US Embassy office in Tel Aviv celebrates Pride despite Trump Administration ban on Pride flags Eugene Lee Yang in the ‘I’m Gay’ video (Photo: YouTube) Eugene Lee Yang of the internet comedy team The Try Guys has posted a powerful video online entitled, ‘I’m Gay.’
Accompanying the video on YouTube is a fundraiser for the Trevor Project. At the time of writing, it had already raised over $40,000 for the suicide-prevention LGBTQ non-profit organization.
The Try Guys – Keith Habersberger, Ned Fulmer, Zach Kornfeld, and Eugene Lee Yang – rose to prominence as a Buzzfeed video concept. However, the four parted with Buzzfeed in 2018 and have continued their success independently. Videos posted online find them trying out different endeavours for the first time. What’s in Eugene Lee Yang’s video?
In the choreographed dance video, Lee Yang is seen dancing within a family setting. At first happy, he then receives a slap around his head when he goes to put on lipstick. This is followed by an angst-ridden Eugene in a church congregation, looking on while a preacher rants and raves.
Later, we see him attracted to another male dancer, and then appear in drag, dancing happily in a club. That is until a man walks in, appearing to point his finger at the dancers in a gun-like fashion.
Later he is beaten and bloodied by a mob next to a dumpster.
The video ends with Lee Yang, in front of an arguing mob, staring defiantly at the camera.
The background music comes from ODESZA. Lee Yang wrote, directed and choreographed the video himself.
Eugene Lee Yang’s ‘I’m Gay’ video (Photo: Twitter)
The caption accompanying the video states, ‘Eugene comes out as gay in his original, deeply personal music video.’
Within 24 hours of going online, the video has had over half a million likes on YouTube and 3million+ views. It’s also prompted hundreds of comments on social media – the majority being supportive and appreciative. Coming out as gay
Although Lee Yang has previously stated that he was a part of the ‘LGBTQ community’ and ‘queer’, this is the first time he has stated he is gay.
As part of the Try Guys, he has previously explored drag culture. An episode in October 2018 showed him taking his dad to a drag show for the first time.
To mark National Coming Out Day last October, he shared his experiences of growing up as a young queer man with HRC’s website . Last December, he posted a video about volunteering with the Trevor Project .
Lee Yang posted about the video on Twitter , with a message saying, ‘I created this music video as my personal way of coming out as a proud gay man who has many unheard, specific stories to tell. I withheld because of fear and shame shaped by my background but I promise to give my full truth in the rest of my life’s work.
‘Coming out is a lifelong process – your safety always comes first – but know that there’s a vibrant community waiting to welcome you with open arms.’
Looking for support coming out? Check out our international list of LGBTI helplines . See also
A couple relaxing in the pool in West Hollywood. (Visit West Hollywood) Legendary nightlife, high-end design and a forward-thinking community makes West Hollywood an ideal destination for the sophisticated LGBT+ traveller.
West Hollywood, California (not to be confused with Hollywood in Los Angeles, California) is one of the world’s great gay meccas. Covering just under two square miles at the base of the Hollywood Hills, it’s a walkable, stylish and forward-thinking city split into three main neighborhoods: each resplendent with decadent poolside bars, gleaming designer showrooms and storied cocktail bars.
More than 40 percent of WeHo’s 37,000 residents identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or fluid. As a result, the city feels open and welcoming, leading LGBT+ holidaymakers to flock to the city in their thousands.
With LA Pride held every June, the Halloween Carnaval held in October, and other undoubted highlights on the West Hollywood calendar, the city’s charm is evident year-round. Explore Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica Boulevard forms part of the iconic Route 66, and is the beating heart of West Hollywood’s LGBT+ community,
It’s filled with lively Russian bars and restaurants at one end, chic cocktails and delectable gastronomy in the Midtown, and ends in a so-called “Boy’s Town” heavy with pulsating dancefloors, drag queens and gogo boys.
In the daytime, pay a visit to the West Hollywood Memorial Walk, laden with rainbow flags and bronze plaques dedicated to those who lost their lives to HIV/AIDS, and be sure to drop in on the Out of the Closet thrift store, which raises money for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. West Hollywood has a thriving LGBT+ nightlife. (Visit West Hollywood) Relive the Sunset Strip
The Sunset Strip is known around the world for its hedonistic old Hollywood glamour. A one-time favourite of Marilyn Monroe, Lucille Ball and Nat King Cole, the 1.6 mile stretch of Sunset Boulevard is still home to long-running venues such as the Roxy and Whisky A Go Go.
