Watch the First 2020 Democratic Primary Presidential Debate: LIVE VIDEO

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10 of 20 Democratic candidates face off in tonight’s first Democratic Primary debate from 9-11 pm ET in Miami, in the Knight Concert Hall of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County. Pre-coverage starts at 8 pm.Watch it via this livestream. If you’d like to open it in a new tab, click HERE.

THE CANDIDATES: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren; Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke; Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard; Former Housing and Urban Development secretary Julián Castro; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar; Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney; Washington Gov. Jay Inslee; Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan.

The other 10 candidates (split because there are just too many for one stage) will face questions on Thursday night at the same venue. The debates will be broadcast on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo. Savannah Guthrie, Lester Holt, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow, and José Diaz-Balart of Telemundo will be moderating.

Expect questions on the economy, the environment, gun control, health care, immigration (migrant children?), the military, education and trade.

Politico reports that Trump has planned a robust response strategy: “The strategy includes traditional elements — a rapid-response squad to field reporters’ questions, round-the-clock talking points and a ground force on site in Miami, where the debate is being held — but also a digitally focused war room looking for viral clips. Outside groups that support the president have also built up their own fact-checking resources and made large pre-debate ad buys, hoping to capitalize on the massive cable news audience the two-night primetime event is expected to attract.”

Trump has said he might live tweet during the debates. Oh joy.

ON THURSDAY NIGHT: California Sen. Kamala Harris; Former Vice President Joe Biden; Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg; New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet; Author and speaker Marianne Williamson; California Rep. Eric Swalwell; Entrepreneur Andrew Yang; Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

What are you looking to get out of tonight’s debate?

The post Watch the First 2020 Democratic Primary Presidential Debate: LIVE VIDEO appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.


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Madonna’s Graphic ‘God Control’ Video is a Jarring Musical Manifesto on Gun Violence: WATCH

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“The story you are about to see is very disturbing,” warn the opening words of Madonna’s “God Control” video. “It shows graphic scenes of gun violence. But it’s happening every day. And it has to stop.”

Madame X, the singer’s latest persona, tackles gun violence in the disco and gospel-tinged eight-minute video directed by Jonas Åkerlund that contains as much blood as glitter and more death than we’ve seen in any Madonna clip ever, centered around a mass shooting at a nightclub that can’t help but recall the Pulse tragedy in Orlando.

Scenes of freedom and happiness at the disco are interrupted by the rattle of gunfire as bodies are brutally strewn everywhere.

Said Madonna in a statement: “I want to draw attention through my platform as an artist to a problem in America that is out of control and is taking the lives of innocent people. This crisis can end if our legislators act to change the laws that fail to protect us all.”

The post Madonna’s Graphic ‘God Control’ Video is a Jarring Musical Manifesto on Gun Violence: WATCH appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.


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Republicans to Question Mueller About ‘Corrupt Cabal’ That Started Russia Probe

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Michael_Novakhov
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House Republicans plan to question former special counsel Robert Mueller about the origins of the Russia investigation, according to House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Rep. Doug Collins (R-Georgia).

Democrats and Republicans have a long list of questions they plan to pose to Mueller when he testifies before a joint committee hearing on July 17. The testimony, which will be open to the public, will mark the first time Mueller addresses questions about his 22-month investigation.

Republicans began probing the roots of the Russia investigation long before Mueller concluded his work. An investigation by the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee revealed last year that the FBI used an opposition research dossier funded by the Clinton campaign as the basis for a warrant to surveil the Trump campaign.

Meanwhile, the lead agent and key attorney working the Trump investigation exchanged text messages expressing their hatred toward Trump and preference for Hillary Clinton. The agent, Peter Strzok, and the attorney, Lisa Page, also played key roles in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of an unauthorized email server.

“What we’re going to find out is the dark underbelly of the corrupt cabal that started it all,” Collins told Fox News.

The FBI obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant on Trump-campaign associate Carter Page in October 2016 and monitored him for a year. While the scope of the spying authorized by the judge is still classified, FISA warrants typically allow for some of the most intrusive surveillance. For example, the warrant on Page could grant the investigators access to all communications of all the people Page was in contact with—as well as the people those contacts were in contact with—for the past five years.

“They got caught and they’re running around going wild trying to do everything they can, but they spied on my campaign,” Trump told Fox News on June 26. “It’s as simple as that. It’s so illegal, it’s probably the biggest political scandal in history and they got caught doing it.”

Mueller concluded his investigation in March, finding there was insufficient evidence to establish that anyone colluded with Russia. The special counsel also did not bring an obstruction of justice charge against President Donald Trump.

Democrats in Congress have shown intense interest in why Mueller did not make a decision on obstruction charges. In addition to probing the origins of the Russia investigation, Republican lawmakers plan to delve into how Mueller assembled his team and composed the final report.

“I think the interesting thing here is where did he start?” Collins said. “How did he assemble his team? Why did they assemble the team that they did?”

Trump and his allies have often pointed to the composition of Mueller’s team to question the integrity of the special counsel investigation. The team was dominated by lawyers who donated to Democrats. Mueller also initially hired Strzok and Page, only to remove them after news of their text messages was revealed. Republicans also want to know when Mueller decided there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“Bob Mueller better be prepared,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C) told Fox News. “Because I can tell you, he will be cross-examined for the first time and the American people will start to see the flaws in his report.”

Republicans will also probe the extent to which Mueller scrutinized the opposition research dossier. Christopher Steele, a former British spy, compiled the dossier by paying second- and third-hand sources with ties to the Kremlin.

The FBI was aware that Steele was biased against Trump and wanted to stop Trump from being elected. Despite the dossier’s ties to Moscow and foreign intelligence, the Mueller report only briefly mentions the document and does not describe any efforts to investigate how the dossier came about and why the FBI used it to spy on the Trump campaign without due verification.

“Why did they decide to put part of the dossier and discuss it in the Mueller report and then not discuss the other parts?” Collins asked.


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Angel and Elektra Slay on a New Episode of’Pose’ [RECAP]

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After two back-to-back excellent episodes, Pose took some wild turns last night in an episode written by Our Lady J and directed by Janet Mock.

The first unexpected development was of course the sudden romance between Angel and Papi. After learning that she did not get selected as the winner of the modeling competition (despite a very convincing speech about giving hope to kids everywhere that feel worthless), Papi attempts to cheer her up. Maybe it was her disappointment or his kindness or some combination of both, but she kisses him. She’s even ready to get a room, but Papi wants to take things slow. He’s been waiting for a girl like her.

He arranges a very fancy date for them, but as she’s picking out her outfit, Angel gets a call from Ford. Turns out there’s a new gig she’d be PERFECT for.

If you’ve seen any rom-com, you know where this is going.

Angel is whisked off to a cosmetics shoot, missing her date with Papi. He’s surprisingly understanding, and it’s hard not to be overwhelmed when they all see Angel’s face all over the makeup aisle in Duane Reade.

