Queer Indie Comedy Revolution

Stand Out National Queer Comedy Search

Queeriously Funny: Let’s Start A Comedy Riot

There’s funny as in “funny…” and funny as in “Ha-ha!” Like Lady Gaga said, “Thank God and the Gays” we get to have both, Mary. Queers can “do funny” like (snaps fingers) nobody’s business. Making being “funny” funny is a straight-up Survival 101 tactic, and LGBTQ folks are living, breathing comedy maestros.

Stand Out: The National Queer Comedy Search is looking for the best of the best in “LGBT-owned and operated” jokes, routines, comedy skits, standups, funny performers and all-rounder smart-alecks of LGBTQ comedy.

Reviewing the submissions now, Stand Out just wrapped up its inaugural queer comedy search, and final contestants will each vie for a shot at winning over of $2,000 and a featured article in The Advocate magazine. Top-headlining performances will be hosted by Queer Comedy at Zanies in the heart of Chicago (thought by many to be the standup capital of the United States).

Laugh Queen, Laugh

From an OutLoud Chicago post:

“Presented by OutLoud Chicago, Absolut Vodka, Sidetrack The Video Bar and The Advocate Magazine, Stand Out strives to find the best in queer and queer-friendly comedy from all across the country, giving comedians national exposure and ending with a live competition for over $2,000 and a feature story in The Advocate.”

Though The Advocate’s always been a forerunner in covering queer comedy news, in the last few months, the leading gay publication has been promoting Gaysayer, their new LGBTQ-inclusive comedy Twitter stream, pumping out queer (and allies’) comedy tweets like clockwork. You don’t have to be queer to play @Gaysayer, but you’d better make it funny to get retweet-able attention.

Care for a sample and a chuckle? Check out a few of Gaysayer’s greatest RT’s.

Retweets (RT’s) shared via @Gaysayer:

RT ‏@michelleisawolf “Cool, yeah, keep calling yourself the LONE Ranger like I’m not right here” – Tonto.

RT  ‏@mkpaulsen I love wearing tight tshirts in dangerous areas, or as I call it “Anderson Coopering”. #StevieTV

RT ‏@LesbianLounge I am totally ready for the Lindsay Lohan/Amanda Bynes remake of “Thelma & Louise”.

RT @Zackblows Anderson Cooper’s nickname is “the silver fox” which is also what Betty White calls her vagina. #StevieTV

RT  ‏@jamismithcomic I just made decisions about my own vagina in honor of Wendy Davis.

RT  ‏@Jefflawrencenyc Anderson Cooper finally admitted he was gay. That’s the only thing he ever said that wasn’t news. @Gaysayer

RT ‏@HeyJeffreyJay I knew I had to lose weight when I grew out of my fat pants and had to start wearing my old skirts. #TransProblems

RT  @jamismithcomic I keep bumping into women at this crowded parade and calling it sex later on the phone with my friends.

RT  ‏@JasonBerlin The Greeks had a word for gay athletes. It was “athletes.”

RT @louisvirtel I imagine Britney Spears has perfect Comic Sans handwriting.

RT @RubinReport #PopeFrancis won’t judge gay people. I knew when he said, “Hey Jesus Heyyyy! at his first mass it was a good sign.

RT @kellyoxford Can I use Grindr to find a gay man to tell me if my outfit is okay?

Tee-hee! Visit here to tweet along with Gaysayer. (https://twitter.com/gaysayer) No guarantees, but they’re known to RT the sharpest barbs and wittiest quips they discover.

Are you a queer comedian, or do you want to be one? Psyche yourself up for next year’s contest by checking out the info here (http://www.advocate.com/comedy/2013/07/02/do-you-stand-out-were-searching-best-queer-comedy). Good luck…and stay gay!

Your move, funny people….

#DumpStoli: Russia’s Anti-Gay Bill Sparks Creative Boycott

When Keeping It Real Means Keeping Vigilant

Come on, let’s go
Back to Moscow
Irresolution doesn’t suit you or me or anybody…

– From “Moscow,” by Autoheart

Just as we celebrate progress with LGBT equal rights, another human rights breech rises up to spilling over, demanding more healing and attention in Russia.

Since 2006, a combination of anti-feminist and anti-LGBTQ fervor has been gaining momentum there. Russia continues to punish outspoken LGBT supporters, driving the point home by dragging out the fate of LGBT-feminist activist-allies Pussy Riot, denying yet another member of the group parole for its activism.

Within the last year, Russia has activated harsher legislation, banning gay pride parades while continuing to detain, arrest and prosecute LGBTQ people and allies for both public or private actions and speech.