An ideal place in which to base yourself, the strip is lined with luxurious hotels including the Andaz West Hollywood with its rooftop pool, the art-deco Sunset Tower Hotel and The Standard, Hollywood with its hidden Mmhmm cocktail bar. The famous Sunset Strip aerial view. (Visit West Hollywood) Design District
Framed by Melrose Avenue and Robertson and Beverly Boulevards, the Design District is an eclectic mix of local boutiques and high-end fashion flagships from the likes of Stella McCartney, Glossier and Nike, peppered with independent art galleries and furniture showrooms. The design district is a definite highlight (Visit West Hollywood) A day in the district should revolve around shopping and taking in the stunning architecture, with the occasional pitstop for an artisanal coffee or a spot of brunch. Be sure to visit the Pacific Design Center.
If you’re considering a trip this summer, make WeHo your to-go-go.
Rachel Dolezal speaking at a rally in downtown Spokane, Washington in 2015 (Creative Commons/Aaron Robert Kathman) Rachel Dolezal, best known for claiming to be black, has spoken about being celibate and bisexual.
The divisive former NAACP Washington activist, who ignited international fury in 2015 when it was revealed she was actually white, came out as bi on Saturday (June 15). Rachel Dolezal: Bi visibility is important
She wrote in an Instagram post : “Just wanted to take a moment to recognise Pride Month I am in absolutely no rush to explore a new relationship, but it still matters to stay visible.
“My first kiss was with a girl when I was 18. I am bisexual.”
Dolezal added: “Just because I have been married (briefly) to a man or have had children by male partners does not mean I am not bi.
“Just because I’m bi doesn’t mean I’m confused. Just because I’m bi doesn’t mean I’m ‘almost’ gay.
“Just because I’m bi doesn’t mean I’m any less monogamous or into threesomes.” Rachel Dolezal faced fury in 2015 when it was revealed she was white She continued: “I’ve always been attracted to a certain vibe and the body parts present matter less to me than the heart, soul, compatibility & chemistry. “So, don’t ignore or delegitimize the ‘B’ In LGBTQI… It’s a real identity. We are here, and no one’s opinion is going to make me gay or straight or not bi.”
Dolezal, who was convicted on a welfare fraud charge in 2018, added that due to her “stressful” life she has been “single and celibate” for four years “and don’t plan to change that any time soon.” Rachel Dolezal has compared herself to transgender people
Dolezal has previously faced anger from LGBT+ activists for comparing her “transracial” identity to transgender people.
In 2017, she claimed: “Gender is understood… we’ve progressed and evolved to understanding that gender’s not binary or even biological, but what strikes me as so odd is that race isn’t biological either.
“Race to some extent has been less biological than gender if you think about history and our bodies. There isn’t white blood and black blood, there isn’t body parts that are certain races.”
Dolezal continues to insist she did not “lie” about her race.
She said: “It didn’t feel like a lie… the idea of race is a lie, so how can you lie about a lie?
“It felt like a true representation of who I am and what I stand for. Even though race is a social construct, you have to take a side and I stand on the black side of issues. For me to not check that box would have been some sort of betrayal.
“I definitely did not feel at home in the white world. It felt foreign to me and it felt uncomfortable and awkward to be there. It also felt oppressive because I had to constantly repress parts of myself in order to survive socially.”
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Eugene Lee Yang of the Try Guys came out via a dance video The Try Guys star Eugene Lee Yang has revealed that he is gay through the medium of interpretative dance.
The YouTube personality best known as part of the Try Guys foursome, released a five-minute video on Saturday (June 15) titled “I’m Gay” in which he addressed his sexuality.
Not a word is spoken in the clip, as Yang dances out his personal experience, shown grappling with his family life, religion, and homophobia before finding love and a queer family.
The clip, which features music from ODESZA, is dedicated to “the LGBTQIA+ community.” Eugene Lee Yang: I’m coming out as a proud gay man
In an accompanying Twitter post, Yang explained: “I created this music video as my personal way of coming out as a proud gay man who has many unheard, specific stories to tell.
“I withheld because of fear and shame shaped by my background but I promise to give my full truth in the rest of my life’s work. Eugene Lee Yang of the Try Guys came out via a dance video “Coming out is a lifelong process – your safety always comes first – but know that there’s a vibrant community waiting to welcome you with open arms.”
