Saturday, December 24, 2016

News & Pop Culture Round-Up

The Horizons Foundation Gives $2M in Grants to LGBT Groups

The Horizons Foundation last week gave out just over $2 million to a variety of LGBT organizations and projects. Several hundred people gathered inside the top floor events room at the Westin St Francis Hotel [San Francisco] for the December 13 breakfast honoring the latest beneficiaries. This year's grants, encompassing organizations from across the nine-county Bay Area region, totaled $2,086,543. Recipients included youth and transgender advocacy groups, homeless support services, senior services, filmmakers, and arts/performance troupes. Beneficiaries included Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center, or LYRIC; EnGender, which includes programs like the Bay Area Rainbow Day Camp; and filmmaker Erin Palmquist. READ MORE

Despite Deal with City of Charlotte, North Carolina Lawmakers REFUSE to Repeal Odious HB2

After the failure of a proposed compromise and a dizzying array of legislative maneuvers, the North Carolina legislature adjourned a special session called to repeal House Bill 2 without taking action against the anti-LGBT law. Lawmakers in the Senate approved a resolution to adjourn the special session — called by Gov. Pat McCrory as part of a deal with the Charlotte City Council — after the legislature failed to move forward with either repeal or a compromise measure, which included a moratorium that would continue to bar non-discrimination ordinances for a short period. Because the House already had the resolution to adjourn, that was the final act for the session and lawmakers adjourned sine die [meaning no appointed date for resumption]. Jeers could be heard in the Senate gallery as lawmakers concluded their business.

North Carolina No Longer Qualifies As a 'Democracy,' According to Political Scientists

In just eight short years, North Carolina has been transformed from a moderate battleground state with a relatively robust public education system—for a Southern state, at least—to into a Randian fever dream that, according to one group of political scientists, no longer qualifies as a democracy. Citing analysis conducted by his colleagues at the Electoral Integrity Project, Andrew Reynolds, a North Carolinian who has traveled the world helping nascent democracies design their elections, mournfully reports that his home state’s overall “electoral integrity score” for the 2016 election “places us alongside authoritarian states and pseudo-democracies like Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone. If it were a nation state, North Carolina would rank right in the middle of the global league table—a deeply flawed, partly free democracy that is only slightly ahead of the failed democracies that constitute much of the developing world.” READ MORE

The 20-plus members of the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association tapped Moonlight — the acclaimed indie film about being a gay black man in contemporary society — as their top film of 2016. Moonlight was named best picture, best director Barry Jenkins and best supporting actor Mahershala Ali. The film also took the Russell Smith Award, named after the late gay film critic, which recognizes the best in low-budget or cutting-edge films. READ MORE

New 'Overwatch' Comic Already Banned in Russia Because of its Lesbian Hero 

After Overwatch revealed that its star character, Tracer, is gay in a digital comic, the internet was aflutter with support and happiness flowing in from fans of the game. Not everyone was happy with the reveal about Tracer's sexuality though — including the Russian government. READ MORE

Out Actor Colton Haynes Talks Recovery After Drug Addiction That Was Brought On by Crushing Mental Health Issues

Colton Haynes is coming clean on some of his darkest moments. The actor took to Instagram on Sunday to post a story he wrote for Paper Magazine that describes his mental health issues, which led to a life of turmoil involving drug use. Having these issues not only hurt his physical health, but it interfered with his social life. 'I'm a vampire. A shell. Wishing I was the old Colton,' the Arrow actor wrote. 'The person who used to love going out and talking to my family/friends. Now I'm so closed off to the world that I can't even get up enough courage to go in public.' The star wanted to find a way for things to change, but he felt too lost. 'There are so many things I want to do in this life but I don't know how to start. I don't know who I am anymore.' READ MORE

Wealthy People More Self-Serving When It Comes to Giving to Charity: Study

A University of British Columbia (UBC) study has found the rich are more likely to give to charity when they feel they're furthering themselves by donating — and charities could stand to benefit by appealing to those kinds of people. The research, led by PhD candidate Ashley Whillans, looked at the effect of wealth on willingness to donate to non-profit organizations. Working adults from Vancouver and Chicago, Ill. were told to watch one of two messages from charities: one advertising what they, individually, could do to help a cause and the other demonstrating what they could do "together" with other donors. The study measured which respondents donated to charity and how much they gave. Richer respondents were found to be more self-serving in their giving: they donated when the charity's appeal was focused on their own personal goals. The poorer gave more to charities preaching a sense of community among donors.

