It was four years ago that I put together my first National Coming Out Day Gallery of famous out people and I remember thinking, ‘Boy, there sure are a lot!’
Well, that was nothing.
So many people have taken that public step of coming out since then that I cannot possibly include everyone in this post.
I settled on 100.
Since last year’s National Coming Out Day, among the people who are new to the gallery are Ricky Martin, Meredith Baxter, Chris Colfer and Chely Wright who have all not only come out, but become such eloquent voices in the fight for equal rights.
It’s so powerful to have these people come out and we have also learned in recent weeks, following a string of teenage suicides, how they have been willing to step up and speak out.
Wanda Sykes, Neil Patrick Harris, Tim Gunn, Chaz Bono, Jake Shears, Ellen DeGeneres, Nate Berkus, Lance Bass, Colfer and Wright made high-profile videos or statements or talk show appearances and spoke from their hearts.
Many of the faces here are household names from the worlds of television, movies, Broadway, television news, music and sports and some are on my radar for their work in LGBT independent film and TV series.
I admire them all for being out and for living their truth.
Who will be next to join this ever-growing group?
PICTURED, in order: Ricky Martin, Meredith Baxter, Chely Wright, David Burtka and Neil Patrick Harris, Jane Lynch, Jonathan Groff, Cynthia Nixon, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia DeGeneres, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Martina Navratilova, Adam Lambert, Wanda Sykes, Sean Hayes, Chris Colfer, Rachel Maddow, Elton John, Lily Tomlin, Tom Ford, John Barrowman, Nate Berkus, Dustin Lance Black, Alan Cumming, Cherry Jones, Scott Evans, Ryan Murphy, Sara Gilbert, BD Wong, Tim Gunn, Luke Macfarlane, Billie Jean King, Gavin Greel, Gareth Thomas, Rex Lee, Darryl Stephens, Charlie David, Brian Batt Matthew Mitcham, Cheyenne Jackson, Lance Bass, Chaz Bono, Amelie Mauresmo, Ian McKellan, George Takei, Thom Bierdz, Rosie O’Donnell, Nicholas Rodriguez, Nick Adams, Kelly McGillis, Suze Orman, Alec Mapa, Dave Koz, Michael Urie, Anthony Rapp, Chad Allen, Jill Bennett, Steve Callahan, Candis Cayne, Harvey Feirstein, Heather Matarazzo, Rufus Wainwright, Coco Peru, Jeff Lewis, Peter Paige, Clay Aiken, John Amaechi, Nathan Lane, Sarah Paulson, Robert Gant, David Hyde Pierce, George Michael, Michael Feinstein, Clementine Ford, Dr. Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, John Benjamin Hickey, Alexis Arquette, Matthew Montgomery, Sheryl Swoops, Jonathan Slavin, Billy Bean, Jason Stuart, Greg Louganis, Melissa Etheridge, T.R. Knight, Randy Harrison, Michelle Wolfe, Thomas Roberts, Wilson Cruz, Ross Mathews, Jake Shears, Christopher Sieber, Sam Harris, KD Lang, Doug Spearman, Reichen Lehmkuhl, Leslie Jordan, Tab Hunter, Richard Chamberlain.
Jane Lynch was, of course, terrific as host of Saturday Night Live.
The show opened with a painfully unfunny Gloria Allred sketch that, thankfully, was not indicative of the rest of the show. Once a confident and positively radiant Jane walked out to greet the audience, I knew we were in excellent hands.
She did a theme some to Glee during the opening that was funny, was Sue Sylvester in an amusing but not hilarious Glee meets Gilly sketch and had to play second fiddle in a very funny Denzel Washington working retail sketch.
Jane’s highlights were the “The New Boyfriend Talk Show” sketch and a pair of pre-filmed bits including Jane as the mom of a college kid who joins Facebook and Jane as a perverted shrink.
A game show sketch that was clearly inspired by the old To Tell the Truth show was funny to me because Jane seemed to be a combination of Phyllis Diller and Peggy Cass and Kristin Wiig was doing a takeoff on Kitty Carlisle who used to glide in looking fabulous.
You don’t hear much about handsome actor Lee Majors these days but he managed to remain one of televisions biggest stars through the 60s (The Big Valley), the 70s (Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law and The Six Million Dollar Man) and the 80s (The Fall Guy).
He also, of course was the man married to Farrah Fawcett during her meteoric rise from a model-actress doing television commercials and TV guest spots to a television superstar in Charlie’s Angels whose fame soon eclipsed his.
