People reaching out to teens and sharing their own deeply personal stories continues in the wake of the string of suicides in recent weeks by bullied gay teens.
But few stories have been as powerful as the one told by openly gay actor Jason Stuart whose story appears today on The Huffington Post.
Jason is a very funny stand-up comic and a talented actor whose film credits include 10 Attitudes and Coffee Date and who recently did guest spots on The Closer, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Everybody Hates Chris.
I know Jason some but had no idea how tough things were for him when he was younger because when I see him, he seems so confident in who he is.
That was not always the case I have learned. Here are some excerpts from his essay:
I could have been Asher Brown, Seth Walsh, Tyler Clementi or any of the other teens that recently ended their young, precious lives. I grew up in the 1970s when being gay was still considered to be a mental illness by some. I would go to sleep hoping not to wake up, simply because I liked men. While much has changed over the last 30 years, feelings of isolation remain, much of it brought on by peers.
Like those boys and so many others, I was bullied in school. I guess my locker had some pheromone that attracted people that hated people that were somewhat different, because in the first week of 7th grade a kid scraped the word “fag” on my locker with something sharp like a pocket knife or a nail. Even though I could only see that word when I fumbled with the combination, the sadness and loneliness that the word made me feel lingered in the back of my mind every day of those horrific three years, a feeling that continued until I finally came out publicly on television in 1993. This one act and other daily forms of abuse by my classmates changed my life and my ability to learn and participate in friendships and relationships. The fear that I had because I was different was so strong it convinced me not to attend college; I was not prepared for what the repercussions might be if people knew I was gay.
When I was 21, I made a call to a suicide prevention lifeline because I realized I needed help. I was starting to have thoughts of suicide and I needed someone to stop me, to save my life. I began seeing a counselor after that, who I knew kept everything confidential, but even with my back to her chair, I sat there and lied that I was bi-sexual, uncomfortable to even speak the truth to a professional. It was too hard and I was afraid for my life.
Career-wise, I wanted to be an actor while some in the industry would say I was “too light in the loafers.” Memories of all these kids who beat me up and humiliated me all through school came back to me repeatedly in my early years of pursuing my career. Being afraid of people and re-learning how to trust them is a daily reminder of where and how far I have come.
I don’t know what’s more surprising: the fact that Florence Henderson was voted off of Dancing With the Stars last night or the fact that I’m so upset about it!
The television icon, still dazzling at 76, this week had her best performance yet which was a tango danced to the theme song of The Brady Bunch. If ever there was a week when America’s favorite TV mom seemed safe, it was TV week on Dancing With the Stars.
Meanwhile Bristol Palin, who wore a gorilla suit during part of her dance to the theme song from The Monkees and got the lowest scores of all the competitors from the judges, has made it to the sixth week of the competition.
The always classy Florence appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America earlier today and said: “It surprised me a little bit. …That’s the show, you never know. I think that’s part of the excitement in watching it. You never know who’s going to go. … I had such a ball.”
When she learned of her fate on last night’s show, she flashed a smile and kissed her professional partner, Corky Ballas.
I have been in TV for over 50 years, and I have to say in all honesty that this is one of the best-produced shows I’ve ever been on,” she said after learning her fate. “I’ve loved this show since it began. I think it’s just a tremendous show. I hope I’ve inspired people to get up off their behind and move and dance and live and enjoy life.”
Florence has long been a fan of the show and I’m just shocked it took producers this long to invite her to compete while scores of reality show “stars” have come and gone over the show’s 11 seasons (there are two seasons per year).
Her charm and humor will be missed on the show which I’d give up on for the season if I were not so enamored with Jennifer Grey and her partner Derrick Hough!
Miss Henderson will no doubt carry on splendidly with her one-woman show which I’ve seen twice and is just terrific. She is also working on a memoir which no doubt will be well worth a read. She not only has all the Brady Bunch material, but a fascinating life as the youngest of 10 children, a mother of four, and a star of Broadway in the 50s and 60s, the woman on The Today Show and the first female guest host of The Tonight Show.
On a CW show with hunky young male stars including Chace Crawford, Penn Badgley and Ed Westwick, you wouldn’t expect one of the parents on the show to be just as hot as the younger set.
But Gossip Girl had the good sense to cast Matthew Settle as Badgley’s dad and I’d say he’s the hunkiest of them all! (He’s also the father of raccoon-eyed Jenny but why ruin a good post!)
