Monday, May 21, 2018

Pope Francis Tells Gay Sexual Abuse Survivor 'God Made You Like This' and 'Loves You Like This'


CNN reports:

A victim of clerical sexual abuse has said that Pope Francis told him that God made him gay and that his sexuality "does not matter."

Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivor of sexual abuse, spent three days with Pope Francis at the Vatican in April, in which he discussed his sexuality and the abuse he suffered at the hands of a Chilean priest.

Describing his encounter with the Pope to CNN, Cruz said: "You know Juan Carlos, that does not matter. God made you like this. God loves you like this. The Pope loves you like this and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say."

Juan Carlos Cruz, a key whistleblower in Chile's most famous case of clerical sex abuse.
The Pope's words would amount to a significant departure from the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, which considers homosexuality "objectively disordered" and contrary to God's law.

See full story here.

Born Today In 1885, Flamboyant Singer Fred Jester Barnes


Frederick "Fred" Jester Barnes was born today, May 21, in 1885. He was an openly gay English music hall singer known for his signature song, "The Black Sheep of the Family," which he first performed in 1907. Although popular on stage, Barnes became infamous for his erratic private life and was often named in frequent controversies reported by the press. 


Barnes was born in Birmingham, England. The son of a butcher, Barnes became interested in performing as a result of going to see Vesta Tilley in 1895. He made his debut at the Gaiety Theatre, Birmingham in March 1906 and gave his first notable performance playing the Duke of Solihull in Cinderella at the Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, the same year. It was following Cinderella's 14-week run that Fred first performed in London, persuaded by fellow cast members. Upon his arrival, Fred found himself playing the hated first slot on the bills. However, this was to change when he decided to try out a new song, "The Black Sheep of the Family," at the Hackney Empire in 1907. It was a huge success and was to remain Fred's most popular song. As Fred says in his account of his life ('How success ruined me'), his name was 'made in a single night.' With this impressive start to his career he spent the next few years establishing himself. By 1911 he was top of the bill on all of the major circuits and principal boy in a number of pantomimes.

In 1913 his father committed suicide. Two weeks later, Barnes performed at the Birmingham Hippodrome, 'a place full of memories of my father. To this day I don't know how I got through that week.' Following his father's death Fred's career continued to improve.

Barnes was openly gay. In an interview from 1914 he stated that he had no vacant dates for the next 3 years and held contacts for the next 10. This was when his personal problems, namely spending and drinking too much, began. He attributed these to dealing with both the death of his father and his newfound success and popularity. The large sums of money he was earning and which he inherited led him to begin spending extravagantly – a habit he found hard to break when he was no longer earning any money. But it was drinking that was to ruin Fred's career. He missed performances, went on stage incapable of singing or dancing and generally put less and less care into his performances. This led to his being moved down the bills until he was finally back at first turn. Managers grew wary of him and soon his outstanding contracts were paid off and he was without work altogether. He experienced extremes of success and failure, and as a young gay man escaped to London from his father and his father's lifestyle.

During the 1920s, Barnes was sentenced to a month in jail for driving while drunk and in a dangerous manner and without a licence. Following the arrest, he was deemed a "menace to His Majesty's fighting forces" (because of the topless sailor who had been travelling with him at the time of the accident), and was banned from attending the Royal Tournament, an annual military tattoo. Despite this he returned each year and successfully evaded discovery.

By the mid-30s Barnes was suffering from tuberculosis. His failing health led him and his lover and manager John Senior to move to Southend-on-Sea. By this time any work consisted of playing the piano in pubs while Senior collected tips. Barnes's rent was paid for by Charles Ashmead Watson, while also funding lighting and clothing costs, as well as giving them a weekly allowance of 30 shillings. Barnes made a number of attempts to return to the stage, most of which were unsuccessful; a final job in the summer of 1938, playing his songs in the lounge of a local hotel restored some of his confidence in his own ability. By the winter of that year he was told that he had 3 months to live causing the comedian to commit suicide soon after.

Fred Barnes died in Southend-on-Sea on October 23, 1938, at age 53. He was found dead from the effects of gas poisoning.

Barnes was free with facts in interviews and in his own account of his life; his numerous publicity stunts which included announcements of his 'near-death' in a fire and a fake marriage. His appearance, he was known to walk around London at the height of his success with a marmoset perched on his shoulder (later, playing the pubs in Southend-on-Sea, he made do with a chicken).


