Dancer Oleg Ivenko, who stars as Rudolf Nureyev in The White Crow, had no previous acting experience In 1961, the dancer Rudolf Nureyev defected to the west from the then-Soviet Union’s famed Kirov Ballet. An apparently last-minute decision to seek asylum in France made him, at 23, the best known male dancer in the world. A glittering career followed. The new film The White Crow dramatises the defection and the early years which led to it.
When Nureyev outwitted his KGB minders at Le Bourget airport (then the main airport for Paris), he became famous overnight. A propaganda coup had fallen into the lap of the west in its Cold War with the Soviet Union. Nureyev became that rare thing – a male ballet dancer whose name was known worldwide. He spent the next 30 years delighting in his celebrity.
At 22, the dancer Oleg Ivenko hasn’t acted before but he was chosen by director Ralph Fiennes to play Nureyev in the new biopic The White Crow. Born in the Ukraine, he grew up speaking both Ukrainian and Russian. His career as a solo dancer began at the Tatar State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre in Kazan, 500 miles east of Moscow. Rudolf Nureyev "became a monster of selfishness", says screenplay writer David Hare He’s danced big roles in classic ballets such as Coppelia, Giselle and La Bayadere.
"I always knew about Rudolf Nureyev but I had only seen short pieces of him dancing. To be honest I think the first thing I saw on video was him… with a pig?"
For a moment Ivenko hesitates, as though this might be something he’s fantasised. But the scenes of Nureyev on The Muppet Show in 1977 have been watched millions of times online.
Until he was cast in The White Crow, Ivenko’s English was almost non-existent. "So I had to learn – and also how to act. When you dance it’s a type of acting but with your body – your mouth stays shut. I realised that for Rudolf suddenly to defect, at my age, to another culture and another language was a massive shock for him."
The film’s screenplay is by David Hare, known as a widely produced playwright and for writing the series Collateral seen on BBC Two last year. He says the original idea for the new film came from producer Gaby Tana. Oleg Ivenko says he believes Nureyev helped him to perform in White Crow "Gaby had read Julie Kavanagh’s biography of Nureyev and she took it to Ralph Fiennes as a project. She told him the first six chapters were a fantastic movie – basically the events in Paris and what made Nureyev refuse to return home.
"They approached me and at first I saw the story just as the defection itself and what happens immediately before. Those are the thriller elements and were great fun to write. Someone told me those sequences in Paris reminded them of Hitchcock’s North by Northwest – which I took as a huge compliment.
"But it was Ralph who then said the audience will need to understand his childhood and apprenticeship because that’s what shaped him. Nureyev said he was playing princes on stage but he’d never been a prince in life: when he defected I’m sure he’d panicked and feared being sent back to Russia to be nobody again."
As a student Hare happened to meet the dancer after Nureyev came to Britain. Ralph Fiennes directs Oleg Ivenko in The White Crow A friend had a Russian mother and the family had invited Nureyev to stay. "I remember absolutely everything had to be arranged for Rudolf’s benefit – was he warm and comfortable? How was his chair? Did he have enough to eat and drink?
"But he always assumed he’d just be the most talked-about person in the room and that meant he became a monster of selfishness. But the truth is he always was the most talked-about person. I did a lot of my own research with people who knew him: everyone had a story of the moment when you simply couldn’t believe how badly he was behaving.
"The heart of it was that Nureyev knew he’d come from being a peasant. And because he thought he was a peasant he resented it when he thought people looked down on him."
Ivenko is a reasonable physical match for Nureyev. But did he also need to dance like him for the camera? "It’s all about how you feel inside. If you go to the stage and you feel like Oleg Ivenko then that’s how you will dance. When I was preparing for a take I talked with him, inside. I’d say come on Rudy I need you now – wake up. I think he helped me." Ralph Fiennes (left) also plays ballet master Alexander Pushkin in The White Crow Ivenko says Nureyev had a particular way of dancing. "Sometimes he was like a big cat, moving slowly. If you look at him on film, or listen to people who saw him, there was definitely something animal and sensual."
