Miley Cyrus has been spotted all over Philly these days – making at least a few stops at Woody’s, we hear – but before the pop star chopped off her long locks in favor of a much more butch look, she recorded this cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” for her Backyard Sessions album. And we love it.
Interesting fact: Dolly is Miley’s godmother (talk about country music royalty). Another interesting fact: Miley’s a huge gay rights supporter. Don’t believe us? Just follow her on Twitterwhere she regularly takes homophobes to task. You go, girl.
Obama says yes to marriage equality (illustration by G Philly)
Most of us are probably still recovering from the New Year celebrations (hello, 2013!) but as we look ahead to a fresh start and G Philly‘s third anniversary, we wanted to also take a look back on some of the most influential (and gayest) moments of 2012.
1. President Obama comes out in support of marriage equality. Not only is he the first sitting president to ever publicly state that he unequivocally supports marriage rights for same-sex couples in America, but he has denounced DOMA and pushed for legislation that protects LGBT Americans from discrimination. The Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also delivered a powerful speech denouncing anti-gay crimes internationally, and vowed to impose sanctions on countries that practice discrimination.
2. More states legalize same-sex marriage. Maryland, Washington and Maine have said yes to marriage equality in this country (the first states to ever endorse it through a popular vote), bringing the total number of states who recognize it to 10. Rhode Island also recognizes marriages performed elsewhere – and New Jersey is considering a new law that could legalize it this year.
Feathers, spangles and gender bending are certainly not uncommon to the annual Mummer’s Parade every New Year’s Day, but this year, a brigade featuring some of Philly’s most popular drag stars made history by marching for the first time in an official capacity. Led by Brittany Lynn (real name Ian Morrison) the performers received plenty of attention despite all the usual fanfare. And while the queens were initially criticized by an organization called the Philadelphia Metro Task Force – the group wanted to ban the impersonators from the parade – the response from revelers and Mummers alike was nothing short of, well, gay.
Philly students who return to their schools in the New Year will look forward to having access to a new way to help prevent the spread of HIV and other STDs. As many as 22 public schools in Philadelphia are installing condom vending machines during the winter break. While the decision is drawing criticism from some parent groups, the statistics are staggering:
-61 percent of Philly high school students are having sex
-40 percent of these students aren’t using condoms
-A quarter of new HIV infections in Philly are among teens
“Condoms are an important part of general prevention,” says Don Schwartz, the deputy mayor for health and opportunity in Philadelphia. “We also believe that parents need to be educating their kids.”
This past weekend, openly gay New York Times columnist Frank Bruni shared a deeply personal story about his relationship with his father who wasn’t always so accepting of his son’s sexuality. Not only does the essay capture the momentum of a much bigger gay rights struggle in America right now, but it speaks to the personal relationship between a parent and child – and how the political and personal can sometimes collide.
“For a long while, my father’s way of coping was to walk quietly from the room. He doesn’t remember this. I do. I can still see it, still feel the pinch in my chest when the word “gay” came up — perhaps in reference to some event in the news, or perhaps in reference to me — and he’d wordlessly take his leave of whatever conversation my mother and my siblings and I were having,” writes Bruni. “He’d drift away, not in disgust but in discomfort, not in a huff but in a whisper. I saw a lot of his back.”
He adds, “And I was grateful. Discomfort beat rejection. So long as he wasn’t pushing me away, I didn’t need him to pull me in.”
The HRC has shared a video featuring some of the more landmark moments of this past year – including four more states legalizing marriage equality and even more openly gay and lesbian candidates taking office.
We’re also collecting thoughts from you about some of the most monumental moments for LGBT rights this year in Philly and around the country. Please share your nominations in the comment section below or on G Philly’s Facebook page this week.
We love us some George Michael – especially during his Wham! days when he and Andrew Ridgeley delivered classic sing-a-long songs like “Last Christmas.” Fast forward 28 years later and a new English band called xx have reinterpreted the upbeat tune into more somber electronic ditty with no shortage of love pains.
Stagg – it’s the newest gay dating app for men. But wait, you’re thinking: another dating app, right? Stagg tells us this one’s a little different from the Manhunt and Grindr varieties. It was designed, in part, based on a nationwide survey of men seeking men in which Stagg discovered that hookups aside, plenty of guys are looking for more serious relationships.
So rather than the usual shirtless shots (though we’re sure there will be plenty of those, too, as it launches today), Stagg includes a few new features, like scoring compatibility between members (how very eHarmony), a rep system that mashes up members’ interests and personality traits, and a mapping system that shows moment-to-moment updates for meeting guys in person (definitely not good for stalkers).
“Knowing the distance between you and an attractive and available guy is great, but the next big step for apps is harnessing a smartphone’s ability to instantly run thousands of calculations to also reveal the potential for more,” says Dr. Brad Brenner, a psychologist and Stagg’s co-founder. “Friends joked with me that there needed to be an app that finds the sweet spot somewhere in between the delightfully slutty hookup-only apps and the sinfully boring matchmaking-style websites.”
So whether you’re looking for a one-night stand or someone with whom to celebrate golden anniversaries, the app is available for free via iTunes and on Stagg’s website. An Android version is expected to be available soon.
Really bad news, guys. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released the results of a new study on HIV and AIDS that shows a 22 percent increase in new infections among young men who have sex with other men. While the rate of infection has pretty much stayed the same in the U.S. for most other groups, according to the report, gay and bisexual men now account for 66 percent of all new infections.
To put it into perspective, while gay and bisexual men account for an estimated four percent of the population in this country, male-to-male sex accounts for more than three-fourths of all new HIV infections.
Worse is that younger gay and bisexual men are also testing positive at alarming rates. Among men ages 13 to 24, HIV infections have increased by 22 percent. And young black men now account for more than half of all new HIV infections.