In the video below, Barnes is brought to life by writer and performer Christopher Green for Duckie's Lady Malcolm's Servant's Ball. Thrill as he sings his big hit "Black Sheep of the Family" and the all time favourite "On Mother Kelly's Doorstep."


Happy Birthday to Out Olympic Diver Tom Daley

Tom Daley was born today, May 21, in 1994. He is a British diver. Daley specializes in the 10-metre platform event and is a double World champion in the event; he won the 2009 FINA World Championship in the individual event at the age of 15, before regaining it in 2017. He was the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist in the event.

Daley also competes in synchronized and team events. In 2015, he partnered Rebecca Gallantree to the inaugural mixed team World title, while in 2016 he won a second Olympic bronze in the men's synchronized 10-metre platform, with Daniel Goodfellow. In 2017, he won World silver with Grace Reid in the mixed 3-metre springboard synchronized event.

He started diving at the age of 7 and is a member of Plymouth Diving Club, where his talent was identified early, and has made an impact in national and international competitions from age 9. He represented Great Britain at the 2008 Summer Olympics where he was Britain's youngest competitor, age 14, and the youngest from any nation to participate in a final. In 2009, Daley reached a career-best ranking of number one in the FINA World Diving Rankings for the 10m platform.

He won two gold medals for England at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, in the 10m synchro diving (with Max Brick) and the 10m Individual Platform competition, and won the bronze medal for Great Britain in the individual competition at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.


After the 2012 Olympic Games and a summer of great sporting interest amongst the public in the UK, television network ITV approached Daley to have a role in their new celebrity diving reality TV show Splash!. Daley made his debut in the show's premiere on January 5, 2013, as a mentor to the celebrity competitors taking part.

At the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, Daley and Daniel Goodfellow won a bronze medal in the synchronized 10m platform. Daley also set an Olympic record score in the individual 10m platform during the first qualification round, but struggled with entries in the semi-final and did not qualify to the final. (The record set by Daley was broken the following day by Chen Aisen).


On December 2, 2013, Daley released a YouTube video announcing that he had been in a relationship with a man since early that year. He said: "I've never been happier." Daley said that it had been a tough decision to speak out about his private life. He said: "I'd never felt the feeling of love, it happened so quickly, I was completely overwhelmed by it to the point I can't get him out of my head all the time." His spouse is American film screenwriter, director and producer Dustin Lance Black. They live together in London.

Daley has made some conflicting statements in regards to his sexual orientation. After his YouTube video appearance he stated, "I am a gay man now." But later, when asked by The Guardian, in a July 2015 interview, if he was bisexual, Daley said: "I don't put a particular label on any of it because right now I'm in a relationship with a guy, but I still have sexual feelings towards girls." When asked about his coming to terms with his same-sex attraction and his relationship with Black, he said: "I'd been in relationships with girls where I'd had sexual feelings, but it became so much more intense when I met Lance."

Daley announced his engagement to Black on October 1, 2015. Daley and Black married at Bovey Castle in Devon on May 6, 2017. On February 14, 2018, Daley announced on Instagram that he and his husband are expecting their first child through surrogacy.

Born Today in 1917, 'Perry Mason' and 'Ironside' Star Raymond Burr


Raymond Burr was born today, May 21, in 1917. He was an actor, primarily known for his title roles in the television dramas Perry Mason and Ironside.


Burr's early acting career included roles on Broadway, radio, television and in film, usually as the villain. His portrayal of the suspected murderer in the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Rear Window (1954) is regarded as his best-known film role (right). He won two Emmy Awards, in 1959 and 1961, for the role of Perry Mason, which he played for nine seasons (1957–1966) and reprised in a series of 26 television films (1985–1993). His second TV series, Ironside, earned him six Emmy nominations and two Golden Globe nominations.

Burr was born in New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada. When Burr was 6, his parents divorced. Burr's mother moved to Vallejo, California, with him and his younger siblings.

Growing up during the Great Depression, Burr hoped to study acting at the Pasadena Playhouse, a renowned community theater and school in Pasadena, California, but he was unable to afford the tuition. In 1934, he joined a repertory theatre group in Toronto that toured throughout Canada, then joined another company that toured India, Australia and England. He briefly attended Long Beach Junior College and taught for a semester at San Jose Junior College, working nights as a radio actor and singer. He began his association with the Pasadena Playhouse in 1937.

