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

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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: Safe Space

New LGBTQ+ party held at Black Cat

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A scene from the 'Safe Space' party at the Black Cat on Saturday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Safe Space 2: A Safer Space party was held at the Black Cat on Saturday, Dec. 3.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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PHOTOS: Holiday Show

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington perform annual concert at Lincoln Theatre

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A scene from the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington's 'Holiday Show.' (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington and the GenOUT Youth Chorus performed “The Holiday Show” at a dress rehearsal on Friday, Dec. 2 at Lincoln Theatre. The Chorus has performances scheduled for Dec. 9 and 11. For tickets and showtimes, visit gmcw.org.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Theater

New Studio Theatre production explores misery of addiction

Slogging through the work of recovery in ‘People, Places & Things’

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Kristen Bush in ‘People, Places & Things.’ (Photo by Margot Schulman)

‘People, Places & Things’
Through Dec. 11
Studio Theatre
1501 14th St., N.W.
$65-$95
Studiotheatre.org

Meet Emma, working actor and addict.  

After a lot of hard partying and an onstage collapse, the relapsing heroine of Duncan Macmillan’s “People, Places & Things” devises a sort of strategy. She’ll do a short stint in rehab and get back to work as soon as possible, sort of breeze in and breeze out. But things don’t quite pan out as planned.  

In Macmillan’s superbly written and aptly named work (the title references a recovery slogan about triggers and relapse), the English playwright takes a lucid and, at turns, funny and mordantly perceptive look into the misery of addiction and the vicissitudes of recovery. At the center of his work is Emma — dishonest, witty, very toxic, but in spite of everything, likeable.  

At Studio Theatre, director David Muse succeeds in leading an inventive design team and strong cast, particularly Kristen Bush as wily Emma, in bringing this not unfamiliar but compellingly told tale to life. 

After a major professional screw up, (a wasted Emma implodes during a performance of Chekhov’s “The Seagull”), she voluntarily checks into a British clinic. At intake she’s still high and in an uncharacteristically honest moment, readily admits to having recently indulged in a panoply of pills, weed, coke, speed, and ibuprofen washed down with gin and a good bottle of Rioja.

Unsold on the 12 steps, she’s resistant. Still the show must go on – loads of therapy (one-on-one and group) and role-playing sessions ensue. The medical professionals, staff, and patients are played effectively by Nathan Whitmer, Lise Bruneau, Tessa Klein, Maboud Ebrahimzadeh, Emily Erickson, Derek Garza, Lynette R. Freeman, and the excellent David Manis. 

Jeanne Paulsen plays Emma’s helpful doctor and later and more startling, her mother. Jahi Kearse adds an inspiring presence as a fellow addict.

Watching an addict slog through the yeoman work of recovery, and in this case an unenthusiastic patient’s passage from detox to therapy to departure, isn’t anything new; but here, the unfolding journey feels fresh despite or maybe due to the protagonist’s dearth of pink cloud elation. There’s also a real true-to-lifeness about it. 

Studio’s new Victor Shargai Theatre has been configured as alley staging (it’s like a catwalk with banked seating on either side), making for an intimate experience. Debra Booth’s institutional grey set changes fairly seamlessly and entertainingly to different spaces, all interconnected in Emma’s recovery – a stage, an after-hours club evoking both allure and dread, offices, therapy rooms, and bedrooms. 

Lighting by Andrew Cissna and Lindsay Jones’s music contribute to a sometimes-unsettling mood. 

Macmillan wrote “People, Places & Things” with a meaty female role in mind. It premiered at London’s National Theatre in 2015 and moved to New York a couple of years later. The production proved a great success for everyone involved, including Denise Gough who created the role of Emma. Bush is garnering a similar reaction at Studio. 

As the action moves steadily toward an ending, contributing factors regarding Emma’s dysfunction are revealed – cold family, a brother’s death. Some definite headway is made. Still, there’s no denying that over turbulent years, she’s left some very hurt and disappointed colleagues and family in her frenzied drug fueled wake. 

The actor/addict leaves rehab markedly less messy. Reentering the world as a different Emma, she lands at the home of her unsympathetic parents, not the most cushiony place for a sober re-launch. 

Her future is unclear, and like her sobriety, can’t be taken for granted. 

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