LGBT History Month Icons Named

Since 2006, Equality Forum has put the spotlight on 217 LGBT icons who have made important strides in the arts, science, politics and culture. As we get ready for LGBT History Month in October, the Philly-based organization has given us a preview of who’s being honored this year.

“The 217 Icons, including the 31 Icons for 2012, demonstrate the impressive and diverse international impact of the LGBT community,” says Malcolm Lazin, founder of LGBT History Month and executive director of Equality Forum.

Icons are selected for their accomplishments in their field of endeavor, their status as a national hero or their significant contributions to LGBT equality, he says. The icons are chosen based on nominations from organizations and individuals – this year’s co-chairs were Professor George Chauncey, chair of the History & American Studies Department and Yale University, and Sue Rankin, professor of education and LGBT Studies at Penn State University.

And the LGBT History Month 2012 Icons are:

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What We Love: Cher – the Musical

The Cher songbook – with “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves,” “Dark Lady” and “Jesse James” – easily conjure up storied performances. But according to Broadway.com, Cher says she plans to write and star in a Broadway musical about her life. And since the musical diva’s already won an Oscar, Grammy, Emmy and Golden Globe, looks as though a Tony could be added to the list (hello, EGOT!).

Cher took to Twitter to share her thoughts about the project, saying she has something in the works. The show is said to feature two women – young Cher and Cher today. It would follow her life through the Sonny and Cher years, her solo career and Believe tour – and will feature some of her biggest hits.

What songs would you like to hear in the show? And who would play Chaz?

Here’s one of our picks:

National HIV Testing Day

Tomorrow (June 27) is National HIV Testing Day – and a critical part of AIDS Education Month here in Philadelphia. In our city alone, as many as 30,000 people are living with HIV and one in five don’t even know they’re infected.

But thanks to the awareness campaign – first begun by the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) in 1995 – the day will feature free local HIV testing at Philadelphia FIGHT (1233 Locust Street) from 5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., and at various AIDS partner organizations throughout the city.

All those who receive an HIV test at Philadelphia FIGHT or its partner organizations will be entered for a chance to win several prizes, including a flat-screen TV, Apple iPod or digital camera.

For a comprehensive list of testing sites, times and locations available year-round, click here or call 215-985-4448.

New ActionAIDS Storefront

ActionAIDS has unveiled its newly redesigned storefront at 1026 Arch Street this week. The display – “Take Action” – was designed by Art Institute students Nikki Porcher, Charisma Henzie and Nnena Odim. Five groups of Art Institute students from Professor Linda Karp’s class submitted competing proposals for the new storefront design and the proposals were evaluated based on artistic quality, creativity and cost-effectiveness.

Set on a white background among a web of red string, bold red letters float in the window and encourage passers-by to “Take Action, Get Tested.” Additionally, four portraits provide unique testimonials about ActionAIDS and the history of HIV/AIDS in Philadelphia.

Since 1986, ActionAIDS has been providing free HIV testing and support, including confidential rapid (20 minutes) HIV testing with walk-in hours Monday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.), Tuesday (10 a.m. – 12 p.m.), Wednesday (1 p.m. – 4 p.m.) and Thursday (12 p.m. – 2 p.m.). Appointments can be made by calling the office at 267-940-5515.

Summer Reading Roundup

Most Talkative by Andy Cohen

The gay man behind the Real Housewives franchise comes clean about his lifelong love affair with pop culture. The funny memoir traces Andy Cohen’s childhood in St. Louis (and what it’s like meeting the heroes of his youth) to his rule over TV network Bravo and his hit show Watch What Happens: Live. Expect to read all about behind-the-scenes encounters, celebrity run-ins and a frank glimpse into the world of television and celebrity today. Cohen also talks about what it was like to come out in college and his first fateful interview with soap opera queen Susan Lucci.

44 Horrible Dates by Eddie Campbell

He’s worked on television shows like Dawson’s Creek, Parenthood and MADTV, but one thing Eddie Campbell can’t seem to find is the perfect date. The art director delves into his personal mishaps and the most terrible dates of his life. If you think your dating life is in the pits, then you’ll want to read all about the guy with flatulence, the guy with a cocaine problem and the guy with breath that smelled, to quote Campbell, “like he had licked a public toilet from a truck stop.” If Chelsea Handler was a gay man, she would have written this hilariously raunchy book.

