Dems Prepare to Wear Black for SOTU, Following Golden Globes Protest

Tonight is the night that more than half of voting Americans are dreading, as Donald Trump prepares to address the country in this year’s State of the Union. Some politicians, such as Maxine Waters are choosing to skip the evening’s event. Meanwhile, alternative SOTU addresses like Logo’s LGBTQ SOTU and the People’s SOTU have already taken place.

But those liberals who are planning to attend tonight’s official SOTU are using the opportunity to make a statement. Following the empowering red carpet blackout that took place at the recent Golden Globes in honor of the Time’s Up movement, democratic women are planning to sport black for tonight’s event. Rep Lois Frankel (D-FL) told VOX that their plan is to send “a message of solidarity with those who are seeking economic security and a cultural shift that enables men and women to work side by side, in safety and dignity, free of sexual harassment, and be paid fairly for the value of their work.”

In addition, the Congressional Black Caucus will wear red pins in honor of Recy Taylor, whom Oprah Winfrey commemorated in her Golden Globes speech. Taylor was a black woman who was raped by white men in 1944, and she never saw justice. Rep Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich) will bring Danielle McGuire, a historian who studied Taylor’s life, as a guest. Other congress members will bring sexual assault survivors as their guests.

These gestures make a loud statement to Trump, who has been accused by 17 women of sexual assault. Spectators are eager to see if Ivanka Trump will wear black, following her tone-deaf tweet of support for the Times Up movement. Eyes will also be on Melania, whom has not been seen in public with her husband since news of his affair with porn star, Stormy Daniels broke.

Last year’s unofficial dress code was inspired by the suffragette movement, inspiring democratic women to wear white as a silent protest of Trump’s stance on women’s issues. Since Melania wore all black that evening, we can’t help but wonder what side her allegiance is on this year.

Fifth Harmony Members Scrubbed Band Name from Social Media Bios

Are Fifth Harmony not holding each other down anymore?

As first pointed out by pop culture site Breathe Heavy, three of the four remaining members of Fifth Harmony Normani, Ally, and Dinah have removed any mention of the band from their social media bios.

News of the social media scrub comes at the same time as news that Lauren Jauregui, who is Cuban and bisexual, is set to follow in the footsteps of her former bandmate Camila Cabello and go solo.

Fifth Harmony’s first era without Camila was largely unsuccessful. Their third album, Fifth Harmony, released in 2017, debuted with 47k units sold and streamed, down from 80k for their debut, Reflection, and its follow up, 7/27.

Cabello left Harmony in December 2016 and this month she was one of a small number artists to have the number one album and song in the country at the same time.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

If ‘The Notebook,’ ‘Titanic,’ or ‘Ghost’ Were Lesbian Love Stories

San Francisco-based artist and fashion designer Crystal Vielula has taken classic love stories in film like Grease, Titanic, Say Anything, andThe Notebookand transformed them into paintings of same-sex tales of romance.

“Because it’s hard to find representation of happy queer love in popular media,” she told KQED, “we need to create them in our own imaginations.”

“Queer Movie Stills,” currently on display at Spike’s Coffees and Teas in San Francisco, are colorful Warholian-meets-Monet illustrations of iconic scenes from popular romance films reimagined with two female leads. Like the poster image for The Notebook, where Rachel McAdams straddles and kisses Ryan Gosling in the rain. In Vielula’s version, another woman holds up McAdams’ character.

For her interpretation of Say Anything, the artist portrays John Cusack’s lead as a curly-haired woman romantically thrusting her boombox to the sky.

Her personal favorite is a kiss shared between two women, mimicking a romantic moment from Dirty Dancing.

Vielula told KQED she was inspired to create the series in 2017 following a barrage of negative portrayals of LGBTQ relationships on-screen, as well as her own happy lesbian relationship. That optimism shines bright in her work, not only in the all-female reboot-style images, but in the actual neon colors and lurid aesthetic.

Upon noticing that many queer female narratives end in tragedy or breakupshe gave the example of Blue is the Warmest Colorshe wanted to find a narrative that mirrored her own experience as a queer woman. So, she created it.

Vielula wants to recreate the narrative with the intention of “changing the world in the way that you would like to see it, rather than maybe how it is right now.” The artist also noted that the images’ departure from realistic color schemes was intentional, and meant to reflect the opposite of what we’re typically fed in on-screen narrativesin her words, all we see is “white people in straight relationships.” Vielula said, “I wanted people to be able to imagine themselves in itnot specific to race.”

