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Delta blasted for straight-washing “Rocketman”

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Taron Egerton and Richard Madden star in “Rocketman” (Image courtesy of Paramount and Rocket Pictures).

“Rocketman,” the acclaimed musical biopic about Elton John, is making headlines again this week as Delta Air Lines defends itself against accusations of showing straight-washed, edited versions of its inflight movies.

The new controversy began on Tuesday, when an outcry sprang up on social media after Entertainment Weekly’s digital director Shana Naomi Krochma went on Twitter to scold the airline for removing most of the film’s gay content.

“On @Delta today [I] discovered that #Rocketman is stripped of almost every gay reference or scene that [Elton John] fought to keep in the film’s mainstream release, including a simple chaste kiss,” Krochna tweeted.

She followed up with a second tweet which questioned the airline’s decision to edit out same-sex love scenes while leaving in scenes of domestic violence.

“What does it say that the edit left in a scene of John Reid assaulting Elton but removed any evidence of intimacy between them or for that matter Elton and any man? What is that saying is OK?”

“Rocketman,” which deals with the early years of John’s musical career and his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction, has been widely praised for its refusal to shy away from the subject of the singer’s sexuality. The film made news earlier this year when an outcry emerged over pre-release rumors that Paramount Studios had demanded director Dexter Fletcher and producer Matthew Vaughn remove a nude sex scene between actors Taron Egerton and Richard Madden, who portrayed John and Reid, respectively, in the film. Fletcher has denied that the studio made such a demand.

It’s the second time this week Delta has come under fire for removing LGBT content from its inflight movies. On Sunday, actress-turned-director Olivia Wilde blasted the airline for cutting a pivotal same-sex love scene in her film, “Booksmart.”

Responding to a fan on Twitter who had complained about the missing scene, Wilde tweeted, “This is truly a bummer. There is no nudity in this scene. What makes it too obscene for airplane viewing?”

Later that evening, at the Motion Picture Academy’s 11th Annual Governors’ Awards in Los Angeles, she told Variety, “I don’t understand it. There’s censorship, airline to airline, of films, which there must be some kind of governing board to determine. We rate it a certain way. If it’s not X-rated, surely it’s acceptable on an airplane.”

She added, “There’s insane violence of bodies being smashed in half and yet a love scene between two women is censored from the film. It’s such an integral part of this character’s journey. I don’t understand it. My heart just broke. I’m trying to get to the bottom of it; I want people to experience the entire film.”

Then, on Tuesday, Wilde complained on Twitter, “I finally had the chance to watch an edited version of Booksmart on a flight to see exactly what had been censored. Turns out some airlines work with a third party company that edits the movie based on what they deem inappropriate. Which, in our case, is … female sexuality?”

In a lengthy thread, she called out other specific edits made to the film, such as removing or muting the words “vagina” and “genitals,” removing dialogue about masturbation and UTIs, and removing a scene that featured two naked female dolls. The tweets never referenced Delta by name, though many followers and fans were quick to do so in their replies and retweets.

Wilde asked, “What message is this sending to viewers and especially to women? That their bodies are obscene? That their sexuality is shameful?” She went on to add, “ I urge every airline, especially those who pride themselves on inclusivity, to stop working with this third party company, and trust the parental advisory warning to allow viewers to opt out if they choose.”

Delta, which has a long history of commitment to supporting the LGBT community, received similar criticism in 2016, when the in-flight version of Todd Haynes’ Oscar-nominated “Carol” removed a kiss between actresses Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

On Thursday, the airline issued a statement explaining that a third-party company is contracted to provide its own edit of the movie along with the unedited version. If the unedited version contains content that does not meet Delta’s guidelines, the third party’s version is used instead, whether or not parts of the film that don’t violate the guidelines have also been removed.

The airline’s statement said, “Delta’s content parameters do not in any way ask for the removal of homosexual content” from its in-flight movies. We value diversity and inclusion as core to our culture and our mission and will review our processes to ensure edited video content doesn’t conflict with these values.”

No word on whether the unedited versions of “Rocketman” or “Booksmart” will be now made available on Delta flights.

