Get Smart: Five Gay Poets

School may be out for the summer, but Questia, an online research tool, is celebration LGBT history month with a crash course in gay and lesbian poetry. In honor of Pride, the online library has compiled interesting facts about five of the most researched poets on their site. Good news is you don’t have to be a student to enjoy the works – Questia’s opened its lavender library for free for the month of June.

Read all about these top five:

Allen Ginsberg: A self-proclaimed “novelist in the making,” Ginsberg wrote about taboo topics and homosexuality as a leading figure in the Beat Generation. Over the years, he vigorously opposed sexual repression and was an early proponent of freedom for gay people, expressing himself and his beliefs openly within his poetry. We look forward to a new movie about Ginsberg’s early years – Kill Your Darlings – starring Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliff (out 2013). James Franco also channeled the Beat poet in Howl.

Check it out:

W.H. Auden: Considered to be one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, Auden penned nearly 400 poems throughout his lifetime. To avoid persecution in Nazi Germany for being gay, Auden married the daughter of a fellow writer, but later met poet Chester Kallman who would become his lifelong companion.

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Janet Jackson to Make Trans Documentary

She describes Truth as a “journey through the lives of trans- and nongendered people around the world.” Janet Jackson (yes, that Janet Jackson) has signed onto executive produce a new documentary that she says will help shed light on the struggle many gender nonconforming and transitioning people face every day.

“All people are very important to me,” Jackson says in a press statement. “I’ve been fortunate to make friends and learn about very different lives. Trith is our small chance to ask that you try and understand someone who lives their life in a way that is a little bit different from yours, even though all of our hearts are the same.”

Jackson is no stranger to supporting LGBT causes during her career. And her high profile production credit is expected to catapult the film into a public sphere that most other independent documentaries about trans men and women might not ever enjoy.

Directed by Robert Jason, who also directed Style Exposed: Born Male, Living Female last year, the film is expected to begin shooting this summer.

“Janet Jackson will take us on a visually innovative, cerebral journey through the turbulent lives of transgender people of all ages around the world and their epic struggle for equality,” explains the director. “This film will highlight landmark mainstream stories and provide a glimpse at others that will change the gender landscape of the world forever. Just as it is hard to believe that there ever was a time when different components of society were required to use separate drinking fountains, it is as incredible that one’s gender expression remains just such a target for discrimination.”

“We want to stop hate,” says Jackson, “and find understanding.”

Meet Five LGBT Families

At a time when LGBT families are making media headlines, a documentary – In My Shoes: Stories of Youth With LGBT Parents – goes behind the scenes to get to know same-sex parents and their kids. We hear their views on everything from marriage and what it means to be a family to changing minds about what really makes a family. This film was produced by the COLAGE Youth Leadership and Action Program and directed by Jen Gilomen.

Check it out:

Weekend Roundup

Friday, May 11

See the new exhibit Collage at the Latvian Society (starting at 9 a.m.) with works by artists from around the country. The event continues through the weekend.

Watch the documentary Brother Outsider about out civil rights hero Bayard Rustin with a performance by A Voice 4 All People (6 p.m.) at the African-American Museum of Philadelphia.

Courtesy of Tony Enos

Come to the cabaret (7:30 p.m.) at the Mt. Airy Garage with performances by Michael Richard Kelly and the Tamer Tewfik Trio.

Tony Enos performs live (9 p.m.) at South Philly Bar & Grill to benefit the Beacon Light Fund.

Camp Tabu is back (9 p.m.) with a night of humor starring Chip Chantry, Latice, Aaron Hertzog, Mike Logan, T.J. Hurley and Natalie with tag-team hosts Alejandro Morales and R. Eric Thomas.

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William Way Honors Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin once said that “to be afraid is to behave as if the truth were not true.” As the right-hand man to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during the height of the modern-day civil rights movement in the 1960s, the West Chester native became instrumental in changing the course of history for both African-Americans and gay people in this country. As an openly gay man himself, daring to live honestly during a time of fierce homophobia and racism in U.S. history, Rustin has become an LGBT rights hero in recent years.

