Tag Archives: Laverne Cox

Should Netflix Revive “Will and Grace”?

Netflix recently revived 70s sitcom One Day at Time as a queer Latina coming-out story. It revived 90s hits Gilmore Girls and Full House. It’s bringing back Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. And now it’s reviving Will and Grace, the first sitcom to depict gay people as real people.

But should they?

Will and Grace is iconic. Joe Biden cited the show as his reason for beginning to support gay marriage. Will and Grace, the story of a gay man and his female roommate, did the impossible by humanizing gay people. According to The Decider, the result was “as campy, bitchy, and all-around queer as anything that’s ever graced NBC’s airwaves.”

Despite taking place during Bill Clinton’s Defense of Marriage Act and Bush’s upholding of that act, the show was never overtly political. However, its very existence was an act of queer resistance.

One Day at a Time was a groundbreaking sitcom because it depicted a divorced, single mother, a concept that is no longer shocking to today’s audiences. However, its revival was successful because it tackled other controversial subjects such as immigration, gentrification and LGBT issues.

On the other hand, Will and Grace is returning with the exact same cast, just twenty years older and far less relevant.

Audiences are bored by gay white men.

Being a gay white man is no longer revolutionary. If it were, then The New Normal and Looking wouldn’t have been axed so quickly.

Queer people today are more interested in intersectionality. LaVerne Cox brought the intersection of race and transgender issues to the forefront of American consciousness.

YouTube has allowed queer people to tell their own stories of intersectionality – webseries allow people to experience being queer and poor, queer and brown, queer and transgender, and almost anything else.

Now that same-sex marriage has been legalized, queer people are focused on workplace discrimination, fair treatment in the military, etc. A cute story about two gay people falling in love is boring, not radical.

In Will and Grace, Will is a privileged white man living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. In the ten years since Will and Grace went off the air, you’ve seen his story retold dozens and dozens of times. He comes across as less human and more campy, stiff and out of touch.

Don’t believe me? Check out this cringe-worthy mini-episode of the revived Will and Grace that the cast shot for the election.


So what’s the solution?

Should networks stop remaking beloved television shows such as One Day at a Time? No.

Should networks stop reviving beloved television shows in order to squeeze the nostalgia dollars out of an aging population? Absolutely.

A Will and Grace remake would be worlds better than a revival. Imagine: Instead of a privileged, milequetoast aging gay man, what if the show followed a queer disabled woman? Or a queer Muslim? Or a homoromantic, asexual person? Any of these stories would be infinitely more interesting.

You can make your own decision about the show in September. Until then, have I mentioned how great One Day at a Time is?

Ellen DeGeneres Says Goodbye To Obama And Recruits Hollywood’s Biggest LGBTQ Stars To Pay Tribute Too

To pay a final tribute to the president who helped make her marriage to now-wife Portia de Rossi legal, Ellen DeGeneres dedicated her show to Obama this week with a look back at the time she spent with him and first lady Michelle Obama over the past eight years.

She also enlisted several celebrity friends to help pay tribute too.

Wife Portia, Neil Patrick Harris, Laverne Cox, Jonathan Groff and Evan Rachel Wood are just a few of the LGBTQ stars to thank the former president for his administration’s acknowledgement of the queer community .

You presided over a period of time that turned out to be, in many ways, one of the most positive periods of time ever in the lives of gay Americans,”

Wood, who is bisexual, echoed those sentiments, thanking Obama for.

… changing the way that people thought about us, and honestly, the way I thought about myself.”


Queer+Trans Characters Take Center Stage In ‘Street Children’

Hollywood often casts cisgender actors to play transgender roles. For every LaVerne Cox (Orange is the New Black) and Jamie Clayton (Sense8), there’s a Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry) and Jaye Davidson (The Crying Game) and even Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent).

Street Children, a new play to open in New York City, actually casts transgender characters to play transgender roles. That shouldn’t be a radical, transgressive act, but sadly it is.

The play is set in the West Village during the 1980s at the height of the AIDS crisis. After the death of their “house mother,” several queer and transgender people fight to maintain their chosen family. Between scenes, cast members vogue – an underground dance that originated in Harlem and is driven by queer and transgender people of color (QTPOC).

Street Children isn’t perfect. The writer and the director are both cisgender white women attempting to tell a QTPOC story. In many hands, that has been a recipe for disaster. However, the writer invited the queer actors and actresses to rewrite the script’s language and plot points. The story feels authentic as a result.

Street Children has partnered with local activist organizations to empower LGBTQ populations. For example, youth from the Ali Forney Center’s LEAP work readiness program received jobs as interns during the production. The play also partnered with the Trevor Project and the Stonewall Community Foundation.

Street Children also did the impossible: It attracted non-theatregoers to the theatre. Theatre is an expensive endeavor, with tickets to amateur shows running upwards of $20 or $30 (professional shows can run north of $100). Street Children is no exception. Student tickets are $18 and general admission tickets are $28. Despite the steep prices, the director noticed many members of the “vogue and ballroom scenes” in attendance – this means queer and/or transgender people of color, a generally marginalized community.

Will Street Children pave the way for more transgender stories? One can only hope. Perhaps the next show will be pioneered by transgender writers instead of cisgender ones.

The Weekly Queer Roundup: JoLivi On Coming Out Bisexual, Laverne Cox Premieres ‘The Trans List’, and more…

This is the latest weekly segment, where you can get an overview of the week’s top queer news and gossip.

Laverne Cox’s The Trans List

Trans advocate and just overall cutie Laverne Cox will premiere her new show “The Trans List” on HBO on December the 5th. The show will not only focus on Cox’s experience as a transgender woman of colour, but you can also expect a panel of guest stars, such as Janet Mock. Director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders further explains

As Trans Day of Remembrance approaches, I hope this film helps honor and celebrate the community, as well as highlight the injustices and challenges ahead.”

