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‘Glee’ star in D.C. this weekend with NSO Pops



Matthew Morrison, GLEE, gay news, Washington Blade
Matthew Morrison, GLEE, gay news, Washington Blade

Singer/actor Matthew Morrison plays two dates in Washington this weekend. (Photo courtesy Podwall Entertainment)

Although he’s regularly seen on television each week as “Glee’s” teacher-with-a-heart-of-gold Will Schuester, Matthew Morrison admits his soul belongs to the stage.

“I’ve been on stage since I was 10 years old, doing show after show, and I never knew how much I wanted to be on stage until I was without it,” Morrison says. “When I got into ‘Glee’ and started doing film and TV and I didn’t have that interaction with a live audience, I realized how much I truly missed it and it’s really where my heart is.”

To appease his thirst for the stage, the Broadway vet has spent the past nine months performing with different symphony orchestras all over the world, and is headed to play the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony Orchestra tonight and Saturday night, in “NSO Pops: An Evening with Matthew Morrison” under the baton of conductor Steven Reineke.

“I’ve done Broadway my whole career and then the last five years I’ve been on a television show, so this is my chance to get back on stage,” Morrison says. “I am looking forward to this the most because I have such a history with the Kennedy Center, after doing a couple of Kennedy Center Honors’ performances. Having the chance to play with the NSO is such a great thing and I’m really looking forward to the shows coming up.”

The Tony-nominated singer will be singing standards such as “The Lady is a Tramp,” “As Long as She Needs Me” and some Broadway tunes that were included on his recent album, “Where it All Began.” Morrison also plans to bust out a holiday tune or two from “Classic Christmas,” a six-track EP he released backed by the same 60-piece orchestra that accompanied him on his other album.

“When we were finishing up ‘Where it All Began,’ we were done ahead of schedule and we were in this creative, great space so we just decided to do a couple of Christmas songs,” he says. “I’m really proud of it and excited to join the ranks of great Christmas albums out there. Growing up, I listened to Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra and I wanted that same classic feel. I always feel like I was born in the wrong era.”

Morrison knew early in life that he wanted to perform and studied musical theater at Tisch School of The Arts in New York, landing his first Broadway show, “Footloose,” at age 19. Other shows followed, including “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Hairspray” and his Tony-nominated role of Fabrizio Naccarelli in the critically acclaimed “The Light In The Piazza.” It’s the success he always dreamed of.

“It’s a combination of an incredible amount of dedication that you put into your craft, with a lot of luck involved as well,” he says. “I feel like I worked hard from a very young age and knew what I wanted. I did workshops and other shows, until I got my big break with ‘Hairspray,’ which was kind of a fluke. I was in the ensemble but the guy playing the lead landed a movie, so they bumped me up to Link. I’ve been very lucky to have the breaks I have had in my career.”

Once “Glee” came along, it completely changed the ballgame for him, opening him up to a more international audience and allowing him to spread his wings and see what opportunities come.

He’s proud of the work he’s done on the show and the message that has resonated with so many — especially those in the LGBT community.

“Through the voice of Kurt, I think we saw that first voice of a young gay person and the experiences that he had to go through in high school. There’s a lot of people telling these kids it gets better, but when you are in it, you don’t really see that sometimes,” says Morrison, who’s straight. “I feel it was great for people to actually see him go through the stuff and actually see he went through the trouble and it did get better. I think that character was such an inspiration to a lot of the younger gay audience going through a similar experience.”

Morrison believes Ryan Murphy and the cast helped make history with the show and its positive vibe will live on for years through DVDs and in syndication.

“At the end of the day, art and music are the great things that can bring you out of getting bullied. Putting your time and energy into something that is very positive,” he says. “It has been really groundbreaking and I think a lot of people have had their lives changed by this show.”

When “Glee” finally ends after the 2014-15 season, Morrison has no doubts about what he’ll do next: “I’m going to go back to the stage,” he says. “It’s been kind of calling me for a while and I’m looking forward to jumping back on.”



Trans women banned from track and field, intersex athletes restricted

World Athletics Council policy to go into effect March 31



CeCé Telfer (Photo courtesy of Instagram)

The organization that makes the rules for track and field meets around the world declared Thursday it will bar transgender women who have experienced male puberty from competing, a move that was anticipated following a similar trans ban issued last year by the governing body for world swimming.

As the Associated Press noted, at this moment there are zero trans women competing at the elite level of track and field. But the edict, which the World Athletics Council announced will take effect on the Transgender Day of Visibility, March 31, is crushing news for one hopeful. 
In May 2019, CeCé Telfer won the 400m hurdles at the Division II championships and became the first out trans woman to win an NCAA title. She’s been training ever since for her shot at the Olympics, despite being ruled ineligible for Beijing at the trials in 2021. The Jamaican-American had set a goal of qualifying for Paris in 2024. But the World Athletics ban ends that dream.

Telfer tweeted Thursday, “It feels as though the world stopped moving.”

Another ruling by the group will likely mean no shot at the Olympics for another Black woman athlete, two-time gold medalist Caster Semenya. The South African track icon is not trans, but because of her higher than typical testosterone levels, she has been barred from competing in her signature event, the 800m. World Athletics took that from her around the same time Telfer made history, in May 2019. 

The group issued an eligibility ruling that prohibits female athletes like Semenya who have Differences in Sexual Development from competing in women’s events, from the 400m to one mile (1600m), unless they reduce their testosterone levels. So, Semenya chose to run in longer events than she did previously. She finished 13th in her qualifying heat at 5,000 meters at world championships last year as she worked to adapt to longer distances, in preparation for Paris. 

“I’m in the adaptation phase, and my body is starting to fit with it. I’m just enjoying myself at the moment, and things will fall into place at the right time,” the South African runner told the AP.