Persecution and Prosecution

More strident legislative punishments have emerged as Russian lawmakers fight what they call “homosexual propaganda” or “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations,” passing the “Don’t Say Gay” Anti-Gay Bill.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also managed to sign a law banning all gay adoptions—signing three anti-gay bills into law total with no signs of stopping. Russian lawmakers now reinterpret LGBT outreach as “pornography,” intending to prosecute those who speak out against new laws, making them subject to the same detainment, arrest, prosecution or implied threats of violence as gay people experience.

It’s no surprise that hostility and vigilantism in Russia is becoming serious, with Russian skinheads among others attacking gay-identified persons including teens.

Separate and Not Equal

The upcoming Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, Russia in 2014.

HRC (the U.S.’ largest gay rights organization) along with Dan Savage and others predict Russia’s new anti-gay activity will prove exacting for Olympic athletes, coaches, supporters, press and related attendees, whether or not they’re gay.

To illustrate the breadth of Russia’s definition, the HRC cited banned activities range from friends or couples holding hands, public displays of affection (kissing or hugging) to voicing solidarity in any form. The new laws equate LGBT activist outreach materials with pedophilia, forbidding by default any outreach to Russian gay or questioning teens struggling with coming out.

While the IOC says Olympic athletes, press and guests will be exempt from Russia’s anti-gay laws, how can this be guaranteed?

Johnny Weir told the press he’s unafraid, stating: “The fact that Russia is arresting my people, and openly hating a minority…is heartbreaking and a travesty of international proportions, but I still will compete.”

Activists continue to demand that LGBT athletes boycott the upcoming games. Russian tourism earnings are expected to dwindle, and meanwhile, activists in-country (namely Nikolai Alekseev and peers) say financial boycotts won’t even make a difference, encouraging international supporters to push for governmental change only. This echoes Pussy Riot’s push-back in the face of international support, which they’ve eventually warmed up to, somewhat.

Creativity Continues As Protests Spread

Regardless of the latest headlines, international creative collaborators continue to show solidarity. Such artsy projects aren’t mere flights of fancy. Passing anti-gay laws sends a clear signal to those who would commit hate crimes they’ll be given a free pass to act out violently, beyond reproach.

Remember the inexcusable violence at St. Petersburg Pride?

In an extension of this anti-gay law, Russian authorities are already arresting gay tourists who aren’t even from Russia. That’s how quickly discrimination affects us worldwide.

In the face of this chaos, Russia is facing an immediate and expansive vodka boycott. Gay-owned bars, consumers and businesses are kicking Stoli vodka to the curb. At the prompting of Dan Savage, the hashtags #DumpStoli and #DumpRussianVodka were created to fuel efforts, with Canadian and U.S.-based establishments as first responding boycotters and British clubs following suit. Canada has since issued warnings in a travel alert for LGBTQ persons visiting Russia.

Unfortunately, this puts Stoli North America in a tricky situation: Stoli Vodka CEO Val Mendeleev has expressed disagreement with new Russian laws, to which activists from Queer Nation replied, “A single open letter that was discreetly placed…will not help LGBT Russians nor will it have an impact on the… anti-gay campaign…. Marketing is not enough.”

Enter the London-based band, Autoheart, who penned the timely single, “Moscow.”

The new single greets the listener with maudlin, layered nostalgia for a love the singer knows is there. In the tune, there’s a heart that needs reminding.

On their YouTube page, Autoheart wrote: “Moscow is a song about the daft optimism of being in love,” continuing: “We are lucky in Britain to have laws that mean whether we are gay, straight, bisexual or anything in between, our relationships are recognized and our rights protected by law.”

“In our video, two gay Russian soldiers kiss in front of the Kremlin — yet just last month a group of same-sex couples in Moscow were violently attacked and then arrested for doing just this.”

If Autoheart were Russian, their very words alone would make them instant candidates for prosecution.

The band went on to encourage visitors to sign this petition, a callout to world leaders for equal rights: https://www.allout.org/en/actions/russia-attacks

Other creative solidarity projects are:

The #Virtual Pride launch
http://gayagenda.com/worldwide-pride-parades-offer-solutions-for-targeted-lgbt-individuals/

Stop Homophobia In Russia, a 2-video series

The Gay Women Channel’s “Putin Airlines Safety” video

Autoheart’s lyrics to “Moscow” conclude:

When in Moscow I just want to fold you up
And keep you warm, keep you warm.

To find out more about LGBT Russia, visit here or here –

Spectrum Human Rights Alliance (Eastern Europe) www.spectrumhr.org/?pli=1

Russian LGBT Network http://www.facebook.com/LGBT.Russia

Let’s keep talking about this: what kind of vodka is your corner bar serving? Where’s it manufactured? Is this boycott inspiring you to take action?

