucket of fried chicken. Hints of cannibalism? 

“Rose: You Are Who You Eat” is an irreverent romp, deeply personal yet relatable. It’s an evening of poignantly performed moments, off the cuff laughs, and some awkward/sexy audience interaction. 

As a performer, Jarboe lays herself bare, exposing strengths (rich melodious voice, presence, ingenuity) and weaknesses (garrulity and more than a few un-landed jokes) in equal turns. 

Hers is a world that invites audiences to just let go and go with it. Jarboe’s intrepid journey melds the familiar and the startling. In short, it’s a trip worth taking. 

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Photos

PHOTOS: Capital Pride Festival and Concert

Keke Palmer, Billy Porter among entertainers

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Billy Porter performs at the 2024 Capital Pride Festival on Sunday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The 2024 Capital Pride Festival and Concert was held along Pennsylvania Avenue in Northwest D.C. on Sunday, June 9. Performers included Sapphira Cristál, Keke Palmer, Ava Max, Billy Porter and Exposé.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key and Emily Hanna)

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