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Even NPH Can’t Say ‘Tr*nny’ : A Teachable Moment

2 Dec

It’s time for some education around Transgender issues and what is now seen as transphobic or discriminatory language.

A few months ago, I was on a bus trip from NYC to DC and the two young collegiates next to me were having a really intelligent discussion about the current political atmosphere. While I don’t think they were LGBT, they were certainly progressive enough. I smiled as I listened to them banter on about the environment and the damage that some Republican candidates would do to our country. When all of a sudden, they started discussing a party they’d been to the night before and out popped the sentence “She looked like a tranny.” To me, this was jarring because as an activist, I’ve been trained that “tranny” is an offensive and downright unacceptable term to be using.

I interrupted the young men, apologized for eavesdropping for the past hour or so and let them know that the term they were using was hurtful towards transgender people. They immediately apologized and thanked me for letting them know.

At the beginning of this month on Huffington Post, the bastion of liberal blogs, there was a little survey entitled “Who looks more like a Tranny? Sofia Vergara or Blake Lively.” When it was brought to their attention that they were using an anti-trans slur, they immediately removed it and issued an apology.

And then just a few weeks ago, Kelly Osborn issued an apology for using the word in a Glamour UK interview, with regards to a transgender friend of hers. Kelly was under fire immediately and reached out to GLAAD for advice on how the word was offensive and education on how she could reach out to apologize for her gaffe. She wrote a wonderful piece, ironically enough, for Huffington Post titled “I’m retiring the word ‘Tranny’…will you join me?

And then this morning, I was referred to a video of our very own Neil Patrick Harris co-hosting “LIVE with Kelly”. The two were inhaling a gas which was the opposite of helium, whose properties actually lower your voice in the same way helium raises it. Neil made the comment “I’ve never sounded more like a tranny in my life.”

I’ve met Neil on several occasions now and have worked with his partner David a few times, and I can tell you that if Neil had ever been informed that what he said might be offensive to some people, he never would have used it. If one of the most out, positive LGBT role models out there has not been educated on this issue, then we need to be doing better work.

I know among some, there will be the desire to break out the pitchforks and torches and make an example out of NPH. But the truth of the matter is, when even members of our own community don’t know about these things, or know and use them anyway, we should pivot to education, not attack. Each moment like this is a chance to move the ball forward. I urge people to avoid jumping to the conclusion that he is a “transphobe” or that he “doesn’t give two shits about trans women.” It comes off as not only extreme, but potentially counter productive. We make a lot of assumptions about the use of a word that many have not yet been trained to avoid.

Trans issues are happily, finally coming to the forefront. With Chaz Bono’s appearance on “Dancing with the Stars” and the doors that has opened, I’m hoping to see far more attention paid to the T of the LGBT – it’s about time. But in doing so, we must find as many opportunities as we can, to educate. If we start out by attacking people who honestly have not been told otherwise, we will lose potential allies.

I’ve reached out to Neil and it would surprise me if we don’t hear from him soon about this. But again, I can almost guarantee that he was not aware that his language was seen as offensive.

I would like to ask all who read this to take a little time and read this GLAAD Media Reference Guide and transgender glossary of terms. The education has to start somewhere.

UPDATE:

As expected, NPH has come through with an apology for his use of the slur. Please continue to help educate others on potentially offensive language. Many responses to this post have been met with “I had no idea that we shouldn’t use that word” or “My friends use it all the time, I’ll ask them not to now.” All it takes is a little education.

And take a look at this excellent explanation of transphobic language from Bilerico.com (thanks Vincent Villano at National Center for Transgender Equality)

PHOTOS: Queer as Folk’s Clunie and Supermodel Kroell Visit DC for GLAAD Panel

13 Oct

Last night, at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, GLAAD’s DC Leadership Council in cooperation with the Reel Affirmations LGBT Film Festival presented “Out of the Closet and on to the Screen: A Generation of Queer Film.”

The panel was moderated by award-winning journalist Chris Geidner and featured Ronnie Kroell - Star of Bravo’s Make Me a Supermodel, June 2010 Playgirl Cover Model, films – Eating Out: Drama Camp, Into the Lion’s Den, Michelle Clunie Queer as Folk, Make It or Break It, Brad Bell – star and writer of “Husbands,” Bob Mondello – National Public Radio’s Arts Critic, and Stephen L. Forssell - GWU Lecturer, LGBT Family Research Expert and GW student filmmaker of I Am Sara Snyder.

The discussion was thorough and covered everything from the first appearance of gay people on film to the evolution of gay film on the internet. Please enjoy our photos from last night. All photos copyright Jamie McGonnigal, EqualityPhotography.com.