Don’t Call It A Comeback: Lady Gaga + TLC = “Posh Life”

                                                “The world says we’re not brave until we bleed.”

– From “Posh Life”

 

It’s official: Lady (Godiva) Gaga is back on her horse, naked as the day she was born, and raring to go. So much so, she’s let her “Posh” go leaking all over the Internet.

Sounds naughty, doesn’t it? It’s not—it’s just posh.

‘Shoutout to My Homos:’ New Divas Demo Collab Mentions “Family”

Post-hip surgery and past-hiatus (if lawsuit drama, full-on nude V. magazine spreads, “Machete Kills” and podcasting piercings counts), The Divine Ms. Lady Gaga’s back and collaborating with TLC to celebrate dual album debuts.

“Posh Life,” co-written by Gaga and Dallas Austin with Austin producing, is a demo that’s already a done deal.

Damn, it’s good to be Gaga! Lest we forget, Lady Gaga began as a successful songwriter. Her “Posh Life” demo leaked mere hours after TLC’s Chilli and T-Boz announced Gaga and Dallas Austin among collaborators on an upcoming TLC greatest hits release. Ne-Yo and J. Cole are additional features.

The highly-anticipated return of TLC is already being met with much acclaim and buzz as they hit the festival circuit, promoting their upcoming VH1 biopic “CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story” to drop alongside the album in October. Meanwhile, Gaga’s prepping for her new single release at this year’s  VMAs, with album-app combo ARTPOP scheduled for a November release.

TLC: First In Queer-Influenced Girl Power, Fashion & Fierceness

This divas’ collaboration makes sense. TLC had swag before Bieber and 90s Girl Power before Christina. Both acts earned multiple Grammys and other awards, clocking best-selling album records and highest-grossing tours.

TLC’s “No Scrubs,” “Waterfalls, “What About Your Friends” and” Red Light Special” empowered women to take charge from the bedroom to the boardroom. And Gaga? Scroll on back to

“Born This Way” in 2011 and her countless LGBTQ-empowerment speeches or publicity stunts for a  dose of self-love.

Too, they’re all hella fashion-forward women making sex-positive art.  TLC rocks a combination of R&B-influenced and queer-centric fashion (bespoke condom eye-wear promoting safe sex, butch-dyke hair tropes), pleather and light bondage fear, bold pattern combinations and tight, body-conscious glitter and glam). As for Gaga, we’ve got two more words for you: Jo Calderone.

 ‘Bout That Posh Life: Gaga Got Game

 Back to art-pop, R&B style: “Posh Life” takes the listener to church with soulful swagger. Gaga’s customary postmodern hat tip remains, as she plants shoutouts for queers and POC in the first verse:

“He just wanted something to eat /A place to love, a place to pray/In God we trust /And it’s okay/He said, “I’m black, Latin and gay/I went to them, they turned away.”

As Gaga growls and grinds through “Posh…,” she’s serving old school TLC as best as she can. Better than the real thing? That’s the beauty of a demo…it’s just a guide track.

What’s the song about, exactly: diversity, equality somehow embodied as posh? Who knows? Herein ies the charm of Lady Gaga. Self-admittedly, she’s so fascinated with the art and science of fame, fashionably posh living and perfect pop songs, when queers hear themselves reflected in her lyrics (Gasp! On the radio!), our response is primal and her tracks go viral. The messages are mixed, but this woman thanked “God and the gays” at an awards ceremony—so just dance!

Gaga’s version of the track’s got a light, sensual groove. Still, it would be ultra-pleasurable to hear a newly-reunited TLC bust these outwardly queer lyrics with their own twist.

TLC’s official Facebook page mourns the tragic death of former band mate Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, who passed in 2002, while looking forward to brighter days. The group wrote: “Comin’ back with Lisa in our hearts…. We’re hard at work on new tracks and they’re gonna be some of our best ever.”

The “Crazy, Sexy Cool” movie trailer’s gorgeous and hypnotic. Have you seen it?

Why Are You Trippin’? Choosing LGBT-Friendly and Inclusive Travel Options

Where In The World Is…

Summer’s still in full bloom, and there’s still plenty of time for carving out some sweet getaways, whether or not you hook up with a sweet travel agent. Where do you want to play today?

And… are you sure about that?

Choose Your Own Adventure

You’ve seen all the advertising hoopla before: “Come fly with us.” “Queers welcome here!”

Rainbow flags go up, and you trust you’ll be well cared for on your “gaycay,” so all you’ll need to worry about is, perhaps, simply having the best “vaycay” ever.

