By Alberto Davalos
You never forget the first time a drag queen made you cry.
I was at work when the cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9 was announced. Scanning the names, one jumped out at me: “Valentina? That sounds Mexican. Does Drag Race finally have a Mexican queen?!?” I shouted to no one in particular.
Looking around the quiet room, I discreetly pulled out my headphones and went to YouTube to watch any performances of her I could find. One of the first was a lip sync Valentina did at Mickey’s in West Hollywood to the song “Asi Fue” by Isabel Pantoja.
After about 10 seconds, tears were streaming down my face.
Here was a drag queen performing the music of my childhood: Romantic ballads my mother would blast Saturday mornings to wake me up. Torch songs she would cry to when she missed her family in Mexico. Seeing that song performed in a queer space struck a nerve I didn’t know I had.
A coworker peeked over the cubicle wall and asked if I was okay. “I’m just… I’m just so happy,” I reassured her. This wasn’t just another lip sync to a Selena song, after all. This was old school. This was for all the little Mexican boys who grew up listening to Isabel Pantoja with their mothers. This was a drag queen embracing a culture that often teaches men to be ashamed of their femininity.
Yet there she was, celebrating hers in the most flamboyant way possible.
As the only boy in a traditional family, I was burdened with high expectations to be my mother’s perfect Mexican son. To act right, to be responsible, and to study hard so I could support my future wife and kids.
Once in fourth grade, I asked my mom what she would think if I didn’t end up with a wife and children.
“Why wouldn’t you have kids?” she asked me suspiciously.
“I don’t know. What if I turned out to be gay?”
“Te capo.” I’d castrate you.
My mother has a strong personality, but I don’t blame her. She’s the product of 1960s rural Mexico, and a certain mentality was instilled in her from birth: Men must be masculine, strong providers.
If a man doesn’t have a family to support, then he’s not a man.
When I came out at 23, then, it wasn’t a surprise that she took the news badly. I was completing an out-of-state internship when I came out to my father, who had been raised in the States, over the phone. “Don’t worry,” he said. “I’ll tell your mom for you.”
My mother and I didn’t speak for weeks. But when I eventually saw her in person she just cried. “How could you do this to me?” she howled. “Life is already so hard, why make it harder? Is it because you’re too lazy to support a family?”
The last one hurt, but I knew it was her way of processing the immense shock.
She was in mourning. Mourning the daughter-in-law she would never have, the grandchildren that would never carry on the family name. She was grieving every expectation and dream she had for me ever since she heard the words “Es un niño.”
“It’s a boy.”
Over the next three years, she moved on from shock and anger to quiet tolerance. Except for an occasional “Are you sure?” we never talked about my sexuality.
Until Valentina. My mother knew I loved Drag Race but never understood the appeal. She was worried I was studying to become a drag queen myself but I assured her that I didn’t have the patience to wear a corset.
“¡Mira! This drag queen lip syncs to all of your favorite music!” I told her after discovering that first Valentina video.
“That’s a drag queen? I don’t believe it,” she gasped. “She’s stunning. Look how much money they’re giving her!”
For the next hour, my mother and I sat on the couch and went down a Valentina YouTube rabbit hole together. Valentina immediately became a shared interest.
Her understanding of Mexican culture transcended drag. It transcended entertainment. Between clips, my mother and I would talk about things we had never discussed before: “Are you happy you came out?” she asked me. “Isn’t it lonely?”
I explained how being proud of my heritage and my sexuality weren’t mutually exclusive—and how Valentina was proof of that. When things would get too heated, I would put on another video for us to watch while we calmed down.
Last week she called me over FaceTime.
“What are you wearing?”
“Oh, it’s a Valentina shirt!”
“It doesn’t look good on you. It’d look better on me.”
“I’ll buy you one and we can match.”
Neither my mother nor I is perfect. We’re both still growing and trying to understand each other. It’s a slow process, but I’m confident we can get through it—as long as there are Valentina performances for us to watch together.
