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Early taste of ‘Summer’

Posted: 09 Feb 2018 08:13 AM PST

Something Like Summer, gay news, Washington Blade

Grant Davis and Davi Santos in ‘Something Like Summer.’ (Photo courtesy of Carlos Pedraza)

Reel Affirmations presents a screening of "Something Like Summer" at Human Rights Campaign (1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.) on Friday, Feb. 16 at 6 p.m.

"Something Like Summer" follows Texas high school student Benjamin as he comes out of the closet and faces bullying from his classmates. Instead of pursing his dream as a singer, he focuses on stalking Tim, a handsome new athlete who moved to town, for the summer. Cast member Ben Bauer will appear for a cast talk back and catered reception. Rayceen Pendarvis hosts the screening. General admission tickets are $12. VIP tickets $25 and includes VIP seating, one complimentary cocktail, beer or wine and a catered reception.

For more information, visit thedccenter.org/somethinglikesummer.

CARTOON: Unwanted applause

Posted: 09 Feb 2018 08:05 AM PST

Olympics, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade editorial cartoon by Ranslem)

Blade singles class of 2017 check in

Posted: 09 Feb 2018 07:58 AM PST

LGBT singles, gay news, Washington Blade

Last year’s LGBT Most Eligible Singles party. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

GUY ANTHONY

Guy Anthony (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

What is your relationship status now, one year after being named a Blade Most Eligible Single?

I relocated to New York last July and I am still happily single. I met someone after the story ran and we dated for about eight months. It was a wonderful relationship.

How was the experience of being named a Blade Most Eligible Single — did it lead to any dates?

It was wonderful and I actually went on a few dates with guys who actually saw me in the Blade. I felt like Beyonce for a few weeks. Then, sadly, it was back to reality.

Any advice to this year’s winners?

Take full advantage of the discounted drinks at Nellie's and remember to date often until you find the right person for you. Never feel tempted to settle just because everyone else around you is.

BRITTANY WALSH

Brittany Walsh, gay news, Washington Blade

Brittany Walsh (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

What is your relationship status now, one year after being named a Blade Most Eligible Single?

I'm in a something with a person and that something is open.

If dating someone, where/how did you meet?

Actually the person was a date to the Most Eligible Single event last year but we’d been on a few dates before that.

How was the experience of being named a Blade Most Eligible Single — did it lead to any dates?

It was mostly a good laugh and a bonding experience as it seemed to give my coworkers and anyone I'd meet in community, something to talk about. I like the sass/subtle jabs and pokes that came with it. I think it led to one date.

Any advice to this year’s winners?

I don’t think i’m one for advice but my wish is for the winners to, ya know, take their win seriously and, uh, I wanna see world peace.

ALESIA MICHELLE

Alesia Michelle, gay news, Washington Blade

Alesia Michelle (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

What is your relationship status now, one year after being named a Blade Most Eligible Single?

I am in a relationship.

If dating someone, where/how did you meet?

I met my girlfriend at a Maker’s Lab Beyonce birthday party. She asked me to dance. But things weren’t so simple. I had to ask her at least 20 times to link up before she finally gave me a shot.

How was the experience of being named a Blade Most Eligible Single — did it lead to any dates?

Being named a “Blade Most Eligible Single” was a very cool experience and definitely led to some propositions.

Any advice to this year’s winners?

My advice to the new class of singles is to soak it up. Put yourself out there and try not to pay for your own drinks.

CONSUELLA LOPEZ

Consuella Lopez, gay news, Washington Blade

Consuella Lopez (Photo courtesy of Lopez)

What is your relationship status now, one year after being named a Blade Most Eligible Single?

Still single. Not dating anyone because men aren't comfortable dating a transgender woman in public.

How was the experience of being named a Blade Most Eligible Single — did it lead to any dates?

No one contacted me for a date.

Any advice to this year’s winners?

If you are transgender and trying to date, go a different route because I'm very confident in the way I look and I didn't even get asked out on a date.