This month, the William Way, along with the Heritage Philadelphia Program of the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, is honoring Rustin who would be turning 100 years old this year.

Rustin is perhaps best remembered as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, one of the largest nonviolent protests ever held in the United States. Thanks to that historic event and many others throughout the tumultuous decade, he helped shape King’s message into that of an international statement about peace and nonviolence.

Both events are free and open to the public.

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Weekend Roundup

Friday, April 27

Martha Graham Cracker (photo by Amy Hartranft)

MANNA hosts a “Meals That Matter” tailgate party (5 p.m.) on 23rd and Ranstead with members of the Philadelphia Eagles, Eagles Cheerleaders and Swoop. A full menu will be offered, along with a Chopped-style cook-off with the pros. All proceeds benefit MANNA.

Martha Graham Cracker plays “Art After 5” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (5 p.m.). Click here for our exclusive art chat with the gender-bending vocal powerhouse.

Philadelphia Black Gay Pride‘s family reunion (6 p.m) is at the Crowne Plaza on City Avenue with Power 99 personality Muthaknows. Special guests also include Akil Patterson, an openly gay wrestler, comedian Sam “Sampson” McCormick and the new Mr. and Miss Philadelphia Black Gay Pride with an award for the most LGBT-friendly politician of the year. The Evolution Ball follows (7:30 p.m.).

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I Want to Know What It’s Like

Los Angeles filmmaker Ryan James Yezak has done it again. You might remember his trailer for the film “What Homosexuality is Not,” but Yezak has since worked with teens at one Southern California high school to create a new video project. “I Want to Know What It’s Like” features students and teachers who express their hopes for gay rights legislation in a thought-provoking poetic format.

Check it out:

New Film Series in Lehigh Valley

Courtesy of ArtsQuest

Philly has long had its LGBT film festivals, but this year the Greater Lehigh Valley, along with Equality Pennsylvania and ArtsQuest, are launching a new festival based in nearby Bethlehem, Pa. The LGBT Film Series at SteelStacks’ Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas (FBAC) kicks off May 6 and runs through June 10.

The month-long series, designed to raise awareness of LGBT issues, will feature six films, as well as special discussions and talkbacks hosted by prominent members of Lehigh Valley’s LGBT community. In addition, a Tea Party fund-raiser will take place May 6, with all proceeds from the event going to support the 2013 LGBT Film Series.

“We hope that this will be the first of many years of this film series,” says Shawn Bausher, president of Pride of the Greater Lehigh Valley. “Kudos to ArtsQuest for promoting diversity in the community and bringing a much needed LGBT presence to Bethlehem’s SouthSide.”

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Weekend Roundup

Friday, March 30

Trevesura Presents Chequeate Mi Gente, a Latino LGBT party from GALAEI with free HIV testing (6 p.m.) at Three Elements.

The Gayla Dance (8 p.m.) celebrates civil unions at the Sheraton Wilmington in Delaware to support LGBT Youth.

PGMC performs Changes: In Good Time (8 p.m.) at the Prince Music Theatre through the weekend. Click here for an exclusive interview with artistic director Joe Buches.

The Philadelphia Firebirds kick off their season with a party at Tacony Billiards (9 p.m.).

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Watch: First Bully Clips

Kelby is one of the young people featured in the anticipated documentary film Bully. Not only has Kelby faced harassment from students at school – but teachers have also mocked the teen over presumed gender identity and sexual orientation.

But now that Lee Hirch’s movie is “unrated” (MPAA changed its mind about the “R” rating after an avalanche of criticism), more young people under the age of 17 may be able to see the film when it opens on Friday.

In the documentary, victims of bullying and their families discuss the torment – and parents of children lost to suicide also tell their painful stories.

Here are a few new clips:

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