Meet Ronnie Kroell: Playgirl Cover Model, Actor, Activist and in DC This Week!

10 Oct

Ronnie Kroell in June 2010's Playgirl Magazine

On Wednesday, October 12th at 7pm, the GLAAD DC Leadership Council in cooperation with Reel Affirmations is proud to present Out of the Closet and Onto the Screen: A Generation of Queer Film. Happily, both writers on this site sit on the Leadership Council and  are thrilled to be helping with this event.

Moderated by MetroWeekly’s Chris Geidner, the star-studded panel is scheduled to include Ronnie Kroell - Star of Bravo’s Make Me a Supermodel, June 2010 Playgirl Cover Model, films - Eating Out: Drama Camp, Into the Lion’s Den,  Michelle Clunie – Queer as Folk, Make It or Break It, Bob Mondello – National Public Radio’s Arts Critic, and Stephen L. Forssell - GWU Lecturer, LGBT Family Research Expert.

We spoke to our friend, Ronnie Kroell about his own history, his career as an out actor and model and the premiere of his film, Into the Lion’s Den, happening at the Reel Affirmations Film Festival on Sunday, October 16th at 9pm.

Me & Ronnie Kroell

TAE: Before coming out, did you find any inspiration from LGBT films?

RK: Broken Hearts Club really had a major impact on me because it showed gay men in a very real and everyday way. The story of this particular group of friends was heartwarming and really made an impact on my life. And of course, I had a major crush on Dean Cain.

TAE: As an out actor and model and Playgirl cover, have you had any career challenges that you think may be due to your being out?

RK: If I have, I am not aware of them. I have never let my personal orientation stand in my way of getting what I want.

Ronnie Kroell in Into the Lion's Den

TAE: What can you tell us about the premiere of your latest film, Into the Lion’s Den?

RK: Into the Lion’s Den, written by Philip Malaczewski, is a cross between the warm depiction of the relationship between three close friends and a horribly twisted and dark nightmare. Working alongside Jesse Archer and Kristen Alexzander-Griffith was a real treat! It felt like we really were on a road-trip together – much like that of the story of our characters, but minus all the blood and suspense. We certainly had fun making this film and hope that the audience will enjoy this dark, yet humorous thriller – directed by Dan Lantz in association with Breaking Glass Pictures.

Ronnie Kroell as MC at a New York Fundraiser

RK: Our biggest challenges believe it or not reside within the community itself. We must take it upon ourselves to clean up our own act and start practicing what we are preaching to the community at large. At the heart of the work that must be done is ACCEPTANCE. We still are a community that is having trouble reconciling differences with-in the sub-groups of LGBT, especially where race and gender identity is concerned. Furthermore, if we want the community at large to be more accepting of us we too have to be more accepting of them by eliminating words like, “breeder” from our vocabulary and purposefully tearing down the walls between the “gay neighborhoods” and the “straight” neighborhoods. It’s important to have a sense of community and to celebrate our diversity, but true equality will be reached when we no longer have the need for a “Gay Neighborhood”.

When we can finally live amongst each other without fear of holding our boyfriend or girlfriend’s hand in public, when we can stop focusing on the superficial layers of who we are and celebrate our similarities, when we can reach down and find compassion once again in our hearts – that is when we will have achieved success in this movement. We must stay the course and continue to build bridges between the LGBT Community and our Allies, we must remember to say thank-you and appreciate the victories along the way, and we must never EVER give-up. I envision a more perfect Union where we move beyond these labels and can focus all of our energies on issues that desperately need our attention, ie: healthcare, education, and economy. We cannot afford to sit on the side-lines in complacency, now is the time for ACTION.

Ronnie Kroell

TAE: Do you believe more mainstream LGBT films such as Brokeback Mountain and Milk will ultimately help or hurt the production of more independent films such as the Eating Out series or Trick?

RK: Producing more mainstream LGBT films will never hurt the production of more independent films – there will always be a market for them. I do hope that more mainstream films are produced because it effectively reaches a much larger audience and educates the masses about the community, past – present – and future goals. I don’t think mainstream and independent LGBT film are necessarily mutually exclusive – we can have both, that’s the cool part!

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS TO WEDNESDAY'S PANEL!


NY Marriage Equality: How Did We Get There? A Photo Retrospective

26 Jun

I moved from New York to Washington DC three weeks ago to be with my boyfriend. It’s hard not to still consider New York City home after nearly 13 years living there, but after last night – my struggle to move on became even more difficult. For the past several years, I’ve proudly fought alongside some incredible activists, lobbyists, politicians and allies in the struggle for equality. And last night in New York, we finally won.

