Queer Pressure: Raven Symoné Comes Out Twice On Twitter

Tales of Celebrity Progenies

You’re young—a sitcom mini-starlet. You’re growing up as the sitcom progeny of an ultra-conservative, ultra-strict, ultra-exacting and uber multitalented entertainer who plays your grandad on TV (Bill Cosby, “The Cosby Show,” “A Different World”). Oh! By the way—then when you’re not on TV, he’s still fathering you in the exact same way. Sometimes there are cameras on y’all then, too.

No pressure, though. Have fun with that!

Life’s challenging enough for child stars all the way through to adulthood, but these were the early beginnings for a young Raven Symoné (“The Cosby Show,” “That’s So Raven,” “College Road Trip”) making her television acting debut as little Olivia Huxtable Kendall, the bright-eyed and intelligent stepdaughter of Denise (Lisa Bonet). She’s transitioned into grownup roles and projects with virtually no scandals or trouble. She is to be commended for that.

Raven’s career steps have always been measured, squeaky clean and safe, moving from the safety of a network sitcom to the apple-pie familiarity of her own show on The Disney Channel (“That’s So Raven”).

Coming of Age And Making Your Own Choices

Ironically, Symoné’s choices contraposed those of her TV step-mom Lisa Bonet who instead chose to play risky, sensual roles (“Angel Heart”) while still on “Cosby,” making adult life decisions while she was still a teenager, and finding her own footing, in her own way. Bonet’s character on the show was so popular, the Cosby production team even created a spinoff show for her (“A Different World”), and as an audience favorite, Bonet was apparently to be “kept in line.”

Instead, Lisa Bonet got pregnant before marriage, then she married a man Cosby didn’t particularly get along with. All told, Bonet’s personal choices forced her premature Cosby Show departure.

Because one of “Cosby’s own” went on to do other things, the unspoken pressure to conform for Symoné and the rest of the cast must have been immense. In fairness, Bill Cosby always advocates that people of color present in public spaces with pride, intelligence, elegance and demonstrable educational achievement. He considered the kids on the show to be his responsibility.

Cosby himself wound up caving in to his own self-created pressure, ultimately revealing foibles of his own (of a sex-scandal nature). Everybody’s got to unfold their own lessons, and the paradoxes in the real-life story lines here are more than relevant.

Why Coming Out Is Squeaky Clean, Too

By default, “heterosexual anything” is considered to be normal, squeaky clean and non-threatening, so long as the sacredness of the marital institution is preserved.  The naughty things any two consenting adults do (while “straight and married or coupled”) is pardoned.

Any sexual or gender expression outside of the norm still connotes questionable behavior with it a whiff of taboo or wrongness, i.e. “dirtiness,” to it. Culturally, this is a myth that we all need to transition away from. Doing so frees not only queer folks from pressure, but it frees straight people to alleviate free-floating pressure, as well (see: the “50 Shades of Gray” best-selling fantasy book phenom).

When you walk around “feeling wrong as a being,” you start having to justify doing “bad or wrong things” as a being, whatever those things mean to you (often people reach for addictions, whatever their familial taboos are perceived to be, or so-called “out of character behavior,” in an effort to feed the feeling of “feeling bad or wrong.”) In essence, this is chasing displeasure to fuel more of it. Even when doing things that feel good to you, you might perhaps do them to excess, or never let yourself fully enjoy them.

Heterosexual people find themselves to be casualties of such pressure on a daily basis. Human sexuality is fluid—any scientist or psychologist can tell you this. When people in the healing profession refute this idea, they usually cite religious reasons why this should not be, which validates the fact that such fluidity is indeed the norm, or they cite anti-queer statistics funded by faith-based projects or organizations.

It is only a matter of time before our thoughts and our actions stray from such pressure, and because each person’s path is their own to experience, claiming your own truth as what’s truly normal is going to make your life experience—including coming out—easier and feel less “aberrant.” We act “out of pocket” and erratically when we feel wrong or “made-wrong” (see: Cosby scandals, above.)

