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Storm’s Sullivan becomes first out bisexual player in pro hockey

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Manchester Storm defenseman Zach Sullivan (Image via Twitter)

Yet another figure in the world of professional sports has come out of the closet.

Last weekend, Manchester Storm defenseman Zach Sullivan came out as bisexual on social media. According to Outsports, he is believed to be the first professional ice hockey player to do so during their career.

The 25-year old UK hockey player made his revelation as his team’s Elite Ice Hockey League held its first-ever Pride weekend, in partnership with You Can Play. Hockey website RMNB reports that support for the weekend was league-wide; individual teams selected a local LGBT+ charity to work with, with initiatives ranging from the use of Pride tape, specially designed Pride jerseys, raffles and auctions to win player’s shirts, Pride merchandise for sale, and some proceeds going to directly to LGBT+ organizations. The weekend received heavy promotion across social media and in national and local news coverage across the UK.

Ahead of Sunday’s game between the Storm and rival team the Dundee Stars, Sullivan took to Instagram and Twitter with a the following post:

“With this being the first ever EIHL #PrideWeekend I feel now is the best time to speak about what I have known for many years. I have battled with mental health problems over this issue and with the support, understanding and acceptance from my family, friends and teammates, I finally feel read to say; I’m bisexual. I have never been more proud to wear a jersey before, especially one that celebrates all gender identities and sexualities.”

His post on Twitter was accompanied by a photograph of himself and teammates Cam Critchlow and Jared Aulin, each of them wearing the Manchester Storm Pride jersey.

#PrideWeekend #ICanPlay #YouCanPlay @officialEIHL @Mcr_Storm pic.twitter.com/2FH6AtDZ4f

— Zach Sullivan (@ZachSully11) January 26, 2020

Response to Sullivan’s revelation came quickly from both fans and players of the Storm, as well as from fans and players of other teams both within and outside of the Elite League, and was described by RMNB as “overwhelmingly positive.” The Tweet currently has 6.6K likes and 1.1K retweets, while the Instagram post has nearly 1700 likes.

Among the many supportive comments:

“Huge thanks for your courage in sharing your story, @zachsully94, & being proud of who you are! Your authenticity & bravery will make a difference in the lives of more lgbtq youth worldwide than you can imagine. Much continued success & #BeTrue! ? ? ?️‍?♥️” (@gamcockgrad84 on Instagram)

“To be open and honest on who you are will forever be the best desicion you will ever make. So proud of you!” (@hans.morten.storsveen on Instagram)

“So proud of you. This shows how important having this weekend is for our sport it’s allowed you to live your truth and just be you.” (@DaytonDevil on Twitter)

“Sending much love your way. Not sure you’ll ever know how you’ll have helped gay hockey fans like myself. #icehockeypride #stormtheice (@theicehockeynut on Twitter)

Following Sullivan’s initial social media posts, Manchester Storm posted a follow-up statement on their website, in which they said were “extremely proud of Zach,” and called him “a role model for so many people, young and old, in the sporting world.”

The statement also included additional comments by Sullivan, who explained, “I’m not doing this in the hope of any publicity. I’ve always been a very private guy, but I realise that I have a unique opportunity to do some good. If I can be open and honest about my sexuality, then hopefully that will give other hockey players around the country the same confidence to do the same.”

Manchester Storm went on to beat the Dundee Stars 3-0 at Sunday’s game. One fan who attended the game, Hilary Keane, told RMNB “When they called his name and number as he stepped onto the ice for warmups the cheer was noticeably louder than it was for any other player. Then, when he was called to do the ceremonial puck drop the entire building cheered and got on their feet for him.”

On Monday, Sullivan went on radio station BBC Manchester, where he told an interviewer:

“I think it’s a journey that everyone has to take at their own pace. By no means, just because I’ve done it, do I expect hundreds of other people to do it, that’s not what I’ve done this for. If me saying this can help someone else feel better about themselves or move them a little bit further on their journey, then that’s my end target. Everyone’s different, but at the end of the day everyone’s still human. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you believe in, or who you fall in love with. My suggestion is to just be yourself and take it at your own pace.”

Sullivan’s opening up about his bisexuality comes just a few months after Jon Lee-Olsen, goalkeeper for Denmark’s Rungsted Seier Capital, became one of the few professional hockey players ever, and possibly the only one currently playing in the world, to come out openly as gay.

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Photos

PHOTOS: Caroline County Pride

‘Carnival Adventure’ LGBTQ celebration held in Denton, Md.