I thought of writing a diatribe about how much we have to learn from this victory – how for one of the first times in our movement’s history, we worked together to accomplish something. I could be heavy-handed and speak endlessly at the incredible work done by this partnership of several organizations all working towards the same thing. I could even go so far as to reflect on the fact that even though we have this beautiful victory at long last, that there are still 1,138 rights not afforded to legally married gay and lesbian couples and that we MUST focus on equality on the federal level. But instead, I decided to post some photos.

For the past 3+ years, I’ve discovered a love for photography and in my own way, I’ve been documenting some of the movement from my perspective as a New Yorker. So please enjoy these photos which reflect some of my favorite moments and people involved in the recent part of our struggle for equality. Please note: there are photos here from swanky cocktail parties, from pride marches, from rallies, protests, political speeches, phone banks and even a living room or two. New York Marriage Equality happened because of ALL of it, not some.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All photos copyright Jamie McGonnigal, EqualityPhotography.com

Cee Lo Green Tweets Homophobic Comments Following Negative Review

17 Jun

Cee Lo Green on this year's Grammy Awards

This afternoon, in response to a negative review by City Pages’ Andrea Swennson, Cee Lo Green has taken to twitter.

The review read, in part:

“Though Green has risen to be one of the hottest pop singers of the past year, his set at the Target Center failed to measure up to the fun factor of his recorded material. Green spent most of the set stationed in front of a mic at the center of the stage, barely moving an inch while he sang and flanked by two forgettable back-up singers and a DJ that was all but hidden behind a giant LCD display. “

Green, assuming the reviewer was a man, questioned if the reviewer was “gay” and “offended” by Green’s “masculinity.”

Some of his twitter followers responded with anger at his tweet and he issued a non-apology and clearly did not understand what could be offensive about the things he said.

Green needs to hear immediately from GLAAD and it must be explained to him that his response was not only inappropriate, but harmful. His assumption that gay men could somehow be “offended” by his masculinity intimates that he clearly sees gay men as less masculine than him. He should be introduced to the many gay rugby players, truck drivers, police officers,and fire fighters and be taught that gay is not equal to the stereotypes he seems to assume represent the LGBT community. And maybe he should consider a different costume designer while he’s throwing around his “masculinity.”

As a former fan of Green’s, I can say I am very disappointed at his irresponsible statement which only spreads further intolerance and ignorance. He must be educated on the fact that LGBT people come in all shapes, sizes and shades and they fall on every color of the spectrum of Green’s masculinity scale.

The writer of the review has responded here.

Tracy Morgan Apologizes for Homophobic Rant – Meets With Homeless LGBT Youth

14 Jun

Tracy Morgan

After being one of the first sites to share the news of Tracy Morgan’s homophobic rant at his Nashville show last week, we forwarded the story on to GLAAD’s Jarrett Barrios. From there, Jarret and the team at GLAAD worked hard to communicate with Tracy Morgan and his team.

Almost immediately after Truth Wins Out‘s article and some calls from GLAAD, Tracy’s publicist issued what has become a standard form letter apology when it comes to these things.

“I want to apologize to my fans and the gay & lesbian community for my choice of words at my recent stand-up act in Nashville. I’m not a hateful person and don’t condone any kind of violence against others. While I am an equal opportunity jokester, and my friends know what is in my heart, even in a comedy club this clearly went too far and was not funny in any context.”

Following that, Tina Fey issued an incredible statement:

“I’m glad to hear that Tracy apologized for his comments,” Tina Fey said. “Stand-​up comics may have the right to ‘work out’ their material in its ugliest and rawest form in front of an audience, but the violent imagery of Tracy’s rant was disturbing to me at a time when homophobic hate crimes continue to be a life-​threatening issue for the GLBT Community. It also doesn’t line up with the Tracy Morgan I know, who is not a hateful man and is generally much too sleepy and self-​centered to ever hurt another person.

“I hope for his sake that Tracy’s apology will be accepted as sincere by his gay and lesbian coworkers at 30 Rock, without whom Tracy would not have lines to say, clothes to wear, sets to stand on, scene partners to act with, or a printed-​out paycheck from accounting to put in his pocket.” Fey added, “The other producers and I pride ourselves on 30 Rock being a diverse, safe, and fair workplace.”