The 41-year-old actor plays Rufus Humphrey on the Monday night hit now in its fourth season. He was previously best-known for his role as Capt. Ronald Speirs on the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers.
Fans of Brothers & Sisters will also remember him from season one of the show. He was Kitty’s fiancee, the one who she left back in New York to take a TV job in Los Angeles.
He also had recurring roles on ER and The Practice and has appeared in the films The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, The In Crowd, The Celestine Prophecy, U-571 and I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.
Matthew was born in Hickory, North Carolina and is the youngest of six children.
The woman who many people – including me – believe would have made one heck of a President of the United States, always seems to be the smartest person in the room.
That’s why I’m happy to see that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the former U.S. Senator from New York and former First Lady of the United States, has decided to speak out with a message for teens who have been bullied.
Her participation gives huge political backing to the It Gets Better video campaign which has soared into the spotlight following a string of suicides earlier this month of bullied LGBT teens.
“All Americans have to work harder to overcome bigotry and hatred,” Clinton says in her message.
She tells teens to take heart and to have hope and adds: “Please remember that your life is valuable, and that you are not alone. Many people are standing with you and sending you their thoughts, their prayers, and their strength. Count me among them.”
It’s hard to believe that it has been nearly 30 years since Jennifer Holliday won the Tony Award for Dreamgirls for her performance as Effie, the powerful singer kicked out of a fictional group based loosely on The Supremes.
She not only won the Tony for the role, but also a Grammy for her classic version of the show-stopper And I’m Telling You (I’m Not Going).
Jennifer has released many more albums over the years and returned to the stage in 1986 to tour in the musical Sing Mahalia Sing. In the early 90s, she lost a substantial amount of weight and no longer resembled the Effie character on Dreamgirls.
But she still sounds like her!
Here is Jennifer singing I Am Changing, one of my favorite songs from Dreamgirls. The second video is her stunning performance at the 1982 Tony Awards. It is not to be believed.
Louis van Amstel is the openly gay dancing pro who was paired with Margaret Cho this season on Dancing With the Stars.
They were voted off the show after just three week. Margaret wore a striking dress that was the color of the gay rainbow flag and talked about the tough week it was for the gay community (it was just days after a string of well-publicized suicides).
Here is an excerpt of an interview Louis did for Out.com and it has left me with no sense of who this guy is and what he is trying to stand for or not stand for. He is delusional if he thinks his dance with Margaret that night had nothing to do with the gay community or that her dress was not the gay flag.
Decide for yourself. Here is an excerpt:
Do you think labels had an effect this season on you and Margaret Cho being eliminated? Unfortunately it was a very labeled, in-your-face message that wasn’t even Margaret’s and my message. I was angry. If you want to be accepted as a gay guy, don’t label yourself, because what is the message? Boom. You get voted off. In the end, that means you missed opportunities each week to let people like you for who you truly are. Margaret was so on a roll. She was such an advocate for everybody that felt weird about themselves — maybe they were overweight or they were anorexic like her, almost killed themselves — and this woman is growing as a person. That was our message. Unfortunately, the judges and the production company decided not to share our real message.
What do you think they tried to change it into? It turned into a whole gay pride thing. In the package, Margaret said she wanted to celebrate that everyone should be proud of who they are. Bruno said, “Oh, I love that you are wearing the gay flag as your dress.” In my package interview I stated very clearly why I chose those colors, because for me the rainbow represents this planet where seven billion people live under the rainbow. The colors all represent that we’re all different. It had nothing to do with the gay community. ABC decided not to portray that, and I was so pissed off but I decided not to make myself look like an ass. I didn’t say, “Oh, by the way Bruno, it’s not the gay flag,” because they always make you look like the bad guy if you talk back to the judges. It was a very disappointing evening. Margaret thinks different.
What’s her reaction?
She felt you have to be proud of who you are, and, because her demographic is the gay demographic, she went with it. And then when we were with Brooke, she said “The gay suicides just got to stop. Enough.” And I thought, What about all the other families who lost their kids who were straight or maybe overweight or maybe they were redheads or maybe they were bullied for other things than being gay? We talked after the show. She said, “You have that one moment where you can take a stand and make a message and it’s powerful and it will be remembered.” Tuesday morning I broke down. I cried. I was so disappointed because I work all my life to not be labeled. I was bullied for being fat and gay and short. And all my life I worked hard to overcome that and be an advocate for anyone who’s being bullied.