Burr moved to New York in 1940, and made his first Broadway appearance in Crazy With the Heat, a two-act musical revue. His first starring role on the stage came in November 1942, when he was an emergency replacement in a Pasadena Playhouse production of Quiet Wedding. He became a member of the Pasadena Playhouse drama faculty for 18 months, and he performed in some 30 plays over the years. He returned to the Broadway stage for The Duke in Darkness (1944), a psychological drama set during the French Wars of Religion. Burr's performance as the loyal friend of the imprisoned protagonist led to a contract with RKO Radio Pictures.

It's a trim Raymond Burr with Barbara Payton in "Bride of the Gorilla"
Burr appeared in more than 50 feature films between 1946 and 1957, creating an array of villains that established him as an icon of film noir. Burr's most significant work in the genre include Desperate (1947), Sleep, My Love (1948), Raw Deal (1948), Pitfall (1948), Abandoned (1949), Red Light (1950), The Blue Gardenia (1953) and Crime of Passion (1957).

"I was just a fat heavy," Burr told journalist James Bawden. "I split the heavy parts with Bill Conrad. We were both in our twenties playing much older men. I never got the girl but I once got the gorilla in a 3-D picture called Gorilla at Large. I menaced Claudette Colbert, Lizabeth Scott, Paulette Goddard, Anne Baxter, Barbara Stanwyck. Those girls would take one look at me and scream and can you blame them? I was drowned, beaten, stabbed and all for my art. But I knew I was horribly overweight. I lacked any kind of self esteem. At 25 I was playing the fathers of people older than me."

Burr's occasional roles on the right side of the law include the aggressive prosecutor in A Place in the Sun (1951). His courtroom performance in that film made an impression on Gail Patrick and her husband Cornwell Jackson, who had Burr in mind when they began casting the role of Los Angeles district attorney Hamilton Burger in the CBS-TV series Perry Mason.

As a young man Burr weighed more than 300 lbs., which limited his on-screen roles. "But in radio this presented no problems, given the magnificent quality of his voice," reported The Globe and Mail. "He played romantic leads and menacing villains with equal authority, and he earned a steady and comfortable income."

In 1956 Burr was the star of CBS Radio's Fort Laramie, an adult Western drama produced, written and directed by the creators of Gunsmoke. He played the role of Lee Quince, captain of the cavalry, in the series set at a post-Civil War military post where disease, boredom, the elements and the uncharted terrain were the greatest enemies of "ordinary men who lived in extraordinary times." Burr told columnist Sheilah Graham that he had received 1,500 fan letters after the first broadcasts, and he continued to receive letters praising the show's authenticity and presentation of human dignity.


In August 1956, CBS announced that Burr would star in the television series Perry Mason. Although the network wanted Burr to continue work on Fort Laramie as well, the TV series required an extraordinary commitment and the radio show ended.

Known for his loyalty and consciousness of history, Burr went out of his way to employ his radio colleagues in his television programs. Some 180 radio celebrities appeared on Perry Mason during the first season alone.

The series ran from 1957-1966. Burr received three consecutive Emmy Award nominations and won the award in 1959 and 1961 for his performance as Perry Mason. The series has been rerun in syndication ever since, and was released on DVD between 2006 and 2013. Though Burr's character is often said never to have lost a case, he did lose two murder cases in early episodes of the series.


Burr moved from CBS to Universal Studios, where he played the title role in the television drama Ironside, which ran on NBC from 1967 to 1975. In the pilot episode, San Francisco Chief of Detectives Robert T. Ironside is wounded by a sniper during an attempt on his life and, after his recovery, uses a wheelchair for mobility, in the first crime drama show to star a police officer with a disability.

Burr said that he weighed 12.75 pounds at birth, and was chubby throughout his childhood. "When you're a little fat boy in public school, or any kind of school, you're just persecuted something awful," he remembered.

Burr's weight, always an issue for him in getting roles, became a public relations problem when Johnny Carson began making jokes about him during his Tonight Show monologues. Burr refused to appear as Carson's guest from then on, and told Us Weekly years later: "I have been asked a number of times to do his show and I won't do it. Because I like NBC. He's doing an NBC show. If I went on I'd have some things to say, not just about the bad jokes he's done about me, but bad jokes he does about everybody who can't fight back because they aren't there. And that wouldn't be good for NBC."

