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Ava Max releases new anthem for ‘Kings & Queens’

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Image courtesy of Ava Max

Global pop sensation Ava Max has delivered her first new song of 2020.

Kings & Queens,” an empowering new anthem, dropped on Friday, accompanied by a brand new visualizer. The song reasserts the leadership role that the “Princess of Pop” has taken in inspiring her listeners to imagine a better world in which everyone is treated with respect, and is the first new song to be released from Ava’s hugely anticipated debut album, which is set to drop later this year.

Described by Rolling Stone as an “Artist You Need to Know,” Ava has garnered plenty of media attention, and has had high profile features in Vanity FairBillboard, Forbes, Paper, and other magazines. She officially sealed her pop superstar status in 2019, with the blockbuster 2x platinum certified hit, “Sweet but Psycho,” which was named among by the New York Times as one of the “54 Best Songs of 2019” and spent three weeks in the top 10 of Billboard’s “Hot 100.” Along with that success came the companion video, which has garnered over 516 million YouTube views to date.

She followed up that stellar debut with an acclaimed summer single, “Torn,” accompanied by a video from superstar director Joseph Kahn (Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood”) that has achieved nearly 50 million views, and continued her streak with the songs and videos “Freaking Me Out,” “So Am I,” “Salt,” and “On Somebody.”

She’s also established herself as an international artist, teaming up with Norwegian DJ/producer Alan Walker for “Alone Pt. II,” and Spanish superstar Pablo Alborán for their hit single, “Tabú,” a platinum-certified chart-topper in Spain.

Ava ended 2019 as one of the year’s most-honored performers, counting “Best New Artist” nominations at both the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards and the 2019 MTV Europe Music Awards among her accolades. The latter resulted in her first-ever win for “Best Push Artist” and yielded show-stopping live performances of both “Torn” and “Sweet But Psycho.”

You can watch the visualizer for “Kings and Queens” below.

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Calendar

Calendar: July 12-18

LGBTQ events in the days to come

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Friday, July 12

Center Aging Friday Tea Time will be at 2 p.m. on Zoom. This is a social hour for older LGBTQ+ adults. Guests are encouraged to bring a beverage of choice. For more information, email [email protected]

Saturday, July 13

Go Gay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Community Brunch” at 11 a.m. at Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant. This fun weekly event brings the DMV area LGBTQ community, including allies, together for food and conversation. Attendance is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

DC Comedy Clubhouse will host “DC’s Best Pride Comedy Show” at 8 p.m. This will be a night filled with laughter, fun, and celebration of Pride. Join for an evening of performances by talented comedians who will keep you entertained throughout the show. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased on Eventbrite

Sunday, July 14

Go Gay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Community Dinner” at 7 p.m. at Federico Ristorante Italiano. Attendance is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

AfroCode DC will be at 4 p.m. at Decades DC. This event will be an experience of non-stop music, dancing, and good vibes and a crossover of genres and a fusion of cultures. Tickets cost $40 and can be purchased on Eventbrite

Monday, July 15

Rainbow History Project will host “LGBTQ History Walking Tour of East Dupont and 17th Street” at 7:30 p.m. This walking tour of East Dupont and 17th Street will cover bars long-gone, women’s music, and activists’ headquarters. For more details, visit Eventbrite

Center Aging: Monday Coffee & Conversation will be at 10 a.m. on Zoom. This is a social hour for older LGBTQ adults. Guests are encouraged to bring a beverage of their choice. For more details, email [email protected]

Tuesday, July 16

Pride on the Patio Events will host “LGBTQ Social Mixer” at 5:30 p.m. at Showroom. Dress is casual, fancy, or comfortable. Guests are encouraged to bring their most authentic self to chat, laugh, and get a little crazy. Admission is free and more details are on Eventbrite.

