What’s Brewing: Tea party mixes in social issues; details in anti-gay stoning; GLAAD Media Awards

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Surprise!!! The tea party in Texas isn’t concerned only with fiscal issues, according to The Dallas Morning News (subscription required). Turns out, it also contains its fair share of homophobes, racists and misogynists: “Tea parties arose out of concern for liberty and fiscal issues,” says tea-bagging State Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford. “However, you have a lot of people in the tea party groups in Texas that are focused on abortion, defense of marriage.” So let me see if I understand this — the tea party in Texas wants to shrink government if it means lower taxes for rich people, but wants to expand government if it means denying rights to minority groups? How convenient.

2. A 28-year-old murder suspect in Pennsylvania told authorities he killed his elderly victim by beating him with rocks because the Bible says homosexuals should be stoned to death. John Joe Thomas said he murdered 70-year-old Murray Joseph Seidman after the older man made sexual advances toward him. In fact, though, the two had been close companions and Thomas had been named executor and sole beneficiary of Seidman’s will. They met when Thomas was a patient at a psychiatric ward where Seidman worked. Thomas had recently been trying to get more money from Seidman, according to the victim’s brother. And Thomas became a suspect in Seidman’s murder after being picked up on other charges — indecent exposure, open lewdness, and disorderly conduct.

3. Russell Simmons and Ricky Martin were among those honored at the GLAAD Media Awards on Saturday in New York. Martin, who finally came out last March, took home the Vito Russo Award for promoting equality. Watch video of his acceptance speech below. For a full list of award winners, go here.

—  John Wright

Ricky Martin becomes a hero for Latino gays

SIGAL RATNER-ARIAS | Associated Press

NEW YORK — It’s been almost a year since Ricky Martin announced to the world he was gay, but among many gay Latinos, a community that has lived in obscurity for fear of harassment or rejection, his message is still making an impact.

“Today I ACCEPT MY HOMOSEXUALITY as a gift that gives me life,” Martin wrote last March in an open letter to his fans, after refusing to speak about his sexual orientation for years. “I feel blessed to be who I am!”

“By hiding, he validated millions of closeted gays’ that homosexuality is not honorable,” Daniel Shoer Roth, a Venezuelan columnist of the Miami Herald who is gay, told The Associated Press recently.

“In the gay community we have always known that Ricky Martin is one of us,” he added. “Because he is an idol, Ricky has paved the way so these gays now say, ‘If he could do it, so can I.”’

The revelation of the Puerto Rican singer and activist, whose album Music+Soul+Sex came out last week, has had positive effects for the Latino gay community and the society in general, according to advocates for the gay, lesbian and transgender community.

“The example of Ricky Martin as citizen of the world, humanitarian, father, intelligent person, is a good example for those who have obvious stereotypes and also for those who don’t have prejudice but have ideas that may act as barriers in the lives of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT),” said Jarrett Barrios, president of GLAAD (The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation). “Ideas like ‘a gay man is good to water my flowers at home but not for business’ limit the opportunities for the LGBT community.”

Pedro Julio Serrano, communications manager of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, says that “when Ricky made the announcement the tectonic plates moved, it was almost like an earthquake.”

“It was one of the most important news in the fight for equality that the Latino LGBT community leads. It touches the hearts and opens the minds of many people,” said Serrano, who became a friend of the artist after his announcement.

Ricardo Torres, a Mexican man who was raised in Texas and lives in Chicago, was in the audience when Oprah Winfrey interviewed Martin last year. He thanked Martin, saying that his revelation was good for his own relationship with his mother.

“For the first time my mother asked me personal questions. For almost 20 years she has known that I am gay but she never asked anything … she told me not to tell anyone else in my family. It was a secret … a big taboo,” Torres, 38, told the AP.

“Everything changed after Ricky came out of the closet,” he added. “Like someone in our family came out and by doing so gave us the right to live more openly.”

And the audience in general seems to support Martin.