The dance sequences in The White Crow are expertly crafted but they make up only part of the film. So what opinion did Ivenko form of the man he was playing, aside from his undeniable skills on the stage?
"Sometimes I think he was a nice guy – but other times he was ruthless. But I respect him and I can see why he did certain things. I think he hid his feelings and always made sure he seemed a strong person. He could appear arrogant but inside he was like a baby left alone.
"For years Rudolf was going to a party every night or enjoying himself in gay clubs. But he had nobody just to sit with and to be together with."
The White Crow opens across the UK on 22 March.
Follow us on Facebook , on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts , or on Instagram at bbcnewsents . If you have a story suggestion email .
Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump at the White House (Photo: Twitter) Brazil’s notorious anti-LGBTI president, Jair Bolsonaro, said he and the US were ‘side by side’ in efforts to ensure ‘traditional family values’ on a visit to the country on Tuesday (19 March).
Far-right Bolsonaro, who took office in January, has described himself as a ‘proud homophobe’.
He also said he’d prefer to have a dead son than a gay son.
In a joint press conference with Donald Trump, Bolsonaro said they stood together ‘against the gender ideology or the politically correct attitudes’.
Trump, who himself has a questionable track record on LGBTI rights, nodded along. Here’s Trump just nodding his head along as Bolsonaro talks about how Brazil and the U.S. are joined “side by side” in a fight against trans people. pic.twitter.com/25jz1SkkVS — Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) March 20, 2019 Trump began his speech to journalists by saying he and Bolsonaro have ‘many views that are similar’.
Trump also congratulated Bolsonaro on winning his election. What’s more, Trump claimed he was ‘thrilled’ to host Bolsonaro at the White House. Trump of the Tropics
Bolsonaro visited Trump on his first foreign trip as president.
Known for his far-right policies and anti-LGBTI, misogynistic, and racist comments, some people call Bolsonaro ‘the Trump of the Tropics’.
LGBTI activists have warned Bolsonaro will usher in a new wave of terror for Brazil’s LGBTI community .
In January, Brazil’s only openly-gay lawmaker fled the country.
‘For the future of this cause,’ Jean Wyllys told Folha de S. Paulo , ‘I have to stay alive. ‘I don’t want to be a martyr’, he also said.
He said he did not plan to return to Brazil.
M any LGBTI Brazilians who said they were fearful for their rights and safety under the rule of the openly homophobic Bolsonaro.
Prior to the presidency, Brazil saw a spate of same-sex wedding s, as same-sex couples rushed to marry before Bolsonaro took office.
Though same-sex marriage has been legal in Brazil since 2013, many LGBTI people worry that Bolsonaro might begin rescinding LGBTI rights during his presidency .
2018 was one of the deadliest years for Brazil’s LGBTI community.
In September, Brazilian LGBTI rights group reported more than 300 LGBTI people have been murdered in Brazil in 2018. Importantly, that’s from 220 by the same time the previous year.
‘I would be incapable of loving a homosexual child’ Bolsonaro once said.
‘If your son starts acting a little gay, hit him with some leather, and he’ll change his behavior’ he also said.
The education secretary is calling on payments firms such as PayPal to block transactions for essay writing firms, in a bid to beat university cheats.
Damian Hinds says it is "unethical for these companies to profit from this dishonest business".
He also suggests UK universities should consider US-style "honour codes" where students promise not to cheat.
A PayPal spokesman says an "internal review is already under way" into essay-writing services. ‘Unscrupulous’
Such firms might say they are offering legitimate help for students, but the higher education watchdog, the Quality Assurance Agency, has warned they can be "unscrupulous services that damage reputations and lives".
"Companies that try to entice students to buy so-called plagiarism-free essays pose a real threat to the academic integrity of our higher education," said Douglas Blackstock, head of the QAA. YouTube stars being paid to sell cheating
Essay cheat companies face university ban
How do you stop online students from cheating?
The man who helps students to cheat
"These unscrupulous operators, increasingly and falsely marketing themselves as providing legitimate study aids, must be stopped in their tracks."
