A&M Student Body President Vetoes Bill Allowing Religion-Based Discrimination Against Campus LGBT Center
Texas A&M student body president John Claybrook has vetoed a measure we reported on yesterday that would allow students to opt out of funding the campus GLBT Resource Center if they have religious objections.
The Eagle reports:
News this week that some student senators had targeted the center thrust the traditionally conservative university into the national spotlight, and Claybrook said it was time to "stop the bleeding."
“The damage must stop today,” Claybrook wrote in a letter announcing the veto. “Texas A&M students represent our core value of respect exceptionally and I'm very proud of the family at this university. Now, more than ever, is the time to show great resolve and come together, treating each other like the family that we are.”
Claybrook's veto means that the legislation passed 35-28 on Wednesday will not represent the official opinion of the student body at Texas A&M.
The student senate may attempt to override the veto on April 17 when it meets again, though it's unclear if it plans to do so.
Read Claybrook's full press release here.
Some disturbing attacks on a student at the University of Houston-Downtown where Kris Sharp, a (not yet official) candidate for student government has been targeted by flyers posted around campus printed with Sharp's medical records that accuse him of promoting a "homosexual agenda".
Houston Press's Hair Balls blog reports:
"I was initially really devastated that this could happen," Sharp, who has taken a week to digest the message, told Hair Balls. "What was going through my head was, 'How quickly can I transfer?'"
Sharp, who'd recently spoken openly about both his sexuality and HIV status, had heard that the flyers were floating around. He'd heard mention that someone was handing them out to passersby, but doesn't know whether anyone's yet laid eyes on the individual, or individuals, who spread these papers through campus. He only knows that he wasn't expecting something this despicable, this horrific, when he initially announced an interest in running for student body president next month...
..."I've never seen anything like this -- this is the very first time anything like this has occurred [on campus]," says Sharp. "There's a culture at UHD that is somewhat less accepting of LGBT youth, but something of this magnitude is completely mind-blowing. I knew, going into the election, that I could possibly be targeted because of my sexuality -- but I had no idea that it would go to this level."
The university and its police department has begun an internal investigation, and say they believe it's an anomaly, and not indicative of the attitude on campus or the school's policies. Sharp says he believes he knows who did it and wants an apology, not criminal charges.
The Daily Cougar adds:
The clinic Sharp goes to, Thomas Street Health Center, is a few blocks away from the school, and patients will not be seen without proper documentation — even with an appointment. He doesn’t have a car, so he brought a folder of the required medical information with him. As a student senator, he shares a common office space with the other members of the Student Government Association and believes someone got the information from his briefcase when he was away.
While some students have been giving him a hard time, he has not lost the support of his running mate.
“(Isaac’s) been a trooper,” Sharp said. “If I was him, and I was straight, I’d probably drop me.”
Sharp sent an email to several news outlets and posted a response on Facebook, making it clear they would not respond to the negativity by engaging in illicit behavior.
“We will instead continue to progress in our campaign to enhance the student experience at the University of Houston-Downtown for all students — no matter their race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.”
The OXD Mirror is a weekly music column brought to you by the boys of OCCUPY THE DISCO (OXD), a New York City based collective created by three music lovers, Ru Bhatt, Josh Appelbaum, and Tadeu Magalhães, who want to share their love for disco, house and dance music with the world.
Phoenix - Entertainment (Blood Orange Remix feat. MKS)'
The original version of 'Entertainment,' the lead single from Phoenix's upcoming album, Bankrupt!, uses cheery synth riffs and a children's choir to mask the deep sadness buried in the song's lyrics. With this remix, rising star producer Blood Orange (née Devonté Hynes), strips the original of its chipper elements and lets the song's inherent sadness lay bare. Along with Phoenix's lead singer, Thomas Mars, Hynes has added vocals by MKS (that's Mutya, Keisha, & Siobhan, the original Sugababes), who have been working with Hynes on their upcoming, very highly anticipated album. The soft harmonies of MKS add a vamp element to the song's chorus, and the lazy, downbeat-ridden production--complete with a haunting guitar solo--emphasize Mars' yearning for solitude.