Me, which came out Nov. 2, was a New York Times best-seller and its Spanish edition, Yo, reached No. 1 biography in the United States. His single “Lo mejor de mi vida eres tu,” released the same week of the book, was at the top of Billboard’s Latin Pop Songs chart (English version “The Best Thing About Me Is You” debuted on Oprah and was officially released on Feb. 1.)

“If in Puerto Rico people used to love him, now they love him even more,” said Serrano, who recounted that during Martin’s first public appearance post-announcement, in April at the Latin Billboard Awards, the singer not only received a standing ovation in the theater but a multitudinous cheer from the people on the streets.

“That says a lot about the welcoming and I think demonstrates the reality of our society,” he said. “Even though we still have to fight a lot of homophobia, there is much more acceptance today.”

According to statistics published online by The Trevor Project, a help-line for LGBT teenagers who may be contemplating suicide, LGBT youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers; more than one third have attempted taking their own lives and those in highly rejecting families are more than eight times as likely to have attempted suicide than LGBT peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.

Torres considers that “one of the biggest positive effects (of Ricky’s coming out) is that Latino teenagers that are struggling with their sexuality have an example to follow.”

“Ricky gives hope to thousands of teens that are recognizing their sexual orientation or their gender identity and this tells them that even when there is homophobia and lack of acceptance, they can get to be whatever they want to be,” Serrano concluded. “I believe that with his story he is saving lives, and for me that is crucial, it is wonderful.”

—  John Wright

Give A Damn, get some goodies and help out a good cause all at the same time

Cyndi Lauper

Everybody knows that Cyndi Lauper is not just an LGBT rights supporter, she is a committed activist who is willing to put her time, talent and money where her mouth is when it comes to equality for all.

And now, she’s putting her sparkly high-heeled shoes where her mouth is, too.

The shoes — “Glittery Heels Worn and Signed by Cyndi Lauper” — are just one of the 43 items up for auction in the third annual winter Give A Damn online auction. The list also includes opportunities to meet a wide range of celebrities (Lauper, Jason Mraz, Ricky Martin, The Scissor Sisters, Lily Tomlin and more) in person, a chance to have lunch with Carson Kressley, 2 VIP gold hot seat ticket packages to Lady Gaga’s sold-out show at MSG, tickets to see U2 at the Meadowlands, signed items from folks like Dolly Parton, a Skype chat with Chely Wright, the chance to have Lauper, Rosie O’Donnell or Sara Silverman record your voice mail message — and much, much more.

All the proceeds from the auction go to help fund the Give A Damn Campaign, a web-based initiative launched by Lauper’s True Colors Fund “with the goal of educating and engaging everyone, especially straight people, in the advancement of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality.”

So head on over to the auction page, check out the items up for auction and bid on one or two if you can. I mean, after all, who wouldn’t like the chance to walk in Cyndi Lauper’s shoes — literally?!

—  admin

Concert Notice: Ricky Martin at Verizon in April

Ricky Martin is back out on the road and he comes back to North Texas later this spring. He’s touring in support of his new album, Musica Alma Sexo, which drops Tuesday. This is his first album release after coming out last year.

I was kind of worried because his lead single “The Best Thing About Me is You” isn’t the usual bombastic Latin dance music people are used to from him, but after listening to other tracks from MAS, it’s clear he hasn’t abandoned his signature sound completely (check out the feel-good vibe of “Best Thing”). MAS is a Spanish-language album, but he recorded “Best Thing” in English with Joss Stone. Check out the video below.

Martin is scheduled to play Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie on April 22.

—  Rich Lopez

Richard Chamberlain advises actors to not come out, claims he came out in 2003. Oh pu-leese!

Richard Chamberlain

In an interview in the Advocate this week, Richard Chamberlain talked about the danger for young leading man-type actors who come out.

He’s right about one thing. Hollywood is still very closeted despite Will & Grace, Modern Family or the show he’s now appearing on, Brothers & Sisters. The article says he came out in 2003.

Chamberlain was one of the biggest teen heartthrobs of the early 1960s when he played the title role on Dr. Kildare, the debonnaire young doctor on one of TV’s first medical shows.

