gay news

2012: 50 Gays Who Came Out This Year

It seems that 2012 was a big year for gays coming out, at least for the following 50 people. Some didn’t surprise me too much. I’d either already figured or heard through the proverbial grapevine. Others did make me stop and think.

As a rule, I’m not fond of this huge pressure we tend to put on gay people to come out. I think that’s a personal thing, and no one should be forced or intimidated to come out. Privacy is also a huge concern nowadays with social media, even if you’re not a celeb. I never actually had the big “coming out” speech. I always knew who I was, I never lied about who I was, and I minded my own business.

“The fact is, I’m gay.” Anderson Cooper’s long-awaited announcement sums what it meant to come out in 2012. Again and again we heard the same sentiment — from pop singer Mika’s equally anticipated confirmation, “If you ask me am I gay, I say yeah,” to actor Andrew Rannells casually remarking about relating to a gay character, “I am gay in real life, so I definitely get it.” — proving that coming out today is in many cases a non-event, and certainly secondary to other achievements.

This one didn’t surprise me. In the same respect it never mattered to me one way or the other what his sexual preference was. It still doesn’t; I think he’s the best at what he does. And it’s nice to see that this is actually a “non-event” in many cases.

Although sometimes it is surprising when you had no idea someone was gay. I didn’t know this until I read the article.

Sherman Hemsley, the actor famous for his role as George Jefferson on All in the Family and The Jeffersons, never came out in life.

Hemsley didn’t actually come out, so this article is a little misleading. If you want to get technical, he was “outed” posthumously against his wishes. All I know is I feel a little guilty. I never thought of him as a good actor. In light of this information I now have a new level of respect for his acting abilities and what he did with his life…cuz it can’t be easy playing straight. It couldn’t have been easy keeping his sexuality a secret either. I can’t even imagine.

This one just leaves me speechless and makes me wonder how dumb they think we are.

“I am gay in real life, so I definitely get it,” actor Andrew Rannells said about his newly out character Elisha on HBO’s Girls.

It was the first time Rannells, who was nominated for a Tony for his Broadway turn in The Book of Mormon and also plays gay on NBC’s The New Normal.

It doesn’t always work this way. And I’m glad it doesn’t. But in this case was there ever any doubt?

Now this one below surprised me as much as George Jefferson. I’m actually a fan of Honey-boo-boo, and I wouldn’t have guessed Uncle Poodle was gay if I’d seen him on the street. At least not until we made eye contact anyway. The eyes are always the dead give-away for me. As a side note, I would never be attracted to Andrew Rannells if I met him on the street or in a club. I’m sure he’s a great guy, but not my type by any means. But if I met Uncle Poodle I’d be so attracted I might be rendered speechless, which doesn’t happen often.

 Alana’s Uncle Lee, affectionately called “Uncle Poodle,” became a breakout star after appearing, open, out and proud, alongside his supportive family. And like Rosie Pierri, Thompson keeps his sexual philosophy real: “I’m gay, but I’m as redneck as I can get. If you want people to accept you, you have to show you don’t have a problem with yourself and just be up front about who you are. If you do, you earn people’s respect.”

For those who don’t know, I have another blog on Word Press that’s basically everything I import from this blog. I keep it for specific reasons, and I might move there one day permanently. I recently had a comment from a young gay man who seemed slightly upset that I’d criticized “The New Normal” and other network TV shows for always portraying the stereotypical gays…men and women…for the sake of ratings and entertainment. And I tried to explain to him I’m not knocking the stereotypes at all. I’m not knocking effeminate gay men. I’d just like to see more gay men of all kinds represented in the mainstream. Because yes, there are “redneck” gay men. And all kinds of other gay men. Just as all groups or minorities have different types, so to speak. But if you watch reruns of “Sex In The City,” all you’re going to see is a very small segment of the gay community. And it’s not a segment with which I can identify as a man just as I’m sure someone like Bill Cosby couldn’t identify with the African-American stereotypes we used to see all the time in the mainstream. Thankfully, that’s ended for African Americans (for the most part). I think we’ll see the end of gay stereotypes as well. I just hope it’s in my lifetime.

Someone told me “The New Normal” was not renewed, and if this is true I’m not surprised. I tried to watch and I tried to give it a chance. But it just didn’t work for me.

A huge bravo for JoCasta Zamarripa for coming out as bisexual. The B in LGBT is probably the most unrecognized group in the world, and also the most underestimated. They tend to take a lot more unfair criticism as well, from both the straight and gay communities.

Wisconsin State Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa also helped elevate the B in LGBT this year when she came out as bisexual. And it was all in the name of full transparency, said the Democrat “It has always been my goal in office to be transparent and honest with my constituents. But before the primary in 2010, I didn’t have the valor and courage to come out. I feel remiss that I didn’t come out then.”