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Arts & Entertainment

10 LGBTQ events this week

Set sail on the Potomac and celebrate the beginning of summer in Rehoboth

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(Washington Blade file photos by Molly Byrom, Joey DiGuglielmo and Michael Key)

Below are our picks for some oDf the most fun and creative things to do this week in D.C. that are of special interest to the LGBTQ community.

Number Nine 11th Anniversary

Number Nine (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Wednesday, May 19
5 p.m.
Number Nine
1435 P Street, N.W.
Facebook

The gay bar Number Nine celebrates 11 years of business on Wednesday with an old school 2-4-1 happy hour.

DC Boys of Leather Happy Hour (fundraiser for DC Abortion Fund)

Thursday, May 19
6-9 p.m.
Trade
1410 14th Street, N.W.
Facebook

Join the DC boys of Leather for its monthly happy hour. This month’s gathering is raising money for the DC Abortion Fund: a local DC organization that provides financial support for residents of and visitors to DC in their reproductive health care.

Taste of Point

Thursday, May 19
6:30-8:30 p.m.
Room & Board
1840 14th Street, N.W.
$50-$100 advance / $120 door
Facebook

The Point Foundation, an organization that provides LGBTQ youth scholarships and mentorships, is holding its “Spring Garden Party” on May 19th at Room & Board. Several local restaurants are participating.

Blade Summer Kickoff Party

Friday, May 20
5-7 p.m.
The Pines
56 Baltimore Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, Del.
$20
Facebook

Join the Washington Blade for our 15th annual Summer Kickoff Party in Rehoboth Beach, Del. The special guest this year is Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester.

Miss Freddie’s 2022

Destiny B. Childs at the Miss Freddie’s pageant. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Friday, May 20
5-7 p.m.
Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant
555 23rd Street S
Arlington, Va.
$10 cover
Facebook

The annual Miss Freddie’s drag pageant returns in person at Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant in Arlington, Va. on Friday.

Rough House

Friday, May 20
10 p.m.
Green Lantern
1335 Green Court
$10
Facebook

Join DJs Lemz, Sean Morris, Dean Sullivan and the Barber Streisand and check your clothes at the door for a night of “hands on, lights off” dancing.

Booty Cruise Tea Dance

Saturday, May 21
2-4:30 p.m.
Potomac River
Meet at 3050 K Street, N.W.
$76
Facebook | Eventbrite

Set sail with Fruity Boi Productions & N/S/A Play on the Booty Cruise Tea Dance with an open bar on Saturday. The boat leaves promptly at 2 p.m.

Worthy Mentoring Pride Brunch

Carson Kressley (Blade file photo by Molly Byrom)

Sunday, May 22
12-3 p.m.
Four Seasons Hotel
2800 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
$150+
Facebook | Website

Original “Queer Eye” guru Carson Kressley hosts the Worthy Mentoring brunch. With a gourmet brunch, bottomless drinks, multiple DJs, drag queens and a good cause, Sunday’s event is one of the hottest tickets in town.

DC Gay Flag Football League Finals

D.C. Gay Flag Football League (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Sunday, May 22
games 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Carter Barron Fields
afterparty and awards 3 p.m. at the Dirty Goose
913 U Street, N.W.
Website

The D.C. Gay Flag Football League holds their final games of the season at Carter Barron Fields and then celebrates with an end-of-season party and awards ceremony at the Dirty Goose on Sunday.

Onyx Code Red: Crimson Cosplay

Sunday, May 22
9 p.m.-2 a.m.
5380 Eisenhower Avenue, Suite C
Alexandria, Va.
$25-$100
Eventbrite

Break out your leather, fetish, and kinky looks for a night of fun and a great cause. Red is the color, cosplay is the theme on Sunday night.

If you would like to let us know about an upcoming event, email [email protected] with details.