Their nine-year marriage ended when Farrah, who died last year, left him for Ryan O’Neal with whom she embarked on an on-again, off-again three-decade love affair.
Lee, now 71, made his film debut at the age of 25 in the Joan Crawford film Straighjacket. He then beat out 400 other hopefuls for the coveted role of Heath Barkley in a new ABC western series The Big Valley. Barbara Stanwyck played his mother and Linda Evans his sister in the show which ran for five seasons.
His star rose even higher in 1973 when Lee was cast as Colonel Steve Austin, an ex-astronaut with bionic limbs in The Six Million Dollar Man.
He made several little-seen feature films after the show was canceled in 1978 but returned in 1981 with another hit series: The Fall Guy.
Majors played Colt Seavers, a Hollywood stuntman and part-time bounty hunter. The Fall Guy ran five seasons and allowed Majors an opportunity to show off his comedic abilities, something audiences hadn’t yet seen. He was also a producer and a director on the show, and even sang its theme song, the self-effacing The Unknown Stuntman.
Lee stepped back into the role of Steve Austin for a series of Six Million Dollar Man-Bionic Woman movies with Lindsay Wagner in the late 80s and early 90s and more recently had recurring roles on The Game and Weeds and guest starred on Human Target, Community and According to Jim.
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) presented the stars of ABC’s Modern Family with the Respect Award for embracing diversity on the Emmy-winning sitcom.
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who plays Mitchell and is openly gay,was among the show’s stars who were on hand Friday night in Beverly Hills to accept the award.
On the red carpet, he talked about recent reports of gay teens who committed suicide because of bullying.
“I do have the same sort of mixed feeling, in the light of everything that’s happened,” he told the Associated Press. “However, I think an event like this echoes the sentiment that we need to change. This cannot continue happening.”
He remembers getting tormented when he was growing up, at one point having to switch school to escape the bullies.
Modern Family co-star Sofia Vergara said acceptance is even further away in her native Colombia: “The Latin community is a very Catholic community. So, it’s always a problem for people to accept it, and they live in denial for many years, the parents, and prefer not to address the problem. And that’s when tragedies and things happen. And, you know, it’s hard. You’re not going to change things in one day.”
Other stars attending the awards show were (pictured below) out country singer Chely Wright, out stage, film and TV star Wilson Cruz, the legendary Florence Henderson who is currently dazzling us on Dancing With the Stars, and the Oscar winner screenwriter and LGBT rights activist Dustin Lance Black.
It was two years ago that Yoko Ono and I chatted for my column for the LA Daily News. On the 70th anniversary of the birth of her husband, John Lennon, here is our 2008 interview:
I admit it, the prospect of calling up Yoko Ono at her home at the famed Dakota apartment building in New York City made me a little nervous. She’s such an iconic figure and her marriage to the late John Lennon is one of the great love stories of all time. But once we began to chat, I was surprised at how friendly and candid she was.
“Every day, I’m thankful that I’m still alive,” Yoko said. “Every morning, I wake up and I see that I have about 20 different things you have to do and I keep doing it. One is artwork and music as well, and the business, and John’s work. it’s totally packed.”
It’s John’s artwork that Yoko wanted to talk about most since more than 100 pieces of it will be on display on Friday and Saturday at the new Neiman Marcus store inside the Westfield Topanga Mall in Canoga Park.
“I’m proud of every work that’s there,” she said. “I hand-picked them for good reason. They had to be artistically good and reflect his spirit. All I was thinking was, ‘OK, I want to do John’s art, I better do it because it’s there and John would have wanted me to do
“The Art of John Lennon” has been touring for about 15 years now and Yoko thinks she knows why it has had such staying power: “He was just being himself and himself was a guy who had an incredible sense of humor. It wasn’t about trying not trying to impress critics, he was just having fun doing it and it shows. People who see his work, the first thing they do is smile or laugh. There’s a warmth to his work. At a gallery, usually you see work that is very serious, there’s a lack of a sense of humor in art world.”
It’s pretty amazing to think that a few decades ago, the exhibit of John’s art was a bit of a tough sell.
“In the beginning it was a hard job to try and put it in different shows,” Yoko said. “People thought, ‘He’s so famous, it’s a musician dabbling.’ In the beginning it was sporadic. Now it’s a very popular program. The people started to notice it’s a good show and he’s a good artist and it took off very well. I’m so glad.”