Mr Blackstock also warned of students being blackmailed by essay-writing firms, with demands for money under the threat of exposing the previous cheating.
The QAA wrote to PayPal in November calling on the firm "to close down the payment facilities for the essay-writing companies that encourage students to cheat".
But the university standards watchdog says there has not been any indication of any change in policy.
A PayPal spokesman said: "We carefully review accounts that are flagged to us for possible violations of our policies, as well as UK laws and regulations.
"An internal review is already under way looking at the implications of essay writing services.
"We would be happy to talk to the Department of Education about their concerns." ‘Black market’
The education secretary wants payment service companies to take action to stop such "essay mills" – and says their "corporate reputation" should matter to them.
He said the QAA identified 17,000 academic offences in 2016 – but it was impossible to know how many cases had gone undetected.
"Sadly there have always been some people who opt for the easy way and the internet has seen a black market in essay writing services spring up."
Mr Hinds added that such firms are "exploiting young people and it is time to stamp them out".
"I am determined to beat the cheats who threaten the integrity of our system and am calling on online giants, such as PayPal, to block payments or end the advertisement of these services – it is their moral duty to do so," said Mr Hinds. He also suggested that universities should adopt "honour codes", in which students formally commit to not cheating, and also recognise the consequences facing students who are subsequently caught.
There has been research from the US showing that such honour codes can act as a deterrent and reduce levels of cheating.
Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham, said: "Cheating should be tackled and the problem should not be allowed to fester any longer.
"Legislation is needed to outlaw this abominable practice, but this is a valuable first step."
The education secretary’s call for a tougher line on essay writing services was backed by Chris Hale of Universities UK.
He said the university organisation wanted "essay mills to be made illegal and we continue to work together with government, the Quality Assurance Agency and other higher education bodies to tackle their use".
Billboard has fired Patrick Crowley for his alleged conduct | Photo: Video/Billboard Music publication Billboard has reportedly fired its senior director of their Pride section following accusations of sexual harassment.
BuzzFeed News first reported the news of Patrick Crowley’s termination . They spoke to queer artist Nik Thakkar , who alleged Crowley sexually harassed him in several Instagram messages.
Thakkar told BuzzFeed he sent Crowley a message asking when Billboard would publish an interview he had given.
Instead of simply answering the inquiry, Crowley reportedly sent increasingly inappropriate messages in return.
A spokesperson for Billboard told BuzzFeed there was an investigation into the ‘very serious allegations’. Ultimately, the investigation ‘determined there had been violations of the company’s ethical and professional standards’.
‘As a result, we have terminated Patrick Crowley’s employment, effective immediately,’ the spokesperson concluded. The inappropriate messages
Thakkar told BuzzFeed the conversation between him and Crowley on Instagram turned sour from the start.
‘This is completely disrespectful to me as an editor,’ Crowley allegedly wrote to Thakkar. He claimed not to know about the interview or a publication date and seemed annoyed.
Then Crowley suddenly turned the conversation on himself, writing to Thakkar that he knew ‘when an indie artist wants something from me bc [because] they start liking my photos and stuff’. He added it was affecting his well-being and sleep.
When Thakkar suggested listening to sound therapy as a sleep aid, Crowley reportedly wrote back: ‘Or porn.’
Crowley eventually asked Thakkar for nude photos, the singer told BuzzFeed.
‘Find me a decent looking guy to send me nudes and give me occasional compliments lol….Nudes as many as they want….They can be a photo or artist, honestly don’t care anymore…I’ll just put them on the cover of the magazine! Why not…what’s integrity,’ Crowley said in a message.
He also allegedly asked Thakkar for nude photos of himself. ‘Orchestrated manipulation’
Thakkar said he came forward partly because of the #MeToo movement, as well as for other artists of color.
Billboard eventually ran Thakkar’s interview but then someone informed him that his song had been removed from the November 2018 Billboard Pride Playlist.
‘It’s bullshit manipulation that is systemic in the music industry and it just needs to stop,’ Thakkar told BuzzFeed.