Gay Moms Club will host “Quick Chats: Overcoming Religious Stigma” at 4 p.m. at a location disclosed after registering. In this 30-minute session, LGBTQ moms discuss how to handle homophobia from extended family members. To register, visit Eventbrite

Wednesday, July 17

Job Club will be at 6 p.m. on Zoom. This is 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 — allowing participants to move away from being merely “applicants” toward being “candidates.” For more information, email [email protected] or visit thedccenter.org/careers.

“Ariana and the Rose / Bright Light Bright Light” will be at 8 p.m. at DC9 Nightclub. Tickets start at $15 and are available on Eventbrite

Thursday, July 18

Go Gay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Book Club” at 7:30 p.m. at Federico Ristorante Italiano Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant. The book to be discussed is “Brideshead Revisited” by Evelyn Waugh. For more details, visit Eventbrite.

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LGBTQ Trip from Washington to Auckland

Organising a dream LGBTQ trip to New Zealand has never been as easy as it is now

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The popularity of LGBTQ is booming in Washington: its representatives tend to form communities and speak widely about themselves. New Zealand is another destination where minorities can feel freedom and a lack of prejudice. LGBTQ traveling is the latest trend in 2024. 

More and more countries globally are increasing minorities’ acceptance, giving them the possibility of exploring varied places where they can openly express themselves without the fear of discrimination. New Zealand welcomes everyone and is tolerant of all worldviews. 

Auckland is the largest city in the country, so it’s not surprising that it’s the first to attract tourists. What do LGBTQ representatives must explore when visiting it?

LGBTQ Landmarks and Tours

Are you in the mood to explore the Kiwis’ history and culture? Auckland is the top location in this case! The city is LGBTQ-friendly, boasting a massive community of like-minded people. Special tours are available to travellers so that they can discover the beauty of this famous New Zealand destination with maximum fun and pleasure. 

Those desiring to discover the cultural significance of this city should consider local museums and art galleries. It’s possible to book a special LGBTQ guided tour in advance or explore sights independently – but make sure you have a detailed plan. Sky Tower is the most recognizable place in Auckland, so don’t forget to visit it once you arrive in this amazing city. 

The observation space of the 51st floor impresses guests as they can see every little detail from the bird’s-eye view. Of course, Kiwis won’t allow you to stay hungry: a high-class roof restaurant with the best service is perfect for a romantic dinner or a quick lunch with your LGBTQ friends. 

Hobbiton movie set is another place LGBTQ visitors should miss when visiting the largest NZ city. Fans of Lord of the Rings already know this location that tops the must-visit list in Auckland. The entertaining experience of appearing inside one of the best films in world history will diversify the trip and bring tons of fun.

Gambling Venues, Nightlife Entertainment and Online Casinos

LGBTQ communities are known for their passion for nightlife and entertainment – and here, Auckland will also not disappoint them. Gay-friendly bars are a common option in the city, so visitors can find plenty of places to enjoy a tasty drink with like-minded individuals. 

Don’t pass by amazing The Eagle Bar or Caluzzi Bar and Cabaret for tons of unforgettable emotions. Parties never end in this New Zealand city: visitors can attend dozens of nightclubs friendly to LGBTQ representatives. 

Gambling is another nationwide entertainment in the country, and Auckland offers everything casino lovers need to have fun. First, risk seekers have round-the-clock access to leading New Zealand casino brands with thousands of thrilling gaming solutions and exclusive promotions. 

Online gambling is popular and accessible for both locals and tourists. LGBTQ travellers can easily spin the reel during the sightseeing tour or wine testing somewhere in the middle of a national park. 

In addition, Auckland offers players over 20 to visit authentic brick-and-mortar casinos with luxury interiors and fantastic game choices. Gambling resorts are the trend now, so don’t hesitate to include them in your must-visit list when exploring New Zealand.

