Out NBA player to be seated with Michelle Obama at State of the Union

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Jason Collins

The White House announced some of the guests who will be seated in first lady Michelle Obama’s box during the President’s State of the Union address Tuesday. Out former NBA player Jason Collins will be among the guests.

Other guests include a Boston Marathon survivor and his rescuer, the Moore, Okla., fire chief who directed the rescue after a devastating tornado last year, D.C.’s teacher of the year and a 16-year-old Intel intern.

During the State of the Union address, presidents traditionally tell stories about Americans who have made a difference during the year.

Collins played in the NBA for 12 years, making it to the playoffs nine times. In college, he was selected as an All American, named the NCAA’s “Big Man of the Year” and earned an appearance in the Final Four.

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers described Collins as “the best.”

“He literally is one of the best guys I’ve ever had in the locker room, player or coach,” Collins said.

In April 2013, Collins became the first male player in major American team sports to come out openly as gay.

A statement from the White House described Collins’ coming out as courageous.

The President expressed his gratitude to Collins for his courageous announcement through an article Collins penned himself. The President said he “couldn’t be prouder” of Collins, recognizing this as a point of progress for the LGBT community, and one more step in America’s goal to treat everyone fairly and with respect. Collins is 35 and lives in Los Angeles, California.

—  David Taffet

Robin Roberts comes out, thanks ‘long time girlfriend’

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Robin Roberts

“Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts came out Sunday in a touching post thanking her “long time girlfriend,” The Huffington Post reported.

Roberts disclosed the relationship in a Facebook post in which she reflected on the past year. On Dec. 29, 2012, the news anchor celebrated 100 days post bone marrow transplant during her battle with myelodysplastic syndrome.

“At this moment I am at peace and filled with joy and gratitude,” Roberts wrote. “I am grateful to God, my doctors and nurses for my restored good health. I am grateful for my sister, Sally-Ann, for being my donor and giving me the gift of life. I am grateful for my entire family, my long time girlfriend, Amber, and friends as we prepare to celebrate a glorious new year together.”

Amber Laign is a licensed massage therapist from the San Francisco Bay Area, according to People magazine. She and Roberts met through mutual friends and have been together for 10 years.

“I am grateful for the many prayers and well wishes for my recovery. I return every one of them to you 100 fold,” Roberts continued. “On this last Sunday of 2013 I encourage you to reflect on what you are grateful for too.”

CNN’s Brian Stelter noted that this is the first time Roberts has spoken publicly about her sexual orientation.

The 53-year-old follows in the footsteps of other famous figures who have chosen to discuss their personal lives without formally choosing a title or label.

Earlier this month, Olympic diver Tom Daley came out in a YouTube video, revealing he is in a relationship with a man. Last year, Frank Ocean came out in a blog post. He opened up about a same-sex relationship he had when he was 19 years old.

ABC News issued the following statement regarding Roberts’ Facebook post (via BuzzFeed):

“We love Robin and Amber, who we have all known for a long time. We were so touched by Robin’s Facebook message today and so thankful for all the loving support she has in her life.”

—  Steve Ramos

Bob Harper comes out as gay to help a contestant on ‘The Biggest Loser’

Unknown-1Bob Harper, from the reality weight loss competition show The Biggest Loser, came out to help a contestant who was struggling with his own sexuality. The Huffington Post reported 48-year-old Harper came out Tuesday.

Contestant Bobby Saleem Saleem came out as gay on the show, but struggled to break the news of his sexuality to his father. To help encourage Saleem to come out to his dad, Harper decided to share his own story.

“I haven’t talked about my sexuality on this show ever,” Harper said. “And now, meeting Bobby, I really do believe this is the right time. I want to show Bobby that he doesn’t have to live in shame.”

So, Harper sat down with Saleem on camera and publicly came out for the first time.

“I’m gay. I knew I very long time ago that I was gay,” the Tennessee native said. “When I came out — when I was 17 years old — it was one of those things where I realized that there was going to be so many obstacles, but being gay doesn’t mean being weak. And being gay doesn’t mean that you are less than anybody else. It’s just who you are.”

—  Steve Ramos

Wentworth Miller, ‘Prison Break’ actor and former Dallas resident, comes out

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When the TV show Prison Break was filming in North Texas for two seasons, I had the opportunity to meet and interview the show’s star, Wentworth Miller, on three occasions for TV Guide. And on each occasion, my gaydar went off. It could have been simply because he’s was a dreamy, personable, intense fellow, who talked in hushed tones and tended to lean in when he spoke to me. Partly it was that he was renting a condo in Uptown, just near the gayborhood. But I never personally saw Miller on the Strip, nor did he hit on me exactly. (By contrast, Rob Knepper, who played a scary bisexual prisoner on the same series, would leer at me suggestively in character, then smile devilishly. He was great fun.)

