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GLAAD’s ‘Together in Pride’ raises $225,000

Online fundraiser featured dozens of LGBTQ celebrities



Billy Eichner, gay news, Washington Blade
Billy Eichner, gay news, Washington Blade
Billy Eichner served as a host of GLAAD’s ‘Together in Pride’ fundraiser. (Photo via Instagram)

After weeks of social distancing, connecting with the rest of the world only from a screen is starting to wear a little thin.

With that in mind, it’s even more remarkable that GLAAD last weekend managed to pull off an impressive show of solidarity and support for the LGBTQ+ community with a virtual gathering that actually felt – almost, at least – like the real thing.

“Together in Pride: You Are Not Alone,” which streamed live on GLAAD’s YouTube channel Sunday evening, brought together dozens of celebrities to participate and perform from the safety of their living rooms, in an event that was intended to highlight the LGBTQ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to bring the LGBTQ community together with messages of acceptance, to honor LGBTQ heroes providing direct services during COVID-19, and to raise much-needed funds for local LGBTQ centers affected by the crisis.

The livestream was presented by GLAAD to benefit CenterLink, a coalition of more than 250 LGBTQ community centers from 45 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia, as well as Canada, China, Mexico, and Australia.

If you were not one of the thousands who watched live or have since viewed it on YouTube, it won’t be a spoiler to say that the event succeeded in raising over $225,000 in initial funds ($150,000 of which was gifted by the Ariadne Getty Foundation), all of which will go to CenterLink, and that number is still rising as donations continue to be accepted.

The livestream event, at just under two hours, never seemed to drag. Juxtaposing interviews, performances, and discussions of topics surrounding the impact of the virus on the queer community, the slickly produced show maintained – for the most part – a healthy balance between entertainment, advocacy, and passing the hat. Much of that is thanks to Billy Eichner and Lilly Singh, who split hosting duties for the evening and provided a welcome upbeat energy to the whole affair.

Eichner started things off on a light note that prevailed throughout the livestream without undermining the importance of its underlying purpose. In several engaging interviews, interspersed throughout the show, he spoke with LGBTQ trailblazers like “Schitt’s Creek” creator and star Dan Levy, former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and his husband Chasten, “American Idol” star and Queen front-man Adam Lambert, and (as Eichner introduced him) “the hideous” Matt Bomer.

Alternating with Eichner was Singh, who matched his good-natured presence with her own infectious joy, gleefully changing outfits from one segment to the next. Among her interviews were “Will & Grace” star Sean Hayes and his husband Scott Icenogle, LGBTQ ally and “Orphan Black” star Tatiana Maslany, and “Queer Eye” star Jonathan Van Ness, who talked about the importance of breaking down the stigma around people living with HIV.

There were a lot of highlights. Other interviewers included Rosie O’Donnell, Wilson Cruz, Brian Michael Smith, and Michelle Visage; there were appearances from Tony and Emmy Award-winner Billy Porter, Gigi Gorgeous and Nats Getty, Ross Mathews, “Hamilton” star Javier Muñoz, Bebe Rexha, Patrick Starrr, and D.J. “Shangela” Pierce, as well as longtime ally and GLAAD supporter Sharon Stone. There was even a special message to the LGBTQ community from beloved superstar Barbra Streisand.

The standout moments of the livestream, however, were undoubtedly the performances. Headliners Kesha and Melissa Etheridge delivered performances – Kesha sang “Rainbow” while Etheridge gave renditions of “Everybody Has a Pulse” and the classic “Come To My Window” – that were as committed and polished as if they had been executed on any concert stage, and were made all the more affecting by the intimate setting.

Their efforts were matched by a stunning performance from gender non-conforming actor Alex Newell, whose powerful delivery of “Stand Up for Love” surely moved more than a few sheltered-at-home viewers to stand up from their couches in ovation, and by the cast of Broadway’s “Jagged Little Pill,” whose multi-split-screen performance of “You Learn” reminded us of both the complex and inclusive humanity layered into the lyrics of Alanis Morrisette and the irrepressible talent of the professional theater community – a segment particularly hard-hit by the economic impact of the coronavirus shutdowns across the nation.