Wineries and Picturesque Excursions

The country is renowned for its picturesque nature – you won’t find anything similar in the world. Majestic national parks not touched by the human hand is the top thing every visitor must see. Abel Tasman National Park, Huka Falls, Lake Tekapo, and Pancake Rocks are only some locations near Auckland that LGBTQ visitors mustn’t miss. 

While some people can endlessly admire picturesque landscapes, others are quickly bored with this activity. However, not discovering the beauty of NZ nature will be a real crime, so LGBTQ communities often prefer to diversify their pastimes by visiting wineries. The latter are common in Auckland, so finding a suitable tour won’t be challenging. 

Wine tastings are among the main attractions Kiwis are really proud of; local drinks are of exceptional quality and are sold worldwide. LGBTQ travellers shouldn’t miss the chance to try the best options in their homeland. Luckily, no special actions are necessary since tourists just need to find a suitable tour to explore the hidden tastes of New Zealand and enjoy the pastime uniting with the picturesque nature.

Final Thoughts

Organising a dream LGBTQ trip to New Zealand has never been as easy as it is now – the broad acceptance of minorities in the country and lots of attractions, even for the pickiest travellers are a perfect combo. Tourists shouldn’t pass by the amazing nature that Kiwis are really proud of and visit majestic waterfalls, national parks with unique flora and fauna representatives, and lakes with crystal water. 

Complement the excursion with a wine tasting, and you will definitely capture the most unforgettable moments. Many LGBTQ communities are inspired to combine sightseeing with vibrant nightlife, and the choice of bars and clubs won’t leave anyone indifferent. 

Casinos are the guilty pleasure for many people – and Auckland offers multiple gambling opportunities for adrenaline hunters. For those seeking relaxation, Auckland offers top beach hotels and resorts providing the perfect seaside escape. Book your flight from Washington and enjoy a trip full of adventure and excitement.

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Movies

Two queer indies rank among the year’s standout films

Don’t miss ‘Big Boys’ and ‘Cora Bora’

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Isaac Krasner and David Johnson III in ‘Big Boys.’ (Photo courtesy of Dark Star Pictures)

If there is any downside to living in an era when movies about queer people are finally plentiful, it’s that sometimes the best of them are overshadowed by bigger, splashier films and end up getting lost in the mix.

Two such titles are a pair of indie projects, both of which focus on “outsider” queer characters, newly available on the VOD market after brief-and-limited theatrical runs; each of them deserves a better fate than that. 

The first of these, “Big Boys,” was a major hit in the 2023 queer festival circuit, winning multiple awards (including Outstanding Lead Performance honors for its young star, Isaac Krasner, at LA’s Outfest) and emerging as an audience favorite. It’s easy to see why.

Written, produced, and directed by Corey Sherman, it’s a small, slice-of-life story centered on Jamie (Krasner), a bright-but-awkward 14-year-old trying to navigate the dual challenges of growing up as a chubby gay-and-closeted teen, who sets out (along with his slick and more confident older brother Will, played by Taj Cross) on a camping trip with favorite cousin Allie (Dora Madison), though he’s initially disappointed when he finds out her new boyfriend Dan (David Johnson III) is also coming along. His attitude changes, however, when the interloper turns out to be a handsome young man who wears his physical “chunkiness” with an easy confidence. Yes, it’s an instant and impossible crush, leading to a weekend adventure that pushes awkward boundaries for all four campers. But aside from his attractiveness, Dan also emerges as a positive role model for Jamie, who begins to find a confidence of his own.

Equal parts bittersweet coming-of-age story and uncomfortable-yet-endearing comedy, Sherman’s movie wins us over early on, largely through the strength of Krasner’s performance; the young actor exhibits not just the comedic chops necessary to get laughs from even his most painful moments, but the vulnerability to make them ring true. Seemingly unafraid of exploring his own identity through his character, he turns in a tour-de-force which stands up to comparison with some of the greatest “young actor breakthrough” performances of all time.

