See ‘God’s Peculiar People,’ a new musical play by Marilynn Loveless of Redlands, May 11, 13 and 14 at La Sierra University

Redlands Daily Facts

La Sierra University Drama will present a new musical play, “God’s Peculiar People,” opening at 7:30 p.m. May 11 in Matheson Hall on the La Sierra University campus, 4500 Riverwalk Parkway, Riverside.

Performances continue at 7:30 p.m. May 13 and 14, also in Matheson Hall.

“God’s Peculiar People,” written by Marilynn Loveless of Redlands with music by Merlin David, is set in 1962 and is about a family dealing with a returning son who has left the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Continue reading

MTV Movie Awards shatters gender barriers one trophy at a time

AP

LOS ANGELES — Film hit “Beauty and the Beast” and Netflix newcomer “Stranger Things” were the night’s big winners with two trophies apiece as MTV partied with its Movie & TV Awards show.

For this, the 26th edition of what was formerly known as the MTV Movie Awards, TV was added to the mix. “Stranger Things” was decreed the Show of the Year, and its cast member, Millie Bobby Brown, was named Best Actor in a Show.

“Beauty and the Beast” was the Movie of the Year, with its star, Emma Watson, the Best Actor in a Movie.

But the awards had another trick up its sleeve, introducing a policy of breaking down gender barriers, as men and women competed jointly in the acting categories. Continue reading

An Atlanta Theater Faces Criticism for Gay Versions of Bible Stories

Sopan Deb
The New York Times

What if it really was Adam and Steve? That’s what the Out Front Theater Company in Atlanta, which stages shows created only by people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning, will set out to answer for audiences during a three-week run of “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told,” starting April 27.

However, its decision to do so has provoked a torrent of criticism over the play, which has been called “blasphemous.”

The work is an alternate version and comedic sendup of stories from the Old Testament, presented through the eyes of a gay couple named Adam and Steve and a lesbian couple named Jane and Mabel. It was written by Paul Rudnick and premiered Off Broadway in 1998. The New York Times called it, a “seriously silly theology treatise of a play.”

The Out Front Theater decided it would do its own rendition of it about a year ago. However, on March 27, emails, phone calls, letters and Facebook messages blasting the decision started pouring in.

“We had already been in rehearsals for several weeks and had auditions before that,” Paul Conroy, the theater’s artistic director, said. “I guess that’s just when someone found us and my best guess was that it was a Monday, which means that people were at church on Sunday the day before, and that’s when it picked up steam.”

The main driver of the protest seems to be a conservative Catholic group called America Needs Fatima, which circulated an online petition that has garnered more than 40,000 signatures. The group has protested earlier productions of “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told,” along with other works it found objectionable, such as 2006’s movie adaptation of “The Da Vinci Code.”

This petition reads: “I vehemently protest your showing the blasphemous play ‘The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told,’ which, among other blasphemies, refers to the Virgin Mary as a lesbian. Please cancel your showing of it.” It also refers to the play as showing a “homosexual version of the Old Testament.”

Mr. Conroy said there were no plans to cancel the show.

“I’m going to let the show speak for itself,” Mr. Conroy said. “I don’t see the benefit in responding because I don’t think they’re going to change their minds no matter what I say or anyone else says. These people have their minds made up even before it starts.”

Transgender candidate: Race for governor not about gender

CTPost

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut’s first transgender candidate for governor says her bid for the office isn’t about her gender.

Democrat Jacey Wyatt, a businesswoman from Branford, says she doesn’t like what she sees happening in the state and believes a political outsider can bring a new perspective and fresh ideas. Wyatt recently filed paperwork to run in the 2018 election. She appeared Sunday on WFSB-TV’s “Face the State” political affairs program.

The 46-year-old says she believes voters will be drawn to her candidacy, saying it “just isn’t about me being a woman.”

Wyatt is the latest Democrat to express interest in the race.

Middletown Mayor Dan Drew announced in January that he’s exploring a possible run.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has not yet said whether he plans to seek a third term.

Why Beauty and the Beast isn’t the first Disney movie for LGBT audiences

Guy Lodge
The Guardian

It’s unprecedented for a major studio blockbuster, much less a family film, to pursue the LGBT audience. Gay viewers seeking mainstream self-identification in the cinema have usually had to settle for winking nuances and allusions, or at worst, the more oblivious homoeroticism of sundry Michael Bay-style brawnfests. No more, apparently: in an age when a film as overtly queer as Moonlight can win the establishment honour of a best picture Oscar, a corporation as large as Disney can also finally acknowledge the love that once dared not speak its name.

