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Marvel actor reveals ‘The Eternals’ will feature married gay superhero

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Haaz Sleiman will play the husband of gay superhero Phastos in Marvel’s upcoming “The Eternals” (Image via Instagram)

It looks like Marvel is finally going to deliver on its promise to provide substantive LGBTQ representation in its “cinematic universe.”

Actor Haaz Sleimann, who is openly gay, was speaking to LGBTQ media outlet NewNowNext for a profile story when he revealed that he will be portraying the husband of a gay superhero in the studio’s upcoming film, “The Eternals,” slated for a November 2020 release.

Sleimann, 43, has recently garnered attention for his role as a gay Syrian refugee in Apple+ TV’s anthology series “Little America,” and previously made headlines in 2017 when he came out not only as gay but as a “total bottom.”

In the interview, Sleimann mostly talks about his episode of “Little America” and his starring role in the upcoming LGBTQ rom-com, “Breaking Fast,” but in discussing the increased presence of positive role models for queer young people since his own youth, he segues onto the subject of his casting in “The Eternals,” casually dropping the big news.

“I just shot a Marvel film with the first openly gay superhero… I’m married to the gay superhero Phastos (…) and we represent a gay family and have a child.”

Phastos, as previously announced, will be played by Brian Tyree Henry, known for his roles in the FX series “Atlanta” (as the rapper Paper Boy) and in the film “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Henry has not publicly spoken about his own sexuality, but in a trailer for “The Eternals” that debuted at a Comic Con in Brazil in December, he was seen holding the hand of another man, leading to assumptions – now confirmed by Sleimann – that the character was gay.

MCU President Kevin Feige has previously expressed his frustration over the shortage of LGBTQ characters in the franchise’s films, and told an audience in New York last October that “a forthcoming movie” would include LGBTQ representation, after previously announcing plans for queer storylines in both “The Eternals” and the upcoming “Thor: Love and Thunder,” which will reportedly feature Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie character in a relationship with another woman.

The studio’s previous attempts at inclusion, like those made in other Disney-owned franchises, have fallen far short of expectation by remaining vague about the sexuality of the characters in question or relegating the “gay moment” to a brief, blink-and-you-miss-it onscreen reference, this one will feature a same-sex kiss.

According to Sleimann, that won’t be the case in “The Eternals.” Asked by NewNowNext if there will be a kiss between Phastos and his husband, the proud queer Muslim actor, who left his native Lebanon at 21 to escape the country’s oppressive and dangerous homophobia, answers enthusiastically.

“Oh, yeah, absolutely, and it’s a beautiful, very moving kiss,” he discloses. “Everyone cried on set. For me it’s very important to show how loving and beautiful a queer family can be.”

Of his co-star, he says, “Brian Tyree Henry is such a tremendous actor and brought so much beauty into this part, and at one point I saw a child in his eyes, and I think it’s important for the world to be reminded that we in the queer community were all children at one point. We forget that because we’re always depicted as sexual or rebellious. We forget to connect on that human part.”

“The Eternals” depicts a group of superhumans who have obtained their powers through genetic alteration by an alien race known as the Celestials. It features at least eleven super-powered characters, and among the actors are Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Richard Madden, and Kumail Nanjiani.

It will appear in movie theaters on November 6.

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Photos: Reston Pride

In-person festival returns

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Attendees of Reston Pride dance to a recording of 'YMCA' by the Village People. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The 2021 Reston Pride Festival was held at Lake Anne Plaza in Reston, Va. on Saturday. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Calendar: June 18-24

Events in the week to come

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Friday, June 18

Join the National Archives and Bishopsgate Institute Special Collections and Archives as they present their LGBTQ+ archive collections virtually at 8 a.m. In this event, Vicky Iglikowski-Broad from The National Archives and Stefan Dickers from Bishopsgate will explore the different strengths of their collections, to reflect on how they can be used together to build a fuller picture of LGBTQ+ lives. Event registration is available on Eventbrite.

“DISDance, Pride Edition- Still We Dance” will be at 6:30 p.m. Join the D.C. Public Library and show your Pride by dancing with the Library’s Freegal music collections. Post a video or photo of you and your crew dancing or lip-syncing to Instagram and tag D.C. Public Library on Instagram (@dcpubliclibrary) using the tags #DCPLDanceParty and #StillWeDance. The library’s favorite videos will be shared, and crown the video with the most likes the virtual Queen of Pride. All four Pride playlists are available on Freegal with the names Still We Lead, Still We Live, Still We Laugh, and Still We Love.