Amber Heard speaks out against violence


After a very public lawsuit and divorce from Johnny Depp, Amber Heard finally speaks out. After news of Depp’s verbal, emotional and physical abuse, the general public was quick to discredit Heard as a “gold-digger”. Her emotional video broadcasts a message too meaningful to be ignored: Raise Your Voice.

Although the divorce isn’t final, Heard has pledged to donate her 7 million settlement to the American Civil Liberties Union with a focus on battling violence against women, and to the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. We stand by Heard and hope her message and positive action will bring forward awareness and ultimately change.

New York fights back

New York Lawmakers have proposed a new bill protecting LGBTQ children and bills from conversion therapy, the so called Prevention of Emotional Neglect and Childhood Endangerment…. PENCE for short.

Vice-President elected, Mike Pence, is known for his anti-LGBT laws and his support of conversion therapy for gay children. The brilliant yet serious bill is proof that New York, as well as several other states, will fight for LGBTQ rights, with legislator Patrick Burke adding,

I had some, maybe a few folks who were maybe a little upset about the acronym and thought I was just trying to be cute, but no. These are serious times that we live in.”

Love Who You Wanna Love


In a heartfelt interview with Bust Magazine, singer and songwriter JoLivi talked about her latest single Love Who You Wanna Love, and coming out as bisexual. She explains the meaning and need for the song, adding,

Love who you want to love is a expression of how I believe everyone should go through life—and that is without  judgment,”. 

Stay tuned for more news about JoLivi. (Who knows, maybe there will be an exclusive interview posted soon). 

What do you think of the new column? Keep or ditch? Let us know in the comments!

In the meantime, stay safe and have a very queer week.


OITNB’s Samira Wiley And Laverne Cox Set to Slay On ‘Lip Sync Battle’

Fans of Orange is the New Black, get ready, because your world is about to be rocked. Two of our favourites, Samira Wiley (aka: Poussey Washington) and Laverne Cox (aka: Sophia Burset) will be taking the stage on Spike TV’s Lip Sync Battle in the very near future.


A few days ago, Cox tagged Wiley in a delightful Instagram post, playfully taunting her friend for the battle to come.

I hope you’re ready @whododatlikedat. Just had an amazing rehearsal with the incredible dancers of @spikelsb. You better bring it. The battle is on.”


Samira, of course, is nothing but good vibes and enthusiasm. She’s clearly going to bring the major musical skills she showed time and time again in OITNB, and on her snapchat.

See you soon @lavernecox!!!”


If we’re being totally honest, we think that Laverne Cox probably has the edge as she’s been working on her sweet sweet moves for the Rocky Horror Picture Showreboot.

In comparison, Wiley is set to appear in an arc on FXX comedy You’re the Worst as a therapist. Acting as a therapist probably has not prepared Wiley for the rigours of a heated lip sync battle nearly as much as the acrobatic antics of Dr. Frankenfurter have prepared Cox.

Whatever the outcome, this promises to be the absolute best Lip Sync Battle of all time.

Not only because these are two talented performers on our screens, but it’s also just great to see trans and queer women represented like this.

Because, yes, queer and trans people of colour deserve to see themselves in mainstream media, and not just when we’re telling important, but sad, stories.

Stars United To Honour The Orlando Victims (Video)

In the past weeks, the tragic shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando has weighed heavily on all of our thoughts.

With 49 victims, the hashtag #SayTheirNames has served as a way to memorialise those who lost their lives.

However, now Ryan Murphy (the man behind Glee and American Horror Story) has directed a tribute video for HRC, featuring actors of both shows, along with a host of other A List stars, in a touching tribute to honour the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando.

In the video, 49 celebs wear black and sit against a black backdrop, each one reciting a brief biography of one of the victims.


Lady Gaga, Caitlyn Jenner, Matt Bomer, and Laverne Cox are just a few of the many names who came together to tell these stories. They also use the platform to call for an end to hate crimes and gun violence.

Top 11 Inspirational Queer Heroes

As queer women, we have a particularly rough time finding role models that fit our lifestyle. Up until very recently, there were relatively few “out” women in the spotlight – leaving us only a small sampling of celebrities to idolize. But as we enter into 2016, we would like to take the time to acknowledge these 11 women who have done wonders for increasing lesbian visibility and inclusion.

Thank you so much, ladies! Keep it up!

Anna Grodska

Anna Grodska

When Anna was appointed to the Parliament in Poland, she became the very first transgender member in the world – which is a huge accomplishment for the trans community at large. She has founded an organization dedicated to the advancement of LGBT+ rights, including issues facing the trans community in Poland. Thank you, Anna!

Tammy Baldwin

Tammy Baldwin

Tammy was a big deal to lesbians with dreams of politics in the United States – being the first openly gay senator as well as the first woman ever elected to represent the state of Wisconsin. You are truly an inspiration – maybe someday you’ll run for president! Thank you, Tammy!

Sarah Gilbert


For the creative tomboy types, Sarah Gilbert has been an icon since her early days on Roseanne – but after she came out of the closet and opened up about her marriage to Linda Perry (of 4 Non Blondes fame), she reminded every single lesbian that had a crush on her in the early ‘90s that she really was one of us. Thank you, Sarah!

Jane Lynch

14th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards With Presenting Sponsor Lacoste - Arrivals

This sassy-mouthed goddess embodies so many life goals for me, and she is another one of the faces that helped make mainstream Hollywood lesbians a real possibility. Thank you, Jane!

Laverne Cox


Laverne Cox is one of the first transgender actresses to make it to super-mega-mainstream fame. More than just becoming a household name, she has also taken huge steps in support of the LGBT+ community at large. Thank you, Laverne!

Sue Sanders


Sue is a leader in the LGBT activism community, and the socially-involved among us will aspire to create as much change as she has. Since 2004, she has been the chair of Schools Out, an organization that deals with LGBT people in education professions. Thank you, Sue!

Julie Bindel

Julie Bindel

For our representation of lesbians in the print medias, Julie is an active journalist covering the complex topics of transgenderism, violence against women, feminism, sex workers, and even radical lesbianism, among other things. Her voice represents many who cannot find their own. Thank you, Julie!

