Chengdu, China – A week ago without warning, WeChat, a popular social media platform in China, permanently suspended the official accounts of more than a dozen college LGBTQ groups, igniting a new round of debate on the country’s already threatened community.
The suspensions largely affected groups almost entirely run by students, including at prestigious academic institutions such as Tsinghua and Peking universities. The groups’ missions, according to their brief introductions, were “advancing gender equality and sexual minorities’ rights.”
Several students who run the LGBTQ group accounts told Al Jazeera that they had not previously received any warnings from the relevant authorities about any possible suspension.
Mary, a student who was involved in one of the suspended groups, says that while there had been “chatter” on campus on regulating “groups that advocate for sexual minorities’ rights” for a few months before, nothing had materialised.
“It came as a surprise, but at the same time, not so much,” said Mary, who preferred not to use her real name for security reasons. “We knew the LGBT rights movement was hitting obstacles one after another in China, but we thought at least by being university-affiliated, we could be exempt from any overt crackdown.”
Like Mary, everyone else who spoke Al Jazeera did so on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity surrounding LGBTQ issues.
These accounts now carry the tag “unnamed official account,” with a single message appearing beneath – “all content has been censored for the account’s violation of ‘internet official account information service management regulations.’” All the articles previously published on the platforms, mostly on gender issues and LGBTQ rights, have disappeared.
As in previous crackdowns in China, any effort to try and document the move was soon snuffed out, too. Some accounts were suspended simply for compiling a list of the accounts that had been deleted.
Neither the government nor Tencent, the parent company of WeChat, has given an explanation for the suspension.
People at groups that escaped the crackdown told Al Jazeera they were preparing for the worst.
One worker at a prominent LGBTQ group said he had started making copies of all articles published on their platform, currently numbering more than 1,000. Another went on Taobao, China’s e-commerce platform and paid someone to download all the articles, with topics ranging from health to political rights advocacy, on a number of accounts that she feared could be officials’ next targets.
For now, it is only the groups’ online presence that has been smothered but many groups are concerned that authorities could be preparing for a broader crackdown on campus events and activities by LGBTQ groups. People such as Mary say they are working hard to ensure “other activities go on as scheduled.”
“This is a dark day for us, and I don’t know if there’s anything I could do other than reaching out to my friends and comforting them,” Kevin, a gay man in Chengdu, told Al Jazeera, after hearing the news.
The online crackdown on the community caused an outcry on China’s social media.
Many voiced their support for the groups, even as they worried about the further encroachment into civil society.
“After years of having worked at this organisation and seeing my colleagues being interrogated, censored, forced to delete articles, I will never forgive this [country],” said a person who worked at another group that had fallen victim to the censorship.
Some others expressed their concern about the all-encompassing state censorship machine.
“What I fear most about this place is its ability to wipe out something just by snapping its finger,” wrote one user on Douban, another Chinese social media platform. “The something being a person, a group of people, an organisation, or even an ethnic group.”
Chinese government’s attitude towards the LGBTQ community shifts frequently. From time to time, the government has equated homosexuality with violence and obscenity, censored depictions on television and allowed books to refer to homosexuality as a kind of mental illness. However, at the same time, the government’s attitude towards the community is not always overtly hostile and Beijing has, by and large, left the community alone.
Since 2009, Shanghai has been marking Pride Month, which normally falls in June in most countries, with film screenings and public talks, although without the parade that is central to the celebrations elsewhere. Last year, the organisers were forced to halt the celebration due to COVID-19 restrictions.
But not everyone is supportive of the community.
There are many who fully endorse the government’s crackdown. Some people with big followings on Weibo are quite content with, if not ecstatic about, the latest development. “So glad that the government is finally taking some action on the LGBT organisations,” wrote Ziwuxiashi, a Weibo account with more than 500,000 followers. “The grief from [the supporters of the community] is our song of triumph!”
China’s more conservative forces have often exhibited a vehement hatred towards homosexuality or gender nonconformity for an alleged “agenda to destroy traditional values,” according to some vocal opponents of the movement, including some that brand themselves as science writers such as Vaccine and Science, an account with more than five million followers.
There remains no legal recognition of same-sex relationships or marriage but as people have become more socially liberal in recent years, those hostile to the LGBTQ community have shifted away from their “traditional values” argument.
A sampling of conversations happening on- and offline makes clear that another viewpoint is gaining traction: a suspicion that the LGBTQ community, especially on college campuses, is the pawn of a so-called “foreign hostile force” that could disrupt Chinese society and therefore needs to be carefully regulated.
“To target these groups is a good move because these students have learned so many bad things from foreign powers and are becoming their agents,” one user commented on Weibo.
In recent years, the idea that feminism and LGBTQ equality are all products of Western ideology and their mere existence in China will destroy society has been widely shared, and as Beijing warms to the idea of assigning domestic discontent to meddling by foreign powers, their voices are being amplified.