Throughout, Indya Moore is fantastic, of course. She stuns in any photoshoot scene, and it’s always magic when she walks the ballroom. Even if the Papi relationship feels a little out of nowhere, giving Angel some more emotional material is always a worthwhile exercise.

The other bananas story followed Elektra. Visited by regular john, Paul, Elektra once again breaks her “no drugs” rule at the dungeon (for the right price, natch). He’s brought a gas mask to help distribute his poppers and requests she leaves the room for 20 minutes until it all kicks in.

Of course, when she returns, he’s super dead.

Elektra has enough sense to realize having a dead white man on her hands is trouble, regardless of the accidental nature of his death. She turns to Blanca first. The mother of the House of Evangelista obviously champions the idea of calling the police, but Elektra still ain’t sold. So, she turns to Candy next.

Candy beautifully summarizes exactly why Blanca was the wrong choice to turn to in this situation: “Your problem, Blanca, is you think doing the right thing is always the right thing to do.” Brilliant.

While this was really Elektra’s story, Candy consistently stole every scene she was in. Angelica Ross deserves a lot of praise for grounding these scenes between Elektra’s theatrics and Blanca’s earnest virtue.

To gain further perspective, they visit a friend portrayed by RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Peppermint. She shares a story of a john that roughed her up, and the cops believed it was all her fault. She went to jail and was abused by guards and inmates.

Instead of calling the authorities, they go to the woman who injected Candy with the bogus silicone last season. Turns out she can do it all: Lips, butts, boobs, sewing corpses in a pleather cocoon full of lye, you name it!

The entire caper, from removing the body in an old suitcase to sewing the pleather tomb, felt like something out of an Almodovar film. It felt like a farce, but it still drove home this very important theme of how these women support each other no matter what, because no one else will.

I struggled the most with Elektra, who is always a force when she’s in HBIC-mode, but struggles to deliver vulnerability with as much finesse. You just never lose sight of the fact she’s ACTING, whereas Moore and Mj Rodriguez make it all seem effortless.

There’s little doubt the Tell Tale Sub decomposing inside Elektra’s closet will factor into future episodes. Personally, I’m here for it. Like recently revived Tales of the City, it’s these soapier storylines that help balance out all the gravitas of the ripped-from-the-history-books portrait of queer life.

I’m also intrigued by the Papi/Angel angle. The two of them do have a chemistry on screen that I’m eager to see more of.

What did you think of last night’s episode?

The post Angel and Elektra Slay on a New Episode of’Pose’ [RECAP] appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.


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Trump, Without Offering Evidence, Accuses Mueller of Crime – Voice of America

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Trump, Without Offering Evidence, Accuses Mueller of Crime  Voice of America

U.S. President Donald Trump, without offering evidence, on Wednesday directly accused former special counsel Robert Mueller of committing a crime, saying …


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“Abedin has to resign” – Google News: Egypt: The road to 30 June – Politics – Egypt – Ahram Online

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Egypt: The road to 30 June – Politics – Egypt  Ahram Online

On the sixth anniversary of the anti-Muslim Brotherhood 30 June Revolution, Gamal Essam El-Din reviews the group’s 12 months in power.

“Abedin has to resign” – Google News


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WATCH: New, behind the scenes clip from ‘Pose’ season 2

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 CR: Macall Polay/FX

Pose continues its reign as the most fabulous show on television. Now in its second season, the Ryan Murphy-produced drama about the New York drag ball scene in 1980s and 90s New York has attracted a loyal fanbase and wide critical acclaim for a diverse cast and examination of queer history.

The new clip shares some candid moments with the cast as they returned to film the new season, as well as insight to the ways in which their lives have changed, and what they love about the show.

Related: ‘Pose’ gets an early green light for season three

“A lot of kids, young kids, are now standing firm in who they are and taking complete control of their life,” says star MJ Rodriguez, who plays the character Blanca, of the show’s impact. “A lot of them who have been ostracized are going places to make sure they find the right family to be around.”

“It’s beyond a dream come true,” adds star Billy Porter, who plays the ball emcee Pray Tell. “I didn’t know it’s what I needed. It was something that I wasn’t dreaming about.”

Season 2 debuted to positive reviews and strong viewership earlier this month. Pose airs on FX Tuesday nights.


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Jim Obergefell is concerned for the the future of marriage equality

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The morning I called Jim Obergefell, the first thing we talked about wasn’t the historic role he played in legalizing marriage equality across the United States but his 513 area code. We were both born and raised in Ohio.

Coincidentally, the seminal coming-of-age queer film Edge of Seventeen was set in Sandusky the same year Obergefell graduated high school in the Cleveland suburb most famously known as home to the effervescent whirligigs of Cedar Point. When he sued the state of Ohio in 2013 for his right to be listed on the death certificate of his late husband, John Arthur, he was a resident of Cincinnati, my hometown.

Just days before we spoke, Obergefell announced plans to move back to his home state after relocating to Washington, D.C. some years ago to pursue Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark Supreme Court case that bore his surname. (The anniversary of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority ruling is June 26, 2105). We discussed Occasional Magic, a collection of essays originally featured in the live storytelling series The Moth, in which he discusses the couple’s long fight for equality.

It’s an emotional tour-de-force, but in a lighter moment, he expresses condolences to all the law students who will be forced to pronounce his surname for generations: It’s Ober-ga-fell.

During our half-hour interview, I’m struck by the parallels between our stories. When reflecting on the advances in rights over the past few decades, he briefly mentions Article 12, an infamous 1993 ballot measure banning civil rights protections for Cincinnati’s queer and transgender citizens. Compared to “Jim Crow for the gays” by local press at the time, the amendment was finally overturned in 2004. The push to repeal Article 12 was the first political campaign I ever worked on, volunteering to fold brochures and send out mailers with other members of my high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance on the weekends.

These connections are a reminder that Obergefell’s story is ours. While not all of us share a birthplace with a civil rights icon, we have felt his struggles: to be treated with dignity and respect and to have our love be given equal weight under the law. As the Supreme Court prepares to hear yet another landmark case—this time on employment protections—that shared struggle is clearly not over.

You’ve been interviewed about your marriage to John probably hundreds of times in the past five or so years. What compelled you to tell that story again?

After I speak, so many people will say, “I’m sorry, that just must be so difficult for you to go through all of that again.” Honestly, I love talking about him. Nothing makes me happier than talking about John and our relationship—even with the bad parts, even talking about losing him. He was the most important person in my life, and it brings me joy to talk about him. Even when I cry a little bit, it keeps him alive. That’s part of what The Moth allowed me to do: Keep John alive.

Also, stories matter. Harvey Milk said coming was the only way people are going to change. Our story had an impact on people around the country because everybody loves someone. Everybody loses someone they love. It’s those stories that help people understand the harm that laws can do. It’s those stories that help people realize, “There are real-life people who are being harmed. Maybe I need to rethink my opinion on this.”

