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Video: Inaugural poet Richard Blanco talks to Anderson Cooper about President Obama’s historic speech

Richard Blanco is all the rage this week and with good reason!

The inaugural poet is a dream man: handsome, sensitive, articulate, sexy, talented and on and on and on.

Blanco had already made history as the first gay and first Latino inaugural poet in US history when he stepped onto the podium Monday to deliver his poem One Today.

But he had no idea that day would be so history making in other ways in the fight for LGBT equality. President Barack Obama likened to the gay rights movement’s Stonewall Riots to the civil rights milestones Seneca Falls (women’s equality) and Selma (black equality).

‘It was like a great moment for me outside the poem,’ Blanco tells CNN’s Anderson Cooper. ‘I just thought it was simply amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that that powerfully before – especially while I was right there in person.’

‘That was a great way to couch it,’ Blanco adds. ‘I feel that’s how it is.’

The 1969 Stonewall Riots ignited the modern day gay rights movement when a groups of gays, lesbians and transgender people fought back against a police raid of the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City.

‘When you think about it, historically, that wasn’t that long ago,’ Blanco tells Cooper. ‘It’s just amazing how things have changed.’

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Tuesday Morning Man: Dan Feuerriegel!

Dan Feuerriegel is one of the stars of the Starz series Spartacus: War of the Damned which I have yet to watch.

But I sure plan to based on Dan’s hunkiness alone along with the fact that his character, Agron, is gay and involved in a relationship with fellow rebel warrior Nasir (Pana Hema Taylor).

Dan is a 31-year-old actor from Australia who has also been a part of the Spartacus: Blood and Sand and Spartacus: Vengeance. Prior to Spartacus, he was a regular on the Aussie hit series Home and Away and also played the role of Brendan in the series All Saints.

The actor, who is straight, is the focus of a terrific Q&A by my pal Jim Halterman over at this week and talks about the gay following he has developed:

I’m flattered. Absolutely flattered. Any positive feedback is fantastic regardless of who it’s from. I am very, very lucky and appreciative of the fact that so many gay fans really respect the work that I’ve done.

The best compliment I got was I got an e-mail on my fan page from a guy and he just said, ‘I wanted to thank you. I really love the show. I’ve only recently come out. I thought I’d seen it all in regards to gay characters on TV. I thought that I had everything in my life that I needed to be strong and not give a shit about the haters and the douche bags and idiots out there. Watching your show I realized that there was one aspect missing. I actually have never had a gay superhero or a gay action hero. I see Agron as the gay action hero, the gay super hero. Thank you very much. You’ve opened my eyes more, and more power to you.’ I was like, ‘Thank you. That’s fantastic.’

So, I love it. It’s fantastic. I love that I am able to…how do I put it…just change people’s lives, but also just do my job and people appreciate it and respect it.

FILE UNDER: Morning Men - 2013

Video: See the Obamas dancing at Inaugural ball

It’s just been the most magnificent day to be an American – especially a gay American. President Barack Obama saying during this inaugural address was so beautiful, so historic, so perfect: ‘Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law. If we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to each other is equal as well.’

It’s only fitting that he and the First Lady have a nice dance the inaugural ball since the president has given us all a reason to dance in the streets!

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Snapped! Matt Bomer in DC!

Matt Bomer, whose series White Collar returns with new episodes on Tuesday, was looking dapper in Washington DC over the weekend at a Creative Coalition event.

Love his hair here!

Source: After Elton

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Lunch Break Videos: See James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson and Beyonce’s inauguration performances

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“One Today” by inaugural poet Richard Blanco

One Today
One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.

My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper—
bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives—
to teach geometry, or ring-up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.

All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches
as mothers watch children slide into the day.

One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.

The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind—our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.

Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across café tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me—in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.

One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.

One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn’t give what you wanted.

We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country—all of us—
facing the stars
hope—a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it—together

FILE UNDER: Politics

Video: President Barack Obama calls for equality for gay Americans in his historic inaugural address

It was glorious to watch Barack Obama became the first president in US history to call for equality for gays and lesbians in an inaugural speech this morning.

‘Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law,’ Obama said during a 19-minute speech. ‘If we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to each other is equal as well.’

Obama, who made history last year when he became the first US president to publicly support gay marriage, also made reference to the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City which are credited with being the start of the modern gay rights movement.

The Stonewall riots were mentioned along with other civil rights battles and was tied into the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Bravo, Mr. President!

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MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts and CNN’s Don Lemon weigh in on Jodie Foster’s Golden Globes speech

It’s been eight days since Jodie Foster’s memorable Golden Globes speech where the film veteran got personal and talked about her coming out, her former partner and co-parent and her need for privacy.