“To advocate for equality is to stage colour revolution, to support feminism is the infiltration of Hong Kong independence movement, and to be pro-LGBT community is to receive monetary support from [US President Joe] Biden,” Wu, an organiser for an LGBTQ rights advocacy group in Shanghai, told Al Jazeera, describing some of the accusations levelled at them. “To label ordinary people with political marks, and then persecute them – that’s [the government’s] go-to tactic.”
Since Xi Jinping became president in 2012, political power has become even more centralised and the Communist Party increasingly sensitive to groups and organisations – from religion to culture and community – that could potentially pose as threats to its grip.
A report on China’s LGBTIQ movement published this month by ILGA Asia, the regional arm of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, found “limited visibility of LGBTIQ issues in social media and online activism is in a vulnerable state due to strict censorship by the authoritarian government.”
On social media, for example, instead of being called “couples” or “boyfriends,” same-sex partners are described as “roommates” to deliberately make the “gayness” less visible.
“This is [the government’s] implicit tactic of including homosexuality into the heteronormative narrative, thus ridding the LGBT group of their political voice,” wrote one WeChat user.
What awaits the group’s struggle for civil liberties in one of the world’s most tightly controlled countries remains uncertain. ILGA says that despite the “bleak scenario” there remain “opportunities” particularly in areas of violence and discrimination against the gay community and in legal rights advocacy.
And within the world’s largest LGBTQ community, people retain a sense of optimism.
“There are many things that could be stripped off of us, but love and hope – they are not that easy to be taken away,” said one person who works at an LGBTQ-focused NGO in Wuhan.
The new Netflix Original Documentary Pray Away, from executive producers Ryan Murphy and Jason Blum, will make its global launch on the platform Aug. 3, a press release noted. In the film, former leaders of the “pray the gay away” movement contend with the aftermath unleashed by their actions. Focusing on the dramatic journeys of former conversion therapy leaders, current members and a survivor, Pray Away chronicles the “ex gay” movement’s rise to power, persistent influence and effect on individuals. Following a premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival (with survivor Julie Rodgers and former leader Randy Thomas in attendance), the film also screened at DOC 10, in Chicago; and AFI DOCS, in Washington D.C. LGBTQ streaming network Dekkoo is launching its second annual one-week short-film challenge, and creators could win a cut of $ 10,000 in prizes, a press release noted. Interested persons should shoot and submit a short film (no more than 10 minutes long) telling a queer story that features a happy ending. The winner will receive a cash award of $ 2,500 and the opportunity to direct a Dekkoo original short film with a production budget of $ 5,000; also, the four films that receive the most comments on that film’s page on Dekkoo.com will win $ 1,000 each. Voting will end Sunday, July 25 and winners will be announced Wed., July 28; rules and guidelines are at https://dekkoo.blog/2021/07/07/attention-queer-filmmakers/.
Riverdale Avenue Books has published The Wizard of Pride—an LGBTQ retelling of the Wizard of Oz from Lambda Award-winning author Ryan Field, a press release noted. It’s described as “an LGBTQ+ fairytale filled with references to gay culture and LGBTQ+ Pride that’s long before Darius’s time, but he’s well aware there’s no shame or hate in The Land of Pride.” Books and downloads are available on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles Nook, iTunes and Kobo.
Transgender Emmy-nominated artist, author, activist and musician Laura Jane Grace (Against Me!, The Devouring Mothers) will perform a full solo set at the now-famous Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Philadelphia on Saturday, Aug. 21, a press release noted. (The show will also feature Brendan Kelly, of The Lawrence Arms.) Additionally, Grace recently announced a number of fall and winter appearances. Performing as part of the 2021 Punk Rock Bowling festival in Las Vegas on Saturday, Sept. 25, Grace will also be supporting the act Thursday on the East Coast during Dec. 27-30.
Toronto-based queer alt-hip hop artist Lex Leosis released her EP, Terracotta, a press release noted. The now TikTok rap battle champ also debuted a video for “That Feel,” which shows an easy, breezy afternoon of skating in the sunshine. The previously released single and outlaw anthem, “Wanted,” arrived with an icon Thelma and Louise-inspired video. The video for “That Feel” is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUs-1hAWf_c.
In time to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the Sept. 8, 1966 airing of the very first Star Trek episode, Paramount Home Entertainment and CBS Home Entertainment will debut new releases Sept. 7, 2021, a press release noted. The collection includes four Ultra HD discs, as well as four remastered Blu-ray discs with hours of previously released bonus content. Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (both the theatrical and director’s cut), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home are presented on both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Discs, along with access to digital copies of the theatrical version of each film.
Also, Fathom Events will bring Paramount Pictures’ 1986 sci-fi classic Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home to select movie theaters nationwide for its 35th anniversary on Thurs., Aug. 19, and Sun., Aug. 22, at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. (all times local), per a press release. This special 35th-anniversary event will also include the featurette “Three Picture Saga.” In this featurette, cast and crew explore the backstory of the arc involving Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. See FathomEvents.com .