Slow Knights - 'Legendary Children'
Scissor Sisters bandmember Derek "Del Marquis" Gruen posted a mixtape earlier this year, as a teaser for his LP, Cosmos, which released under the Slow Knights moniker earlier this week. The album itself is brilliant. Gruen teams up with several different artists like Xavier and Rod Thomas (of Bright Light, Bright Light) to create an 80's, funk, pop, house and R&B groove that is unlike anything else I've recently heard. It was hard to choose a favorite track to highlight on today's column but 'Legendary Children' does stand out track as it's the only song where Gruen himself provides the vocals. Of course, the title and lyrics appeal to the gay aesthetic (along with the quiet "work" refrains), but it's the song's beautiful production that truly draws one in.
Justin Timberlake - 'Let The Groove Get In (Krystal Klear Remix)'
'Let The Groove Get In' is my favorite track on Justin Timberlake's latest album, the 20/20 experience. The song's rousing brass section and addictive, repetitive chorus make it the album's only true dance moment. UK's Krystal Klear, hot off the heels of his critically acclaimed Sky Ferreria remix, takes a different route with this complementary remix. The producer and DJ strips the song of its aggressive elements creating a smooth, chilled out track that highlights Timberlake's R&B-styled crooning.
Du Tonc - 'Darkness'
Du Tonc is the mastermind of UK's Mighty Mouse and Australia's Matt Van Schie (of Van She). 'Darkness' is their first release. Although the beautiful, tropical influenced modern disco track saw it's official release months ago, it has finally been given a music video treatment that the track so desperately called for. The video tells the story of a young girl struggling to find acceptance from her family due to her sexuality. OXD recently sat down with Mighty Mouse and he lauded us for helping gays discover modern house and disco music. Although he's straight, it's clear from our conversations and the video above that we have yet another ally to add to our ranks.
CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...
Para One - 'Every Little Thing (feat. Irfane & Teki Latex) (Plastic Plates Remix)'
Plastic Plates (Felix Blosom) is another musican that we have heavily featured, both through our Mirror columns and our 'Party' events at OXD. He's clearly a rising star on the disco and house scenes, a fact that is only supported by his most recent remix for Para One's 'Every Little Thing.' While the original song's quirky vocals and chopped up production made it quite the sleeper hit, (and one of Felix's favorites of 2012) I have to admit I prefer this new update. The vocals are left untouched but the entire production is overhauled in true Plastic Plates fashion creating a work of art that Para One should seriously consider releasing on an official basis.
Bicep & Ejeca - 'You (Piano Version)'
Two separate Irish artists, Bicep & Ejeca, are no strangers to our column. Their hit collaboration, 'You,' a 90's inspired warehouse-driven track, proved to be quite the late night dancefloor filler when it was released last summer. With this update, the team removes the original's more atmospheric elements and replaces them with classic house pianos. The pulsing basslines and warm piano stylings, are complemented with more full bodied vocals making the song a strong contender to become a summer hit two years in a row.
Milk & Sugar - 'Tell Me Why (Ben Delay Remix)'
Spain's Milk & Sugar are celebrating their 15th anniversary of DJing and producing together. You may know them from their 2011 hit "Hey (Nah Neh Nah)". 'Tell Me Why' is the third single off of their anniversary album, 15 Years of Milk & Sugar - One And A Half Decades. Germany's Ben Delay turns the 90's influenced clubanging original song into a much more mellow deep house-oriented affair, perfect for rooptop dancing under a warm starlit sky.
We founded Occupy The Disco because of our dissatisfaction with the music played in the majority of gay venues at the time. Although we are also pop music fans, we were growing increasingly tired of listening to the same Top 40 songs by female artists at every bar and club. We were frustrated that gay venues didn't embrace house and disco music, two genres that have constantly pushed the envelope of music for the past four decades and played a strong role in the gay scenes in NY and Chicago as a symbol of diversity and acceptance. Fortunately, for house and disco music fans, it seems as though times are changing. We are proud to announce that we are hosting our one year anniversary party tonight at one of the largest gay venues in New York: XL Nightclub. The legendary DJ Derrick Carter is headlining, his close friend Honey Dijon is opening, and Midnight Magic will be performing live. It may seem odd to ask the gays to "occupy" a gay venue, but we are thrilled to support what we think is a move in the right direction in NYC's gay nightlife. Check out more details on our site, and if you're in NYC, hopefully we'll see you there!
OCCUPY THE DISCO (OXD) curates and recommends music events to the gay community in NYC—in an effort to move the focus of the nightlife scene beyond the promoter and venue and to the music itself. OXD's goal is to educate, entertain, engage and empower the gay audience to reclaim their ability to question and experience the unknown. The OXD Mirror will serve to showcase tunes that are definitely off-the-beaten-path but rightfully deserve the attention of the gay ear.
Be sure to check out these tracks and more on our Spotify Playlist. For more information on OXD, check out our website and accompanying blog at www.occupythedisco.com, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter: @OccupyTheDisco.
On Wednesday, Jeremy Irons pondered what giving gays marriage might bring:
"Could a father not marry his son?" Irons asked HuffPost Live host Josh Zepps. Irons argued that "it's not incest between men" because "incest is there to protect us from inbreeding, but men don't breed," and wondered whether same-sex marriage might allow fathers to pass on their estates to their sons without being taxed.
Said Colbert: "So, if gay marraige is legalized in England - Jeremy Irons' son Max? Get ready to make your father the happiest man alive. After all, you've been together for 27 years. It's time to put a ring on it."
Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...
Adam Lambert has split with his boyfriend Sauli Koskinen, South Florida Gay News reports:
“It’s been kind of on its way out in the last couple of months,” Lambert told SFGN.
Koskinen is a Finnish entertainment reporter, television host and radio personality. He rose to fame after winning his country’s version of Big Brother in 2007.
Lambert emphasized though the two are close and will continue to remain friends.
“Sauli and I remain really good friends, and I know it’s a cliché thing to say. But it’s totally true,” he said. “I just gave him a coffee and bagel earlier today. He’s a great person and we’ve had an amazing couple of years together. Things have just run their course.”
BY NAVEEN KUMAR
Michael Urie is playing Barbra Streisand Off Broadway, and every other character in Buyer & Cellar, playwright Jonathan Tolins new one-man play which opened on Wednesday at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. An exceptionally gifted comedian and stage performer, Urie does the diva justice—and she’s just one piece of the story.
You may or may not be surprised to know that Barbra has her many earthly possessions organized into something that resembles a posh strip-mall in her basement. That is the factual part of the story. Buyer & Cellar imagines if she hired some poor (lucky?) soul to work down there, manning the shops for just one special customer.
Urie plays just the man for the job—an out of work L.A. actor named Alex, who’s just been fired from playing the Mayor of Toon Town at Disneyland. Alex is the play’s narrator and protagonist, and while he tells us about his experience with one of the world’s most bizarre retail jobs, he also plays himself and every other character involved.
Tolins’ play is well crafted, hilarious, and completely accessible to folks who know nothing about Barbra Streisand. Of course, the show’s success is thanks in no small part to Urie’s charming, whirlwind performance. I spoke to Michael about his work on the play, his choice of gay roles, and his personal feelings on the lady of the house.
Naveen Kumar: How did you approach playing different characters with only yourself to play off of? You recently directed a film about high school forensics (Thank You For Judging), and I know from my own experience, that forensics (or speech and debate) requires some similar skills, like using yourself as a scene partner.
Michael Urie: I’m so glad you mentioned forensics, because it was so helpful to have that vocabulary of popping from character to character. I had experience with forensics in high school, and [have been] reliving it all these years with Thank You For Judging. So, when I read the script I was like, ‘I get it! I get how I could do this.’
I didn’t know how hard it was going to be to actually figure out. Because comedy is all about timing, and usually you time yourself off of others. Whether it’s an audience if you’re doing stand up or if you’re doing a scene, it’s about how you play off of [that other person]. So, I was like, how am I going to play off of myself? Not only that, but continue narrating the story. That was the greatest challenge.
I’ve learned more [performing in front of an audience] than I did through all of rehearsal, because audiences tell you what’s funny.
There was no one way to create the characters, I had to attack them all in very different ways. There’s a lot of trust, obviously, in the playwright. What’s great about [John’s writing] is you could figure out how to play the character of Barbra even if you didn’t know who she was. He’s written that character so beautifully and so three-dimensionally, that I think you could probably interpret that character without any knowledge of Barbra Streisand and get really close.
NK: That was actually my next question. As the story’s narrator, Alex tells the audience from the beginning that he’s not going to “do” Barbra. Was it challenging to steer away from impersonation? How much did you know about her going in?
