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Posts Tagged ‘LGBT community’

SAGE honors Vilanch, Jewel Thais-Williams in L.A.

Friday, March 24th, 2017

Washington Blade
SAGE honors Vilanch, Jewel Thais-Williams in L.A.
March 10, 2017 at 11:38 am EDT | by Karen Ocamb

Bruce_Vilanch_and_Jewel_Thais-Williams_insert

LOS ANGELES — The fundraiser for SAGE USA March 4 in the Hollywood Hills felt like a reunion, a coming together of a generation of LGBT people with shared memories and a desire to confront aging, an issue, SAGE Board Development chair Bill Weinberger said, he heretofore had avoided thinking about. Honorees Jewel Thais-Williams and Bruce Vilanch, however, exemplify how LGBT people can age as respected elders with grace, continued activism, and humor.


Weinberger introduced Phill Wilson, founder of the Black AIDS Institute, whom he has known since the early 1980s. Shortly after, Wilson discovered he was HIV positive. He noted that while “many of us were dealing with whether we would survive or not, SAGE has always believed we would.” Wilson shared how Thais-Williams bravely opened Jewel’s Catch One Disco as a refuge for LGBT people desperate for a place where they could be themselves.


“Jewel has been a leader, a hero, and a visionary and an advocate for a long, long time,” Wilson said. “Jewel was one of those ‘bridge’ people,” linking the LGBT African-American community to organizations such as AIDS Project Los Angeles and her alma mater, UCLA. You always speak up, whether you’re afraid or not.”


Thais-Williams joked that she was honored to be honored, having spent the last 42 years at Catch One “partying,” adding that she will turn 78 in a couple of months. “To be of service to my community has been a great joy,” she said. “But there is still a lot of work to do. Remember to always reach out to those in need.”


“There has never been a more important time to come together,” SAGE CEO Michael Adams told the diverse crowd of SAGE board members, staffers and supporters at the elegant home of James Frost and William Yi. “We are living in very challenging times,” a notion received with a knowing chuckle for its understatement.


A civilization is historically measured by how it cares and supports its children and most vulnerable and how it supports its elders, Adams said, not just the “right kind of elders….We owe it to our elders, the pioneers who paved the way for the equality we celebrate today….We need the wisdom of our pioneers, our elders.”




Demographic estimates predict that there will be 6 million LGBT people age 65 years or over in America by 2030. That sets the stage for a potentially disastrous future since, as SAGE notes, LGBT seniors are “twice as likely to be single, twice as likely to live alone, and four times more likely to be without children than their heterosexual peers.”  And, Adam said, facilities that take care of the aging population are “woefully unprepared” to take care of LGBT seniors who fear having to go back in the closet in order to get care and treatment without discrimination.


In introducing comedic writer/actor Bruce Vilanch, SAGE Board co-chair Elizabeth Schwartz—whose co-chair is former LA-based board activist Kevin Williams—said Vilanch’s appearances on “Hollywood Squares” were “instrumental in shaping gay images.” Watching him, “we didn’t have to speculate obsessively” about whether he was gay “as I did over Kristy McNichol.”  She was also grateful that he was also out about being chubby. Vilanch, she said, has a “tireless dedication to the LGBT community.”


In accepting the handsomely shaped glass award, the legendary Oscar writer said that when he was told he was being honored by SAGE, his first thought was: “You have the wrong envelope,” referring to the Best Picture mishap at the Academy Awards.


However, a recent interview with a young journalist underscored that he is now arcing “into my dotage.” The young gay man had no idea who Ted Mack was, though “Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour,” the variety-show precursor to shows like “American Idol,” launched the careers of such future celebrities as Pat Boone and Ann-Margret.  The young man sat stone faced at the mention of her name.


“When queens don’t know who Ann-Margret is, we’re in trouble,” Vilanch said to an uproar of laughter.


“Senior gays are not venerated,” he said. “But we are valued because we can pick up the check or write it.”


As to his decision to be openly gay at a time when being out was a brave decision, Vilanch noted that he worked in the more accepting entertainment industry. But early on, he worked as a journalist writing features for the Chicago Tribune and tried to get gay stories into the paper. Vilanch cited a quote that stuck with him: “A faggot is a homosexual gentleman who just left the room.” He determined to be “the faggot who stayed in the room.”