Ironically, it was at an art gallery where the couple first met. “At the time I thought I’m an artist and he’s a musician. I didn’t know that he was an art student first. Meeting me in that environment, I think that kind of stimulated him, awakened that side of him. It was pretty interesting to watch. He was so good. I said, ‘You are too good to not be doing it.”
Her husband has been gone for nearly 28 years now and at 75 years old, Yoko is amazingly youthful. I wondered what the secret was.
“I have no idea, I’m just very lucky,” she said. “I think it has a lot to do with the way I think about things. There was a time when I was really feeling bad, the fact that John passed away. But I thought, ‘I have to not drown in this. I’m a mother. I think I have
to stay alive for Sean.”
And how is her and John’s son, musician Sean Lennon, doing these days?
“Sean is very well,” she said. “At one time he wasn’t, he was feeling so bad about the fact that his father is so big and it was difficult for him. But now he’s got his own gig and he’s happy about it.”
Last month, I was walking out of my chiropractor’s office in Studio City and walking in was Harry Hamlin!
I had seen him earlier in the summer when he and wife Lisa Rinna were promoting their new reality show Harry Loves Lisa which has gotten off to a strong start on TV Land. Anyway, we gabbed for a few minutes and he was very friendly and, for a man of 59, still pretty hot!
Harry has been out promoting the show and chatted with Out.com about it and other topics including Lisa’s famously big lips: “When I met Lisa, I had no idea that she had anything done to her lips. I love them the way they are. She confessed to me months after we got together that she had injections in her lips. I went, “OK, that’s like getting a tattoo I guess.”
Here are some other highlights:
Making Love has a lot in common with Brokeback Mountain in that it caused so much hoopla about straight actors playing gay roles — and particularly characters who have sex on screen.
That all changed with Philadelphia, I think. Our movie was made before the whole AIDS situation had even been discovered, so it was not a part of how people perceived the gay community then. There was a kind of innocence to the world we inhabited that hasn’t been there since. There’s always this thing in the background now. When Tom did Philadelphia, people began to accept that an actor is an actor and you can play any part. Before that, when we did Making Love, it was unconscionable that a straight actor would play a gay role as blatantly as we did. It hadn’t been done before. Perception blended us with our characters. We had to be gay or we wouldn’t have done it. I always found that kind of amusing. I never shied away from that. I never said, “You’re wrong.” I’d say 90% of the people who saw that film thought Michael and I had to be gay.
Did that affect your choices about future films?
Yeah. I don’t go so far as to connect the dots but Making Love is the last studio picture I ever made. You want to connect some dots there, you can. I was never able to make another studio picture after that.
Speaking of someone who thinks you’re sexy, Harry loves…Lisa’s lips.
I do. When I met Lisa, I had no idea that she had anything done to her lips. I love them the way they are. She confessed to me months after we got together that she had injections in her lips. I went, “OK, that’s like getting a tattoo I guess.”
It’s certainly something you and Brad Pitt could bond over — being with famous ladies with famous lips.
Well there you go. I’ve never used that as a conversation piece, but I will now.
Well, as someone with notable man-tresses, do you have a secret to great hair?
I water it everyday.
Harry Loves Lisa airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST on TV Land. For more info, visit the show’s official website. Harry Hamlin’s new book, Full Frontal Nudity is now in stores.
It’s silly, I know, but I probably would have featured the handsome actor Sam Page as a Morning Man well before this had his character on Desperate Housewives not been so despicable to my Andrew Van de Kamp (Shawn Pyfrom) last season.
I guess I hold a grudge!
But I can wait no longer so here is Sam, a red-hot actor who also plays Greg Harris on AMC’s Emmy winning Mad Men, did three episodes of ABC Family’s Greek and has just begun appearing on Gossip Girl as Serena’s new love interest.
It’s a terrific run for the 33-year-old Sam who in 2002 played the role of Trey Kenyan on ABC’s All My Children and soon had a recurring role on NBC’s American Dreams. Next up was a starring role in the Fox drama Point Pleasant and co-starring opposite James Woods in the CBS legal drama Shark.
Sam’s other TV credits include episodes of CSI Miami, 7th Heaven, Popular, Undressed and the Saturday morning series Hang Time.
Sam didn’t begin appearing on TV until he was in his 2os because he was busy earning a B.A. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton University.
For his senior thesis, Page wrote about the mating habits of a female mosquitofish; the work was published in a science journal.
