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Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black announce birth of second son

Couple’s first child is 5-years-old

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Robert "Robbie" Ray Black-Daley, Phoenix Rose Black-Daley, Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black (Instagram photo)

“Our family has grown in the last week, we welcomed Phoenix to the world on 28/03/23 and he’s just perfect. Robbie is loving being a BIG BRO!” British Olympic diver Tom Daley announced on Instagram Wednesday.

Daley, who is married to Oscar winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black will celebrate six years of marriage in May. The couple’s oldest son Robert “Robbie” Ray Black-Daley is five-years-old.

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Idina Menzel to perform at Capital Pride

Tony-award winning actress will perform songs from new album

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Idina Menzel (Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers Records)

Tony-award winning actress and singer Idina Menzel will be performing songs off of her new album “Drama Queen” at the Capital Pride Concert on June 11.

Known as “the queen of Broadway,” Menzel got her start playing Maureen in “Rent,” which was one of the first musicals to depict lesbian characters on stage. She won her first Tony playing Elphaba in “Wicked” and has since starred in the film adaptation of “Rent” and Disney’s “Frozen.”

“Drama Queen” is Menzel’s seventh studio album and is expected to be released Aug. 18. The first single “Move” was released May 12 and is a “celebration of love in all its forms,” according to Menzel.

Menzel will be taking the stage at the concert along with Debbie Gibson and Shanice. 

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There will only ever be one Tina Turner

Legendary singer performed at first-ever Gay Games in 1982

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Tina Turner (YouTube screenshot/Tina Turner)

Legendary singer Tina Turner, dubbed the ‘Queen of Rock’ n Roll,’ has died at the age of 83 at her home in Switzerland after a long illness, her publicist Bernard Doherty told the PA news agency. A statement read: “With her, the world loses a music legend and a role model.”

Today, upon her passing, everyone around the world is declaring Tina Turner “an icon.” 

It doesn’t fit. There are icons, an atmospheric leap, all of Heaven, and then, and only then, sitting above it all … is Tina Turner.

Simply, The Best.

For the non-conforming male personas amongst us, and for the female personas among us, she was our phoenix rising from the ashes of toxic masculinity, over coming it, and becoming the epitome of the queen, the warrior, the triumphant. She was the diva of rock, not just as in “Rock and Roll”, which was true, but as in “rocking your world.” When she borrowed Sir Elton’s “I’m Still Standing”, we knew she meant it.

In case you missed her story told many times, written about and immortalized on film, she was born Anna Mae Bullock. An up-and-coming musician named Ike Turner domineered her into his act and gave her the name “Tina Turner.” In classic “star is born” form, Tina Turner overcame her mentor in talent and popularity, and he married her.

Her voice was not one of sweetness and ice cream sodas. She was the real deal. Right from the start, she sang from the edge. She was not likely to be mistaken for Doris Day or Petula Clark, no, Tina Turner had grit, strength and even a tone of rage.

While other “iconic” singers debuted in film as sweet innocents, Tina’s launch was as the Acid Queen in Tommy. She played an erratic prostitute who advocated prophetic LSD in an effort to cure the title character.

With her humanness, her fight, and her willingness to be authentic, she spoke to, and for, many in the LGBTQ spectrum. 

As we enter an era where identities are valued and under siege, Tina Turner was a pioneer. While she was a cisgender woman of color, and none of those descriptions were ever challenged, she famously stood to fight for something that was … her name. When, during their contentious divorce, and Ike sought to deprive her of the identity she had built for herself, she fought back and she fought back hard.

She gave up everything to keep what she treasured. She famously said, “Except my name. I’ll give up all that other stuff, but only if I get to keep my name. I’ve worked too hard for it, your Honor.”

For our transgender and drag brothers and sisters, hear her. She blazed a trail for the chosen identity, and who could deny that “Tina Turner” was not the real her?