He also expressed his anger at Billboard.
‘I felt like there was an agenda that I wasn’t aware of. So when I’m getting 10 messages about nudes I try to push it away, but politely, within a mature and kind way of doing it that doesn’t fuck up my relationship with the biggest music publication in the world,’ he explained.
‘This is why I’ve been made to feel the victim because it’s a big publication.
‘I think it’s clear that he was trying to leverage his role as an editor at a massive magazine, at the most prestigious music publication in the world, to get himself off that night, to one of his artists, so he could sleep. It’s manipulation. It’s orchestrated.’
Thakkar said he didn’t regret coming forward with the story because he believes the culture needs to change.
GSN reached out to Billboard for additional comment.
Update 19 March, 3:24 pm PST: Billboard independently confirmed the report to GSN.
A spokesperson told GSN: ‘We confirm Patrick Crowley’s termination for conduct that violated Billboard’s ethical and professional standards.’ See also
Nearly 2 in 10 black LGBTI youth in the US have been forced into sexual acts
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) posted a transphobic meme to his official campaign Facebook page on Saturday (16 March). The meme uses transphobic language to encourage a civil war in the United States .
The Republican from Iowa since deleted his post, but not before the internet managed to get screenshots.
Two figures fighting are depicted in the meme — one red, one blue. Each figure is made up of the states based on their political leanings. Yarek Waszul created the original art for a 2013 New York Times book review .
‘Folks keep talking about another civil war,’ the meme reads. ‘One side has about 8 trillion bullets, while the other side doesn’t know which bathroom to use.’
King accompanied his post with a smirking emoji and the caption: ‘Wonder who would win.’
Earlier this year, the House stripped King of his committee positions because of his comments on white supremacy. Calls for expulsion
Many are calling for King’s resignation or his expulsion from Congress.
Richard Painter, George W. Bush’s chief ethics lawyer during his presidency, called King’s post ‘treason’ in a tweet.
‘Steve King should be expelled from the House immediately,’ he concluded. This is treason.
Steve King should be expelled from the House immediately. Steve King shares meme touting red states in potential modern-day civil war – CNNPolitics https://t.co/GI7mb1iGnC — Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) March 18, 2019 Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe replied to Painter, explaining King ‘isn’t actually COMMITTING treason, but he is fomenting and inciting it. Ample reason to expel him.’
Clay County Democrats, a county located in King’s district, tweeted the state would be better without him. Hey @SteveKingIA Iowa would be better off if you just resigned. pic.twitter.com/KNLWOcKy3L — Clay County Iowa Democrats (@claycountydems) March 18, 2019 Cornell William Brooks, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and former president of the NAACP, criticized King’s use of transphobic language to invoke the Civil War.
Harpers Ferry was the site of abolitionist John Brown’s raid of a federal armory, an attempt to begin an antislavery rebellion that helped spark the Civil War. The attack on Fort Sumter had the first shots of the war. Familiar rhetoric
King’s political career began in 1997 when voters elected him to the Iowa Senate.
He has previously made claims and references to the Civil War. In 2018, he tweeted: ‘America is heading in the direction of another Harpers Ferry. After that comes Ft. Sumter.’
Harpers Ferry was the site of abolitionist John Brown’s raid of a federal armory, which helped spark the Civil War. Brown led the raid in support of an antislavery rebellion. The attack on Fort Sumter, meanwhile, contained the first shots of the war.
In 2016, he came under criticism for having a confederate flag on his desk.
Ironically, King’s state of Iowa was part of the Union.
GSN contacted King’s office, but they did not respond to inquiries about why King made the post. See also
UTEP students Heather Wilson (Photo: Facebook) An anti-LGBTI Trump official on the verge of becoming president of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP).
Air Force Secretary, Heather Wilson, is the only finalist for the position.
Wilson has a long anti-LGBTI track record.
She faced shouts of ‘we deserve better’ when holding a news conference at UTEP last week, according to NBC News.
What’s more, a petition calling for the board to rescind their choice has garnered 6,500 signatures.
The University’s regents are expected to vote on the nomination next month.