Queer travelers’ tales can be a hit-and-miss kind of deal. We’re not here to share horror stories, but to provide better, more affirming options for you.

The last thing you want on a honeymoon voyage, a BFF’s night out, or a romantic weekend rendezvous is to see scowling waiters, resentful concierges, easily-offended hotel managers, or even B&B owners who “don’t dig your friends’ vibes,” especially when you have an honest to goodness question, need or desire as a paying customer.

So, are LGBT-owned companies best? Or, is “gay-friendly” acceptable enough for you?

The truth of the matter is, you should always follow your gut.

Just because a lesbian friend of a friend owns a business, they may or may not be ethical, or they may be gay-friendly in theory but not in practice. Or, maybe they’re open to gay travelers, but not trans* travelers. And just because your Yahoo search unearths a keyword-friendly link to a major airline or travel planner doesn’t mean “gay-friendliness begins here.”

What’s a roaming soul to do? Take some extra time, if you can make some of it.

 LGBT-Inclusive Travel Options

Where to begin? First, ask questions.  Make a call or post a question on a timeline in a forum.

Scroll and stroll through a few of the options here, and if time permits, be sure to do at least a little sleuthing before making plans. Visit not only an official homepage, but find Yelp, Yahoo and Google reviews, see if you kind find some blog posts about the business, and you might even check out Twitter or Facebook timelines (not just posts, but visitors’ and customers’ feedback).

A quick click tip: check out amenity offerings in advance: if you find a hotel isn’t hooking you up, make sure you “fight for your right to party” (mini-bars aren’t just for straight folks).

A Word About Transgender and Intersex Travel

Because there are less folks (so far!) who proactively hang out Transgender Pride pink-blue-white flags alongside those rainbows, a bit of creativity is required should you want to plan before hitting the road, and if you want that extra vote of trans-inclusive confidence.

We’re preaching to the choir here, but trans folks are most concerned while traveling at home or abroad when it comes to medical care. Trans vacation-goers: be sure to have copies of all documentation you feel comfortable bringing, especially when traveling abroad.

Take extra supplies, supplements or items you need for personal and medical care, and get situated with the paperwork ASAP, so you can relax into the pleasure of traveling.

Though lived experience for trans folks changes exponentially by the day, finding trans-friendly or trans-owned companies with trans-exclusive or best interests in mind is harder. You can check out some of the LGB resources below, too.

But for more trans-inclusive options, it’s best to ask around, and consult folks and/or online destinations that have a history of solid trans advocacy and helpful advice, along with LGBT places such as:

* TS RoadMap Int’l

* Laura’s Playground Forums (FTM and MTF)

* Sparta (Military folks are often experienced travelers

* ISNA

* The Brown Boi Project

* Ask local (or closest, or in-state/country) LGBT or PFLAG center/groups

* Gender.org US State-by-State

* Search LGBT Housing resources in the area (by default, you’ll get a better feel for environments)

* Find trans-friendly or LGBT-friendly advice that comes directly from a governmental source (e.g. this one from the UK)

* Surf Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube, and ask questions – tons of indie trans groups and bloggers pop up all the time.

Also again, like with all else, follow your instincts.

Though the sites above don’t specifically have to do with travel, trans* folks share many empowering resources, and connecting with folks online or in trans-specific support groups or health-care focused groups is invaluable for all kinds of referrals, including travel spots, the most trans-inclusive travel agencies, or places, what’s most cool, amazing or best avoided, and how keep safety in mind.

LGBTQ-Friendly Travel Alternatives

For Bi Folks

If you desire bi-specific travel experiences, you can review some more general resources below (such as centers and the like), or inquire with bi-affirming support groups or forums, as it’s not yet common for folks to hang out an “Open” sign for bi-only travel experiences. You can find that information with a bit of investigation, or by approaching an out, bi travel agent or bisexual travel-related business owner (check your local or state-based LGBT chamber of commerce or business directory).

The Random Factor: Pick A Pride, Any Pride

If you’re not sure exactly where you want to go and have a hankering to explore, you might just want to plan a trip to a Pride event in a new city or country. Interpride’s got you covered.

If you’d rather have a walkabout, look for destinations in larger metro areas (preferably ones that hold yearly pride events and/or are near colleges, which tend to attract more diversity-aware business owners, for financial reasons, at least).

Got a little extra cash? Then search for LGBT-only and LGBT-specific travel groups, agencies, and travel agents (not just travel packages, which may or may not diversity-minded).