Burr married actress Isabella Ward (1919–2004) on January 10, 1948. They met in 1943 while Ward was a student at the Pasadena Playhouse, where Burr was teaching. They met again in 1947, when Ward was in California with a short-lived theatre company. They were married shortly before Burr began work on the 1948 film noir, Pitfall. The couple lived in a basement apartment in a large house in Hollywood that Burr shared with his mother and grandparents. The marriage ended within months, and Ward returned to her native Delaware. They divorced in 1952, and neither remarried.


In the mid-1950s, Burr met Robert Benevides (born February 9, 1930, Visalia, California) a young actor and Korean War veteran (shown at right with Burr), on the set of Perry Mason. According to Benevides, they became a couple around 1960. Benevides gave up acting in 1963, and later became a production consultant for 21 of the Perry Mason TV movies. Together they owned and operated an orchid business and then a vineyard, in California's Dry Creek Valley. They were partners until Burr's death in 1993. Burr bequeathed to Benevides his entire estate, including "all my jewelry, clothing, books, works of art … and other items of a personal nature." Benevides subsequently renamed the Dry Creek property Raymond Burr Vineyards (reportedly against Burr's wishes) and managed it as a commercial enterprise.

In the late 1950s, Burr was rumored to be romantically involved with Natalie Wood. Wood's agent sent her on public dates so she could be noticed by directors and producers, and so the men she dated could present themselves in public as heterosexuals. Burr reportedly resented Warner Bros.' decision to promote her attachment to another gay actor, Tab Hunter, rather than him. Robert Benevides later said, "He was a little bitter about it. He was really in love with her, I guess."

Later accounts of Burr's life explain that he hid his gay sexuality to protect his career. "That was a time in Hollywood history when homosexuality was not countenanced," Associated Press reporter Bob Thomas recalled in a 2000 episode of Biography. "Ray was not a romantic star by any means, but he was a very popular figure … If it was revealed at that time in Hollywood history it would have been very difficult for him to continue."

During the filming of his last Perry Mason movie in the spring of 1993, Raymond Burr fell ill. A Viacom spokesperson told the media that the illness might be related to the renal cell carcinoma (malignant kidney tumor) that Burr had removed that February. It was determined that the cancer had spread to his liver and was at that point inoperable. Burr threw several "goodbye parties" before his death on September 12, 1993, at his Sonoma County ranch near Healdsburg. He was 76 years old.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Happy Birthday to Singer, Actress, Gay Icon, Cher


Cherilyn Sarkisian was born today, May 20, in 1946. She is an American singer and actress better known as Cher. Sometimes called the Goddess of Pop, she is known for her distinctive contralto singing voice and for having worked in numerous areas of entertainment, as well as adopting a variety of styles and appearances during her six-decade-long career.


Cher gained popularity in 1965 as one-half of the folk rock husband-wife duo Sonny & Cher after their song "I Got You Babe" reached number one on the American and British charts. By the end of 1967, they had sold 40 million records worldwide and had become, according to Time magazine, rock's "it" couple. She began her solo career simultaneously, releasing in 1966 her first million-seller song, "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)." She became a television personality in the 1970s with her shows The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, watched by more than 30 million viewers weekly during its 3-year run, and her subsequent show, Cher. She emerged as a fashion trendsetter by wearing elaborate outfits on her television shows.

While working on television, Cher established herself as a solo artist with the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart-topping singles "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves," "Half-Breed," and "Dark Lady." After her divorce from Sonny Bono in 1975, she launched a comeback in 1979 with the disco album Take Me Home and earned $300,000 a week for her 1980–82 concert residency in Las Vegas.



In 1982, Cher made her Broadway debut in the play Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean and starred in its film adaptation. She subsequently earned critical acclaim for her performances in films such as Silkwood (1983), Mask (1985), and Moonstruck (1987), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. She then revived her musical career by recording the rock-inflected albums Cher (1987), Heart of Stone (1989), and Love Hurts (1991), all of which yielded several successful singles.

Cher reached a new commercial peak in 1998 with the album Believe, whose title track became the biggest-selling single of all time by a female artist in the UK. It features the pioneering use of Auto-Tune, also known as the "Cher effect." Her 2002–2005 Living Proof: The Farewell Tour became one of the highest-grossing concert tours of all time, earning $250 million. In 2008, she signed a $180 million deal to headline the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for three years. Cher's first studio album in 12 years, Closer to the Truth (2013), became her highest-charting solo album in the U.S. when it debuted at number three on the Billboard 200. In 2018, Cher will return to film for her first on-screen role since 2010's Burlesque, starring in the romantic musical comedy film Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. She is also set to embark on the Australia-only Here We Go Again Tour, which is her first tour in the country in 13 years.


