Monday, May 22, 2017

Explosions At Manchester Arena Leave At Least 19 Dead, 50 Injured

From The New York Times:

The sound of explosions thundered through a concert arena in Manchester, England, on Monday night just as a performance by the pop star Ariana Grande was ending. The police reported multiple deaths and injuries as the panicky crowd of spectators, which included children, fled.

There was no immediate word from the police on the cause, but it immediately evoked the terrorist attacks in Paris in November of 2015, which included a deadly assault inside a concert arena where the Eagles of Death Metal had been playing.

People at the concert at the Manchester Arena said they heard what sounded like explosions at the end of the show.

One concertgoer, Sasina Akhtar, told The Manchester Evening News that there had been an explosion at the back of the arena after the last song. “We saw young girls with blood on them, everyone was screaming and people were running,” she said.

Preliminary reports indicate 19 dead and 50 injured.

More from NBC News below:

News Round-Up: May 22, 2017

• Brazil in the 323! Rodiney Santiago & Hugo La Falcci are proof there's something fabulous in the water down Brazil-way.

• A hideous TV host in France connected with gay men on dating apps with a fake online profile, called them up while on air, and asked them to describe their sexual fantasies without revealing over a million viewers were watching.

• Southwest Airlines denied these gay dads and their three kids 'Family Boarding' privileges.

• President Trump's upcoming budget proposal will include a request to cut 25% of the budget for food stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

• Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn apparently lied during his security clearance interview regarding payments he received for traveling to Russia.

• You have watched Season 2 of Netflix's sci-fi series SENSE8, right?

It's Herndon Climb Time At The Naval Academy

(image via Instagram)

It's that time of the year when "Plebes," having reached the end of their first year at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, must climb the lard-laden Herndon Monument and replace an underclassman’s hat at the top of the monument with an upperclassman’s hat.

Only then can they begin their summer.

This year’s class completed the task in 2 hours, 21 minutes and 21 seconds.

Shirtless, hunky Naval Academy freshman climbing on each other. What's not to like? ;)

A post shared by lexi (@lexitr0nz) on

A post shared by Navy Women's Swimming & Diving (@navywomenswim) on

YouTube Competition Yields 3 Compelling New Elton John Music Videos

Elton John & Bernie Taupin have been creating huge hit songs for decades.

Fifty years to be exact.

Three of their greatest hits - "Rocket Man," "Bennie And The Jets," and "Tiny Dancer" - reached audiences without official music videos as that was a time long before MTV.

Elton and Bernie joined forces with YouTube to give filmmakers the chance to bring their video visions of these three songs to life utilizing three different styles: live-action, animation and choreography.

All three offer compelling storytelling and texture to the tunes.

My favorite has to be Majid Adin's "Rocket Man," where he brings to bear his own personal journey as an Iranian refugee. Embracing a heartfelt sense of loneliness, the animated video is human, thoughtful and poignant.

More from Elton John's official website:

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of their songwriting partnership, Elton John and Bernie Taupin gave new filmmakers the chance to create the official music videos for three iconic Elton hits. A panel of industry renowned judges selected three winning filmmakers who went on to receive support from YouTube and top production studios to bring their ideas to life.

Iranian filmmaker Majid Adin reimagines Rocket Man to tell a thought-provoking story of adventure, loneliness and hope.

Jack Whiteley and Laura Brownhill’s music video tells the story of the formation of Bennie and her Jets.

Inspired by Elton and Bernie’s love of California, Max Weiland captures the free-spirited characters of LA in this sun-soaked homage to the Golden State.

(h/t JoeMyGod)

Viral Video: Melania Slaps Donald Trump's Hand Away At Israel Arrival

Silent moments between Donald and Melania Trump have made social media tongues wag over the past few months, from Melania's Inauguration Day frown to her National Anthem nudge.

Add to the list what appears to be Melania slapping the Donald's hand away seeming to refuse to hold his hand as they arrived in Tel Aviv today.

Silly little social media things here and there, but after a while you have to wonder what is going on behind the scenes of the Trump marriage.

Watch below.

Céline Dion Wows Billboard Music Awards With 20th Anniversary Celebration Of "My Heart Will Go On"

Last night Céline Dion wowed the Billboard Music Awards audience with an epic performance of ”My Heart Will Go On” for Titanic’s 20th anniversary.

Her performance wasn't the only drama on stage, though. With clips of Leonard DiCaprio and Kate Winslet playing behind her, a gorgeous white couture gown by Stephane Rolland, and an enormous chandelier serving to reveal the diva, the moment was full of well-crafted theater.

Watch the master at work below.

Trump: I Never Mentioned Israel When I Shared Intel With Russia

President Trump took a moment today during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to tell the press that he never mentioned the name "Israel" during an Oval Office meeting with Russian officials earlier this month.

“I never mentioned the word or the name Israel. Never mentioned during that conversation,” Trump said in Jerusalem. “They’re all saying I did, so you have another story wrong. Never mentioned the word Israel.”