The outpouring of love and respect from the world’s LGBTQ population is deserved. She has been a longtime supporter and adored queen diva of the gay and LGBTQ community forever. She pioneered when others wouldn’t, by performing at the opening ceremonies of the first ever Gay Games in San Francisco in 1982. It was a watershed moment in sports for LGBTQ athletes and allies.  She has been imitated by drag queens for decades on platforms all across the world in the best “imitation is the highest form of flattery” way, beyond the point of homage and in some cases, to the point of worship. 

She loved us back. Tina frequently expressed her gratitude and love for her gay fans in interviews and concerts. She did not capitalize on her own sexuality but acknowledged her bisexuality and her relationships with women. While being open about her sexuality, she did not consider it a defining factor of her identity or her music. 

Only Tina Turner defined Tina Turner.

She meant something to all of us. Grief and wonder is pouring out from everyone from Diana Ross to NASA.

NASA, not an organization to normally recognize celebrities, but an absolute authority on things Heavenly, tweeted, “Simply the best. Music legend Tina Turner sparkled across the stage and into millions of hearts as the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Her legacy will forever live among the stars.” 

Mick Jagger said, “She was inspiring, warm, funny and generous. She helped me so much when I was young and I will never forget her.” 

“Rest in peace to one of my favorite artists of all time, the legendary queen of rock n’ roll Tina Turner,” stated Magic Johnson.

Speaking for many under and over the rainbow, George Takei stated, “She was our River Deep and our Mountain High, the Private Dancer in our hearts. She showed us that love really does has everything to do with it, and that we really did need another hero. And she was it.” 

It was not just that Tina Turner was a hero. It was that she was a survivor, trailblazer and hero to so many. From women of color who needed to see their strength demonstrated, to people in abusive relationships who needed to see their possibilities illuminated, to beaten gay boys who needed to see the power in standing and fighting, she gave hope to them all.

She showed us all how to embody our authentic selves and capture our creativity, our innovation and our truth. She said, “Sometimes you have to let everything go — purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything — whatever is bringing you down — get rid of it. Because you will find that when you are free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”

There is a line from “We Don’t Need Another Hero”: “So what do we do with our lives? We leave only a mark. Will our story shine like a light? Or end in the dark? Give it all or nothing.”

She gave us her all, and the mark she left?

Her story does not just shine like a light, it seared every person, every walk of life, she touched. She lived as any true hero would and has gone out in a fierce blaze of glory.

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Rob Watson is the host of the popular Hollywood-based radio/podcast show RATED LGBT RADIO.

He is an established LGBTQ columnist and blogger having written for many top online publications including The Los Angeles Blade, The Washington Blade, Parents Magazine, the Huffington Post, LGBTQ Nation, Gay Star News, the New Civil Rights Movement, and more.

He served as Executive Editor for The Good Man Project, has appeared on MSNBC and been quoted in Business Week and Forbes Magazine.

He is CEO of Watson Writes, a marketing communications agency, and can be reached at [email protected] .

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Harry Belafonte, ‘King of Calypso’ and LGBTQ ally, dies at 96

Civil rights icon was grand marshal of 2013 NYC Pride parade

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Harry Belafonte presenting the 36th Kennedy Center Honors tribute to fellow musician Carlos Santana, December 8, 2013. (Screenshot via CBS Entertainment)

A rainbow banner slung over his right shoulder proudly proclaimed the spry octogenarian a “Grand Marshal 2013” of the New York City LGBT Pride March, joining another vibrant octogenarian, Edith “Edie” Windsor, who was also a “Grand Marshal 2013” that bright sunny June day.

Between the two of them, the honor was an acknowledgement of a long journey not only for LGBTQ rights, but for Harry Belafonte, the beloved African American actor, singer, humanitarian, and the acknowledged “King of Calypso” especially, an honored recognition of his decades of accomplishments and commitment to the civil rights movement and allyship to the LGBTQ community.

Born March 1, 1927, in New York, Belafonte was the son of Caribbean-born immigrants, and, growing up, he split his time between Harlem and Jamaica. Dropping out of high school in New York to enlist in the U.S. Navy, he went on to contribute to the war effort from 1944 to 1945.

At the time, the military services were segregated. Belafonte, a Jamaican American, was assigned to Port Chicago, Calif., 35 miles from San Francisco. 