It sounds like you and Margaret have the same goal just different approaches. Absolutely. That’s why I love her, and we had such a great conversation because we want the same [thing]. But the bottom line is that was not our storyline. Why do people have to come out? Just be who you want to be. To me that’s the next step. Another example I can give you is what happened last season with Evan Lysacek. Evan was on the show, Johnny Weir was not. And Johnny Weir wants to be on Dancing With the Stars. He’s pushing for Evan to come out and I’m like, “If Evan is gay, it doesn’t really matter.” The fact is he won the gold medal. Johnny Weir, why don’t you win the gold medal? Put the pedal to the medal. To me, that’s how you change people’s minds about the gay community.
So Evan just doesn’t want a label?
Nope, and that’s why I love him.
It’s a pity I didn’t take more notice of John-Paul Lavoisier when I was still watching ABC’s One Life to Live.
This 30-year-old blond beauty plays Rex Balsom on the show and from the looks of the pics I found on the Internet, he’s shirtless a lot.
I’d like to check him out sometime but I have not forgiven the show for what it did to its gay characters earlier this year, just jettisoning off Kyle and Oliver and Nick in one fell swoop because of a ratings drop.
But anyway, back to John-Paul since this is about him. He’s been on the show since 2002 but also has stage chops. He is a member of the advisory board of the theater production company Streetlight Productions, Inc, and has performed in various off-Broadway plays including Discordant Duets and Counterfeit Garden.
John-Paul has also had guest roles on Gossip Girl and Sex and the City and appeared in the film Wolves of Wall Street.
Sara Gilbert is credited with creating the new daytime show The Talk on which she is featured with co-hosts Julie Chen, Leah Remini, Holly Robinson Peete, Marissa Jaret Winokur and Sharon Osbourne.
Will is become a big hit like The View?
The show premiered today and the LATimes has already posted a review of the first airing. Here is an excerpt: Gilbert, who, for the record, seems like precisely the sort of mother you’d like to see sitting across from you in a parenting group, needs to speak up more — the show was her idea, after all, and of all the hosts, she seems the best capable of “real.” But Remini is a fun and frank presence, as is Winokur. Though the world already has far too much access to the thoughts of Sharon Osbourne, she does know the format up, down and sideways, which is helpful, especially in these early days, while Peete, who has four kids, including 13-year old twins, has in-the-trenches credibility.
Since so many of us have had a crush on Stephen Collins for like decades, what a treat it was to have him appear in a gay role on ABC’s Brothers & Sisters last night.
Post-7th Heaven, the 60-something Collins (still dreamy) has been taking on all kinds of different roles including being a big, bad villain on another ABC series, No Ordinary Family.
On Brothers & Sisters, he wasn’t a villain, just a heartbreaker. Poor Saul. He and Charlie (Collins) had been getting along terrifically with Charlie even pitching in to help sew stage costumes for Sarah’s son’s school play.
Saul later confides to Kevin and Scotty that he is afraid of telling Charlie that he is HIV-positive but a short time later, just as they are about to kiss, Saul does tell him.
Charlie backs away and says it’s not because he’s afraid of catching the virus, it’s that he lost his lover of 20 years to AIDS. He just did not have it in him again to lose someone like that. Saul assures him that he’s never been healthier.
Saul (Ron Rifkin) tells Charlie that he’s glad that he had love in his life that way. Sal was hoping he too would have that.
I think, and hope, this leaves the door wide open for Charlie to have a change of heart and re-enter Saul’s life. But I’ve read that Richard Chamberlain will be guesting as part of Saul’s storyline so that wouldn’t be too bad of a replacement!
Saul tells Kevin and Scotty: “Keep pushing me [to date], I can always use a little shove.”
Kevin next wants to set him up with a lawyer in his office: some dude named Stanley.
Meanwhile, SPOILER ALERT!!! Everything looked peachy with Kevin and Scotty in this episode so it will be interesting to see how they arrive at Scotty cheating in two weeks time.
Adam Lambert is busy touring – he’s in Australia this week – but the singing sensation has taken the time to share his candid thoughts about the struggles of being young and gay and how “It gets better.”
But Adam doesn’t sugar coat his thoughts for The Trevor Project’s It Gets Better campaign which has gathered all kinds of steam following a string of tragic suicides of bullied gay teens.
