Outspoken

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Outspoken: Steve Jobs, Gayle King, the White House

“It just bothers me that in 2011 this is still an issue — that you cannot marry the people you want to marry in some states; it just drives me nuts.”

Gayle King, gal pal of Oprah Winfrey, in an interview at the Oct. 23 New York wedding of gay couple Bill White and Bryan Eure (New York Times, Oct. 23)

“When you see a beautiful woman, what do you feel?” Wayne replied, “It’s like when you look at a beautiful horse. You can appreciate it, but you don’t want to sleep with it. You appreciate beauty for what it is.”

—Conversation between Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and friend Ron Wayne, as Wayne came out to Jobs in 1974 when the two worked at Atari. Wayne was the first gay man that Jobs, who died earlier this month, had ever met. The discussion is recounted in the new Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. (Towleroad.com, Oct. 24)

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Topher Payne: For your fridge

Playwright and writer Topher PayneGoing through an old box of keepsakes last week, I found a card from my grandmother I received at boarding school. She’d enclosed an Ann Landers clipping with advice on how to make friends. She’d circled “Be confident, but humble.” I’m still working on it.

Grandmama was an Ask Ann junkie. For the uninitiated, Ann Landers was a helmet-haired syndicated columnist who dished out advice for half a century. She was opinionated, socially progressive, and not shy about taboo subjects.

The avocado-colored refrigerator in Grandmama’s kitchen always had clippings from “Ask Ann,” sometimes with a paragraph circled for quick reference. This was the 1980s equivalent of sharing on your Facebook wall.

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Melissa Carter: Gay parents, don’t be like this

Former Atlanta Disc-Jockey Melissa CarterHelicopter parents. It’s a term originally coined in the book “Parenting with Love and Logic” by Dr. Foster Cline and Jim Fay, and refers to parents who hover over their children like a helicopter. Gay moms and dads, don’t let this be you.

I was not aware of how prevalent helicopter parenting was until I recently had dinner with a friend who is a teacher. She told me that on the first day of school this year she witnessed parents coming in to stock and organize their children’s lockers. Not just one kid’s parents, several.

Oh, and did I mention she is a high school teacher? I thought it was a joke until she reassured me she wasn’t kidding.

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Topher Payne: Where the Wild Things Are

Playwright and writer Topher PayneI was a prissy little fat kid in a small Mississippi town, whose only defense against the hostility of my peers was a premature flair with cutting remarks. Consequently, I spent a good portion of my childhood learning to embrace the pleasure of my own company.

This is how I ended up spending entire summers at the county library, curled up in the stacks, reading books not intended for children. The children’s section was of no interest to me. Even at age nine, the precocious adventures of Ramona Quimby felt cloying and contrived, and the Narnia series seemed ripped off from stories I’d already heard in Sunday School.

When I wasn’t clear on what exactly was happening in a book, I would cross-reference in the World Book Encyclopedia, which led to an inconsistent but shockingly detailed knowledge base on subjects like menstruation, spousal abuse, and thanks to “Flowers in the Attic,” arsenic and incest.

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Outspoken: Wanda Sykes, Barack Obama, Lady Gaga and more…

Comedian Wanda Sykes talks about cancer

“Should I talk about [having breast cancer]? Because how many things could I have? You know black, lesbian — I’m like, I can’t be the poster child for everything. At least with the LGBT issues we get a parade and a float and it’s a party. I was real hesitant about doing this because I hate walking, and I got a lot of walks coming up.”

Comedian and actress Wanda Sykes, discussing her battle with breast cancer for the first time in an interview with out talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. (“The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” Sept. 26)

“I’ve just never talked about it. But it’s so liberating. It was interesting to be coming to have a conversation that I was always afraid to have. This is my coming out ball. I’ve been dying to do this.”

—Actor Sean Maher, star of the new NBC series “Playboy Club,” where he plays a closted gay man married to a lesbian Bunny, coming out in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. (EW.com, Sept. 26)

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Melissa Carter: Pride can mean more than a party

Former Atlanta Disc-Jockey Melissa CarterBreak out that gaudy rainbow attire because Pride is back in town! I have to be honest: I had a hard time deciding what to write about this week in honor of Pride.

Among the choices was my first Pride celebration in 1992 when I was still in the closet. Weaving my way among the 60,000 people I realized with watering eyes that I was not the only lesbian on the planet. Or ten years later, when I was honored to be a grand marshal in the Pride Parade. I was in kidney failure and on dialysis, but my friends made sure to crank the AC in the convertible that day so I wouldn’t pass out.

