CNN series ‘The Eighties’ takes on the AIDS epidemic

Larry Kramer

LGBT and AIDS activist Larry Kramer was one of the loudest voices in the fight against AIDS and its stigma in the 1980s.

How old were you when the AIDS epidemic first hit?

How old were you when the New York Times printed that first story about gay men dying of some mysterious cancer? When they called it GRID — Gay-Related Immune Deficiency? When they realized it wasn’t just gay men getting sick and started calling it AIDS — Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome? When they finally discovered the human immunodeficiency virus — HIV — that causes AIDS?

How old were you when the men of our community were dying every day?

Truth is, a lot of people reading this weren’t even born yet back then. A lot more were just wee tots with no idea what was happening. For some, the 1980s are ancient history, not personal history, with no relevance to their day-to-day lives.

That lack of historical perspective may be why HIV infection rates are so high among young people.

Now CNN offers a chance to maybe fill in some of the historical gaps for the younger generation with a new episode of the cable channel’s original series The Eighties, “The Fight Against AIDS,” airing tomorrow (Thursday, June 2, 8 p.m. CST). The program “focuses on the pandemic that created a movement and defined a decade.”

According to a press release, this “mysterious and lethal illness developed into a pandemic with enormous political and cultural consequences. What started as a medical detective story grew into a societal nightmare as first dozens and eventually thousands of people all over the world contracted the lethal virus that came to be known as AIDS. It’s a story of ignorance and heartbreak, but also one of compassion, courage and dedication.”

Award-winning producers Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, in association with HBO producer Mark Herzog, present the series, The Eighties, which “explores the individuals and events that shaped a decade of exceptionalism and excess.” The program combines rarely-seen archival footage and interviews with journalists, historians, musicians and television artists to tell the story of the decade. Future episides will focus on the age of Reagan, the end of the Cold War, Wall Street corruption, the tech boom and the expansion of television and the evolving music scene.

—  Tammye Nash

Hood County Clerk refuses to talk to CNN reporter

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Hood County Clerk Katie Lang

We told you earlier today about Hood County Clerk Katie Lang making a public statement that her office would not be issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, based on her personal religious objections to same-sex marriage and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s “legal opinion” that she didn’t have to issue those licenses if she didn’t want to.

Since that post, someone has shared the video below, from Anderson Cooper’s show on CNN, of a reporter trying to get Ms. Lang, an elected official, to explain her decision. As you can see, she refuses to answer questions and rather than defend her decision and/or her religious beliefs, she runs for the car.

She mentions posting an explanation on her website. Check it out.

—  Tammye Nash

Anderson Cooper’s UTA appearance rescheduled for Feb. 10


If you missed out on getting tickets to see out CNN anchor Anderson Cooper in November, you have a second chance to see him in February.

Cooper’s appearance as part of the The University of Texas at Arlington’s 2013-14 Maverick Speakers Series was rescheduled due to his work schedule.

Tickets for the Feb. 10 event went on sale today. Tickets for the November event won’t be honored.

Out journalist and immigration activist Jose Vargas opened the speaker series in September.

For more information about the series, including upcoming appearances by CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta and NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg, go here.

—  Dallasvoice

TX among worst places to live if you support LGBT equality, CNN says


States with sodomy laws still on the books are not states people who support LGBT rights should live in, according to a CNN calculator

CNN has posted a calculator that allows you to figure out where to live based on your support for LGBT rights.

The 10 questions cover everything from marriage equality to removing unconstitutional sodomy laws from the books. Answers are multiple choice, and you rate each issue from 1 to 5 based on how important it is to you.

Rating each question a 5 (very important) results in Washington, D.C., and Washington state as the two best places to live, while Texas ranks 45th. Only Utah, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Alabama and Mississippi are below Texas.