Yang joked: “You can turn off Find My Friends because I will be at the gay bars.” The Try Guys fans have raised thousands for charity
Yang also launched a fundraiser for The Trevor Project which sits alongside the video on YouTube. Within just one day, fans have already raised $43,948 for the charity, with the video attracting 3.6 million views. The clip has attracted an overwhelmingly positive response.
One fan wrote: “I had no idea Eugene was such a great dancer… I’m speechless, Just simply Beautiful!!! ”
Another added: “I love you Eugene this inspired me to come out of the closet after 5 years. I can’t thank you enough.”
Yang has alluded to identifying as LGBT+ before, explaining to Out : “I think as four cisgender guys, we’re very much seen as mainstream. Who then could reach to the Midwestern moms and the older conservative gentlemen who watch the videos.
“There were certain things that I was actually very, and I hate to say, I was calculative about, because I knew that I was sitting on a goldmine that a lot of people from other communities don’t immediately get to access, which is I got into everyone’s homes, and they all liked me.
“It’s like, how can I get people to trust me implicitly so that they can accept the message? And then as I let more out towards them, they can then ingest it in a way that isn’t immediately politicised in their mind.”
Yang is not the only YouTuber to have come out this week.
DirectExpose Priscilla Has Revealed What Elvis Used To Ask Of Her, And It’s Astonishing
Civil servant Angus Leung speaks out after feeling alienated in workplace over court ruling
Court of Final Appeal ruled on June 6 that Leung and his husband Scott Adams were entitled to spousal benefits and joint tax assessment
Senior immigration officer Angus Leung (right) and his husband Scott Adams. The Court of Final Appeal unanimously ruled in favour of Leung, granting the couple spousal benefits and joint tax assessment enjoyed by heterosexual couples in the city. Photo: Xiaomei Chen Having recently won a landmark court case against the government, Angus Leung Chun-kwong and his husband Scott Adams recalled giving their first press interview four years ago, holding hands on a windswept waterfront promenade.
But Leung, a senior immigration officer, and Adams, a pilot, wanted to keep a low profile at the time, so they faced the sea with their backs to the camera.
Since then, the couple have emerged as two of the most recognisable faces in Hong Kong’s slowly expanding gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights movement.
They now vow to tell their story, bringing positive change to those who are too afraid to come out of the closet, especially Leung’s fellow civil servants.
“It makes them think that if we could do it they can too,” Leung said, a rainbow watch strap visible on his wrist as he gesticulated.
Adams, wearing a matching watch strap, chimed in: “What we are trying to do is to give a positive image. Be proud of who you are.”
Adams and Leung meet the press at The Court of Final Appeal after the ruling in their favour on June 6. Photo: Sam Tsang
On June 6, the Court of Final Appeal ruled in favour of the pair, decreeing that the Civil Service Bureau and Inland Revenue should grant them spousal benefits and joint tax assessment, even though the government insisted that Hong Kong does not recognise the pair’s 2014 marriage in New Zealand. The justices opined that the government was wrong in suggesting such a move would jeopardise its duty to protect the institution of traditional marriage. LGBT students face so much prejudice in Hong Kong they’re afraid to reveal their sexuality
It was a result of hours of case preparation and days of meticulous presentations in court. But the pair said it was their experience outside the courtroom that gave them the strongest urge to be more vocal.
Leung, who has spoken to the before, is now eager to reveal what had happened to him in his workplace after he filed his court action in 2015.
“The first time after I was in the newspaper, when I got back to the office, things went all quiet. I didn’t have anybody talking to me for a whole week,” he said, adding that probably 90 per cent of his colleagues at Immigration Tower in Wan Chai kept their distance from him.
Leung and Adams had been determined to fight to the end, despite suffering setbacks in the lower courts. Photo: Xiaomei Chen
He and Adams, a Briton who has been living in Hong Kong for years, took five weeks off to travel around the world to take their mind off the defining court decision.
But on the first day he returned to work, there was no warm reception. “No more than three people came over and congratulated me,” he said. That included a female colleague who has been supporting behind him for the past few years.
