Connect with us


NFL’s embrace of Timberlake a racist, sexist joke

Rumored Super Bowl gig rightly outrages Janet Jackson fans



Justin Timberlake, gay news, Washington Blade

One of Justin Timberlake’s more cringeworthy moments: cornrows. (Photo courtesy Twitter)

Reports that Justin Timberlake will headline the 2018 Super Bowl offer further evidence of the NFL’s racism, sexism and ageism. It’s craven lunacy that NFL executives would consider asking Timberlake back while continuing to boycott all things Janet Jackson in the wake of the duo’s infamous 2004 nipple-baring performance.

The black woman took the fall for the accident, while the white boy was celebrated and saw his career take off in the aftermath. Yes, I said “accident.” Amid the endless speculation about whether it was planned or not, one fact is always forgotten: the FCC under then-Chair Michael Powell launched a thorough investigation into the incident, prodded by angry members of Congress. The senior MTV executive in charge of the show was forced to turn over her laptop to investigators, who concluded: “The FCC found nothing to suggest they had planned the moment,” as ESPN reported. That finding is consistent with Jackson’s denials that it was planned.

Ten years after Powell pretended to be offended by the split-second nipple flash in a series of TV interviews, he finally admitted the truth to ESPN. “I think we’ve been removed from this long enough for me to tell you that I had to put my best version of outrage on that I could put on,” he said, while rolling his eyes.

Nevertheless, Jackson was immediately blacklisted by CBS, MTV Networks and mainstream corporate radio. She was disinvited from the Grammy Awards that year, despite being a 26-time nominee and five-time winner. Timberlake was welcomed at the ceremony, accompanied by his mommy. He used the opportunity to apologize, dutifully carrying water for a network — and a conservative Republican administration — at the expense of his one-time friend Jackson.

It was a cruel stab in the back for Jackson, who did so much to advance Timberlake’s career. Before letting him share her Super Bowl stage, Jackson hired Timberlake and his cheesy boyband mates from N*Sync to open for her on 1997’s acclaimed “Velvet Rope” world tour. Many had never heard of Timberlake before that tour.

Timberlake would go on to appropriate Janet and Michael Jackson’s style and moves. Jimmy Fallon once dubbed him the “president of pop.” Luckily, presidents can be impeached. Timberlake is really the “appropriator-in-chief,” stealing liberally from the Jackson playbook and from other black artists over the years. He once even wore his hair in cornrows, an unintentionally hilarious and cringeworthy choice.

When Timberlake was the target of the MTV prank show “Punk’d,” his true personality was revealed. The gag involved IRS agents and a moving truck showing up at Timberlake’s mansion as he’s told he owes $900,000 in unpaid taxes and his belongings are being repossessed. He bursts into tears and again calls mommy for help. When he realizes it’s a gag and that cameras are rolling, he reverts to his phony “bad boy” persona, complete with “yo yo yos.”

Timberlake is a copycat, a cheap imitation of talent. He’s an average-looking Mickey Mouse Club alumnus who rode a wave of ‘90s teeny-bop cheese to undeserved fame and fortune. He is the embodiment of mediocrity. A saccharine, non-threatening, milquetoast pop star for the white bread Orlando suburbs.

And yet, the NFL is reportedly ready to give him the headliner slot at the Super Bowl at a time when the country is finally beginning to engage in a dialogue about systemic racism thanks to athletes taking a knee during the National Anthem. Two steps forward and two steps back.

Virtually no one seems to think Jackson stands a chance of being invited back to the Super Bowl, even though she’s the much bigger star by any measure. Timberlake’s four solo studio albums have sold about 27 million copies worldwide, compared to Jackson’s roughly 160 million records sold. She’s won every music industry award there is — a total of 370, including five Grammys, 33 Billboard Music Awards and 11 AMAs. She even holds nine Guinness World Records, has an Oscar nomination and was named MTV’s inaugural “Icon” award recipient.