The party was just great because I met some new people and chatted with some old friends (I lived in Long Beach for seven years in the 90s before going Hollywood).
Then came the real highlight of the evening: A screening of the sexy, haunting love story Contracorriente (Undertow in English). The film, which won the 2010 Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, is set in a tiny Peruvian seaside village where traditions run deep.
Here’s a synopsis: Miguel (Cristian Mercado), a young fisherman, and his beautiful bride, Mariela (Tatiana Astengo), are about to welcome their first child. But Miguel harbors a scandalous secret. He’s in love with Santiago (Manolo Cardona), a painter, who is ostracized by the town because he’s gay. After a tragic accident occurs, Miguel must choose between sentencing Santiago to eternal torment or doing right by him and, in turn, revealing their relationship to Mariela—and the entire village.
This moving film is written and directed by Javier Fuentes-León and there is a serious campaign underway to snag an Academy Award nomination for outstanding foreign film.
I hope the effort is successful! I loved the movie which was beautifully acted and gorgeous to look at. After the screening, I started chatting with another audience member as we waited for a shuttle. He informed me that he had been a film student and, well, the movie did nothing for him because “I’m so tired of that same old paradigm.”
Everyone is entitled to their opinion but I gotta wonder if blood is still flowing through this guy’s heart. I was so deeply moved by the courage of Miguel who may have been a coward through much of the film, but in the end he finds his truth and once he does, he risks all to live it. Isn’t that the story with so many people?
Anyway, if you missed the movie last night, it will screen again on Sunday at The Art Theatre in Long Beach on the final day of the four-day festival. Here is a LINK to the festival’s home page for more information.
Don’t know about you, but I think I may get through the entire episode of Saturday Night Live tomorrow because Jane Lynch is hosting.
She’s such a genius that I just know it’s going to be a great show. Since she’s in New York right now, the Glee star was able to stop by Late Night With Jimmy Fallon last night for a chat.
The first topic was the Emmys because not only did Jane win one and Jimmy host the show, they both were in the opening Born to Run musical number and are only now admitting just how damned nervous they were about the whole thing.
She’s also “got the perfect cocktail of nervousness and excitement” when it comes to SNL. She also says she may be doing a little singing on the show!
I’ll never get tired of posting stories about people stepping up.
This one is about country music superstar Tim McGraw who showed up at Grassland Middle School in Tennessee this week to talk to the students about being kind to each other and how to stop bullies from hurting others.
According to The Tennessean, the singer mentioned that he’d heard about a “compassionate and loving” 13-year-old boy named Asher on the morning’s news. Asher Brown committed suicide last month after being taunted by his classmates at a Texas middle school.
“He was bullied to death,” McGraw told the kids.
He encouraged the students to speak up if they see bullying behavior, walk away from bad situations and, above all, not to fall into the trap of becoming a bully.
McGraw had never given an anti-bullying speech before and showed up at the school at the request of his 11-year-old nephew, Jace Jewell, a sixth-grader at Grassland.
“It’s not really my forte,” he told The Tennessean after the assembly. “But after Jace asked me to come and speak about this, I got some of my talking points together. I think it’s important for the students to hear. Anything I can do to stop bullying is what I’ll do.”
Anderson Cooper has led the way this week by complaining loudly about the trailer for the upcoming Vince Vaughn comedy The Dilemma in which the actor says to a roomful of people: “Ladies and gentlemen, electric cars … are gay.”
Anderson said on his CNN show and on The Ellen DeGeneres Show this week that he saw the trailer while at the movies over the weekend and was not only shocked that the phrase was in the film, but right there in the trailer.
It’s made a difference: Universal Pictures has decided to pull the trailer for the movie and replace it with a new one some time today, the studio tells TMZ.
Sources at Universal Pictures told Deadline Hollywood‘s Nikki Finke they showed the trailer to gay rights groups beforehand, including GLAAD, and didn’t get any negative feedback. We’ll see if GLAAD has anything to say about that claim.
UPDATE: GLAAD says: Last month Universal shared a link to the trailer for the film ‘The Dilemma’ with GLAAD. After reviewing, GLAAD called on Universal to remove the scene where the word ‘gay’ was used as a pejorative from the trailer. Today, after Anderson Cooper also spoke out against the scene, Universal confirmed to GLAAD that the offensive joke will be removed from promotional campaigns from this point forward, including in the trailer currently playing in movie theatres.
