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LGBT Clevelanders have mixed reaction to Republican National Convention

City is Ohio’s ‘Democratic stronghold’



Republican National Convention, gay news, Washington Blade, Cleveland

LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland, gay news, Washington Blade

Zak Khan, left, and Eliot Brosch of Cleveland speak at an LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland mixer at Cha Spirits and Pizza Kitchen in Cleveland on July 19, 2016. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

CLEVELAND — Zak Kahn and Eliot Brosch were among the roughly dozen people who were at an LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland happy hour at Cha Spirits and Pizza Kitchen, a restaurant in Cleveland’s Gordon Square neighborhood, shortly before 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

A local television station’s rush hour traffic report was on the television above the bar as bartenders were serving drinks. Kahn and Brosch were talking about the Republican National Convention and the fact that their city was hosting it.

“The irony is palpable,” said Kahn. “This is the bluest county and the bluest city in all of Ohio.”

“A lot of people I know are just angry and sad,” added Brosch, who identifies as a transgender man.

The LGBT Clevelanders with whom the Washington Blade has spoken this week have mixed reactions about the Republican National Convention.

Austin Boxler, who lives in Gordon Square, said at the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland happy hour that the Republican National Committee “picked the Democratic stronghold of Ohio to have their convention.”

He told the Blade that he had heard that many Clevelanders decided to leave the city this week because of the road closures around the Quicken Loans Arena in which the convention is taking place and heightened security concerns. Boxler said the streets in downtown Cleveland were “like a Scooby-Doo ghost town” when he drove to work on Monday.

“It’s really not that bad,” he told the Blade.

Gwen Stembridge of Equality Ohio, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, discussed the convention’s potential economic impact on Cleveland.

“I just hope that that is still happening, even though there is tension and even though people are a little worried about going downtown,” she said as Boxler and Brian Schultz, another Cleveland resident, listened. “I hope it is an opportunity to bring Clevelanders together.”

Kahn, who lives in Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood, had a far different view.

The self-described “queer trans person” who was raised by Muslim parents told the Blade that it was “an adventure” getting through downtown. Kahn had also not left their home until Tuesday, noting police are staying at nearby Case Western Reserve University during the convention.

“All of those 1,700 riot officers are right outside my door basically at Case Western,” Kahn told the Blade. “That’s a bit terrifying to be honest.”

Republican National Convention, gay news, Washington Blade, Cleveland

Security concerns dominated the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Brosch agreed, noting people who live in that area “were mostly afraid.”

“A lot of them are gay or trans or disabled or brown or black, any of these groups that are routinely victimized by the police,” Brosch told the Blade. “They were angry about that and all of the media around it saying, ‘Oh these kids are just so spoiled and weenies for being scared.’”

“A lot of people are sad and angry about that,” he added.

Convention ‘an exciting time to have policy discussions’

Equality Ohio on Monday organized a panel on LGBT rights that took place at the New West Theatre in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood.

Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court case that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples across the country, noted that he and John Arthur, who was suffering from Lou Gehrig’s Disease, could not go “six blocks to our county courthouse” in Cincinnati to get married because the Ohio constitution defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

The two men exchanged vows on the tarmac of Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on July 11, 2015. Arthur died less than four months later.

“All we wanted to do was to get married and live out John’s final days as husband and husband,” said Obergefell. “We decided to fight for each other, for our marriage and for people across our state and our nation.”

Equality Ohio Executive Director Alana Jochum noted at the beginning of the panel that Ohio is one of 28 states that does not include sexual orientation and gender identity in its nondiscrimination law.

The Cleveland City Council earlier this month approved Ordinance 1446, which would amend the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance to require businesses to allow customers to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity. Jochum noted that 15 cities in Ohio have adopted “fully-inclusive” nondiscrimination ordinances, but they only cover 18.5 percent of the state’s population.

“The first question that I ask of a person who experiences discrimination shouldn’t have to be, ‘Well where do you live?’” she said. “We’re working for statewide protections so that everyone everywhere can find redress.”

State Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), who is the first openly LGBT person elected to the Ohio Legislature, and state Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Copley) have both introduced measures in their respective chambers that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s nondiscrimination law.

“Unfortunately Ohio is part of that list of 28 states that don’t offer the protections that our LGBTQ brothers and sisters deserve,” said LaRose during the panel. “Nikki and I and others have been working to try and change that circumstance in Ohio.”

Antonio cited an example of a baker who refused to bake a birthday cake for a same-sex couple’s child because of their religious beliefs.

“When we have a situation where it’s against someone’s belief for us to exist, that is their problem, not my problem,” she said.

Antonio and LaRose sat on the panel alongside Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley and Rev. Esther Baruja of the Archwood United Church of Christ in Cleveland. Darius Stubbs and Ginger Marshall, two local trans advocates, also took part.

“I could be Ginger and simply fade into the woodwork,” said Marshall. “Having people know that hey we exist is being here for things like this.”

Jochum told the Blade after the panel that the Republican National Convention is “an exciting time to have policy discussions.”

Rachel Hoff, the first openly gay member of the Republican Party’s platform committee, spoke at the beginning of the event. Jochum expressed disappointment over the GOP’s continued opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples and other LGBT-specific issues.

“We’re disappointed it looks like the platform is not going to be as inclusive as we would like,” she told the Blade. “This is a journey and we are committed to working across all sides of the aisle to get the policies we need put into place.”

Trump campaign ‘not elaborate performance art’

The LGBT Clevelanders and their allies with whom the Blade spoke also criticized Donald Trump.

Nancy Ballou held a sign that read, “no hate in our state” as she walked along West Superior Avenue near Cleveland’s Public Square on Monday afternoon. She told the Blade that she had just left a protest against Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

“I want the world to know that Donald Trump and his running mate do not represent us, don’t represent my town, my state, don’t represent my country,” said Ballou, who described herself as an LGBT ally.

Kahn noted to the Blade that the “full name on my ID is definitely like one of the groups Trump wants to ban from this country.” The Cleveland resident added that Trump’s rise is indicative of a “poorly hidden undercurrent” of racism, homophobia and transphobia.

“Trump is the natural response to even the slightest inconvenience that people feel once it’s pointed out,” said Kahn. “I really wish it wasn’t this way, but in so many ways I’m like when you let this much hatred ferment in your country for so long, who else but Donald Trump is going to show up.”

Brosch echoed Kahn.

“I veer back and forth between being like this is clearly some kind of publicity stunt or some sort of elaborate performance art,” said Brosch, referring to Trump’s campaign. “That’s not elaborate performance art because things are actually happening and that’s mostly just terrifying.”

Black Lives Matter, gay news, Washington Blade

Cleveland resident Warren Thornton, 13, stands in his city’s Public Square on July 19, 2016. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)


Celebrity News

Anne Heche dies after removal from life support

Actress dated Ellen DeGeneres in late 1990s



(Screenshot/YouTube Inside Edition)

Actress Anne Heche died after she was removed from life support on Sunday, nearly two weeks after her Mini-Cooper crashed through a two-story house in Los Angeles’ Mar Vista neighborhood. Investigators with the Los Angeles Police Department believe she was intoxicated at the time.

She sustained a severe anoxic brain injury along with severe burns and was being treated at the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital, near Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley.

The 53-year-old actress who was a star of films like “Donnie Brasco,” the political satire “Wag the Dog” and the 1998 remake of “Psycho,” had been declared legally dead under California law on Friday, however, her family kept her alive long enough to be an organ donor.

In a statement Friday, the LAPD announced that: “As of today, there will be no further investigative efforts made in this case. Any information or records that have been requested prior to this turn of events will still be collected as they arrive as a matter of formalities and included in the overall case. When a person suspected of a crime expires, we do not present for filing consideration.” LAPD detectives had previously made public that investigators into the crash found narcotics in a blood sample taken from Heche.

The actress’s family released a statement on Friday:

“Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend. Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy. Her bravery for always standing in her truth, spreading her message of love and acceptance, will continue to have a lasting impact,” the statement added.