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The 2023 Caroline County Pride Festival is held in downtown Denton, Md. on Saturday, May 27. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The third Caroline County Pride Festival, “A Carnival Adventure,” was held in downtown Denton, Md. on Saturday, May 27.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Photos

PHOTOS: Black Pride Opening Reception

Comedy show and resource fair held at Renaissance Washington

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From left, Kenya Hutton, Aiyi'nah Ford and Earl Fowlkes, Jr. at the 2023 Black Pride Opening Reception on May 26. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

DC Black Pride held its Opening Reception at the Renaissance Washington Hotel on Friday, May 26.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Movies

Summer brings major dose of new queer film, TV content

Dramas, comedies, Barbie, and the return of ‘Heartstopper’

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Taylor Zakhar Pérez and Nicholas Galitzine star in ‘Red, White & Royal Blue.’ (Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios)

There’s no season quite like the summer when it comes to having fun outdoors, for obvious reasons – but unless you want a nasty sunburn, you need to spend time indoors, too. Luckily, the Blade is here for our readers with our picks for the most promising new movies and shows coming to our various screens over the coming season, so you’ll have something good to watch while you’re recovering from all that shiny Vitamin D.

JUNE

THE NEIGHBOR (Limited theaters 6/2, Digital & DVD 6/6) – From Italian director Pasquale Marrazzo comes this fresh-from-the-festivals LGBTQ drama about two young men who begin an intense romance after having a terrifying experience together, and the parental hate and homophobia that comes to light in the face of their newfound love. It sounds grim, but it comes with a string of strong reviews to recommend it and acclaimed performances from Michelle Costabile and Jacopo Costantini, plus a score by prizewinning composer Teho Teardo (“House of Gucci,” “Il Divo”). 

HORSEPLAY (Limited theaters 6/2, Digital & DVD 6/13) – Another queer LGBTQ film fest darling, this one a thriller from Argentina, about a group of friends at a summer get together; their hard-partying fun leads to horseplay (naturally), which (also naturally) stirs up other issues – and submerged secrets, feelings, and jealousies begin to push tensions toward a violent breaking point. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Marco Berger and described as “a boundary-pushing look at masculinity, homophobia and sexuality,” it stars Bruno Giganti, Agustín Machta, Franco De La Puente, and Ivan Masliah Taekwondo. It also looks very sexy, which makes us look forward to it that much more.

THE IDOL (HBO, 6/4) – “Euphoria” creator Dan Levinson is also behind this much-anticipated new series, which stars Lily-Rose Depp as a rising pop star who falls under the spell a Svengali-like self-help guru played by none other than The Weeknd (aka Abel Tesfaye). It also stars queer fan favorite and “Schitt’s Creek” co-creator Dan Levy, along with Jane Adams, Hari Nef, and Troye Sivan, among others. Already controversial thanks to a behind-the-scenes whistleblower who told Rolling Stone that it “borders on sexual torture porn,” you can bet there will be a lot of eyes – queer and otherwise – streaming this one.

ALL MAN: THE INTERNATIONAL MALE STORY (Digital, 6/6) – For a certain generation of gay men, the words “International Male” evoke memories of rushing home from high school to grab that precious sexy catalogue out of the mailbox before their parents got home. Now, this long-awaited documentary – which was an Official Selection at both the Tribeca and Outfest Film Festivals – finally arrives to bring the story of this iconic touchstone of queer history to light, by charting “the journey of an unlikely band of outsiders” who “designed one of the most sought-after mail-order catalogues of the ‘70s and ‘80s, forever changing the way men look at themselves, at each other, and how the world would look at them.” Matt Bomer, Simon Doonan, and Carson Kressley are among the participating talking heads, but the real attraction is the wealth of archival imagery showing some of the most outrageously gay (and irresistible) fashion ever created.

BLUE JEAN (In Theaters, 9/9) – UK filmmaker Georgia Oakley won high praise for this 2022 slice-of-history drama, now making its official U.S. debut. Set in 1988 England as the conservative Thatcher government is poised to pass stigmatizing legislation against gays and lesbians, it features a powerhouse performance from Rosy McEwen as a gym teacher whose closeted double life is threatened by the arrival of a new student. BAFTA-nominated, this one won the Venice Film Festival’s People’s Choice Award and four British Independent Film Awards, making it both a heavy-hitter and a must-see.

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (FX, 6/13) – The popular vampire mockumentary – along with its breakout star, queer fan favorite Harvey Guillén – returns for a fifth season.