Said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios: “The use of the word ‘gay’ in this trailer as a slur is unnecessary and does nothing more than send a message of intolerance about our community to viewers.”
A rep for Universal Pictures also told TMZ, “The teaser trailer for The Dilemma was not intended to cause anyone discomfort. In light of growing claims that the introduction to the trailer is insensitive, it is being replaced. A full trailer, which has been in the works for some time, will post online later today.”
Kudos to Anderson for staying on this. And I have to add this thought because I’ve been hearing from gays who think Anderson has to publicly come out with all that is going on and his involvement in the reporting. I just want to reiterate my stance on this: any gay person should come out when and if they damned well want to. I’m grateful for Anderson’s passion and persistence on this topic.
The Suds Report asked several soap stars to share their thoughts about bullying and teen suicide and I’m highlighting three of the responses I felt were very well thought out.
The tragedies of recent weeks has led to people opening up more than ever before.
Michael Muhney of The Young and the Restless: “I was severely bullied as a kid and it hurts my heart to know how cruel people can be to others, especially teens. These bullies usually hate one thing — themselves. I just wish these beautiful, unique, wonderful kids who are harassed and picked on knew how amazing they truly are. You have to remember, there will always be cruel, hateful bullies, but they are far outnumbered by those of us who realize that whether you are gay, black, straight, Asian, blind, Jewish, deaf, fat, skinny, etc., that WE all know how beautiful and amazing you are. And we don’t want you to hide who you are, we want you to celebrate it, and we’ll celebrate it with you.
“These recent suicides hit me with a heavy heart. I have had two family members commit suicide both when I was 13 and again five years ago. There is always another chance if you have tomorrow. Don’t take ‘tomorrow’ away from yourself.”
Nancy Lee Grahn of General Hospital: “How is it in 2010, people still don’t get it? So much has been said, the trouble is that the people that need to hear it simply won’t listen. Perhaps pointing and staring at them will help?
I think the biggest bullies are the religious leaders that preach intolerance because “God” told them to do it. Those little gems trickle down to those that believe Fred Flintstone really drove his car with his feet. [Unfortunately], those people breed and so on …
I could go on and on … all I know is I have a kid that I feel certain would never bully. I’m as sure of that as I am of anything. I’m sorry, but the parents in these cases have to be culpable. They had to have screwed up somewhere. Compassion is the easiest thing to teach to children. It is their nature.”
Greg Rikaart of The Young and the Restless: “I remember when I was 13, hearing about a teenager who committed suicide in my hometown. The speculation was that this kid may have been gay. I’ve read that upwards of 60 per cent of teen suicides are related to sexual identity issues. That is a staggering figure. These tragic suicides are nothing new, but I think the silver lining here is that the media is reporting on them in a way that has not been done in the past. Bringing increased attention and understanding to this epidemic is tantamount to solving this crisis and a step closer to reaching full equality for gays and lesbians. I am deeply saddened for the families of those left behind and for any teenager grappling with sexual identity issues who feels isolated and helpless. I am also honored to be a guest at GLSEN’s (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network) Respect Awards here in Los Angeles this Friday. One of the goals of GLSEN is to teach/encourage kids to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. Amen to that!”
Ricky is on vacation and driving Lucy crazy hanging around the house. He needs a project. She and Ethel trick him and Fred into building a backyard barbeque.
It all goes swimmingly until Lucy realizes her wedding ring is missing and she thinks it has fallen into the wet cement used to put the barbeque together. So in the middle of the night, she and Ethel sneak out and take the still-wet barbeque apart brick by brick to sift through the cement.
I love the scene when Ethel is just fed up with Lucy for her schemes throughout the years and lets her have it. But in the end, she is there for her old chum and helps her put the barbeque back together again.
My favorite line comes in the second video after Ricky blows up after seeing that his hard work has been destroyed. Fred demands to know of Ethel: “Were you a part of the shenanigans?”
Ethel replies: “Yes I was and I’m dead tired from lifting those heavy bricks. If you say one more word I’m going to take YOU apart and put you back together again!”
I wish I had more photos of today’s Morning Man to share with you but I looked far and wide and could only find these of actor Josh Kelly who joins ABC’s One Life to Live next month.
Josh may be new to the soap, but his character is not: he has been cast as Joey Buchanan, to son of Viki and Clint Buchanan.