Emma Corrin—the star of Netflix’s The Crown who won a Golden Globe for playing Princess Diana on the fourth season of the show—recently updated their pronouns on Instagram to she/they, out.com noted. Also, the actor shared photos of them taken by artist David-Simon Dayan, wearing a homemade binder (compression garments often worn by trans and non-binary people to alleviate chest dysphoria). Corrin previously came out when she labeled herself “Ur fave queer bride” alongside images of her in a wedding dress for Pop.
Director Dawn Porter teamed with MGM Television to produce a feature documentary about the live entertainment group Cirque du Soleil, Deadline noted. The film will pull back the curtain to tell the inside story of Cirque du Soleil’s resurgence after the most difficult period in its history. (Before the COVID pandemic, Cirque du Soleil had performed 52,000 shows for more than 70 million people in Vegas as well as to audiences around the world.) Filming on the project continued through opening night on July 1, when Cirque du Soleil’s show O returned to the stage at Bellagio Resort & Casino, in Las Vegas.
Billboard noted that Tyler, the Creator’s Call Me If You Get Lost recently debuted at No. 1 on its Top Album Sales chart (dated July 10)—one of six debuts in the top 10; it’s the second No. 1 for the artist. Also launching in the region: a reissue of Grateful Dead’s 1971 self-titled live album and the latest studio releases from Beartooth, Doja Cat, Gary Allan and Modest Mouse. Plus, Lady Gaga’s former No. 1 Chromatica returned to the top 10—and topped the Vinyl Albums chart for the first time—following its first release on black vinyl LP on June 25.
In a recent interview, Teen Wolf star Tyler Posey stated that the alt-rock singer he has been dating helped him realize he was queer, according to Page Six. Posey, 29, also said that his relationship with Phem is the “best relationship” he’s ever been in. “[Phem] helped me realize that I fit under the queer umbrella and that I’m sexually fluid,” Posey told NME magazine, adding he’s “been with everybody under the sun.”
Queer talent is front and center in the upcoming anthology American Horror Stories—a spinoff of American Horror Story, out.com noted. Matt Bomer, Glee’s Kevin McHale, newcomer Paris Jackson and Pose’s Dyllon Burnside will be part of the huge cast; some of the other co-stars will include Aaron Tveit, Gavin Creel, Billie Lourd, John Carroll Lynch and Danny Trejo. American Horror Stories premieres July 15 on FX on Hulu.
Openly gay Saturday Night Live actor/comedian Bowen Yang and out actor/writer/comedian Joel Kim Booster will co-star in Fire Island—a film inspired by Austen’s 1813 literary classic about Regency romance in nineteenth-century England, only this time it’s a gay rom-com set in modern-day New York, LGBTQ Nation noted. Booster wrote the script, and Queer Korean-American filmmaker Andrew Ahn is the director. Set in 1812, Pride and Prejudice has inspired numerous adaptations, including a faithful six-hour BBC miniseries in 1995; Bridget Jones’s Diary, a 2001 interpretation with a contemporary twist; and a 2005 version starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen.
On Ellen DeGeneres’ daytime talk show, RuPaul sat down with comedian, actress and Drag Race guest judge Loni Love (who was filling in for DeGeneres and doing hosting duties), out.com . One of the things they discussed was the fact that Kobe Bryant was a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race. “Kobe and his wife were in the lobby, and they said that they watched the show, and I was surprised by that,” RuPaul said of the NBA great, who, along with daughter Gianna and seven other people, passed away in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California in January 2020. “It’s moments like that that you love, that you know you’re doing something good,” Love replied.
The Spice Girls celebrated “Wannabe” turning 25 on July 8 with some throwback photos, EW.com noted. Geri Halliwell, a.k.a. Ginger Spice, a.k.a. Sexy Spice, posted photos celebrating the moment, with the first image showing the girls together—including Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham smiling—in her old backyard. “Wannabe” helped the Spice Girls take the United States by storm in 1996, eventually reaching platinum status (1 million in sales) within a year.
Tennis player Naomi Osaka returned to the spotlight for the first time since withdrawing from the French Open in May and skipping Wimbledon, posing on the red carpet at The ESPYS, which was moved to New York from Los Angeles this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, ESPN.com noted. Osaka—the world’s highest-paid female athlete—won as the best athlete in women’s sports at the annual show honoring the year’s top athletes and sports moments. Tom Brady won best men’s athlete and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers were named best team.
As Broadway productions prepare to welcome back audiences, Actors’ Equity Association—the union representing stage performers and stage managers—issued new guidelines for productions that employ its members, Playbill noted. The updated safety protocols include measures for “fully vaccinated” companies, in which all Equity members and those who interact with them are 14 days past their final dose of an FDA or WHO-authorized vaccine, as well as workplaces where there is more than one unvaccinated adult (or unvaccinated minors).