The next generation of pop stars have unanimously cited Jackson as a primary influence, including: Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, Usher, Mya, Lady Gaga, Pink, Tinashe, Aaliyah, Ciara, among many others. Jackson has collaborated with a diverse array of music’s biggest stars, including Elton John, Luther Vandross, Missy Elliott, Carly Simon, Q-Tip, Chuck D, Kathleen Battle, P. Diddy, Kanye West, Nelly, Herb Alpert and Michael Jackson. And her music has been covered by everyone from Whitney Houston and Prince to Buckcherry and most recently Katy Perry.

Outside of music, Jackson starred in three successful sitcoms as a child actor; she’s a New York Times Best-Selling author and four of her five feature films debuted at No.1 at the box office.

And though Timberlake is much younger, Jackson is proving her modern relevance and staying power. While Timberlake’s last album was released in 2013, Jackson’s last outing was 2015’s “Unbreakable,” which debuted at No.1 on Billboard’s albums chart, her seventh compared to three solo No. 1 albums for Timberlake. Jackson is currently on a 56-date “State of the World” tour selling out arenas across the country at age 51 without a new single to plug and without doing any media appearances to promote the tour.

She is inexplicably absent from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, despite two nominations. Here’s hoping the Rock Hall finally gives Jackson her due next year.

But back to Timberlake. The NFL’s embrace of this cad, who so blithely tossed Jackson under the bus, reinforces all the racist, sexist and ageist stereotypes about American popular culture. We can only hope the NFL will do the right thing and reconsider giving such a platform to someone so undeserving. Jackson certainly deserves another shot at that stage, but she doesn’t like to repeat herself and has nothing left to prove. Jackson gracefully endured years of ridicule and boycotts. She’s proved herself the better person and the bigger star, no matter what the NFL decides.

Continue Reading


A rare misstep for the amazing Nancy Pelosi

Taiwan trip a distraction amid good news for Democrats



House Speaker Nancy Pelosi leads a U.S. delegation in Taiwan. (Photo via Speaker Nancy Pelosi's official Twitter)

I have always supported House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and continue to do so. She is an amazing woman. She has championed women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, the rights of all minorities, and the rights of people with disabilities. She has worked hard to make our country a better and more equal place for all.

So seeing the repercussions of her trip to Taiwan playing out, with even the South Korean president avoiding a meeting with her, she must now realize the visit may have been ill timed. Speaker Pelosi is a smart woman and politician. I assume her insistence on the trip may have been a response to some promises she made to the Chinese community in her district and around the nation. She has always been a strong supporter of human rights and has criticized the Chinese government in the past. She recently tweeted, “28 years ago, we traveled to Tiananmen Square to honor the courage & sacrifice of the students, workers & ordinary citizens who stood for the dignity & human rights that all people deserve. To this day, we remain committed to sharing their story with the world. #Tiananmen30.” 

The question some are asking is did this trip do anything for the people of Taiwan or could it potentially hurt the people there and here if China decides to restrict trade and begin new sanctions?

As the Washington Post reported, “The visit lasted barely 19 hours. But Nancy Pelosi’s contentious trip to Taiwan was a defining moment in the increasingly bitter rivalry between China and the United States. A fuller picture of the Chinese response will emerge over the coming weeks and months, and there are already signs it will encompass greater economic as well as military coercion. Whatever the final shape of Beijing’s retaliation, Pelosi’s visit heralds a new phase in China’s efforts to control Taiwan’s fate — and those measures are likely to increase the risk of conflict with U.S. forces in the western Pacific.” The New York Times said,  “Ms. Pelosi’s visit was ill timed” and called it “provocative.”

I would never question the speaker’s commitment to the human rights of the Chinese people. But at this time, as the third in line to the presidency, there may have been some unintended ramifications from what she did and what the implications could be. I think the very unusual may have occurred, and the speaker may not have considered everything. The trip was likely spurred on by her knowledge this is likely to be her last year as speaker and this was the last time she could arrange for such a trip having the clout she does. I think Speaker Pelosi may be thinking about what she did and if it was worth adding this to the international problems the White House is now facing.

