GLAAD released a new interview today with out Peloton instructor and Dancing With the Stars contestant Cody Rigsby. In the interview with Anthony Allen Ramos, GLAAD’s Head of Talent, Rigsby talks about being inspired by fellow contestant JoJo Siwa and what it would be like to face her in the finals. Ahead of Spirit Day on October 21, when millions around the world will go purple in support of LGBTQ youth and in a stand against bullying, Rigsby also reflects on growing up gay and his experience with bullying, while also sharing the advice he has for LGBTQ youth.
Cody Rigsby on Melanie C from the Spice Girls’ surprising elimination: “I can’t believe Mel was even in the bottom. It sucks because she is such a great person. It was really hard to see her go, she was such a light and such a great person, and my inner kid can’t believe that I got to not only meet her, but to have multiple, amazing conversations and get to know her just a little bit. It was an awesome journey to have her own the show with me.”
On potentially dancing against fellow LGBTQ contestant JoJo Siwa in “DWTS” finale: “I think that would be an amazing finale! She’s incredible, what she is doing on this show, representing (the LGBTQ community) is amazing. She is showing a lot of little girls and little boys who they can be and giving them permission to create their own path. She is just so wildly herself in so many ways! For her to jump into this space that’s not comfortable, not her home base, that already has a lot of courage. And then to (dance) with another woman, recently after coming out, it’s really new to her and she is really jumping into it head first. Typical JoJo Siwa fashion!”
On why he didn’t dance with a man on “DWTS:” “When the conversation opportunity came up for DWTS, I was just so excited to be on the show, I guess I didn’t even think it was a possibility, so I didn’t bring it up! Had I maybe had a moment to breathe and recognize an opportunity, I definitely would have asked! I know that Val is really open to having a same sex partner for next season and I think that would be incredible!”
On his Peloton fame and new celebrity status: “I have always been an entertainer and someone who is on some kind of stage. The plans that you make, and you failing at them is sometimes the best thing for you and that allowed me to pivot and find a new path which lead me to dance and then lead me to fitness, so I am super grateful for that. Maybe my younger self wanted notoriety or wanted fame, but what I have learned in my adult life and the opportunities that I have been given is purpose. My purpose is really to make fitness accessible to everybody, to take out the fear because I think the roadblock for a lot of people when it comes to fitness is ‘I can’t do it, I’m not good enough, this is scary, I am going to look like an idiot,’ and so I will look like an idiot for you, happily and I will show you that it is not scary.”
On his own experience with bullying as an LGBTQ child: “My experience as a gay kid trying to figure himself out living in a conservative, Southern state where there is a lot of religious influence, with a lot of social norms that fought against who I was…it was definitely challenging. Thank god I wasn’t physically harmed or bullied like that, but at a young age kids start to recognize that you are different and they want to attack because it probably makes them feel insecure. At a young age, people started to call me a girl, and that was the first attack in fourth or fifth grade. That was the first thing I recognized as people bullying me and questioning who I am because of their attacks and insecurities. As gay kid, we are always made fun of because it is the easy thing to do for some people…and it creates a lot of trauma in us and really blocking us from loving ourselves and accepting ourselves. On this day…we stand up and say while this bullying is going on, we are going to stand with you and we want to create safe spaces especially for LGBTQ youth to have and know that there are people in the world who are not standing for it!”
On advice for LGBTQ youth who are being bullied: “Stay off the Internet more than you think you should. Any person who is on the Internet is already judging themselves because we are comparing and contrasting ourselves to these highly edited images and videos and we expect our lives to be these curated perfect things and they are far from that and that is OK! Even though you might not feel worthy of love, you are completely worthy of love and you will definitely find it not only in yourself but in the community that you create and the people that you start to experience outside of your family, or even school. Especially the ones that look like you or act like you, that’s where you will really find love and when you will love yourself. Don’t change yourself to fit in!”
On the TV show where he first felt represented: “The things that pops up the most for me is Danny from The Real World. I remember watching that and there was this handsome, gay guy on TV telling his story and looking back at it in retrospect, I think it really did inspire me to find my own self and to discover who I am as a gay man.”
Lucy sat down to speak with the a young Barbra Streisand for three separate interviews. Streisand, just 22 years old at the time, speaks about her ascension to fame after the debut of Funny Girl, a rise that Lucy herself calls “Meteoric”. Streisand speaks frankly about her “disappointment” with life in the limelight and tells Lucy how she keeps herself from succumbing to the voices of yes-men and naysayers.
Back in 2018, I was in Palm Springs for a week hanging out with some of my best guy friends for my birthday week.
The week was highlighted by an intimate concert followed by a meet and greet the magnificent Jennifer Holliday at the gay bar QuadZ. It used to be called Spurline. Different name but same terrific place.
My friends and I had been there on the Friday night and it was announced that Miss Holliday, in town for a Saturday night concert, would be stopping by on Sunday night to sing a few songs. My friend Mark and I decided to return and we made friends with a couple who had a front table in the absolutely packed establishment.