Ellen Degeneres


No list of lesbian heroes would be complete without Ellen. She is collectively our lesbian mother, and someone we all wish we could have on speed dial. Being one of the first openly gay comedians, she helped pave the way for mainstream acceptance of “out” Hollywood faces. Thank you, Ellen!

Sarah Kate Ellis

Sarah Kate Ellis

In terms of making strides for the gay community, Sarah is one of the leaders – specifically the President and CEO of GLAAD. One of the most widely-known companies helping to put a stop to issues of discrimination, Sarah has fostered a relationship to help dispel homophobic slander in the mainstream media. Thank you, Sarah!

Angela Eagle

For those in the UK with political dreams, consider Angela Eagle – she was the first openly gay Parliament member when she came out in 1997. She maintains an active membership with a recent appointing to Jeremy Corbin’s first Shadow Cabinet in September 2015. Thank you, Angela!

Mary Lambert


Mary is well-known for her big opening bringing lesbian topics into mainstream country (and rap!) music – something that hadn’t really been done before her. She openly speaks about her feelings, mental health, and body positivity – three things that received a huge amount of attention in 2015 (and we hope the trend continues in 2016). Thank you, Mary!

What heroes do you look up to? We are always looking to recognize influential faces in the gay community, especially those who inspire others to live up to their full potential. This world is full of too much doubt already – let’s appreciate the women who have overcome it.

Making History: Laverne Cox Becomes Madame Tussauds First Transgender Wax Figure

Actress Laverne Cox has been chosen as the first transgender woman to be turned into a wax figure at Madame Tussauds.

The Orange Is the New Black star’s likeness will join wax figures of George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio at Madame Tussauds San Francisco in Fisherman’s Wharf.

In a statement, Cox said

When I think about being who I am, a black trans woman from a working class background raised in Mobile, Alabama, this honor feels even more improbable and extraordinary. I hope that this will be a source of inspiration for every one who encounters it to believe that their dreams matter and are possible.”

Cox broke barriers by being the first openly transgender woman of colour to be nominated for an Emmy and as an LGBT activist.

Laverne Cox

The wax figure will debut during the San Francisco Pride press conference June 26.

Uganda LGBT Activist and Out Lesbian is the New Cover for Time Magazine

Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, an out lesbian and co-founder / editor of Uganda’s first LGBT publication, Bombastic, is on the cover of Time Magazine‘s European edition.


She told Advocate Magazine she hopes the cover will not only bring awareness to the plight of LGBT Ugandans, but also help people around the world realise that LGBT people are their friends, neighbours, and family members.

It’s a great honour for me to be on the cover because it brings attention to the global LGBT struggle. Now many people will know about the struggles LGBT people go through in Africa and the world over. They will realize that the people they hate most are actually the people they love most when they get to read the article. They could be hating on their beloved family and friend without knowing they are LGBT.”

The move to feature what’s being celebrated as a monumental moment of visibility for Uganda’s harassed LGBT community.

More than ever, the world shouldn’t neglect the human rights of LGBT people, because we are here to stay — and part and parcel of the development of this world. All we need is respect, and protection from violence, and our basic inalienable human rights. Speaking out and bringing attention to the plight of LGBT people is life. I will not be silenced by anyone.”

Nabagesera became engaged in the very “controversial” issue of gay rights in Uganda when she was just 21, and has since played a leading role in the Ugandan LGBT rights movement. After being expelled from several schools, Kasha decided to study the law in Uganda.

Time magazine has history of featuring LGBT heros; here are some of the best covers

an_ugandan_lesbian_activist_debuts_on_the_cover_of_time_magazine_1924263487.jpg_resized_552 Time-Magazine-LGBT-01 Time-Magazine-LGBT-02 Time-Magazine-LGBT-04 Time-Magazine-LGBT-05

The OITNB Drinking Game (for the Ultimate Binge Watching Fan)

With Season 3 fast approaching, lez/bi women everywhere are settling in for a marathon re-run of Seasons 1 & 2. And how to make it even more interesting? Well, alcohol, of course…

Piper and Alex share fleeting or furious glances– All Players Drink


Sophia is Sassy – All Players Drink


Alex Vause’s Eyewear – (When Vause insists on removing or readjusting her glasses, either to really accentuate that glare, or just reveal those over-plucked eyebrows) – All Players Drink


Pennsatucky Mentions Jesus (or is seen with a Bible) – All Players Drink 


Mr Healy Scowls About Lesbianism – All Players Drink


You want to be friends with Poussey so much it makes you want to cry – Finish Your Drink


Janae is unnecessarily rude or defensive – All Players Drink


Hot Blonde Extra – (Respect must be paid to Hot Blonde Extra. Although she gets hardly annylines, she can be seen in the background of many an episode, brightening our screens and distracting us from the main action) – First Player To Spot “HBE” Nominates One Person To Drink


Nikki Swears – Each player must repeat the swear word loudly. Last Player To Shout Drinks


Morello Mentions Christopher – All Players Drink


Piper experiences #WhiteGirlProblems – All Players Drink


The theme tune gets a little much – Shots All Round


Behind the scenes….

OUT Power 50: Apple CEO Tim Cook Dethrons Ellen DeGeneres to be Named Most Powerful Queer Person In America

Apple CEO Tim Cook has dethroned Ellen DeGeneres in OUT’s 9th annual Power 50 list. The list, which looks at “which LGBT voices have power, how they wield it, and who it affects,” was released April 15 and contains TV personalities, politicians, activists and businesspeople.

OUT Power 03

OUT Power 02

Similarly high on the list were Rachel Maddow (No. 3), Jane Lynch (No. 12) and Orange is the New Black star Laverne Cox, who is the only transgender person on the list (coming in at No. 9).

OUT Power 04

Also making the cut were Brittney Griner, Ellen Page and Robin Roberts.