We are living in interesting and difficult times. With the help of Speaker Pelosi for the first time in a while the Biden administration and Democrats are having an incredible run of successes here at home. Passing the first gun control bill in decades, the infrastructure bill, the chips bill, and now the Senate has passed the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” as a reconciliation package. The nation added 528,000 new jobs in July and unemployment is at the lowest it has been, matching pre-pandemic times, at 3.5%. Gas prices are steadily going down and inflation has likely peaked. Then there is the vote on the abortion amendment in Kansas, which the pro-choice side won by nearly 60/40 in a landslide definitely not predicted in that very red state. So, poking the Chinese at this time, generating negative headlines, doesn’t make much sense. I hope it will be only a blip in time.

This week we will see Pelosi do what she does best. She will move the House of Representatives to pass impactful legislation. She will keep her small Democratic majority together to pass the ‘Deficit Reduction Act of 2022’ and send it on to the president to sign. In 2018, she cut a deal to become Speaker for two more terms. That time is now coming to an end. If the Democrats manage to hold the House of Representative much of the credit must go to her. Should she then actually leave the speakership, the next speaker will have the unenviable task of trying to fill those four-inch stiletto heels. 

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

Continue Reading


Monkeypox is a gay thing — we must say it

Will there be stigma, judgments, and homophobia? Of course



The mainstream media and public health officials are being so damn careful not to label monkeypox “a gay disease” that they’re doing a disservice to the gay men who most need important information about the outbreak – while misleading everybody else.

In a July 28 New York Times story of the excruciating symptoms and lack of care available for those with monkeypox in that city, the sexuality of the men profiled isn’t referenced until 11 paragraphs into the story, and even then it refers to them as “men who have sex with men,” which is technically correct but dodgy. Moreover, the article, which supposedly addresses barriers to care, ignores the fact that gay men routinely experience apathy and even judgment from health providers.

Other media stories, and statements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have mentioned monkeypox cases in the context of “the LGBT community.” Really? Should lesbians be lining up for a monkeypox vaccine, whenever the heck they become widely available? This is happening to gay men. Say it.

Journalist Benjamin Ryan, in his excellent Washington Post opinion piece, draws a hard line between attempts not to unnecessarily stigmatize gay men and the importance of telling the truth about monkeypox, writing that “public health officials cannot be expected to police the public’s reactions to epidemiological facts.”

Ryan lays out those facts plainly:

Here is what we can discern from data collected about monkeypox so far: This viral outbreak isn’t just mostly occurring among men who have sex with men. The confirmed cases, at least to date, have consistently almost entirely occurred among this demographic, which accounts for 96 percent or more of diagnoses where data are available.

Per capita, the few monkeypox cases in women and children remain minuscule compared with the rate among gay and bisexual men. Of course, substantial transmission could always occur among such other groups. But researchers at the WHO and elsewhere have speculated that the monkeypox reproduction rate will likely remain significantly lower in such demographics — meaning the virus will more likely hit transmission dead ends among them than among gay and bisexual men.

An uncomfortable truth, one documented in peer-reviewed papers, is that sexual behaviors and networks specific to gay and bisexual men have long made them more likely to acquire various sexually transmitted infections compared with heterosexual people. This includes not only HIV, but also syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, hepatitis B and sexually transmitted hepatitis C.

Global public health experts agree that skin-to-skin contact in the context of sexual activity between men has been the principal driver of the monkeypox outbreak, at least thus far.

Such experts have also asserted that the risk of monkeypox to the broader population not having multiple sex partners remains low — even “very low.” This is hopeful news, and the wider public deserves to be reassured accordingly. Assuaging fears of contagion will help fight unhelpful hysteria and prevent gay and bisexual men from being subjected to even greater stigma should they be painted as culprits of the spread of virus to others.