Heche was married to camera operator Coleman Laffoon from 2001 to 2009. The two had a son, Homer, together. She had another son, named Atlas, during a relationship with actor James Tupper, her co-star on the TV series “Men In Trees.”

Laffoon left a moving tribute on an Instagram reel in which he also gave an update on how their 20-year-old son Homer Laffoon is coping with the loss of his mother.

“I loved her and I miss her, and I’m always going to,” he said adding: “Homer is okay. He’s grieving, of course, and it’s rough. It’s really rough, as probably anybody can imagine. But he’s surrounded by family and he’s strong, and he’s gonna be okay.”

“Rest In Peace, Mom, I love you, Homer,” the actor’s 20-year-old son, Homer, said in a statement after Heche was declared legally dead on Friday.“ My brother Atlas and I lost our Mom,” read the statement. “After six days of almost unbelievable emotional swings, I am left with a deep, wordless sadness. Hopefully, my mom is free from pain and beginning to explore what I like to imagine as her eternal freedom. Over those six days, thousands of friends, family, and fans made their hearts known to me. I am grateful for their love, as I am for the support of my Dad, Coley, and my stepmom Alexi who continue to be my rock during this time. Rest In Peace Mom, I love you, Homer.”

Tupper, a Canadian actor who starred alongside Heche in “Men in Trees,” had a 13-year-old son, Atlas, with her. “Love you forever,” Tupper, 57, wrote on his Instagram post’s caption with a broken heart emoji, which shared an image of the actress from Men in Trees.

Between 1997 and 2000, Heche was also in a relationship with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

“This is a sad day,” DeGeneres posted on Twitter. “I’m sending Anne’s children, family and friends all of my love.” The year after her break-up with the comedian, in September 2001, Heche recounted in her memoir “Call Me Crazy,” about her lifelong struggles with mental health and a childhood of abuse.

KTLA’s entertainment reporter Sam Rubin noted that over the past two decades, Heche’s career pivoted several times. In 2017, she hosted a weekly radio show on SiriusXM with Jason Ellis called “Love and Heche.”

In 2020, Heche made her way into the podcast world. She launched “Better Together” which she cohosted alongside Heather Duffy Boylston. The show was described as a way to celebrate friendship. 

She also worked in smaller films, on Broadway, and on TV shows. She recently had recurring roles on the network series “Chicago P.D.,” and “All Rise” and was a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars.”

People magazine reported that several of Heche’s acting projects are expected to be released posthumously.

These include “Girl in Room 13,” expected to be released on Lifetime in September, “What Remains,” scheduled to be released in 2023, and HBO Max TV series “The Idol,” created by Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd) and Euphoria creator Sam Levinson.

In her Instagram post from earlier this year Heche stands between her sons Atlas, 13 and Homer, 20.

From KTLA:

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Celebrity News

‘Star Trek’ actress Nichelle Nichols dies at 89

George Takei tweets ‘we lived long and prospered together’



(Screenshot/YouTube The Smithsonian Channel)

She was a groundbreaking cultural icon who broke barriers in a time of societal upheaval and battling for the civil rights of Black Americans. An actress, a mother and thoroughly devoted to the legions of fans of “Star Trek,” Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek’s Lt. Nyota Uhura, has died at 89.

The announcement on her Facebook page by her son read:

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Friends, Fans, Colleagues, World

I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years.

Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration.

Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.

I, and the rest of our family, would appreciate your patience and forbearance as we grieve her loss until we can recover sufficiently to speak further. Her services will be for family members and the closest of her friends and we request that her and our privacy be respected.

Live Long and Prosper,

Kyle Johnson

Nichols was born in Robbins, Ill., in 1932, according to her IMDb page. Legendary composer Duke Ellington “discovered” Nichols and helped her become a singer and dancer. She later turned to acting, and joined Gene Roddenberry’s “Star Trek,” where she played Uhura from 1966 to 1969.