LGBT progress is result of taking action. “We did the bravest thing—we came out and that changed everything,” Vilanch said. But the LGBT community cannot rely on help from outside. “We have to do it for ourselves….[and] we’re not done yet.”


SAGE CEO Michael Adams also announced the launch of a new initiative in conjunction with AARP—SAGETable— to build “intergenerational connections in the LGBT community” by “breaking bread with your LGBT family on May 18. Visit sagetable.org.

SAGE honors Vilanch, Jewel Thais-Williams in L.A.

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Washington Blade
SAGE honors Vilanch, Jewel Thais-Williams in L.A.
March 10, 2017 at 11:38 am EDT | by Karen Ocamb

Bruce_Vilanch_and_Jewel_Thais-Williams_insert

LOS ANGELES — The fundraiser for SAGE USA March 4 in the Hollywood Hills felt like a reunion, a coming together of a generation of LGBT people with shared memories and a desire to confront aging, an issue, SAGE Board Development chair Bill Weinberger said, he heretofore had avoided thinking about. Honorees Jewel Thais-Williams and Bruce Vilanch, however, exemplify how LGBT people can age as respected elders with grace, continued activism, and humor.


Weinberger introduced Phill Wilson, founder of the Black AIDS Institute, whom he has known since the early 1980s. Shortly after, Wilson discovered he was HIV positive. He noted that while “many of us were dealing with whether we would survive or not, SAGE has always believed we would.” Wilson shared how Thais-Williams bravely opened Jewel’s Catch One Disco as a refuge for LGBT people desperate for a place where they could be themselves.


“Jewel has been a leader, a hero, and a visionary and an advocate for a long, long time,” Wilson said. “Jewel was one of those ‘bridge’ people,” linking the LGBT African-American community to organizations such as AIDS Project Los Angeles and her alma mater, UCLA. You always speak up, whether you’re afraid or not.”


Thais-Williams joked that she was honored to be honored, having spent the last 42 years at Catch One “partying,” adding that she will turn 78 in a couple of months. “To be of service to my community has been a great joy,” she said. “But there is still a lot of work to do. Remember to always reach out to those in need.”


“There has never been a more important time to come together,” SAGE CEO Michael Adams told the diverse crowd of SAGE board members, staffers and supporters at the elegant home of James Frost and William Yi. “We are living in very challenging times,” a notion received with a knowing chuckle for its understatement.


A civilization is historically measured by how it cares and supports its children and most vulnerable and how it supports its elders, Adams said, not just the “right kind of elders….We owe it to our elders, the pioneers who paved the way for the equality we celebrate today….We need the wisdom of our pioneers, our elders.”




Demographic estimates predict that there will be 6 million LGBT people age 65 years or over in America by 2030. That sets the stage for a potentially disastrous future since, as SAGE notes, LGBT seniors are “twice as likely to be single, twice as likely to live alone, and four times more likely to be without children than their heterosexual peers.”  And, Adam said, facilities that take care of the aging population are “woefully unprepared” to take care of LGBT seniors who fear having to go back in the closet in order to get care and treatment without discrimination.


In introducing comedic writer/actor Bruce Vilanch, SAGE Board co-chair Elizabeth Schwartz—whose co-chair is former LA-based board activist Kevin Williams—said Vilanch’s appearances on “Hollywood Squares” were “instrumental in shaping gay images.” Watching him, “we didn’t have to speculate obsessively” about whether he was gay “as I did over Kristy McNichol.”  She was also grateful that he was also out about being chubby. Vilanch, she said, has a “tireless dedication to the LGBT community.”


In accepting the handsomely shaped glass award, the legendary Oscar writer said that when he was told he was being honored by SAGE, his first thought was: “You have the wrong envelope,” referring to the Best Picture mishap at the Academy Awards.


However, a recent interview with a young journalist underscored that he is now arcing “into my dotage.” The young gay man had no idea who Ted Mack was, though “Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour,” the variety-show precursor to shows like “American Idol,” launched the careers of such future celebrities as Pat Boone and Ann-Margret.  The young man sat stone faced at the mention of her name.


“When queens don’t know who Ann-Margret is, we’re in trouble,” Vilanch said to an uproar of laughter.