In the 1970s, I was working in a store on 5th Avenue in New York City. By then, black-and-white television shows were long forgotten. TV Land and Nick at Night hadn’t been thought of. Cable was mostly for places that had no other TV reception.

Chamberlain was a regular customer in our store. He always shopped with his boyfriend. No one in the store thought anything about it. Chamberlain was gay. Everyone knew it. He was just a friendly former TV star shopping with his boyfriend. There was no secret and no one really cared.

So when he advises actors not to come out just as he didn’t, he’s really just fooling himself. When he “came out” in 2003, about as many people were surprised by the announcement as when Ricky Martin announced earlier this year that he was gay. Will people be equally shocked by an announcement from Jodie Foster?

Although everyone has a right to privacy, if someone is living his life pretty openly, he shouldn’t be shocked or annoyed that people know he’s gay. In fact, he’s fooling himself if he thinks people didn’t.

He may have only done the big Advocate interview in 2003, but everyone he came in contact with knew he was gay since his Dr. Kildare days. And that includes the people at studios who were hiring him. I knew him in the mid-70s.  His sexual orientation didn’t prevent him from getting the biggest role in his career when he starred in The Thornbirds in the early ’80s.

—  David Taffet

Music Bytes: Erasure re-records ‘Respect’ for charity; Ricky Martin talks to Larry King

Ricky Martin appeared on Larry King Live on Tuesday and knocked it out of the park with his eloquent responses to King’s questions about coming out and what’s to follow. In this clip, he discusses his desire to get married in his country along with raising his two sons with his partner. Longer clips can also be found on YouTube.

He’s also the cover story for the December/January issue of People en Espanol. The story pretty much covers the same territory Larry King did, but fairly well done. Of course, you have to be able to read in Spanish. For more, check that out here.

On Erasure’s website, the band posted the news they will re-record “A Little Respect” with the youth chorus from the Hetrick-Martin Institute which houses the Harvey Milk High School. Proceeds from the download will go toward the institute and the True Colors Fund founded by Cyndi Lauper. Erasure performed on the True Colors tour back in 2007.

According to the site, “in the wake of the tragic gay bullying incidents and related suicides across the country, Andy Bell was motivated to take action. As one of popular music’s first openly-gay celebrities Bell felt compelled to get involved. ‘I am honored and moved beyond words to serve as an Ambassador to the The Hetrick-Martin Institute. Every opportunity we have to spread tolerance and compassion must be seized and I will take special pride in doing so on HMI’s behalf.’”

The single is slated for a mid-December release. In the meantime, here’s the original which we all probably know so well.

—  Rich Lopez

The Rainbow connection

Want viral video that’s gay and funny? Meet web star Randy Rainbow

MIKEY ROX  | Contributing Writer mikey@paperroxscissors.com

RANDY GUY  |  Internet comedian Randy Rainbow makes videos about, for instance, his romance with Mel Gibson.
RANDY GUY | Internet comedian Randy Rainbow makes videos about, for instance, his romance with Mel Gibson.

Web sensation Randy Rainbow keeps good company. He has dated Mel Gibson. He attended Chelsea Clinton’s wedding. He’s BFFs with Lindsay Lohan. And if you’re dim enough to believe any of that, he has a bridge to sell you.

Truth is, Rainbow doesn’t know any of those people. But his hilarious videos — which use audio clips of celebrities, like Gibson’s infamous hate-spewing voicemails and Dr. Laura’s racially charged radio show segment — might convince you otherwise.

Quite possibly the LGBT community’s hottest commodity since Ricky Martin popped out the closet, the NYC-based blogger talks about his Broadway roots, his appearance on PerezHilton and how you can stalk him on Facebook (phone number included!). Warning: That call may be monitored or taped for nefarious purposes.

Visit Rainbow Rainbow on his blog at TheRandyRainbowBlahg.com.

Dallas Voice: I just re-watched a few of your now-famous videos and they’re even funnier the third time around. Where did your gift for comedy come from? Randy Rainbow: I come from a very funny, very silly family, so that helps. I’m also something of a comedy junkie. I’ve been observing and absorbing it in every medium since I was a kid. I think humor is the most important thing in this life.

