Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas Countdown: k.d. lang Sings 'Jingle Bell Rock'

This Christmas clip is from Pee Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special from 1988 and features the amazingly spirited k.d. lang singing "Jingle Bell Rock."

Kathryn Dawn Lang, OC, known by her stage name k.d. lang, is a Canadian pop and country singer-songwriter and occasional actress.

Lang has won both Juno Awards and Grammy Awards for her musical performances; hits include "Constant Craving" and "Miss Chatelaine." She has contributed songs to movie soundtracks and has collaborated with musicians such as Roy Orbison, Tony Bennett, Elton John, Anne Murray, Ann Wilson, and Jane Siberry. Lang is also known for being an animal rights, gay rights, and Tibetan human rights activist.

She is a tantric practitioner of the old school of Tibetan Buddhism. She performed Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" live at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. Previously, she had performed at the closing ceremony of the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta. Lang possesses the vocal range of a mezzo-soprano.

For more information, visit lang's Web site at

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Scientists Say Having Older Brothers Could Make You Gay

Having lots of boys can affect a woman’s immune response // Aleksandar Nakic/Getty

New Scientist reports:

The more older brothers a boy has, the more likely he is to be gay when he grows up – an effect called the “fraternal birth order effect.” Now it seems that increasing levels of antibodies in a mother’s immune system could play a role.

Anthony Bogaert at Brock University, Canada, and his team think that some women who are pregnant with boys develop antibodies that target a protein made by the Y chromosome. Our immune systems make antibodies to recognise foreign molecules, which have the potential to be from dangerous bacteria. But pregnant women sometimes also produce antibodies against fetal molecules – for example, if their fetus has a different blood group. Bogaert’s team wondered if maternal antibodies might play a role in shaping sexual orientation.

The team collected blood from 142 women, and screened it for antibodies to a particular brain protein that is only made in males. They thought this would be a good candidate, because it plays an important role in how neurons communicate with each other, and because it is produced on the surface of brain cells, making it relatively easy for antibodies to find and detect it.

See full story here.

Born Today in 1913: French Actor Jean Marais

Jean Marais was born today, December 11, in 1913. He was a French actor, writer, director, and sculptor. He performed in more than 100 films and was the muse of acclaimed director Jean Cocteau. In 1996, he was awarded the French Legion of Honor for his contributions to French Cinema.

In 1933, Marais was discovered by filmmaker Marcel L'Herbier, who purchased one of his paintings, then cast him in two films. Marais starred in several movies directed by Jean Cocteau, for a time his lover and a lifelong friend, most famously Beauty and the Beast (1946) and Orphée (1949).

Marais with Jean Cocteau in 1938
In the 1950s, Marais became a star of swashbuckling pictures, enjoying great box office popularity in France. He performed his own stunts. In the 1960s, he played both the famed villain and the hero of the Fantômas trilogy.

After 1970, Marais's on-screen performances became few and far between, as he preferred concentrating on his stage work. He performed on stage until his eighties, also working as a sculptor. His sculpture Le passe muraille (The Walker Through Walls) can be seen in the Montmartre Quarter of Paris.

He was married for two years to the actress Mila Parély, with whom he later performed in Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast.

After Cocteau's death, Marais wrote a memoir of Cocteau, L'Inconcevable Jean Cocteau, attributing authorship to "Cocteau-Marais." He also wrote an autobiography, L'Histoire de ma vie, published in 1975. From 1953 until 1959, his companion was the American dancer George Reich.

Marais died from cardiovascular disease in Cannes, Alpes-Maritimes, in 1998 at age 84.

His life story became the i
nspiration for the 1980 François Truffaut film The Last Metro. Marais appears on the cover sleeve of The Smiths single "This Charming Man."

U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Hear LGBT Employment Discrimination Case

Reuters reports:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear an appeal by a Georgia security guard who said she was harassed and forced from her job because she is a lesbian, avoiding an opportunity to decide whether a federal law that bans gender-based bias also outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The justices left in place a lower court ruling against Jameka Evans, who had argued that workplace sexual orientation discrimination violates Title VII of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. Workplace protections are a major source of concern for advocates of rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The case hinged on an argument that is currently being litigated in different parts of the United States and has divided lower courts: whether Title VII, which bans employment discrimination based on sex, also outlaws bias based on sexual orientation. Title VII also bars employment discrimination based on race, color, religion and national origin.

See full story here.

Happy Birthday to Out Indian Actor, Film Maker Nakshatra Bagwe

Nakshatra Bagwe was born today, December 11, in 1990. He is an Indian actor and award-winning film maker. His films Logging Out, Book of Love, Curtains, PR (Public Relations), and When the Circus Came to Town represent current LGBT life in India. 

Bagwe hails from Konkan coastal region. Masure, Malvan is his native village.

He is a well-known LGBT rights activist and was also a part of the organizing team of Gujarat’s first ever pride march. He also spearheaded and participated in other pride marches, sometimes marching with his mother, Swati Bagwe. They both were featured in a popular Indian television show Satyamev Jayte

He first came out when he participated in Asia’s first LGBT flashmob. He also participated in second queer flashmob that happened at Dadar station, Mumbai. 

As part of his LGBT activism, Bagwe posed nude for an ad campaign named 'Breaking Closets,' which was designed to raise awareness about LGBT and bullying issues in India. 

He won Kashish – Mumbai International Queer Film Festival in 2012 for his debut film Logging Out. It also won the Kashish Coffee Break Audience Choice Award. was a part of Queer India European tour in 2012 to raise awareness about LGBT issues in Indian.

In July 2014, Bagwe became the brand ambassador of Moovz, a global social network for LGBT community. Bagwe is the first and only openly Indian LGBT person to get an endorsement deal for any brand. In July 2016, he was declared as 'the hottest desi gay rights activist' by an online poll.

