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Hollywood kicks into high gear with its end-of-year major award contenders

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Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Julianne Nicholson, August Osage County, film, gay news, Washington Blade
Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks, Walt Disney Studios, gay news, film, Washington Blade

Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson in ‘Saving Mr. Banks.’ (Photo courtesy Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

This year’s holiday film releases have little direct LGBT content, but still offer many delights for gay audiences.

Opening Dec. 20 is “Saving Mr. Banks,” the story behind the making of the movie “Mary Poppins.” Walt Disney (played with great gusto by Tom Hanks) has promised his daughters that he will make a movie of the beloved book by P.L. Travers. There’s only one problem — the equally curmudgeonly Travers (Emma Thompson) does not trust Disney to treat her story with the respect she feels it deserves.

He finally wears down her resistance, but the two continue to spar during the production of the movie (Travers, for example, hates the animated sequences). The film also features Colin Farrell as Travers’ alcoholic banker father (seen in flashbacks) and Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak as the Sherman brothers who wrote the famous score.

Award-winning filmmaker David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook,” “Three Kings” and “Flirting with Disaster”) is the director and co-writer of “American Hustle,” a fictionalized version of the ABSCAM scandals that rocked American politics in the late 1970s. The film stars Christian Bale as con man Irving Rosenfeld, with Jennifer Lawrence as his unpredictable wife and Amy Adams as Sydney Prosser, his seductive British partner in crime. Opening in D.C. today, the movie also stars Bradley Cooper as a wild FBI agent and Jeremy Renner as a corrupt New Jersey politician.

Another fact-based tale of corruption, “The Wolf of Wall Street” opens on Wednesday (Christmas). The latest opus by Martin Scorsese stars Leonardo DiCaprio and tracks the rise and fall of wealthy stockbroker Jordan Belfort.

Also on Christmas Day, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” opens in wide release. Based on the late leader’s autobiography, the film chronicles Mandela’s life from his childhood in a rural village through his years in prison to his triumphal inauguration as the first democratically elected President of South Africa. The movie stars Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela and Naomie Harris as Winnie Madikizela. At the film’s London premiere on Dec. 6, Elba announced the news of Mandela’s death to a shocked audience.

Also opening Wednesday is the gripping family drama “August: Osage County.” With a screenplay by Tracy Letts based on his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, the film chronicles the turbulent lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston clan who return home when their father Beverly (Sam Shepard) goes missing. Meryl Streep (likely to rack up another Oscar nomination for her performance) stars as the ailing, but still monstrous, matriarch Violet, with Julia Roberts, Julianne Nicholson and Juliette Lewis as her three long-suffering daughters. The powerful ensemble cast is rounded out by Dermot Mulroney, Abigail Breslin, Ewan McGregor, Margo Martindale, Chris Cooper and Benedict Cumberbatch.

The increasingly popular Cumberbatch will also be heard as the voice of the dragon Smaug in “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” which opens Wednesday and features the return of openly gay actor Ian McKellen as the wizard Gandalf. On a lighter note, Ben Stiller takes on the title role in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” a remake of the Hollywood classic based on the famous story by James Thurber.

In addition to these new releases, some movies with LGBT content that opened earlier in the season will no doubt linger on area screens through the holiday season.

Philomena” tells the true story of an Irish woman (Dame Judi Dench) who was forced to give her son up for adoption. With the help of disgraced journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), she discovers that her son was a closeted advisor to President Ronald Reagan who died of AIDS.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DBPqcp6Hc4

Also inspired by real events, “The Dallas Buyer’s Club” tells the story of Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), a homophobic straight man who is diagnosed with AIDS. With the help of transsexual Rayon (a bravura performance by Jared Leto), Woodroof fights the medical establishment by smuggling HIV drugs over the US border.

 

Also of note, finely honed performances by Stanley Tucci (Caesar) and Elizabeth Banks (Effie) blend high camp and high drama in highlighting the darkening political atmosphere of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”

Finally, gay playwright and activist Langston Hughes’ perennial holiday stage classic “Black Nativity” has been brought to cinematic life by director Kasi Lemmons (“Eve’s Bayou”). Hughes’ Christmas pageant is framed by a modern-day story of a troubled youth who embarks on an unexpected and inspiring journey. Already in local theaters, the film features high-wattage performances by Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett.