Staff Writer Jax Gay
Last weekend West Point played host to the military academy’s first same-sex wedding featuring two active-duty officers. Captain Daniel Hall and Captain Vincent Franchino were wed in Cadet Chapel in a ceremony officiated by a Unitarian Universalist minister.
The two met at the academy in 2009, when Hall was a senior and Franchino was a freshman, and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was still a year away from being repealed.
“We’ve experienced everything from people feeling awkward around us to being called faggots while holding hands and walking down the street, stuff like that,” Franchino told The New York Times. “But despite what we’ve been through, nothing was worse than having served during the ‘ Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ years.”
Through those years he and Hall had to keep their sexuality—and their relationship—secret.
“We couldn’t tell the truth for fear of what would happen to us,” Franchino says. “So we put it in our minds that we were never going to say we were gay. We were never going to get made fun of, and we were certainly never going to get kicked out of the Army.”
The two, who are now both Apache helicopter pilots, learned about each other through mutual friends, Hall recalls, but even thought their was a mutual attraction “we couldn’t say or do anything about it.”
“It’s really frustrating when two people have feelings for each other but are not allowed to act on them,” he tells the Times. “We were serving under a policy that was telling all of us—perfectly capable soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines—to lie about ourselves.”
Sue Fulton and Penny Gnesin became the first same-sex couple married in Cadet Chapel (above) in 2012. A year later, Larry and Daniel Lennox-Choate became the first gay-male couple—and the first where both were former cadets.
“Breaking the glass ceiling doesn’t matter unless others follow behind—that is true progress,” wrote Larry Lennox-Choate on Facebook. “We’re running out of firsts and that’s a beautiful thing.”
Staff Writer Jax Gay
Where else could LGBTI people be turned away from?
Movement Advancement Project (MAP), a think tank in the US dedicated to speeding up equality for LGBT people, released a video and report showing the possible effects of the Supreme Court case Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
Justices first heard oral arguments for the case in December.
The majority opinion could have a major ripple effect on LGBT discrimination, depending on which way it goes.
MAP’s video shows a transgender man being kicked out of a movie theater for using the men’s restroom.
This harkens back to many of the bathroom bill battles in states like North Carolina and Texas.
What effects does public discrimination have?
They also released a report titled LGBT Policy Spotlight: Public Accommodations Nondiscrimination Laws.
As the organization explains, LGBT people having the ability ‘to be in public and participate fully in daily American life is a top priority for advancing LGBT equality in 2018’.
The report contains many revealing statistics, such as only 19 states and D.C. having nondiscrimination laws for LGBT people. ‘As a result,’ the report reads. ‘Just over half of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the United States live in a state where businesses could refuse to serve them because of who they are.’
Many within the community actively avoid certain public places because of the discrimination they may face.
26% of transgender people have avoid stores and restaurants, as well as 10% of LGB people and 20% of LGBT people with disabilities. This extends as well to public transportation and getting services, they need (like doctors).
Certainly, society has come a long way as it stands.
In 1975, only one city or county had protections for gender identity and two had protections for sexual identity. Now, the number for sexual identity has reached 313 and gender identity has reached 280.
Still, there is further to go.
‘Action is needed on a number of levels,’ reads the report in its conclusion. ‘Federal, state, and local lawmakers must update the law to prohibit discrimination in public accommodations based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity and business owners should stand up for fairness and equality both in the workplace and for their customers, as it is good for their communities and their bottom lines.’
Staff Writer Jax Gay
GLAAD announced the nominees for the 29th annual GLAAD Media Awards this morning, honoring fair, accurate, and inclusive representations of LGBT people and issues.
Actors Trace Lysette (Transparent) and Wilson Cruz (Star Trek: Discovery) announced the nominees from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
The film categories were packed with acclaimed features: Oscar contenders Lady Bird, The Shape of Water and Call Me by Your Name were all nominated for Outstanding Film: Wide Release, while France’s BPM, Chile’s A Fantastic Woman and South Africa’s The Wound received nods in the Limited Release category.