Shortly after you met John, you mention in your story that you knew he was the one you want it to be with. How did you know?

I just did. I can’t explain it in any way other than that. I just knew this was someone I wanted to spend my life with. I run my life by emotion, and that’s just what I felt.

But the specific moment I will throw out there is seven weeks later when he gave me a diamond ring. I was in Columbus, Ohio with some of my students because I was the director of student activities at Tiffin University, and we were in Columbus for a conference. John drove up from Cincinnati and surprised me with a ring. The ring that he gave me was a carat total, but it was five stones, channel set. He said, “It’s the same but different than the ring I have.” He had a one-carat solitaire. That really kind of became our theme over the years: the same but different.

The two of you were willing to wait until the government would recognize your relationship to get formally married back in the early 90s before the movement started making considerable games. How long did you think you would be waiting?

Honestly, we never thought it would happen. When [Baehr v. Miike] was happening in Hawaii, John’s stepmother at the time said, “If marriage becomes legal in Hawaii, I’m taking the entire family up there so you guys can get married.” That didn’t happen. That led to the Federal Defense of Marriage Act and then the states started piling on.

For us, marriage meant something more than just a symbolic ceremony. If we had gotten married, it would’ve just been symbolic. And that wasn’t good enough for us. We were committed to each other, our relationship mattered, and if we were going to marry—which is a civil institution—it had to mean something legally before we would do it. We felt married. Our family and friends considered us as a married couple, and until we were ever able to marry and actually have it mean something, we would wait. If we never got to marry and have it mean something, that’s just the way things work out.

The movement sustained so many losses before we started winning—it was just loss after loss year after year. As someone who hoped that the government would one day move to recognize your marriage, what did it feel like at the time to be gay in the U.S.?

In the early 90s, the Cincinnati City Council passed a civil rights ordinance that included the community. There was a backlash, and that backlash resulted in a ballot initiative that our neighbors voted for and passed. That ballot initiative updated the city charters to say that no law in Cincinnati could ever be passed to protect us and that hurt. Here we were in a city where we were involved, productive members of society in a state where I was born and raised. We were being told point blank: “You don’t matter.”

In general, it wasn’t a good time to be gay, but I also knew it was better than it had been previously. Twenty years before that, if John and I had been a couple, would every job where we worked together, would every manager and every coworker know we were a couple? No. Would our families have treated us like a married couple 20 years earlier? Absolutely not.

While there were some very obvious things that were painful and hurtful, it was hard to say that we weren’t making some progress.

For people who have never had to think about these kinds of things, why is it so important to have the full rights of marriage when you’re in a relationship with someone who has a chronic condition as John did?

If something happened and he ended up in the hospital, would I have the right to see him? Would they allow me to go back and see him? Would I have the right to make decisions on his behalf? Like Edie Windsor, would I be hit with a huge tax bill over his estate? All of those things came into play.

John’s grandparents bought a set of cemetery plots in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, and John loved that place. He loved to go walk the cemetery and go have lunch in the family plot. His plan was always that he would be either interred or memorialized there and I would be next to him. That was the plan for his mom. When his mom passed away, we were at that cemetery and John wanted to select the spot for her, but he also wanted to reserve the spot next to her for her boyfriend of 18 years. That’s when he discovered that when his grandparents bought the plots, they put in a rule that only direct descendants and lawfully married spouses could be interred or memorialized in those family plots. That meant her boyfriend of 18 years would not be able to be there eventually. And then we realized that also means that I can’t memorialize next to John in that family plot.

There are so things about having a legally recognized marriage that people don’t think about until it impacts them. Loving someone and building a life together is what we all want. And yet here it was being used against us because we weren’t the right kind of couple.

When the two of you stood on the tarmac and exchanged vows, did you anticipate that your marriage ceremony would trigger this kind of backlash from the state of Ohio? There’s this moment in particular in the story where you described the fear of receiving his death certificate in the mail with your name redacted that’s just devastating.

When we got married, we had no plans to do anything about the issue with the death certificate. We just wanted to get married. We wanted to be able to legally call each other husband and husband.

It wasn’t until later—when we learned that his death certificate would be wrong when he died—that we decided to fight and file suit. After we lost in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, every time I checked the mail, I thought, “Is this going to be the day I get an updated certificate from the state of Ohio telling me that our relationship never existed and erasing my name as his surviving spouse?” That’s a horrible thing to worry about when you do something as mundane as checking your mailbox. I still don’t understand why Ohio and other states felt it necessary to demean people and to treat people the way they did.

If we hadn’t made that decision to file suit, our marriage would have been erased at the moment he died. His death certificate from the moment he died would’ve been wrong. It would have ignored the most significant relationship in our life. Our society just wants to pretend that we don’t exist, that we’re not real, and that no one could possibly be LGBTQ. Some of these laws and policies, that’s what they’re trying to do: pretend we don’t exist and erase us from existence. If they can’t do that, then they’re just going to demean us as much as possible.

It’s been almost four years now since the Supreme Court ruled on marriage equality. What has it been like to see the repeated attacks on LGBTQ rights since then?

It’s disheartening. It’s scary. It’s disappointing. It’s frightening. It angers me. I just don’t understand why there’s this group of people who get joy out of attacking people who are different from them. I don’t care what someone’s holy book says or what their interpretation of their holy book says about me as a gay man. We’re not a Christian country. We are a country of laws that are supposed to be blind to religion, and we’re supposed to have the right to religious freedom, which also means that I can’t use my religion to force laws on someone else. It disgusts me that there are people out there claiming that everything they’re doing, they’re doing out of their right for religious freedom. They’re demanding something that’s the antithesis of it.

Under the Obama administration, so much progress had happened. This country was moving in the right direction for so many different minority groups. Now here we have an administration that is doing everything in its power to reverse course and to take the entire country—not just in regards to LGBTQ rights but minority rights of all sorts—back to the 19th century. Those weren’t the good old days. They never were the good old days.

But I find hope in the fact that our children younger generations and younger people don’t understand why differences have to be used to divide us. Martin Luther King Jr said “the arc of the moral universe is long,” and it’s feeling long right now. But I still have faith in that concept.

You expressed your heartbreak last year when Justice Anthony Kennedy announced he would be stepping down from the Supreme Court. Kennedy was known to be a right-leaning centrist. He was replaced by Brett Kavanaugh, a justice who’s more conservative than everyone on the bench except for Clarence Thomas. Do you fear the court could roll back marriage equality?

Yes and no. It isn’t just the Supreme Court that this administration has illegitimately stacked—Merrick Garland, anyone?—but it’s courtrooms across the nation that this administration is filling with people who are opponents of equality. It scares me how many judges around the country have been appointed by this administration.