Iowa ranks ahead of New York. And California, subject of next week’s Prop 8 case that will be heard before the Supreme Court, ranks above marriage-equality states Connecticut, Vermont, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Here’s a real kick in the butt: The socially progressive state of Arkansas ranks 23, more than 20 states ahead of Texas.

CNN cites some of its own polling to show acceptance of same-sex marriage has grown. In 2008, 53 percent opposed marriage equality. Last year, 54 percent favored it with only 42 percent opposed. Almost two-thirds of people under 50 favor marriage equality.

In 1998, 51 percent thought gay people could change their orientation. By last year that number had dropped to 34 percent.

—  David Taffet

WATCH: Ex-UT coach wonders if she was forced out because she’s a lesbian

On Tuesday I speculated that Bev Kearney, who resigned last weekend as women’s track coach at the University of Texas over an affair with a student-athlete 10 years ago, may have been treated unfairly by the school because of her sexual orientation. In other words, while the relationship was clearly inappropriate — a fact which Kearney herself acknowledges — would she have been forced to step down if she were a Hall of Fame male coach who’d won six national championships and whose affair with a female athlete was brought to light a decade later?

Coincidentally, just as I was posting my item, Kearney was appearing on CNN’s Starting Point, where she would essentially go public with the same question.

“Is it because I have a disability? Is it because I’m black? Is it because I’m female? Is it because I’m successful? Is it now because of my sexual preference?” Kearney asked CNN’s Soledad O’Brien. “I had to finally come to embrace not knowing why, and I had to embrace it because the more you try to figure out why, the harder it is to forgive.”

—  John Wright

The gayest election night ever

Tuesday night was generally seen as a victorious one for gay and lesbian people across the nation: The reelection of Barack Obama, the first sitting president to endorse full marriage equality; the historic election of lesbian Tammy Baldwin to the U.S. Senate; the defeat of anti-gay legislation. But even more gay was the coverage itself.

I watched the returns in a room full of gay people, ready to pop the bubbly cork as soon as Obama was called by one of the news channels (we were swimming in champagne by 10:15 p.m.). We flipped among the channels to see who had different predictions up. And we got to hear Rachel Maddow on MSNBC announce Barack Obama was the president still.


Then we watched as Anderson Cooper oversaw coverage on CNN.


And we logged onto Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog from the New York Times to check updates.

Silver’s also gay.

All of these people are out and proud and given principal responsibilities for overseeing election coverage for their media organizations. And so far as I noticed, none of them (or their fellows on TV in the cases of Maddow and Cooper) so much as hinted at their sexual orientation during their election night coverage. Because that was irrelevant to their reporting. (Compare that to the folks on Fox News, who acted as if the vote was a rebuke of Christian heterosexuality.)

We’ve reached a special plateau when the most respected newsmen in the country get to report on popular votes about gay folks and be on the side of the majority. The excitement wasn’t just at the ballot box Tuesday night. It was right up there on the screen.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Dallas dad Cooper Smith of J.C. Penney ad fame writes heartfelt op-ed about Father’s Day gift

Cooper Smith, right, and Todd Koch were special guests Gay Bingo in the Rose Room on Saturday, June 16.

While many dads may have had the normal joys of fatherhood to celebrate Sunday, Dallas dads Cooper Smith and Todd Koch celebrated the public’s support for their family, which was featured in J.C. Penney’s June catalog.

Smith wrote an op-ed about the experience, highlighting the “gift of overwhelming love and support” that he and Koch received this Father’s Day.

The ad has made international news, leading to hundreds of supportive messages from gay and straight couples, Smith writes in the piece published on The Advocate’s website:

While we had no hesitation in doing the ad itself, we initially girded ourselves for a negative backlash. To our surprise, the response to our famiy has been overwhelmingly positive — shockingly positive, in fact.

We’ve received hundreds of emails, Facebook posts, Twitter comments and cards in the mail from everyone from long-lost friends and classmates to complete strangers in remote parts of the United States and beyond, each filled with heartfelt sentiments of support and acceptance. We’ve even heard from celebrities and other public figures.