On the small screen, fan faves like The Handmaid’s Tale, Will & Grace, Sense8,, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and This Is Us were all nominees, as was ABC’s gay rights miniseries When We Rise and VH1’s RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Sam Smith, Kesha, Miley Cyrus and trans singer Honey Dijon are all up for the Outstanding Music Artist category, and GLAAD also announced a Special Recognition Award for Jay-Z’s “Smile.”
The track features the rapper’s mother, Gloria Carter, who used the song to come out as a lesbian.
And in a sign of increased inclusivity on television, a new Outstanding Family Programming category was introduced this year: Nominees included Disney Channel shows Andi Mack and Doc McStuffins, Nickelodeon’s The Loud House, Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe and Amazon’s Danger and Eggs.
“This year’s nominees showcase stories that span races, genres, ages, and geographies, challenge misconceptions, and broaden understanding and acceptance of LGBTQ people across the globe,” said GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis.
The 29th annual GLAAD Media Awards will be held in Los Angeles on April 12 and in New York on May 5. Below, view the full list of nominees.
OUTSTANDING FILM – WIDE RELEASE
Battle of the Sexes (Fox Searchlight)
Call Me by Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics)
Lady Bird (A24)
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (Annapurna Pictures)
The Shape of Water (Fox Searchlight)
OUTSTANDING FILM – LIMITED RELEASE
BPM (The Orchard)
A Fantastic Woman (Sony Pictures Classics)
God’s Own Country (Samuel Goldwyn Films/Orion Pictures)
Thelma (The Orchard)
The Wound (Kino Lorber)
OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES
The Bold Type (Freeform)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX)
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (The CW)
Modern Family (ABC)
One Day at a Time (Netflix)
One Mississippi (Amazon)
Survivor’s Remorse (Starz)
Will & Grace (NBC)
OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access)
This Is Us (NBC)
Wynonna Earp (Syfy)
OUTSTANDING INDIVIDUAL EPISODE (in a series without a regular LGBTQ character)
“Chapter 8” Legion (FX)
“Grace” Pure Genius (CBS)
“Lady Cha Cha” Easy (Netflix)
“The Missionaries” Room 104 (HBO)
“Thanksgiving” Master of None (Netflix)
OUTSTANDING TV MOVIE OR LIMITED SERIES
American Horror Story: Cult (FX)
Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)
Queers (BBC America)
When We Rise (ABC)
OUTSTANDING KIDS & FAMILY PROGRAMMING
Andi Mack (Disney Channel)
“Chosen Family” Danger & Eggs (Amazon)
“The Emergency Plan” Doc McStuffins (Disney Channel)
The Loud House (Nickelodeon)
Steven Universe (Cartoon Network)
Chavela (Music Box Films)
Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric (National Geographic)
Kiki (Sundance Selects)
“Real Boy” Independent Lens (PBS)
This is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous (YouTube Red)
OUTSTANDING REALITY PROGRAM
Gaycation with Ellen Page (Viceland)
I Am Jazz (TLC)
RuPaul’s Drag Race (VH1)
Survivor: Game Changers (CBS)
The Voice (NBC)
OUTSTANDING MUSIC ARTIST
Miley Cyrus, Younger Now (RCA Records)
Halsey, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom (Astralwerks Records)
Honey Dijon, The Best of Both Worlds (Classic Music Company)
Kehlani, SweetSexySavage (TSNMI/Atlantic Records)
Kelela, Take Me Apart (Warp Records)
Kesha, Rainbow (Kemosabe/RCA Records)
Perfume Genius, No Shape (Matador Records)
Sam Smith, The Thrill of It All (Capitol Records)
St. Vincent, MASSEDUCTION (Loma Vista Recordings)