He’s given an ideal foil in Johnson, whose easygoing charm as Dan still allows us subtle hints of an internal process that keeps him from coming off as callow and clueless – something that pays off well in the film’s quiet-but-heart-stirring climax, which is best left unspoiled here. Madison also provides invaluable support with a performance that captures the conflicted impulses that come between youth and adulthood, and Cross successfully gets past the casual toxicity of his aggressively hetero-centric character to remain sympathetic. 

It’s a stellar collection of performances from an ensemble of relative newcomers, and it goes a long way toward endearing “Big Boys” to a presumably queer audience, which will likely find resonance in the way they each – especially Kasner – convey its theme of trying to claim and define one’s young identity when it goes against the grain of the world around you. But it’s ultimately Sherman, who drew heavily from his own experiences growing up as a plus-size queer kid in creating the film, that deserves full credit – not just for putting it all together, but for having the courage and determination to deliver a queer story that foregoes the glitz and glamour of “gay romance” and connects with the lived experience of viewers who may feel left out of the typically glossy mainstream depictions of queer life.

Cut from a similar cloth is “Cora Bora,” starring “Hacks” fan favorite Meg Stalter as the title character, a bisexual musician who might just be the poster child for clueless self-centeredness. Openly rude, unrepentantly shallow, and blatantly manipulative, she steamrolls her way through life seemingly oblivious to the impact her attitude has on others. Having departed her native Portland – and left behind longtime girlfriend Justine (Jojo T. Gibbs), though ostensibly maintaining a “long-distance open relationship” with her – to pursue a music career in Los Angeles, success has proven elusive. She decides to make a surprise visit back home to re-evaluate, only to find that a new girl (Ayden Mayeri) has moved in to take her place. When her attempts to reassert her claim in the household just make matters worse, Cora is forced to recognize that both her professional and personal lives are a shambles – but can she find the humility it will take to get “real” enough to repair them?

Directed by Hannah Pearl Utt from a screenplay by Rhianon Jones, “Cora Bora” also relies heavily on the talents of its star player. Statler, in a turn that lends a darker, more desperate edge to the comedic persona that has made her “Hacks” character one of that show’s biggest assets, is at once monstrous and endearing, a ridiculously broad yet shrewdly-drawn caricature of modern bourgeois boorishness that serves as a fragile cover for something deeper and – without spoiling anything – profoundly traumatic. The journey we take with her is at once hilarious and powerfully affecting, echoing a time-honored comic tradition of transcending pain by finding humor in a pain that feels universal.

She’s aided by an equally gifted supporting cast, with both Gibbs and Mayeri finding enough heart to keep either of their characters – the other two points of the film’s romantic triangle – from being positioned as a “villain,” and a convincing turn from Manny Jacinto (known for his breakout “himbo” role on TV’s afterlife comedy “The Good Place”), as a character that would otherwise seem too good to be true, lending credibility to an eventual resolution that hinges on a pile of coincidences that would seem absurd without his sincerity. There are also appearances from other familiar faces in cameo roles – such as Margaret Cho as part of a polyamorous commune and Chelsea Peretti as an outraged dog owner – which serve as highlights in a movie already rich with them.

Both “Big Boys” and “Cora Bora” are linked by a common thread. Each of them features a queer protagonist, of course, but they are outsiders even within their own community. Ultimately, their struggles are born of a perspective that separates them from the rest of the world, a lived experience that others around them do not and cannot fully share. It would be easy enough for either film to make its lead character the butt of the joke, but neither of them makes that choice. The humor comes through their relatability, rather than from their “otherness,” and that makes all the difference. Despite these films’ occasional painfulness, their kindness is what comes shining through – not just toward their misfit characters, but toward the misfits in the audience, too.

For our money, that’s what the world needs a lot more of these days, and it places these two hidden gems among 2024’s best releases so far.

Megan Statler stars in ‘Cora Bora.’ (Photo courtesy of Brainstorm Media)
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