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Arts & Entertainment

Disney donating all profits from Pride Collection to LGBTQ+ organizations and charities

“Disney has a long history of supporting LGBTQ+ organizations & charities- the Pride Collection is showing our support for the community”

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The Disney Pride Collection courtesy of The Walt Disney Company

The Walt Disney Company announced Monday that it is donating all of the profits of its pride merchandise to charities that help the LGBTQ community. The announcement comes over the company’s battles with Florida’s Republican political leadership over the passage of the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ measure and more recent government actions that removed the self-governing law over Disney-held properties known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

In a post on the company’s blog, Disney Senior Vice President, Global Marketing Lisa Becket, who identifies a member of the LGBTQ+ community herself wrote:

“Disney has a long history of supporting LGBTQIA+ organizations and charities around the world, including GLSEN in the U.S. This year, we are further deepening our support. We will be donating all of our profits from the Disney Pride Collection sales now through June 30, 2022, to organizations that support LGBTQIA+ youth and families. This includes merchandise from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars.

In the U.S., profits from the collection will benefit GLSEN,  PFLAGThe Trevor ProjectZebra CoalitionLos Angeles LGBT CenterLGBT Center Orange CountySan Francisco LGBT Center and Ali Forney Center. Profits from other regions around the world will continue to support local charities in those countries. You can learn more about these organizations and their incredible, impactful work by visiting TWDCPrideCollection.com

I’m proud to share just a bit about what we are doing for the LGBTQIA+ community and to joyfully celebrate Pride not just for the month of June, but all year-round.”

The Disney Pride Collection courtesy of The Walt Disney Company
The Disney Pride Collection courtesy of The Walt Disney Company

The company also noted:

“The Disney Pride Collection is just one way Disney Parks, Experiences and Products is showing our support for the LGBTQIA+ community during the month of June. There’s plenty to celebrate at our theme parks and resorts, from entertainment and art displays to festive décor, Disney PhotoPass Service photo opportunities, and themed food and beverage offerings. We’ll also be highlighting inspirational and celebratory stories about our guests, cast and community on the Disney Parks Blog and across our social media channels.”

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British soccer player comes out

Jake Daniels is Blackpool FC forward

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Blackpool FC forward Jake Daniels/Blackpool FC UK

A 17-year-old professional soccer player has made history only the second person in the past 30 years to acknowledge their sexual orientation publicly in the sport in the U.K.

Blackpool FC forward Jake Daniels joins with Justinus Soni “Justin” Fashanu as the only two footballers to declare themselves openly out. Fashanu had come out in an exclusive with The Sun tabloid newspaper on Oct. 22, 1990, and later retired in 1997. He later passed away in London in May 1998.

Daniels made his announcement via a statement released by the team on its webpage:

“This season has been a fantastic one for me on the pitch. I’ve made my first-team debut, scored 30 goals for the youth team, signed my first professional contract and shared success with my teammates, going on a great run in the FA Youth Cup and lifting the Lancashire FA Pro-Youth Cup. 

But off the pitch I’ve been hiding the real me and who I really am. I’ve known my whole life that I’m gay, and I now feel that I’m ready to come out and be myself.

It’s a step into the unknown being one of the first footballers in this country to reveal my sexuality, but I’ve been inspired by Josh Cavallo, Matt Morton and athletes from other sports, like Tom Daley, to have the courage and determination to drive change.        

In reaching this point, I’ve had some of the best support and advice from my family, my club, my agent and Stonewall, who have all been incredibly pro-active in putting my interests and welfare first. I have also confided in my team-mates in the youth team here at Blackpool, and they too have embraced the news and supported my decision to open up and tell people.   

I’ve hated lying my whole life and feeling the need to change to fit in. I want to be a role model myself by doing this.

There are people out there in the same space as me that may not feel comfortable revealing their sexuality. I just want to tell them that you don’t have to change who you are, or how you should be, just to fit in.

You being you, and being happy, is what matters most.

Jake”

The team itself also noted:

“Blackpool Football Club has worked closely with Stonewall and the relevant footballing organizations to support Jake and is incredibly proud that he has reached a stage where he is empowered to express himself both on-and-off the pitch.

It is vital that we all promote an environment where people feel comfortable to be themselves, and that football leads the way in removing any form of discrimination and prejudice.”

The largest LGBTQ advocacy organization in the UK, Stonewall tweeted:

Blackpool Football Club is a professional association football club based in seaside resort of Blackpool on the Irish Sea coast of England.

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