Wrabel, We Could Be Beautiful (Epic/Sony Records)
OUTSTANDING COMIC BOOK
America, written by Gabby Rivera (Marvel Comics)
The Backstagers, written by James Tynion IV (BOOM! Studios)
Batwoman, written by Marguerite Bennett, James Tynion IV (DC Comics)
Black Panther: World of Wakanda, written by Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Yona Harvey, Rembert Browne (Marvel Comics)
Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love, written by Sarah Vaughn (DC Comics)
Goldie Vance, written by Hope Larson, Jackie Ball (BOOM! Studios)
Iceman, written by Sina Grace (Marvel Comics)
Lumberjanes, written by Kat Leyh, Shannon Watters (BOOM! Studios)
Quantum Teens are Go, written by Magdalene Visaggio (Black Mask Comics)
The Woods, written by James Tynion IV (BOOM! Studios)
OUTSTANDING DAILY DRAMA
The Bold and The Beautiful (CBS)
Days of Our Lives (NBC)
The Young & the Restless (CBS)
OUTSTANDING TALK SHOW EPISODE
“Australia Marriage Equality” Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
“Danica Roem” The Opposition with Jordan Klepper (Comedy Central)
“Laila and Logan Ireland, Transgender Military Couple” The Ellen DeGeneres Show (syndicated)
“Laverne Cox and Gavin Grimm” The View (ABC)
“Trans Veterans React to Ban” The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)
OUTSTANDING TV JOURNALISM – NEWSMAGAZINE
“A Boy Named Lucas” 20/20 (ABC)
“China Queer” The Naked Truth (Fusion)
“Gay Purge?” Nightline (ABC)
“The Pulse of Orlando: Terror at the Nightclub” Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN)
“Trans Youth” VICE on HBO (HBO)
OUTSTANDING TV JOURNALISM SEGMENT
“The Abolitionists Face the Love Army” KAPP-KVEW Local News (KAPP-35/KVEW-42 [Tri Cities/Yakima, Wash.])
“DJ Zeke Thomas Goes Public” Good Morning America (ABC)
“Murders Raise Alarm for Transgender Community” NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (NBC)
“Transgender Murders in Louisiana Part of Disturbing Trend” CBS Evening News (CBS)
“Transgender Rights under Fire in Trump Era” AM Joy (MSNBC)
OUTSTANDING NEWSPAPER ARTICLE
“Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: The Journey of a Transgender Man” by Lauren McGaughy (The Dallas Morning News)
“Lesbian College Coaches Still Face Difficult Atmosphere to Come Out” by Shannon Ryan (Chicago Tribune)
“Pulse Victims’ Families in Puerto Rico: ’We Have to Cry Alone'” by Jennifer A. Marcial Ocasio (Orlando Sentinel)
“Revised Guidance on HIV Proves Life-Transforming” by Lenny Bernstein (The Washington Post)
“The Silent Epidemic: Black Gay Men and HIV” [series] (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
OUTSTANDING MAGAZINE ARTICLE
“America’s Hidden HIV. Epidemic” by Linda Villarosa (The New York Times Magazine)
“Beyond ’He’ or ’She’: The Changing Meaning of Gender and Sexuality” by Katy Steinmetz (Time)
“Forbidden Lives: The Gay Men Who Fled Chechnya’s Purge” by Masha Gessen (The New Yorker)
“Free Radical” by Nathan Heller (Vogue)
“Trans, Teen, and Homeless” by Laura Rena Murray (Rolling Stone)
OUTSTANDING MAGAZINE OVERALL COVERAGE
OUTSTANDING DIGITAL JOURNALISM ARTICLE
“The Ballad of Bobby Brooks, the First Gay Student-Body President of Texas A&M” by Lauren Larson (GQ.com)
“For Those We Lost and Those Who Survived: The Pulse Massacre One Year Later” by James Michael Nichols (HuffPost Queer Voices)
“’I Am a Girl Now,’ Sage Smith Wrote. Then She Went Missing.” by Emma Eisenberg (Splinter)
“Meet the Transgender Student Who Fought Discrimination at His Maryland High School (and Won)” by Nico Lang (INTO)
“Why Bisexual Men Are Still Fighting to Convince Us They Exist” by Samantha Allen (Splinter)
OUTSTANDING DIGITAL JOURNALISM – MULTIMEDIA