Where I take a little bit of comfort is that if a case reached the Supreme Court and it was the same court we have now, even though Chief Justice Roberts was against marriage equality in our ruling, he’s a bigger supporter of precedents—not taking away rights that have previously been granted by the court—than he is about his feelings about marriage equality not being constitutional. That’s the only thing that gives me hope. If it came before the court, I really hope the Chief Justice would flip and be on the side of keeping marriage equality. If the court changes, all bets are off. I’m really going to be scared if this president gets to nominate someone else.

It’s an opportune moment to reflect on the history and the future of equality given that this June mark the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. What does Pride mean to you this year?

Pride means to me that we have to keep fighting. We have to keep fighting as a thank you to those countless people in the decades and the hundreds of years before us who lived life fully closeted and unable to be anything even remotely close to who they are. And then in the middle part of the last century, it was the people who risked everything by starting those marches in Philadelphia and later New York to say: “We are homosexuals and we deserve rights.” We owe it to them to keep fighting and to keep their legacy alive. So for me, pride means being proud of the people who came before me and remembering them and continuing their work.

It’s not so much pride in myself. It’s pride in what they have done, the world that they helped create for me.


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Bette Midler, Spitting on Eric Trump, Madrid, Larry Kramer, Damron Guide, Jack Falahee: WATCH

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BETTE MIDLER. The Divine Miss M will be performing at one of the major NYC Pride events this Saturday at the Javits Center: ‘In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, she’ll perform a song accompanied by composer Marc Shaiman, of “Hairspray” and “Mary Poppins Returns” fame. Her stage time is set for 11 p.m.’

FORGOTTEN HISTORY. Gay entrapment.

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT. The gay Jewish matador from Brooklyn.

DEFENDING KEVIN SPACEY. Dame Judi Dench. “You cannot deny somebody a talent. You might as well never look at a Caravaggio painting. You might as well never have gone to see Noel Coward.”

THE DAMRON GUIDE. The U.S. guide essential to every gay man before the internet came along may not publish another issue: ‘For 45 years The Address Book, later renamed Damron Men’s Travel Guide, steered LGBTQ people from coast to cocktail lounge. It started before you could kiss on the beach on your Los Angeles vacation. In 1965, gay sex was a crime everywhere but Illinois. The Stonewall uprising, a turning point in modern gay history, was still four years away. Damron’s pastel book told you where in Allentown, Pennsylvania, you could get a beer without getting being beat up. If you lived in Covington, Kentucky, you’d learn that Joche Bo’s was a good a weekend-only spot. In Los Angeles alone, you’d find more than a dozen bars and bathhouses.’

LAS VEGAS. Long-running gay bar Bastille on 3rd closes.

Chechnyan Leader Ramzan Kadyrov

CHECHNYA. Gay man describes abduction, beatings, electrocution: “These police officers are accustomed to torturing people … Some men I know told me that some were left hanging from the ceiling, had been suffocated with a plastic bag or even raped with the police bat. This kind of torture can last for weeks.”

QUEEN. Harry Tarre screenplay based on Corey Rae’s article, “How I Became the World’s First Transgender Prom Queen — A Personal Essay,” is being developed into a film by Red Crown Productions: “As the title of the article suggests, the screenplay is based on the true story of Rae’s real-life high school transition process and how she became the world’s first openly transgender prom queen.”

JUSSIE SMOLLETT. The Empire actor googled himself a lot after the alleged attack.

MADRID. New city government accused of censoring Pride messages: ‘Among the slated slogans were: “To those who remember the repression”, “To those who stood firm” and “To those who were there when we were not”. However, a new local government led by the conservative Popular Party (PP) has replaced that of Carmena following local elections in May. Más Madrid says that the new administration has eliminated from the Gay Pride publicity the messages that harked back to the past campaign for gay rights. Instead, a blanket slogan has been used: “Our greatest pride.” “I think it’s indecent to censor messages that refer back to the achievements of those people, and the memory of those people, who have allowed us to enjoy the rights which, 30 years ago, were unthinkable,” said Rita Maestre, spokeswoman for Más Madrid.’

CHICAGO. Woman spits on Eric Trump at popular upscale bar.

LARRY KRAMER. The View salutes the longtime AIDS activist.

FOOD TRY OF THE DAY. A peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich.

TEASER OF THE DAY. Bond 25.

21 SONGS. Every gay man knows.

TRAILER OF THE DAY. Orange Is The New Black Season 7.

HUMP DAY HAIRY. Jack Falahee.

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Cloudy pool days in DC. Could be worse.

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The post Bette Midler, Spitting on Eric Trump, Madrid, Larry Kramer, Damron Guide, Jack Falahee: WATCH appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.


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Welcome to the NBA’s Win-Now Era

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The days of waiting for a better future and hoarding draft picks are over. This is the new NBA.

As we head into a free agent frenzy that’s guaranteed to transform the NBA, its offseason slogan should be “why not us?” The 2020 Finals are up for grabs, and many teams that will enter next year confident in their ability to win a playoff series can also fancy themselves as possible championship contenders. The playing field won’t be entirely level, but aggressive personnel moves that service the present will take precedence in a way we haven’t seen for quite some time.

In the NBA, as much as in life, unpredictability breeds two things: chaos and opportunity. This is the NBA’s “five percent theory” in action, a term outlined by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey earlier this decade. “If you’ve got even a five percent chance to win the title—and that group includes a very small number of teams every year—you’ve gotta be focused all on winning the title,” he said then.

Last year, four teams bought in: the Golden State Warriors, Toronto Raptors, Milwaukee Bucks, and Philadelphia 76ers. Everybody else was content with what they had, not believing Golden State was vulnerable enough to strike. Morey’s Rockets cut costs, and, with a stiff upper lip, the Boston Celtics gazed longingly at photos of Anthony Davis.

This year, many more teams will enter free agency believing they have at least a five percent shot at the crown. In the right circumstances, even the most shortsighted move should be forgiven. Now is not the time to be patient with ripening young talent or hoard future first-round picks that won’t turn into actual people for a few more years.

For the first time in at least a decade, the NBA has no boogeyman. The Warriors are depleted, with Kevin Durant’s ruptured Achilles eliminating his league-tilting talent. That leaves a vacuum at the top, and we may go most of the regular season without any team convincingly filling it. (Seriously, would you be one thousand percent blown away if the Portland Trail Blazers won it all? That’s the point.)

Furthermore, the shadow of the defending champion looms over everybody. Toronto’s successful trade for Kawhi Leonard may convince very good teams that they should also punt on arduous rebuilds or stagnant annual playoff runs before they fall victim to a system that increasingly fosters constant roster turnover. Even if the Raptors’ title happened in part thanks to bouncy buzzer-beaters and serious injuries, they proved it’s possible to catch lightning in a bottle. Patience is out. Risk is in.