JAGGED MIND (Hulu, 6/15) – Directed by Kelley Kali and inspired by her own short film “First Date”, this feature-length queer thriller follows a woman (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) who, plagued by blackouts and strange visions, finds herself stuck in a series of time loops that may or may not be connected to her mysterious new girlfriend (Shannon Woodward). This one will have its world premiere at the American Black Film Festival in Miami Beach the day ahead of its streaming drop.

AND JUST LIKE THAT… (Max, 6/22) – The Samantha-less reboot of “Sex and the City” brings back the rest of the scandalous cadre for a second season.

EVERY BODY (In theaters, 6/30) – Julie Cohen directed this revelatory doc, which investigates the lives of intersex people, telling the stories of three individuals who have risen above childhood shame, secrecy, and non-consensual surgeries to thrive as adults after coming out as their authentic selves; it also weaves in a “stranger-than-fiction” tale of medical abuse, told in exclusive footage from the NBC News archives, which helps shed some light on the modern-day treatment of intersex people. We are definitely on board for anything that brings visibility to one of the most invisible sectors of our community – especially when it also aims to reduce stigma.

JULY

THEATER CAMP (In theaters, 7/14) – Sure to be a big draw for film fans who also love musical theater, this new movie from co-directors Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman is an original comedy starring Tony-winner Ben Platt (“Dear Evan Hansen”) opposite Gordon as a BFF pair of instructors at the rundown titular institution, who join forces with their loyal production manager (Noah Galvin, Platt’s real-life boyfriend) to rescue it from the clueless tech-bro (Jimmy Tatro) that has been brought in to run it. How? Why, with a musical, of course! Written by Platt, Gordon, Galvin, and Leiberman, it also stars Patti Harrison, Nathan Lee Graham, Ayo Edebiri, Owen Thiele, Alan Kim, Alexander Bello, Bailee Bonick, Kyndra Sanchez, Donovan Colan, Vivienne Sachs, Quinn Titcomb, Caroline Aaron, and the always hilarious Amy Sedaris. Sign us up.

BARBIE (In theaters, 7/21) – Let’s face it, this wickedly campy-looking, over-the-top comedy from the brilliant Greta Gerwig is probably going to be the film of the year – at least for a solid percentage of the queer audience, who are certain to be passing the popcorn on opening weekend as they watch Margot Robbie’s Barbie and Ryan Gosling’s Ken visit the real world together. And since collections have always been part of the “Barbie” game, Gerwig’s satirical joyride offers an assortment of other Kens and Barbies, including Kingsley Ben-Adir, Simu Liu, Ncuti Gatwa, and Scott Evans as Ken, Hari Nef, Issa Rae, Kate McKinnon, Dua Lipa, Emma Mackey, Ana Cruz Kayne, Sharon Rooney, Alexandra Shipp, and Nicola Coughlan. Truthfully, if they throw in a Barbie camper set, we will be in heaven.

KOKOMO CITY (In theaters, 7/28) – Lena Waithe executive produced this “wildly entertaining and refreshingly unfiltered” documentary that follows the lives of four Black transgender sex workers in Atlanta and New York City. Winner of Sundance’s NEXT Innovator Award and NEXT Audience Awards, it gives its quartet of subjects ample opportunity to spill the tea on their profession, and they do not hold back. As a bonus, it’s the directorial debut of producer/singer/songwriter D. Smith, who made history as the first trans woman cast on a primetime unscripted TV show.

AUGUST

HEARTSTOPPER (Netflix, 8/3) – The eagerly awaited return of Nick and Charlie (Kit Connor and Joe Locke), the most irresistibly adorable pair of young teen boyfriends ever, for a second season of this beloved UK series that will likely have everyone immediately clamoring for a third.

ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING (Hulu, 8/8) – Another returning favorite, the third season of this deliciously charming confectionary blend of characters, comedy and crime podcasts comes with the addition of a new premium ingredient – Meryl Streep (real, not imitation) – for extra delectability. Who could resist?

RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE (Prime, 8/11) – “Heartstopper” fans who have binged through the new season in one sitting and are hungry for more might find a suitable fix when this Greg Berlanti-produced, Matthew Lopez-directed film adaptation of nonbinary author Casey McQuiston’s YA bestseller drops a week later. It’s an implausible but infectiously sweet rom-com that imagines a same-sex romance between America’s First Son and the heir to the British throne, with young newcomers Taylor Zakhar Pérez and Nicholas Galitzine taking on the leading roles; also starring are Clifton Collins Jr., Stephen Fry, Sarah Shahi, Rachel Hilson, Ellie Bamber, Aneesh Sheth, and Polo Morín, but we are frankly most excited to see Uma Thurman playing America’s first female president. Let’s hope that plot detail isn’t such an implausible premise.

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