Because television kindles such a felt sense of intimacy,  Symoné’s viewers and fans believed their grown-up Olivia was straight-laced, likely straight, and free of new decisions, choices or surprises. Because she took her time during her coming out process and picked an opportune time to share her news, the story was nearly anti-climatic.

Raven Symoné’s short and sweet “Coming Out Tweet” made a debut of its own, to soft applause. In her own words, Raven tweeted her support for LGBTQ culture, all the while proudly incorporating herself into it, by tweeting this:

             Raven-Symonè  |  @MissRavenSymone I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud       of you.

Her fan base voiced pleasant “out of left field”  surprise,  ultimately lavishing her with support for her social share. She then received loving feedback from friends, celebs and other well-wishers thereafter.

Since sharing her big news, she has since been spotted happily attending gay pride events (http://hellobeautiful.com/2523947/raven-symone-gay-pride-event-lesbian-raven-symone-az-marie-livingston) and simply enjoying her life.

Her latest reflections on sexuality in the press continue to be private yet positive, and over a year ago, she’d left glittery little breadcrumb clues for those who were at all curious, due to outing pressure from American tabloid “The National Enquirer:”

In May of last year the actress posted sub-tweets to no one in particular, tweeting:

“I’m living my PERSONAL life the way I’m happiest. I’m not one, in my 25 year career to disclose who I’m dating. and I shall not start now.

My sexual orientation is mine, and the person I’m dating to know. I’m not one for a public display of my life.

However that is my right as a HUMAN Being whether straight or gay. To tell or not to tell. As long as I’m not harming anyone.

I am a light being made from love. And my career is the only thing I would like to put on display, not my personal life. Kisses!”


Kisses indeed.

Letting your hair down on Twitter’s absolutely liberating. When do we get to see your frolicking, footloose and fancy free tweets?

Pride Boost Economy

“Every city should have a pride!” says author and GayAgenda writer Jason Shaw, “Not only for the entertainment and celebration aspects, but also because it can financially benefit a whole region” he says as he looks ahead to the UK’s forthcoming north east festival that is estimated to boost the Tyneside economy by around £1m.

Last year, Newcastle Pride attracted around 23,000 visitors for the one day event held in Newcastle’s Exhibition Park, with people coming from all over the not only the north east, but also from around the United Kingdom. Some people came to enjoy northern hospitality from as far away as Sweden, Holland and Italy. “There are a number of Pride events in the UK and the major ones attract large numbers of people, both from the local population, but also from the rest of the UK as well as Europe. Many of these visitors don’t just come for the Pride event itself, but also to have a mini holiday, staying on average at least three or four days in the city, this brings in much needed funds to the hospitality industry of the local area as well as giving a boost to the wider community.” Jason explains.

The organisers of this years North East Pride believe their line-up will bring in even bigger crowds to Tyneside – giving a huge boost to hotels, restaurants and bars across the city and beyond. Initially they had planned to move to event to Leazes Park, however it has now been decided to keep the July 20th event at the remain at National Exhibition Park to ensure the expected large numbers of festival goers can be accommodated.

“We’ve every indication that this year will be even more successful,” said Peter Darrant, chair of Northern Pride, which stages Newcastle Pride. “We’ve got a fantastic list of performers and have extended the range of activities and we hope that people from across the region will come and join the LGBT community for what will be an incredible event.”

“We know people travel from across the UK to come to Newcastle Pride and we have estimated the economic value to the area, based on last year’s spend, to be around £1m for the 2013 event.”

Headlining the entertainment at this year’s event will be a finalist from the UK’s X Factor TV show, Amelia Lily, along with the sensational 1980’s original punk/pop star Toyah. Other acts appearing in the line-up include Steptastic, Katrina of the Waves and Titch, who recently supported Olly Murs on tour.