OUT Power 05

Click here to read more on who made this year’s list of the most powerful LGBT people in America

Ellen DeGeneres Leads Daytime Emmy Nominations, But is Not the Only LGBT Women to be Nominated

The Ellen DeGeneres Show was once again was the pace-setter for nominations for the 2015 Daytime Emmy Awards. However, she was not the only LGBT women to be in contention for a Daytime Emmy.

Other female LGBT TV Personalities including Laverne Cox, Sara Gilbert, and Meredith Baxter have also been nominated.

DeGeneres’ Show looks to continues its dominance in the category of outstanding talk show/entertainment, an award the show has already won an astounding eight times.


DeGeneres is also nominated as executive producer of the show, but not as outstanding talk show host after taking herself out of the running in that category several years ago after six wins in seven years.

Her show will compete with Live With Kelly and Michael, The Wendy Williams Show, and The Talk which earned nominations for Sara Gilbert both as an executive producer and a host.


Nominated with Gilbert are her co-hosts Julie Chen, Sharon Osbourne, Aisha Tyler and Sheryl Underwood.

Missing from the nominations as a show and for its hosts was The View, which suffered this season from the departure of Rosie O’Donnell.

Transgender actress and activist Laverne Cox earned a nomination in the category of Outstanding Special Class Special for the MTV program Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word.

Out actress Meredith Baxter, best known for her role on Family Ties, was nominated as Outstanding Special Guest Performer in a drama series for her recurring role last year in The Young and the Restless.


This year’s Daytime Emmycast is set to air April 26 on cabler Pop, originating from a soundstage on the Warner Bros. lot. The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is hoping to restore some stature to the event after several years of decline. Last year’s ceremony aired only as a webcast, resulting in a slew of no-shows among winners.

For the complete list of 2015 Daytime Emmy nominations, go to emmyonline.com/daytime

Queer Appeal | The Best LGBT Films From Sundance 2015

So, we’re now well-and-truly into the new year, heavily into award season, and the start of the film festival circuits around the world. This year’s festival had a lot to offer the LGBT moviegoer.

The star-studded week-long festival screened almost 120 films. Among the genres that were presented, the LGBT category seemed to grow in strength from the previous year. From documentaries on Larry Kramer and Tig Notaro, to an ex-gay drama starring James Franco and Zachary Quinto to a Lily Tomlin playing her first leading role in a film in 27 years.

Below are some titles that have queer appeal, so we suggest you keep a lookout for them throughout the year.


2015 is the year of Lily Tomlin. With a new Netflix TV show with Jane Fonda and awarded by the Kennedy Centre, she is back. Grandma, is a great story. Self-described misanthrope Elle Reid (Lily Tomlin) has her protective bubble burst when her 18-year-old granddaughter, Sage, shows up needing help. The two of them go on a daylong journey that causes Elle to come to terms with her past and Sage to confront her future.


Cast: Lily Tomlin, Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden, Judy Greer, Laverne Cox, Sam Elliott.
Director and screenwriter: Paul Weitz

The Summer of Sangaile

Seventeen-year-old Sangaile is fascinated by stunt planes. She meets a girl her age at the summer aeronautical show, near her parents’ lakeside villa. Sangaile allows Auste to discover her most intimate secret and in the process finds in her teenage love the only person who truly encourages her to fly. Cast: Julija Steponaitytė, Aistė Diržiūtė.


Director and screenwriter: Alanté Kavaïté


Oppressed by her family, dead-end school prospects, and the boys’ law in the neighborhood, Marieme starts a new life after meeting a group of free-spirited girls. She changes her name and dress, and quits school to be accepted in the gang, hoping to find a way to freedom.

Cast: Karidja Touré, Assa Sylla, Lindsay Karamoh, Mariétou Touré, Idrissa Diabaté, Simina Soumaré.
Director and screenwriter: Céline Sciamma

The Amina Profile

During the Arab revolution, a love story between two women — a Canadian and a Syrian-American — turns into an international sociopolitical thriller spotlighting media excesses and the thin line between truth and falsehood on the Internet.


Director: Sophie Deraspe

Beaver Trilogy Part IV

A chance meeting in a parking lot in 1979 between filmmaker Trent Harris and a young man from Beaver, Utah, inspired the creation of an underground film that is now known as Beaver Trilogy. But the film itself is only part of the story.

Director: Brad Besser

I Am Michael

The controversial true story of a gay activist who rejects his homosexuality and becomes a Christian pastor.


Director: Justin Kelly
Cast: James Franco, Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts.
Screenwriters: Justin Kelly, Stacey Miller

It’s Me, Hilary: The Man Who Drew Eloise

This portrait of Hilary Knight, the artist behind the iconic Eloise books, sees him reflecting on his life as an illustrator and his relationship to his most successful work. The film also premieres March 23 on HBO.


Director: Matt Wolf

Larry Kramer in Love and Anger

Author, activist, and playwright Larry Kramer is one of the most important and controversial figures in contemporary gay America, a political firebrand who gave voice to the outrage and grief that inspired gay men and lesbians to fight for their lives. At 78, this complicated man still commands our attention.


Director: Jean Carlomusto

The Mask You Live In

Is there a “boy crisis” in America? Is our male population suffering due to our emphasis on power, dominance, and aggression? The Mask You Live In explores how our narrow definition of masculinity is harming our boys, men, and society at large and unveils what we can do about it.

Director: Jennifer Siebel Newsom


Malcolm is carefully surviving life in a tough neighborhood in Los Angeles while juggling college applications, academic interviews, and the SAT. A chance invitation to an underground party leads him into an adventure that could allow him to go from being a geek to being dope to ultimately being himself.


Cast: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Blake Anderson, Zoë Kravitz, A$AP Rocky.
Director and screenwriter: Rick Famuyiwa

Nasty Baby

A gay couple try to have a baby with the help of their best friend, Polly. The trio navigate the idea of creating life while confronted by unexpected harassment from a neighborhood man called The Bishop. As their clashes grow increasingly aggressive, odds are someone is getting hurt.