Each of these performances could be called a stand-out, but the livestream’s show-stopping moment came with the duet “Suddenly, Seymour,” from “Little Shop of Horrors,” performed by actor George Salazar and “Pose” star Mj Rodriguez. The two performers, who last year starred in an acclaimed Pasadena Playhouse production of the Howard Ashman/Alan Menken-penned musical, brought an intensity of feeling to the screen that made us forget, for a few precious minutes, that they were separated from each other, and even from us – we might have been watching from the front row. It was an outstanding performance, by any standard, and proof that each of these gifted actors deserve to be taken seriously as members of a diverse new wave of talent in the entertainment industry.

Of course, throughout “Together in Pride,” in between all the “fun stuff,” were the reminders of why we were gathered virtually to begin with – the plight of LGBTQ centers, cornerstones of the queer community and important providers of much-needed services to under-served segments within that population, that are struggling to stay open long enough to survive into a still-uncertain future. GLAAD is a powerful ally, but even having the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization on your side is no guarantee of survival.

There are also the inevitable questions about the future of our culture that arise from the vague, indefinable dissatisfaction many of us feel when watching these kinds of entertainment experiences, patched together remotely from disparate places and assembled, hopefully, into something that can help us escape, just for awhile, the day-to-day drudgery of life during lockdown. Is this what we have to look forward to for the foreseeable future? Will we ever be able to be in the same room with our favorite performers again? Will they ever be able to be in the same room with each other?

Fortunately, “Together in Pride: You Are Not Alone” succeeded not only in raising money and awareness, it succeeded in raising consciousness. Through its sincerity, its welcoming spirit, and its dedication to elevating the efforts of those in our community who are playing the role of helpers throughout this crisis, the GLAAD livestream event reminded us that we are, indeed, all together in this, even if we’re far apart, and if we are going to make it through it will be because we have each other’s backs.

The hope that springs from that recognition is more than enough to dispel any doom-and-gloom feelings you might have going into the show, and that’s as much a win for GLAAD, in its own way, as its success at bringing in donations.

You can watch the event in its entirety on GLAAD’s YouTube channel.



New book goes behind the scenes of ‘A League of Their Own’

‘No Crying in Baseball’ offers tears, laughs, and more



(Book cover image courtesy of Hachette Books)

‘No Crying in Baseball: The Inside Story of ‘A League of Their Own’
By Erin Carlson
c.2023, Hachette Books
$29/320 pages

You don’t usually think of Madonna as complaining of being “dirty all day” from playing baseball. But that’s what the legendary diva did during the shooting of “A League of Their Own,” the 1992 movie, beloved by queers.

“No Crying in Baseball,” the fascinating story behind “A League of Their Own,” has arrived in time for the World Series. Nothing could be more welcome after Amazon has cancelled season 2 of its reboot (with the same name) of this classic film.

In this era, people don’t agree on much. Yet, “A League of Their Own” is loved by everyone from eight-year-old kids to 80-year-old grandparents.

The movie has strikes, home runs and outs for sports fans; period ambience for history buffs; and tears, laughs and a washed-up, drunk, but lovable coach for dramady fans.

The same is true for “No Crying in Baseball.” This “making of” story will appeal to history, sports and Hollywood aficionados. Like “All About Eve” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “A League of Their Own” is Holy queer Writ.

Carlson, a culture and entertainment journalist who lives in San Francisco, is skilled at distilling Hollywood history into an informative, compelling narrative. As with her previous books, “I’ll Have What She’s Having: How Nora Ephron’s three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy” and “Queen Meryl: The Iconic Roles, Heroic Deeds, and Legendary Life of Meryl Streep,” “No Crying in Baseball,” isn’t too “educational.” It’s filled with gossip to enliven coffee dates and cocktail parties.

“A League of Their Own” is based on the true story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). From 1943 to 1954, more than 600 women played in the league in the Midwest. The league’s players were all white because the racism of the time prohibited Black women from playing. In the film, the characters are fictional. But the team the main characters play for – the Rockford Peaches – was real.