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Cheney’s Daughter Gets Gay Married

Photo by Think Stock

Over the weekend, former Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter Mary Cheney wed her longtime girlfriend Heather Poe in a ceremony in Washington D.C. You see, it’s legal in D.C. for same-sex couples to tie the knot. But D.C. joins a mere six states in the country that legally recognize gay marriage overall. If this was a baseball game, a ratio of 7 to 50 wouldn’t exactly win victory.

And while it’s been reported that the Cheney family was delighted that their daughter married and for “the opportunity to have the relationship recognized,” it’s somewhat backwards that the party that Cheney himself belongs to would prefer to outlaw gay marriage than legalize it across all 50 states – including Pennsylvania where the state of LGBT rights is abysmal. In fact, in the 2004 election, George W. Bush’s administration backed more than a few state-by-state initiatives to ban same-sex marriage in America.

We guess in this case, family trumps politics for the Cheneys. But it cannot be ignored that while Dick’s daughter is able to take full advantage of the marriage rights afforded to her in the nation’s capital (despite her own work on Dad’s campaign and with the Republican National Committee throughout both of George W.’s two terms – he was adamantly against LGBT rights) there’s something disconcerting about, well, the hypocrisy.

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Suze Orman Talks Gay Marriage

Financial whiz Suze Orman has openly talked about her own being gay – and what that means when it comes to money, assets and estates with her longtime partner. But in honor of Gay Pride, perhaps, Orman dedicated her entire Saturday episode of The Suze Orman Show to issues related to couples and same-sex marriage.

“Many of you out there have the ability to get married, have the ability to really share in what that feels like, emotionally as well as financially speaking. But here I sit in front of you, a 61-year-old woman, who has been gay my entire life, who has been in a committed relationship for the past 12 years, and I will die in this relationship a woman who pays more taxes than most, that is a contributing member to the economy in more ways than most, yet, I am not treated equally,” she said.

Check it out:

Sneak Peek: QFest 2012

QFest is getting ready to kick off its 18th edition on July 12 (through the 23rd) with 107 films this year, including 13 documentaries, 52 short films, seven world premieres, two U.S. premieres and 26 Philadelphia premieres.

The LGBT film festival opens with Elliot Loves, the story of Dominican-American Elliot Ayende at two stages of his life: as a nine-year-old who is sidekick and confidant to his struggling single mom, and as a 21-year-old looking for love in New York City. The closer is the comedic follow-up to TLA Releasing’s BearCityBearCity2: The Proposal. In it, Kathy Najimy plays den mother to the returning cast of bears, boys and cubs, for a Bear Week bachelor party in Provincetown.

Other notable films include:

Cloudburst, which stars Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker as Stella and Dotty, a lesbian couple from Maine who embark on a Thelma and Louise-style road trip to Nova Scotia to get married after Dotty is moved into a nursing home by her daughter.

Check it out:

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The Reality of LGBT Healthcare

Photo by Think Stock

The number of American hospitals striving to treat LGBT patients equally and respectfully is on the rise, according to a report released this week by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. At a press conference with U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C., the organization admitted that much work remains to be done to end discrimination in America’s healthcare system, but the once invisible issue of LGBT healthcare equity is gaining national prominence, with healthcare facilities committing themselves to offering unbiased care.

“Just a few short years ago the healthcare industry wasn’t having conversations about LGBT healthcare equality,” says HRC President Chad Griffin. “Now, thanks to advocacy by the LGBT community and some standout leaders, growing numbers of healthcare providers are making an explicit commitment to treat all patients with dignity and respect. The healthcare industry is beginning to heed the call for fairness and compassion.”

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Weekend Roundup

Friday, June 22

Courtesy of R. Eric Thomas

It’s the Urban Suburban Film Festival (11 a.m.) at Crowne Plaza Hotel on City Line Avenue.

Saga: The Rock Opera plays at L’Etage (8 p.m.) through the weekend with Brat Productions’ Erik Ransom.

William Way hosts Philly Gay Spirit (8 p.m.), an evening of meditation and guided sharing.

R. Eric Thomas performs in his one-man show Will You Accept My Friend Request? (9 p.m.) at Society Hill Playhouse as part of Quince Productions’ “Full House: A Series of Cabarets.”

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