Cast: Sebastian Silva, Tunde Adebimpe, Kristin Wiig, Reg E. Cathey, Mark Margolis, Denis O’Hare.
Director and screenwriter: Sebastian Silva

The Royal Road

This cinematic essay, a defense of remembering, offers up a primer on the Spanish colonization of California and the Mexican-American War alongside intimate reflections on nostalgia, butch identity and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo — all against a contemplative backdrop of 16mm urban California landscapes.


Cast: Jenni Olson, Tony Kushner.
Director and screenwriter: Jenni Olson


This documentary explores comedian Tig Notaro’s extraordinary journey as her life unfolds in grand and unexpected ways, all while she is battling a life-threatening illness and falling in love.


Directors: Kristina Goolsby, Ashley York
Screenwriter: Jennifer Arnold

ESSENCE Includes Orange Is The Black’s Laverne Cox And Samira Wiley in Annual Black Women Awards

ESSENCE announced the 8th Annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon honorees, and this it year it includes Laverne Cox, Lorraine Toussaint, Samira Wiley, Uzo Aduba, and Vicky Jeudy of the Emmy Award-winning series “Orange Is The New Black” (Vanguard Award); powerhouse actress/­director Regina King (Fierce & Fearless Award); breakout British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Lincoln Breakthrough of the Year Award) and Academy Award-nominated costume designer Ruth E. Carter (Visionary Award).

“The past year has been a game-changer for women in Hollywood. We are creating, performing and calling the shots. By recognizing our leading ladies both in front of and behind the camera, ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood illuminates the ‘Power of our Presence.’”

De Luca

2015 marks the 45th anniversary of ESSENCE magazine. Since its inception in 1970, ESSENCE has been dedicated to the progress, uplifting and celebration of African-American women in all fields including film and entertainment.  Black Women in Hollywood commemorates the brand’s annual Hollywood issue (March), which will be available on newsstands on Feb. 13.

“ESSENCE embodies the diversity of our stories, and Black Women in Hollywood allows us to honor fresh and innovative storytelling, as well as groundbreaking portrayals. This year we are proudly honoring seven brilliant actresses from the original hit series Orange is the New Black; a critically-acclaimed actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw; an accomplished performer and director with a career spanning three decades Regina King; and an inspirational creative talent Ruth E. Carter.”

Michelle Ebanks, ESSENCE President

‘GLAAD: All Access’ is Talking With The People Making a Difference For Equality

GLAAD has launched a new online video series – ‘GLAAD: All Access’ – that features interviews with newsmakers, hit-makers, and people making a difference for equality. The series is hosted by Claire Pires, who formerly worked at ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’.

In the series’ premiere episode, Pires talks with Emmy-nominated actress Laverne Cox about her groundbreaking documentary, ‘Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word‘, which introduced millions of viewers to transgender youth making a difference.

“Telling our stories is so deeply important. But the way in which our stories are told can really make a huge difference in terms of whether the message gets out about our humanity and the complexity of our humanity.”

Laverne Cox

The series’ second episode, features an exclusive interview with Ugandan LGBT advocate Clare Byarugaba of the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, who discusses the horrific violence and oppression facing LGBT Ugandans.


Episode 3, features an interview with ‘Faking It’ stars Rita Volk and Michael Willett, who talk about the importance of LGBT and intersex representation on TV.

In episode 4, host Claire Pires talked with editor-in-chief of Rookiemag.com and feminist Tavi Gevinson about the importance of LGBT content in her new book, Rookie Yearbook Three.

Laverne Cox Unveils Trailer for Her Upcoming Transgender Documentary on MTV

Laverne Cox has unveiled the first trailer for her new her hour-long documentary exploring transgender issues, which will be a collaboration with MTV.

She says:

“We live in a world where people are often judged for being different, but this is a celebration of those differences – as well as how we’re the same.

We’ll follow the courageous lives of young trans people, from the moment of realisation to dating, family and the often-dangerous obstacles they faced on the path to self-discovery. For many of us, the ‘T’ in LGBT means more than transgender.

It also means truth. The cast members in this documentary are fearlessly living their truths and in sharing their stories will send the message to other trans youth that it’s OK to be who you are.”

Laverne Cox

Cox is the highest profile transgender actress in the US, and recently made history as the first transgender actress to be nominated for an Emmy award, though she ultimately lost out to Orange is the New Black co-star Uzo Aduba.

The T Word is set to broadcast on MTV in the US on Friday, October 17. A UK broadcast date is yet to be confirmed.

Cox is also set to appear in the second season of MTV’s lesbian drama Faking It.

10 Questions to Never Ask a Transgender Person by Laura Jane Grace

Laura Jane Grace is an American musician best known as the founder, lead singer, songwriter and guitarist of the punk rock band Against Me!.

Grace came out as a transgender woman in Rolling Stone, since she has penned her truly heartbreaking (yet, god-this-is-amazing) record Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Now, she has decided to lay it all bare in her new web series, “True Trans With Laura Jane Grace.”

The web series premieres on AOL Originals on October 10, with Grace jumping at the opportunity to reach out to all the people she had admired from afar over the years — other people dealing with gender dysphoria, an issue she had been grappling with for as long as she can remember.

Over the course of touring with Against Me!, Grace spoke with different people every day — sometimes several interviews occurring each day — and learned that she’s not the only one in a constant state of flux and learning.

“I think there’s a lot of momentum behind people beginning to understand gender identity and the differences in the gender spectrum and where people fall. I think that it’s great seeing things like Laverne Cox on the cover of Time magazine or seeing a transgender CEO [Martine Rothblatt] on the cover of [New York magazine]. Maybe the headline that went along with that was a little sensationalist.”

Laura Jane Grace

10 questions to never ask a transgender person by Laura Jane Grace

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A New Season and New Face – Laverne Cox to Join MTV’s Lesbian Comedy ‘Faking It’

Laverne Cox, the actress best known for playing transgender inmate Sophia Burset on Orange is the New Black, has signed up to the second season of comedy Faking It.

Faking It is based on two best friends in high school,

Faking It, is about two teen girls – Amy (Rita Volk) and Karma (Katie Stevens), who pretend to be a lesbian couple in order to become more popular, only for one of the girls to realise that she has genuine romantic feelings.

The show attracted some controversy when it first aired earlier this year, over its portrayal of gay characters. However, the shows creator Carter Covington says that it might sound like a wild premise, but it’s actually based on many calls he fielded when he worked as a crisis counselor for the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention hotline for LGTBQ youth.

“For the young people today, this show is not going to be controversial. I genuinely think it’s going to feel like, an exaggerated version, of course, but very much based in the world they live in now. Kids these days don’t see the world through the eyes that I did when I was kid, but the core things stay the same: Who am I? Who do I want to be? How do I want the world to see me? Those things are only accentuated with social media.”

Says Covington.

According to Entertainment Weekly, in an episode set to air later this year, Cox will play drama teacher Margot, described as “demanding, intense, and full of herself” and “a big fish in a small pond”.

#OITNB – Orange is the New Black star Uzo Aduba aka Crazy Eyes wins #Emmy

Uzo Aduba has picked up an Emmy for her role in Orange is the New Black character. Abuba plays the lesbian character Crazy Eyes and took home the Best Guest Actress award at the Creative Arts Emmys on Saturday Night, which was presented to her by actor Morgan Freeman.

Aduba’s character was first introduced in season one of OITNB, arching a popular storyline with her pie-throwing and crush on Piper Chapman. In Season two her role as Crazy Eyes expanded as the series continued.

“I don’t know how to say how incredibly impressed I am to be a part of this show day in, day out. I have never thought about where an Emmy should go in my home… now, I have to!”

Uzo Aduba

Backstage, the thirty-three year-old found herself on the verge of crying once again.

“I feel so full, that’s why the tears come out. I’m stuffed. My cup runneth over right now. Mission accomplished, thank you.

The thing I love most about working with Jenji is her want and this burning need to tell the truth, and it doesn’t really matter the cost, what it takes to go here,” she said. “She puts that and instills that in her writing and her writers, and it’s just incredible.

Her heart is just mama bear for everybody on that team, not only for the art that she makes, but she wants to create a family there for us. She really does everything in her power to make sure that energy — the love and the life that’s present — stay bright, and that makes it the perfect work environment.”

Uzo Aduba

Aduba also beat co-star Laverne Cox to take home this award. Cox was the first transgender woman to ever be nominated for an Emmy award for her role as inmate Sophia Burset on the show.

Laverne Cox to Feature in Bravo’s New Scripted Series

Is it Laverne Cox’s week? Let’s not get anything twisted here; as one of Orange is the New Black’s breakout performances as straight-talking, style shop running trans* inmate Sophia Burset, we may as well call 2014 the Year of Laverne.

While she impressed us yet again in season two of the Netflix original series (that became available from last month), the talented actress and activist has also racked up a bunch of other accolades including the Emmy nom she picked up last week for Outstanding Guest Actress (making her the first trans* performer to be nominated for an Emmy, which is one of the most prestigious TV awards) and she’s also putting together a memoir that’s due to be published sometime next year. Oh and she also made the cover of TIME magazine to boot.

However, does Laverne’s skyrocketing success stop there? It certainly doesn’t as she’s now been tapped to feature in Bravo’s upcoming scripted series.

Called ‘Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce’ the intriguingly titled show has yet to air but we have some idea of what it’s about. For one, it’s Bravo’s first scripted show and it will be based upon author Vicky Iovine’s ‘Girlfriends’ Guide’ books so there will be a huge weight on the network’s shoulders to do this right. Alongside House’s Lisa Edelstein who plays self-help author Abby who “reveals that her picturesque life is all a lie”, Cox will take on the role of Adele Northrop, “a Pulitzer Prize-winning war journalist and LGBT activist who presents an award at a marriage equality gala”.

Currently, we know that the character of Adele will feature in just one episode, which is sad news for those who have whizzed through both seasons of OITNB and are thirsty for more Laverne roles to watch on their TV screens. Of course there’s still the chance that she could return in more episodes of Girlfriends’ Guide but otherwise we’ll be able to see her in the docu-series that she’s working on with supermodel Tyra Banks that’s likely to air later this year.

Celebrating Female Beauty – John Legend’s New Single ‘You & I’

John Legend has premiered the music video for new single, You & I (Nobody In The World), that includes women of all kinds.

Directed by Mishka Kornai, the video celebrates all kinds of female beauty as it shows a number of different women studying themselves and their own insecurities. That means it has a lesbian couple, Tig Notaro and Laverne Cox among many other beautiful ladies of all ages, shapes, colours and identities.

A documentary called ‘When I Look In The Mirror’ has also been created, which explores the stories of the women in the clip further – with the hope that both pieces will help raise awareness and increase engagement in the #OperationGirl Charity Challenge.

“We live in a world where egregious injustices occur regularly against girls and women. We have a responsibility to take action and disrupt the conditions that allow for such tragedies to occur. Through #OperationGirl we hope to amplify the voices and impact of the many organisations doing great work on behalf of girls and women.”

John Legend

#OITNBNews – Orange is the New Black up 12 Emmy Nominations & Laverne Cox Makes History

‘Orange is the New Black’ (#OITNB) has earned 12 nominations, behind Game of Thrones’ 19 nominations and fellow Netflix hit House of Cards’ 16.

Taylor Schilling was nominated in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series category, Kate Mulgrew was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, and Natasha Lyonne, Uzo Aduba, and Laverne Cox were all nominated in the Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series category.

The show received a nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series, Liz Friedman and Jenji Kohan earned a nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, and Jodie Foster was nominated in the Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series.

Laverne Cox’s nomination marks the first time an openly transgender actress has been nominated for a Primetime Emmy.

