Doubling Up: Ellen DeGeneres to Host Oscars for 2014 Academy Awards

RT@Dannyboy0713: I totally hope @TheEllenShow gets every celebrity in the ballroom to dance when she hosts The Oscars @TheAcademy

And The Winner Is…

Because Twitter announcements count as official (well…until they don’t…), Twitter scooped most folks on this first: Ellen DeGeneres announced her delight to be returning as the emcee for the Oscars ceremony next year, on behalf of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts Sciences.

DeGeneres (“The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “Finding Nemo”), in the customary “Aw shucks wink-wink” way we know and adore, shared this joyful tweet on her Twitter page:

It’s official: I’m hosting the #Oscars! I’d like to thank @TheAcademy, my wife Portia and, oh dear, there goes the orchestra.

The broadcast’s executive producers (Craig Zadan and Neil Meron) cosigned her “squee” on Twitter, tweeting:

Neil Meron @neilmeron welcome back to the Oscar stage, Ellen…we can’t wait to start working with you! @theellenshow @theacademy @craigzadan

And they love Ms. Ellen so much, they went from pitch to decision in a mere 48 hours’ time.

“I agreed with Craig and Neil immediately that Ellen is the ideal host for this year’s show,” said Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Academy President. “We’re looking forward to an entertaining, engaging and fun show.”

According to the organization’s CEO Dawn Hudson, “Ellen is talented, wonderfully spontaneous, and knows how to entertain a worldwide audience. She’s a big fan of the Oscars; we’re huge fans of hers. It’s a perfect match.”


All This Funny Business

According to Variety magazine, “’The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ has won 45 Daytime Emmys during its 10 seasons. Though DeGeneres’ show airs on NBC owned-and-operated stations, she has a history with Oscar broadcaster ABC, with her landmark sitcom ‘Ellen’ having run there from 1994-98. In 1997, DeGeneres won the Peabody Award and a writing Emmy for the episode in which her character came out as a gay woman, with 46 million viewers watching.

“Over the last eight years, the 2007 Oscars hosted by DeGeneres stands as the top rated in both adults 18-49 (14.1 rating/33 share) and women 25-54 (19.2/40).”

Since coming out in 1997, though Ellen shared myriad challenges she faced because of her public declaration, she’s a master at the art of the “Reboot and Rally.” These days, you feel like she’s never missed a beat.

You always get the sense that even while Ellen’s ribbing you, she’s laughing with—not at—you, and you’re never on the arse-end of even her snarkiest inside jokes. Ellen saves more observational or cutting humor for political issues.

Case in point: remember when she riffed on fatphobia? Ellen quipped:

“Now [Abercrombie & Fitch] actually have a double zero. What are we aspiring to? ‘Honey, do these jeans make my butt look invisible in this?‘”

Crafting jokes, skits, comedic sets and punchlines in such a way is living a rarefied air and artistry we don’t see quite enough of. Too, though reading and shade has its place in queer culture, this type of kidding around is based on finding and digging into flaws, and adding salt to wounds (real, perceived or straight-up made up).

In other words, the origin and intent of reading/shade/the dozens, however creative, is more degrading.

And Now, Your Host…

Ellen’s first Oscars hosting gig took place in 2007. In a tongue-in-cheek self-released press statement Ellen added:

“I am so excited to be hosting the Oscars for the second time. You know what they say – the third time’s the charm….”

Laugh on, Ms. E. Laugh on.

Click below to watch 5 of Ellen’s Best Award Show Moments:

The 86th Annual Academy Awards takes place on March 2, 2014. So is Ellen the right woman for the job, or what?


Grok These, Please: Queer Slam Poems and Creative Poetry Videos


Praising and Raising our Work: On Mindshare and Memory

Riveting. Emo. Uplifting. Heartbreaking. Heart-opening. Poetry heals, helps and heartens all who encounter its majesty, power, artistry.

When a poem is passed from hand to hand, eye to eye, heart to heart, soul to soul, the bearer and the receiver are forever changed.

Writer Neil Hilborn’s touching performance in his slam poem “OCD” has recently gone viral, bringing to mind the many LGBTQIA poets and creatives in our midst with their own stories of love and life.