So when I read this morning that Miller had come out as gay to protest the treatment of gays in Russia, I can’t say it came as a shock. But it delighted me nonetheless.

Miller hasn’t been much in evidence in recent years as an actor, though he has a hand as a writer for the recent art-house film Stoker (it wasn’t very good, unfortunately). He’s just the latest person this month to come out for political reasons (as I blogged about earlier this week).

I’m happy for Miller. But I’m even happier my gaydar wasn’t off.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Margaret Cho on coming out as bi, serving as ‘prime minister of the gays’

Drop Dead Diva, EP 504

Every season, the Lifetime series Drop Dead Diva goes out of its way to include a specific gay storyline for its lawyer character. This season’s episode, which aired last night, featured a pro baseball player who is hiding his homosexuality — even though it may get him convicted of murder.

Co-star Margaret Cho and executive producer Josh Berman sat down with the media to discuss the episode, gays in sports … and whether Cho is really the prime minister of the gays.

If you missed the first several episodes, you can catch up either on-demand or on iTunes. You can watch a clip of last night’s episode here. Below is a transcript of the chat with Berman and Cho.

Question: Josh, you tackled gay proms, gay sperm … was gay sports just the next arena that you needed to dive into for this episode?  Josh Berman: Well I think gays in sports is certainly a hot topic right now. We started working on this episode before it became such a prominent issue and getting such coverage in the news. So I’m thrilled that we are hitting this zeitgeist shed again with gay and lesbian issues. I do think that, you know, sports is one of the last frontiers where men and women feel they unfortunately need to be closeted. So it was important for me to address that issue.

Margaret, you’re all over this episode whether you’re helping Stacy with sperm donors or helping Jane with her case .…  Margaret Cho: Terri is always doing anything and everything. She’s kind of like a cross between like Alfred and Batman — she’s kind of like the enabler for everything. But what I really love about this episode is that it really talks about an issue that’s very timely, which is, athletes being able to come out of the closet. And I must note that there is a lot of sexism when it comes to this kind of stuff because Martina Navratilova came out as a lesbian over 25 years ago. Martina Navratilova came out when Reagan was in office. I really want to make sure that her contribution to sports, to the LGBT presence in sports, is really noted. And I’m really, really proud of this episode because it goes into the story about how we look at men in sports and we have to sort of have an idea of who they are and what they’re supposed to be. And I think sports in general is quite a homoerotic art form unto itself. So it’s surprising that there’s not more [athletes who are] out actually, but I love this episode because it really talks about some of these very current issues.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Brittney Griner is ‘6-8 walking proof’ that it really does get better

Brittney Griner

Brittney Griner

Former Baylor basketball player Brittney Griner came out several weeks ago with little attention, but she’s already using her announcement to speak to LGBT youth in an “It Gets Better” video.

In the video, Griner talks about being different growing up and being teased because of it, but she says she’s “6-8 walking proof” that things get better.

“As somebody that grew up taller than everybody, a little bit different than everybody, always voiced my opinion on my sexuality and who I was as an individual,” she said. “I got teased. With big hands, a little deeper voice, big feet. … It was hard growing up but you have to find an outlet. Basketball was my outlet.”

Griner, the WNBA No. 1 Draft pick, wrote about her coming out experience to her family as a teen in The New York Times yesterday. She addresses that while she didn’t feel the need to come out publicly until recently, being gay doesn’t define her any more than being a basketball star defines her.

In the NYT piece, she expresses her pride in Jason Collins for becoming the first male pro-athlete to come out while still playing. But she doesn’t address the lack of attention she received when she came out compared to the media firestorm surrounding Collins’ announcement.

Collins was praised for his trailblazing declaration last week by national media. When Griner came out a few weeks before, people barely blinked, and only sports media covered it.

While female athletes are often assumed to be gay — especially if they are masculine — Griner certainly isn’t the first to come out. Tennis players Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova led the way in the ’80s. And major male sports have always attracted larger audiences and have been plagued with more homophobia.

Still, that’s no excuse.

When the No. 1 Draft pick in any sport comes out, it’s news. And it’s rude to assume masculine women athletes are lesbians. It’s just as offensive to assume a gay male athlete must retire before coming out.