Wilson’s nomination has also stirred controversy due to the University’s location on the Mexico border.
Critics have called out Trump and his administration for anti-immigration rhetoric. This includes his controversial border wall.
More than 83% of UTEP students are Latino. Many regularly cross the border to Mexico. Anti-LGBTI record
GLAAD pointed out Wilson’s abysmal record on LGBTI rights.
Wilson has previously said she does not approve of homosexuality.
She voted against LGBTI anti-discrimination legislation and wanted to ban same-sex marriage.
She attacked an anti-bullying bill, claiming teasing was part of life.
‘Heather Wilson has proven time and time again that she will not stand up for LGBTQ people’ Zeke Stokes, Chief Programs Officer at GLAAD said.
‘Simply put, her record should disqualify her without question’.
Eder Perez, 22, president of UTEP’s Queer Student Alliance told NBC ”UTEP deserves and demands a better leader than Heather Wilson’.
When quizzed on LGBTI issues on Tuesday, Wilson said: ‘My general approach with respect to LGBT issues is to treat everyone with dignity and respect.’
Egerton at the Troubadour | Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages Paramount Pictures screened earlier footage of their upcoming Elton John biopic Rocketman at The Troubadour, where John made his US debut in 1970, on Monday (18 March) night.
Stars of the film Taron Egerton , Bryce Dallas Howard, and Jamie Bell was in attendance for the screening. John’s husband David Furnish introduced them.
Egerton, who takes on the iconic role of John, read a letter from director Dexter Fletcher to the audience.
Fletcher wrote of his joy at getting to make this movie and depict the life of John.
He also noted for die-hard Elton John fans that he knows John didn’t perform Crocodile Rock at the Troubadour. However, it’s the song Egerton’s John performs at the venue in the movie.
Fletcher said he loved the energy of the song for the scene and John gave them ‘artistic license’ to make that change. A magical and dramatic film worthy of Elton John?
The footage shown was steeped in magical realism, grandeur, musical numbers (yes, this is a full blown musical movie), and many sequins. In other words, it appears to be a movie worthy of Elton John’s legendary career.
Paramount showed snippets of several scenes, including some great moments between Egerton and Richard Madden , who plays John’s former manager and lover John Reid.
They also showed an extended scene of John performing at The Troubadour, from arriving in Hollywood, full of sunshine, palm trees, and a grainy 70s aesthetic.
John’s performing on a Monday night but suddenly gets nervous and hides himself in a bathroom when he hears Neil Diamond and some of the Beach Boys are in the audience.
Egerton embodies the role of Elton John, giving a genuine performance rather than a caricature. Hearing him sing Crocodile Rock in the movie is remarkable and leds an air of authenticity to the role. It’s not hard to understand why the audience, completely unaware of who Elton John is at this point, gets into the music.
Later scenes show the movie tackling John’s struggles with alcohol and drug abuse. Egerton on depicting Elton John’s sexuality
Egerton spoke to GSN after we all watched the footage. He was enthusiastic and quick to discuss portraying an icon of the LGBTI community.
‘That was one of my first notes,’ Egerton said. ‘There is so much you didn’t see in that footage, some really beautiful scenes between me and Richard [Madden].’
He continued, saying it was ‘important’ to him to fully explore that part of John’s identity in a genuine and authentic way.
Previously, Egerton revealed the gay sex scene with Madden in the film was his first time filming a sex scene. He told GSN he wanted to do ‘justice’ both to John and his identity.
Rocketman hits theaters on 24 May in the UK and 31 May in the US. See also
A transgender man in Japan takes off his bandages after a mastectomy (Photo: HRW)
Japan should stop forcing transgender people to be surgically sterilized, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday (20 March).
The rights group released an 84-page repor t detailing the harm caused by Japan’s Gender Identity Disorder Special Cases (GID) Act.
According to Japan’s law, two ‘respected medical professional’ must first diagnose a trans person with ‘gender identity disorder’ before they can apply to change gender.
They must also be over 20 years old, unmarried, not have any underage children.