Slam poems and artistic poetry performance videos dovetail so nicely into the framework of social media, aka “Short Attention Span Theater.” All the while, the popularity of such creatives and their efforts debunk the myth that we’re all becoming bots, drones and distracted Internet denizens who can do nothing but lower the bar when it comes to being entertained. As we praise the art, we raise the art.

Queerly Speaking: Queerious Poems & Artistic Feats

There are many queer artists of late who’ve come to shine brightly, find their audiences and clock hundreds of thousands of views for sharing their feelings, style, art, writing and messages in video form—and thank goodness for them. With each new word experienced, we’re reminded to walk through this life: chin up, spirits high, feet facing forward.

Women of the World Poetry Slam winner Denice Frohman’s “Dear Straight People” video is one of the many gorgeous works capturing our imaginations. Garnering clicks, attention, ongoing #lolz and serious praise, Frohman’s hard-hitting truths hammer out insightful words of witticism and encourage laughs of recognition. Here are but a few gems encapsulated in a handful of minutes:

“Sexuality and gender…? Two different things. Combined in many different ways. If you mismatch your socks, you understand.”

“Dear Hip Hop: why are you fascinated with discovering gay rappers? Gay people rap. Just like gay people ride bikes and eat tofu.”

“Dear straight bullies, you’re right: we don’t have the same values. You kill everything that’s different. I preserve it.”

Words cascade like waterfalls. Prosaic glitter and poetic license, new beats and audio treats make their way towards all who have ears to hear, fingers to snap, hands to clap, and believing hearts to respond.

Visit the links below to watch these and so much more: it’s compelling, queer-powered poetry in motion.

Denice Frohman

“Dear Straight People” (WOWPS 2013)



Tanya Davis

“How to Be Alone”


Shane Koyczan

“Pork Chop” from the To This Day Project

Shanita Jackson and Dakota Oder 

“Civil Rights”

Noah St. John 

“Noah St. John Performs at Queeriosity 2010”

Stayceyann Chin

“Feminist or a Womanist”

Andrea Gibson

The Jewelry Store


To watch all of these videos as a playlist, please click the link below.


Mindshare & Memory: Slam Poems & Creative Poetry Videos


Picture this Romance: Gorgeous Lesbian Indian Wedding Photos

Apart from Love, everything passes away.

The way to Heaven is in your heart.

Open and lift the wings of Love!

When Love’s wings are strong, you need no ladder.

– Rumi

“We are a typical couple, at least to us. We are an interracial couple of Indian and American descent who found love at first sight. Well, let’s make that Shannon found love at first sight. The day I met Seema, I was teaching one of my boot camp classes and I turned to another instructor and said ‘I’m going to marry her.’ Of course, Seema fell in love shortly after, and six years later it became true.”

Shannon and Seema, to Buzzfeed

With Love, From Shannon and Seema

Bringing with it all the vibrant, colorful imagery of Deepa Mehta’s “Fire,” this story, these images—it’s the stuff of modern myth—but what a beautiful surprise—this is in fact the real deal.

Huffington Post Gay Voices recently profiled photographer Steph Grant and her dear friends, newly-wedded couple Shannon and Seema, complemented with gorgeous, romantic and exquisitely rich images of two women who are deeply in love.

Put A Ring On It And Take A Picture, Please

“I have photographed Indian weddings before and I have photographed gay and lesbian weddings before, but never have I ever shot an Indian lesbian wedding,” photographer Steph Grant wrote about her recent (and lovely) wedding photography assignment.

While it is decidedly challenging to be out and proud in India (most especially for women) as well as in Indian diasporic culture, this recent news item is a hopeful reminder that change is possible. The wedding itself took place in Los Angeles, though the ceremony incorporated Indian wedding traditions and attire.

Continuing the story on her blog, Grant enthused, “I have been anticipating this wedding for years now! Shannon and Seema are special to me and I am honored that they chose me to be their wedding photographer. I flew into Los Angeles a few hours before the wedding festivities began. I was greeted by a house full of friends, family and a lot of laughter. It was going to be an exciting day.”