“Senior gays are not venerated,” he said. “But we are valued because we can pick up the check or write it.”


As to his decision to be openly gay at a time when being out was a brave decision, Vilanch noted that he worked in the more accepting entertainment industry. But early on, he worked as a journalist writing features for the Chicago Tribune and tried to get gay stories into the paper. Vilanch cited a quote that stuck with him: “A faggot is a homosexual gentleman who just left the room.” He determined to be “the faggot who stayed in the room.”


LGBT progress is result of taking action. “We did the bravest thing—we came out and that changed everything,” Vilanch said. But the LGBT community cannot rely on help from outside. “We have to do it for ourselves….[and] we’re not done yet.”


SAGE CEO Michael Adams also announced the launch of a new initiative in conjunction with AARP—SAGETable— to build “intergenerational connections in the LGBT community” by “breaking bread with your LGBT family on May 18. Visit sagetable.org.

Bruce Vilanch Spoke At The Black Cat LGBT Protests Feb 11, 2017

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Advocate
Bruce Vilanch Spoke At The Black Cat LGBT Protests Feb 11, 2017
BY ADVOCATE.COM EDITORS
FEBRUARY 11 2017 6:35 PM EST

2017-02-17_5-55-37

When a rally tonight in Los Angeles honors the Black Cat protest — which preceded Stonewall by two years — it will be a reminder to President Trump and his administration that protest works.

“You put a microphone in front of me, I’m going to talk about Trump,” said Mitch O’Farrell, the Los Angeles city councilman who is helping organize the rally, which begins at 8 p.m. outside the Black Cat Tavern.

O’Farrell says the Trump administration’s anti-equality agenda is backfiring. “Their authoritarian and anti-constitutional executive orders are galvanizing other historically oppressed communities into greater solidarity,” he said. Trump is giving Americans “an opportunity for us to be more enlightened and stand in stronger solidarity.”

The Black Cat protest in 1967 was itself a turning point triggered by authority. Undercover officers had gone on New Year’s Eve to the tavern in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles and waited until the clock struck midnight, when partygoers would kiss. It was illegal to kiss a person of the same sex. As partners embraced, the officers took out their badges and started violently making arrests.

The queer community was fed up with regular police brutality and took what was a highly unusual step: they organized a protest on February 11, 1967.

The founders of that protest would also create a group — Personal Rights in Defense and Education, or PRIDE — and that group created a newsletter called The Advocate. That newsletter became the magazine you’re reading now.

A lot has changed in 50 years. At tonight’s rally, for example, police are taking part in commemorating history. But LGBT Americans also have to contend with President Trump, whose policies are met repeatedly with protests. The Women’s March the day after Trump’s inauguration included millions of people across multiple cities all over the world. Protests broke out the next weekend at airports when Trump signed an executive order that implemented his Muslim ban at the border. Last weekend, a queer solidarity rally was held outside the Stonewall Inn in New York City after Trump threatened to sign a “religious freedom” order, which would make it optional for federal workers to recognize same-sex marriages so long as they cite a religion that says it’s immoral.

This weekend, as Los Angeles marks history, it will also be speaking directly to Trump and the likes of attorney general Jeff Sessions. Late Friday night, Sessions’ Justice Department filed a legal brief that effectively ends the Obama administration’s protections for transgender students. They had been guaranteed, for example, the right to use bathrooms and other facilities that match their gender identity.

O’Farrell says the Black Cat proves that protest works.

“It just underscores the power of the U.S. Constitution and how we always lean towards advancements,” he said. “One misguided president being in office can not and will not reverse all of that progress. Understandably, there is a lot of anxiety fear and chaos created by what he’s doing, but we will prevail over all of that and we have the Constitution, and we have our level of sophisticated activism. The LGBT community knows how to effect change and that is one of our great strengths.”

Other speakers scheduled to be at the Black Cat rally tonight include Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, the cast of Queer as Folk, actors Wilson Cruz, Guillermo Díaz and Darryl Stevens, plus comedians Alec Mapa and Bruce Vilanch, executive director of Equality California Rick Zbur, and editor in chief of The Advocate, Lucas Grindley.