“Other people just ignored it as if nothing had happened,” he added. “It felt horrible. It’s a toxic environment.” Woman sues government over LGBT civil partnerships ban
He said he and Adams had been determined to fight to the ed, despite suffering setbacks in the lower courts. While they did not want to do it anonymously, they also decided at the outset that they “would not do the press”. They did not show up in court in 2017 on the day the Court of First Instance ruled partially in favour of them, granting Leung spousal benefits.
It was not until they began to encounter people – some of them friends of friends, others strangers encountered in the street – that they felt more compelled to speak out.
They found that not everyone had a good grasp of what was going on. Some thought they were fighting for same-sex marriage. “No, this is not our case,” Leung said.
In June last year, the Court of Appeal ruled against them entirely. But it was also the first time during the hearing that the couple stepped out of their comfort zone and addressed the press.
“I told Scott: let’s go out and then I held his hands and we left the court. And apparently that was the biggest moment of all time,” he recalled.
It was a turning moment for them, Adams said. “We realised the more press we did, the more we could talk about the story. And hopefully, the more we could inspire other people.”
Leung, who has been with the Immigration Department for more than a decade, also recalled having an impact on other civil servants when he attended the Human Library, an anti-violence event that featured contributions from vulnerable marginalised people. Almost half of those who attended were civil servants who were still in the closet, he said.
Leung and Adams appearing at a Stonewall 50th anniversary celebration event earlier this month. Photo: Xiaomei Chen
They were all curious what price Leung had to pay for being so outspoken while working for a disciplinary force. “I just told them to be yourself. There is nothing to be afraid of.” he said.
While it is expected the government will eventually grant spousal benefits to civil servants who have entered into a same-sex marriage overseas, whether those whom Leung met at the Human Library will come forward to take advantage of it is another matter. It is a precarious move for some which could lead to them outing themselves. Study shows support for same-sex marriage in Hong Kong grows
Adams has one more positive message for them. “If you have 10,000 people doing it, nobody is going to care because you have so many with you,” he said.
“We need to encourage people to claim the benefits, to make it normal, and to make it not an issue,’ he said.
Virat Kohli spoke to the media on Saturday afternoon Pakistan’s players will achieve sporting immortality if they beat India at the Cricket World Cup, coach Mickey Arthur says.
Sunday’s match at Old Trafford is expected to draw a global television audience of one billion people.
"I’m telling our players in the dressing room, you could be a hero tomorrow," said Arthur, who called the match the biggest of the tournament.
"Your careers are going to be defined by a moment in the game."
There were more than 700,000 ticket applications for the match in Manchester.
Arthur, 51, added: "You do something incredible tomorrow, you’ll be remembered forever.
"I saw some stats which said the soccer World Cup final attracted 1.6bn viewers. Tomorrow is likely to get 1.5bn. It doesn’t get bigger than that. It doesn’t get more exciting.
"We’ve got 15 incredible cricketers in that dressing room, and we keep stressing to them: How do you want to be remembered?
"You’re the class of 2019. What are they going to say about you in history? Tomorrow presents an unbelievable opportunity for these guys to really make a mark."
The two countries rarely play each other outside of major tournaments, with India winning their past two meetings in the Asia Cup in 2018, and Pakistan victorious in the final of the Champions Trophy in England in 2017.
India have started well in the World Cup, winning their opening two matches against South Africa and Australia, before their match against New Zealand at Trent Bridge was abandoned.
Pakistan, in contrast, have struggled – beating hosts England but losing to Australia and West Indies.
"We can’t get too emotional," said India captain Virat Kohli. "Our attention span has to be very precise because we have a split second to make decisions.
"I can’t tell the fans to think of the game in a particular manner. They should enjoy the atmosphere. They should enjoy the occasion the way they want to and the way it’s been enjoyed for years."
Pakistan legend Wasim Akram was less measured in his assessment of the match, however, billing it as "the biggest thing in cricket".
"This can’t be bigger," Akram said. "India and Pakistan playing at the World Cup with an audience of more than 1bn is the biggest thing in cricket, so my message to both sets of fans to enjoy it and stay calm.
"One team will win, one team will lose, so stay graceful." World’s biggest cricket bat marks fixture
The cricket bat, which was made to break the world record, is 15.5 metres long (51 feet) and weighs 6,600 kilos (14,550 pounds) Among the events being held to mark the fixture was the unveiling of the world’s largest cricket bat in Chennai by India’s World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev.