“Beautiful Indian culture, stunning brides & style for miles!” she continued. “Couldn’t ask for more. WOW. My heart! There was so much love that consumed the SmogShoppe that evening. Friends and family came pouring in with smiles, hugs and tears… these two are clearly loved and in love. I am writing this blog a month after the wedding and I am proud to say that so much progress has been made in our country with the Supreme Court striking down DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and Prop 8 in California! Love wins. ALWAYS. Congrats Shannon & Seema. Love you guys!”

To check out the rest of the exclusive photos from this auspicious occasion, visit Steph Grant’s blog here:

Have you ever seen such fabulous wedding photographs? And do you think you’ll ever get hitched? If you do, will you go “flossy-flossy” fancy, or do you think you’ll elope instead? Share your thoughts, Darl’s.


LZ Granderson: The Myth of The Gay Agenda

“…I have taught myself to sew, cook, fix plumbing, build furniture – I can even pat myself on the back when necessary…. There’s nothing I need from anyone except for love and respect. And anyone who can’t give me those two things has no place in my life.”

– Arnold from “Torch Song Trilogy.”

Visit Bing or Yahoo. Google or Duck Duck Go.

(Don’t worry, we’ll wait.)

Now: search for the words “Gay Agenda.”

(We’ll be right here, so be sure to come back. Better yet, open up another window or tab. There you go.)

Here’s what you’ll find: you’ll discover and learn more about us here at (please do that!).

You’ll also see many, many other “interesting” finds. Most notably, you’ll encounter a lot of people who have coined the hateful term and idea of the “gay agenda,” words we happily reclaim.

Among the search results you’ll find will be CNN reporter-journalist LZ Granderson’s world renowned, fact-filled, heartwarming and humorous TED Talk, “The Myth of the Gay Agenda.”

Remember that “Gay Agenda” search engine quest from before? LZ really, really went there too—in fact, he went into some extended search action…!

The results he found included a wealth of hate-monger speech and ignorance-laden articles and updates about the “dangerous gay lifestyle,” and the “dangerous gay agenda.”

On thumbing through result after result of anti-gay propaganda, Granderson reflects: “If I’m gay and I’m doing something that’s going to destroy civilization, I need to figure out what this stuff is. And, I need to stop doing it right now!” [The audience laughs.]

“I took a look at my life—a hard look at my life,” he goes on, “And I saw some things very disturbing. And I want to begin sharing these ‘evil’ things that I’ve been doing with you, starting with my mornings.

[The audience continues laughing along with LZ.] He continues the in-joke: “I drink coffee. Not only do I drink coffee. I know other people who drink coffee.”

Granderson directs us to the first slide of a PowerPoint presentation with the laughable title, “The Super Duper Evil Gay Lifestyle,” emblazoned with the rainbow flag.

He walks us through his happily partnered life and the daily goings on of being a busy parent. He then goes on to masterfully, ironically illustrate his points. “Run for your heterosexual lives, people!” Granderson humorously “threatens” during the conference, dismantling the hateful rhetoric that anti-gay bigots just so happen to throw around.

At the end of the day, LZ Granderson’s presentation fights for, in his own words, “Love and respect….trying to find your place in the world.” It seems so simple—the real “agenda” has to do with those who seek to complicate it. To destroy rights that have already been granted, and to prevent acquisition of others.

Finding and enjoying “love and respect:” in essence, this is everyone’s “agenda.” Granderson brilliantly brings these and other heartening ideas to the fore.

When he talks about love, his family, adoption and marriage equality, your eyes will get misty, your lips will quiver, you’ll be reminded of your own humanity. His talk is quite lovely and forever relevant.

LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and He spoke at TEDx Grand Rapids in May 2012. TED is a nonprofit organization dedicated to “Ideas worth spreading” which it makes available through talks posted on its website. (

You can tweet your reactions and support to LZ  @Locs_n_Laughs.

Click here to watch the video—with choreographed light saber moves and all the belly laughs you can stand included. (

So what did you think of LZ Granderson’s TED Talk ?

Why LGBTQ or GLBT? Why Trans* or Trans? A Look at Queering the Acronym

We communicate, therefore we abbreviate.