She has suffered some backlash from the LGBT community for not being more succinct about being a lesbian. Hollywood PR guru Howard Bragman, who has helped many celebrities come out publicly, talked about the speech during a segment of his new online show GWissues with openly gay broadcast journalists Thomas Roberts, Don Lemon and Charles Perez.

“I wasn’t sure exactly what she was saying, i was like, ‘what is she talking about,” admits Lemon, an anchor and reporter for CNN. ‘You have to go back and look at it then you kind of get it. At first I was like, ‘Did she or didn’t she?’ But it was a beautiful speech nonetheless.”

Roberts says that while some were confused, “It certainly wasn’t a staying in speech.”

“I don’t think anyone can question where Jodie Foster is in her life,” says Roberts, a weekday morning anchor for MSNBC. “This is a woman who has been in front of the public eye since she was three. She’s 50 years old, she’s getting a lifetime achievement award, she’s lived her life in a public venue through the 709s, the 80s, the 90s decade after decade and we’re all wondering what her personal life is, waiting for her to make some kind of magnanimous statement about coming out. So I don’t think anyone can discount at this point that she is announcing that she is a lesbian and she’s a happy woman and she’s a mom and she’s apparently single so she’s got that going for her.”

Roberts acknowledged the feelings of such gay celebrities as Wilson Cruz and Harvey Fierstein who were disappointed that Foster in her speech did not acknowledge performers who came out during far riskier times.

“In looking at where she is, I don’t think anyone can discount all of the other people that have allowed Jodie Foster to be on that stage at 50 years old and give that incredible speech that she gave,” Thomas says. “There are a lot of people well known and not that have gone before and have do a lot of hard work that have made that stage possible for her. So she can be up there and accept that lifetime achievement award and talk about her life in complete sense.”

Lemon felt Foster simply should have been more direct in order to be more effective: “I think people wanted, especially people in the gay community, probably wanted a more declarative statement from her rather than a more nuanced (statement). It was so nuanced. In politics you call it a dog whistle … she was speaking to the people who understood and for the people who didn’t, it probably went right over their head. they probably wanted a more of ‘Hello, I’m Jodie foster and I am a lesbian.”

Perez, who had a nationally syndicated talk show in the 90s and was more recently a news anchor in Miami, points out the uniqueness of Foster’s fame.

“This is a woman who really is comparative to few other people,” Perez says. “A Michael Jackson, an Elizabeth Taylor, people who really were thrust into the public eye really early and don’t know any other kind of reality. This is somebody who her whole life has been struggling to find some semblance if normalcy.”

Host Bragman also weighed in: ‘I think Jodie has lived an honest life, she;s never hidden who she is, it’s never been a secret in Hollywood, she has thanked her former partner Cydney before publicly which people said was coming out. I’m much more a fan of that than the people we all know about who are living a lie.”

While Foster’s speech has been widely criticized, Roberts was surprised she even made it at all.

“I  never expected that kind of speech from her,” he says. “I never thought she was going to go down the road that she went. she pulled us all in automatically and I thought this is going to be a wild ride. I never thought this was the acceptance speech we were even entitled to.”

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Getting to know inaugural poet Richard Blanco

Looking forward to the presidential inauguration this morning and hearing the poem from Richard Blanco – the gay, and very handsome inaugural poet.

If you want to learn more about him, Blanco has written a fascinating column for CNN.

Here are some excerpts:

As my official bio reads, I was made in Cuba, assembled in Spain, and imported to the United States — meaning my mother, seven months pregnant, and the rest of my family arrived as exiles from Cuba to Madrid, where I was born. Less than two months later, we emigrated once more and settled in New York City, then eventually in Miami, where I was raised and educated.

By the time I was 45 days old, I belonged to three countries. My first newborn photo appears on my U.S. alien registration card. As an adult, I see this as a foreshadowing of what would eventually obsess my writing and my psyche: the negotiation of identity.

My sexual identity was something I also had to negotiate. The antagonist in my coming-out story was my grandmother, a woman as xenophobic as she was homophobic. Anything she perceived as culturally “weird,” she also labeled as “faggotry” — “mariconería.” This included my playing with toys like G.I. Joes and action figures of super heroes (Wonder Woman being my favorite). Convinced that I was queer — she had good intuition, I guess — she was verbally and psychologically abusive because she was also convinced she could make me a “real” man.

She scared me into a closet so deep and dark that the idea of living as a gay man was completely, like a career in arts, out of the realm of possibilities. And so, like many gay men of my generation, I led a straight life, and was even engaged twice to be married, until I came out in my mid-20s.

Being named poet laureate for the inauguration personally validates and stitches together several ideals against which I have long measured America, since the days of watching “My Three Sons” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show” reruns. For one, the essence of the American dream: how a little Cuban-American kid on the margins of mainstream America could grow up with confidence, have the opportunity to become an engineer thanks to the hard work of his parents who could barely speak English, and then go on, choosing to become a poet who is now asked to speak to, for and about the entire nation.