Colorado Small Businesses Oppose Denying Services to LGBT Customers Based on Religious Beliefs

Around the country, a number of states including Colorado have recently passed or considered legislation that would allow business owners to deny services to LGBT people based on the owner’s religious beliefs. These laws are also sometimes known as religious freedom measures and are often modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Supporters of these laws often claim small businesses favor them, but a new scientific poll of Colorado small business owners challenges this assumption. The poll finds 65% of Colorado small business owners believe business owners should not be allowed to deny services to LGBT individuals based on the owner’s religious beliefs. READ MORE

Gay Actor/Producer/Writer Charlie David Named 'Author of the Month' by Divine Magazine

Divine Magazine is very proud to present Actor, Author and TV Host Charlie David as our Author of the Month for December. Charlie David has been a host for E! Television, NBC, OutTV, LOGO, here! TV, Pink TV, EGO, Fine Living and Slice Networks on such shows as FYE!, SpyTV, Crash Test Mommy and his travel series Bump which shot over 100 episodes around the world and garnered a Hugo Television award. He has appeared as musical guest on VH1, BBC, CBS’s The Early Show, and dozens of radio shows. In 2005 Out Magazine recognized Charlie in the ‘Out 100’ at their gala in New York. In 2007 the Philadelphia Film Society awarded Charlie with their Rising Star Award. In 2008 the Festival del Sol in Gran Canaria awarded their Best Male Actor Award to Charlie and the male cast of A Four Letter Word. Formerly in a rock band… okay, actually it was a boy band, Charlie opened for Destiny’s Child, Pink, Snoop Dogg, Rick Springfield and Black Eyed Peas. A love of storytelling led Charlie to start Border2Border Entertainment Inc., a production company whose film and television credits include Mulligans, Judas Kiss, I’m a Stripper (series), Studlebrity, Balls, I’m a Porn Star, I’m a Porn Star: Gay4Pay and Positive Youth. Border2Border Entertainment’s films have been licensed to Showtime, Super Channel, HBO Canada, MTV/LOGO, Sundance Channel, Discovery Networks, The Movie Network, Movie Central, Hollywood Suite, hereTV, Encore Avenue, and OutTV in North America as well as finding a worldwide audience through international distribution partners. Read Divine Magazine's Full Interview With Charlie David HERE.

Gay Man Proposes During Bulls vs. Spurs Game in Chicago

A gay man surprised his partner with a “ring pop” engagement ring and a proposal at center court at Chicago’s United Center during a break in play in the Chicago Bulls vs. San Antonio Spurs game Thursday night, Dec. 8. A Tweet quoted by identifies the two only as Michael and Jake. The Bulls mascot, Benny, pulled one of the men out out of his seat and onto the court, dancing around and encouraging the man to dance. The Benny turns the man’s back to court and pretends to brush his hair as the dancing cheerleaders form two lines behind and his partner appears on the other side of the court. When the first man turns around, his partner walks to him, between the two rows of cheerleaders, before kneeling and offering the ring pop and popping the question!

WATCH VIDEO: Gay Man Proposes During Bulls vs Spurs Game in Chicago

Today's Birthday Boy is Well-Strung's Chris Marchant

Well-Strung (the talented all-male string quartet) took to their social media today in order to wish band-mate Chris Marchant a Happy Birthday! The guys ribbed him by posting a shirtless pic of the VERY fit Marchant: "We are taking a break from all the holiday jolly to celebrate the birth of @chrisjmarchant!! 🎉🎁🎈 #birthdaysuit"

Well-Strung features classical musicians who sing and put their own spin on the music of Mozart, Vivaldi, Rihanna, Adele Lady Gaga, and more! Their debut show sold-out Joe’s Pub on May 1st, 2012 in New York. Since then they have played venues across the world such as The Art House in Provincetown, the Leicester Square Theatre in London, 54 Below in New York, House of Blues in New Orleans and Feinstein’s in San Francisco.

You can follow Well-Strung on Twitter

WATCH VIDEO: Well Strung Performs Christmas Classic "Silent Night"