Social media may be viral, but without the words we say and the language we speak, it would have no foundation from which to travel and spread ideas.

Culturally, words are important to LGBTQIA folks. Not only for communicating concepts, but for fighting for our rights, for inclusivity, for assisting in diversity training, and of course, for us to find and to connect with each other among many other helpful purposes.

For instance, writing the word trans* with an asterisk at the end has its own special meaning. In short, the addition of the asterisk is more inclusive. Please click here to learn more about that in a full context.

Also, there are many people who find the word “transman” or “transwoman” to be dehumanizing or offensive, and who feel you should insert a space between each word for that reason.

But then of course, language is complex and contradictory. For example, the organization Black Transmen articulates the experience of trans* men by writing “transmen” as one word in their official parlance.

This brings to mind similar linguistic differences reminiscent of calling oneself “gay” versus calling oneself “same gender loving” or SGL. (“SGL” was a term created in generally African American circles, initiated to take one’s focus away from sex and place it on relationships, but SGL automatically excludes many trans* persons).

Or, there’s articulating queer culture as being “gay” rather than the more inclusive “LGBT” “GLBT,” that’s another example. Too, people can be attached to the order of the letters, favoring starting with “G” or “L.”). Next, there is “LGBTQ.” However, writing or saying “queer” can be an issue to some, as if there is something so-called “wrong” with being gay or having another sexual or gender orientation, rather than the intended meaning of reclaiming the insult as a word of empowerment (“We’re here, we’re queer. Get used to it.”).

Also, many acronyms and terms exist to behoove inclusivity-focused communication (e.g. LGBTQIAU for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer, intersex persons, allies and undeclared), and the lists go on and on.

Here are a few others:

SOFFA – Significant Other, Friends, Families and Allies – Generally used in trans* culture.

GAY – (This word didn’t begin as an acronym, but it has become one. Aside from literally meaning “homosexual,” “happy” or as shorthand for “LGBTQ”) – Gifted and Young, Good As You, Gay. Are You?

IMRU – I’m Queer/Gay. Are You?

LGBTQ / TBLG / LGBTQQIAAS / GLB / LGBTQIAP Any combination or order of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, straight, pansexual and so forth. When letters are excluded, this might have to do with, for instance, trans* activists who are exploring ideas of inclusivity when it comes to trans* culture. They might say, “We deserve to have a voice at this convention where the majority of the speakers are LGB-only.”

LGBTIH Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexed and “hijira” (third gender).

TS Two-Spirit.

FABGLITTER Shorthand for Fetish and BDSM community, Allies or Polyamorous.

QUILTBAG Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender/Transsexual, Bisexual, Allied/Asexual, Gay/Genderqueer.

Social critics and in-community critics tend to think of all of these acronyms as “over-corrected political correctness,” too focused on sexuality, not separating sexual and gender expression properly, or too exclusive in nature.

Generally, living in queer culture involves many elements of culture, lifestyle, privilege, preference, sexual expression, race, class, gender identity, social and hierarchical challenges, religious and moral backgrounds, geographical diversity, preferences not to be labeled, and so much more that is exceedingly difficult to encapsulate or summarize.

If anything, the acronyms can become a code, a way of transacting in the world, a way to find and befriend allies, a way to encourage others to think differently or more broadly, or a way to regain respect and grounding among others in our environment who would seek to derail or exclude others.

As a communicator and mediator myself, this can make communication, sharing information and reportage seem somewhat challenging, but not impossibly so. Prosaically, I do tend to use many different terms interchangeably as well as alternating them—so it’s likely that will offend some or many without having an intention to do so.

Personally, I tend to go by the M.O. of: “I’ll address you respectfully and earnestly in the way you prefer to be addressed. I’ll do my best to honor y/our culture going on what I know, today, and using the breadth of terminology that’s available to us, so that we can all connect.”

Which acronym, term or shorthand do you prefer? (“None” counts, too.)

“Smexy Times” for Summer Lovers: A Playlist for Women-Loving Women

Pride events are still popping off all around the world—no doubt your iTunes playlist is filled to brimming, but there’s always room for one more great song, yes?