Indian rapper Divine – a YouTube sensation – was set to perform his viral ‘SockThem’ World Cup-themed song in Manchester on Saturday, while the match will be shown to 3,500 people on a big screen in the city’s Cathedral Gardens on Sunday.
Manchester Airport, meanwhile, is expecting an extra 10 private jets to land as fans from all over the world head to the city. What’s it like to play in the game?
Former India captain Harbhajan Singh, speaking about the 2011 World Cup semi-final meeting between the two countries: "The memory of that game was I couldn’t sleep the night before, even though I tried my best.
"I was just worried about what would happen if we lost the game. There were a lot of thoughts coming into my mind.
"People get angry and they can do anything. In the 2003 World Cup, we didn’t play one game as well as we should have – against Australia – and people got really angry.
"They were just burning our stuff and throwing stones at our homes. They get a bit emotional." West Indies batsman Chris Gayle posted this picture on Instagram, with the caption: "Yup! I’m rocking my India Pakistan suit. I really love it and this will be one of my outfits at my birthday party on 20 September #FashionOverStyle" What’s the weather going to be like?
Jennifer Bartram, BBC Weather: "Sunday’s weather is going to be a case of dodging the showers.
"Although it should get off to a dry start tomorrow, there is likely to be some disruption at times, with showers on and off throughout the day.
"There’ll be a brisk south-southwesterly breeze, too, which should move any showers through quickly – so the day is not likely to be a washout – but sunshine will be at a premium.
"Temperatures through the day will rise to around 18C." India have won four of their past five men’s one-day internationals against Pakistan. Their loss in that time did come in an ICC tournament in England – the 2017 Champions Trophy final.
India have won all six of their previous men’s World Cup matches against Pakistan, five of those victories after batting first.
Pakistan and India have met once before in a men’s ODI at Old Trafford – in the 1999 Cricket World Cup. India won by 47 runs.
Mohammad Amir returned career-best ODI bowling figures of 5-30 in Pakistan’s most recent match, their 41-run loss to Australia in Taunton. However, he has failed to take a wicket in four of six previous ODIs against India.
Virat Kohli is 57 runs away from becoming the ninth player to score 11,000 ODI runs. Sachin Tendulkar currently holds the record for the quickest to reach the milestone at 276 innings, but Kohli has played just 221 innings so far.
Pakistan’s Imam-ul-Haq has an ODI batting average of 57.2 (1,486 runs) – of players to score 1,000-plus runs in men’s ODIs, only two have a better average: Netherlands’ Ryan ten Doeschate (67) and India’s Virat Kohli (59.5).
All-time India and Pakistan ODI XIs – who would win? Privacy notice
The United Kingdom has taken on the role of co-chair of the Equal Rights Coalition (ERC), in partnership with Argentina (14 June 2019).
The Equal Rights Coalition is the first intergovernmental network formed to promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people around the world. The ERC’s membership works with civil society and allows both governments and civil society to share their national policies and practices on this agenda. The UK is a global leader on the promotion and protection of LGBT human rights and is committed to ensuring the success of the ERC, a grouping of 42 like-minded states working together to defend and advance the human rights of LGBT people around the world.
Priorities for the UK in their period as co-chair include a refreshed ERC Strategy to guide, shape and re-energise the work of the Coalition; delivery of an international LGBT rights conference in London in 2020 that seeks to address the key issues facing global LGBT equality; and the co-ordination of the ERC’s work plan with the Global Equality Caucus, a new international network of parliamentarians and elected representatives due to launch later this month, and which intends to host its first global convening at the international LGBT rights conference in London in 2020.
US Embassy office in Tel Aviv celebrates Pride despite Trump Administration ban on Pride flags LGB Americans are more likely to be skeptical of churches than straight Americans | Photo: Pixabay A recent study by Pew Research has shown that gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans are more critical of churches than their straight counterparts.
This is a new analysis of Pew’s 2014 survey of over 35,000 adults. It shows that queer respondents were more likely than straight ones to be skeptical of religious institutions. These findings align with Pew’s 2013 survey where LGBTI Americans reported feeling that major religions were unwelcoming to them. Tell me more
The survey only asked respondents about their sexual orientation (gay, lesbian, bisexual, or straight). Other types of identity related to gender and sexuality were not asked about.