Controversial 'Nureyev' Ballet Premieres After 5-Month Delay

A scene from “Nureyev” at the Bolshoi, with Vladislav Lantratov (in tuxedo) in the title role.
CreditMikhail Loginov/Bolshoi Theater

The Independent reports:

On Saturday [Dec. 9, 2017], five months late, Russia’s most controversial ballet in years opened at the Bolshoi.

Nureyev, which traces the life and AIDS-related death of Soviet dancer and choreographer Rudolf Nureyev, had been pulled just two days before its scheduled premiere in July. Insiders suggested the ballet’s frank treatment of homosexuality – and a reported intervention by the culture ministry – lay behind the dramatic decision to cancel. The parallel investigation and August arrest of the ballet’s director, Kirill Serebrennikov, added to those suspicions.

Right up until the last moment, there were doubts that the premiere would ever happen. Speaking on Friday, lead dancer Vladislav Lantratov, who plays Nureyev, said the experience in July had been “very difficult.” The cast had “dreamed the show would happen,” he said.

See full story from the Independent here.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Christmas Countdown: David Bowie & Bing Crosby Sing 'The Little Drummer Boy (Peace On Earth)'

David Bowie and Bing Crosby perform "The Little Drummer Boy (Peace On Earth)." One of these guys was bisexual, the other once recorded a song called "Gay Love."

Bing Crosby had some success with another Christmas tune, "White Christmas." According to Guinness World Records, his recording of "White Christmas" has sold more than 100 million copies around the world, with at least 50 million sales as singles. 

This Christmas song was recorded on September 11, 1977, for Crosby's then-upcoming television special, Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas. The pair exchanged scripted dialogue about what they each do for their family Christmases, before singing "Little Drummer Boy" with a new counterpoint with "Peace on Earth."

"The Little Drummer Boy" is a Christmas song written in 1941, while the "Peace on Earth" tune and lyrics were added to the song specially for Bowie and Crosby's recording.

The single saw commercial success upon its release in 1982 and peaked at number 3 on the UK Singles Chart. The single became one of David Bowie's best selling in his career, with total estimated sales over 400,000 in the UK alone.

The song has since become a Christmas classic in the United States and United Kingdom and has been referred to by the Washington Post as "one of the most successful duets in Christmas music history."

If you haven't guessed, Bowie was the bisexual of the two. Bowie actually declared himself gay in an interview with Michael Watts for a 1972 issue of Melody Maker, coinciding with his campaign for stardom as Ziggy Stardust. According to Buckley, "If Ziggy confused both his creator and his audience, a big part of that confusion centred on the topic of sexuality". In a September 1976 interview with Playboy, Bowie said, "It's true—I am a bisexual. But I can't deny that I've used that fact very well. I suppose it's the best thing that ever happened to me". According to his first wife, Angie, Bowie had a relationship with Mick Jagger.

By all accounts, Bing was not blessed with any redeeming LGBTQ traits at all.

'Traveling Butts' Couple Arrested in Thailand Released

Joseph and Travis Dasilva

The San Diego Gay and Lesbian News reports:

The San Diego couple spent time in a Thai jail for exposing their rears in front of a Buddhist temple.

It has been confirmed by San Diego Gay and Lesbian News that Travis and Joseph Dasilva are headed home to San Diego after spending over a week in a Thai jail for taking a picture with their bare backsides exposed in front of a sacred temple in Bangkok.

The couple created international headlines for the stunt and faced up to five years in Thai prison had they been convicted of additional charges including being nude in public at a religious site.

But sources close to the men and their family tell San Diego Gay and Lesbian News that the court threw out those charges and sent them back to immigration police to be processed for deportation.

See full story here.

Tennessee's First LGBT Historical Marker Honors Gay Rights Pioneer Penny Campbell

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry speaking at the dedication ceremony honoring Penny Campbell.

Out and About Nashville reports:

A dedication ceremony was held in East Nashville for the first publicly sanctioned historical marker in the state of Tennessee that commemorates the LGBT movement, honoring the work of Penny Campbell. The marker is placed on the 1600 block of McEwen Avenue at the location of Campbell's former residence. She passed away in 2014.

A surprise attendee, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry spoke at the event. "[Penny] was one of the most influential and effective LGBT activists that Nashville has ever seen," she told the attendees gathered for the ceremony. "She said, 'it shouldn't matter who you love and you shouldn't have to hide that love,' and she took that all the way to the Tennessee Supreme Court with our friend Abby Rubenfeld."

Represented by Nashville attorney Rubenfeld, Penny Campbell was the lead plaintiff in the successful Constitutional challenge here in Tennessee that ultimately decriminalized gay sex back in 1996.

"We know of Nashville today as a warm and welcoming place because of people like Penny," Mayor Barry added.

See full story here and watch the moving video of the ceremony below.

NPR Interviews 'Ricky Graves' Author James Han Mattson

NPR reports:

In a new novel, Ricky Graves is a young man coming to terms with his sexual orientation in a small New Hampshire town. He's tormented by a jerk named Wesley, until Ricky kills him — and then himself.

The news media descend. And after they've gone on to the next sad crime, Ricky's pregnant sister, Alyssa, returns to the town she fled so that she and her shattered mother can get a hold on the terrible event that has taken two lives, and understand the son and brother they loved.

The Lost Prayers of Ricky Graves is an Amazon Best Book of the Month for December, a novel partly told by emails and chat-room dialogues. It's James Han Mattson's first novel — he's a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop who now teaches writing at The George Washington University.

See full story here and to listen to the NPR interview of Mattson by Scott Simon (also available on the player below) where they discuss the book and Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" campaign.