You could rock this playlist on the ride to Pride, use it to woo that office cutie you’ve had your eye on, make a little old school digital mixtape for your Honey, or keep them in your arsenal for that special someone on that next “smexy” night together.

Ready? Let’s go!

Love Songs for Lesbians

– MeShell Ndegeocello “Let Me Have You” – As a standout track from the movie “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” home girl’s heart is hurting, her mind is racing, and she just wants a little loving. Your loving. “You’re the only one,” she coos with all the swagger of a rapper. Only she ain’t rappin’, she is singing, wooing, and wanting. Highly recommended for the romantic studs in the bunch who aren’t “too grown to cry,” and “ain’t too proud to beg.”

– The Ditty Bops – When’s She Coming Home –  Delightfully “twee,” charming and delicious, real-life couple and dynamic duo The Ditty Bops deliver sweetness and light on this particular track. Guitars strum melodically as they sing in tandem, “Afraid of the time on my hands…without her, I don’t have a plan.” Bonus for lesbian roomies hung up and crushing out on a roommate or friend, finally wanting to take things to the next level.

– Lady Gaga – “So Happy I Could Die” –  It’s debatable: some folks think this song is about Lady Gaga, referring to one of her many alter egos. And the point is…? Women who love women are a walking metaphor. As for this cut, Gaga goes all Euro-Electro (duh), swooning, “I love that lavender blonde…the way she moves, the way she walks…just give up, Baby. Open up your heart and your mind to me.”

– Peaches – “Boys Wanna Be Her.” –  Play it cool: act like you don’t care. You’re a rock star, right? So you don’t care. “Boys Wanna Be Her” is about you, isn’t it? Yup—that’s what we thought. This song’s full-on glam rock. With an easy, anthemic chorus and knife-edge vocals, “The way you rock nonstop, girl you got the chops…”  see there? You’ll get your lady dancing, you’re moving along in time, you start a mosh pit, party of two…and the rest is up to the both of you. Godspeed.

The Strap Step by The Lost Bois   – Totally NSFW lyrics regarding…well look at the title and make your guesses. This is an advanced track—let’s just say it’s not a first date selection. Strictly for adults only—you feel us? Side tangent, the Lost Bois’ flow on this track is amazing, and they’re not afraid to have a little giggle along the way (chicks dig humor!). Fully confident, fully queer, a tad bit cheeky, ultimately hot.

Namoli Brennet – Stars  – Dreamy, romantic bliss. “Maybe you were somebody’s unfinished symphony,” Namoli sings, pensive and endearing. “What if we, what if we are stars?” Nice pre-party or after-party track. Heck, just take it to the cocktail party. Gorgeous lyrics—Namoli always delivers as much. So chill. Just hold her hand, Mama. Let’s contemplate all this.

Ani Di Franco – Sunday Morning – This song’s vibe streams through mindscapes of a loving couple so very familiar with one another—but still able to appreciate life’s quirks and love’s gifts. She sings it to a lover departed, but it’s tricky, because she sings it in the present tense. Isn’t that always the way? | “Sunday morning, you’re doing your thing, and I am doing mine,” she sings so kindly. “Speaking words more a formality, ’cause we can feel we are of one mind. Sunday morning, sheets still warm and kitty’s swarming ’round our feet. Life comes easy. Your sweet company making it so complete.”Loving this: blast this track on a Sunday Morning and your Love will be so pleasantly surprised.

There you have it—it’s a start, anyhow. To hear all the songs on this playlist, visit this link.

Surely this playlist—with an emphasis on “play”—-is not yet complete. What’s missing? Let a sister know.

Success Fit For a Queen: Queen Latifah’s New Talk Show & LGBT-Ally Strides

RT ‏@FlavorUnitEnt | Are you ready?? “@IAMQUEENLATIFAH-“I really think there’s space in daytime TV for a whole bunch of fun, some amazing music, and some heart.”

– A recent tweet from Queen Latifah’s promotions crew

When Queen Latifah walks, she’s always walking on the red carpet. Cheerful, elegant and reflective, she can also turn on a Hip Hop Head “mean mug” glance in a heartbeat. She’s a strong, gorgeous, proud—and many say Same Gender Loving—woman of color making great moves in this world.