In the 2014 survey, about 7-in-10 lesbians, gay men, and bisexual adults said religious organizations focus too much on rules. This is in contrast to only half of straight adults who felt the same. LGB adults were also more likely than straight adults in thinking that religious institutions were too involved in politics and too focused on money and power. LGB Americans were also less likely to believe that churches protect and strengthen morality.
However, even within the context of LGB respondents, gays and lesbians differed from bisexuals in some regard. For instance, the study showed that gays and lesbians were more likely than bisexuals to believe churches were obsessed with money and power (68% of gays and lesbians versus 61% of bisexuals). This also holds true with the belief that churches are too involved in politics (71% of lesbians and gays said this, versus 62% of bisexuals). Positive aspects of religious groups
Despite these concerns, though, both LGB respondents and straight respondents saw some positive aspects of religious institutions. More than 8-in-10 respondents from each group said churches bring people together and strengthen community bonds. Additionally, bisexuals were almost as likely as straight adults to believe churches help those in need (84% of bisexuals vs. 87% of straight adults). Only 77% of gays and lesbians shared this view. Volunteering
Of course, the study found that straight adults were more likely to be involved in volunteer efforts for religious groups than their LGB counterparts. About 3-in-10 respondents of each group volunteer in general – and even did so within a week before this survey was conducted. However, only 6% of LGB Americans volunteered with a religious institution versus 10% of straight respondents. Anything else?
These findings align with Pew’s previous research. They’ve shown that LGB Americans are less likely to be affiliated with a religious group and less traditionally religious in general. See Also
Most gay Americans believe in God, but are far less likely to go to church
RIP Ryan Hubilla A gay high school law student was shot dead for trying to do human rights work today (14 June).
Ryan Hubilla was one of two human rights defenders killed in the Philippines. Nelly Bagasala was also killed.
Two workers of the group, Karapatan ( Right ) were gunned down by two men who calmly approached the two and shot them at close range. Two human rights defenders killed in the Philippines
The murders happened in the village of Cabid-an in Sorsogon City, in the northern Philippines.
A Bicol police spokesperson said the shooting happened at around 8.50am as the human rights workers were paying for their tricycle fare.
Bagasala and Hubilla suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died on the spot, according to Calubaquib.
The young human rights defender, no older than 16, gathered testimony from human rights victims in the province.
They are just two of 60 human rights defenders that have already been killed since 2016. ‘His dedication and love to the people was extraordinary’
Ysabelle, a friend of Hubila, paid tribute to him on Twitter.
‘Ryan is a grade 12 HUMSS student (the educational strand for many hopeful lawyers),’ she said.
‘He was just an ordinary student who was struggling with the time of his life. He dreamed of becoming a lawyer to fight for those who were tortured by the rotten system.
She added: ‘At a young age, his dedication and love to the people was extraordinary.’
She also said: ‘Ryan and Nelly, we will never be tired for fighting for judge against your innocent murder. They are martyrs of the rotten system we have.
‘Hopefully they will be an example of the real situation our country is in.’
President Rodrigo Duterte has faced condemnation from human rights groups for his ‘war on drugs’.
Several opponents of his regime have been arrested and detained for politically motivated drug charges.
Six journalists have been murdered by unidentified gunmen in 2018 alone. See also
With films at Cannes, Sundance, Berlin, and SXSW, meet the next generation of queer filmmakers.
Shutterstock/Fotor With films premiering at Cannes, Sundance, Berlin, and SXSW, meet the next generation of queer filmmakers. Andrew Ahn Andrew Ahn’s debut feature “Spa Night” made waves at Sundance in 2016 for its subtle and emotionally wrought depiction of a Korean-American man balancing his queerness with filial duty.
In addition to earning the film’s star Joe Seo a Special Jury Award, the film’s success put Ahn on the map as a filmmaker to watch. His sophomore feature “Driveways” premiered at Berlin this year, starring Hong Chau and Brian Dennehy. Danielle Lessovitz
“Port Authority” made history when it played Un Certain Regard, becoming the first film starring a transgender woman of color to play Cannes. Two years after “Mobile Homes” (which they co-wrote) played the Croisette, Danielle Lessovitz returned with a debut feature executive-produced by none other than Martin Scorsese.
“Port Authority” is an equal parts tender and gritty coming-of-age romance centered around a houseless youth and the girl he falls for fresh off arriving in New York City.
Born in Sweden to Georgian parents, Levan Akin returns to his roots with his third feature, “And Then We Danced,” a queer coming of age romance set in the traditional world of Georgian folk dancing.