Joey was last seen as a regular OLTL character in 2004. After working as a photographer and a curator Joey headed to London and has been there ever since except for a return in 2007 for the funeral of his grandfather. Castle star Nathan Fillion, who played Joey in the early ’90s, returned then to play Joey.
As for Josh, he has appeared on numerous TV shows including Flash Forward, True Blood, NCIS: Los Angeles, CSI: Miami, Ugly Betty, and Desire. He was also in Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen.
But he brings more than acting experience to the equation: Josh is a former Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq.
It’s a remarkable and beautiful thing how so many LGBT folks are stepping up and doing these deeply personal videos to try and help teens who may be suicidal.
Here is Chaz Bono’s eloquent contribution: “When you grow up, you realize that you’re not alone and that there are lots and lots of people – communities of people – just like you who are willing to embrace you and support you and love you. You need to wait around and wait for that magic to happen because life is really great, even when you’re different.”
He points out that if he had done something “drastic” when he was younger and struggling, “I would have been missing out on the best times of my life.”
“Don’t let anybody tell you that there’s something wrong with you because you’re different,’ Chaz says. “There’s not.”
Among the factors contributing to the rankings were wealth, influence and media buzz.
Of course everyone is going to disagree with the rankings because it’s all kind of silly. I mean, you rank Oprah Winfrey at number three and you’re off to a bad start already.
To me, you’ve got to tank Oprah at number one, not Michelle Obama. Oprah is practically Jesus! She’s taking an entire audience to Australia for gosh sakes. She makes books best sellers! She has her own cable network!
Lady Gaga came in at number seven, just two spots behind our Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Uh, okay. Maybe if Hillary wore a meat power suit she’d move up a few notches. Ditto for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who was ranked 11th, two spots below Beyonce Knowles.
But I love that Ellen DeGeneres was ranked number 10 because I love Ellen, she puts goodness out into the world and I truly hope she is having influence and that she has all kinds of power.
A pair of powerful lesbians, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow and financial guru Suze Orman shore up the lesbian ranks coming in at numbers 50 and 61, respectively.
Ranking higher, according to Forbes, are Sarah Palin (#16), Angelina Jolie (No. 21), Katie Couric (No. 22), Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan (#25), Arianna Huffington (No. 28), Madonna (No. 29), Chelsea Handler (No. 33), and Sarah Jessica Parker (No. 45). Also on the list are tennis stars Serena Williams (#55) and her sister Venus Williams (#60).
It just cracks me up that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is No. 41, two slots below Heidi Klum! C’mon!
And just one more quibble: How in God’s name is ABC journalist Christiane Amanpour at No. 73, ranked one spot below supermodel Gisele Bundchen? Maybe being married to Tom Brady helps!
Anyway, check out the list yourself and form your own opinions and think about how pissed off Martha Stewart must be over being ranked way down at #99!
The story of brave Mississippi lesbian high school student Constance McMillen, who successfully sued the local school district for discrimination when she was banned from her prom, – will become a TV movie for ABC Family, Deadline Hollywood reports.
The project is in early stages of development and is from producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (Hairspray, Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story) and Sony Pictures TV who have optioned the rights to McMillen’s story.
Ghost Whisperer creator and executive producer John Gray will write the script and is expected to direct.
With that talent aboard, it should be a good movie. The story has a strong heroine in Constance but the villains in her town are many: Her Mississippi school decided to cancel the prom for everyone rather than have a lesbian couple on the dance floor. Then parents threw a private prom and did not include Constance.
But Constance has the last laugh. Her case quickly drew nationwide attention and she ended up receiving a $30,000 scholarship from Ellen DeGeneres, serving as a grand marshal for New York’s Gay Pride Parade, and was personally asked by Wanda Sykes to present her GLAAD Award.
The teen also attending a reception at the White House hosted by President Barack Obama and recently won a $35,000 settlement in the lawsuit against her school district, with the district agreeing to follow a non-discrimination policy.
Q. Has the way that you’ve been embraced outweighed the way the people have acted in your home town?
A. “Definitely. I have had way more support. My hometown is horrible – the [lack of] support that they’ve shown is horrible. But from across the world, it’s absolutely amazing how much support I’ve had. That’s really what keeps me going.”
Q. Where did you get the guts to stand up this way?
A. “My family has always taught me to stand up for what I believe in. If I feel in my heart that something’s right, then that’s what I’m gonna do and if I feel that something is wrong, then I’m going to stand up against it. That’s what I’ve tried to do from the git-go.”