That time may now never come. On Thursday, World Athletics announced athletes who have DSD will have to undergo hormone-suppressing treatment and maintain a testosterone level of below 2.5nmol/L for 24 months, in order to be eligible to compete in any event in the female category.

Semenya vowed following the 2019 ruling that she would never again take any testosterone suppressing medication, terming the rules discriminatory and unfair.

This new rule could impact not only Semenya but also as many as a dozen other elite runners, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said. Among them, Olympic 200-meter silver medalist Christine Mboma of Namibia, who won a silver medal in Tokyo two years ago but didn’t compete last year because of an injury. Mboma has not publicly stated whether she would be willing to undergo hormone therapy.

Like Semenya, Olympic 800-meter silver medalist Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi has said she will not undergo hormone suppression. 

Even though Niyonsaba, Mboma and Semenya are not trans like Telfer and former Connecticut high school track athletes Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller — who have been targeted in federal court by opponents of inclusion — there is one thing all these women have in common: They are all women of color, and all targeted for being too fast because of their natural gifts.

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Chicago Blackhawks: No Pride jerseys over Russia concerns

Several of the team’s players are Russian



Chicago Blackhawks players wearing 'Pride Night' jerseys in April of 2022 (Photo Credit: Chicago Blackhawks/Facebook)

The National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks franchise have opted to not wear the team’s Pride-themed warmup jerseys before Sunday’s Pride Night game against the Vancouver Canucks based on security concerns over the recently expanded Russian law prohibiting mention of LGBTQ rights in Russia the Associated Press reported.

According to the AP, the decision was made by the NHL organization following discussions with security officials within and outside the franchise, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke to the AP on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the move.

Blackhawks defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is a Moscow native, and there are other players with family in Russia or other connections to the country the AP noted.

The team has participated in the LGBTQ themed part of the ‘Hockey is for everyone‘ campaign and has in previous years set aside recognition for the LGBTQ community in Pride night celebrations.

While the team will forgo the jerseys, the AP noted that DJs from the LGBTQ community will play before the game and during an intermission, and the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus also is slated to perform. There also are plans to highlight a couple of area businesses with ties to the LGBTQ community.

The decision by the team has sparked outage including Outsports editor Cyd Zeigler, who noted on Twitter that the NHL has an inclusion problem as the Chicago team joins the New York Rangers, who opted not to wear Pride jerseys or use Pride stick tape as part of their Pride night this past January despite previously advertising that plan. The Rangers’ Pride Night was held 10 days after Ivan Provorov, the alternate captain for the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers, opted out of participating in the team’s Pride Night charity event before the game Tuesday, claiming a religious exemption based on his Russian Orthodox faith.

San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer didn’t take part in the Sharks Pride Night wearing Pride-themed jerseys in support of the LGBTQ community, telling multiple media outlets that support of the LGBTQ community runs counter to his religious beliefs.

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Reading ‘Blue Hunger’ is like watching a Stanley Kubrick film

Lush, dreamlike, and you won’t be able to stop thinking about it



(Book cover image courtesy of Bloomsbury)

‘Blue Hunger’ 
By Viola Di Grado, translated by Jamie Richards
c.2023, Bloomsbury
$27/ 216 pages

You can’t stop thinking about it.

It’s been rolling around in your mind since it happened and you can’t stop. You replay it over and over, how it started, how it progressed, why it ended. You wonder if it’ll happen again and in the new novel “Blue Hunger” by Viola Di Grado, you wonder if you truly want it to.

Shanghai was not her first choice for a place to live. Sometimes, she wasn’t really even sure why she came there, except that it was Ruben’s dream.

For months and months, he spoke of Shanghai, showed her maps, talked of a life as a chef living in a high-rise apartment, and he taught her a little bit of the language. She never fully understood why Ruben loved China and she never thought to ask before her other half, her twin brother, her only sibling died.

She was brushing her teeth when it happened. Now, weeks later, she was in his favorite city, a teacher of Italian languages in a Chinese culture, alone, friendless. Then she met Xu.

It happened at the nightclub called Poxx and she later wondered, with a thrill, if Xu had been stalking her. Xu claimed that she was a student in the Italian class, but though she was usually good with faces, she didn’t remember the slender, “glorious” woman with milk-white skin and luminous eyes.

She did remember the first place she and Xu had sex.

It was a hotel, but Xu liked it outside, too; in public, on sidewalks, in abandoned buildings, and in crowded nightclubs. They took yellow pills together, slept together in Xu’s squalid apartment; she told Xu she loved her but never got a reply except that Xu starting biting.

Xu had used her teeth all along but she started biting harder.

Soon, she was bleeding, bruising from Xu’s bites, and seeing people in the shadows, and she began to understand that Ruben wouldn’t have liked Xu at all.

You know what you want. You’re someone with determination. And you may want this book, but there are a few things you’ll need to know first.

Reading “Blue Hunger” is like watching a Stanley Kubrick movie. It’s surreal, kind of gauzy, and loaded with meanings that are somewhat fuzzy until you’ve read a paragraph several times – and even then, you’re not quite sure about it. Author Viola Di Grado writes of sharp, unfinished mourning with a grief-distracting obsession layered thickly on top, of control and submission, and while the chapters are each brief, they feel too long but not long enough. There are so many questions left dangling within the plot of this story, so many small bits unsaid, but also too much information of the mundane sort. You’ll feel somewhat voyeuristic with this book in your hands, until you notice that the sex scenes here are humidly uber-fiery but not very detailed.

Overall, then, “Blue Hunger” is different but compelling, short enough to read twice, quickly. It’s lush, dreamlike, and once started, you won’t be able to stop thinking about it.

The Blade may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made via this post.

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