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On Grammy red carpet, stars speak out against anti-LGBTQ legislation



GLAAD’s Anthony Ramos speaks with Brittany Howard on the red carpet at Sunday’s Grammy Awards (Image via YouTube)

The tragic death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash, alongside his 13-year-old daughter and 7 other people, cast a somber mood over Sunday night’s 62nd Grammy Awards ceremony. A breathtaking opening number by host and multiple Grammy-winner Alicia Keys and members of Boys II Men paid tribute to the basketball superstar, setting the stage for an evening which was peppered with speeches and performances dedicated to Bryant’s memory.

The passing of Bryant was not the only shadow hanging over the evening, however. With this week’s news of the signing into law by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee of his state’s controversial measure allowing adoption agencies to deny service to same-sex couples on the basis of “religious freedom,” the resurgent specter of anti-LGBTQ discrimination also haunted the proceedings, made all the more glaring by a lack of any mention in a presentation that included several wins by out LGBTQ artists.

For her remix of Madonna’s “I Rise,” DJ Tracy Young picked up the Best Remixed Recording Grammy, becoming both the first woman and the first lesbian to win this category. Tyler, The Creator, who has been public about having relationships with both men and women, took home the Grammy in Best Rap Album for “Igor.”

Brandi Carlile, who came out as lesbian in 2002, picked up a Grammy for Best Country Song as one of the writers of Tanya Tucker’s “Bring My Flowers Now.” She and Tucker performed the song during the show.

Lil Nas X continued his juggernaut trip through the year’s music awards by winning for both Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Music Video for “Old Town Road” with Billy Ray Cyrus. Nas and Cyrus also performed the song, alongside BTS, Diplo, and Mason Ramsey, who had all been featured on previous remixes of the recording.

Other notable LGBTQ-relevant moments at the presentation were the wins by Lady Gaga (Best Song Written for Visual Media, “I’ll Never Love Again” from “A Star is Born”) and Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media (“A Star is Born,” Original Soundtrack), and the return of Demi Lovato to the Grammy stage for a performance of her song, “Anyone.” Lizzo was also a big winner, for Best Pop Solo Performance (“Truth Hurts”), Best Traditional R&B Performance (“Jerome”), and Best Urban Contemporary Album (“Cuz I Love You” [Deluxe]).

Also on hand was out singer Brittany Howard, who joined Keys for her performance, and out actor/singer Ben Platt, who introduced a performance by Ariana Grande. Platt returned to the stage later to sing “I Sing the Body Electric” (from the film “Fame”) in a tribute to musical education in schools.

In light of the strong inclusion of LGBTQ and allied artist at this year’s Grammys, GLAAD Head of Talent Anthony Ramos took to the red carpet before the show to speak with artists about the legal situation in Tennessee, which in addition to the new anti-LGBTQ adoption law has an upcoming slate that includes several pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation.

Among the artists Ramos asked for reactions was Billy Ray Cyrus, who responded by saying, “A human being is a human being. You treat everybody right, live by the law of what is right, and always try to do the right thing. All people are created equal in His eyes, and that’s just the way it is.”

Brandi Carlile, interviewed beside collaborator and country music legend Tanya Tucker, told Ramos, “As a woman in a same-sex marriage with two daughters, I can tell you that we’re fabulous parents.”

“I can vouch for that,” Tucker interjected assertively.

Carlile went on to say she couldn’t boycott the state, “because there are LGBTQ people in Tennessee, and I need to go there and be their friend,” but she encouraged others to explore the option as a means to exert economic pressure against the anti-LGBTQ policies. She concluded by saying, “Let’s just hope it doesn’t catch on.”

Alabama Shakes singer and solo artist Brittany Howard may have summed up the most popular point of view for many when Ramos asked her what she would say to a person who thinks LGBTQ people should have different rights than everyone else.

“I guess we have nothing to talk about,” said Howard. “You either get out of the way, or we’ll walk over you.”

You can watch the full video from GLAAD below.

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PHOTOS: DC Frontrunners 40th anniversary

Awards ceremony and party held at Jack Rose Dining Saloon



(Blade photo by Michael Key)

The LGBTQ+ and allies running, walking, and social club DC Frontrunners held its 40th anniversary celebration and awards ceremony at Jack Rose Dining Saloon on Saturday.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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‘Doña Rosita’ marks reunion of three Spaniards at GALA

An excellent cast and dynamic staging elevate stellar production



Ariel Texidó and Mabel del Pozo in Doña Rosita la soltera. (Photo by Daniel Martínez)

Doña Rosita la soltera
Through Oct. 3
GALA Hispanic Theatre
3333 14th Street, NW

In the 1930s, Federico García Lorca, 20th century Spain’s greatest poet and dramatist, was writing plays about a woman’s place in the world. In fact, Lorca, who was gay, was exploring women’s souls in an unprecedented way for Spain, or anywhere really. His insight is frequently credited, in part, to his sexuality.  

Now at GALA Hispanic Theatre, Lorca’s “Doña Rosita la soltera (Doña Rosita the Spinster)” tells the story of Rosita, an unmarried woman who subsists on definite hopes of marrying a long-distance fiancé. Whether it’s to keep the populace at bay or to feed a romantic fantasy, isn’t completely clear, but years — decades, in fact — pass, and very little changes. 

Set in the conservative world of middle-class Granada (Lorca’s native province), the 100-minute play, performed in Spanish with English surtitles, spans the 1880s through the early 1900s, constrictive years for women in Spain. When Lorca wrote “Doña Rosita” in 1935, on the eve of the Spanish Civil War, he appreciated the recent gains made surrounding women’s rights and foresaw further, imminent progress. Then, just a year later at age 38 and at the top of his game, Lorca was unlawfully arrested and murdered by Franco’s rightwing thugs. All was lost. 