TAYLOR LIANNE CHANDLER

LGBT eligible singles, Taylor Lianne Chandler, gay news, Washington Blade

Taylor Lianne Chandler (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

What is your relationship status now, one year after being named a Blade Most Eligible Single?

I am in a relationship since November.

If dating someone, where/how did you meet?

Met him on a dating app. He tried to get my attention for a year before I noticed.

How was the experience of being named a Blade Most Eligible Single — did it lead to any dates?

The experience was a blast! Especially doing the photo shoot and getting to see parts of D.C. I had never seen before. I got a lot of national press that was positive for a change. It helped make me more comfortable being out publicly as intersex. I met someone the night of the event who came out specifically to meet me. We dated until April.

Any advice to this year’s winners?

Never be afraid to put yourself outside your comfort zone and take a chance. Dating should be an adventure and fun. Don't go into it with the baggage from the past. Good luck to this years winners and I hope you find that special someone.

MATTIA D'AFFUSO

Mattia D'Affuso, gay news, Washington Blade

Mattia D’Affuso (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

What is your relationship status now, one year after being named a Blade Most Eligible Single?

I started dating someone shortly after last year's most eligible single event, but I am now single again.

How was the experience of being named a Blade Most Eligible Single — did it lead to any dates?

I started dating someone shortly after so no.

Any advice to this year’s winners?

Have fun and be nice.

DIANE MELIS

Diane Melis, gay news, Washington Blade

Diane Melis (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

What is your relationship status now, one year after being named a Blade Most Eligible Single?

Currently single and open to dating

If dating someone, where/how did you meet?

I had a relationship in the summer and fall. We met out at Coven a ladies night hosted by Kate Ross, another eligible single from last year.

How was the experience of being named a Blade Most Eligible Single — did it lead to any dates?

I thought it was a super fun experience. The event was my birthday weekend so it really added some fun and something else to celebrate. It was a great fun fact to throw out there and I still have the article that was posted in the paper.

Any advice to this year’s winners?

Have fun with it and enjoy it. Your friends nominated you for a reason so don’t get to serious or worry about getting dates. Just enjoy the ride.

LISA MARIE THALHAMMER

Lisa Marie Thalhammer, gay news, Washington Blade

Lisa Marie Thalhammer (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

What is your relationship status now, one year after being named a Blade Most Eligible Single?

After the 2017 Most Eligible Singles ceremony at Town, the very next morning I was contacted by a 2016 Most Eligible Single whom I had a year-long crush on. We unknowingly had been neighbors for years. Ultimately we found we made better friends but even so, it was a very positive source of strength and we supported each other through a wild year.

How was the experience of being named a Blade Most Eligible Single — did it lead to any dates?

I have a lot of gratitude for the Washington Blade and how it continues to build our community, providing a platform for LGBTQ voices to be heard by featuring our people, reporting our news and strengthening our relationships by encouraging love toward each other and ourselves.

Any advice to this year’s winners?

My advice to this year's singles is to leave your phone on airplane mode once in a while, keep your head lifted high and your eyes wide open. Your greatest love might be standing right across from you. Don't miss those opportunities to make real world connections. Fall in love with yourself, the world and people around you.

JOE DONNELLY

Joe Donnelly, gay news, Washington Blade

Joe Donnelly (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

What is your relationship status now, one year after being named a Blade Most Eligible Single?

Single

How was the experience of being named a Blade Most Eligible Single — did it lead to any dates?

The experience was flattering. I saw an uptick in unsolicited Facebook requests after the issue. It did not lead to any dates for me (I was not really expecting that result). It was nice to be selected.

Any advice to this year’s winners?

Just enjoy and have fun with it.

JULIA DeLOIS

Julia DeLois, gay news, Washington Blade

Julia DeLois (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

What is your relationship status now, one year after being named a Blade Most Eligible Single?

Still single.

How was the experience of being named a Blade Most Eligible Single — did it lead to any dates?

No one contacted me.

Any advice to this year’s winners?

Definitely fun as a treat and honor but don't put too many eggs in this basket.

DAVID TORIAN

David Torian, gay news, Washington Blade

David Torian (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

What is your relationship status now, one year after being named a Blade Most Eligible Single?