While many male Major and Minor League Baseball players were fighting in World War II, chewing gum magnate Philip K. Wrigley, who owned the Chicago Cubs, founded the league. He started the AAGPBL, “To keep spectators in the bleachers,” Carlson reports, “and a storied American sport–more important: his business afloat.” 

In 1943, the Office of War Information warned that the baseball season could be “scrapped” “due to a lack of men,” Carlson adds.

“A League of Their Own” was an ensemble of women’s performances (including Rosie O’Donnell as Doris, Megan Cavanagh as Marla, Madonna as Mae, Lori Petty as Kit and Geena Davis as Dottie) that would become legendary.

Girls and women  still dress up as Rockford Peaches on Halloween.

Tom Hanks’s indelible portrayal of coach Jimmy Dugan, Gary Marshall’s depiction of (fictional) league owner Walter Harvey and Jon Lovitz’s portrayal of Ernie have also become part of film history.

Filming “A League of Their Own,” Carlson vividly makes clear, was a gargantuan effort.  There were “actresses who can’t play baseball” and “baseball players who can’t act,” Penny Marshall said.

The stadium in Evansville, Ind., was rebuilt to look like it was in the 1940s “when the players and extras were in costume,” Carlson writes, “it was easy to lose track of what year it was.”

“No Crying in Baseball” isn’t written for a queer audience. But, Carlson doesn’t pull any punches. 

Many of the real-life AAGPBL players who O’Donnell met had same-sex partners, O’Donnell told Carlson.

“When Penny, angling for a broad box-office hit chose to ignore the AAGPGL’s queer history,” Carlson writes, “she perpetuated a cycle of silence that muzzled athletes and actresses alike from coming out on the wider stage.”

“It was, as they say, a different time,” she adds.

Fortunately, Carlson’s book isn’t preachy. Marshall nicknames O’Donnell and Madonna (who become buddies) “Ro” and “Mo.” Kodak is so grateful for the one million feet of film that Marshall shot that it brings in a high school marching band. Along with a lobster lunch. One day, an assistant director “streaked the set to lighten the mood,” Carlson writes.

“No Crying in Baseball,” is slow-going at first. Marshall, who died in 2018, became famous as Laverne in “Laverne & Shirley.” It’s interesting to read about her. But Carlson devotes so much time to Marshall’s bio that you wonder when she’ll get to “A League of Their Own.”

Thankfully, after a couple of innings, the intriguing story of one of the best movies ever is told.

You’ll turn the pages of “No Crying in Baseball” even if you don’t know a center fielder from a short stop.

The Blade may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made via this post.

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Rupert Murdoch’s powers on full display in ‘Ink’

Media baron helped pave the way for Brexit, Prime Minister Thatcher



Cody Nickell (Larry Lamb) and Andrew Rein (Rupert Murdoch) in ‘Ink’ at Round House Theatre. (Photo by Margot Schulman Photography)

Through Sept. 24
Round House Theatre
4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814

Yes, Rupert Murdoch’s loathsome traits are many, but his skills to succeed are undeniably numerous. 

In the first scenes of John Graham’s West End and Broadway hit drama “Ink,” an exciting year-long detail from the life of a burgeoning media baron, Murdoch’s powers of persuasion are on full display.

It’s 1969 London. Over dinner with editor Larry Lamb, a young Murdoch shares his plan to buy the Sun and rebrand the dying broadsheet, replacing the Daily Mirror as Britain’s best-selling tabloid. What’s more, he wants to do it in just one year with Lamb at the helm. 

Initially reluctant, Lamb becomes seduced by the idea of running a paper, something that’s always eluded him throughout his career, and something Murdoch, the outsider Australian, understands. Murdoch taunts him, “Not you. Not Larry Lamb, the Yorkshire-born son of a blacksmith, not the guy who didn’t get a degree from Oxford or Cambridge, who didn’t get a degree from anywhere. Not you.”