Bruce Vilanch To Appear On ‘Day of Disruption’ on National Coming Out Day (Tuesday, October 11)

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

lgbtweekly.com
Logo to symbolically censor LGBT content with ‘Day of Disruption’ on National Coming Out Day
by Steve Lee, Editor
October 10th, 2016

20151011-GFM-Blog-National-Coming-Out-Day-400

NEW YORK, NY — Logo today announced it will symbolically censor LGBT content on-air and online in a show of solidarity with international LGBT people who live in countries where positive LGBT media images are invisible or banned. The unprecedented ‘Day of Disruption,’ part of Logo’s international LGBT project, Global Ally, takes place on Tuesday, October 11 on National Coming Out Day, a day dedicated to celebrating coming out and living openly as LGBT. This year, Logo is flipping the script and providing a glimpse at what life could be like in countries where LGBT people can’t turn on the television, open the newspaper, or go to social media to see positive and relatable images. During a marathon of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 8, Logo will symbolically censor LGBT content, display facts about international LGBT issues, and provide ways to stand in solidarity with LGBT people who cannot or do not feel safe to come out and live openly.

And a video of an activist originally from Iran on how lack of LGBT media images impacted his coming out:

Candis Cayne, Gus Kentworthy, Trace Lysette, Jason Collins, Geena Rocero, Billy Porter, Omar Sharif Jr., JD Samson, Alec Mapa and Bruce Vilanch will appear on Logo throughout the ‘Day of Disruption’ to speak out about the 72 countries where being LGBT is criminalized and the 10 countries where gay and lesbian relationships can be punishable by death. Logo will also release videos of activists from Russia, Iran, Singapore and more discussing how media censorship impacts their lives.

The ‘censored’ marathon of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 8 starts at 6am ET/PT on Tuesday, October 11. During the marathon, openly LGBT contestants and guests will have their eyes blocked by a black bar, drag outfits will be pixelated, and audio bleeps will disrupt LGBT content. A static graphic will feature facts about LGBT criminalization laws, ways to take action at Logo’s GlobalAlly.org, as well as statistics from the ILGA-RIWI 2016 Global Attitudes Survey on LGBTI People. Content on LogoTV.com, NewNowNext.com, and Logo’s social media channels will also be disrupted and direct followers to take action in solidarity with the global LGBT community at http://globalally.org/censoryourself.

The all new and highly anticipated finale of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” will air Thursday, Oct. 13 at 9pm ET/PT.

Logo’s ‘Day of Disruption’ is the latest initiative in Global Ally, an international LGBT storytelling project (http://globalally.org) featuring video profiles, first-of-its-kind research and the most robust and interactive site dedicated to global LGBT issues.

Is It Okay To Make Fun Of Caitlyn Jenner?

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

Instinct Magazine
Is It Okay To Make Fun Of Caitlyn Jenner?
Instinct Staff | September 6, 2016

Boy Culture interviewed legendary comedy writer Bruce Vilanch, who had his own opinions on the joke and the response to it:

BC: Bette Midler recently took it on the chin when she was perceived as mocking Caitlyn Jenner for being trans.

BV: Personally, I thought that was insane. She wasn’t making a joke about transgenders, she was making a joke about the monetizing of transgenderism, which is being done by Caitlyn Jenner.

BC: I guess the waters are muddied because people want to mock Caitlyn, and she’s so famous for being trans.

BV: Exactly. Anybody who would make that leap is out of their mind. It’s not a joke about transgenders, it’s a joke about this person who will do anything to remain in the public eye—and who is not our friend, by the way. She’s more to be pitied than censured. There’s no accounting for the taste of some. You find generally in communities like in the gay community that activists have no sense of humor. They areso sensitive about everything. And to jump on Bette Midler is kind of like, “Excuse me? Where’ve you been for the last 50 years?” Well, you know, probably in Trinidad, Colorado, deciding what you wanted to look like, I don’t know.

That alone would get me in jail. That remark. You know, you’re not allowed to say anything!


Bruce Vilanch

Bruce Vilanch Judge At 2016 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

Out
In Key West With the Best LGBT Bartenders in America
BY GLENN GARNER
FRI, 2016-06-17 17:00

2016-06-19_1-07-20

Last weekend, Stoli hosted 15 LGBT bartenders from across North America for the 2016 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic. More than just a bartending competition, the winning selection was one-part amazing bartender and one-part amazing cocktail, while showcasing Stoli’s dedication to the community.

