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‘Can’t Cancel Pride’ kick-offs celebration with star-studded livestream

The second annual event will raise much-needed funds for LGBTQ+ communities most impacted by COVID-19.

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Image via iHeartMedia

For the second year in a row, iHeartMedia is stepping up with a star-studded virtual celebration designed to keep the spirit of Pride alive and well during the still-ongoing restrictions of the Covid pandemic – and to raise some much-needed funds for the LGBTQ+ community.

“Can’t Cancel Pride,” presented by iHeart and Procter & Gamble, is a virtual relief benefit for the LGBTQ+ community, featuring performances and appearances from the most influential voices in the community as well as the biggest names in culture and entertainment. It’s the second installment for the livestreamed event, following a successful 2020 presentation which raised over $4 million to benefit the LGBTQ+ communities most impacted by COVID-19. This year’s event has a goal to raise even more in 2021, as the pandemic continues to have a damaging effect on the fundraising efforts that LGBTQ+ organizations rely on to survive.

The lineup of talent involved is truly stellar. Among the names scheduled to appear are Bebe Rexha, Brothers Osborne, Busy Phillips, Demi Lovato, Gus Kenworthy, Hayley Kiyoko, Jennifer Hudson, JoJo Siwa, Lil Nas X, Marshmello, MJ Rodriguez, Nina West, P!NK, Ricky Martin, Regard, Troye Sivan, Tate McRae, and many more. Diamond-selling singer-songwriter Rexha will also join iHeartMedia on-air personality Elvis Duran as host, as well as performing her new single “Sacrifice.”

The “Can’t Cancel Pride” livestream is just the beginning of iHeart’s Pride month. The event will kick off a month-long celebration throughout June, with iHeartMedia radio stations airing spots to encourage listeners to watch the event on demand, share their special Pride moments on social media using the hashtag #CantCancelPride, and support the participating nonprofits by visiting cantcancelpride.com or texting “RAINBOW” to 56512.

“As the country is returning back to normal and we are slowly starting to gather again, LGBTQ+ communities around the world are still feeling the devastating effects of COVID-19,” says iHeartMedia’s Chief Marketing Officer, Gayle Troberman. “We look forward to once again celebrating the incredible voices and allies of the LGBTQ+ community with an amazing night of music that will honor Pride and the communities’ fight for equal rights, all while benefiting six remarkable nonprofits that make an everyday positive impact.”

Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer for P&G, says, “’Can’t Cancel Pride’ is about creating visibility for the LGBTQ+ community and showing them they are not alone. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic remains heightened for LGBTQ+ people, who continue to face issues driven by persistent bias, intolerance and inequality. We want to use our voice to help bring much needed resources, support, acts of good, and love to this remarkable and resilient community.”  

Last year’s month-long celebration provided critical resources for its six nonprofit partners, including:

  • Helping CenterLink provide microgrants to 190+ LGBTQ+ community centers and organizations.
  • Supporting The Trevor Project’s lifeline, chat, and text crisis services, which served more than 14,000 crisis contacts from LGBTQ+ young people in June 2020 alone.
  • Aideing SAGE in forging connections and reducing isolation for LGBT elders during the pandemic.
  • Contributing to the National Black Justice Coalition’s federal public policy work and Youth And Young Adult Action Council.
  • Distributing proceeds to benefit LGBTQ+ individuals around the world through OutRight Action International’s COVID-19 Global LGBTIQ Emergency Fund.
  • Supported GLAAD’s Spirit Day, the world’s largest LGBTQ+ anti-bullying campaign.

P&G is joined in supporting “Can’t Cancel Pride” by several other brand sponsors, including Allē by Allergan Aesthetics, Dawn, General Motors, The Art of Shaving and GilletteLabs, Bounty, Charmin, Jared, Puffs, Downy, Tide, OLAY, and Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

The one-hour benefit special produced by iHeartMedia and P&G will stream on June 4, at 9 p.m., on iHeartRadio’sTikTok, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram TV pages, iHeartRadio’s PrideRadio.com and Revry, as well as broadcasting on iHeartMedia radio stations nationwide and on the iHeartRadio App. The event will be available on demand via iHeartRadio’s TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram TV pages, iHeartRadio’s PrideRadio.com and Revry throughout Pride Month until Wednesday, June 30.