However, as Kyle Griffin of MSNBC correctly states, divulging the source of the shared intel during the Oval Office meeting with Russian officials was never the issue.

By volunteering this information, Trump has now publicly disclosed more classified information for the purpose of attacking the press for something no one said.

Watch Netanyahu wince as Trump makes his statement in the video below.

Michael Flynn To Invoke Fifth Amendment, Refuse To Release Documents Related To Trump/Russia Debacle

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn will invoke his Fifth Amendment rights and defy a Senate Intelligence Committee subpoena for documents related to the Trump-Russia probe.

From CNN:

President Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn won't provide records to the Senate Intelligence Committee and will invoke his 5th Amendment rights in response to a subpoena from the committee, according to a source close to Flynn.

Flynn's refusal to cooperate comes as he faces scrutiny in several inquiries, including on Capitol Hill and a federal grand jury that has issued subpoenas to associates of the ex-national security adviser.

This move will also intensify scrutiny over Trump's decision to hire him initially for the job and his decision to keep him on staff for 18 days after he was warned by former acting attorney general Sally Yates that Flynn may have been compromised by the Russians.

The Senate Intelligence Committee had asked him to produce all records over his communications with Russian officials by this Wednesday. But Flynn is expected to send a letter later today invoking his 5th Amendment Rights.

The source close to Flynn said it would be "highly imprudent for him not to exercise his 5th Amendment rights" given that several members of Congress have called for his prosecution.

Billy Bush Gives First Interview Since Infamous "Grab'em By The Pussy" Trump Tape

Billy Bush (L) with Donald Trump (R)

The Hollywood Reporter has the first in-depth interview with former Today Show host Billy Bush since his departure from the show thanks to the now-infamous "Grab'em by the pussy" video with Donald Trump came to light.

Just an excerpt:

Take us back to your days at Access Hollywood when this happened. How important was Trump to the show?

It was 2005, the second season of The Apprentice. The first season ended with 44 million viewers watching. It was a bona fide television phenomenon. So he was the biggest star, not just on the network with which Access Hollywood is affiliated but on TV, period. And so I spent a lot of time with Trump. He was my main assignment. He was the core of my job for a period of time there, because if we could get him three times a week in exclusive-type situations, he was always going to say something that was headline-worthy. And Access Hollywood was certainly interested in that. So that was my job, and I did it well. I got access to Trump. And in my job, there's a lot of downtime, and there are off-camera moments where you have a short period of time to, in a chameleonlike way, connect with people. If it's Martha Stewart, I would tell her about the new organic garden that I just started growing in my backyard.

And with Trump?

With Donald, there wasn't much interaction. He sort of talks and performs, and everybody reacts. And the topics were usually golf, gossip or women. And boy, do I wish this was a golf day. But I always had a nervous energy through these situations because he also decided a lot of times from day to day, moment to moment, who he liked, who was in and who was out, and my job was to remain in. I needed to be in, or maybe I'd be out. So that was the Trump environment. Looking back on what was said on that bus, I wish I had changed the topic. I wish I had said: "Does anyone want water?" or "It looks like it's gonna rain." He liked TV and competition. I could've said, "Can you believe the ratings on whatever?" I didn't have the strength of character to do it.

Texas House Moves Anti-Transgender "Bathroom Bill" Closer To Passage

The Dallas Morning News reports on Texas' anti-transgender "bathroom bill," which took another step towards passage last night.

The Texas House voted late Sunday on a bill that will keep transgender public school children from using the restroom that matches their gender identity.

The measure, a Republican deal on the “bathroom bill,” passed the GOP-dominated chamber by a vote of 91-50. It needs one more vote to officially pass the House. If the Senate agrees to the measure, and Gov. Greg Abbott doesn’t veto it, Texas will become the second state in the nation to pass such legislation.

Debate was emotional and divisive, with Democrats likening it to a Jim Crow-era attack on defenseless kids and Republicans insisting the measure did not single out or target anyone.

“America has long recognized that separate but equal is not equal at all,” said Rep. Senfronia Thompson, a Houston Democrat who has served in the House since 1972. “What’s wrong with treating kids with equality and not making them feel like they are second-class citizens?”

"Transgender students are God's business, and you know what, He loves them, too."

The measure would keep transgender kids from using multi-occupancy school bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity, unless no one else is present. If other children are around, they’d have to use a different, single-use restroom elsewhere in the school.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Podcast: Chechnya, Chelsea Manning & Out Short Film "Wonderkid"

In this week’s episode of The Randy Report :

• Gay men in Chechnya are still being rounded up, tortured and killed, and guess what the United States is doing about it?

• Transgender whistleblower Chelsea Manning is free after 7 years in prison.

• A Mississippi man is sentenced to 49 years in prison for the murder of his transgender girlfriend.

• Nevada bans so-called “ex-gay” conversion therapy.