Newcastle Pride will also a health zone, a cabaret tent, sports arena, trans zone, dance tent, tea tent and a funfair to ensure a good time is had by all. For the first time this year Newcastle Pride will also be running a family zone with a range of activities and advice from organisations such as leading adoption agencies. “Pride events are great fun, they show off our diverse community to the wider world, encourage closer cooperation and links between communities and boost the income of the city or region that hosts them – so its a win win situation for all concerned.” Jason added.

Rain To Rainbows For New York

NYC Pride announced this week the official New York City Pride theme for 2013 will be “Rain to Rainbows.”
The theme will spotlight the many positive changes that have occurred despite the struggles the LGBT community still faces. NYC Pride will host their annual barrage of events commemorating the 44th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, beginning with the Rally and ending with the Dance on the Pier.

NYC Gay Pride

“After years of inequality in this country we are finally turning the course towards receiving full equality. While this won’t be achieved overnight we are proud of our community’s accomplishments over the last decade and look to the future with a positive stance on the state of LGBT rights. We cannot and we will not forget about the hardships LGBT citizens endure on a daily basis across this country and the world. We will focus on how we can best turn the negative slowly into a positive,” said Chris Frederick, Managing Director of Heritage of Pride. “With the Supreme Court deciding on same-sex marriage days prior to NYC Pride’s largest day we are cautiously optimistic that history will turn in our favor.”

Marriage legislation has passed in more states and, more notably, for the first time by popular vote. Polls are consistently showing a majority of Americans support gay marriage. The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases for its 2013 docket that could ostensibly end the larger debate across the country. This year’s theme aims to acknowledge these milestones and embody the adversity we’ve faced and the unceasing progression towards that magical spot somewhere over the rainbow.

“Whether it is a rainbow in the sky or a rainbow flag flying high above The Stonewall on Christopher Street in NYC, a rainbow symbolizes hope and peace after a storm of any kind,” said Tish Flynn, Media Director of Heritage of Pride. “We want to show the world that there’s always a way to turn rain into rainbows.”

Alexandra Burke out of Brighton Pride

A former X Factor winner and pop superstar Alexandra Burke spectacularly and abruptly pulled out at the last possible moment from performing at southern England’s biggest gay pride event in Brighton.

The pop singer and well known diva had been due to take to the stage at 6pm in the ‘Girls on Top tent’ where thousand’s of pride goers, some of whom had paid nearly £20 to be there, were waiting to see her.

Media personnel were informed the diva cancelled at the very last minute because her ‘team’ were not satisfied with the big top ten and stated that the few thousands in the audience was not ‘significant’ enough for the singer to attend. According to popular news site in the UK Pink News one source told them the star’s people simply “did not like the look of the place”.

A statement released from the official organisers Pride Brighton and Hove said “The team at Pride Brighton & Hove are sad to announce that despite agreeing the full details of her performance in advance, Alexandra Burke and her management decided to remove her from the line-up at the last minute, disappointing thousands of her fans.” The statement went on to show appreciation for the other performers at the largest gay pride event in the south, Pride Brighton & Hove would like to thank Fatboy Slim, the Freemasons and all of the performers who waived their fees to perform at Preston Park for their support of Pride Brighton & Hove 2012 and the LGBT community at large.” It had been reported that Alexandra Burke was not one of those performers who had waived their fees.

The singer turned up last year when she was still building her massive fan base telling the media at the time “I love coming to Brighton, especially when I have time off as well”. later on Saturday night, well after her 6pm scheduled start time the stars management tweeted from her twitter account “Hey Guys, due to circumstances out of my control I’m unable to perform at Brighton Pride today, so sorry guys”.

Her PR representatives have since blamed ‘technical & production issues’ for not being able to perform, despite everything being present that had been prearranged and agreed.