Saturday, June 19

Join the DC Center for its virtual job club, a weekly job support program to help job entrants and seekers, including the long-term unemployed, improve self-confidence, motivation, resilience and productivity for effective job searches and networking. The event begins on Zoom at 6 p.m. For more information, email [email protected].

Sunday, June 20

Join the DC Center and the Beta Kappa Chapter of the Beta Phi Omega Sorority for a peer-led support group devoted to the joys and challenges of being a Black lesbian. You do not need to be a member of the Beta Kappa Chapter or the Beta Phi Omega Sorority in order to join, but they do ask that you either identify as a lesbian or are questioning that aspect of your identity. This event will be hosted on Zoom at 1 p.m. More details are available here.

Monday, June 21

The Center Aging Coffee Drop-In will still take place virtually at 10 a.m. via Zoom. LGBT Older Adults (and friends) are invited to have friendly conversations about current issues they might be dealing with. For more information, visit Center Aging’s webpage.

Join GenderQueer DC for a monthly support group on Zoom for people who identify outside of the gender binary. Whether you’re bigender, agender, genderfluid, or just know that you’re not 100% cis – this is your group. The event will be at 7 p.m. For more information, visit genderqueerdc.com.

Tuesday, June 22

The European Union Delegation to the United States will host “Joining Forces for LGBTI Rights Around the World” virtually at 9:30 p.m. This event is a discussion on how the international community can help advance LGBTI rights around the world and will feature panelists: Mark Bromley, chair of The Council for Global Equality, Olena Shevchenko, director of Insight, and Urooj Arshad, senior program manager of Dignity for All: LGBTIQ+ Assistance Program, Freedom House. Registration for this free event is available on Eventbrite.

“Rainbow Challah Tutorial and Discussion” will be at 5 p.m. on Zoom. All are welcome to attend this event. Challah is a type of bread traditionally baked to celebrate the Jewish sabbath. Attendees will be provided with the recipe and materials list in advance if they would like to make it at home. There will also be a discussion about food, identity, and community. For more information, email [email protected] or call 202-543-1778 x204.

Wednesday, June 23

Capital Pride Alliance and Hook Hall will host “Hooked on Capital Pride” at 2 p.m. There will be drink specials, music, and celebration of all things LGBTQ+. A portion of the proceeds from this event will support the Capital Pride Alliance and partner Pride organizations responsible for producing Youth Pride, Silver Pride DC, DC Black Pride, DC Latinx Pride, Capital AAPI Pride, and Trans Pride, through the GivePride365 Fund. Every reservation will include a bottle of Rose Bubbly, and cabana reservations will come with a bonus celebration kit! For more information, visit the Facebook event page.

Join the LGBTQIA Alliance Washington National Cathedral for a free webinar featuring Billy Curtis, director, Gender Equity Resource Center UC Berkeley on Zoom at 8 p.m. Curtis is a community activist and advocate who was hired as UC Berkeley’s first full-time director for LGBT Resources in 1999. Curtis is currently the director of the university’s Gender Equity Resource Center. To register for this event, visit: capitalpride.org.

Thursday, June 24

Join the DC Public Library for a poetry reading with Micah Powell from his book “Things No One Else Wants to Say.” Micah will read from his book and join a conversation with DC’s own Regie Cabico, poet and director of Capturing Fire Press. The event will be hosted on Facebook and YouTube at 5:30 p.m. To register, visit the library’s website.

Hope in a Box will host “Books That Make Us: A Pride Month Celebration of LGBTQ+ Stories” online at 8 p.m. The event will feature a number of notable figures including Jahana Hayes, member of Congress (D-Conn.) and 2016 National Teacher of the Year, Zach Stafford, columnist for MSNBC and former editor of the Advocate. Tickets are available at: hopeinabox.splashthat.com.

The DC Anti-Violence Program will have an open meeting via Zoom at 7 p.m. At this meeting, there will be opportunities to learn more and get involved in lessening violence both within and directed toward the LGBT communities. To access the Zoom link, email [email protected].

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Blade live chat with ‘Real Housewives’ author Moylan

Interview to ‘spill the tea’ on all aspects of hit Bravo franchise

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Join the Washington Blade for a live interview with Brian Moylan, a former Blade staffer and author of the new book “The Housewives: The Real Story Behind the Real Housewives.” The book explores the origins and ongoing popularity of the franchise. Moylan will be interviewed by his former boss, Blade editor Kevin Naff. The two promise to “spill the tea” Housewives-style about all aspects of the hit Bravo franchise, including whether or not the shows are scripted and just how controlling Bravo is when it comes to marketing the Housewives.

The interview will be held at 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 24 and will stream on all Blade social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The interview will be uploaded to Instagram after it concludes.

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