Monkeypox didn’t begin with gay men, that much is true. As Yale infectious disease expert Gregg Gonsalves explained to the New York Times, “This is not a gay disease; it has been circulating in West and Central Africa for many years… What likely happened, in this case, is that somebody who had monkeypox had a lesion and showed up at a gay rave in Europe, and it spread to those in that social and sexual network.”

Whatever the origins, we’re now dealing with an outbreak almost entirely limited to gay men in the United States and Europe. And that is worth saying explicitly.

Why? Because identifying those at risk and getting information to them is a basic public health strategy for containing an outbreak. Gay men are getting monkeypox and suffering greatly. When gay men understand the threat, we are more likely to take precautions, get vaccinated, or be informed about treatment.

Will there be stigma and judgements and homophobia? Of course. And we’ll have to deal with that. But that doesn’t mean we bury crucial facts in vague, evasive messaging.

Monkeypox is a gay thing. That’s the truth.

Mark S. King is an award-winning blogger, author, speaker, and HIV/AIDS activist who has been involved in HIV causes since testing positive in 1985.

Continue Reading


Casa Ruby folds — was money stolen?

The community deserves answers and accountability



Ruby Corado (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

It is both sad and frustrating when what was once considered a great organization folds for what appear to be questionable reasons. 

That is the case with Casa Ruby. It is sad for all the people who worked for and were served by the organization. It is my hope other organizations will take up the slack and the transgender community will continue to be well served in the District of Columbia.

Also sad are the questions people are asking about the founder of Casa Ruby, Ruby Corado. It has appeared for a while that she let her desire for publicity — and apparent desire for the good life — to lead her in a questionable direction. A number of years ago David Perruzza and I, both early supporters of Casa Ruby, met with Ruby for lunch. We talked with her about the apparent issues at Casa Ruby and urged her to take a good look at what she was doing. We asked her to remember the reason she founded Casa Ruby, and it wasn’t about her. Her goal she said had been to help others in the transgender community.

We met with her because we cared about her and the organization and it seemed her ego was being fed by all the honors the community was affording her. Recently Dito Sevilla posted on Facebook that an associate of his found who they assumed is Corado on Facebook, under the name Jada Wilkins, now living in San Salvador. That Facebook page is very sad to see. 

It is important for the District and any other grantors to Casa Ruby to do a forensic audit to see where all the money went. I am pleased, according to the Blade, that is now happening with the D.C. Attorney General investigating and filing lawsuits. The result of the first hearing on one of the two lawsuits filed by the AG is the judge granted the freezing of all Casa Ruby bank accounts as reported in the follow-up Blade article. As a community we should know if any money was stolen. Aside from all the grants, a lot of money was donated by well-meaning individuals. If some of it was stolen, which sadly could be the case, those who stole it should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. 

Casa Ruby is not the first organization this has happened to and it will not be the last. The LGBTQ community, which is a very generous community, must always be careful to ensure organizations we donate to, and support with our volunteer time, are well run. We should insist those organizations are not about any one person, because if they are they are more likely to fail. A solid organization is never built around one person, which is what seemed to happen at Casa Ruby. 

I know the District requires financial reports for the grants they give and there was an accounting firm involved in looking at the financial functions of Casa Ruby. That accounting firm needs to be involved in looking at what happened to the money. There were 990s filed, but were they accurate? Again, I hope the AG will find all that out and if they find illegal activity will forward that to the DOJ for prosecution. The community needs to know what happened.  

Again, if there was fraud and money stolen, the law and the community must hold the people responsible for the demise of this once valued organization, accountable. If by any chance, and I pray it’s not the case, Ruby Corado is found to have participated in stealing money from the organization, people and organizations must take the time to publicly rescind the awards and honors she was given over the years. Again, I hope that is not the case. But if it is, then we owe that to the transgender community, which will suffer because Casa Ruby is closing. 

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

Continue Reading

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts