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04/19/2007


The AP On Bullying And Blame

LarryKing-BrandonMcInernyA fascinating AP survey of the last year's anti-bullying sentiment appears in today's Washington Post. It's a well written, balanced, succinct piece of work, and it's probably doomed to aggravate a lot of people. 

Writes the AP:

Federal laws clearly uphold students’ rights to express sexual orientation -- boys, for example, are legally allowed to wear skirts just as girls can wear pants -- and obligate schools to provide all students with a safe environment, but problems tend to arise on a social level, often outside the classroom.

The California trial of 17-year-old Brandon McInerney, charged in the 2008 classroom killing of 15-year-old Larry King, showed how a school fulfilled the law by upholding a boy’s right to wear makeup and high heels, but grappled with the social fallout -- bullying of King and King’s response, which was to aggressively flaunt his sexual orientation, including flirtatious and harassing comments to boys.

One of them, McInerney, then 14, is accused of shooting King to death in a classroom. After an August trial ended in a hung jury, prosecutors now plan a second trial.

Testimony from several teachers showed they struggled to cope with escalating tension between King and his bullies, while also respecting his civil rights.

Read from one POV, this reportage is just good common sense. Out gay kids are more likely to get teased than closeted ones. Teased kids, possessing egos like the rest of us, may well respond to teasing with aggression. Tensions may escalate, violence may be done, and some sensitive soul will inevitably wonder if the coming out was worth the trouble.

Read from another POV, the AP story comes perilously close to victim-blaming.

This line has been straddled before, and much less sensitively -- notably in a famous Newsweek story from 2008. In that story, full-time Newsweek writer and freelance gay-baiter Ramin Settodeh described Larry King's relationship with Joy Epstein, an assistant principal at his school:

... as Larry became less inhibited, Epstein became more a source of some teachers' confusion and anger. Epstein, a calm, brown-haired woman with bifocals, was openly gay to her colleagues, and although she was generally not out to her students, she kept a picture of her partner on her desk that some students saw ...

... she formed a special bond with Larry, who was in the eighth grade. He dropped by her office regularly, either for counseling or just to talk -- she won't say exactly. "There was no reason why I specifically started working with Larry," Epstein says. "He came to me." Some teachers believe that she was encouraging Larry's flamboyance, to help further an "agenda," as some put it. One teacher complains that by being openly gay and discussing her girlfriend (presumably, no one would have complained if she had talked about a husband), Epstein brought the subject of sex into school ...

... William Quest, Brandon's public defender, hasn't disclosed his defense strategy, but he has accused the school of failing to intercede as the tension rose between Larry and Brandon. Quest calls Epstein "a lesbian vice principal with a political agenda." Larry's father also blames Epstein. He's hired an attorney and says he is seriously contemplating a wrongful-death lawsuit. "She started to confuse her role as a junior-high principal," Greg King says. "I think that she was asserting her beliefs for gay rights."

Stomach-churning though it may be, that's all straight reporting. The AP story is more free-form, and the writer was at far greater liberty than Settodeh to curate ideas and quotes at will. As a result, it reads more like an attempt by a rational person to participate in a conversation that, so far, has been largely ceded to certain sects of literate homophobes. How misguided, the writer seems to wonder, is the perceived dogma that it's a good idea for all 14-year-olds to come out, at all times and in all plces? And if that dogma exists, how much havoc has it wrought? Towards the top of the AP story, the writer includes this graf:

"A lot of people have the idea that coming out as soon as possible will make themselves feel more comfortable," said Raymond Ferronato, a 16-year-old gay junior in Antioch, Calif. "I tell them come out when you’re ready to come out, and only do it when you’re safe."


Lance Bass Ditches His Spiked Hair for Radio: VIDEO

Bass

Lance Bass and his new Sirius XM radio show The Pop Ten are featuring in a profile at The Daily Beast by Ramin ('gay actors can't play straight') Setoodeh, though there is none of that controversy here — just a reintroduction to Bass in his new role as music countdown host and a revisit of his romantic life:

“I’m a serial dater,” he says. “When I see someone I like, we go on multiple dates. In my older age, I’ve learned to take things slower, because I used to be that total-fall-in-love-after-a-day guy. I’ve learned, you can have those feelings, but you don’t have to show that. Then you don’t have to worry about them saying, ‘He was my boyfriend.’”

Still, he’s on the verge of his first serious relationship in a while. “I don’t want to have so many exes. I haven’t had a boyfriend in four years. But now it’s getting there,” he says of a guy he’s been seeing for a few months in Los Angeles. “I’m such a relationship guy. I really am.”