Blanco was also recently interview by PBS’ Jeffrey Brown. He talks about his poetry and even reads some of it.

FILE UNDER: Politics

Monday Morning Man: President Barack Obama!

Today is pretty much going to be all about this guy.

It’s the second Inauguration Day for President Barack Obama and I’ll be watching it all unfold at home here in sunny Southern California.

Let’s hope Mr. Obama will be able to somehow break through the gridlock in congress and get even more done in his second term.

Personally, I’m most grateful for his coming out in favor of gay marriage, of his refusal to allow the Justice Department to defend the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, of his signing the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, of his ensuring hospital visitation and medical decision making for gay and lesbian patients, of his lifting the ban that prevented people with HIV/AIDS to enter the US, of his signing of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law, and of his enacting the Affordable Care Act – better known as Obamacare.

I guess you could say I’m a fan!

FILE UNDER: Morning Men - 2013

Days of Our Lives: Sami scolds her son Will and forces him to face the reality of impending fatherhood

Of course Sami Brady makes things about her and now that her son, Will Horton, is going to be a father, she has some strong opinions about her first grandchild.

Will has been dodging her but finally Sami get him face-to-face and lets him have it. She is incredulous that he would be willing to let another man claim to be the father of his child and not let his family come to his aid.

Will just seems shell-shocked about it all but he does call Sami out on making it all about her.

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Showtune Sunday: Reliving Inauguration Day performances from Aretha, Beyonce and Mariah!

Since it is January 20, President Barack Obama officially gets sworn into office for his second term today. But Monday is the day for ceremonies and parades and parties.

Four years ago, a trio of divas dazzled us on Inauguration Day starting with the great Aretha Franklin who sang My Country Tis of Thee in the freezing cold wearing a most memorable hat (I love any excuse to post a photo of it!).

At the inaugural balls that night, among the performers were Beyonce who sang a lovely version of At Last and Mariah Carey who sang one of my all-time favorite songs: Hero.

FILE UNDER: Showtune Sunday

Morning Man Classic: Rod Taylor!

Tippi Hedren is not the only beautiful star in The Birds. Her leading man, Rod Taylor, is a real stunner too.

I saw the movie last week at a 50th anniversary screening and was just taken aback by this handsome man who somehow, I had not been all that familiar with.

Taylor, who turned 83 last week, most recently appeared on the big screen in Quenton Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.

The Australian actor came to Hollywood in the 1950s and built himself up from a supporting actor into taking the lead in several well-remembered movies in addition to The Birds including 1960′s The Time Machine, 1963′s Sunday in New York, the title role in 1965′s Young Cassidy and 1973′s The Great Train Robbery with John Wayne.

In the 70s and 80s, Taylor began regularly working in television including the leads in the TV series including Bearcats!, Masquerade and Outlaws.

FILE UNDER: Morning Men - 2013

Daytime Soap Clips: Felix flirts with Todd Manning when the bady boy is brought into “General Hospital”

General Hospital introduced the character of gay male nurse Felix last month then, as far as I know, we haven’t seen much of him.

Well, he’s resurfaced in a scene where a battered Todd Manning (a carryover from One Life to Live) is brought into the hospital.

Felix is angry with Manning because he refused to help fund the nurses ball to raise money for AIDS research. Todd flirts because he’s trying to escape. Here is their exchange:

Felix: What have you got against the nurse’s ball?
Todd: Nothing. I love balls.
Felix: “No sense in trying to sweet talk me, no matter how cute your banged up face might be.
Todd: “You keep talking like that, you might make me swell up.”

That’s as good as it gets. The rest is about the nurse’s ball and blah blah blah.

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My night reliving Hitchcock’s “The Birds” with Tippi Hedren at what will always be Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

I saw The Birds, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Tippi Hedren, when I was a kid – I think I was about 7 and it was on television.

I barely remember a thing about the movie but I did remember the bird attacks. They clearly left a scar because not long after I saw the movie, my uncle took us to the beach and when I saw seagulls flying above, I instinctively covered my head and dove into the sand.

The family probably thought I was insane. Not insane, just scared and it was all because of The Birds. Obviously not a movie for kids!

But that was a long time ago and now that I’m an adult, I figured it was time to watch The Birds again.

So on Thursday night, I headed into Hollywood for a special 50th anniversary screening of the film at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre which has changed its name to TLC Chinese Theatre (more on this maddening name change later in the post).

I had never before seen the film on the giant screen and, thanks to the annual TCM film festival, I’ve learned that until you’ve seen a classic film on the big screen, you really haven’t seen it.