Well, sort of. A flurry of headlines – ranging from the overly enthused to the overly outraged – greeted Beauty and the Beast director Bill Condon’s announcement in Attitude magazine that the Mouse House’s live-action remake of their 1991 fairytale smash would boast the company’s first “exclusively gay moment”. The more we heard about this supposedly startling breakthrough, however, the less encouraging it got. History’s first overtly gay Disney character, it turns out, is LeFou, unctuous manservant to preening, hyper-macho villain Gaston – an underling who, in Condon’s words, “on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston”.

An obsequious servant who alternates between worshipping and hopelessly desiring his straight master? With a name that translates as “madman” and has also been used as a gay slur in French? In the reliably aggravating form of Josh Gad? It’s not exactly the recognition that gay viewers have been waiting for, even if the finished film gives LeFou the most fleeting of hints at future romance with a kindred spirit.

Condon, a gay film-maker known for such intelligent queer investigations as Gods and Monsters and Kinsey, must realise that this is no giant leap forward for on-screen representation, though credit him for stoking the off-screen conversation on the subject. This week has also seen him advancing the theory, allegedly founded by the 1991 film’s late lyricist Howard Ashman, that the Beast’s story functions as a metaphor for Aids: “He was cursed and this curse had brought sorrow on all those people who loved him and maybe there was a chance for a miracle and a way for the curse to be lifted,” Condon explains. The phrasing is wince-inducing – it’s fair to say most people with Aids would prefer not to think of themselves as cursed, or indeed as beasts – but it’s a bolder way to queer the material than working a comic-relief subplot around a secondary character’s sexuality.

“Exclusively gay” is a curious turn of phrase, not least when appealing to a community for whom inclusivity has always been a higher priority. One presumes Condon’s implication is that LeFou’s desires are unambiguously homosexual, not that they’re identifiable or relatable exclusively to gay viewers. For Disney animation has a long history of LGBT coding, intended and otherwise, that makes Beauty and the Beast’s more “official” gay gestures look rather colourless.

Disney may not have granted a gay identity to any of its characters prior to LeFou, but audiences have been doing so for decades. A quick graze of the internet will provide fan theories to feed any hunches you’ve long felt about the happy-go-lucky companionship of Timon and Pumbaa, and their effective adoption of baby Simba, in The Lion King – or indeed the foppish villainy of the same film’s Scar, an alpha lion who has never found a mate in the pride. Same goes for Baloo, the nurturing, carefree single bear of The Jungle Book, or the coy, eyelash-batting male skunk who introduces himself to young fawn Bambi with the immortal words, “You can call me Flower if you want to.” A few playful Disney animators have even teased us with queer allusions of their own: the character design of Ursula, the vampy, spectacularly tentacled sea witch of The Little Mermaid, was famously modelled on superstar drag queen Divine.

Speculating in this manner can be superficial, stereotype-dependent fun – but doesn’t really get to the essentially queer heart of so many classic Disney narratives, in which socially isolated outsiders yearn either for acceptance or transcendence. Pinocchio’s dream of being a “real boy” is a journey of self-actualisation that has prompted many a metaphorical comparison to the coming-out process; the same goes for sweet, sensitive Dumbo, whose chief point of difference from the rest – those enormous ears – at first makes him a figure of fun for bullying peers, before it enables him to soar.

Photograph: Allstar/Disney

It’s not just the boys, of course. Pocahontas and Beauty and the Beast’s Belle are marked early on as different from the other girls. Ditto the Little Mermaid’s Ariel, whose desire not just to change her circumstances but change her physical form has made her an unlikely object of identification among some younger members of the transgender community – a girl who believes herself literally born in the wrong body. (Her ballad Part of Your World, meanwhile, is something of an all-purpose anthem for LGBT not-belongers.)

Fairytale convention may have locked these rebellious women into wholly heterosexual romantic ambitions, but Disney excitingly strayed from that rulebook in 2013 with Frozen, its record-busting rewrite of The Snow Queen. In Elsa, Frozen gave us a magically touched heroine who requires no male partner to complete her self-realisation. Fleeing the community while she independently comes to terms with her difference, she belts out Let It Go, a now-ubiquitous tune that not only became an instant Disney standard, but launched a million queer readings for its celebratory revelation of a once-hidden identity: “Conceal, don’t feel/ Don’t let them know/ well now they know … the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all.”

The film didn’t give Elsa a girlfriend following her arguable coming-out, though fans are clamoring for one to be introduced in the upcoming Frozen 2. But down to its same-sex twist on the hoary old “true love’s kiss” trope – yes, they’re sisters, but it’s refreshing to see the supposedly all-healing properties of straight love taken down a notch – it’s a film fully alive to its queerest subtextual possibilities. That may not make it Disney’s first “exclusively gay” narrative, whatever that exactly means. But if we’re at a watershed moment regarding open LGBT representation in the multiplex, the absurd, conservative figure of LeFou hardly deserves all the credit for the changes that lie ahead.