Before “Queer Movie Stills,” Crystal Vielula gained notoriety for her heavily-Instagrammed queer Pride murals in San Francisco’s Clarion Alley, which depicted same-sex couples with animal heads.

Her inclusive work is an inspiring and important commentary on the current state of LGBTQ representation in media. While queer storylines are becoming more commonplace, they’re often still riddled with stereotypes, harmful tropes, and painful endings. Vielula’s work is a call to arms to Hollywood’s finest: Let’s start telling queer stories the way we tell heterosexual stories. We need a larger breadth of queer storytelling, and that includes an increase in happy-ending, queer rom-coms like Imagine Me & You or D.E.B.S. LGBTQ people deserve to see themselves represented on-screen, and not just in our painful coming out tales or fights against discrimination (which are undoubtedly vital). We also lead happy, full lives, and it’s time we saw those narratives reflected on-screen, too.

Gay Icon Adele Dons Bio Drag as Gay Icon Dolly Parton

Trixie Mattel may be onto something with the whole queens of country drag look. Not only did Lady Gaga make country glam again with her entire Joanne transformation, but Reba recently did Colonel Sanders drag for the new KFC promo, which we were actually kind of living for. And now British music sensation Adele takes on the music genre for a look of her own.

Granted, it’s actually Dolly Parton’s look. Adele took to Instagram with an epic photo of herself impersonating the country music legend. The caption read:

“The effortless queen of song, Dolly Parton! We love you! We wish We could possess an ounce of your ability. You were the hero of our night! A hero of my life. I’ll always love you x.”

I mean, who can blame her? Although most gay millennials told their mothers they wanted to be the blue Power Ranger for Halloween, they were secretly aching to go in Dolly’s big blonde hair. She’s the godmother of Miley Cyrus, the undeniable star of Steel Magnolias and 9 to 5, and the writer/original performer of “I Will Always Love You.”

And it turns out she’s also an Adele fan.

“Everyone loves Adele,” Parton told BBC News in 2016. “With all my little nieces, it’s all ‘Adele this’ and ‘Adele that!’ And I love how she does her makeup, and so I’m always saying to my little nieces, ‘Can you fix my eyes like Adele?’ When I started that [‘Head Over High Heels’] song, I had not planned to write that line. I was just thinking, ‘This needs to be about a girl dressing up sexy, so she’s got to have some makeup, and she’s got to paint her eyes.’ And all of a sudden, it’s like, ‘And my eyes like Adele!’”

She even commented on the photo herself.

That settles it. Dolly Parton and Adele need to do a duet ASAP.

Peppermint Makes Broadway History with Go-Go’s Jukebox Musical ‘Head Over Heels’

Trans drag superstar Peppermint may have come in second place on season nine of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but she came in first for our hearts. Whether she was slaying a look or making the lip sync finale her bitch, she proved herself as a successor of RuPaul’s drag fame. And she was the real Miss Congeniality. Sorry Valentina fans, but not sorry.

But her latest role takes her out of reality TV and into a new industry, which we know she’ll dominate as well.

Peppermint has just been cast in the upcoming Broadway musical, Head Over Heels. The jukebox musical features some of our favorite Go-Go’s hits, hence the title. She’ll join fellow cast members, Andrew Durand, Taylor Iman Jones, Jeremy Kushnier, Bonnie Milligan, Tom Alan Robbins, Alexandra Socha, and Rachel York. The show is directed by Hedwig and the Angry Inch director, Michael Mayer, and its production team includes Gwyneth Paltrow.

Although Peppermint starring in a Broadway musical is reason enough to celebrate, it’s also a pretty historically significant casting decision. Not only was Peppermint the first openly trans contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race. She’s now the first openly trans woman to originate a leading role in a Broadway musical.

Head Over Heels will premiere in San Francisco for a pre-Broadway run in April. It will then open at Hudson Theatre in New York on July 26.

Warhol Factory Favorite and Legendary Trans Artist Jayne County Gets Her First Career Retrospective

Jayne County is both legendary and ignored; the kind of artist who has been around forever and yet not long enough.

First famous for being a part of proto-punk as a singer for New York rock bands like Queen Elizabeth, Wayne County and the Backstreet Boys, and Wayne County and the Electric Chairs, she is credited as not only the first out transgender rock singer, but also having inspired glam and punk rock peers like Iggy Pop, The Ramones, David Bowie, and Lou Reed. Songs like “Fuck You” and “Are You Man Enough to Be a Woman?” were not commercially viable, but well-recognized in late ’70s and early ’80s New York. (Caleb McCotter portrayed County pre-transition in the 2013 film about CBGB, a venue her bands frequented and helped establish.)