Single

How was the experience of being named a Blade Most Eligible Single — did it lead to any dates?

I was honored and excited to be named. Sadly, no dates came of it.

Any advice to this year’s winners?

Be honored for being selected.

Round House’s ‘Handbagged’ offers witty repartee

Posted: 09 Feb 2018 07:41 AM PST

Handbagged review, gay news, Washington Blade

Kate Fahy, left, and Jennifer Mendenhall in 'Handbagged.' (Photo by Kaley Etzkorn)

'Handbagged'
 
Through March 3
 
Round House Theatre
 
4545 East-West Highway in Bethesda
 
$45-65
 
240-644-1100

Early in "Handbagged," British playwright Moira Buffini's timely take on the prickly relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Margaret Thatcher, we're given a glimpse of the Prime Minister's unyielding will. When a hospitable Queen Elizabeth offers the politician a seat, she instantly and adamantly refuses. A sternly said, "No," it turns out, is an utterance with which Thatcher is very comfortable.

Now making its American premiere at Round House Theatre, the two-act play is structured around weekly meetings between sovereign and her first female Prime Minister spanning Thatcher's 11 years in office (1979-1990). Because the contents of these historical tête-à-têtes are mostly unknown, Buffini imagines what was said based on dubious leaks, reported dispositions and track records.

When the powerful pair are first alone on royal turf, the Queen (wearing sensible low heels) assures Thatcher (uniformed in power suit, high heels and even higher hair), "Whatever we say, must stay within these three walls," as she looks through the fourth wall into the audience. The characters periodically address the audience directly, filling us in on how they really feel.

Throughout "Handbagged" there are always two Queens and two Thatchers on Richard Kent's stark white set. Beth Hylton and Jennifer Mendenhall play the middle aged and older Queen, respectively, while Susan Lynskey is the Prime Minister in office and Kate Fahy assays the older Thatcher. The more mature versions of the women amusingly perform damage control, quashing indiscreet thoughts or actions their younger selves might reveal. While it may sound a tad confusing, Indhu Rubasingham's adroit staging ensures that it never gets awkward.

Contemporaries in age, both women are married, working mums who adored their fathers. But that's where similarities end. The Queen was born into the job whereas Thatcher's rise from modest shopkeeper's daughter to Oxford graduate to powerful politician was based on merit and propelled by sheer grit.

Over weekly tea, the pair find they have little in common other than a love for Britain. Thatcher has no time for jokes, gossip, horses, dogs or chilly picnics in Scotland, all things the Queen adores. She predictably balks on corporate regulation, health benefits, workers' rights, sanctions against apartheid in South Africa and so on. It's easy to see how she was nicknamed the Iron Lady. To the Queen's dismay, Thatcher simply doesn't bend. And while this setup might prove a one-joke show, layered performances, smart writing and direction prevent that from happening.   

When not frowning disapprovingly, Mendenhall's older Queen, or simply Q, is twinkly as she lands the well-timed barb. She's also quite chummy with her hard-working younger self, Hylton's Liz. Lynskey's Mags is scarily determined though sometimes sentimental. And Fahy's older Thatcher, or T, who most resembles her character, makes for a severe yet haunting presence.

As Actor 1 and Actor 2, Cody LeRoy Wilson and John Lescault ably play 17 parts ranging from Thatcher's florid, cheerleader husband Dennis (Lescault) to union leaders to the Prime Minister's political idol and crush Ronald Reagan and his society-smitten wife Nancy (Wilson with bare, hairy legs poking out from the skirt of Nancy's signature red Adolfo suit).

A couple years ago when Round House first discussed mounting "Handbagged," they assumed that by now the U.S. would have elected its first woman president. But Buffini's play about rabidly opposed ideologies in '80s British politics resonates even more given our current political scenario. Snippets of dialogue including "collude" and "widening wealth gap" drew chuckles and groans of recognition from the audience on opening night.