There are great memories of marching in the parade every year afterward with Q100, even pushing my way down Peachtree Street in a torrential downpour. If the crowd was getting drenched while celebrating, I thought, so would I.

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Topher Payne: Something for everyone

Playwright and writer Topher PayneThe in-laws came to town for the opening of my play – we’ve all discovered that getting together for theatrical events is way more fun than weddings and funerals — and the next night, we took in a very different kind of production: The Stone Mountain Lasershow Spectacular… in Mountainvision!

Okay, y’all. Seriously. Do you have any idea how many people go to this thing? There were more people there than at the last Scissor Sisters concert I attended. I tried to focus on the laser-rendered narratives of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and “Sweet Home Alabama,” but my attention kept drifting to the people around me. Particularly when laser Martin Luther King appeared on the side of the mountain, and the man behind us booed.

He actually booed Laser MLK. Preppy shot me Look #32: “I am begging you not to use this as an opportunity to cause a scene.” Out of respect for him, the family, and the dignity Laser MLK would likely have supported, I maintained my composure.

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Outspoken: Dustin Lance Black, Grindr founder and more…

“We’ve had maybe three terrorist attacks on our soil with a little over 5,000 people regrettably losing their lives. In the same time frame, there have been hundreds of thousands who have died because of having AIDS. So which one’s the biggest threat? And you know, every day our young people, adults too, … they’re bombarded with ‘homosexuality is normal and natural.’ It’s something they have to deal with every day.”

Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern, explaining why homosexuality is more dangerous than terrorism, in an Aug. 31 interview with Peter LaBarbera of the anti-gay Americans for Truth About Homosexuality. (Rightwingwatch.org, Sept. 9)

“That is where, I think, for the first time, we in the gay and lesbian movement found sanity in the debate about who we are.”

Dustin Lance Black, who wrote the screenplay for “Milk,” on why he wrote a new play about the Proposition 8 gay marriage California court case. A Broadway staged reading of “8” includes Morgan Freeman, John Lithgo, Christine Lahti, Larry Karmer and Marisa Tomei among the cast. (Washington Post, Sept. 13)

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Melissa Carter: Chasing a straight girl never ends well

Former Atlanta Disc-Jockey Melissa Carter“Hey, Melissa. You watch ‘Rizzoli & Isles?’”

I hear this question often since many lesbians hope the crime-fighting duo on TNT is a blossoming lesbian couple. But no, I do not watch the show. Granted both Rizzoli and Isles are hot...in a 1995 kind of way.

Why 1995? Because that was the year Xena and Gabrielle first appeared on air. Back then no one was brave enough to show a lesbian main character on television and the simple insinuation was enough for “Xena Warrior Princess” to obtain a loyal lesbian following.

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Outspoken: Kristin Chenoweth, Tony Perkins and more…

Actress Kristin Chenoweth

“I’m attracted to girls and that’s what’s going to make me happy. I don’t even like to label myself. … I’ve actually had two boyfriends but I know at the end of the day who I want to come home to and it’s going to be a girl. That’s what I like.”

“So You Think You Can Dance” runner-up Sasha Mallory, in a recent interview about the Fox reality show, where she said she is “not afraid to tell people I’m gay,” but viewers “didn’t really need to know if I was gay or straight.” (AfterEllen.com, Aug. 25)

“To be frank, I didn’t understand why we’re talking about contestants being gay or not gay. I don’t go into my dentist and say, ‘Are you gay?’ I don’t say to contestants on So You Think You Can Dance, ‘Are you gay?’ What does it got to do with me?”

Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer of “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” responding to criticism about the lack of openly gay contestants on the shows. (Entertainment Weekly, Aug. 17)

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Melissa Carter: Freaks, geeks and letters that jiggle

Former Atlanta Disc-Jockey Melissa CarterAh, it’s that time of year again, Atlanta: Dragon*Con.

Many who have never attended the convention see it as just freaks and geeks who like to dress up in elaborate costumes for a weekend. This may be partially true, but Dragon*Con happened to be where I realized something about myself that I had never known before: I have a reading disorder.

Besides parades and parties, Dragon*Con offers a large variety of sessions on everything from costume design to how to conduct a successful ghost hunt. Last year, I attended a session on graphic novels that included a panel of guests.

One speaker was a librarian who expressed his frustration at the difficulty he had in convincing schools and libraries to take graphic novels seriously. He credited these books with saving his education. As a child he had suffered from a learning disorder and the only books he could read growing up were graphic novels.