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Sports

Out Olympian Kenworthy & Paralympian Dunkin on Tokyo & LGBTQ Sports

“The fact that LGBTQ youth drop out of sports at twice the rate of their heterosexual & gender counterparts, it doesn’t have to be that way.”

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Screenshot via Los Angeles Blade

TOKYO – Gus Kenworthy is in Tokyo for the Summer Games, but not to compete. The  Olympic Gold Medalist recently joined Paralympian Gold Medalist Abby Dunkin in a Zoom conversation with Athlete Ally founder and executive director Hudson Taylor and the head of LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion for Procter & Gamble, Brent Miller. 

“I felt like I knew that if I came out, there must be someone else,” Kenworthy said. “I was like, there’s someone else in skiing or an action sports or another kid who is going to resonate with my story. And if I can even help one person, then it will be worth it.”

This group of athletes and allies tackled the difficult issues of coming out in sports, fears of rejection, suicide attempts and competing authentically as well as the controversy over transgender inclusion in sports, both at the Olympics and in high schools and colleges across the U.S. 

“Only 24% of LGBTQ youth participate in sports,” noted Taylor. “The fact that LGBTQ youth drop out of sports at twice the rate of their heterosexual and gender counterparts, it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Dunkin credited Paralympian gold medalist Stephanie Wheeler as an inspiration both on the court and in everyday life as an out lesbian. 

“Stephanie really creates such a great environment for me and other athletes and also our staff, too, that were out at the time,” said Dunkin. “And that really impacted me to come out and be myself.“ Wheeler is also head coach of the Univ. of Illinois women’s wheelchair basketball team. 

As the Los Angeles Blade has reported, there are more than 142 out LGBTQ athletes competing in Tokyo, a record for any Olympic Games. And with trans nonbinary soccer player Quinn on their way to a potential gold medal, making history with out trans woman Laurel Hubbard and out trans BMX competitor Chelsea Wolfe in Tokyo, Miller says their first steps are inspiring to people all around the world, no matter what their gender identity or sexual orientation is. 

“It’s about bringing people together, supporting people, creating mutual understanding, and really celebrating all of humanity,” Miller said. “And now for us, bringing those LGBTQ+ stories forward is critically important because we see the value of what sport can bring.”

Watch their conversation with sports editor Dawn Ennis by clicking here.

Equal Representation in Sports: Why LGBTQ+ Visibility Matters

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Arts & Entertainment

Rapper DaBaby pulled by Lollapalooza over homophobic comments

“Lollapalooza was founded on diversity, inclusivity, respect, and love. With that in mind, DaBaby will no longer be performing.”

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Screenshot from Rolling Stone Magazine's YouTube Channel

CHICAGO – In an announcement Sunday morning, the organizers of Chicago’s Lollapalooza Music Festival said they had pulled artist DaBaby from tonight’s closing show after a series of public homophobic remarks by the rapper last weekend in Miami at the Rolling Loud music festival.

On Twitter Lollapalooza officials wrote; “Lollapalooza was founded on diversity, inclusivity, respect, and love. With that in mind, DaBaby will no longer be performing at Grant Park tonight.  Young Thug will now perform at 9:00pm on the Bud Light Seltzer Stage, and G Herbo will perform at 4:00pm on the T-Mobile Stage.”

The Grammy-nominated rapper’s comments onstage at the Miami festival last weekend brought swift condemnation from other artists in the music industry including British Rockstar Elton John and Madonna among many others.

In the middle of his set last weekend in Miami the rapper told the crowd, “If you didn’t show up today with HIV/AIDS, or any of them deadly sexually transmitted diseases, that’ll make you die in two to three weeks, then put your cellphone lighter up! Ladies, if your pussy smell like water, put your cellphone lighter up! Fellas, if you ain’t sucking dick in the parking lot, put your cellphone lighter up!”

DaBaby later issued an apology via Twitter that read, “Anybody who done ever been effected by AIDS/HIV y’all got the right to be upset, what I said was insensitive even though I have no intentions on offending anybody. So my apologies” However, the addendum in the same tweet of; “But the LGBT community… I ain’t trippin on y’all, do you. y’all business is y’all business.” was immediately decried as further proof of the rapper’s intolerance of the LGBTQ community.

Michael J. Stern, a Los Angeles attorney and a former federal prosecutor who is now a noted featured columnist for USA Today blasted DaBaby’s ‘apology;’

In his response to Dababy’s remarks Elton John, who founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992, a nonprofit organization which funds frontline partners to prevent infections, fight stigma and provide care for the most vulnerable groups affected by HIV, responded in a lengthy series of tweets:

Madonna took to her Instagram telling the rapper to “know your facts,” before spreading misinformation. 