Importantly, the law forbids them to have functioning genitalia.
‘Japan should uphold the rights of transgender people and stop forcing them to undergo surgery to be legally recognized’ said Kanae Doi, Japan director at HRW.
The law is based on an outdated premise that treats gender identity as a so-called ‘mental illness’ and should be urgently revised.’
Medical procedures are lengthy, expensive, invasive, dangerous, and irreversible, the report says.
The practice is also contrary to international human rights law and international medical best practices.
What’s more, Japan’s Supreme Court recently upheld the law. ‘It is humiliating’
HRW spoke to 48 transgender people, as well as with lawyers, health providers, and academics from 14 prefectures in Japan.
They painted a picture of how the law infringes on their rights.
Some of the trans people included in the report said they felt forced to undergo surgery.
‘I don’t want to [have surgery], to be honest’ one transgender man told HRW. ‘I feel pressured to be operated on – so terrible.’
Another transgender man said he felt ’severely insulted’ and that his human rights had been neglected. ‘It is humiliating.’
‘The surgery requirement itself feels wrong. It feels a lot like a surgery to maintain order. Why do we have to put a scalpel through our healthy bodies just for sake of the country’s order?’
Many transgender Japanese people have to decide between being legally recognized and having the body they want.
Japanese law rushes them into making life-changing and irreversible decisions about their bodies.
The US Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from a Christian bed and breakfast owner who was ordered by a lower court to serve a lesbian couple despite it being a violation of her religious beliefs.
The Supreme Court rejected the appeal Monday, thus upholding the lower court’s ruling in favor of the lesbian couple. Now, litigation will continue to determine what penalty the Christian business owner must face.
Phyllis Young, the owner of Aloha Bed & Breakfast in Honolulu, Hawaii, refused to rent a room in her home to Diane Cervili and Taeko Bufford in 2007 due to her religious beliefs about marriage. Cervili and Bufford sued Young over her actions and accused her of discriminating against them because of their sexuality.
Alliance Defending Freedom represented Young and argued that because she "only rented 1-3 rooms in her personal home she did not fall under the Hawaii public accommodations law that makes sexual-orientation discrimination unlawful."
The conservative law firm also pointed out that the Constitution protects Young’s right to not promote behavior that violates her faith or associate with people unwilling to respect her convictions.
However, a state court found Young in violation of Hawaii’s Civil Rights Commissions’ public accommodation law. The law applies to hospitality, entertainment, and transportation services. The law makes it "illegal to deny a person access to or to treat them unequally in a place of public accommodation" because of a person’s "religion," "sexual orientation," and "gender identity or expression."
READ ‘Frontal Assault on Religious Liberty’: Why Religious Freedom Advocates Are so Alarmed About the ‘Equality Act’
The ruling comes on the heels of a Supreme Court decision involving Colorado-based Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips. Phillips refused to make a personalized cake for a gay wedding due to his religious beliefs about marriage.
The Supreme Court ruled in his favor and blasted the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for showing hostility towards Phillips’ faith. However, the high court did not address the key issue of whether business owners can claim religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws.
Colorodo recently dropped a second case the commission had filed against Phillips, targeting him again after an activist tried to force him to celebrate a transgender transition. Phillips had counter-sued the commission which eventually agreed to drop the charges. More about that HERE.
Washington Post : These LGBT refugees came to Kenya seeking freedom. Now they’ve been imprisoned and abused.
“On Feb. 22, activists, reporters, and well-wishers from Kenya and all over the world gathered in a courtroom in Nairobi, hoping to witness a historic moment: the decriminalization of homosexual conduct for the first time in conservative East Africa, a region where anti-LGBT crackdowns are common, sometimes even at the behest of presidents. A judge ultimately deflated the room with a last-minute postponement of the ruling … But on that same day, 20 LGBT refugees who had come to Kenya hoping to escape repression in countries like Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo were spending their first full day in jail. Their ordeal has now lasted nearly a month, and demonstrates the difficulties LGBT people in Kenya face regardless of what happens in the courts…” (Bearak, 3/19).