“There’s always gonna be people that are scared of it,” Adam says. “But at the end of the day, if you give those bullies and those people that are so ignorant and fearful of your lifestyle, if you give them the power to affect you, you’re letting them win and they don’t deserve that. What you’re doing by being who you are is you’re keeping it real and you’re being really brave. I believe in you, I think it’s great. There are a ton of us out here in this world that are just like you that believe in you.”
Adam admits that he still feels bullied when he reads about himself: “I’m singled out, and it’s all ‘gay,’ ‘gay,’ ‘gay,’ ‘gay,’ ‘gay,’ even though there’s so much more to me than just who I choose to sleep with…. You are so much more than your orientation. You know it, and I know it. So don’t let those bullies and those ignorant, fearful, small-minded people prove you wrong. You have to be strong, and you have to pay attention to the positive, and in doing so, you will push through, and you will rise up, and you will live your life to the fullest. It gets better, but it’s up to you.”
Whenever I get the chance to celebrate the mighty Martina Navratilova, I’m happy to do it.
The tennis legend and outspoken activist celebrates her 54th birthday today. She battled breast cancer this year but that did not stop her from competing in – and winning – senior doubles tournaments at the French Open and Wimbledon.
Martina, a nine-time Wimbledon singles champions, remains one of the few professional athletes to ever come out during the peak of their careers. Martina not only was openly gay when she was number one, but she competed and won most of her major tournaments in the 80s during a far less hospitable time.
She will always be one of my greatest heroes for having the courage to be who she is and for inspiring so many of us to do the same.
Ross Mathews gets to meet all kinds of famous people as a correspondent for The Tonight Show and panelist on Chelsea Lately.
He doesn’t seem to be fully aware that he himself has gotten famous and sometimes stars are just as excited to see him as he is them.
For example, there’s this anecdote Ross recently shared about when he met Anderson Cooper at the Republican National Convention in 2004: “I stalked the silverest of all foxes. … When I tapped him on the shoulder to introduce myself, he turned around and shrieked: “Ross!! I love you!!” He knew who i was?!? It was a major diaper moment for me.”
Then there was the time he met Meryl Streep: “I’ve been a super Streep fanatic since way before it was cool. I’m more Silkwood/Postcards/Bridges than MammaMia!/Julia but I love her in everything. When we finally met I became uncharacteristically shy. In complete awe, I confessed to her, “I’m at a loss. This never happens.” She suddenly grabbed my face, yanked me toward her, kissed both cheeks, and burst into laughter. It was weirdly wonderful.”
He was equally in awe when he met talk show queen Oprah Winfrey at a party: “Oprah is it. I mean, like, IT. When I got to meet her at the Vanity Fair Oscar party one year, I dorked out like never before. “Oh, girl, you have no idea! I have been begging the universe for this moment! I spend every day with you! You are my cardio!” She held both my hands the whole time and never ceased eye contact. Like I said, she is IT.”
This final anecdote is especially touching because it is about the late Anne Bancroft, Oscar winner for The Miracle Worker and Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate: “I was boarding my flight to L.A. after covering New Year’s Eve in Times Square when a beautiful older woman grabbed my arm and whispered, “I was sick in bed last night watching you and you made me feel much better.” I replied, “OMG, thank you!” and thought to myself, “She looks familiar …” Later, the flight attendant called her “Mrs. Robinson” and it all clicked. I was so sad when she passed away not long after that.”
Jacob Young may only be 31 years old, but he’s already a veteran of three daytime soaps.
He currently plays J.R. Chandler on ABC’s All My Children and was previously Rick Forrester on Bold and the Beautiful and Lucky Spencer on General Hospital. During his 2000-03 run on GH, he won the Daytime Emmy Award for outstanding younger actor and was named “sexiest soap star” by People Magazine.
He’s earned two more Emmy nominations as J.R.
Jacob is also a talented singer who released a self-titled album in 2001 and spent four months on Broadway in the role of in the role of Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.
In a recent issue of Soap Opera Digest, Jacob was asked what song is guaranteed to make him get up and dance. I love his answer: “I have to go with David Bowie’sLet’s Dance! You’ve got to obey him – he’s the Bow-meister!”
This is really something. Broadway stars rock out in a celebration of life, in the wake of LGBT suicides across the nation. The song, It Gets Better, will be available October 19th on iTunes, with all download proceeds benefiting The Trevor Project.
The video below is Broadway and other New York stage stars sharing their thoughts and their stories. All of this outpouring is so important because it makes us all feel a little closer to each other and helps drown out all the nonsense and hateful things we’ve been hearing from some of the people running for public office who should know better.