During World War II, Black service members were not normally assigned to frontline fighting units. Rather, they were assigned mostly to supporting specialties. His job was to load military ships bound for the Pacific theater. 

Just before Belafonte arrived in Port Chicago, Calif., a massive explosion took place, involving military ships loaded with ammunition. About 320 people were killed — two-thirds of them Black sailors.

“It was the worst homefront disaster of World War II, but almost no one knows about it or what followed,” he said.

Discharged in 1945, Belafonte returned home to New York. He used his GI Bill benefits to pay for his acting classes at Erwin Piscator’s the New School Dramatic Workshop, alongside future actors Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger, Walter Matthau, and what was to develop into lifelong friendship, actor Sidney Poitier.

He performed with the American Negro Theater while studying at the Dramatic Workshop. It was a singing role that resulted in a series of cabaret engagements, and eventually, Belafonte even opened his own club. In 1949, he launched his recording career on the Jubilee label, and in 1953, he made his debut at the legendary jazz club, the Village Vanguard.

He also appeared on Broadway in the 1953 “John Murray Anderson’s Almanac,” a performance that won him a Tony Award.

Belafonte’s first widely released single, which became his signature audience participation song in virtually all of his live performances, was “Matilda,” recorded on April 27, 1953.

With a lead role in the film adaptation of Oscar Hammerstein’s Carmen Jones, Belafonte shot to stardom. After signing to the RCA label, he released Mark Twain and Other Folk Favorites, which reached the number three slot on the Billboard charts.

His breakthrough third studio album “Calypso” (RCA Victor-1956) became the first long-playing record in the world to sell over 1 million copies within a year. The album introduced American audiences to calypso music and Belafonte was dubbed the King of Calypso.

Besides calypso, he also recorded blues, folk, gospel, show tunes and American standards from “The Great American Songbook” as it is known that included works from George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter.

During the late 1950’s he performed during the so-called Rat Pack-era in Las Vegas. He and pianist Liberace, musician and singer Ray Vasquez, and singer Sammy Davis, Jr., were featured at the Sands Hotel and Casino and the Dunes Hotel.

Belafonte also became television’s first African-American producer, and his special “Tonight with Harry Belafonte” won an Emmy award in 1960. It was during this time period that he became proactively engaged in the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s including    the1963 Freedom March in D.C..

Belafonte befriended the leader of the movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with whom he maintained close ties until King’s assassination in Memphis, Tenn., on April 4, 1968.

He was also friends with New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, often spending time with Kennedy during the latter’s run for the U.S. Senate and also during the 1968 presidential campaign, which ended tragically after Kennedy was shot in the kitchen pantry area at the Los Angeles’ Ambassador Hotel on June 5, 1968. Kennedy died the next day on June 6, 1968, at Good Samaritan Hospital.

Prior to RFK’s assassination, on April 24, 1968, Belafonte interviewed Kennedy while guest hosting for Johnny Carson on the “Tonight Show.”

During the 1970s and 1980s, Belafonte refocused his efforts toward humanitarian causes, including joining with famed producer Quincy Jones and singer Michael Jackson on the USA for Africa’s “We Are the World,” project on March 7, 1985. Rolling Stone wryly noted in its article about the recording and humanitarian fundraiser, that the 46 star vocalists who showed up may have formed the ultimate musical supergroup of all time.

First lady Barbara Bush, standing in for her husband President George Herbert Walker Bush, presented the 12th Annual Kennedy Center Honors to Belafonte, along with his fellow honorees actress Mary Martin, dancer Alexandra Danilova, actress Claudette Colbert and composer William Schuman during a White House East Room ceremony on Dec. 3, 1989.

Two years previously, in 1987, he was appointed as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, replacing Danny Kaye as UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador. His appointment as Goodwill Ambassador came 27 years after then President John F. Kennedy appointed Belafonte the first member of the entertainment industry to serve as cultural advisor to the Peace Corps.

In 1994, he received the National Medal of the Arts from President Bill Clinton. He has also been awarded the Ronald McDonald House Charities’ Award of Excellence in recognition of his humanitarian work and the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award for 25 years of service to UNICEF.