But just as Collins broke the mold by coming out and still continuing his career, he’s set the pace for more male athletes to be true to themselves and come out still playing. That’s where I agree with Griner in her NYT piece. I, too, am “more optimistic than ever that people are ready” for more gay athletes to come out.

Watch the video below.

—  Anna Waugh

Does Frank Ocean’s coming out mean more for hip-hop or for the LGBT community?

July has already been a momentous month for the LGBT community. Anderson Cooper didn’t so much come out as officially confirm that he identified as gay early in the week. Then, for some July 4 fireworks, Odd Future member Frank Ocean candidly talked about his past relationship with a man in a telling Tumblr post. A lengthy letter that was heartfelt and poetic (while never using the “g” or the “b” words) left no doubt that Ocean has come out of the closet as a member of the community — and as a bona fide hip-hop star.

There has been speculation on Ocean’s sexuality recently on blog buzz reviews about his upcoming album Channel Orange. MTV reported that he had openly used “him” in many of his songs which had been picked up on by those reviews. Ocean’s clearly in a more comfortable space, but could it be lost on the LGBT community?

—  Rich Lopez

White House launches LGBT video contest

The White House announced a new video contest Monday for LGBT Pride Month.

Along the lines of the White House Champions of Change series that spotlights Americans doing great things to create change and a positive impact in their community, the LGBT Pride Month Champions of Change Video Challenge will visually explore the efforts many Americans are making on behalf of equality.

Videos should be no longer than three minutes and cover issues like coming out stories, struggles with culture and identity, heroes that haven’t been recognized for their work, artwork that inspires acceptance, innovative solutions to challenging situations, and accounts of allies and families who fight for equality.

Various video forms such as music videos, PSAs, short films, video blogs and interviews will be accepted.

Essays of no longer than 750 words will also be accepted. Video and essay entries are due May 4.

Submissions will then be reviewed by a panel that will select semi-finalists. The public will then help select finalists in June to attend a Champions of Change event at the White House.

View the full press release after the jump.

—  Anna Waugh

“Confessions of a Mormon Boy” at Theater LaB

Steven Fales

Steven Fales

Steven Fales (ironically pronounced “fails”) was born Mormon, sixth generation in fact, what he calls “Mormon DNA.” As a good Mormon boy he grew up, became a missionary, went to Brigham Young University, got married and had kids. The only problem being that Fales is gay. After a failed attempt at “reparative therapy” he was kicked out of the Mormon church, got divorced, moved to New York, became a prostitute and developed a crystal meth problem. If the story ended there Fales would be like any number of queer people injured by their intolerant upbringing and lost to a world only too willing to offer alternatives to healing, but the story didn’t end there. Fales, a trained actor, got his life together and started doing a stand-up comedy routine that eventually became his hit one-man play Confessions of a Mormon Boy.

More than just another tear-jerking coming out story, Confessions of a Mormon Boy connects the behaviors learned by growing up in an environment that tells people they will never be worthy of God’s love with the allure of chemical abuse. The play mixes pathos and tragedy with a very healthy dose of comedy (and it doesn’t hurt that former call-boy Fales is quite easy on the eyes).  Fales has written a story not just for the LGBT community, but also for the Mormon community of his youth (it’s played four times in Salt Lake City). For a play about prostitution and drug addiction Confessions of a Mormon Boy is neigh-on family friendly, containing no nudity or cursing.

Fales performs Confessions of a Mormon Boy at Theater LaB (1706 Alamo) Feb. 8-12. Tickets start at $25 and may be purchased by calling 713-868-7516.

After the jump watch Fales perform the opening monologue:

—  admin

“Would You Like Guys With That?” tonight at UTD

Youth in revolt

In his theater piece, Would You Like Guys With That, John Michael Colgin’s main character (himself, really) is a snobby kid, the product of private-schooling and a sense of entitlement; he becomes even more judgmental when he attends college in Stillwater, Okla. But then he goes to work at McDonald’s as a kind of social experiment, he begins to see the world anew: Just because he hates small-talk with his co-workers, he discovers that listening to different music doesn’t mean you’re not a human being. His show explores not only his coming out experience but the awkward time before and the self-realization after.

Read our interview with Colgin here.

DEETS: Davidson Auditorium — JSOM 1.118, 800 W. Campbell Road on the UTD Campus, Richardson. Jan 30. 5:30pm. Free. UTDallas.edu/womenscenter

—  Rich Lopez