It’s also interesting to see someone in politics come out. As I stated earlier, I don’t think we should pressure anyone into coming out. But if you are living a public life this is one of the prices you pay sometimes. And Washington is probably the second most closeted town outside Hollywood when it comes to people guarding their public images.

In any event, it’s an interesting article and there were a few more surprises for me. You can get there from the link I provided above and read them all in detail at Towerload.

  

Can Gay News Networks Survive?

There’s an interesting article here, about whether or not gay news networks can survive the competition. It gets into niche markets, and whether there’s a large enough audience to turn a profit. I read between the lines and wondered about how many in the LGBT community are interested in reading gay news. And I’m also wondering about how many in the LGBT community are being turned off by gay news as well.

Whether corporate-run or one-man shops, the outlook for gay news blogs is that most of them are not turning a satisfying profit.

What’s going on over at Logo, with them focusing on more mainstream programming seems to be an indication that it’s not possible to turn a profit anymore with exclusive gay content. And I’m not sure that’s such a terrible thing. Haven’t we been working towards equality with the mainstream? I’m seeing more and more gay characters in mainstream programming all the time.

Again, there’s the question of how niche is too niche. Among the potential business-side problems for gay news sites:

One of those problems, which is explained in more detail in the article, is that it’s hard to get advertisers in these tight niche markets. Especially since a lot of these gay news oriented web sites are so focused on politics and news. I can tell you from my own experience as a blogger that this particular post won’t get that many hits no matter how much I promote it. But if I write a post about a gay porn star, or even a post about Levi Johnston posing nude in Playgirl, I’ll get thousands of hits in just one day. People want a balance between entertainment and news. It’s always been like that and this is not new to gay news markets.

Gay news sites may have a unique set of problems because of advertising hesitation. Still, their uncertain future may indicate that, even with a clearly defined niche market and a reliable audience, niche isn’t always the answer to capturing online revenue.

I would like to think that the LGBT community is interested in gay news. I know I am. I know all the gay people I come into contact with are. But I do think that gay news organizations need to stop being so focused on the typical gay agenda and start focusing on the many diverse sides of gay life. For example, not all gay men and women are liberal Democrats. That’s a fact, but the most liberal (and loudest voices) in the gay community fail to recognize this. So maybe it’s time to stop the focus on bashing conservatives and start listening to EVERYONE in the gay community. There’s an openly gay Republican, Fred Karger, running for President and making history and I’ve seen little about it anywhere in gay news. If we change the focus a little and include everyone, it might make a difference in profits when it comes to these niche markets…the niches might just grow a little.

LGBTQ Retirement Communities Going Under…

When I read the article below, I was slightly shocked at first…with regard to gay people not fitting into mainstream retirement communities. Maybe this is because I live in an area where there’s a large LGBTQ community and we don’t see these things. But I guess it does happen in other places, and LGBTQ people are interested in having their own retirement communities for obvious reasons.

Frankly, I don’t plan on retiring…ever…and that’s a fact. I’ve been around for twenty years writing, and I’ll be around for the next twenty writing, and then, with luck, twenty more after that. I may be writing something different. Who knows? But I’ll still be working full time, nonstop. It’s the way I’m wired. I don’t take days off, I only require four hours of sleep at night, and I’m not all that fond of vacations where I have to be a tourist. Travel is one thing, but you won’t see me on a cruise ship any time soon standing in line at the buffet. Given a choice between a warm beach and a quiet office with a keyboard, I’ll take the keyboard any day. But I have a lot of gay friends who have retired, or are thinking about retiring, and I always listen closely to what they say. There’s a lot of hidden fear in their conversations.

GLBT Retirement Communities on the Rocksby Kilian Melloy

It seemed like a good idea a few years ago, but now some gay retirement communities are either in financial trouble, while others haven’t gotten off the ground, the New York Times reported on Oct. 28.

Acceptance of gay individuals and their families has grown rapidly in recent years, but that shift in attitudes is largely generational. Younger Americans are much more likely to accept their GLBT peers, whereas older Americans are more likely to cling to stereotypes, anti-gay sentiments, and the biases to which those things can lead.

Indeed, some gay elders have faced harassment, threats, and rejection at the hands of their fellow residents in nursing homes, not to mention unsympathetic and judgmental treatment, and even neglect, from health care workers–all because they are sexual minorities.

An October 2007, New York Times article reported that GLBT elders frequently encounter homophobia, social isolation, and even abuse in elder care facilities. One senior citizen named Gloria Donadello, a lesbian in her 80s who came out to her fellow residents at an assisted living facility in Santa Fe, New Mexico, found herself frozen out of the limited social fabric of the facility. It was isolating; it drove her, the Times article said, into a depression.