In a statement to The Huffington Post, Laverne Cox said…

Today is truly a dream come true for me. Working on such an incredible show with such talented professionals has truly been the reward for me since we started shooting Oitnb 2 years ago. But this Emmy Nomination today is very welcomed and delicious icing on an already sumptuous cake. Thanks to the cast and crew of Orange for all the love and support, for your professionalism. Special shout out to Jodie Foster who directed the episode where we leaned Sophia’s back story and Sian Heder who wrote it and to all our writers, especially to Jenji Kohan. This recognition of 12 #EmmyNoms for your genius today is beyond well deserved. You are everything Jenji.

For my trans siblings, I love you so much. I share this nomination with you. May all of our stories be told with the depth of humanity the brilliant writers, cast, crew and our creator Jenji Kohan have shown with the portrayal of Sophia Burset. As I celebrate this day I can’t help but remember it is still a state of emergency for far too many trans people across this country right now. We need love, and support. We need public policy and our fellow citizens to value our lives and our humanity. Most of all we, ourselves need to value our lives. The more I treat my life as if it has value, the more the universe has been saying, “Yes Girl”

Laverne Cox


‘Orange Is The New Black’ Cast Support NYC Pride Parade – #OITNB

The cast of Orange Is The New Black took part NYC Pride Parade on Sunday. Laverne Cox was one of three grand marshals at this year’s Pride parade in New York City along with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Rea Carey and “Frozen” star Jonathan Goff.

The other cast members took a ride on the Litchfield Correctional Facility float, decked out with laundry baskets, balloon suds, and a giant washing machine.

There were plenty of famous faces at NYC’s 44th annual Pride Parade, but OITNB cast started trending all over Instagram (see below)…

NYC Pride Parade Marked 45th Anniversary Of Stonewall Inn Riots. With over 100,000 of people lining the parade route, the parade started at 36th Street and Fifth Avenue and ended at Greenwich and Christopher streets at the Stonewall Inn.

New York marchers were commemorating the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots, which are credited with launching the modern gay rights movement in 1969.

#PrideCast – Watch Mashable’s Livestream of NYC Pride March

You don’t have to travel to New York City this weekend to experience the NYC Pride March. Today, the city streets will welcome the march, and Mashable will be providing coverage, commentary and interviews live from the march route.

Via a livestream on the Mashable YouTube channel, there will be interviews with Orange Is The New Black’s Laverne Cox, Frozen’s Jonathan Groff, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Rea Carey and Kinky Boots’ Natalie Joy Johnson, among many others attending the march.

Influencers and advocacy groups around the world will also join the event remotely through the power of Google+ Hangouts on Air to share their inspiring stories and efforts.

The month of June commemorates the Stonewall riots, which took place in New York City in June 1969. Now 45 years later, Pride Month is often observed and celebrated across the U.S. through LGBT Pride marches.

To follow the march through social media, keep up with all the action with the #PrideCast hashtag.

#PrideCast – Watch Mashable’s Livestream of NYC Pride March

A Sneaky Peak at ‘Orange Is The New Black’ Season 2 To Get You in the Mood

Need a quick fix of ‘Orange Is The New Black’ before you head to Netflix and download the whole series – then take a look here. Its time to start #OITNB Season 2 binging pleasure.

Here are some new clips to get you through the final hours.

Piper and Alex Flashback

A flashback to Alex (Laura Prepon) and Piper’s past

Alex and Piper

Woooooo… another flashback to Alex and Piper’s past

Present Larry can’t Live on Hope

Larry (Jason Biggs) and Piper see each other for the first time since they broke up.

I Want to be Fierce

We love Red (Kate Mulgrew) – and here she is demanding to look Fierce.

Crazy Eyes and Watson

Need we say more…

Piper’s Fight Aftermath

An final Pipers fight aftermath…


Sunday Night’s Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City

GLAAD, the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy organization, honored George Takei and the best in film and television at the 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Waldorf Astoria New York. Naomi Watts, Kylie Minogue, Emmy Rossum, Boy George, Laura Prepon, Laverne Cox, Swoosie Kurtz, Tamron Hall, and country star Kacey Musgraves were among the special guests.

The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and the issues that affect their lives. The GLAAD Media Awards also fund GLAAD’s work to amplify stories of LGBT people and issues that build support for equality.

At the ceremony, long-time LGBT advocate David Mixner introduced GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, who received two standing ovations from the capacity audience. In her remarks she said, “We are a team – focused on advocating and educating – and we have added a new component to our arsenal: we have to protect the phenomenal progress we have made over the past quarter of a century. There are some who say ‘our work is done.’ I say we have twice as much work to do.”

Also at the ceremony, George Takei received the Vito Russo Award, which is named after one of GLAAD’s co-founders and the author of The Celluloid Closet. The award is presented to an out media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality. Previous Vito Russo Award honorees include Anderson Cooper, Ricky Martin, Rosie O’Donnell, Alan Cumming, Cynthia Nixon, Nathan Lane, Cherry Jones, Elton John, k.d. lang, and Tom Ford. The award was presented to Takei by Broadway director Stafford Arima who is directing Allegiance, a new Broadway musical starring Takei, Telly Leung, and Lea Salonga.

“I am so glad to be with all you GLAAD people to receive this important recognition. The Vito Russo Award is charged with meaning and potency. In the twenty-five years since its founding, GLAAD has dramatically changed American society for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. I know, because as a closeted kid growing up in Los Angeles…all I saw of gays and lesbians in movies and television or heard on radio were caricatures of people who were mocked and laughed at, or pitied, or hated. The media stripped us of all humanity and made us into pathetic stereotypes. The media then was a soul-crushing monster. GLAAD took on this formidable beast with its media savvy, political acumen and the power of its advocacy and transformed the media into a powerful force for change. GLAAD inspired and galvanized others into action to join with in the great 21st century civil rights movement.”

George Takei

“But as long as LGBT people can be fired from their job for simply being who they are, our work isn’t done yet. As long as young people are kicked out of their families just for being who they are, our work is not done yet. As long as people are be bullied into feeling that their lives are so hopeless that they are driven to self-destructive acts, our work is not done. Working in concert with GLAAD, with its history of achievement and the legacy of Vito Russo, we will make this a better world, a more equal society of all people…I accept the GLAAD Vito Russo Award with pride, and with humility and with resolve.”