Purchases Working Against You

Caveat Emptor: Your Purchases May Be Working Against You

In the blog “The Little Cookie With The Big Agenda,” we saw how a food giant like Kraft supports gay rights. With just a striking visual of rainbow creme filling, standing in for the typical Oreo vanilla creme, its advertising campaign, debuted during Gay Pride, became a symbol of solidarity with the GLBT community. Other behemoths such as Target showed their conviction toward gay rights by selling out T-shirts for Gay Pride. The coffee Titan Starbucks has opposed Washington’s anti-gay amendment. Microsoft’s co-founder Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer each donated $100,000 to support the campaign to approve Referendum 74 and keep same-sex marriage intact. Google has a campaign for marriage equality with the message “Legalize Love” meant to debunk homophobia in nations where homosexuality is considered illegal. Other gay-friendly businesses? American Apparel, American Airlines, Apple, Boeing, IBM, Levi’s, and Nike.

Know Where Your $ is Going

But not every business giant is an ally of the GLBT community. If you knew how the powers at the following companies voted about Proposition 8 or eliminated domestic partnership benefits for same-sex couples, you may not want to give them your business.

Cracker Barrel

The following list of gay-UNfriendly companies was compiled by the Human Rights Campaign, Guy Dads, Queers United, Change.org. and can be found on Pink Panthers, the no 1 Tumblr blog for people focused on queer pride and the fight for equal rights:

A-1 Self Storage Company

Auto Zone Inc.

CBRL Group Inc. (Cracker Barrel restaurants)



Dish Network

Domino’s Pizza

Exxon Mobil

Gold’s Gym

Golfland Entertainment Centers


Manchester Grand Resorts

Mejer Inc.

Outside Pride.com

Request Foods

Salvation Army

Urban Outfitters

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

What You Can Do To Make Offending Companies RETHINK Their Policies.

  1. Educate your friends and family about the company. Boycott!
  2. Blog, post, twitter about the company’s inequality.
  3. Write a letter to the company’s management explaining your reason for not doing business with them anymore.
  4. Write an editorial to your newspaper editor and the editor of the newspaper in the town closest to the company.




The Little Cookie With The Big Agenda

Oreo, the little cookie that saw us through childhood, a chocolate sandwich with just enough vanilla creme in the middle to break up what would have been otherwise a too-chocolaty taste, has lost its innocence. Traded in school cafeterias, found broken apart in sofas across the world, this popular cookie became, on June 25th, a symbol of Gay Pride.

To coincide with world-wide Gay Pride celebrations in late June, Kraft introduced a rainbow-colored filling for its iconic Oreo (no more plain Vanilla!). Quite striking, this untraditional Oreo was not intended for human consumption, but for its righteousness. Its sponsor, Kraft Food, was supporting gay rights and “proudly supporting love.” Oreo now had a platform.

The Little Cookie That Could

Kraft Food’s brand, with its 26 million fans, posted a status update for Oreo’s unique Advertising Campaign. “The Pride Cookie” in  17 hours, received over 30,000 comments, 200,000 likes, and 40,000 people shared the image. But it also sparked a controversy among Oreo’s followers. Some even threatened an Oreo boycott. One reader declared that the Oreo post was evidence of “more homosexuality shoved down our throats.” The “Sodomite Cookie.”

You Are What You Eat?

Typical of the battle between those who think companies should stay out of politics and those who think companies should be socially responsible, with the brand as a spokesperson, are commentators Nathanial Poling and Jessie Becker on Kraft’s Facebook page, June 26, 2012:

Nathanial Poling wrote:  “I guess all those people who voted for marriage amendments in numerous states don’t count as customers. Brands shouldn’t touch these issues.”

Jessie Becker retaliated:  “Why shouldn’t they, Nathanial? Because it seems like every time brand does, it’s in support of marriage equality? If a company specifically comes out against marriage equality (cough, Chick-Fil-A, cough), and you’re gay or have friends/family members who are, then that’s plenty of reason to stop using said company. On the other hand, if you stop using a company over their support of gay marriage, you have issues- it doesn’t affect you, it simply antagonized your (wrong) internal beliefs.”

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