The same article recounted how a gay man in a senior care facility in an East Coast city was removed from the general population of healthy, lucid seniors because other residents, and their families, protested his presence. The man was warehoused in a section of the facility for patients suffering from dementia. Before more suitable accommodations could be arranged for him, the man, who had no family, hung himself.

A 2011 documentary titled “Gen Silent” examined the crisis of GLBT elders by following six Boston-area residents in their dealings with a health care system (as well as family members) that often seemed less than sympathetic.

“Many who won the first civil rights victories for generations to come are now dying prematurely because they are reluctant to ask for help and have too few friends or family to care for them,” text at the website for the film’s director, Stu Maddox, said.

“Gen Silent shows the disparity in the quality of paid caregiving from mainstream care facilities committed making their LGBT residents safe and happy, to places where LGBT elders face discrimination by staff and bullying by other seniors,” the text added.

The Oct. 28 Times article recounted how residents at a Santa Fe-based GLBT retirement community, RainbowVision, have become disillusioned after the community opened five years ago. A link to the Santa Fe Reporter led to an article in that publication detailing how residents of RainbowVision were being charged more and more for fees, even as the services they were provided declined. RainbowVision eventually filed for bankruptcy.

Part of the problem is the economic meltdown. A stagnation, and in some parts of the country a decline, in real estate and development has meant that revenue the creators of such retirement communities envisioned was not available. For some retirement communities, that’s led to financial crises, while other projects have withered on the vine.

The New York Times noted that “such communities in Austin, Tex., Boston and in the Phoenix area never opened because of a lack of finances. A development near Portland, Ore., is struggling at 25 percent of capacity, and another near Sarasota, Fla., has–like RainbowVision–filed for bankruptcy.”

The head of Services and Advocacy for G.L.B.T. Elders (SAGE), Michael Adams, called the trend “very concerning.” SAGE recently announced that it had won a contract with the city of New York to open what will be the city’s “first full-time center for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults,” an Oct. 19 SAGE media release noted.

“SAGE the country’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT older adults,” the release added. “The SAGE Center, slated to open in January 2012, will include program sites in all five New York City boroughs–bringing a comprehensive array of services and support to LGBT elders throughout the city.

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“In addition to the robust array of programs SAGE currently provides at the LGBT Community Center and SAGE Harlem, the new Center will offer hot meals, programs covering issues from health and wellness to workplace skills, comprehensive social services, a wide range of social activities, and much more,” added the release.

But a center for GLBT seniors is not the same thing as a residential community where older gays–the same people who fought for equality during a time when being openly gay could carry significant legal and social penalties, as well as taking a high emotional and physical toll–can spend their final years in peace and dignity.

“In a study released in April by the National Senior Citizens Law Center, many older gay men and lesbians and their family members reported instances of mistreatment at long-term care centers,” the Times reported.

SAGE, too, compiled at report, published last year, which documents anti-gay abuse of elders at nursing homes.

The economic downturn has affected elder care community developments in other ways. For one thing, the article noted, the ailing economy discourages many older Americans, gay as well as straight, from selling the houses where they raised families and moving to locales where the climate (social as well as weather-wise) might be easier on them.

But some older GLBTs worry that an inability to move forward in their golden years could mean a drastic step backwards–into the closet once more.

That was a fate one RainbowVision resident, John Wojtkowski, speculated might be in store when he spoke with the New York Times. “Without RainbowVision, there’s no other place to go,” he said.

Younger gays are less likely than their older counterparts to be alienated from their families, and they also exhibit a desire to form marriages and families of their own that older gays may has eschewed in their own youth.

Because gay elders often lack family support systems, they may face financial and logistical hurdles to accessing quality living situations that they cannot overcome on their own. Moreover, the myth of gays being on the whole wealthier than heterosexuals is, largely, just that: a myth. On average, gays make less money than do their heterosexual counterparts.

That personal lack of resources together with the general state of the economy could go a long way toward accounting for why no major shift in GLBT-specific eldercare housing has yet taken place, even though the baby boomer generation is now hitting retirement age. the baby boomers are a large cohort, and are politically and socially significant; like any other demographic, they include a certain percentage of GLBTs.

Mathematically speaking, GLBT elders should, on the strength of their numbers alone, be a force to be reckoned with–except that many of them, terrorized by an anti-gay culture from decades ago, may never have emerged from the closet.

For others, numbers of a different sort–money–exert a tyranny over their life choices even as the years grow short. Money also dictates what the market will provide, and to whom. Taken all together, these factors suggest it’s not so surprising after all if GLBT retirement communities have not become the booming trend that early entrepreneurs had hoped for.

“For the low income, obviously there’s no money in it, so if you’re a for-profit developer this is not what you want to do,” Mark Supper, executive director of Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing, told EDGE in a May 13, 2010, article. “In the criteria to acquire funds, you have to have a lot of development experience and you’re also a landlord and social service provider. There’s a lot of bureaucracy, in a sense, in running these things.”