Out actor George Takei who played ‘Sulu’ on Star Trek the original series with Nichelle Nichols who played Lt. Nyota Uhura, at a Star Trek convention in this undated photo. (George Takei/Twitter)

It was in that role of Uhura that Nichols not only broke barriers between races, most famously her onscreen kiss, the first between a Black person and a white person, with castmate William Shatner, who played Capt. James T. Kirk, but she also became a role model for young Black women and men inspiring them to seek out their own places in science, technology, and other human endeavors.

In numerous interviews over the years Nichols often recalled how the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a fan of the show and praised her role and personally encouraged her to stay with the series.

When the first series ended Nichols went on to become a spokesperson for NASA, where she “helped recruit and inspire a new generation of fearless astronauts.” She later reprised her role in several successful “Star Trek” films and continued to advocate for the advancement of Black Americans especially in the areas of science and technology.

Formerly a NASA deputy administrator, Frederick Gregory, now 81, told the Associated Press he once saw an advertisement in which Nichols said “I want you to apply for the NASA program.”

“She was talking to me,” he recounted. The U.S. Air Force pilot would apply and later become the first African American shuttle pilot.

President Joe Biden weighed in Sunday afternoon on her passing in a statement issued by the White House:

In Nichelle Nichols, our nation has lost a trailblazer of stage and screen who redefined what is possible for Black Americans and women.
A daughter of a working-class family from Illinois, she first honed her craft as an actor and singer in Chicago before touring the country and the world performing with the likes of Duke Ellington and giving life to the words of James Baldwin.
During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, she shattered stereotypes to become the first Black woman to act in a major role on a primetime television show with her groundbreaking portrayal of Lt. Uhura in the original Star Trek. With a defining dignity and authority, she helped tell a central story that reimagined scientific pursuits and discoveries. And she continued this legacy by going on to work with NASA to empower generations of Americans from every background to reach for the stars and beyond.
Our nation is forever indebted to inspiring artists like Nichelle Nichols, who show us a future where unity, dignity, and respect are cornerstones of every society.

Nichols son said that services will be private for family members and her closest friends.

In 2008 the actress at a news conference, coordinated by the filmmakers of the motion picture “TRU LOVED,” in honor of the more than 900 students at Los Angeles’ Miguel Contreras Learning Complex’s School of Social Justice who participated in the GLSEN Day of Silence.

Nichelle Nichols speaks on LGBTQ rights:

Her fellow castmate and life long friend, openly Out actor George Takei shared his sadness on hearing of Nichols’ passing on Twitter:

From the September 2016 edition of the Smithsonian Channel: “Star Trek’s decision to cast Nichelle Nichols, an African American woman, as major character on the show was an almost unheard-of move in 1966. But for black women all over the country, it redefined the notions of what was possible.”

Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols on Uhura’s Radical Impact:

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Emma Corin becomes first nonbinary person featured on cover of American Vogue

The star of The Crown opened up about their identity.



Emma Corrin Jamie Hawkesworth/Vogue

Emma Corin was announced as the cover star of the August edition of Vogue. It’s the first time a nonbinary person is featured on the cover of American Vogue.

Corin posted the cover photo and wrote, “My grin really says it all! A huge honour to be your August cover.”

In early 2021, Corin quietly came out as a queer and nonbinary, changing pronouns to “she/they” in their instagram bio. Currently Corin sticks to pronouns “they/them.”

“I feel much more seen when I’m referred to as ‘they,’ but my closest friends, they will call me ‘she,’ and I don’t mind, because I know they know me,” Corin explained during the interview with Vogue.

Corin stated that they’ve still gone on dates with various kinds of people and set no limit on who they date. “I like people,” they simply said and shrugged.

Corin also shared some of their dating experiences. “My first date with a girl, they were like, Oh! You’re a baby queer!” Corin said, “It was amazing. We actually didn’t end up seeing each other again, but she really gave me the lowdown.”

Besides, Corin was frank about their conflicting feelings towards gender and sexuality issues. “I’m working out all this complex gender and sexuality stuff. And yet, I’m seeing a guy? That feels very juxtaposed, even if I’m very happy.”

Corin is known for playing Diana on the Netflix series The Crown.

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