In October 2017 he was awarded the Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom Medal by the Roosevelt Institute in New York, the citation reading in part:

“In the decades since, you have been involved in campaigns to fight apartheid and bring relief to the world’s poorest. You founded We Are the World, which brought together some of the greatest talents in music to draw attention to and take on the scourge of famine in Africa. You have always used your platform to call out injustice and violence and make sure we never stopped believing that a more just, beautiful world was possible. Your voice — your life — has been a beacon of hope, comfort and inspiration to generations.”

Belafonte also served on the board of Americans for the Arts (formerly known as the American Council for the Arts) for many years. He has four children — Shari, Adrienne, Gina and David — and three grandchildren — Rachel, Brian and Maria. He lived with his wife photographer Pamela Frank who he had married in 2008.

“Keep the Promise” World AIDS Day Concert and March in Hollywood 2016
(Photo Courtesy of AHF)

“The world is a little dimmer today in losing such a legendary entertainer as Harry Belafonte but so much richer for having had such a tireless, lifelong humanitarian and activist for so many years. Rest easy, kind sir, after a job well done,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

“Belafonte leveraged his considerable and deserved celebrity for a myriad of causes over his lifetime, including the fight against HIV and AIDS. It was both humbling and a privilege for AHF to thank and honor him in person for his lifetime of activism and compassion.”

Courtesy of AHF

In 2016, AHF honored Belafonte with its Lifetime Achievement Award during its “Keep the Promise” World AIDS Day Concert and March in Hollywood, Calif.

Ever the activist, Belafonte, then 89, joined marchers for a brief but poignant portion of the march down Hollywood Boulevard.

The march commemorated the millions who have died of AIDS while also serving as a reminder to the world that of the then 36.7 million people living with AIDS worldwide, only 17 million had access to lifesaving antiretroviral treatment.

Belafonte received the AHF award during the concert that followed at the Dolby Theater featuring Patti LaBelle, Common and others who also paid tribute to the humanitarian icon.

The White House issued a statement from President Joe Biden on Belafonte’s death:

“Jill and I are saddened by the passing of a groundbreaking American who used his talent, his fame, and his voice to help redeem the soul of our nation. 

Harry Belafonte was born to Caribbean parents in Harlem, New York on March 1, 1927, when segregation was the order of American society. To our Nation’s benefit, Harry never accepted those false narratives and unjust boundaries. He dedicated his entire life to breaking barriers and bridging divides.

As a young man motivated to find his purpose, he became mesmerized by theater when he saw a performance of the American Negro Theater in Manhattan. As one of America’s original breakthrough singers and performers, he would go on to garner a storehouse of firsts — the first Black matinee idol, the first recording artist to sell over a million records, the first Black male Broadway actor to win a Tony award, the first Black producer to win an Emmy award, and one of the highest paid entertainers of his time, among other accolades.

But he used his fame and fortune for the public good throughout his extraordinary career. He became a powerful ally of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other giants of the Civil Rights Movement. He raised money and donated resources to post bail for activists jailed for acts of civil disobedience. He provided the critical funds to launch the Freedom Rides. 

He lobbied against apartheid in South Africa, for the release of Nelson Mandela, and was one of the visionaries behind ‘We Are the World,’ an innovative record released to raise millions of dollars to support humanitarian aid in Sudan and Ethiopia. For these and other humanitarian and artistic efforts he was conferred with a Kennedy Center Honor, the National Medal of the Arts, and a Grammy lifetime achievement award.  

Harry Belafonte’s accomplishments are legendary and his legacy of outspoken advocacy, compassion, and respect for human dignity will endure. He will be remembered as a great American.

We send our deepest condolences to his family and legions of admirers across the country and the world.”

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Additional research and materials from the Defense Department, the Kennedy Center Honors, UNICEF, the John F. Kennedy Library, the George Bush Library, the William J. Clinton Library, the George W. Bush Library, the Barack Obama Library, RCA Records, AFI and the Recording Academy.

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