Cher has won a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, an Academy Award, three Golden Globe Awards, a Cannes Film Festival Award, and a special CFDA Fashion Award, among several other honors. She has sold 100 million records worldwide to date, becoming one of the best-selling music artistsin history. She is the only artist to date to have a number-one single on a Billboard chart in each decade from the 1960s to the 2010s. 

Outside of her music and acting, she is noted for her political views, philanthropic endeavors, and social activism, including LGBT rights and HIV/AIDS prevention.

Cher's older child, Chaz Bono (born Chastity Bono), first came out as a lesbian at age 17, which reportedly caused Cher to feel "guilt, fear and pain." However, she soon came to accept Chaz's sexual orientation, and came to the conclusion that LGBT people "didn't have the same rights as everyone else, [and she] thought that was unfair." She was the keynote speaker for the 1997 national Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) convention, and has since become one of the LGBT community's most vocal advocates. In May 1998, she received the GLAAD Vanguard Award for having "made a significant difference in promoting equal rights for lesbians and gay men." She recently headlined Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Happy Birthday to Original "Queer Eye" Guy, Ted Allen


Edward "Ted" Allen was born today, May 20, in 1965. He is an American author and television personality. He was on the Bravo network's original version of the television program Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and has been the host of the TV cooking competition series Chopped since its launch in 2009, as well as other programs on the Food Network. He is a longtime contributing writer to Esquire magazine, and the author of two cookbooks.

Allen graduated from Carmel High School in Carmel, Indiana, in 1983, and was inducted into the school's Alumni Hall of Fame in 2011. He received a degree in psychology from Purdue University in 1987. Subsequently, he enrolled in Purdue’s Krannert Graduate School of Management, but left to accept a job as a copy editor at the Lafayette, Indiana, Journal & Courier.


He later returned to graduate school, gaining an M.A. in journalism from the Science and Environmental Reporting Program at New York University. He then moved to Chicago, where he worked as a reporter for Lerner Newspapers, a chain of community weekly newspapers. He got his start in restaurant criticism there as one quarter of a bi-weekly group-review team called "The Famished Four," along with Barry Rice (at right with Allen), then the chain's entertainment editor (and today Allen's husband), who initiated the concept with Lerner food editor Leah A. Zeldes.

Allen then became a freelancer for Chicago magazine, eventually signing on as a senior editor, and often writing about food, wine and luminaries of the culinary world. He joined Esquire in 1997 as a contributing editor, where he wrote features, food pieces, and profiles, and co-authored the magazine's popular "Things a Man Should Know" series. He also has written for GQ, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and Epicurious.


Allen gained great visibility in 2003 when he became a cast member of the television makeover series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Allen was the show’s food and wine specialist. He continued to make television appearances as a gourmet, including as a frequent guest judge on Food Network's Iron Chef America. Beginning in 2007, Allen appeared as a regular judge on seasons 3 and 4 of Bravo's reality television program Top Chef, following several guest judge appearances during the previous two seasons. 

In 2008, he left Bravo when Food Network offered him the host job on two shows: Food Detectives, which debuted on July 29, 2008, and Chopped, which launched a 13-episode season on January 13, 2009. Detectives returned for a second season of 13 episodes, also in January 2009. Chopped was renewed for 26 episodes and went back into production in March 2009 in New York. The show took off with viewers and was renewed for another 33 episodes, which shot in January and February 2010. Now one of the highest-rated prime time shows on the network, as of September, 2016, Chopped has shot 450 episodes, and Chopped Junior has shot 52.

He has written and co-authored numerous books, including The Food You Want To Eat: 100 Smart, Simple Recipes and In My Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Discoveries for Passionate Cooks.

In May 2012, Allen received a James Beard Foundation Award for his work as the host of Chopped, and the show itself also won for best in-studio television program. In 2004, he won an Emmy Award along with the other cast members and producers of Queer Eye for "Outstanding Reality Program." The show was also nominated again for that category in 2005.  In 2011, he received a Visibility Award from the Human Rights Campaign in San Francisco. He also holds two awards from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for Queer Eye, presented in 2004 and 2005.