Larry Rudolph, the longtime manager of Britney Spears, resigned as more controversy swirls over the pop singer’s restrictive conservatorship, Deadline reported. “It has been over 2 1/2 years since Britney and I last communicated, at which time she informed me she wanted to take an indefinite work hiatus,” Rudolph wrote in a letter sent to Spears’ co-conservators Jamie Spears and the court-appointed Jodi Montgomery. “Earlier today, I became aware that Britney had been voicing her intention to officially retire.” Also, less than 24 hours after Rudolph’s resignation, the singer’s court-appointed attorney and legal firm wanted out of the conservatorship.
In another Spears-related item, Radar Online cited a New Yorker article that stated that members of the singer’s team don’t trust her boyfriend, Sam Asghari. People on her team, who defend her conservatorship, believe Asghari is “manipulating” her and only dating Spears for her money. The Grammy winner has been linked to the fitness model since 2017 after meeting on the set of her “Slumber Party” music video.
Openly gay film director Todd Haynes’ newest project, bankrolled by Apple TV+, is a documentary about the glam-rock group The Velvet Underground, Deadline noted. The film traces how Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker—four disparate Manhattan musicians shepherded by pop-art legend Andy Warhol—changed rock and roll forever. Haynes has helmed such films as Far from Heaven, Carol and Velvet Goldmine.
Oscar-winning screenwriter Bill Condon will direct a new adaptation of Guys and Dolls for TriStar Pictures, which picked up the rights in 2019, according to Playbill, citing Deadline. Nicole Brown and Shary Shirazi will oversee Guys and Dolls for TriStar, along with previously announced producers John Goldwyn and Marc Toberoff. Casting and a timeline will be announced later.
Producer Mark Cortale and The Town Hall announced the season schedule for Seth Rudetsky’s Broadway, taking place at The Town Hall, 123 W. 43rd St., a press release noted. Each evening, host/music director Seth Rudetsky welcomes Broadway performers for up-close and personal conversations and concerts. Upcoming guests include Jane Krakowski (Jan. 31, 2022), Vanessa Williams (March 7) and Brian Stokes Mitchell (April 4). For tickets and information, visit www.thetownhall.org or call 212-997-6661.
Award-winning singer, songwriter and activist Melissa Etheridge released “For The Last Time,” the second single off her upcoming album, a press release noted. The song is one of nine tracks featured on the singer’s new album—One Way Out—to be released Sept. 17, via BMG. Etheridge also released the accompanying music video, which features never before seen studio footage from 2013.
Drag personalities and comedy duo Trixie Mattel and Katya announced their first-ever U.S. tour, kicking off next March, a press release noted. “Trixie and Katya Live” is a parody homage to the classic female road-trip comedies from the ’90s to today, including Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar; The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert; Crossroads; and Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar. Some of the stops will include Portland, Denver, Nashville, Chicago, Brooklyn and Philadelphia. See https://trixieandkatya.com/.
It turns out Taylor Swift and Adele are not collaborating on a single, Vulture noted. On July 2, a Twitter account called “The Swift Society” shared what appeared to be a screen grab from the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC) online repertory in which it seemed that Taylor Swift and Adele had co-written and registered a song called “Broken Hearts/Shattered Hearts,” and even Elle had published an article about it. However, later that day, an unnamed source told E! News that “‘there is no truth’ to the reported collaboration.”
On Aug. 27, Capitol Records will release Halsey’sIf I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power—and she unveiled the album’s cover art at The Met Fifth Avenue in New York City, a press release noted. The cover, which may generate controversy, shows her wearing a crown while sitting on a throne with a baby on her lap—and one of her breasts exposed. The video of the cover’s unveiling is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4uWjAJu0_8.
Company—Marianne Elliott’s reimagined production of the Stephen Sondheim/George Furth musical starring Katrina Lenk and Patti LuPone—will begin Broadway performances a month earlier than previously announced, with the new preview date now set for Monday, Nov. 15, Deadline noted. The official opening night is now Thursday, Dec. 9 at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre—a full month earlier than the previously announced opening.
In Illinois, Kids in Macon County will soon have the chance to receive free books every month thanks to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, according to FoxIllinois.com . United Way of Decatur & Mid-Illinois and the Community Foundation of Macon Countypartnered to launch the program, the Macon County Imagination Library, at a special event July 8 at the Decatur Public Library. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library mails high-quality, age-appropriate books to registered children from birth until their fifth birthdays.
Renee Montoya is coming to season three of Batwoman, according to an out.com item that cited That Illuminerdi. The website got a look at some of the casting calls for the upcoming third season of the CW show and found one searching for an LGBTQ+ performer (specifically, a Latinx or Afro-Latinx actress in her mid 30s) to play Montoya—a former Gotham City cop who becomes a vigilante and has dated Kate Kane (Batwoman) in the comics.