Finally! — trans actress, trans role

Posted: 09 Feb 2018 06:22 AM PST

Daniela Vega, gay news, Washington Blade

Daniela Vega as Marina in 'A Fantastic Woman.' (Photo courtesy Sony Pictures Classics)

Even though the hashtag #oscarsocis never got the attention of #oscarsostraight, #oscarsowhite or #oscarsomale, mainstream international cinema has had a problem casting trans actors in trans roles, let alone casting trans actors at all.

Cisgender actors, however, have frequently been rewarded for playing trans characters. Hilary Swank (“Boys Don’t Cry”), Felicity Huffman (“Transamerica”), Jared Leto (“Dallas Buyers Club”) and Eddie Redmayne (“The Danish Girl”) have all been nominated for Oscars for playing trans roles; Swank and Leto both took home the coveted gold statuette.

This year, however, things have started to change. A Chilean film may finally break the Academy's trans ceiling. In Sebastián Lelio's stunning film "A Fantastic Woman" (Una Mujer Fantástica), transgender actress Daniela Vega plays transgender singer Marina Vidal, a woman who is threatened by the medical, judicial and legal system after her boyfriend's death. Although Vega was not nominated in the Best Actress category, the ground-breaking film has been nominated for an Oscar as the Best Foreign Language Film. It opens Friday, Feb. 9 at the Angelika Mosaic and Landmark E Street.

Director and co-writer Sebastián Lelio ("Gloria") says he did not initially set out to write a film about a transgender character.

"I got the idea for the movie slowly," Lelio says. "At the beginning we were playing with the idea of what would happen if the person you love dies in your arms. And then we thought what if this happened to a transgender woman." Lelio and co-screenwriter Gonzalo Maza began to look for a "cultural advisor" to help them develop the idea and to help them get better acquainted with Santiago's trans community.

"We brought on Dani and that was a milestone," Lelio says. "I decided I wanted to make the movie and I decided we would not do the movie without a transgender actress in the lead."

Vega and the authors worked together on Skype for a year and Lelio finally realized he had found his leading lady.

"Towards the end of the writing process," he says, "I realized that Dani should be the star of the film. She has some acting experience, she is an opera singer, she is an artist, she is a force of nature. Why look any further?"

Lelio says the "film is both a celebration and examination of its main character: Marina Vidal."

Marina is an aspiring singer who is working as a waitress and living with her boyfriend, an older married man named Orlando (Francisco Reyes). After Orlando's sudden death, Marina is treated with suspicion by everyone around her: the police suspect she is involved with Orlando's death, she is forced to undergo a degrading physical examination and Orlando's widow forbids her from attending the funeral service.

But in the end, Marina triumphs, performing a beautiful classical aria as a memorial to Orlando and a public celebration of their love.

Vega says making this film was "was the hardest thing I've done in my life, but I like challenges. It's like playing an opera. Singing opera is very hard, but you enjoy it when you are doing it. The movie is violent and emotionally complex, but I was part of an amazing team. We took care of each other. We are artists."

Both Vega and Lelio have been excited by the enthusiastic international acclaim for the movie. Besides the historic Oscar nomination, "A Fantastic Woman" won several awards at the Berlin International Film Festival and was nominated for a Golden Globe and several Dorian awards from GALECA, the Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics.

"It was quite wonderful to see how well understood the film was," Lelio says. "I was quite touched."

As a director, he says he tries to avoid preaching.

"It's hard for me to think in terms of messages. I think of films in terms of energy. Beauty is my only duty."

But his star offers some guidance for her audience.

"I want everybody to question everything — love, family, death, relationships, freedom. We should ask ourselves who prohibits things and why and what are we doing with our empathy."

After the shooting for "A Fantastic Woman" was over, Lelio shot his first English language films. Scheduled for a spring release, "Disobedience," based on the novel by Naomi Alderman, stars Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz as childhood friends who become lovers when they are reunited as adults; Alessandro Nivola plays McAdams' husband, an orthodox rabbi.