He has also ditched his trademark 'do:

“For the first year of ‘N Sync, my hair was just a bad comb-over and really greasy,” he remembers. A stylist in Germany suggested spiked hair, which became his calling-card look for the last 10 years. But now, in an effort to look more mature—and because his hairdresser recommended a “summer cut”—he announces, almost wistfully, “The spikes are done.” Another chapter ends for Lance Bass, but he’s not ready to sing “Bye Bye Bye.”

Watch a bit of behind-the-scenes drinking on his radio show, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Lance Bass Ditches His Spiked Hair for Radio: VIDEO" »


Kristin Chenoweth, Glee And Modern Family Among Those Honored At GLAAD Media Awards In Los Angeles

GLAAD began handing out trophies for its 22nd annual Media Awards in New York City last month. Tonight the awards show continued with part 2 in Los Angeles.

Kc Sean Hayes presented Kristin Chenoweth with the Vanguard Award which she was awarded for her promotion of equal rights for the LGBT community and speaking out in support of Hayes after last year's controversial Newsweek article written by Ramin Setoodeh.

Glee and Modern Family tied for Outstanding Comedy Series.

Outstanding TV Journalism Segment - MSNBC's The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell won for his segment "Fort Worth Speech" about City Council member Joel Burns and his incredibly moving speech. Burns and O'Donnell met in person for the first time on stage tonight.

The Stephen F. Kolzak Award - Openly gay NBC Entertainment president Robert Greenblatt (presented by surprise guest Dolly Parton)

Outstanding Reality Program - Project Runway

Outstanding Film in Limited Release - I Love You Phillip Morris

The GLAAD Media Awards will hand out the final awards of the year on May 14 in San Francisco.

Watch Chenoweth's terrific speech (funny, endearing and touching - the perfect acceptance speech) and the acceptance speeches for the Modern Family/Glee tie, AFTER THE JUMP.

Continue reading "Kristin Chenoweth, Glee And Modern Family Among Those Honored At GLAAD Media Awards In Los Angeles" »


Watch: Newsweek's Ramin Setoodeh Tries to Make His Case About the Gay Actor Shut-Out to Joy Behar

 

Setoodeh

Joy Behar spoke to Newsweek writer Ramin Setoodeh about the premise in his ongoing string of questionable articles about gays in Hollywood. PR man Howard Bragman joined him.

I'm not quite sure what, if anything, got accomplished here except praise for some stars and potshots at others.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Watch: Newsweek's Ramin Setoodeh Tries to Make His Case About the Gay Actor Shut-Out to Joy Behar" »


Watch: Sean Hayes Responds to Newsweek Article That Said He's Too Gay to Convincingly Play Straight

Hayes

The ladies of The View ask Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth about Ramin Setoodeh's homophobic Newsweek article asserting that gay actors can't convincingly play heterosexuals, which used Hayes' performance in Promises, Promises as its centerpiece. 

Says Hayes: "It's a five hour conversation of how asinine that statement is. It's the same kind of argument when people said Oprah was too white."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Watch: Sean Hayes Responds to Newsweek Article That Said He's Too Gay to Convincingly Play Straight" »


Update On Ramin Setoodeh's Controversial Article In Newsweek

Glee's Jane Lynch has weighed in today on Ramin Setoodeh's contentious Newsweek article.

Jane

She tells Entertainment Weekly: “The thing is, actors are actors: You can’t play gay anymore than you can play somebody who’s Catholic,” says Lynch. “Aaron Sorkin wrote a wonderful thing in the Huffington Post. I don’t think you have to slap somebody down for making an opinion that you don’t agree with. But I do think what Kristin and Ryan did was so important, and I’m glad that they said it. It doesn’t mean, ‘Off with [Setoodeh's] head.’ But I’m very glad, and I thought it was very heroic what the two of them did.”

As Andy wrote last week, Setoodeh has accepted an offer from Glee creator Ryan Murphy to discuss the article in person.

Sorkin's piece, where he writes that he doesn't think Setoodeh was being homophobic, "Just wrong," is here.

Also, the Screen Actors Guild also issued a statement written by Jason Stuart, it's LGBT Actors Committee chair. It reads in part:  "Unfortunately, harmful attitudes like those of Setoodeh are used to pressure actors to stay in the closet. Our work is clearly not done and we will continue to fight to end fear within the acting community that being open about who you are means the end of your career. I'm an actor; it's not who I am but what I can play that counts."


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