A couple of recommendations: Olivia,  IGLTA or Out-Adventures.com. (Al and Chuck Travel, for example, is a gay-owned branch of another company, and often has to negotiate LGBT travelers’ experience around a main travel group’s preferences—you don’t just have the cruise ships to yourself or your group).

Also check out:

* Airbnb (search for “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” and more—don’t just click go but read and talk to the owner(s) first

* Craigslist (yes, you can still find more than just bootie calls there.)

* Dinah In Color

* Gaydays.com, Gaydaysanaheim.com

* Spiritjourneys.com

* Damron.com

* Rfamilyvacations.com

* Kimpton LGBT Guest Loyalty Perks

* Sweet

* PurpleRoofs.com

All told, if someone’s going to be n “LGBT-unfriendly” jerk—or worse—you can’t control it.

But you can, with a little forethought, try to better the odds, and you can always control your actions and reactions in the face of discrimination.

The point of traveling (beyond that kind you need to or have to do) is all about the frolic, comfort and joy. So, “go and get you some o’ that!”

Happy Travels.

Would you rather know for sure that your travel agent is family? Does that even matter to you?

Straight Allies Spotlight: Why We Love Chris Kluwe

“Society’s trending towards more equality, and you see that in the locker room.”

– Chris Kluwe (to Larry King, on “Larry King Now” broadcast)

 

Oh, Chris: how do we love thee? Let us count the ways.

First off, few people can bring themselves to hate him.

As the Oakland Raiders’ American NFL football punter, Chris Kluwe comes off as a fresh-faced, cheery, potty-mouthed and an unabashedly proud “gamer geek.” Kluwe’s spoken up—loudly—about everything from NFL labor disputes to honesty in the media. Now, he’s championing gay rights and marriage equality—and it’s not his first time rocking the mic for LGBTQ inclusivity.

The UCLA alum combines dashing good looks and dorky gamer references (he owns a fantasy gaming store for goodness’ sake), and let’s just say his wife Isabel isn’t the only one who finds him easy on the eyes.

Hm…male model? Athletic cover boy? What? Okay, losing track of the numbers here.

Still, there are so many reasons to adore him.

As articulate as he is awkward, Chris recently appeared on “Larry King Now”  to promote his  book, “Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football and Assorted Absurdities.”

On the show, he briefly mentioned his personal protest of the Minnesota Marriage Amendment and his ever-expanding record of LGBT advocacy, which started hitting its stride last year.

Sharing a viewpoint with Larry King that’s rarely been shared by celebs publicly, Chris went on to express a bittersweet regret about the Prop 8 decision, saying  we could have pressed even harder to get more mileage from the opportunity to make permanent changes.

“I liked the DOMA decision,” said Kluwe, “Because obviously it extended federal benefits to married couples. Not a big fan of the Prop 8 decision, because while it allowed gays to be married in California as soon as they vacate the stay, the problem is, the Supreme Court had a chance to extend those rights across the entire country…whereas they could’ve made a statement.”

“They have a precedent,” he continued. “They have Loving v. Virginia—that says

marriage is a human right. They could’ve extended that out to say, ‘Same sex marriage, that is a human right, and you can’t discriminate against that.’”

Trying to keep realistic, he tied things up by saying, “So now we’ve just got to go to all the other states that—right now—gay marriage is illegal in, and get that passed.”

Earlier this month, in what could have been a media disaster, Kluwe shared a stinging truth (citing ex-New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez’s murder charges) in the following exchange with Conan O’Brien on the “Conan” show:

“Now what about the NFL? Where’s the NFL in all of this?” Conan O’Brien asked.

“They pretty much just left me alone,” Kluwe answered, “As long as you’re not out shooting people…”

Here’s the deal: straight allies often put their foot in their mouths, no matter how good their intentions may be. Chris Kluwe’s using his “big-mouthed” persona to our advantage. You just can’t hate on somebody for that.

Chris Kluwe loves World of Warcraft, loves the game of football, loves to raise consciousness and awareness, and is all about a message of transparency, fairness and equality.

In his “Larry King Now” appearance and his Out of Bounds blog, Kluwe rants on with this through line: if we are not honest with ourselves and protecting our own, our civilization is doomed. He simply won’t back down from the idea, and his new book likely puts that sentiment on full blast.

Well-played Chris Kluwe—and play on.

What’s your take on Chris’ mouthy antics? Do you think he’s trying to co-opt Gay Rights to get attention? Does that matter, either way? Wait…you’re too busy looking at his “Out” magazine cover spread, aren’t you?

Don’t leave us hanging, y’all—what’s the T? Let us know what’s on your mind, and you can holler at your boy Chris Kluwe @ChrisWarcraft on Twitter.