Sure enough, Effie herself arrived pretty much on time and made clear to those who thought it would be a drag queen performing: “Honey, they gonna know the truth. Hand me a microphone!”
She belted out a handful of songs including I Am Changing andAnd I’m Tellin’ You I’m Not Going.
She gave us her all and we were delirious. I think I may have cried at one point it was all just so unbelievable and delicious.
Miss Holliday thanked all of us from the small stage and said: “The gay community allowed me to sing when I didn’t have any hits … because of this community, we’ve been able to survive and live and keep our dignity. … I’m so glad that you all love me. I always want to be a part of your lives. Thank you for keeping my name in your hearts all these years.”
This was a night none of us who were there would ever forget.
Today, the Tony winner and Grammy winner, who starred in both Dreamgirls and The Color Purple on Broadway, turns 61.
Below is her legendary performance at the 1982 Tony Awards. Happy birthday to the original Effie!
GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, today released a new interview with Tony, Grammy, and Emmy-Award winning actor and musician Billy Porter. In the interview with Anthony Allen Ramos, GLAAD’s Head of Talent, Porter talks openly about the healing process of writing his memoir Unprotected, which covers race, sexuality, art and healing. Porter also talks about his new single “Children,” which is also based on his life experiences and gives insight into his long relationship with fashion. Billy Porter’s memoir Unprotected will be available on October 19.
Billy Porter on the opportunity to tell his own story by writing the memoir “Unprotected”:
“I feel really excited to set whatever records straight that need to be set straight. I don’t always know what those are but when you are a person in the public eye, and especially now with all of this social media stuff going on in the world, people make up shit! They think they know. I am not a huge communicator, I’m not a huge believer in communicating with people online. I have a mantra that I repeat to myself everyday which goes like this: ‘I do not now, nor will I ever adjudicate my life or humanity in sound bites on social media.’ You will never see me responding, you will never see me having fights with anybody online. I don’t do that. You’ve got some questions? It’s in that book! Every question you have will be answered!”
Billy Porter on how he prepared himself to write the more difficult chapters about his childhood, being bullied, and sexually abused:
“Here is the thing about being an artist and the difference between being an artist and a superstar. Art is from the inside out. Art heals. I have been practicing my healing for my entire life through my art. So this book is just an extension of the work that I have already been doing to try to be the best human being on this planet while I am here, that I can be. It is thrilling because I never thought it would come out in a book. That was not a goal for me, I was not looking to write a memoir, or be an author in that way. But it came to me and I was afraid of it and as artists the thing that you should do is the thing that you are most afraid of.”
Billy Porter on healing and trauma therapy:
“There is healing in sharing. There is healing in the truth. The pandemic and the shutdown created a space for all of us to either grow or not and it is a choice that we can make. I really leaned into trauma therapy to deal with some of the issues that I needed to target a little bit more aggressively. Inside of this trauma therapy work, I discovered that being an artist is actually trauma therapy work very often. This book that I am writing ended up being another exercise that my therapist and myself could use for my healing.”
Billy Porter on his iconic style:
“I have always done my own fashion. I have been laughed at. I have been called ridiculous. People just didn’t get what I was trying to do for a very long time. I have never felt muted. What’s interesting is playing with the gender freeness and melting the masculine and the feminine was not something that I ever thought about doing. It wasn’t because I felt muted…I just never thought about it.”
Billy Porter on how fashion designer Rick Owens impacted him to blend masculine and feminine styles:
“It just cracked open this space for me to step into embrace and love my feminine side which for the majority of my life I was told would be my liability, and it was my liability for a really long time. So I love how organically my fashion has transformed me as a human being, me as an artist, and thereby the world. That has blown my mind.”
Billy Porter on advice for LGBTQ youth who are getting bullied:
“It is a very difficult space we are in because from every corner, from every sector, from every space we are being attacked. The hardest thing is to ground yourself from the inside. The need for validation from anything on the outside will always be one’s downfall. The first thing we must learn how to do and understand how to do is love ourselves. Whatever that means, whatever that takes, it’s the hardest thing to do. Start now. Start today.”
Billy Porter on finally being given the opportunities in his career after “Pose” and the heartbreak of not getting the part in “The WIz:”
“I feel like I created a space where I personally understand that I am exactly where I need to be. And if there is something that I want that I don’t get, it’s not for me. I talk about the pain and the disappointment of not being in the television production of The Wiz a few years back, and how hurt I was by that. With the Tony, and the Grammy. It still was not enough. I was so hurt, but I understood that it wasn’t mine, and understood why it wasn’t mine, and I had to let it go. And then I sat in the Greek Theater for the premiere of Cinderella. And here I am transforming from a butterfly into the fairy godmother. I didn’t need to be in The Wiz. The universe was preparing me for something greater than that for me. To be old enough and mature enough in my life, my career and my art to understand that brings a real peace to this process that I haven’t had before.”