Tracy Morgan, Russell Simmons

GLAAD continued to work with Tracy and his handlers and we’re thrilled to see that some incredible good is coming out of this horrible situation – and it’s all because we stood up and said something when bigotry was being spread. Tracy had a conversation with LGBT advocate, Russell Simmons. The transcript of their conversation is on Simmons’ hip-hop blog. Among the revelations is that Tracy would like to attend a gay marriage rally and wants to work to advance LGBT rights.

GLAAD released a statement from Tracy Morgan yesterday:

“I know how bad bullying can hurt. I was bullied when I was a kid. I’m sorry for what I said. I didn’t mean it. I never want to use my comedy to hurt anyone. My family knew what it was like to feel different. My brother was disabled and I lost my father to AIDS in 1987. My dad wasn’t gay but I also learned about homophobia then because of how people treated people who were sick with that. Parents should support and love their kids no matter what. Gay people deserve the same right to be happy in this country as everyone else. Our laws should support that. I hope that my fans gay, straight, whatever forgive and I hope my family forgives me for this.”

Additionally, Tracy will be doing some personal outreach to help LGBT youth.

-THIS WEEK: In NYC, Tracy will meet with LGBT teens from the Ali Forney Center who were shunned or left homeless by their parents as well parents who lost their children to anti-LGBT hate crimes including Elke Kennedy.

-NEXT WEEK: Tracy will return to Tennessee with GLAAD and Russell Simmons to meet with those offended by his remarks and make a public statement about how he supports LGBT people.

-ALSO: Tracy will film a PSA as part of GLAAD’s upcoming ‘Amplify Your Voice’ PSA campaign

Great work to all involved and let this be a lesson that if you see or hear something that’s not right, speak up about it and change can happen.

Comedian Tracy Morgan’s Anti-Gay Tirade

9 Jun

Should comedians be given a pass when it comes to hatred and bigotry? Historically, comedians have used the “but it’s just a joke” defense of their ignorant comments since before Al Jolson’s black face. But in this day and age, are we to excuse blatant homophobia coming from the mouths of comedians just because they are trying to be funny?

In the case of Tracy Morgan, of SNL and 30 Rock fame – to one audience member, it’s crossed a line. Kevin Rogers saw Morgan’s show in Nashville this past weekend and was expecting some straight-on-gay humor as is standard with a lot of comics. But what Kevin heard was instead a bigoted and homophobic anti-gay tirade at Morgan’s show.

According to a note Kevin posted on Facebook, Morgan’s entire demeanor changed for this portion of the program and after referring to gay people as God’s mistakes, advocated for anti-gay violence against his own family member, (quoting Kevin’s Facebook post): “He said if his son was gay, he better come home and talk to him like a man and not [he mimicked a gay, high-pitched voice] or he would pull out a knife and stab that little N—– to death”

Truth Wins Out has called on Morgan to comment on his anti-gay tirade as well as a request for comment on these allegations from equality advocate Tina Fey (whom Morgan has worked with for several years on 30 Rock).

“LGBT people are still fighting for equality all across America, and many of our teens are still very much at risk.  Sadly, reports of gay youth taking their own lives due to anti-gay bullying have become all too common.  Tennessee’s gay teens are in particular danger as the state legislature has endeavored over the past year to make life as difficult as possible for them, going as far as to move a bill prohibiting teachers from even acknowledging their existence in schools.  Tracy Morgan is a role model to many young people, including gay kids.  If these reports are true, Mr. Morgan owes them, and us all, a full apology.”

 

PHOTOS: Family Equality Council’s Night at the Pier and GLAAD’s NY TGIF

27 Apr

Last night, I had the opportunity to see what the Family Equality Council has been up to at their annual Night on the Pier. Outside of raising over $200,000 to continue their fight to change national and local policy to protect LGBT families, but they also managed to bring together a slew of Broadway celebs and some recently discovered heroes from the movement.

Most of you remember the 19-year old Iowan, Zach Wahls and the incredible speech he made before the Iowa House regarding his life as the son of two lesbian moms. The speech made him an instant youtube sensation and has garnered him a lot more attention than this engineering student ever thought he’d receive. He made his way to a few interviews during the day, including this one with MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts, and then showed up to the pier.

Also at the event were cast members from Broadway’s Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, Rosie O’Donnell, Broadway performers such as Kate Shindle, Audra McDonald, CAA’s Joe Machota, R Family Cruise’s Gregg Kaminsky and Kelli Carpenter and hundreds more. (Full disclosure: Talk About Equality Co-Founder Sean Carlson is the New Media Associate for Family Equality Council – and I was thrilled to share the evening with him!)