For those among you who are vaxxed and ready to enjoy an in-person kick-off to Pride Month, June 4 is also the first night of OUTLOUD: Raising Voices, a three-day live concert event series at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. A global Pride celebration that will be also be streamed (for free) around the world, the event will join forces with Pride Live’s Stonewall Day to present a stellar line-up of performers curated by none other than Adam Lambert on behalf of the Feel Something Foundation. Sofi Tukker headlines on June 4, with Hayley Kiyoko topping the bill on June 5, and Lambert himself leading the pack for closing night on June 6. Additional acts performing during the weekend will include Daya, Tygapaw, Ryan Cassata, Madeline the Person, Mykki Blanco, Madame Gandhi, Malia Civetz, Vincint (feat. Parson James, Queen Herby and Ty Sutherland), Sam Sparro, Angel Bonilla, and many others. For details and tickets to the live event, visit the OUTLOUD website.

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Photos

PHOTOS: Miss Glamour Girl

Maryland drag pageant held at McAvoy’s

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Miss Shantay is crowned Miss Glamour Girl 2023 at McAvoy's in Parkville, Md. on Sunday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Miss Glamour Girl 2023 Pageant was held at McAvoy’s in Parkville, Md. on Sunday, Oct. 1. Miss Shantay was crowned the winner and qualified to compete in the Miss Gay Maryland Pageant in November.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Books

New book explores why we categorize sports according to gender

You can lead a homophobic horse to water but you can’t make it think

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‘Fair Play: How Sports Shape the Gender Debates’
By Katie Barnes
c.2023, St. Martin’s Press
$29/304 pages

The jump shot happened so quickly, so perfectly.

Your favorite player was in the air in a heartbeat, basketball in hand, wrist cocked. One flick and it was all swish, three points, just like that, and your team was ahead. So are you watching men’s basketball or women’s basketball? Or, as in the new book, “Fair Play” by Katie Barnes, should it really matter?

For sports fans, this may come as a surprise: we categorize sports according to gender.

Football, baseball, wresting: male sports. Gymnastics, volleyball: women’s sports. And yet, one weekend spent cruising around television shows you that those sports are enjoyed by both men and women – but we question the sexuality of athletes who dare (gasp!) to cross invisible lines for a sport they love.

How did sports “become a flash point for a broader conversation?”

Barnes takes readers back first to 1967, when Kathrine Switzer and Bobbi Gibb both ran in the Boston Marathon. It was the first time women had audaciously done so and while both finished the race, their efforts didn’t sit well with the men who made the rules.

“Thirty-seven words” changed the country in 1972 when Title IX was signed, which guaranteed there’d be no discrimination in extracurricular events, as long as “federal financial assistance” was taken. It guaranteed availability for sports participation for millions of girls in schools and colleges. It also “enshrine[d] protections for queer and transgender youth to access school sports.”

So why the debate about competition across gender lines?

First, says Barnes, we can’t change biology, or human bodies that contain both testosterone and estrogen, or that some athletes naturally have more of one or the other – all of which factor into the debate. We shouldn’t forget that women can and do compete with men in some sports, and they sometimes win. We shouldn’t ignore the presence of transgender men in sports.

What we should do, Barnes says, is to “write a new story. One that works better.”

Here are two facts: Nobody likes change. And everybody has an opinion.

Keep those two statements in mind when you read “Fair Play.” They’ll keep you calm in this debate, as will author Katie Barnes’ lack of flame fanning.

As a sports fan, an athlete, and someone who’s binary, Barnes makes things relatively even-keel in this book, which is a breath of fresh air in what’s generally ferociously contentious. There’s a good balance of science and social commentary here, and the many, many stories that Barnes shares are entertaining and informative, as well as illustrative. Readers will come away with a good understanding of where the debate lies.

But will this book make a difference?

Maybe. Much will depend on who reads and absorbs it. Barnes offers plenty to ponder but alas, you can lead a homophobic horse to water but you can’t make it think. Still, if you’ve got skin in this particular bunch of games, find “Fair Play” and jump on it.