George Takei

Boy George introduced global superstar Kylie Minogue, who performed “Can’t Get You Out of My Head.” Grammy Award-winning country music artist Kacey Musgraves performed her LGBT empowering anthem “Follow Your Arrow.”

Naomi Watts presented the award for Outstanding Comedy Series to the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black. Cast members Laverne Cox, Laura Prepon, Natasha Lyonne, Samira Wiley, Dascha Polanco, Selenis Leyva, Yael Stone, Taryn Manning, Emma Myles, Alysia Reiner accepted the award on behalf of the show.

Emmy Rossum presented the award for Outstanding Film – Limited Release to director Stacie Passon and star Robin Weigert for the film Concussion. Looking cast members Raúl Castillo and Frankie J. Álvarez presented the award for Outstanding Individual Episode to the Elementary episode “Snow Angels.” This category recognizes LGBT storylines shows which do not have a regular LGBT character. Transgender actress Candis Cayne, who played Ms. Hudson in the episode, accepted the award on behalf of the show.

Following is a complete list of GLAAD Media Award recipients announced Saturday in New York.

  • Outstanding Film – Wide Release: Philomena (The Weinstein Company)
  • Outstanding Film-Limited Release: Concussion (RADiUS-The Weinstein Company)
  • Outstanding Comedy Series: Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)
  • Outstanding Individual Episode (in a series without a regular LGBT character): “Snow Angels” Elementary (CBS)
  • Outstanding Talk Show Episode: “First Openly Gay NBA Player Jason Collins and his Family” Oprah’s Next Chapter (OWN)
  • Outstanding TV Journalism – Newsmagazine: “Transgender at 11: Listening to Jazz” 20/20 (ABC)
  • Outstanding TV Journalism Segment: “Gay Rights at Work” MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts (MSNBC)
  • Outstanding Magazine Article: “The Hidden War Against Gay Teens” by Alex Morris (Rolling Stone)
  • Outstanding Magazine Overall Coverage: The New Yorker
  • Outstanding Digital Journalism Article: “Sex, Lies and HIV: When What You Don’t Tell Your Partner is a Crime” by Sergio Hernandez (Buzzfeed.com / ProPublica.org)
  • Outstanding Blog: The New Civil Rights Movement (http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com)
  • Outstanding Novela: Amores Verdaderos (Univision)
  • Outstanding Daytime Talk Show Episode: “Una pareja gay celebrara el Día del Padre luego de luchar por sus derechos” Despierta América (Univision)
  • Outstanding TV Journalism – Newsmagazine: “Rompiendo Estereotipos” Aquí y Ahora (Univision)
  • Outstanding Newspaper Article: “Desiguales por imperativo legal” by Jose Ángel Gonzalo García de León (Diario Las Américas)
  • Outstanding Digital Journalism Article: “Richard Blanco: el poeta latino y gay que conquisto a Barack Obama” by Daniel Basteiro (voces.huffingtonpost.com)

Additional awards were presented at the Los Angeles GLAAD Media Awards on April 12 at the Beverly Hilton. For video, photos, and more, visit: glaad.org/mediaawards/recap To receive the latest updates on the GLAAD Media Awards, follow @glaad on Twitter and use the hashtag #glaadawards.

Image source


Janet Mock Puts Things into Prospective With TV Host Alicia Menendez

In February 2014,  Janet Mock was interviewed by Piers Morgan. It was an interview that sadly highlighted the ignorance many transgendered people go through day-to-day.

In the interview, Morgan referred to Mocks as a ‘former man’ and asked a series of personal questions about her gender.

This is not the first time a transgendered person has had to face such questions on national TV – in another interview Katie Couric felt the need to repeatedly ask Orange is the New Black actress Laverne Cox about her genitals.

On this week on Fusion TV’s AM Tonight Janet Mock has turned the tables on a TV host – Alicia Menendez, asking her some of the invasive questions about her body that trans people face regularly. Turning the interview on Menendez, she said: “You’re beautiful – what’s so amazing about you is that if I were to look at you, I would never have not known that you weren’t trans.

“So who was the first person you told you were cis to?

“Do you have a vagina? When was the moment you felt your breasts budding? Do you use tampons?

“When you were going through puberty, did you feel trapped by the changes your body was going through? Did you feel like a girl?”

After the reverse-interview, Menendez conceded that the questions felt invasive.

She said: “That was so awful!

“We wrote a lot of these questions and I didn’t realise how awful and invasive some of them would feel, and how I would feel now.

“When you have the questions turned on you, I understand how much more intimate those questions feel.”

Image source

I *Heart* Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox is an American actress, reality television star, producer, and transgender advocate. And more to the point she is HOT!

Back in March Buzzfeed photograph, Jeaneen Lund took these stunning pictures of Cox.

Laverne Cox is now known for portraying Sophia Burset, a trans woman sent to prison for credit-card fraud, in the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. This character is actually based on CeCe McDonald, a trans African American woman, who survived a violent, racist and transphobic attack in 2011.

McDonald is in the midst of completing her 41 month sentence in a men’s prison for the stabbing death of Dean Schmitz, who attacked her and several friends in Minneapolis in 2011.

Laverne Cox is now producing a documentary about embattled trans woman — who may be getting out of prison soon. Free CeCe!, which has already begun production, is slated to continue into 2014 along with McDonald herself.

Here’s Cox on why she began Free CeCe! with production partner Jacqueline Gares in Persephone:

CeCe’s story is one that should have been covered more in the press. Trans women, particularly trans women of color, experience disproportionate amounts of violence and not enough is being done to eradicate that violence. CeCe’s story in so many ways encapsulates the intersectional issues that lead to far too many of us experiencing violence. I wanted to do a piece that explores the nature of how race, class and gender affect violence towards trans women and also give CeCe a space to tell her story in her words in the context of a piece that truly values the lives of trans women of color.

Laverne Cox