Another wonderful new event that is picking up speed in several cities is GLAAD’s TGIF ( Thank GLAAD It’s Friday) parties. I’ve been able to visit one in DC and now one in New York. The networking event has been set up by local chapters of GLAAD and seeks to expand membership and to educate about the important work GLAAD is doing throughout the US.

Please enjoy photos from these two events!

Miss New York Claire Buffie and Hugh Gallagher

Jonathan D. Lovitz from Logo's The Set-up Squad

Thomas Roberts, Claire Buffie and Patrick Abner

Family Equality Council's Jennifer Chrisler and Zach Wahls

Jennifer Chrisler and Kelli Carpenter

Kimberly Galberaith and Broadway's Jodi Capeless

Rosie O'Donnell and Jennifer Chrisler

Jack Mackenroth

Bishop Gene Robinson and Douglas Carter Beane

Tracy Kachtick-Anders and Rosie O'Donnell

Will Swenson and Audra McDonald

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn

Priscilla's Nick Adams

Wonderland's Kate Shindle and William Franzblau

Priscilla's Tony Sheldon, Will Swenson and Nick Adams

PHOTOS: GLAAD Awards Featuring Ricky Martin, Andy Cohen and More

20 Mar DSC_0581

The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and the issues that affect their lives.

Over the years, GLAAD has done the work which has paved the way for so many of us to live openly in the world. This year, they celebrate their 25th anniversary and their history shows us exactly how far we have come.

Enjoy the photos from tonight’s event. Other awards not presented this evening are listed here. Additional categories will be presented at the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles on April 10 and in San Francisco on May 14. The following were the awards presented last night.

  • Excellence in Media Award: Russell Simmons
  • Vito Russo Award:  Ricky Martin
  • Outstanding Drama Series: True Blood (HBO) [Accepted by: Denis O'Hare]
  • Outstanding Individual Episode (in a series without a regular LGBT character):  “Klaus & Greta” 30 Rock (NBC) [Accepted by: Tina Fey]
  • Outstanding Digital Journalism – Multimedia: “Bridal Bliss: Aisha and Danielle” by Bobbi Misick (Essence.com) [Accepted by: Aisha Mills and Danielle Moodie, with Essence.com editor, Emil Wilbekin]

The following is a list of all other award recipients announced at the 22nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York.

  • Outstanding Talk Show Episode: “Ricky Martin Coming Out as a Gay Man and a New Dad” The Oprah Winfrey Show (syndicated)
  • Outstanding TV Journalism – Newsmagazine: “Gay Teen Suicides” (series) Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN)
  • Outstanding Newspaper Article: “Rutgers Student Tyler Clementi’s Suicide Spurs Action Across U.S.” by Judy Peet (The Star-Ledger [Newark, N.J.])
  • Outstanding Newspaper Columnist: Frank Rich (The New York Times)
  • Outstanding Newspaper Overall Coverage: Denver Post
  • Outstanding Magazine Article: “What Happens When You Find the One…And He’s Nothing – Nothing – Like You Expected?” by Allison Cooper (O, The Oprah Magazine)
  • Outstanding Magazine Overall Coverage: The Advocate/Out
  • Outstanding Digital Journalism Article: “View From Washington” (series) by Kerry Eleveld (Advocate.com)
  • Outstanding Blog: Joe. My. God. (http://joemygod.blogspot.com/)
  • Outstanding Music Artist: Scissor Sisters, Night Work (Downtown Records)
  • Outstanding Comic Book: X-Factor by Peter David (Marvel Comics)
  • Outstanding Los Angeles Theater: Something Happened by L. Trey Wilson
  • Outstanding New York Theater: Broadway & Off–Broadway: The Pride by Alexi Kaye Campbell
  • Outstanding New York Theater: Off–Off Broadway: When Last We Flew by Harrison David Rivers

All photos copyright Jamie McGonnigal, TalkAboutEquality.com – for reprint permission, please email talkaboutequality@gmail.com


Ricky Martin

Ricky Martin

 

Wilson Cruz

 

Tina Fey

 

Sandra Lee and her niece

 

Sahara Davenport, Manila Luzon and friends

 

Sandra Lee and the Fabulous Beekman Boys Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge

 

True Blood's Denis O'Hare

 

Wilson Cruz and his boyfriend

 

Tina Fey

 

Erik Bottcher and friends

 

The team from ALL OUT

 

Ru Paul's Drag Race's Manila Luzon and Sahara Davenport

MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell and his chief of staff

 

Outstanding Blog winner, Joe Jervis of JoeMyGod.com

 

The Fabulous Beekman Boys Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge

 

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