As no team sits at the top, neither does any single player. The gap between LeBron James and everybody else closed dramatically this year. He will still be great, but elite talent at or near his level is now sprayed across the league. How many dudes can legitimately be referred to as a “top-5 player” next season? I count nine: LeBron, Kawhi, Anthony Davis, Steph Curry, James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Paul George, and Damian Lillard. Any team with one of those players should feel like they have a chance to win it all.

Plus, there are a few unmentioned names also good enough to move the needle in a significant way: Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Jokic, Karl-Anthony Towns, Bradley Beal, Draymond Green, Kemba Walker, Al Horford, Mike Conley, Khris Middleton, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gobert, CJ McCollum, Devin Booker, Nikola Vucevic, LaMarcus Aldridge, D’Angelo Russell, Victor Oladipo, Kyle Lowry, and Blake Griffin.

Then there’s a few pups from recent draft classes who are poised to make Robert Pattinson-esque leaps into a more serious conversation: Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, Jamal Murray, Pascal Siakam, De’Aaron Fox, Trae Young, Luka Doncic, Caris LeVert, Buddy Hield, Dejounte Murray, Jaylen Brown, and Zach Collins.

What makes all this even more meaningful? Free agency!

About 20 players mentioned above will need new contracts this summer or next. (Neither list includes Durant, whose eventual return reduces the likelihood of any one team establishing itself as unbeatable.) The Los Angeles Lakers are the only team with two heavy hitters, but one of them is entering his 17th season and neither competed in the playoffs last year. It’s also easy to imagine how that front office will bungle every chance to actually build a team around them between now and next July.

No other franchise has been able to collect three or four difference makers like the Warriors, or even LeBron’s Cavaliers, recently did. This is what the Collective Bargaining Agreement intended. The post-superteam NBA has arrived.

All that dispersed talent will infuse several teams with a confidence level that, put nicely, will be unearned. Winning a title is a gargantuan task. Even if no end-of-days titan lurks in Silicon Valley, assembling a roster that’s sturdy enough to rumble through four grueling rounds of playoff basketball is like playing Jenga while wearing a blindfold during an earthquake. The only guarantee is that all but one team will lose their final game, but that doesn’t mean trying won’t and shouldn’t be the ultimate goal.

Normally, this time of year, about five teams will see themselves as a serious contender without exiting the reality inhabited by the rest of us. But because this summer is different—and features a perfect storm of cap space, star free agents, and fluid hierarchy—at least a third of the league may be willing to spend money, part with first-round picks, and take a more aggressive stance than they otherwise would.

With no pecking order to speak of before free agency is settled, here are some candidates who can rationalize a run at the title in the NBA’s win-now era, ranked from most to least urgent.

NBA All-Star Game 2018
Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers

No team is more focused on today than the Lakers. LeBron is not getting any younger, and most of their future assets belong to the New Orleans Pelicans. They have no choice but to put all their eggs in 2020’s basket.

But with little clarity on the exact amount of money they’ll have to spend after the Davis trade, it’s difficult to figure out who they should target. If they can get Kawhi, Kyrie, or Kemba, they should knock themselves out. Less costly options include J.J. Redick, Danny Green, Wayne Ellington, Wes Matthews, Darren Collison, and Isaiah Thomas.

Houston Rockets

Locker-room quarrels aside, Houston is a title contender at the end of the day because it employs James Harden. He’s a hyper-efficient megastar who doesn’t take games off and is undefeated in the playoffs against every team except Golden State since Chris Paul became a teammate.

Equally important: Morey is as hawkish as general managers come and knows how to maximize a championship window when he sees one. Houston went out of its way to slip under the luxury tax last year, and were eliminated with a humiliating 98.5 offensive rating in the final two crunch times of their season. Yet that decision puts them in position to spend now, despite being way over the salary cap.

If they can get off Paul’s contract, they will. If not, Clint Capela, P.J. Tucker, and Eric Gordon will be available should a deal comes around that gives Houston trade chips to flip and/or some financial flexibility. You can bet Morey will turn over every rock in sight to upgrade the team. Jimmy Butler will reportedly be targeted in a sign-and-trade, but if that transaction proves to be too convoluted what if the Rockets go a different route by trading Gordon, Capela, and a lightly-protected 2020 first-round pick to Cleveland for Kevin Love, and then sign DeAndre Jordan with the non-taxpayer mid-level exception?

Other than the Lakers, Houston is best positioned to prioritize the present and pretend the future doesn’t exist. If they strike out in free agency, Morey will enter the trade game willing to offer as many future first-round picks as the league will allow, then cross that bridge when he gets there.

Milwaukee Bucks

Bringing back every piece from last year’s conference finalist won’t be easy, but the Bucks have options. Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon have extremely low cap holds relative to their value. If they’re somehow able to dump Ersan Ilyasova and reroute Jon Leuer elsewhere, they’ll have enough space to do something seismic. Like, say, sign Horford to a four-year max contract.

General manager Jon Horst may not be able to pull all that off — it’s not even clear if he even should. Still, if the Bucks dump Ilyasova’s $7 million expiring contract, they won’t have to go deep into the luxury tax, assuming it takes about $35 million annually to keep Brogdon and Lopez, and assuming Middleton receives a max contract.

Rolling it back may be enough to win it all. It could also eventually push Antetokounmpo out the door a couple summers from now if the team stagnates.

San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder

Even though both are likely to operate above the cap in July, any team with two All-Stars close to their prime should be in win-now mode.

If Murray blows up next year, the Spurs should be more inclined to step outside their modus operandi and exchange assets (Derrick White and future first-round picks) to upgrade the here and now. If not, the Spurs are just as likely to swivel in the opposite direction and deal DeMar DeRozan and/or LaMarcus Aldridge to another contender that believes either one can put them over the edge.

Aldridge, in particular, is an ideal right-hand man or third wheel on a makeshift super team. What if the Spurs offer him and Bryn Forbes to the Thunder for Adams and 2019 first-round pick Darius Bazley? The Thunder are in financial ruin, so this move gives them a path to cap space in 2021. They don’t have a young talent like Murray on the roster, but if Sam Presti can finally find a shooter in free agency (prayer hands emoji), Paul George, Russell Westbrook, and Aldridge would be a fierce trio.

Portland Trail Blazers

They just made Western Conference Finals without one of their three best players. Lillard is the baddest dude in the NBA. McCollum single-handedly won a Game 7 on the road. Collins should make a leap in his third year. They don’t have any cap space and will likely lose a few key contributors from their playoff run (exchanging Evan Turner for Kent Bazemore likely means Rodney Hood is likely gone), but if Portland feels like it can break through to win it all, it has several expiring contracts it can attach to draft picks and/or young talent. (Love is one possible target.)

With new contracts for Lillard and McCollum on the horizon, now is the time for this organization to strike.

Utah Jazz

Trading for Mike Conley was a firm admission that a more dynamic offense is necessary if the Jazz want to do anything meaningful in the playoffs. Instead of running it back with supplements who either can’t shoot or are unable to create, they essentially swapped those out—Ricky Rubio, Jae Crowder, and Kyle Korver—for someone who can do both at an All-Star level.