Shonda Rhimes—who has created shows such as Scandal and Bridgerton—is sticking with Netflix, Deadline noted. A new deal, which extends the multi-million dollar deal she signed in 2017, covers Rhimes, production company Shondaland and producing partner Betsy Beers. In addition to television, it will cover feature films as well as potential gaming and VR content. The deal also includes a branding and merchandise deal for Shondaland, which will add live events and experiences.
The horror film The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It arrives for Premium Digital Ownership at home July 23, according to a Warner Bros. Home Entertainment press release. The film is directed by Michael Chaves (The Curse of La Llorona), and stars Vera Farmiga (Annabelle Comes Home, TV’s Bates Motel) and Patrick Wilson (Annabelle Comes Home, The Nun). The film will also be available on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD beginning Aug. 24.
The Tunisian horror film Dachra, from first-time director Abdelhamid Bouchnak, is now in U.S. movie theaters, according to a press release. The statement read, “Equal parts Midsommar and The Blair Witch Project, Dachra begins with a simple classroom assignment and spins through double plot twists.”
The movie Red Notice—starring Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds—will be out Nov. 12, per Deadline. In the movie, Johnson is the FBI’s top profiler, while Gadot and Reynolds as two rival criminals who are all brought together for a daring heist. Red Notice is arguably the biggest feature commitment by the streaming giant Netflix, at $ 130M.
Matthew Vaughn has set an all-star cast for his next big-budget action project, which will start shooting this August in Europe, Deadline noted. Argylle—which Vaughn will direct and produce, and which will be based on the upcoming spy novel of the same name—will star Henry Cavill, Sam Rockwell, Bryce Dallas Howard, Bryan Cranston, Catherine O’Hara, John Cena and Samuel L. Jackson. Pop star Dua Lipa will make her acting debut on the project and will provide original music for the title track and score.
There was backlash over Vanessa Williams performing for Independence Day, CNN.com noted. Williams hosted PBS’ A Capitol Fourth, and it had been announced that she would sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which has become known as the “Black national anthem.” Conservative Twitter jumped on the “national anthem” part and declared it “divisive,” “segregation” and “racist” to have any anthem other than “The Star Spangled Banner,” which was performed by Grammy winner Renee Fleming. Others supported Williams and chalked the whole thing up to social-media outrage.
Iggy Azalea dismissed claims of Blackfishing in her latest music video as “ridiculous and baseless,” according to Yahoo! Entertainment. After the rapper dropped the video for “I Am the Stripclub” on July 1, some social-media users commented on her appearance, suggesting her look was “appropriation,” or “Blackfishing”—an act in which one pretends to be or alters his/her/their appearance to look ethnically Black. The term gained attention after it was coined by hip-hop journalist Wanna Thompson.
Actress Valerie Bertinelli took to Instagram to respond to a follower who commented on her weight, CNN.com noted. “If I could lose the weight and keep it off I would, but since I haven’t been successful with that my whole entire life, at 61, I’m still dealing with it. Where’s the compassion? Not f—-ing helpful.”” Demi Lovato was one of those showing love, writing, “I love you. You said it yourself, you’re already enough AND whoever said that is hurting.. or not being shown enough compassion in their lives.. I’m sorry you had to deal w this. Here for you always.” Bertinelli later thanked fans for their support, today.com stated. Bertinelli has been open about her grief following the death of the father of her son and ex-husband, rocker Eddie Van Halen in October 2020 at the age of 65.
Three episodes into its second-season run at its new home, Paramount+, Evil has been renewed for a third season by the ViacomCBS streamer, Deadline noted. Originally on CBS, Evil moved from CBS to Paramount+ ahead of its current second season after a strong showing for the first season on the platform as well as on Netflix as part of a one-year promotional window.
Actress Suzzanne Douglas has died at age 64, EW.com noted. Douglas, a Chicago native, was known for roles in projects such as When They See Us, How Stella Got Her Groove Back and The Parent Hood. “Suzzanne Douglas was a quiet, elegant force as we made WHEN THEY SEE US,” tweeted showrunner Ava DuVernay. “A gentlewoman. A gem of a lady. A confident, caring actor who breathed life into the words and made them shimmer. I’m grateful that our paths in this life crossed. May she journey on in peace and love.”
Non-binary actor/activist Sara Ramirez (Grey’s Anatomy) announced their split from their husband of nine years, Ryan DeBolt, out.com noted. “We remain loving and supportive in how we are choosing to forge our new individual paths,” they wrote on Instagram. “Thank you for holding space around our choices and respecting our families’ privacy as we navigate this process on our own terms.” They then urged their fans to do something positive and help out/contribute to charitable organizations like Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project, the Frances Thompson Education Foundation, the Rainbow Bridge Asylum Seekers and others.
Curtis Jackson, also known as rapper 50 Cent, is getting back into the non-scripted business with hip-hop competition format Unrapped, Deadline noted. The series is in development at ABC. The show is hip-hop talent format where celebrity contestants, coached by iconic hip-hop mentors, go head-to-head in rap battles until a king or queen is crowned. Casting is underway.