Billy Porter on his decision to disclose his HIV-positive status earlier this year:
“I have always wanted to use my art to heal. I just knew that with the success that I was having, the position that I was put in. The role and the show Pose and Praytell, that I was blessed with, that it was time. Life imitates art, art imitates life and as a result, we as humans get to be the better for it. I want to be a part of the change that I don’t see. I want to be a part of the yes to the people who only hear no. I’ve heard ‘no’ my whole life and I got to ‘yes’ because I bet on myself. I want the whole world to understand that. I chose the truth.”
Billy Porter on his new single “Children” and the next chapter of his music career:
“It’s like a manifesto and a call to action, and a celebration. It’s celebratory and political simultaneously. It embraces all of the things that I am without apology. That is not something that I have ever been able to experience in my mainstream music before and so I am thrilled to be given another shot! This is it!”
Billy Porter on what he hopes people take away from his memoir, “Unprotected:”
“To know that you can dream the impossible, dream beyond any circumstance and have the fullest and most complete life that you want to have. It takes work and it can happen!”
The man best known as the father on The Brady Bunch left us far too young.
Robert Reed, born 89 years ago today, was just 59 when he died of colon cancer back in 1992.
During the five-season run of The Brady Bunch followed by The Brady Bunch Variety Hour, The Brady Brides, the TV movie A Very Brady Christmas and the final series The Bradys, the television viewing audience did not know that the man dispensing fatherly advice to Greg, Marcia, Peter, Jan, Bobby and Cindy was living a very gay life off-screen.
It became public knowledge after his death that Reed was also HIV-positive. While the tabloids ran with the story in a most sensational way, in the years after his death, Brady Bunch leading lady Florence Henderson spoke so warmly and honestly of her TV husband and his dedication to his TV family – on screen and off. I think she helped people forget those tabloid headlines and focus more on the talent and legacy of this fine actor.
In her autobiography Life Is Not a Stage, the late Miss Henderson recalled the actor’s initial discomfort doing love scenes with his TV wife. Here is an excerpt:
We had been doing a love scene that had gone fine in rehearsal but wasn’t working to John’s liking the way was doing it. I felt like I had to step in and do something.
“Excuse me for a moment,” I said to Bob. I had suddenly realized the source of the problem. I left him and walked out of camera range and took [the director] off to the side.
“Just back off,” I told the director. “Don’t say anything or make a big deal out of this, but Bob’s gay. He’s nervous about this scene.”
I told him I knew how to handle it. I
went back on the set and we started up again. I don’t remember what I said specifically to Bob, but I took extra care with him to make sure he felt comfortable. In that moment, I tried to love him as hard as I could and make him feel great. I wanted him to feel romantic and sexy as all get out. And perhaps, if he knew I was comfortable about him and his sexuality, he didn’t have to feel bad about playing that role. I don’t think the crew caught on to this in the beginning as I had, but most did as the show went on.
Every time we’d do a romantic scene, the same nervousness would come up. We’d laugh as he came on to the set in his pajamas. I think on those days he would frequently self-medicate by drinking more than usual at lunchtime.
Although Reed decried the quality of The Brady Bunch scripts, he always returned for the reunions and subsequent series and was said to have enjoyed the ABC variety series the cast did in the mid-70s most of all.
Reed had other memorable roles including starring in TV’s The Defenders, the drama Nurse opposite Micheal Learned, the miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man and a classic two-part episode of Medical Center which had him playing a man who undergoes surgery to become a woman.
It’s hard to believe Martina Navratilova turns 63 today!
Martina came out publicly in 1981 at a time when it was virtually unheard of for a professional athlete to do so – especially one at the height of her career.
Thirty-eight years later, we are still waiting for a male tennis player to come out during their playing days.
Martina retired from singles in 1994 but played doubles on the pro tour until 2006 when she retired shortly before her 50th birthday.
She won a total of 59 grand slam titles in singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles – the second most of any player. She holds the record for the longest winning streak (74 matches) and is tied with Billie Jean King for most Wimbledon titles (20). Her 16-year rivalry with Chris Evert spanned 80 matches and is still considered one off the greatest of all time.
At the Australian Open six years ago, Martina did an interview with one of my big crushes, retired Australian tennis star Todd Woodbridge, who asked her what her most legendary achievement outside of her tennis wins is.
I absolutely love her answer: “My being out as a gay woman. I came out as an athlete when I was at the height of my career in 1981 – way before it was an okay thing to do. I (was) criticized for it then, I was an outcast. And now, I’m lauded for it. So it’s kind of funny how things have come full circle.”
She added: ” … By being out, I have helped a lot of people deal with their sexual orientation and I’ve gotten letters over the years from men and women saying I saved their life – literally. They were ready to call it a day because they thought they were the only one out there. Then they saw me on TV or read an article. This is from the days when the word homosexuality was hardly ever mentioned and when it was it was in a negative way.”
“That is something I didn’t think I was doing, I didn’t know I was doing but that’s pretty special.”