• A new study shows facial hair plays a big part in perceived masculinity, sexual attractiveness and even the length of relationships.

• Short film "Wonderkid" tackles homophobia in competitive sports. Watch the full film for free at

I appreciate everyone who follows my podcast.

I'm going to ask a favor here: as podcasts are becoming more and more popular, I'd appreciate it if you would recommend The Randy Report podcast to you friends. It's intended as an easy and listener-friendly way to catch up on the week's LGBTQ headlines.

If you like, please consider sharing the link to my podcast on your social media, or just tell your friends.

In just a few months, I'm proud to say The Randy Report is one of the top LGBT podcasts on iTunes.

Listen below.

Notre Dame Grads Walk Out On Vice President Pence's Commencement Speech

At today's graduation ceremony for Notre Dame's class of 2017, dozens of students stood up and left as Vice President Pence began his commencement speech.

From USA Today:

This was not a surprise, but rather a staged protest some students had been planning for weeks. When Notre Dame announced that the vice president and former governor of Indiana would be the university’s 2017 graduation speaker in March, the student organization WeStaNDFor began brainstorming ways to take a stand.

Bryan Ricketts, who served as Notre Dame’s student body president from 2015-16 and graduated Sunday with a dual-degree in political science and chemical engineering, was one of the leaders. Ricketts told IndyStar that many of his peers were “upset and hurt” by the school’s decision to invite Pence because his “policies have impacted the humanity of certain graduates.”

WeStaNDFor explained in a release that they are primarily protesting Pence’s opposition to gay rights, his attempts as governor to prevent Syrian refugees from resettling in Indiana, his support of President Donald Trump’s immigration travel ban, and his opposition to sanctuary cities that do not enforce federal immigration laws.

The walkout was planned well in advance with leaders of the action, including consulting with the local police to find the most peaceful manner to make their statement.

The group posted instructions for how to walkout on their website:

The group even posted instructions on how to leave: “Walk away from Pence quietly, in confidence, with your head up high, taking your time. Embrace the moment, maybe even hold hands/lock arms with those joining you.”

Watch part of the walkout below.

Ivanka Trump To Accept $100 Million From Saudi Arabia & UAE For Women Entrepreneurs

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will pledge $100 million to the World Bank’s Women Entrepreneurs Fund for women entrepreneurs, an idea proposed by Ivanka Trump.

From The Hill:

The first daughter spoke with Saudi women who are civil leaders, businesswomen and elected government officials during the president’s first foreign trip.

The State Department has noted problems with human rights in Saudi Arabia, including that “citizens’ lack of the ability and legal means to choose their government; restrictions on universal rights, such as freedom of expression, including on the Internet, and the freedoms of assembly, association, movement, and religion; and pervasive gender discrimination and lack of equal rights that affected most aspects of women’s lives,” the Washington Post reported.

In the conservative Islamic country, women are not allowed to drive and require permission from a male guardian to travel in public. Women are also required to cover themselves in public.

In 2016, then-Republican candidate Trump criticized Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation for accepting donations from Saudi Arabia.

Please take a trip on the way-back machine to one of last year's debates when then-candidate Trump railed against Hillary Clinton's Clinton Foundation for accepting money from Saudi Arabia to help 11.5 million with HIV/AIDS.

More reactions from the Twitterverse:

SNL Cold Open: Trump & Company Sing "Hallelujah"

Seated at a piano, a lone Alec Baldwin as "Donald Trump" begins singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."

He's quickly joined by the SNL cast members who have brought the Trump administration to life over the past several months: Kellyanne Conway (Kate McKinnon), Mike Pence (Beck Bennett), Eric Trump (Alex Moffat), Donald Trump Jr. (Mikey Day), Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Aidy Bryant), Melania Trump (Cecily Strong) and Ivanka Trump (Scarlett Johansson).

Watch Baldwin's "Trump" on the line, "I didn't come to fool ya."

The effect is quite different from last November when Kate McKinnon used the same song to staggering effect as "Hillary Clinton" after the election.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Out Music: Leon Else "What I Won't Do"

(photo credit: Nikko Lamere))
Out UK artist Leon Else drops his synth-pop, disco-funk single, “What I Won’t Do.”

Another lonely night with someone in my bed
You think it's cool but what I won't do for love
And I just push away the ones who get too close

Talking to OUT, Else seemed pensive reflecting on how time can shift his perspective - even on his own writing. “I wrote this song over a year ago when I was in a different place than where I am now,” Else said. “It’s about wanting a love that I didn’t think I could have, was allowed to have, or deserved to have. It’s about finding acceptance in yourself."

Speaking of acceptance, Else shares that he will make his personal and professional Pride debut in LA this year.

“I’ve never been to a Pride ever,” he said. “I wasn’t really comfortable with myself.”

I'm sure Else is sure to experience yet another shift in perspective after performing for thousands in the park in Los Angeles.

I've previously featured Else's music on The Randy Report here and here.

Take a listen to “What I Won’t Do” below.


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