“AIDs is not transmitted by standing next to someone in a crowd,” she wrote on Instagram. “I want to put my cellphone lighter up and pray for your ignorance, No one dies of AIDS in 2 or 3 weeks anymore. Thank God.”

This year’s Lollapalooza festival, which is one of the first major festivals to return in full force since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, concludes Sunday with headlining performances by musical acts Brockhampton, the Foo Fighters, and Modest Mouse.

Dua Lipa ‘Horrified’ at DaBaby’s Homophobic Remarks at Rolling Loud | RS News 7/28/21

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Sports

IOC: ‘Trans Women Are Women’ Laurel Hubbard set to make sports history

Laurel Hubbard is set to make sports history on Monday and the International Olympic Committee clearly has her back

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Screenshot via CBS Sports

TOKYO – The director of medicine and science for the International Olympic Committee praised weightlifter Laurel Hubbard’s “courage and tenacity” as she prepares for her upcoming competition as the world’s first out transgender woman Olympian. 

In speaking to reporters in Tokyo Thursday, Dr. Richard Budgett directly addressed those who have attacked and mocked the 43-year-old New Zealander and claimed she shouldn’t be competing with cisgender women, saying  “everyone agrees that trans women are women.”

“To put it in a nutshell,” he said, “the IOC had a scientific consensus back in 2015. There are no IOC rules or regulations around transgender participation. That depends on each international federation. So Laurel Hubbard is a woman, is competing under the rules of her federation and we have to pay tribute to her courage and tenacity in actually competing and qualifying for the Games.”

Hubbard herself has not made any public comments except for a statement following her qualifying for the Summer Games, saying she was “humbled” by the support which had helped her “through the darkness” following a near career-ending injury in Australia in 2018.

Reports around the world have claimed Hubbard is the first trans Olympic athlete, which is actually not the case. As the Los Angeles Blade has reported, Quinn, a trans nonbinary soccer midfielder for Team Canada, last Wednesday became the first out trans athlete ever to complete in the Olympic Games. They posted about it on Instagram, saying, “I feel proud seeing ‘Quinn’ up on the lineup and on my accreditation. I feel sad knowing there were Olympians before me unable to live their truth because of the world.”

The IOC is expected to review and likely revise its policies on transgender participation following Tokyo. Trans athlete and researcher Joanna Harper, who has advised the organization and other sports policy groups, told the Los Angeles Blade her recommendation will be for the IOC to continue to regulate trans athletes sport-by-sport. “There shouldn’t be a one-size fits all policy,” said Harper. 

She also noted how the mainstream cisgender media is consumed with coverage of Hubbard and missing out on the bigger picture, and what it will mean for the next generation watching on TV and online. 
“The lack of attention paid to Quinn and to Chelsea Wolfe has been interesting,” said Harper.

“A few news outlets have commented on their presence in Tokyo and in Quinn’s case the comments have been mostly favorable. On the other hand, the storm of mostly negative press heaped on Laurel Hubbard has been disappointing, although predictable. I hope that the negative press that Laurel has gotten won’t dissuade young trans athletes from following their dreams. I think that the next trans woman to compete in the games will get less negative press, and eventually (although probably not in my life) there will come a time when trans women in sport generate little or no controversy.”

Hubbard issued a statement Friday via the New Zealand Olympic Committee in which she said: “The Olympic Games are a global celebration of our hopes, our ideals and our values. I commend the IOC for its commitment to making sport inclusive and accessible.”

According to a French news outlet, NZOC spokesperson Ashley Abbott told reporters the committee had seen a “particularly high level of interest” in Hubbard’s Olympic debut, and much of it has been negative.

“Certainly we have seen a groundswell of comment about it and a lot of it is inappropriate,” Abbott said. “Our view is that we’ve got a culture of manaaki (inclusion) and it’s our role to support all eligible athletes on our team. In terms of social media, we won’t be engaging in any kind of negative debate.”

Abbott reminded the media that the NZOC’s job was to support its athletes, including Hubbard. “We all need to remember that there’s a person behind all these technical questions,” she said. “As an organization we would look to shield our athlete, or any athlete, from anything negative in the social media space. We don’t condone cyberbullying in any way.”

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