Queen Latifah’s been spotted out and about over time with  rumored girlfriends (, is often noticed partying in lesbian clubs, and made her first high-profile public appearance at last year’s  Long Beach Pride (

She’s making the press rounds to share fantastic professional news: “The Queen’s” new daytime TV talk show will begin airing on Sept. 16 and is co-produced by Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, who recently made headlines yet again for their frankness regarding open relationships.

In this world, when you’re an entertainer, news bytes such as these make front page news hand-in-hand. Still, unlike Will and Jada, Queen Latifah isn’t fazed: she’s keeping her personal life out of the spotlight, no matter what we think we know about it.

During a recent press junket, Latifah told THR, “I don’t feel the need to discuss my private life on this show or on any show. There’s the part of my life that the public and I share together. And there’s the part that’s mine to keep for myself. And that’s mine. For me.”

Encouraging self-love, self-acceptance, optimal nutrition (with her Jenny Craig low-pressure “Ideal Size” campaigns), and self-care with a stylish flair, Latifah’s less of a guru and more of a “Can-Do.” (“She did it, I can too.”

One thing’s for sure: her private life is private, and to know there’s an ally in our midst who got her start in Hip Hop (whatever her sexual orientation and preference) and builds a bridge across many cultures in such a way is definitely a good thing.

Find out more about Queen Latifah’s new show how at, and click here to watch her chat with THR at YouTube. ()

All hail the Queen! Send your congrats and big-ups to Queen Latifah @IAMQUEENLATIFAH.

The Great Gay Migration – Suze Orman Urges Gay Couples to Move for Marriage Equality

Love Wins: Respect For Marriage Finds Federal Support – But Which States Are Most Supportive?Love Wins: Respect For Marriage Finds Federal Support – But Which States Are Most Supportive?

“People ask, ‘What’s the big deal about being married,?’ When it comes to insurance, estate benefits, pensions, it’s really important that this happens on the federal level, not just the state level.”

– Suze Orman

Financial consultant, author and CNBC TV personality Suze Orman recently told the press that gay couples should put their money where equality lives—so much so, that they should move to pro marriage equality states.

In March of this year, Orman voiced her opinions on the MSNBC program “Now With Alex Wagner.”She’s concerned about the livelihood of herself and partner Kathy Travis (Orman often affectionately calls her “KT”), and she wants to defend the rights of committed couples everywhere.

Sharing the platform with Congressman Sean Maloney (the first openly gay congressman from New York), Orman broached the topic earnestly, saying: “Here’s the thing…gay people understand very well that when they get married, that is a legal document. And when you get married, that means if you don’t want to stay together anymore, then you are going to have to go through a serious divorce.”

She continued, “I care about every single gay person out there. I care about every single straight person out there that knows somebody who’s gay.”

“Currently I am a resident of Florida … and I would be more than happy to go and move. I have substantial wealth.  I pay substantial taxes… I would be more than happy to move to New York or California if I could get married and be recognized on a federal level, because I want to live in a state that validates me, and I would validate them with my money.”

As a Fort Lauderdale, FL resident, Suze Orman made her comments before Section 3 of the  Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court (thereby no longer preventing the federal government from recognizing marriages of same-sex couples). Her words continue to reverberate in the community.

Federal and state agencies still have to be about the business of enforcing the overturned law, trying to standardize what it means in terms of state-to-state protections, and engendering the transition throughout the US in terms of granting benefits and myriad other legal rights for couples.

Activists continue to encourage LGBTQ people to vote with their dollars and embody their feelings through proactively standing a stand. Though Florida has no state income tax, Orman told the press a move could still save her millions of dollars, so she continues to ponder moving to a state that’s more supportive for gay couples, such as California.

“KT is not for that, just so you know,” Orman recently told The Huffington Post. “I really think that it is…important that all of us support states that support us.”

So what’s next for LGBTQ legally married folks? Do we stay in less progressive states and fight for our own benefits where we live, or move to places where we are afforded more legal protections?



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 ( 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?

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


* The Brown Boi Project

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

* 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 (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





* Kimpton LGBT Guest Loyalty Perks

* Sweet


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?