The Talk co-host Amanda Kloots paid tribute to her late husband, actor Nick Cordero, one year after he died of complications from COVID-19, according to CNN.com . She posted a message to Instagram about Cordero, calling him an “angel in heaven.” Kloots included the lyrics to a song by Lucas Nelson called “A Few Stars Apart,” writing that the song gets her “every time.”
The UK version of Love Island suffered a security breach after YouTube prankster Omer Majid broke into the villa complex in Mallorca, Spain, Deadline noted. Producers said the trespasser was removed immediately after he managed to find a way past Love Island’s tight security protocols.
It looks like Nick Cannon has become a father for the seventh time, Newsday noted. Instagram model Alyssa Scott, who publicly suggested last month that singer-actor and TV personality Nick Cannon was the father of her unborn child, revealed via Instagram that she had given birth to a son. This would be the fourth child for Cannon, 40, in less than a year. On June 14, Cannon welcomed twin boys with former iHeartRadio personality Abby De La Rosa; last December, he had his second child with yoga instructor and beauty pageant winner Brittany Bell.
A judge ruled that some former clients of Tom Girardi can pursue a collections lawsuit against his estranged wife, Erika Girardi (Real Housewives of Beverly Hills), people.com noted. Former clients Joseph Ruigomez, Jaime Ruigomez and Kathleen Ruigomez will be able to collect the $ 11 million they are owed by him, per a 2020 litigation. However, weeks after the bankruptcy trustee’s special litigation counsel reported that Girardi Keese transferred $ 20 million to Erika’s various businesses, the Ruigomezes have been given permission to continue with their suit against the reality star.
Sony has added a new section dedicated entirely to LGBTQ+ games on the PlayStation Store.
To celebrate Gay Pride Month in June, Sony is highlighting some of the best LGBTQ+ games available on PS4 and PS5.
And it’s a pretty strong selection of games, featuring the likes of The Last of Us: Part 2, Gone Home, Hollow Knight, Mass Effect Legendary Edition and Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.
That’s on top of the excellent Spider-Man: Miles Morales, which was one of the PS5 launch games.
Some of the games are even available at discounted prices, such as The Outer Wilds, which now costs just £11.39.
The game tasks players with uncovering the mysteries of a solar system trapped in an endless time loop.
“Welcome to the Space Program!” reads the official description. “You’re the newest recruit of Outer Wilds Ventures, a fledgling space program searching for answers in a strange, constantly evolving solar system.
“What lurks in the heart of the ominous Dark Bramble? Who built the alien ruins on the Moon? Can the endless time loop be stopped? Answers await you in the most dangerous reaches of space.”
Other discounted games include the recently released Disco Elysium, which is down to the low price of £23.09.
The unique role-playing game sees players control a detective investigating a murder case.
“Disco Elysium – The Final Cut is the definitive edition of the groundbreaking role playing game.
“You’re a detective with a unique skill system at your disposal and a whole city block to carve your path across. Interrogate unforgettable characters, crack murders, or take bribes. Become a hero or an absolute disaster of a human being.”
You can see the full list of LGBTQ+ games available from the PlayStation Store below…
• The Last of Us: Part 2
• Life is Strange 2: Complete Season
• Hollow Knight: Voidheart Edition
• Mass Effect Andromeda
• Night in the Woods
• Gone Home
• The Last of Us: Left Behind
• Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator
• Life is Strange Episode One
• Life is Strange Season Pass
• Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
• Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
• Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning
• Dragon Quest XI
• Tales from the Borderlands
• Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2
• Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
• Mass Effect Legendary Edition
• Borderlands 3
• Overwatch Legendary Edition
• Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition
• The Sims 4
• Nier Replicant
• Saints Row: The Third Remastered
• Apex Legends
• Fallout 4
• The Outer Worlds
• 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
• Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
• Divinity Original Sin 2
• Disco Elysium
• Granblue Fantasy
• Scott Pilgrim vs the World
• Stardew Valley
• Dishonored: Death of the Outsider
• Dishonored 2
• We Happy Few
• Life is Strange Before the Storm
• AI: The Somnium Files
• Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridon
• Monster Prom: XXL
• Steven Universe: Unleash the Light
• Dragon Age Inquisition
• The Missing J.J. Mayfield and the Island of Memories
According to Lego the set goes on sale June 1, 2021, at the beginning of Pride Month. It’s shaped like a wave and has figurines that attach to every color on the flag.
Set designer Matthew Ashton, vice president of design for the Danish toy company, stated in a video posted by Lego that the figurines were not given genders on purpose, although he told The Guardian that the purple character with a beehive hairdo was a nod to “all the fabulous drag queens out there.”
Ashton said that before the brand decided to manufacture the Pride set for mass consumption, he built the set for his own desk at work.