The Georgia-born artist was a frequenter of Stonewall and Andy Warhol’s Factory, as she appeared in Warhol’s play Femme Fatale at the La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, one of two plays she’d come to co-star in withPatti Smith. She also appeared in films, like the 1978 cult classic Jubilee and The Blank Generation, a compilation of home movies following some of the aforementioned punk icons before they achieved notable status. In 1983, she starred alongside another Warhol favorite, Holly Woodlawn, in a stage production of Les Girls.

Yet despite these being just one tiny part of her resume, County is frequently left out of discussions on the early punk movement, a seminal time in not only rock ‘n roll but American culture. It’s especially significant in that County is and was unapologetically transgender. In 1995, she detailed her experiences in all facets of the art world in her memoir Man Enough To Be A Woman, the same year she appeared in Wigstock: The Moviewith luminariesRuPaul and Lady Bunny.

Having since moved to Atlanta and keeping a relatively low profile, County has now re-emerged with a career retrospective of her artwork in New York: “Paranoia Paradise.”

Curated by Michael Fox, who took some photos of County for BUTT Magazine in 2008, “Paranoia Paradise” will feature 80 of County’s paintings, “inspired by County’s fantasies, rage, notions of beauty, and thoughts and feelings on culture and political figures.” Photographs of County’s career will accompany her work, including images shot by Fox, Bob Gruen, and Leee Black Childers.

“I have been fast friends with Jayne since the moment we met, when she offered to buy me a drink at Squeezebox in the mid-90s,” Fox tells INTO. “She has been a mentor and muse to me, and I am happy to help to facilitate her wish to have a serious exhibition of her art for the first time.”

Fox says he finds that County’s work “is most certainly coming from the heart and soul of a person who has spent her life as a pioneer of queer rights, and that will be evident to the viewers of this exhibition.”

“Jayne’s body of work over her lifetime has been to protest the societal norms by which she has never been constrained,” he continues.

“Being gender fluid adds to my unique way of viewing the outside world,” County tells INTO. “The normals and the solids are all around me but I can create my own world or bubble with my artistic temperament mixed with my gender fluid personality to form my own world that is separate from the boring outside world. Then I create my art.”

County has been creating transgressive work in many different mediums, but has yet to receive her full due for her influence and trailblazing at several pivotal politically charged eras. “Paranoia Paradise” will, in no small way, offer a celebration of her five decade-long artistry and influence, which should be more widely commemorated in her respective industries and communities.

“Some people are at odds with the world and they become serial killers,” she says in a press release, “and others become artists.”

“Paranoia Paradise” will be at Participant INC in New York City from February 4 through March 11, 2018.

Jennifer Hudson Will Star as Aretha Franklin in Biopic

Academy Award-winner Jennifer Hudson will play diva Aretha Franklin in an upcoming biopic, Clive Davis revealed at a Grammys party, Rolling Stone reports. Davis announced the project while introducing Hudson, who was set to perform a medley of Franklin’s hits.

“When the biopic of the great Aretha Franklin is filmed next year, the artist anointed by Aretha herself to play her is the next performer. Aretha personally told me that last week,” Davis said. Davis signed Franklin in 1980 and he signed Hudson after her stint on the seventh season of American Idol.

“This artist to us is a transcendent performer. She stops any and every show she’s in. Her voice is truly incredible,” Davis continued. “When they ask, ‘Where’s the next Aretha, where the next Aretha will come from?’ I say it’s [Hudson]. She’s in the studio right now recording what I hope will be a classic album… she’s in the tradition of Adele, she’s a singer’s singer.”

Hudson has paid tribute to the legendary Franklin several times before. In 2014, Franklin said that Hudson and Broadway legend Audra McDonald were on the shortlist to play her in a film.

The Franklin biopic will be headed by Straight Outta Compton producer Scott Bernstein and Dreamgirls producer Harvey Mason, Jr.

Charlize Theron Is Playing Queer Again In Her New Film

Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman’s latest dark comedy Tully premiered last week at Sundance, and Theron’s lead was revealed to be a bisexual mother.

Marlo (Theron) is an overworked and drained mom of three, and we meet her immediately following the birth of her third child, who was an accident. Marlo grapples with the never-ending exhaustion of motherhood, her husband’s lack of helpfulness, and the way prostration has manifested in her appearance and shape. No longer is Marlo the slim 20-something of her past, but a frumpy woman on the verge of complete emotional collapse.