Scheduled for a fall release, "Gloria," staring Julianne Moore, is a remake of Lelio's 2013 film about a woman in her 50s looking for love in the dance club of Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, the multi-talented Vega is writing a book and is working on a new theater piece. She's also reading film scripts and thinking about what she will wear to the Oscars on March 4.

"A beautiful dress with a big long train," she says, "probably in a color I have never worn before."

Puerto Rico gay bar becomes ‘oasis’ after Maria

Posted: 09 Feb 2018 06:00 AM PST

Bear Tavern PR is a gay bar in the Ocean Park neighborhood of San Juan, Puerto Rico. It reopened eight days after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — It was around midnight on Feb. 2 at the Bear Tavern PR, a gay bar in the Ocean Park neighborhood of the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan, when a woman began to pass around pieces of her Birthday cake.

Roughly 20 people were inside the bar, which is located near the intersections of Calles Degetau and Loiza, as Foo Fighters “Learn to Fly” and other songs that include Gerardo’s “Rico Suave” and Kid Rock’s “Cowboy” played. Other patrons were smoking cigarettes and drinking beers outside on the narrow sidewalk.

Ismael Acosta, who co-owns Bear Tavern PR with his partner of nine years, Gabriel Acosta, noted it is the only bear and leather bar in Puerto Rico. Gabriel Acosta added it became an “oasis” for Ocean Park residents after Hurricane Maria.

“They would come here and say finally I can talk to people about what happened to me at home,” he said as he and Ismael Acosta spoke with the Washington Blade from behind the bar.

Maria on Sept. 20 devastated Puerto Rico when it made landfall on the island’s southeastern coast with 155 mph winds.

A combination of storm surge and flood waters mixed with raw sewage left large swaths of low-lying Ocean Park flooded for three weeks after Maria. Bear Tavern PR — which opened last May — was able to reopen eight days after the hurricane after Gov. Ricardo Rosselló lifted a dusk-to-dawn curfew and the Acostas were able to obtain a generator.

“The first night that we opened it was a Friday and it was magical,” Gabriel Acosta told the Blade. “Its like we had never seen each other for the past year.”

Gabriel Acosta said the bar was without power for eight days after Hurricane Irma brushed Puerto Rico on Sept. 7.

He told the Blade it took a week to get ice for Bear Tavern PR after Maria. Gabriel Acosta also said he and his partner spent several hours each day going to stores to buy beer, liquor and other supplies.

“We’d be running around to stores; getting ice, getting plastic, getting everything,” he told the Blade. “It was difficult, but we were the only bar open.”

The Acostas’ home in Caguas, a city that is roughly 20 miles south of San Juan, was undamaged during Maria.

Ocean Park residents were able to get ice at Bear Tavern PR and use the electricity the generator was providing after the hurricane. Ismael Acosta told the Blade that some of the bar’s patrons “lost everything.”

“They lost everything,” added Gabriel Acosta. “They come here and they’re smiling and they got more joy and more happiness than we do.”

Maria ‘was very strong here’

Power was restored in Ocean Park in December. Sunset Sunrise, an LGBT-friendly bar in Boquerón, a village that is located on Puerto Rico’s southwest coast, reopened just before Christmas after its electricity was restored.

Sunset Sunrise is an LGBT-friendly bar in Boquerón, Puerto Rico. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Tita, a bartender at Sunset Sunrise, and Oswaldo, a Boquerón resident, on Feb. 2 showed the Blade pictures on their iPhones of homes and businesses that Maria damaged. The storm surge also washed sailboats into mangrove swamps and destroyed at least one house that had been built over the water.

“The hurricane was very strong here,” Tita told the Blade.

Boquerón, which is located roughly two-and-a-half hours southwest of San Juan in the municipality of Cabo Rojo, is a popular destination for Puerto Ricans and tourists alike. Boquerón also hosts a Pride celebration that takes place in June.

A handful of people were sitting outside Sunset Sunrise on Feb. 2 when the Blade was speaking with Tita and Oswaldo. Most of the bars and restaurants in downtown Boquerón were open, but Tita confirmed the number of visitors has dropped 50 percent from a year ago.

“Things are now picking up,” she said.