“Former Patriots and Chiefs Tackle Ryan O’Callaghan Comes Out as Gay” by Cyd Zeigler (Outsports/SB Nation)
“Made to Model: Trans Beauty in Fashion” (LogoTV.com)
“’This Is How We Win’: Inside Danica Roem’s Historic Victory” by Diana Tourjée (Broadly.Vice.com)
“Transgender Day of Remembrance” by Saeed Jones (AM to DM, BuzzFeed News)
“US Travel Ban Leaves LGBT Refugees in Limbo” by Nina dos Santos (CNN.com)
Gays With Kids
My Fabulous Disease
Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents
In a Heartbeat (written & directed by Esteban Bravo and Beth David)
“Smile” by Jay-Z featuring Gloria Carter, 4:44 (Roc Nation/Universal Music Group)
29TH ANNUAL GLAAD MEDIA AWARDS
OUTSTANDING SCRIPTED TELEVISION SERIES
Las chicas del cable (Netflix)
La doble vida de Estela Carrillo (Univision)
OUTSTANDING TV JOURNALISM – NEWSMAGAZINE
“Así viven los estudiantes transgénero después de que Trump anulara la ley de baños de Obama para escuela públicas” Primer Impacto (Univision)
“Pulse, huellas de la masacre” Docufilms (CNN en Español)
“Ser transgénero en Latinoamérica: sus experiencias y crecimiento” Vive la Salud (CNN en Español)
OUTSTANDING TV JOURNALISM SEGMENT
“Comunidad LGBTQ vulnerable bajo nuevo gobierno” Perspectiva Nacional (Entravision)
“Entrevista con Daniela Vega” Showbiz (CNN en Español)
“Joven transgénero tiene un mensaje para las familias: ’Acepten a sus hijos'” Al Punto (Univision)
“El triunfo de una diseñadora mexicana transgénero en Nueva York” Noticias Telemundo (Telemundo)
“Unidos contra la discriminación y el acoso contra la comunidad LGBT” Despierta América (Univision)
OUTSTANDING DIGITAL JOURNALISM
“La compleja realidad de ser gay en América Latina” (cnnespanol.cnn.com)
“’No aprobar el Dream Act significaría una sentencia de muerte’, jóvenes LGBT y DACA” (laopinion.com)
“Padres de familia de Dallas luchan por los derechos de su hija transgénero” (aldiadallas.com)
“Primera senadora trans aspira a impulsar medidas para sectores discriminados” (efe.com)
“Tres hermanitos para dos papás” (laopinion.com)
Staff Writer cityXtra Magazine
Ricky Martin shed some light on why he waited so long to publicly come out as gay.
In 2010 and at the age of 39, the She Bangs singer officially came out as gay after years of public speculation.
Talking on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah last night (17 January), he explained why it took so long: ‘My friend, you have no idea.
‘The thing is that I was surrounded by friends that were telling me, “Don’t! Don’t come out that will be the end of your career.”
‘It was people that love me, people that mean well and people that were just victims of homophobia.
‘You know, I grew up in this culture that told me that my feelings were horrible, that my feelings were evil. And if you add to that, you know, that I was like a heartthrob, like a sex symbol,’ he said.
‘I can’t take it anymore’
He continued: ‘But you know, that’s why everyone was telling me that it was going to be the end of my career.
‘It was extremely painful for me.
‘Until I said, “I can’t take it anymore. It’s all about me now. It’s not about what’s happening outside, it’s about what I need in order to be happy”,’ he said.
Ricky Martin recently confirmed he married long term partner Jwan Yosef.
The star told E! News: ‘We exchanged vows… we’ve signed all the papers that we needed to sign, prenups and everything.’
He furthermore added: ‘I’m a husband, but we’re doing a heavy party in a couple of months.’
Martin stars as Gianni Versace’s lover, Antonio D’Amico in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. The show premiered last night (17 January).