Your blog primarily caters to a Broadway-minded crowd, so what made you sort of veer off that track and pursue mainstream celebs in your bits? The heart of the blog has always been Broadway, as I’ve always been a big show queen. Over the years, though, it’s strayed and become more all encompassing because my interests and opinions extend beyond just theater. The new website I’m working on will include lots of Broadway, but won’t be quite as concentrated. There’s just too much material out there to pass up.

You’ve received a good amount of press from the gay blogs, like Queerty and Towleroad. How have things changed now that a massive audience has found you? Any interesting opportunities — or propositions?  Well, I’m still single, if that’s what you’re getting at. But yes, the exposure has been incredible. New and exciting opportunities are popping up almost every day.

Tell us about the day your Lindsay Lohan video was featured on Perez Hilton. The last time I wrote about Perez, I have called him a self-loathing sloth. I had no idea it was coming! Luckily, I’d washed my hair that morning, but otherwise, there was no preparation. All of a sudden, I had like 40 new e-mails in my inbox and I knew something was up. Perez had subscribed to my YouTube channel when the Mel Gibson thing really hit, so I was hopeful he’d post something of mine eventually.

You’re obviously very good at building a personal brand (I don’t believe for a second that your legal name is Randy Rainbow). For all those gays out there just trying to make a fake name for themselves, what advice can you give? First of all, how dare you?! Believe it or not, Randy Rainbow is the name on my birth certificate. It sounds like the gayest of all stage names, but it is in fact nothing but the truth. Trust me — I would not make that shit up. It’s working out great for me now, but it was a very traumatic childhood.

You know your phone number is still on your Facebook page, right? You’re kind of famous now and some crazy gay is totally gonna stalk your life if you don’t remove it. You’ll never know who it is, either, because I’ll — er, he’ll — block the calls. I didn’t realize that, but thank you for bringing it to my attention. Come to think of it, I have been getting a lot of missed calls from undisclosed numbers.

You’re all over the Internet and your fans are waiting for your next comedic masterpiece. Whatcha got for us? I’m gonna continue crankin’ out the videos. I’m even starting to get some fancy guest stars, so look out for those. Stay tuned for the new website. We’re hoping to officially launch at the beginning of the new year. Lots of other fun stuff is in the works, and I’ll certainly keep you posted. For now, everyone should check my blog regularly, subscribe to me on YouTube, follow me on Twitter and friend me on Facebook. I will sleep with anyone who does. My phone number is listed.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 29, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Vampire strikes back

Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij could be the new face of gay — if it matters

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

FORGET TEAM EDWARD OR TEAM JACOB  |  Batmanglij, left, and the rest of Vampire Weekend bring their live show back to Dallas Wednesday to win over the city again after their spring show back in April.
FORGET TEAM EDWARD OR TEAM JACOB | Batmanglij, left, and the rest of Vampire Weekend bring their live show back to Dallas Wednesday to win over the city again after their spring show back in April.

VAMPIRE WEEKEND
With Beach House.
Palladium Ballroom,
1135 S. Lamar St. Oct. 6 at 8 p.m.
Ticketmaster.com.

……………………………………………….

Face it: Society is getting kind of used to the celebrity come-out story. Ricky Martin comes out and we applaud; Chely Wright becomes the first out country singer and now we know her name — ho-hum.

But when Rostam Batmanglij talks about being out as part of the big-buzzed indie group Vampire Weekend, nobody seems to notice.

Maybe it’s Batmanglij’s everyman look — he’s handsome but doesn’t smolder like Martin. He’s the understated hipster dude in the funky clothes. He just … is, minus the whole producer/multi-instrumentalist bit he performs for the band.

“I think sometimes there is so much pressure to conform to a straight identity,” he says. “But also, there’s pressure to conform to stereotypes of gay identity. I hope that’s less and less a pressure nowadays.”