For Key West, the competition has become an annual favorite, drawing in visitors from all over for Key West Pride weekend. A local pillar of the LGBT community and visitors for nearly 40 years, the queer-friendly Key West Business Guild welcomed Stoli with open arms.

“Having the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic attached to our Pride gives us the opportunity to have some very fabulous people come and visit,” said Matt Hon, executive director of the Business Guild. “Having these bartenders who are traveling in from 15 different cities that have never been to Key West before, they’re having their first experience here and finding out how fabulous and gay Key West really is.”

The weekend kicked off with a sunset cruise under a light drizzle of rain. It wasn’t enough to ruin the party though as contestants, friends, and Key West locals filled the deck, dancing with cocktails in hand. It was an intimate mixer that quickly built long distance friendships bound to last for years.

The next day, the competition began at 801 Bourbon Bar where I sat alongside fellow judges, Bruce Vilanch and Jai Rodriguez. The first six contestants took turns winning over the crowd with their high octane personalities and strong but tasty drinks. Next, we made our way a block down to Aqua where six more competitors whipped up their best Stoli concoctions. Nine drinks into my shift as guest judge, I was sure I was about to pass out in Jai’s lap (there are worst places to end up blackout drunk).

With 12 master mixologists narrowed down to six, they progressed to the finals alongside the three fan favorite contestants who won immunity from the preliminaries. In front of a massive audience of Key West Pride goers, they took to an outdoor stage right in the middle of Duval Street and in front of Bourbon Street Pub.

As they pulled out all the stops to impress judges, Bruce Vilanch, Latoya London, Stuart Milk, and local drag superstar, Sushi, the bartenders were critiqued on personality, concept, cocktail appearance, taste, and their overall knowledge of Stoli and Key West.

The competition was followed by performances from Jai and Latoya, which included covers of Nick Jonas and Barbra Streisand as well as some original music. As the tension built, we patiently waited to hear the winners of the third annual Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic.

Crowned in first place for his concoction, the Key West Kitty Kat, Rocky Collins AKA “the last top of Dallas” received the partygoers’ approval (below). Tying for second were Carly Morrison of San Francisco and Thuy Nguyen of Atlanta. Coming in third place, Flawless Shade from Portland, Oregon, was the competition’s first drag competitor.

Earlier in the weekend, Stoli’s National LGBT ambassador, Patrik Gallineaux, gave Out some insight into the significance of the competition:

“It’s all about giving back while having fun and celebrating the unique heritage of bartenders throughout history. I had to drive two hours as a kid to go to my nearest gay bar. That was the first time I ever felt happy and accepted, and for me, the gay bar was a community center. And the bartenders were so stellar. They made me feel safe and accepted.”
Gallineaux’s experience is similar to many. Just that night, the point was made very clear when tragedy struck Orlando. Four hours south at the exact same time, we were drinking and enjoying each other’s company much like those at Pulse were doing.

The next morning, there was an unmistakable heaviness in the air. It felt wrong to wake up and celebrate Pride on a day like that day, but days like that day made Pride so important. We continued with the day’s events as planned but when we hugged our old friends and new acquaintances, we lingered just a bit longer. Instead of just drinking in decadence and debauchery, we were very aware of what we were celebrating.

A Pride Parade of local establishments and the Stoli family marched down Duval Street behind a banner that read “Key West Stands with Orlando.” Afterward, we made our way to La Te Da, a locale where Gallineaux presented two checks to Collins for charities of his choice. (Collins chose the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS, in Dallas, and Wesley House in Key West.)

Then, we marched to the Atlantic Ocean in silence to honor those who had lost their lives earlier that morning. As we reached the pier, Stuart Milk of the Harvey Milk Foundation stepped to the front to say a few words. I tried to get through the crowd to hear him but the pier was covered in people. I took off my shoes and walked through the water, watching over the side through people’s legs to see this great activist address my community.

With wet sand between my toes, I looked around at my brothers and sisters. All were sharing the same grief. Strangers hugged each other and cried together. It was the first time I’d seen my generation truly come together to support each other.