Conley is not Kyle Lowry and Mitchell is not Leonard, but both members of Utah’s new-look backcourt will be even more effective when able to avoid the other team’s best perimeter defender. Less will be more for Conely, who’ll look more like he’s 29 than 32, and for Mitchell, who no longer has to carry such a heavy offensive load.

If the Warriors won the title, with Durant earning his third straight Finals MVP and then re-signing for five years, would Utah have traded Crowder, Korver, Grayson Allen and two first-round draft picks for Conley? Perhaps they would’ve shopped around for another point guard in free agency instead. But the Warriors are in no position to run it back, so the Jazz went for it, forking over stuff that should yield more on-court production in 2-5 years for the chance to make a run now.

If they renounce their other free agents and waive Derrick Favors, they should have roughly $16 million to spend in free agency. Nikola Mirotic would be nice. How about Marcus Morris? Making the Finals before Gobert reaches his third contract should be the goal.

Boston Celtics

Losing Irving and Horford would normally be a disqualifying setback, but it shouldn’t be too hard for Boston to convince itself that everything is OK. They still have several critical pieces that dragged them to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2018, plus a healthier Gordon Hayward and an easy path to open up enough cap space to offer a max contract.

The Celtics will pursue meetings with Walker, Vucevic, and/or Russell, or spread that money around to non-max players with useful playoff experience–DeAndre Jordan, Derrick Favors, and Patrick Beverley come to mind. They can also use their cap space to absorb talented players from teams that are looking to get off money, loosen a positional logjam, or kick the can down the road. Names like Steven Adams, Danilo Gallinari, Clint Capela, Myles Turner, Aaron Gordon, and Josh Richardson fit there.

If the Celtics’ Plan A and B don’t materialize, they can take unwanted contracts, add more assets, and wait for another capital-S superstar to hit the market. But the current roster is too good to tank or rebuild, so a win-now push should be the move. If Boston lands a max-contract player in free agency and storms out of the gates, it has several valuable draft picks to dangle for an upgrade at the trade deadline. Everything that broke terribly for them in 2019 can easily go the other way in 2020.

Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers are at the mercy of their own free agents, but if Butler and/or Tobias Harris walk, they’d be in position to open up max space and go shopping. Just about everything written for the Celtics applies to Philly, as well, if those two and J.J. Redick leave. If they re-sign, Philly won’t have as many tradable assets as they’d like – those were used last season to get Butler and Harris – but aren’t entirely depleted of young talent. Three-point shooting continues to be a priority.

Denver Nuggets

Assuming they keep Paul Millsap, the Nuggets will enter next season with him, Jokic, Murray, a sensible supporting cast that has upside, continuity, the collective motivation spawned by postseason heartbreak, and intriguing trade assets. That’s a lot!

Denver has flirted with life as a real free agent destination for a couple years and they should finally feel confident enough to act like one. Pick up Millsap’s team option, attach a first-round pick to move Will Barton’s contract, and see what’s out there. If successful, a path to max space exists next summer, when someone like Draymond Green can enter the frame. But now we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

If Denver picks up Millsap’s option, it can stay under the luxury tax and still use the non-taxpayer mid-level exception. (If they let Millsap go and dump Barton’s contract, they can open up about $30 million to spend elsewhere.) Will Denver care about next summer’s potential flexibility, which will evaporate once Murray’s next contract kicks in? How about packaging young Michael Porter Jr. for a win-now contributor?

The Nuggets have a bright future, but if they feel like another player or two can put them over the top in 2020, they shouldn’t wait.

Brooklyn Nets

If they essentially swap Russell for Irving and, say, Butler (who’s fond of Irving and privately viewed him as an ideal running mate before Irving’s tenure with the Celtics), that’s a beast. The Nets then would still have team-friendly contracts owed to Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert that they can either sit on and enjoy, or dangle for a talent upgrade.

Toronto Raptors or Los Angeles Clippers

Leonard’s decision will ultimately dictate which one of these teams can call itself a contender. If he re-signs with Toronto, this is self-explanatory. If he goes to the Clippers, they can easily clear enough space to add another star by unloading Gallinari.

Kawhi + another max player + Lou Williams/Montrezl Harrell pick-and-rolls + sophomore Shai Gilgeous-Alexander + sophomore Landry Shamet + Doc Rivers + Miami’s 2021 first-round pick as a sexy trade chip = Unadulterated Terror.

Golden State Warriors

Without too many options and understandable exhaustion setting in, the Warriors may treat 2020 as a bridge year to recharge their batteries and make another run the following season. But wasting a nanosecond of Curry and Green’s primes doesn’t feel right, even if Durant re-signs. Count this organization out at your own peril.

New Orleans Pelicans

This team has lots of cap space and a straightforward sales pitch to any quality free agent: Look at our young talent, and help us shock the world.

New Orleans can sign someone like Horford to a contract that starts around $30 million, or be able to absorb Love’s deal, which starts at $28.9 million. Say they get Cleveland’s big man – who’s already very familiar with Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin – for one of the Lakers picks snatched in the Anthony Davis trade. That’d give them a starting lineup of Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, and Love, with E’Twaun Moore, Jaxson Hayes, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Josh Hart, and Jahlil Okafor off the bench. This is a very good rotation!

What if Williamson has the same immediate impact as Blake Griffin? What if New Orleans establishes itself as a playoff threat? What if a third star, (a la Beal) becomes available at the trade deadline? If all those things happen, the Pelicans have the contracts and assets to get that move done without surrendering any of the three rookies they just drafted.

A Beal-Love-Holiday-Williamson quartet is … enough to make the Finals? You can at least imagine it, which sums up the ridiculousness that’s about to unfold across the league.


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Google Employees Call on SF Pride to Drop Google’s Sponsorship and Representation in All Events Over Anti-LGBTQ Policies

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A group of Google employees is calling on the San Francisco Pride Board of Directors to drop their company’s sponsorship of Pride 2019 and bar the company’s official contingent from marching in the parade over the company’s anti-LGBTQ policies.

The employees told the board they are tired of waiting for Google to change its policies: “We have spent countless hours advocating for our company to improve policies and practices regarding the treatment of LGBTQ+ persons, the depiction of LGBTQ+ persons, and harassment and hate speech directed at LGBTQ+ persons, on YouTube and other Google products. Whenever we press for change, we are told only that the company will “take a hard look at these policies.” But we are never given a commitment to improve, and when we ask when these improvements will be made, we are always told to be patient.”

Add the employees: “We feel we have no choice but to urge you to reject Google’s failure to act in support of our community by revoking their sponsorship of Pride, and excluding Google from official representation in the Pride parade. If another official platform, YouTube, allows abuse and hate and discrimination against LGBTQ+ persons, then Pride must not provide the company a platform that paints it in a rainbow veneer of support for those very persons. On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, in a Pride celebration whose very slogan is “Generations of Resistance”, we ask you to join us in resisting LGBTQ+ oppression on the internet, and the subjugation of our right to equality in favor of calculated business concerns. The first Pride was a protest, and so now must this Pride be one.”