Nothing about Vampire Weekend’s vibe is particularly threatening, but their music is innovative enough to stand out. The sound is happy with reggae-ish beats and endearing lyrics. Their scruffy image proffers likeable appeal for college- and high school-aged kids that includes a new generation of LGBT youth unrestricted by labels. Like Batmanglij, they are living a life that doesn’t find the need to thrive on completely gay environments as may have been the case 20 years ago.
“Just like there are different kinds of straight people, it’s the same for gays,” he says. “But now there are various gay role models.”

Batmanglij came out to the media last year, saying it was something he felt he should do. It didn’t have the shockwave impact of other musical coming outs, but it didn’t have to for Batmanglij. Really, he just finds it tough to figure if his coming out had any kind of impact on either the band or himself.

“It’s hard to perceive,” he says. “I certainly believe we had gay fans before I talked about it. I just don’t know if gay people would approach our band based on that fact.”

What does weigh heavy on Batmanglij is not his gay identity, but his Middle Eastern heritage. When asked about the Washington Post’s article where he discussed having issues with “whiteness,” Batmanglij dismisses the condensed version of his life in that article, but also shifts to a troubled tone when talking about his heritage.

“I have a complex relationship with being of Iranian descent and now more than ever,” he says. “There are a lot of things not talked about in America and so much is repressed and kept in the dark. Middle Easterners aren’t represented well. I think that I’ll continue to have an issue with it. There are ways to look at things without the cynicism.”

Thus it’s actually harder to be Middle Eastern than gay, right now?

“Certainly in America,” he laughs.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 1, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

RICH’S MIXTAPE

Perhaps some of these Pride parade entrants will consider these tunes

Ricky Martin
Ricky Martin

Kudos to Pride parade floats for making the event fab. But how likely will we hear the obvious trash disco or Lady Gaga blaring from speakers as they trickle down the road to Lee Park? Way likely. In this mixtape edition, I created my fantasy parade soundtrack for some of the floats and entrants this year. Otherwise, be prepared for “We Are Family” heading your way.

“I’m a Rainbow” – Donna Summer: OK, it’s a ballad and maybe obvious, but it sounds like just what Resource Center Dallas is all about. Plus, a drag queen could kill this on a float.

“Stand By Your Man” – Lyle Lovett: His cover isn’t cheeky by any means, but would speak volumes for the Round-Up Saloon’s walk down. Although I was torn between this and Toby Keith’s “Shoulda Been a Cowboy.”

“Sex (I’m a …)” – Berlin: Personally, I love the brazenness of Adult New Releases’ ads. I only imagine they’d be the same way in public.

“Not Myself Tonight” – Christina Aguilera: As the men transform into the divas of the Rose Room, I can see this running through their heads. Why not “sing” it out loud?

“Young Americans” – David Bowie: Youth First Texas keeps growing into an important part of the LGBT community. And you know, the children are our future.

“La Bomba” – Ricky Martin, pictured: Maybe it’s cliche to go with Latin music for our gay Latin clubs, but this song is a party all by itself. Crowds will rumba as this floats down.

“Another Piece of Meat” – Scorpions: Heavy metal has its place in the parade if this accompanies a visit to Club Dallas. What? They have weekly cookouts. Get your mind out of the gutter.

“Id Engager” – Of Montreal: Legacy Counseling Center could throw a little Freud our way and be totally hip about it.

“Teeth” — Lady Gaga. After her impromptu concert at the Round-Up Saloon, she had to be here — if only for Floss.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Ricky Martin’s autobiography due in November

Associated Press

NEW YORK — Ricky Martin has picked an appropriate title for his autobiography: “Me.”

The Puerto Rican singer is set to release his memoir on Nov. 2. It will also be released in Spanish the same day. That edition will be titled “Yo,” which is Spanish for “I” and “me.”

Martin has said that preparing to write the book was one of the reasons he decided to reveal earlier this year that he is gay.

Martin said in a statement Thursday, Aug. 19 that the project led him to extract memories that he had erased from his mind. He says the book was not easy but allowed for an “incredible spiritual journey.”

—  John Wright