I was seated across the aisle from Oscar winner George Chakiris who has got to be the youngest looking 78 year old man on planet Earth. Also said hello to the lovely Erin Murphy who we all know as Tabitha from the Bewitched series.

Before the movie began, the still beautiful Miss Hedren and her co-star Veronica Cartwright treated the audience to a wonderful Q&A and the most dramatic part was when Tippi talked about how Hitchcock became obsessed with her (she also starred in his film Marnie) and she had to break free.

The director prevented her from working in other films because she was under personal contract to him. But, Hedren said, ‘He might have ruined my career, but he didn’t ruin my life.’

I thought about that when I watched the film and felt so badly for Tippi because the truth is, she is sensational in the film and should not have been kept off the screen by anybody. I loved her character’s utter confidence as she makes a trip, on a lark, to Bodega Bay to surprise a really handsome guy (Rod Taylor) she met at a bird shop in San Francisco. And she was so beautiful and graceful in every move she made.

What a cast! You have the oh-so handsome Taylor, the great Jessica Tandy, the one and only Suzanne Pleshette and Miss Cartwright who is terrific in the film.

As for the bird attack scenes, I can see why I got so scared as a kid! I wiggled in my seat a bit and said kind of out loud as Tippi went upstairs: “Don’t open the door!”

In between the Q&A and the screening, I dashed over to the lobby to say hello to Miss Hedren who I have met several times in the past. I’m friends with her publicist Harlan Boll and he, of course, had orchestrated another wonderful event.

Okay, my thoughts on the name change of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. I’m going to do my best to ignore it! I understand that Chinese television manufacturer TCL has paid $5 million for the naming rights and is going to do all kinds of improvements to this landmark. But I think it’s a public relations misfire for a theater that is such a big part of Hollywood history. It’s disrespectful to the venue and to the public. It was Mann’s Chinese Theatre for awhile (the adjoining multiplex is still Mann’s Chinese 6) but that never really flew and neither will this change.

Just my opinion.

FILE UNDER: About Town

Roger Federer looking sharp Down Under!

My sleeping patterns are all screwed up this week because of the Australian Open.

One of the four grand slam tournaments in tennis (the others are French Open, Wimbledon and US Open), it begins airing in the US in the evening (daytime Down Under) and the night matches there are in the middle of the night here!

So I found myself watching a delicious match past midnight on ESPN 2 between my all-time fave Roger Federer and brash Aussie Bernard Tomic who Fed humbled 6-4, 7-6, 6-1.

Not only did Federer, chasing his fifth Aussie crown and 18th grand slam tournament overall, dazzle with his play, I just loved his outfit all the way down to the punk shoelaces!


Chris Kluwe guests on The Ellen DeGeneres Show!

The winner of the 2012 Greggy Award for Straight Ally of the Year, Chris Kluwe was on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Friday. In case you missed it, here is video of the appearance.

Also, Chris is coming out with a book in June! We know he has a way with words so this is a really good idea. I’ve written more about it over at Gay Star News.

FILE UNDER: Straight Allies

Lunch Break Videos: Celebrating the legendary Dolly Parton’s birthday with some of her tunes
There are many reasons Dolly Parton is ageless – and I’m not even talking about any of her trips to the “dentist.”

This beloved star, who turns 67 today, is forever young because of her attitude and enthusiasm towards life. She’s always writing new songs, recording new albums and she even returned to the big screen in a new movie last year (Joyful Noise).

Dolly really just makes the world a better place.

I’ve had an increased appreciation for her in recent years because of her speaking out more about LGBT equality and about being accepting of all people. It’s important to have a mainstream country music legend doing so.

And then there is her embrace of gay twins Gary Lane and Larry Lane and their documentary Hollywood to Dollywood.

She has truly shown what a generous spirit has.

Happy birthday to this national treasure!

Happy Birthday to Luke Macfarlane! most handsome, most talented actor turns 33 today.

While we miss seeing Luke Macfarlane each week as Scotty on ABC’s Brothers & Sisters, he’s not the type of actor who has to wait for the next TV series to come along. He has kept busy on stage including playing F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Jazz Age. Most recently, he appeared in The Normal Heart and Sam Bendrix at the Bon Soir.

Luke, who studied drama at Julliard, was previously best-known for his role as Pvt. Frank “Dim” Dumphy in the series Over There. The Canadian actor had never given any interviews about his personal life until discussing his sexuality for the first time in an interview with the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail in 2008.

I spoke with him a few weeks after that at an event and he said: “I decided to do that interview, I decided to answer those questions in an effort to make my life simpler and that’s going to contunue to be my motto. So, I’ll have to say, it hasn’t been that hot a light on me at all.”

Happy birthday to Luke!

FILE UNDER: Birthdays

Video: Anderson Cooper brilliantly makes fun of Donald Trump’s petty Twitter wars on “The Ridiculist”

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