Hurricane Maria damage in Boquerón, Puerto Rico, on Sept. 21, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Tita/Sunset Sunrise)

Bar owners: Trump has ‘forgotten’ about Puerto Rico

Back in Ocean Park, the majority of the traffic lights are damaged and do not work.

Mangled power lines, damaged utility poles and buildings, piles of debris and sand remain common sights throughout the neighborhood. Maria also damaged Ocean Park’s sewer infrastructure.

Damaged traffic lights at an intersection in the Ocean Park neighborhood of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Jan. 30, 2018. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz continues to criticize President Trump over his response to Maria. Ismael Acosta’s face grimaced with anger when the Blade asked him about the White House’s handling of the hurricane’s aftermath.

“We’ve been forgotten by the president,” he said. “He forgot about us. My face can tell you everything.”

Gabriel Acosta agreed, pointing out to the Blade that LGBT Puerto Ricans “have never had the full support” of the island’s government. Ismael Acosta also suggested Cruz has not done enough to help her city begin to recover from Maria.

“She’s getting a lot of attention for the island,” Ismael Acosta told the Blade. “But for us here in San Juan . . . she forgot about San Juan.”

“That’s what people are complaining about,” added Gabriel Acosta. “Yes, you’re famous in Washington, you’re famous in New York, but what happened to San Juan. You still walk around, drive around, you still have trees on the side (of the road) and everything. And people are saying what about San Juan? We are here, but you went to the states.”

Ismael Acosta nevertheless praised Cruz for doing “an amazing job talking, trying to let people know about us” in Puerto Rico. Ismael Acosta also described Cruz as “one of the only ones who stood up to” Trump after Maria.

“We need to respect that too,” said Ismael Acosta.

Md. bill would allow ‘unspecified’ gender marker on driver’s license

Posted: 08 Feb 2018 08:16 PM PST

Maryland State House, gay news, Washington Blade

A Maryland House of Delegates committee on Feb. 8, 2018, held a hearing on a bill that would allow Marylanders to obtain state-issued identification cards and driver’s licenses with an “unspecified” gender marker. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Maryland lawmakers on Thursday held a hearing on a bill that would allow Marylanders to obtain state-issued identification cards and driver’s licenses with an “unspecified” gender marker.

Members of the Maryland House of Delegates Environment and Transportation Committee heard testimony on House Bill 13, which state Del. Shane Robinson (D-Montgomery County) introduced.

Matthew Malouf, a Baltimore psychologist who is on the board of the Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome-Differences of Sex Development Support Group, which is one of the largest support groups for intersex people in the U.S., testified in support of the measure.

“Having binary male/female sex markers on driver's licenses and on other state and federal SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) identifiers impair our ability to record and collect information on this population and to guide individuals and families in aspects of their treatment,” said Malouf. “By changing the framework by which we categorize data, bills such as HB 13 allow researchers and practitioners to have a better understanding of the prevalence of these conditions which, in turn, hopefully improves outcomes.”  

“Changes to how we think about gender markers across the lifespan can also reduce the pressure families face in choosing an ‘optimal’ sex of rearing at birth, pressure which sometimes impairs their medical decision making and can result in inappropriate surgical intervention on infants,” added Malouf. “For those individuals diagnosed with one of these conditions, it also allows them to have identification that accurately reflects their physical body.”

Va. House subcommittee kills four pro-LGBT bills

Posted: 08 Feb 2018 03:07 PM PST

Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

A Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee on Feb. 8, 2018, killed four pro-LGBT bills. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee on Thursday killed four pro-LGBT bills.

Members of a House General Laws Committee subcommittee killed state Del. Mark Levine (D-Alexandria)’s House Bill 401, which would have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, public accommodation, housing, banking, insurance, public contracting and apprenticeships.

Lawmakers killed state Del. Marcus Simon (D-Falls Church)’s House Bill 1547 and state Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D-Loudoun County)’s Senate Bill 423, which would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to Virginia’s Fair Housing Law. The subcommittee also killed state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria)’s Senate Bill 202, which would have banned discrimination against LGBT public employees.