Marlo’s sexuality comes into play days before she delivers baby number three, when she runs into the ex who defined the better part of her twentiesa woman. But wait, it gets gayer!

Bearing witness to Marlo’s inevitable breakdown on the horizon, Marlo’s wealthy brother hires a night nurse to help out around the house. The nurse is the titular Tully, played by queer fave Mackenzie Davis, who played one-half of the now-infamous queer duo in Black Mirror’s “San Junipero.”

Theron is no stranger to queer female narratives having played the fatalistic bisexual spy in 2017’s Atomic Blonde as well as starring in Patty Jenkins’ Monster as the lesbian serial killer Aileen Wuornos, for which Theron won the Oscar. Theron herself has said she’s hooked up with women in the past.

Tully is the latest romp by the writer and director duo of Cody and Reitman, who teamed up for the Theron starred dramedy Young Adult in 2011, after finding initial success with their notorious 2007 comedy Juno, which won Cody the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

The film is set to have that familiar caustic, depressive feel that Cody and Reitman have so dexterously mastered in the past. Marlo is an exciting and nuanced character; we rarely see queer mothers as protagonists in film and entertainment. Plus, it’s always refreshing to see a queer woman in a leading role in which her queerness doesn’t define the character or reason for existing in the film, but rather just a part of what makes her her.

Tully hits theaters April 20, 2018.

Court Rules It’s OK to Call Lawyers Who Defended Kim Davis a ‘Hate Group’

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Liberty Counsel claiming it’s “defamatory” to call the conservative law firm a “hate group.”

Liberty Counsel, the firm who defended Rowan County, Ky. clerk Kim Davis in court, took issue with the nonprofit database GuideStar classifying it as such on its website. In June 2017, Liberty Counsel filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia claiming the “hate group” designation violates federal law on trademarks and impedes its ability to operate by making it less attractive to potential donors.

The Orlando, Fla.-based organization further alleged the label had sullied its reputation, citing news coverage of its listing as a “hate group.” Liberty Counsel was one of 46 nonprofits to be branded with the anti-LGBTQ marker.

The right-wing group sought a permanent injunction against GuideStar, as well as damages and compensation for attorney’s fees.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia did not find Liberty Counsel’s allegations of harm compelling, throwing out the case on Monday. In a 10-page decision, Judge Raymond A. Jackson of the Richmond court found that GuideStar’s decision to list Liberty Counsel as a “hate group” was intended to be “an informative statement” and “not commercial speech.”

The defendants celebrated the case’s dismissal.

“GuideStar is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to encourage philanthropy by providing information about nonprofits that members of the public can use to make educated and informed decisions about their relationships with and donations to these nonprofits,” the information service said in a statement.

Liberty Counsel claimed in a press release that the group is weighing an appeal of the ruling.

“The GuideStar publication was designed to inflict financial harm because its purpose was to affect the financial transactions of the public,” said Liberty Counsel Founder Mat Staver. “[The “hate group” label] has become discredited and it has proven to be dangerous … This false label applied to non-violent and law-abiding groups must stop.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights advocacy organization, has also classified the firm as a “hate group.”

Liberty Counsel first made headlines in 2015 when the organization, which describes itself as a “litigation, education, and policy ministry” on its webpage, represented Davis in court after she denied marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Apostolic Christian claimed doing so would be in violation of her faith beliefs and would spend five days in jail due to the refusal.

The firm would later take Davis on a nine-day speaking tour of Romania to lobby against marriage equality in the Eastern European country.

Liberty Counsel has also helped promote anti-trans bathroom bills across the U.S. and has filed suit in Tampa to overturn the city’s ban on conversion therapy. In March 2017, the Tampa City Councilunanimously voted to outlaw any attempt to “cure” the orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ youth, a practice which has been widely discredited.

Report: ‘Glee’ Star Mark Salling Dead of Apparent Suicide

Former Glee star Mark Salling has died of an apparent suicide, TMZ reports. TMZ says they learned of Salling’s death from law enforcement. Law enforcement found his body near a riverbed in Sunland, Calif., where he lived.

Salling was awaiting sentencing for possession of child pornography. He plead guilty to the charges and, according to TMZ, he had 50,000 images of underage children. He was set to be sentenced in March and was facing five to seven years in prison.

Salling’s death comes four years after the death of Glee star Cory Monteith, who died in a hotel room after combining intravenous drug use and alcohol.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contactThe Trevor ProjectorTrans Lifelinefor support or any questionsespecially if you feel that you’re currently in crisis.