Filmed in Tblisi on a shoestring budget, the film played Director’s Fortnight at Cannes this year to rave reviews, and is set to introduce Akin to international audiences.
An artist, musician, writer, and filmmaker, Rachel Mason dug into her family history to make one of the most entertaining and personal documentaries of recent years. “Circus of Books” takes its name from the Mason family business, a fabled Los Angeles gay porn shop run by her straight conservative Jewish parents.
Mason examines her parents’ story with finesse and humor, unafraid to expose their sometimes uncomfortable contradictions. An obvious slam dunk, Ryan Murphy nabbed the rights for Netflix ahead of its Tribeca premiere.
Fans of Rhys Ernst’s work as a producer of “Transparent,” his trans docu-miniseries “We’ve Been Around” and his many short films have been waiting for a feature from this dynamic queer auteur. Thanks to producers James Schamus and Howard Gertler (“How to Survive a Plague”), Ernst was given a shot to make his feature debut adapting “Adam,” a somewhat controversial YA novel from beloved lesbian graphic novelist Ariel Schrag.
The movie centers on a cis teenage boy who pretends to be trans in order to fit in with his sister’s group of queer friends. Under Ernst’s sensitive direction, however, the film elegantly sidesteps any potential offense.
By the time “ The Strange Ones ” premiered at SXSW in 2017, Lauren Wolkstein (who co-directed with Christopher Radcliff) had already been named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 Faces to Watch, thanks to her long and impressive resume of award-winning shorts.
The lesbian filmmaker contributed to the experimental anthology film “Collective: Unconscious,” and recently has been making strides in TV directing on Ava DuVernay and OWN’s “Queen Sugar.”
For his provocative and deeply empathetic debut feature “Sauvage / Wild,” French filmmaker Camille Vidal-Naquet chose a houseless Parisian sex worker as his protagonist. In an arresting performance by Félix Maritaud (“BPM”), this gritty drama unfolds with vérité-like intimacy, presenting a complex and evocative portrait of a life of survival.
After playing MoMA’s New Directors/New Films, Strand Releasing gave the film a US theatrical run.
When it comes to authenticity in storytelling, there’s no denying that we need more filmmakers like Elegance Bratton. A former Marine who spent a decade homeless on the Christopher Street pier, Bratton turned his camera on his community to make his debut feature documentary, “Pier Kids: The Life.” Shot over the course of five years, the film follows the lives of three gay and transgender young people who frequent the Hudson River piers.
He explores similar themes in “My House,” a ten-part Vice docu-series about ballroom culture. “Pier Kids: The Life” will play LA’s Outfest this summer.
Shot on both digital and 16mm, “So Pretty” follows an intertwined group of trans and genderqueer friends and lovers on nights out, political actions, and walking discussions of translation and transition. It’s Brooklyn by way of Berlin in this time capsule of comtemporary queer life, the first narrative feature from Jessie Jeffrey Dunn-Rovinelli.
“So Pretty” played BAMcinemaFest this week, firmly launching Rovinelli into a new league of queer filmmakers.
There’s no one quite like Brian Jordan Alvarez. The prolific actor, director, and comedian has built a name for himself with his tongue-in-cheek, faux-avant-garde brand of zany humor and high melodrama. Having landed a plum gig as Jack’s boyfriend on “Will & Grace,” Alvarez has slightly slowed down his ceaseless churn of micro-budget films and web series, which he releases on YouTube with little fanfare.
If Hollywood is paying attention to his fevered fan following and how quickly his films rack up the views, he should be getting a TV deal any day now. Here’s hoping.
Along with co-writer Jen Tullock, writer/director Hannah Pearl Utt made waves at this year’s Sundance when her first feature, “Before You Know It,” premiered in competition. Alec Baldwin and Judith Light star opposite Utt and Tullock, who play sisters who find out their movie is alive and working ona soap opera.
The creative collaborators, who previously played lovers in their web series “Disengaged,” are sure to win hearts with their brand of offbeat dark humor.
Daniel Karslake’s first feature documentary, “For the Bible Tells Me So,” which premiered at Sundance in 2007, was about Christianity’s views on homosexuality, and Karslake has spent much of his filmmaking career examining the intersection between queerness and religion.
His latest, “For They Know Not What They Do,” applies a similar lens to gender identity. It premired at Tribeca and will play Outfest this summer.
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