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

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Theater

An exciting revival of ‘Evita’ at Shakespeare Theatre

Out actor Caesar Samayoa on portraying iconic role of President Perón

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Caesar Samayoa (center) and the cast of ‘Evita’ at Shakespeare Theatre Company. (Photo by DJ Corey Photography) 

‘Evita’
Through Oct. 15
Shakespeare Theatre Company
Harman Hall
610 F St., N.W.
$35–$134
Shakespearetheatre.org

When Eva Perón died of cancer at 33 in 1952, the people’s reaction was so intense that Argentina literally ran out of cut flowers. Mourners were forced to fly in stems from neighboring countries, explains out actor Caesar Samayoa. 

For Samayoa, playing President Perón to Shireen Pimental’s First Lady Eva in director Sammi Cannold’s exciting revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Evita” at Shakespeare Theatre Company is a dream fulfilled. 

As a Guatemalan-American kid, he had a foot in two worlds. Samayoa lived and went to school in suburban Emerson, N.J. But he spent evenings working at his parents’ botanica in Spanish Harlem. 

During the drives back and forth in the family station wagon, he remembers listening to “Evita” on his cassette player: “It’s the first cast album I remember really hearing and understanding. I longed to be in the show.”

As an undergrad, he transferred from Bucknell University where he studied Japanese international relations to a drama major at Ithica College. His first professional gig was in 1997 playing Juliet in Joe Calarco’s off-Broadway “Shakespeare’s R&J.” Lots of Broadway work followed including “Sister Act,” “The Pee-Wee Herman Show,” and most significantly, Samayoa says, “Come From Away,” a musical telling of the true story of airline passengers stranded in Gander, Newfoundland during 9/11. He played Kevin J. (one half of a gay couple) and Ali, a Muslim chef.  

He adds “Evita” has proved a powerful experience too: “We’re portraying a populist power couple that changed the trajectory of a country in a way most Americans can’t fully understand. And doing it in Washington surrounded by government and politics is extra exciting.” 

WASHINGTON BLADE: How do you tap into a real-life character like Perón?

CAESAR SAMAYOA: Fortunately, Sammi [Connald] and I work similarly. With real persons and situations, I immerse myself into history, almost to a ridiculous extent. 

First day in the rehearsal room, we were inundated with artifacts. Sammi has been to Argentina several times and interviewed heavily with people involved in Eva and Peron’s lives. Throughout the process we’d sit and talk about the real history that happened. We went down the rabbit hole.

Sammi’s interviews included time with Eva’s nurse who was at her bedside when she died. We watched videos of those interviews. They’ve been an integral part of our production. 

BLADE: Were you surprised by anything you learned?

SAMAYOA: Usually, Eva and Perón’s relationship is portrayed as purely transactional.  They wrote love letters and I had access to those. At their country home, they’d be in pajamas and walk on the beach; that part of their life was playful and informal. They were a political couple but they were deeply in love too. I latched on to that. 

BLADE: And anything about the man specifically? 

SAMAYOA:  Perón’s charisma was brought to the forefront. In shows I’ve done, some big names have attended. Obama. Clinton. Justin Trudeau came to “Come From Away.” Within seconds, the charisma makes you give into that person. I’ve tried to use that.  

BLADE: And the part? 

SAMAYOA: Perón is said to be underwritten. But I love his power and the songs he sings [“The Art of the Possible,” “She is a Diamond,” etc.]. I’m fully a baritone and to find that kind of role in a modern musical is nearly impossible. And in this rock opera, I can use it to the full extent and feel great about it.

BLADE: “Evita” is a co-production with A.R.T. Has it changed since premiering in Boston? 

SAMAYOA: Yes, it has. In fact, 48 hours before opening night in Washington, we made some changes and they’ve really landed. Without giving too much away, we gave it more gravity in reality of time as well as Eva’s sickness and the rapid deterioration. It’s given our second act a huge kind of engine that it didn’t have. 

BLADE: You’re married to talent agent Christopher Freer and you’re very open. Was it always that way for you?

SAMAYOA: When I started acting professionally, it was a very different industry. We were encouraged to stay in the closet or it will cast only in a certain part. There was truth in that. There still is some truth in that, but I refuse to go down that road. I can’t reach what I need to reach unless I’m my most honest self. I can’t do it any other way.

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