Adapted by out writer Nando López, GALA’s offering strays from Lorca’s original in various ways: there are fewer characters, and the older Rosita serves more as a narrator, interacting with her younger self. Lorca’s glorious poetry remains mostly intact. 

Still, the title character’s tale is clear: Orphaned as a child, Rosita (Mabel del Pozo) goes to live with her devoted aunt (Luz Nicolás) and uncle (Ariel Texidó), an avid gardener. As a young woman, she falls in love with her first cousin (also played by Texidó), and they’re engaged. Despite the fiancé leaving Spain to join his aging parents on their sizeable farm in Tucumán, Argentina, the young lovers remain betrothed. 

Domestic life goes on. With the support of relations, and the family’s devoted but skeptical housekeeper (Laura Alemán), Rosita assembles a first-rate trousseau, and the affianced pair continue to exchange heartfelt letters. At one point, there’s talk of marriage by proxy – an idea scoffed at by some of the household and neighbors. 

The sameness of the unchanging household is offset by out director José Luis Arellano’s dynamic staging, an excellent cast, actors nimbly changing characters onstage with the help of a hat or cravat fished out of a chest of drawers, Jesús Díaz Cortés’ vibrant lighting, and incidental music from David Peralto and Alberto Granados. Alemán, so good as the shrewd housekeeper from the country (a place Lorca respected) also assays a spinster who comes to tea. And Catherine Nunez characterizes feminine youth, scornful of Rosita’s unattached status. Delbis Cardona is versatile as the worker and Don Martin, a teacher charged with educating the ungrateful offspring of Granada’s rich. 

After a rare outdoor excursion to the circus, Rosita wrongly claims to have seen her would-be groom working with the troupe, but the housekeeper is quick to point out that the well-built puppeteer is by no means her stoop-shouldered barefoot fiancé, adding that more and more Rosita is seeing her faraway love in the face of the men about Granada. Swiftly, the aunt reminds the housekeeper to know her place – she’s allowed to speak, but not bark.

Visually, the passage of time is indicated by the hemline and cut of Rosita’s dresses (designed by Silvia de Marta), and the mid-play dismantling of the set (also de Marta), opening the family’s rooms and garden to what lies beyond. 

After intermission, six more years have passed and the narrative is more straightforward and patently compelling. Rosita’s aunt, now a pissed-off, generally miserable widow in reduced circumstances, is packing up to move. It’s been hard running a house, she says. And it’s harder scrubbing the floors, replies the faithful housekeeper. 

And it’s here that del Pozo shines with Rosita’s revelatory monologue, a searingly true, passionately delivered speech worth the price of a ticket. 

“Doña Rosita” marks a collaborative reunion of three Spaniards – writer López, director Arellano, and actor del Pozo – who all worked on GALA’s 2015, multi-Helen Hayes Award-winning production of Lorca’s politically controversial “Yerma,” the story of another complicated Spanish woman. 

GALA Hispanic Theatre safety policy

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A bisexual coming-of-age tale with heart

‘Things We Couldn’t Say’ offers pleasant surprises



(Book cover image courtesy of Scholastic)

‘Things We Couldn’t Say’
By Jay Coles
c.2021, Scholastic $18.99/320 pages

You’d like an explanation, please.

Why something is done or not, why permission is denied, you’d like to hear a simple reason. You’ve been asking “Why?” since you were two years old but now the older you get, the more urgent is the need to know – although, in the new book “Things We Couldn’t Say” by Jay Coles, there could be a dozen becauses.

Sometimes, mostly when he didn’t need it to happen, Giovanni Zucker’s birth mother took over his thoughts.

It wasn’t as though she was the only thing he had to think about. Gio was an important part of the basketball team at Ben Davis High School; in fact, when he thought about college, he hoped for a basketball scholarship. He had classes to study for, two best friends he wanted to hang out with, a little brother who was his reason to get up in the morning, and a father who was always pushing for help at the church he ran. As for his romantic life, there wasn’t much to report: Gio dated girls and he’d dated guys and he was kinda feeling like he liked guys more.

So no, he didn’t want to think about his birth mother. The woman who walked out on the family when Gio was a little kid didn’t deserve his consideration at all. There was just no time for the first woman who broke his heart.

It was nice to have distractions from his thoughts. Gio’s best friends had his back. He knew pretty much everybody in his Indianapolis neighborhood. And the guy who moved across the street, a fellow b-baller named David, was becoming a good friend.

A very good friend. David was bisexual, too.

But just as their relationship was beginning, the unthinkable happened: Gio’s birth mother reached out, emailed him, wanted to meet with him, and he was torn. She said she had “reasons” for abandoning him all those years ago, and her truth was not what he’d imagined.

There are a lot of pleasant surprises inside “Things We Couldn’t Say.”

From the start, author Jay Coles gives his main character a great support system, and that’s a uniquely good thing. Gio enjoys the company of people who want the best for him, and it’s refreshing that even the ones who are villains do heroic things.

Everyone in this book, in fact, has heart, and that softens the drama that Coles adds – which leads to another nice surprise: there’s no overload of screeching drama here. Overwrought teen conflict is all but absent; even potential angsts that Gio might notice in his urban neighborhood are mentioned but not belabored. This helps keep readers focused on a fine, relatable, and very realistic coming-of-age story line.

This book is aimed at readers ages 12-and-up, but beware that there are a few gently explicit, but responsibly written, pages that might not be appropriate for kids in the lower target range. For older kids and adults, though, “Things We Couldn’t Say” offers plenty of reasons to love it.

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