MU: That [line about not ‘doing’ Barbra] is such a brilliant precursor, and it takes so much of the onus off of me. Because everybody has an idea of what Barbra sounds like, she’s iconic. Even if it’s just 'Like buttah.' People have done impersonations, real impersonations, brilliantly. We didn’t want to try to do that, because it’s also not about her it’s about Alex, she’s just a character in [the play].
I think that’s part of John’s genius, that he has created something that’s meant to be an emulation—accurate storytelling rather than a series of impressions. Thank God! I don’t think I could do a real impression, certainly not without his words, I wouldn’t know what to say.
Read more, AFTER THE JUMP...
But to answer your question about what I knew of her, I would say I was a fan but not a fanatic. I had seen her in concert once and loved it, and I knew her 1990-something comeback concert because my mom and I used to listen to it. It’s so funny, I listened to that concert album again [recently] and I remembered very vividly asking my mom, ‘What does it mean when she says ‘I kept my nose to spite my face?’’
So, my memories of Barbra go way back, but they certainly aren’t that extensive. There was that concert, I loved Hello, Dolly! and I’d seen other movies. Also I remember very, very clearly when I saw Meet The Fockers—not Little Fockers, but Meet The Fockers—thinking that she’s absolutely brilliant in that movie. Those were my Barbra benchmarks, I would say.
Of course now, like Alex in the play, I have become a fanatic.
NK: How would you feel if Barbra came to see the show?
MU: (Woof) I don’t know. I don’t know! I don’t know, that would be crazy. It would be really crazy. I think on the one hand, they would have to not tell me. But on the other hand, I think maybe I’d want to do it a little differently if she were out there? But I do feel really good about what we’re putting out there. It’s a really loving portrayal, in that it’s a love story in a lot of ways, about her. If anything you come away liking her more than you did when you walked in. At least that’s the hope, and I feel like we’re doing it. Nobody’s been like, ‘You really let her have it!’ [Laughs]
NK: I know you trained at Julliard and you’re a theatre guy, what are the different challenges and rewards you find in performing for theatre versus television and film?
MU: Performing in front of an audience is the greatest thing in the world. It’s like a drug. I love the theatre, and when I was doing TV, I would do a play every time I wasn’t doing TV.
Obviously the scope and exposure of television is so great, and the family you make working on a long running show like Ugly Betty is such a close group of people. That’s the thing I’ve missed a lot about this show, is working with other actors.
I always come back [to theatre] and I always want to be on stage, and doing great works. It really feeds your soul.
NK: You’ve said before that you find being open about your sexuality has helped your career, though not every actor feels the same way about their own private life. Can you speak a bit more about this?
MU: We all have an idea of what kind of an actor we think we’re going to be, or what kind of actor we want to be, and there’s no way I could have ever predicted that my career would end up the way it is. If I was not open about who I am and if I was not open to playing gay parts, then I would not have the scope of work that I have. I think more than being open about my sexuality, being open about the sexuality of the characters I play is what keeps me busy.
Also, just because the sexuality is the same from character to character, doesn’t mean I’m doing the same thing over and over again. I would get bored that way, that wouldn’t be interesting to me. If someone said, ‘Hey, we want you to play the part of a fashionable, snarky gay guy who works for a domineering, hilarious, evil boss.’ I would probably say that’s exactly what I did on Ugly Betty, and I probably wouldn’t want to do that.
I’ve been lucky enough to be offered gay parts that are so fascinating, like the part I’m playing in Buyer & Cellar. If I had a no gay part policy, I never would’ve been able to do it. You can’t possibly compare [some of the parts I’ve played] they’re totally different—except for that one box you check.
Recent theatre features...
Nora Ephron’s 'Lucky Guy' Starring Tom Hanks Opens on Broadway: REVIEW
'Breakfast At Tiffany's' Opens On Broadway: REVIEW
Annie Baker’s ‘The Flick’ Opens Off Broadway: REVIEW
‘Hit The Wall’ a New Play About the Stonewall Riots, Opens Off-Broadway: REVIEW
Amy Herzog’s ‘Belleville’ Opens Off Broadway: REVIEW
Follow Naveen Kumar on Twitter: @Mr_NaveenKumar (photos:sandra coudert, jeff ellingson)