It would have been a real inspirational story if 40-year-old Japanese tennis player Kimiko Date Krumm had been able to win the Japan Open earlier today.
But Date Krumm, who turned 40 last month, lost in three sets to Tamarine Tanasugarn. She was bidding to become the oldest player to win a WTA singles title. Billie Jean King won in Birmingham in 1983 when she was 39 years, 7 months, 23 days. Date Krumm is already the second oldest player to win a title after her victory in Seoul last year at 38 years and 11 months.
I gotta say, I’m happy Billie Jean still has that record. While Date Krumm has been impressive since returning to pro tennis after a 12-year hiatus, Billie Jean has made a comeback of her own back then.
Her career was already winding down when she was it by a palimony suit filed by an ex-lover named Marilyn Barnett. Billie Jean was still married to Larry King (not the talk show host) and not openly gay or bisexual so the lawsuit outed her.
The suit was dismissed but Billie Jean had lost all kinds of endorsements and spent Wimbledon in 1981 as a commentator for NBC rather than on the court.
But by 1982, she returned for a last hurrah winning the title in Birmingham, England then making it all the way to the semifinals of Wimbledon at the age of 38.
By the next year, King was back in the top 10, won at Birmingham again and repeated her feat of reaching the semifinals of Wimbledon and of the year-end championships. She retired at the end of the 1983 season at the age of 39 – on her terms.
Billie Jean and Larry King divorced in the mid-80s and she has been with former pro Ilanna Kloss for more than 20 years.
Michael Douglas has been on our minds lately not only because he has a new movie out, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, but because the two-time Oscar winning actor and producer has been battling cancer.
I hope the best for the 66-year-old star who landed on my radar when I was a kid watching him on the 70s cop series The Streets of San Francisco.
I thought he was incredibly cool and cute as a cop named Steve Keller opposite Karl Malden and was heartbroken when he left the show after five seasons. But he had a good reason: he produced One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest and won a best picture Oscar for it.
His career in movies as a leading man took longer to catch fire but I still watched everything he was in post-Streets including Coma, Running, The Star Chamber, It’s My Turn and The China Syndrome.
It was 1984′s Romancing the Stone that introduced us to the superstar Michael Douglas. He’d never looked sexier on screen and he and Kathleen Turner had all kinds of sizzling chemistry. They paired up again in the sequel Jewel of the Nile then in the drama War of the Roses.
By the time Roses came along in 1989, Michael was coming off of the best one-two punch of his career starring opposite Glenn Close as a cheating hubby in Fatal Attraction and winning the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Gordon Gekko in Wall Street.
A few years later, Michael was on top again this time opposite Sharon Stone in the blockbuster sexual thriller Basic Instinct. Many memorable films have followed since that heady peak period including Disclosure, The American President, Falling Down, The Wonder Boys, A Perfect Murder and Traffic.
Michael also starred opposite his dad, Kirk Douglas, in the 2003 film It Runs in the Family and got rave reviews for his performance in this year’s Solitary Man. Hopefully he will be fully recovered and able to begin work on his next scheduled film in which he will play Liberace.
Well, Barbara Billingsley played their mom on TV for all those years on the classic comedy Leave it To Beaver.
The actress was 94 and had been ill for some time.
Jerry Mathers, who played “The Beav” has just released this statement: “I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend and lifetime mentor Barbara Billingsley. She will live in the hearts of her fans as a wonderful actress and be remembered by her friends as a gracious lady. Barbara was a patient advisor and teacher. She helped me along this challenging journey through life by showing me the importance of manners, and respect for others. She will be missed by all of her family, friends, fans and most especially by me.”
Although the series went off the air in 1963, Billingsley, Mathers and other cast members reunited in the early 80s for the TV movie Still the Beaver which was followed by the series The New Leave it to Beaver.
She had also gained many new fans from her classic scene in the 1980 film Airplane! (see below)
Interviews like this are enough to make you want to not shut off cable news entirely.
Thomas Roberts has been doing stellar work on MSNBC where he is one of two openly gay anchors. (The other, of course, is Rachel Maddow!) He did an interview with the Fort Worth City Councilman, Joel Burns, whose tearful, heartfelt plea to bullied gay youths, made this week’s City Council meeting one no one will ever forget.
We won’t know how many lives will be saved because so many people are speaking up. Here is the MSNBC interview and below that, his entire speech from the council meeting.