Q. Do you plan to continue to be an activist?
A. “I hope to be an activist because I think it’s important to make change and I realize how important it is to make change for other people.”
Nothing against Caroline Wozniacki who this week reached the number one ranking in women’s tennis. She’s had a good year winning five tournaments (more than any other player on tour) but the fact that she has not won one of the sports majors (Wimbledon, US Open, French Open, Australian Open) makes this something of a hollow triumph.
Serena Williams, reigning Wimbledon and Australian Open champ, has not played since July so it was inevitable that someone would catch up with her. Had Wozniacki managed to win the US Open last month (she lost in the semifinals) then this top-ranking would be more legitimate.
I hope she doesn’t become paralyzed by her new ranking like other players have in recent years. Serena’s frequent absences and lack of interest in tournaments outside the grand slams have resulted in both Dinara Safina and Jelena Jankovic reaching number one without a grand slam victory. Both wilted under the pressure and have never been the same.
Wozniacki is the 20th player to top the rankings since they began in 1975. It used to be a far tougher achievement. Chris Evert, winner of 18 grand slams, held the top spot for much of a seven year span (260 weeks overall plus her dominant 1974 season was before the ranking system began) before Martina Navratilova began a six-year stranglehold and won most of her 18 slams. Steffi Graf, winner of 22 slams, wrested the top spot from Martina in 1987 and kept it until 1991 when she was knocked off by a dominant Monica Seles, the nine-time grand slam winner who only lost the ranking to Graf after a fan literally stabbed her in the back and left her psychologically unable to play for more than two years.
Steffi dominated until early 1997 (377 weeks as number one overall) when injuries began keeping her out of the game for long stretches and it seems that it was then that the number one ranking was more frequently up for grabs and a bit less special. Although 1997 Wimbledon, US and Australian Open champion Martina Hingis was able to hang on to it for a total of 209 weeks, her failure to win more than two more grand slams made her a non-dominant number one.
So it’s been a free-for-all since then with Lindsay Davenport (3 slams), Jennifer Capriati (3 slams), Venus Williams (7 slams), Amelie Mauresmo (2 slams), Kim Clijsters (3 slams), Maria Sharapova (3 slams), Ana Ivanovic (1 slam), Justin Henin (7 slams), Jelena Jankovic (0 slams), Dinara Safina (0 slams), Serena (13 slams) and now Caroline (o slams) all doing stints at number one.
The only lengthy stays on top from among that group were Serena (123 weeks), Henin (117 weeks) and Davenport (98 weeks).
** I should also note that other female players ranked number one for brief periods in the past 35 years were Evonne Goolagong (2 weeks in 1976), Tracy Austin (21 weeks in 1980) and Aranxta Sanchez Vicario (12 weeks in 1995).
It would be great for women’s tennis if a true dominant champion were to emerge and some new rivalries were to develop like in the 70s, 80s and much of the 90s. Until then, I’m far more interested in watching Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal who have had a stranglehold on the number one ranking in men’s tennis since 2004!
One of the most wacko people of the year has got to be Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell who inexplicably has been targeting University of Michigan’s student assembly president Chris Armstrong.
Shirvell even started a blog attacking the college student claiming that Armstrong, the university’s first openly gay student assembly president, who he claims sought to advance a “radical homosexual agenda” as “Satan’s representative on the student council.”
Armstrong had been largely silent on the topic until an interview on Anderson Cooper 360 last night. He said the recent tragedies involving bullying, homosexuality and university campuses motivated him to speak up.
“I think this is really just an opportunity,” Armstrong said. “I think this chance to really speak out and say something, give a message to other kids who might be facing something, obviously not as extreme, but something like being heckled in a classroom.”
Given what has happened in the past week, given the suicides that have happened in the past few weeks, it’s hard not to say something,” he added. “I didn’t really ask to be put in this position in a lot of ways, but I felt that, seeing these kids feel like they need to take their life, it’s important to understand that things that can get better, and it’s important to know that you can reach out in your community and reach out to friends and they can support you.”
Shirvell was banned from the campus on Sept. 14 by the university’s Department of Public Safety and Armstrong is in the process of obtaining a personal protection order against him. Shirvell has taken a voluntary leave of absence from his state job.
Amstrong said that in addition to starting his “hurtful” blog, Shirvell also heckled him during a speech, showed up at a late-night party at his off-campus house and called the Washington office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, where Armstrong held an internship.