Read the full letter HERE.

The post Google Employees Call on SF Pride to Drop Google’s Sponsorship and Representation in All Events Over Anti-LGBTQ Policies appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.


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Meet the gay teen couple making TV history

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The face of Spanish-language soaps has changed courtesy of Juntos el Corazón Nunca se Equivoca, the new Mexican telenovela–the first ever to focus on a gay couple

Juntos el Corazón Nunca se Equivoca (translated as “Together the Heart is Never Wrong”) follows the love affair between Aris (played by Emilio Osorio) and Temo (played by Joaquín Bondoni), two 16 year old boys in love. Their affair began on the popular soap Mi Marido Tiene Más Familia, which became the most watched show in Mexico.

Related: Telenovela star splits with girlfriend amid bisexual rumors and after x-rated video leak

The new series finds Temo and Aris journeying to Mexico City to attend university, and going through all the expected perils of young queer love.

Juntos el Corazón Nunca se Equivoca doesn’t air in the United States just yet, but has a habit of finding its way to the internet for anyone interested in learning more about “Aristemo,” as fans refer to the couple.

Oh, and for anyone wanting the basic rundown on their relationship thus far, a devoted fan has put together a recap video of all the soapy twists that led them to this point.


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GOP leader resigns after sexting woman x-rated photo and saying he’d choke her during intercourse

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Another day, another Republican caught behaving badly. Or at least behaving in a way unbecoming of someone who claims to be a proponent of “family values.”

Val DiGiorgio, the chairman of the Pennsylvania’s Republican Party, abruptly resigned yesterday just hours after sexually explicit text messages between him and a woman other than his wife surfaced online.

51-year-old DiGiorgio, a Trump ally and frequent critic of out gay Pennsylvania lawmaker and LGBTQ activist Rep. Brian Sims, engaged in a months-long string of sexts with 35-year-old Irina Goldstein, who ran an unsuccessful bid for an at-large seat on Philadelphia City Council earlier this year.

The missives, which started last October and continued through February of this year, include lots of dirty messages and a picture of DiGiorgio’s erect penis sent via Facebook Messenger with a joke about how he might choke her with it during intercourse.

NBD, right? Except that, in 2016, the Republican Party adopted an official platform declaring pornography a threat to public safety.

Oh, and DiGiorgio is married with children.

“Is this what you do?” one of Goldstein’s missives read. “Make women blush and charm them into liking you — charm their pants off?”

To which DiGiorgio replied, “Think I can charm them off?”

Later, he told her, “Just talking to you could get me in trouble.”

Well, he was right about that! The texts were published by The Philadelphia Inquirer this week. Not only that, but Goldstein is now accusing DiGiorgio of sexual harassment.

She says she felt she was “in a weird predicament” but decided “I would just play along with it,” adding that she saved the texts and the dick pic because “I didn’t really feel safe with this man.”

In his resignation letter yesterday, DiGiorgio called the whole thing a “mischaracterization, incomplete and defamatory,” and said he believed the sext exchange was “of mutual consensual communications.”

He also noted that his decision to step down as chairman of the Pennsylvania’s Republican Party “should in no way be confused as confirmation of these mischaracterizations.”

DiGiorgio added, “I intend to rigorously defend myself against these assertions and protect my family, my colleagues, and the party from this private matter.”

Pennsylvania is expected to be a major battleground in the 2020 presidential election. In 2016, Donald Trump narrowly defeated Hillary Clinton by less than 1 percent, thus securing all 20 of its electoral votes.

Related: “Family values” politician used campaign funds to pay for affairs but still thinks gays shouldn’t marry


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Willow Smith comes out as bisexual

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Willow Smith, bisexual
Willow Smith

In the most recent episode of the Facebook web series Red Table Talk, 18-year-old Willow Smith, the daughter of actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, came out as bisexual. Her mother also admitted that she and her husband are in a non-sexual throuple with another woman.

In the series, members of the Smith family and guests discuss “controversial topics.” The latest episode was entitled “Unconventional Relationships: Can Multiple Partners Work?” While discussing the topic, Willow told her mother Jada and her grandmother Adrienne:

“I love men and women equally, and so I would definitely want one man, one woman. I feel like I could be polyfidelitous with those two people.

I’m not the kind of person that is constantly looking for new sexual experiences. I focus a lot on the emotional connection and I feel like if I were to find two people of different genders that I really connected with and we had a romantic and sexual connection, I don’t feel like I would feel the need to try to go find more.”

What’s cool is that Jada responded to the news by admitting that her stomach jumped a bit, and added, “Listen, you know me Willow: whatever makes you happy.”

Jada also said that she and Will have been involved for years in a non-sexual throuple with Will’s ex-wife, Sheree Zampino.

Related: Mr. Rogers was apparently bisexual, and Twitter is loving it

Perhaps we should’ve seen this coming as Willow’s 2013 music video, “Summer Fling,” gave us some bi vibes. The video showed her pining after a boy and also featured a brief shot of a female same-sex couple holding hands and staring into each other’s eyes.

Meanwhile her brother, Jaden, has been openly flirting with queerness for years. In 2016, he kissed a man in the Netflix series The Get Down and regularly enjoys wearing genderqueer fashions.


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How long would it take the Cardinals to be a contender if they nailed every single draft pick?

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Looking back at the Lions from a decade ago shows us how quickly a Cardinals rebuild could happen if everything worked out perfectly.

Sometimes, one play, one moment, one decision can change everything — or maybe only a little bit. Either way, it can be fun to imagine the various timelines if one thing had gone differently. SB Nation NFL is looking at those hypotheticals, alternate universes, and made-up scenarios in our second annual “What If?” week. You can follow along with every story here.

The Arizona Cardinals are in the midst of a complete overhaul. For the second straight season.

In the span of just 15 months, one of the NFL’s oldest remaining franchises has hired two different first-year head coaches and bolstered them with two different first-round quarterbacks. When Josh Rosen and Steve Wilks failed to generate more than three wins, they were replaced by Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury.

That effectively hit reset on the team’s rebuilding clock, creating the expectation of another year of futility while a young team attempts to take root in the pavement of contention like a rogue dandelion.

Kingsbury already got off to a roaring start. He landed a Heisman-winning passer who can run his modified air raid offense to perfection, then surrounded him (and incumbent All-Pro tailback David Johnson) with budding, field-stretching receiving talent like Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler, and KeeSean Johnson.

Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, every single player Arizona selected in April this year — all 11 picks — was the best player available at the position. What would their timeline back to contention look like?

A hypothetical look at Detroit’s 2009 team shows us what that could look like after a decade of reflection.