Still, Lamb, played convincingly by Cody Nickell in Round House Theatre’s stellar season-opener, a co-production with Olney Theatre Center, remains unsure. But Murdoch (a delightfully brash Andrew Rein) is undeterred, and seals the deal with a generous salary. 

Superbly staged by director Jason Loweth, “Ink” is riveting. Its exchanges between Lamb and Murdoch are a strikingly intimate glimpse into ambition involving an ostensibly average editor and a striving money man who doesn’t like people.  

Once on board, Lamb is trolling Fleet Street in search of his launch team, played marvelously by some mostly familiar actors. He makes his most important hire — news editor Brian McConnell (Maboud Ebrahimzadeh) — in a steam bath. The remainder of the Sun’s new masthead falls handily into place: Joyce Hopkirk (Kate Eastwood Norris) the women’s page editor whose forward thinking is marred by her casual racism; Zion Jang plays Beverley Goodway, an awkwardly amusing young photographer; persnickety deputy editor Bernard Shrimsley (Michael Glenn) who learns to love ugly things; and an old school sports editor who proves surprisingly versatile, played by Ryan Rillette, Round House’s artistic director. 

At Lamb’s suggestion, the team brainstorms about what interests Sun readers. They decide on celebrities, pets, sports, free stuff, and —rather revolutionarily for the time —TV.  Murdoch is happy to let readers’ taste dictate content and the “Why” of the sacred “five Ws” of journalism is out the window. 

Murdoch is portrayed as a not wholly unlikable misanthrope. He dislikes his editors and pressman alike. He particularly hates unions. His advice to Lamb is not to get too chummy with his subordinates. Regarding the competition, Murdoch doesn’t just want to outperform them, he wants to grind them to dust. 

Loewith leads an inspired design team. Scenic designer Tony Cisek’s imposing, inky grey edifice made from modular walls is ideally suited for Mike Tutaj’s projections of headlines, printed pages, and Rein’s outsized face as Murdoch. Sound designer and composer Matthew M. Nielson ably supplies bar noises and the nonstop, pre-digital newspaper clatter of presses, linotypes, and typewriters.

From a convenient second tiered balcony, the Daily Mirror’s establishment power trio Hugh Cudlipp (Craig Wallace), Chris Lee Howard (Chris Geneback) and Sir Percy (Walter Riddle) overlook all that lies below, discussing new tactics and (mostly failed) strategies to remain on top.   

Increasingly comfortable in the role of ruthless, sleazy editor, Lamb is unstoppable.

Obsessed with overtaking the Daily Mirror’s circulation, he opts for some sketchy reportage surrounding the kidnapping and presumed murder of Muriel McKay, the wife of Murdoch’s deputy Sir Alick (Todd Scofield). The kidnappers mistook Muriel for Murdoch’s then-wife Anna (Sophia Early). Next, in a move beyond the pale, Lamb introduces “Page 3,” a feature spotlighting a topless female model. Awesta Zarif plays Stephanie, a smart young model. She asks Lamb if he would run a semi-nude pic of his similarly aged daughter? His reaction is uncomfortable but undaunted. 

For Murdoch’s purposes, history proves he chose well in Lamb. By year’s end, the Sun is Britain’s most widely read tabloid. Together they give the people what they didn’t know they wanted, proving the pro-Labour Daily Mirror’s hold on the working class is baseless and paving the way for things like Brexit and a Prime Minister Thatcher. 

“Ink” at Round House closes soon. See it if you can.

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Out & About

CAMP Rehoboth’s final concert of the season is almost here

Chorus performs ‘Music of the Night’



CAMP Rehoboth Chorus is ready to close out another season.

CAMP Rehoboth Chorus will perform “Music of the Night” on Friday, Sept. 29 and Saturday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. and on Sunday, Oct. 1 at 3 p.m. at Epworth United Methodist Church. 

The chorus will sing more than 36 song selections, including “Fly Me to the Moon,” “I Could’ve Danced All Night” and “In the Still of the Nite.”

Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased on CAMP Rehoboth’s website.

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