Ashton spoke about his struggle growing up as an LGBTQ+ child and stated, “Just looking back on my own childhood or my own period of coming out, if I’d had somebody alongside me that was like, gave me something like this, like, ‘This is a token of how much you mean to me, I’m there for you, and I’m here to support you,’ something like that would have meant so much to me.”
Author: Bethania Palma
This post originally appeared on Snopes.com
Stars like George Takei and Alyssa Milano have reacted to the news that lifelong Republican Caitlyn Jenner is running for governor of California. See the tweets.
Former Keeping Up With The Kardashians star Caitlyn Jenner has officially filed paperwork to run for governor of California in a potential 2021 recall election. The 71-year-old is a lifelong Republican, and members of the LGBTQ+ community were quick to take to social media, saying they won’t back her “vanity campaign.” Star Wars actor George Takei, who is gay, compared her standing in the LGBTQ community to that of conservative pundit Candace Owens’ reputation in the Black community. “Black people wouldn’t vote for Candace Owen for office. The disabled community wouldn’t vote for Madison Cawthorn,” he tweeted. “I’m LGBTQ but I won’t be voting for Caitlyn Jenner. Just so we’re clear.”
Running under the slogan ‘Caitlyn For California‘, she is yet to confirm whether she is running as a Republican or as an Independent, however she is reportedly already surrounding herself with a team of Donald Trump‘s former aides. CNN reported she was taking advice from ex Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, ahead of her potential California gubernatorial bid. “The support for this campaign has been amazing nationwide,” Caitlyn captioned an IG post, one day after revealing the big news. Nevertheless, the phrase “HELL NO” began trending soon after her announcement.
Transgender activist Charlotte Clymer slammed the reality star’s run as a “vanity campaign” that would allow transphobia to proliferate. “Caitlyn Jenner is a deeply unqualified hack who doesn’t care about anyone but herself,” Charlotte wrote. “Her views are terrible. She is a horrible candidate.” She later added, “Caitlyn Jenner has no real support. I don’t care about her candidacy. I do care about the ways in which her asinine views will be weaponized against trans people and the ways in which transphobia will go unchecked … This is purely a vanity campaign, and it’s incredibly selfish.”
Appropriate response: Caitlyn Jenner is a deeply unqualified hack who doesn’t care about anyone but herself. Her views are terrible. She is a horrible candidate.
Inappropriate response: [Misgendering Caitlyn Jenner because you think transphobia is okay here. It’s not.]
Even actress Alyssa Milano weighed in, tweeting, “You are running as a Republican?! Republicans deny your existence and are trying to erase trans youth.” At the same time that she filed her paperwork, Caitlyn her campaign website, and revealed her mission statement. “California has been my home for nearly 50 years,” the statement read. “I came here because I knew that anyone, regardless of their background or station in life, could turn their dreams into reality. But for the past decade, we have seen the glimmer of the Golden State reduced by one-party rule that places politics over progress and special interests over people. Sacramento needs an honest leader with a clear vision.”
Before undergoing gender confirmation surgery at age 17, Indigo Giles had to get approval from a doctor, a therapist and the hospital where the surgery would be performed to ensure there were no options left besides surgery. To even get to that point, Indigo’s father Neil said it took time-consuming research and several reflections as a family before going forward with the process.
The surgery’s impact was immediate, said Indigo, who identifies as nonbinary. They were able to wear the clothes they wanted to, and their confidence in school and with friends significantly increased. Most significantly, the surgery helped alleviate their severe depression caused in part by gender dysphoria — discomfort related to feeling a disconnect between one’s personal gender identity and the gender assigned to them at birth.
But under a slate of legislation moving in the Texas Senate and House, Indigo wouldn’t have been able to make such a decision until their 18th birthday. In fact, no transgender child in Texas would be able to pursue puberty blockers, hormone treatment or surgery for the purpose of gender confirmation.
Transgender Texas children, their parents, medical groups and businesses have vocally opposed many of the bills lawmakers are pursuing. Equality Texas CEO Ricardo Martinez said Texas has filed more anti-LGBTQ bills this session than any other state legislature.
“It’s insulting,” Indigo said. “These lawmakers think that we don’t know what we want with our own bodies and we’re not able to say what we want and mean it.”
House Bill 1399 would prohibit health care providers and physicians from performing gender confirmation surgery or prescribing, administering or supplying puberty blockers or hormone treatment to anyone under the age of 18. The House Public Health Committee advanced the bill Friday.
Senate Bill 1311 by Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood, would revoke the medical license of health care providers and physicians who perform such procedures or prescribe such drugs or hormones to people younger than 18. The Senate State Affairs Committee advanced that bill Monday.
The Senate last week passed Senate Bill 29, which would prevent public school students from participating in sports teams unless their sex assigned at birth aligns with the team’s designation. While that bill would only affect students in K-12 schools, two similar bills in the House would include colleges and universities in that mandate.
SB 29 has been referred to the House Public Education Committee, which is slated to meet Tuesday and hear testimony on identical legislation that was introduced in the lower chamber.