Let’s see how long it would have taken an 0-16 Lions team to become a contender

In order to get a better idea of the Cardinals’ best case scenario, we can turn back the clock to 2009. Then, a Lions team fresh off the first 0-16 season in NFL history picked up their franchise quarterback with the top overall pick — and followed that up with a relatively disappointing array of role players in the rest of their draft.

With enough time to assess the best players to come out of that ‘09 draft class, we can create an all-Crunchberries lineup of prospects who would have lifted Detroit from its malaise and into contention, along with an idea of how long a total makeover would have taken.

Using Pro Football Reference’s approximate value tool helps determine the most productive players who would have been available at each of the Lions’ picks. And even if those athletes don’t directly relate to Arizona’s rebuild, they can provide a blueprint for the kind of players who can serve as the foundation for a Cardinals’ Super Bowl run.

Here’s how a Detroit re-draft would have unfolded

2009 IN:

Round 1, pick 1: QB Matthew Stafford
1 (20): LB Clay Matthews
2 (33): RB LeSean McCoy
3 (76): OG Louis Vasquez
3 (82): OT T.J. Lang
4 (115): WR Julian Edelman
6 (192): OG Matt Slauson
7 (228): RB Rashad Jennings
7 (235): DT Clinton McDonald
7 (255): K Ryan Succop

2009 OUT:

TE Brandon Pettigrew
CB Louis Delmas
LB DeAndre Levy
WR Derrick Williams
DT Sammie Lee Hill
RB Aaron Brown
OT Lydon Murtha
LB Zack Follett
TE Dan Gronkowski

Pretty good! By absolutely crushing the 2009 draft, the Lions keep Stafford and get the core of an offensive line that will keep him protected for years to come. They also land an All-Pro pass rusher and a powerful 1-2 combo at running back to supplant Kevin Smith, who’d average 3.4 yards per carry in real world Detroit that fall.

Is that influx plus a rookie quarterback enough to get the club to the postseason? Probably not. The Lions fielded the league’s worst defense in terms of both yards and points allowed for the third straight season in 2009, and Stafford’s learning curve — even with Calvin Johnson still around — would leave them vulnerable in shootout situations.

Let’s say these additions push Detroit from a 2-14 season and into something in the 6-8 win range. Instead of the No. 2 overall pick, that would leave the team with somewhere around the 13th selection in 2010. If we wipe all the team’s draft trades off the board for the sake of argument, Year 2 of absolutely killing the draft would look something like this:

2010 IN:

Round 1, pick 13: S Earl Thomas
2 (45): LB NaVorro Bowman
3 (77): TE Jimmy Graham
4 (109): DT Geno Atkins
5 (141): S Reshad Jones
6 (173): WR Antonio Brown
6 (205): C Ted Larsen

2010 OUT:

DT Ndamukong Suh
RB Jahvid Best
DB Amari Spievey
OT Jason Fox
DE Willie Young
WR Tim Toone

That’s not an especially realistic revision given the plethora of minor trades and supplemental picks that would have sorted out, but it’s close enough for argument’s sake. And it makes the Lions a juggernaut on both sides of the ball.

Stafford now gets to hand the ball off to McCoy and throw passes to Johnson, Brown, Edelman, and Graham. The defense is a little worse off without Suh, but now relies on Thomas, Bowman, Atkins, Jones, and Matthews. That’s a terrifying young core to pair with more senior players like Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch (who we’re assuming still signs with the team in ‘10), and while that certainly looks like a playoff-caliber team, it’s still a bit early to label it a true contender.

Let’s dig into one more aced draft class. This time, we’ll project the Lions wins about 10 games and have an opening draft position somewhere around the 22nd pick, rather than the No. 13th pick they had in reality.

2011 IN:

Round 1, pick 22: DE Cameron Jordan
2 (54): DT Jurrell Casey
3 (86): LB K.J. Wright
4 (118): OT Marcus Cannon
5 (150): CB Richard Sherman
6 (182): C Jason Kelce
7 (214): LB Malcolm Smith

2011 OUT:

DT Nick Fairley
WR Titus Young
RB Mikel Leshoure
LB Doug Hogue
OL Johnny Culbreath

Another major improvement, and enough to give the Lions an explosive team with enough experience to roll into the Super Bowl as a favorite.

This is what the Lions’ three-year perfect draft result looks like

With three A+ drafts, their starting lineup would be something like the following:

QB: Matthew Stafford
WR: Calvin Johnson, Antonio Brown, Julian Edelman
RB: LeSean McCoy, Rashad Jennings
TE: Jimmy Graham
OL: T.J. Lang, Louis Vaquez, Dominic Raiola, Jason Kelce, Matt Slauson, Marcus Cannon, Gosder Cherilus
DE: Cliff Avril, Cameron Jordan, Kyle Vanden Bosch
DT: Geno Atkins, Jurrell Casey, Clinton McDonald
LB: K.J. Wright, NaVorro Bowman, Clay Matthews, Malcolm Smith
CB: Richard Sherman, Chris Houston
S: Earl Thomas, Reshad Jones

That’s a lot of firepower! These players are all on dirt-cheap rookie contracts too, so there would be plenty of room to add veteran free agent talent — and hell to pay once extension season struck in the 2012 offseason. They’re also the foundation of what looks like a Super Bowl favorite. All it took was three years of the greatest drafts the league has ever seen.


So what does this mean for the Cardinals? If Murray is for real, and Isabella, Butler, cornerback Byron Murphy, and defensive end Zach Allen can all reach their Pro Bowl potential, and a couple players escape from Day 3 to become impact players, then congratulations, Arizona! You’re only one more year and another perfect draft away from reaching the postseason — and that’s with the Rams and Seahawks waiting in an extremely tough NFC West.

There is a shortcut to this unlikely three-year plan, however. If Murray can develop into even a league-average quarterback, his average $8.7 million salary over the next four seasons will be an absolute bargain, creating the savings cap space to lure veteran talent to the Phoenix area. And while high-level free agents mostly avoided the Cardinals this offseason, selling players on an ascending team with an actual vision will be much easier than whatever the team’s inadvertently been advertising since 2018.

The other good news is that there’s already some All-Pro talent on the roster between David Johnson and Patrick Peterson, and both can accelerate Kingsbury’s timeline. With 2019’s draft class earning solid grades, Arizona could already be on the road back to prosperity.

Even if that’s not the case, and even if they botch free agency in 2020 and 2021, the Cardinals can still get to the Super Bowl before 2022. All they need to do is put together a series of completely flawless drafts, as improbable as that may be.


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Rat Rage

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  The biggest LGBT story of this cycle had to be the marriage of Mr. Ratburn to another “man” on the animated PBS show Arthur. Launched in 1996, Arthur is the longest-running kid’s cartoon on TV, and Mr. Ratburn, a rat, is the longtime schoolteacher. The wedding was a lovely affair, good times had by […]

The post Rat Rage appeared first on The Gay & Lesbian Review.


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