Sure, there have been some pretty hateful comments and notes, too. But they’re nothing we haven’t heard our whole lives. More importantly, they’ve been eclipsed at least 100-to-1 by the positive ones.

Smith and Koch were special guests at Gay Bingo in the Rose Room on Saturday, where they spoke about the flood of media attention. CNN featured the family in a segment Friday, focusing on advertisers’ inclusion of same-sex couples lately from J.C. Penney’s lesbian couple in May to Gap and travel agencies. Smith said in the CNN interview that he thinks it is the first time gay dads have been featured with their children in an ad by a national company. Watch the segment below. The couple was also interviewed by The New York Times last week but that article has yet to be published.

—  Dallasvoice

Queer Music News: Hip-hop artist Y-Love comes out, Jay-Z is pro-gay marriage, so is Will Smith

The buzz is out on the Twitter-verse and Interwebs about rapper Y-Love coming out officially. The black, Jewish rapper has added gay to the list in his interview with today. Burdened with a public identity in a hip-hop world, he decided enough was enough and him coming out would serve a bigger purpose. From

When asked if he decided it was time to come out publicly because of all the positive discourse in the press as of late, Jordan says his catalyst was actually the opposite. “It’s because of the negative backlash that’s coming. Because people like Michele Bachmann’s husband are still pedaling ex-gay therapy. Because there are kids that are jumping out of their school windows. I know what it feels like, and so I have to say something.”

Over the past few months, Jordan says he’s been coming out to close friends, but he’s urged them not to post anything on social media sites so he could still maintain his previous reputation. Now he’s ready to tell the world.

“I’ve dealt with racism; I’ve dealt with discrimination,” Jordan explains. “I want to be there at that gay pride festival, for that kid who has a baseball cap over his yarmulke. I know what it feels like to have to hide.”

—  Rich Lopez

GBM News posts its top gay celebrities of color

CNN anchor tops GBM News' list.

Over the weekend, GBM News executive editor Nathan James posted his top 15 gay celebs of color. His list started as a response to  MSN’s Wonderwall listing of its top queer celebs wielding the most influence, but was also noticeably lacking in its diverse demographics (save for Perez Hilton, who is of Cuban descent).

James’ list introduces some gay celebs people might not immediately consider such as singer Tracy Chapman at No. 8 or CNN anchor Don Lemon at the top of the list. But I’m not really sure how he figures in Noah’s Arc alum Darryl Stephens’ guest stint on Private Practice at No. 11 as influential or RuPaul’s relatively low ranking at No. 7. While he does include George Takei in the mix, his list lacks any Latinos. That begs the question: Where is Ricky Martin?  From James on GBM News:

One of the “interesting” things about their list, was that there wasn’t a single gay celebrity of color on it. I bethought myself to rectify that oversight by creating and publishing my own list of the 15 most powerful gay celebrities of color. The response I got from that piece was, by far, the most overwhelming public reaction to any article I’d ever written up to that time. Some applauded my choices, others vehemently disagreed with them, and still others asked why their own personal choices missed the cut. Well, this year, I’m at it again, with a completely new list that’s sure to provoke more debate and stir more passionate discussion.  Submitted for your approval, here are my picks for the fifteen most powerful gay celebrities for 2012!

Of course, these lists are all subjective, but James thankfully adds to the conversation of who gays and lesbians may see as influential within the community.


—  Rich Lopez

Soledad O’Brien speaks on Diversity in America tonight

Up close and personal

CNN’s Soledad O’Brien struck a chord with the LGBT community in her 2010 special Gay in America following up on her Latino and African-American coverage. She comes to Arlington giving a lecture on “Diversity in America.”

DEETS: Texas Hall, 701 S. Nedderman Drive (on UT Arlington campus). 7:30 p.m. Free.

—  Rich Lopez