The Virginia Senate last month approved SB 202 and SB 423.

The committee on Thursday was also expected to vote on state Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D-Prince William County)’s House Bill 971, which would have added gender identity to Virginia’s Fair Housing Law. The Prince William County Democrat asked the committee to remove the measure from the docket.

Advocates sharply criticized House Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) for assigning the bills to the subcommittee on Wednesday “with little public notice.”

"I'm gravely disappointed in today's vote,” said Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish in a press release that his organization released with the Human Rights Campaign and Freedom for All Americans. “Four pro-LGBT bills were killed on a party-line vote, revealing just how disconnected House leadership is from their constituents."

“We hoped this year would be a turning point, but once again, Speaker Cox is playing politics with LGBT people's basic civil rights,” he added. “These common-sense bills would have been important steps towards a more equal Virginia, including protecting LGBT people from discrimination in public employment and housing. It is truly disgraceful for sitting members of the Virginia House to vote down such fair-minded legislation at the will of the speaker."

The vote took place three days after Equality Virginia held its annual Lobby Day in Richmond.

Gov. Ralph Northam, who spoke at the annual event, last month signed an executive order that bans discrimination against LGBT state employees. Equality Virginia, HRC and Freedom for All Americans on Thursday noted this directive in their press release.

“Today's action by Speaker Cox and other House Republican leadership is truly disgraceful and leaves thousands of LGBTQ Virginians at risk of discrimination," said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. "The vast majority of fair-minded Virginians support these long overdue protections that were passed with strong bipartisan support in the Republican-controlled Senate.”

“House Republican leaders are completely out of step with what voters made clear at the ballot box in November,” he added. “Virginians want their representatives to send a message that the commonwealth is open and welcome to all. It is far past time House lawmakers stop playing politics with the lives of LGBTQ people and their families.”

A House subcommittee on Tuesday tabled state Del. Debra Rodman (D-Henrico County)’s House Bill 1466 that would have banned health insurance providers from discriminating against transgender policyholders in Virginia. State Del. Danica Roem (D-Prince William County), who is the first openly trans person seated in a state legislature in the U.S., was the measure’s chief co-sponsor.

Twitter conspiracy theory thinks Adele and Sam Smith are the same person

Posted: 08 Feb 2018 11:47 AM PST

Sam Smith (Image courtesy of Instagram)

Adele and Sam Smith are both Brits known for their powerful, blue-eyed soul ballads and wracking up Grammy awards but a conspiracy theory believes they might be the same person.

Twitter user @Jesse21Valona posted a video of Adele’s “Hello” playing on a turntable and slowed the song down to show that he thinks Adele’s voice sounds similar to Smith’s.

He posted another video of “Million Years Ago” by Adele slowed down to show the similarity to Smith.

Some people marveled at the coincidence while others couldn’t help but joke that the two singers have never been seen together.

 

‘Charmed’ reboot will include a lesbian sister

Posted: 08 Feb 2018 11:26 AM PST

(Image courtesy of Instagram)

A “Charmed” reboot is in the works and the new series will include a lesbian sister.

TVLine released character descriptions for the revamped trio of witches and one sister’s was noticeably different from the original.

Mel Pruitt, the middle sister, is described as a lesbian who is dating female Detective Soo Jin. Mel’s power is time-freezing but a tragic accident has left her “angry, defiantly unkempt, even violent” causing problems between her and everyone else, including her girlfriend. According to TVLine, producers are still looking to cast Mel’s girlfriend.

Madison is Mel’s younger sister who is working on pledging a sorority. She is “horrified” to discover that she is a witch whose power is to hear people’s thoughts.

Macy, whose power is telekinesis, believes that she is Mel and Madison’s oldest sister. She and her boyfriend move to Hilltowne, Michigan, and Macy begins working at the university lab.

Holly Marie Combs, known for her portrayal of Piper in the original series, was not impressed with details of the remake. In a series of tweets, the actress slammed the show’s revival.

Combs has been against the reboot since its announcement. In January, she tweeted that a remake couldn’t live up to the original.