It’s unclear, though, whether any of this year’s measures targeting transgender Texans have a chance at getting through both chambers. Last session, Dade Phelan, the Beaumont Republican who is now House Speaker, demonstrated a lack of appetite for bills restricting rights for LGBTQ Texans.
“It’s completely unacceptable,” he said at the time. “This is 2019.”
Last week, Rep. Bryan Slaton, R-Royse City, tried to amend a bill on the House floor that would fund prescription drugs for uninsured Texans so that it would exclude hormone and puberty suppression treatments. That amendment failed after it was noted that existing bills were addressing such treatments.
Medical associations unite in opposition to bills
In public testimony this year, transgender Texans and their parents have testified in near unanimous opposition to the bills. Several parents described their experience testifying as “terrifying,” worrying their testimony would be used against them should the bills’ penalties become law. Under Senate Bill 1646, currently pending in the Senate State Affairs Committee, they could be labeled child abusers for allowing their children to receive gender affirming treatment.
That bill comes after Jeff Younger attracted the attention of Gov. Greg Abbott and other top Texas Republicans in 2019 after a dispute between him and his ex-wife turned into a court battle over whether he could oppose his child’s transition. Younger, among others testifying in support of these bills, emphasized young children’s lack of brain development and claimed parents and social media pressure children into identifying as transgender.
But experts say social media and social pressure have nothing to do with it.
“There’s literally zero evidence or research to suggest that that’s true,” said Megan Mooney, past president of the Texas Psychological Association.
According to Mooney, children as young as 2 or 3 can develop ideas about gender identity. By 6 or 7, she said, their sense of gender identity is relatively stable.
Maya had no access to social media, Lisa said, and neither of them even had the language to discuss gender dysphoria or being transgender. What’s more, Maya has a twin brother who Lisa said has been raised exactly the same way as his sister, but has never expressed gender dysphoria.
At 10 years old, Maya hasn’t received any medical treatment yet. Lisa said in the future, she may have to use puberty blockers — a medical treatment legislators want to ban, but experts say is completely safe.
Marjan Linnell, a general pediatrician, testified on behalf of six different state and national medical associations and said in committee that “organized medicine stands united to strongly oppose both SB 1646 and SB 1311.”
In an interview with The Texas Tribune, Linnell explained that puberty suppression treatment has been used for decades to prevent children from going through puberty too soon. Once those children reach an appropriate age, their treatment stops and natural puberty occurs. Linnell said the same is true for transgender children, for whom puberty can often exacerbate poor mental health.
“The point is to have a reversible treatment that can give them some time,” she said. “That not only helps to gain some time to make sure we’re making an appropriate and best practice medical decision for these kids and families, but we also know it can be incredibly important for preserving the mental health of our kids that are going through gender affirming care.”
The mental health toll of gender dysphoria and social marginalization
Hall, the Edgewood Republican, argued during a committee hearing that gender dysphoria would pass after puberty for many children. He claimed that children feeling like they’re in the wrong body is akin to them being “tomboys” and “sensitive kids” who could later turn into the “best looking cheerleaders” and “toughest football players” by high school.
But both Mooney and Linnell said puberty can increase rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation for transgender children, and delaying treatment until 18 could worsen the existing disprorportionate rate of transgender children who consider suicide.
Indigo described the process of testifying alone as “exhausting and upsetting” after they and other transgender children were faced with legislators and protesters who opposed giving them access to gender confirmation care. The week after Texas considered a bill restricting public bathroom access for transgender Texans in 2017, the Trevor Project reported that the amount of transgender children calling or messaging their national suicide hotline dramatically increased.
Legislators voiced particular concern over whether these treatments may cause irreversible infertility for young children. Experts that lawmakers specifically invited to testify cited disputed statistics and stirred fears that procedures such as mastectomies could be performed on prepubescent children — a claim Linnell called “disheartening,” given that breast tissue does not develop until after puberty.
While hormone treatments may cause infertility in some cases, Linnell said it varies and is always discussed with patients prior to undergoing treatment. Surgery, she said, would rarely or never be used until after puberty, and requires several consultations with doctors and psychologists before being approved. According to Mooney, surgery is only recommended when a patient is experiencing so much psychological distress that the only way to resolve it is surgery.
While each bill would only delay treatment until age 18, Mooney said medical treatment is often necessary for transgender children just to make it to their 18th birthday.
In committee testimony, 17-year-old Charlie Apple said the combination of gender dysphoria and social marginalization made him feel uncomfortable with both his body and his own existence. Receiving gender confirmation surgery and hormone treatment, he said, has helped him start to change that.
“I’ve made friends, I’ve played in sports. I’ve had the kind of stupid fun you’re supposed to have as a kid, but most importantly, I survived,” Apple said. “Without these treatments, I would have most likely been with the majority of trans children not standing here before you, but under a gravestone.”