Monday, February 27, 2017

The Dinah Shore Weekend Palm Springs 27th Year

In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with Mariah Hanson, founder and producer of the legendary Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend that’s in its 27th year and takes place in Palm Springs, California from March 29th to April 2nd. For over a quarter century Mariah Hanson has not only been delivering epic good times to lesbians but has also continuously been moving the needle forward with her ongoing commitment to amplifying, championing and celebrating women’s voices and talent with The Dinah. The growth and longevity of this worldwide cultural phenomenon event is even more astonishing and remarkable at a time when lesbian bars, spaces, festivals and publications are rampantly vanishing all across the country. This is why now more than ever events like The Dinah are necessary to reconnect our community. The Dinah is entirely produced by women for women and that is a powerful statement in today’s political climate. Kicking off at the close of Women’s History month on March 29th and wrapping up on Sunday, April 2nd the Dinah 2017 will celebrate and honor the trailblazing women in the Arts, Sports and Entertainment industry who have achieved historic firsts. We talked to Mariah about all the festivities planned for this year’s Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend and her spin on our LGBTQ issues.

When asked how she sees our LGBTQ community moving forward in a Trump administration Hanson stated, “We have to move forward in the current administration very strategically. I think that we need to move forward collectively across all platforms. I don’t think anyone currently, any individual group knows how to preserve their civil liberties better than the LGBTQ community because that’s what we have been doing for the past fifteen years of my life so we’ve gotten really good at it and I think that we really should take a leadership role, but I don’t think it should be just about LGBTQ at this point. I think it should be about protecting the civil liberties of all Americans. Funding is being yanked from so many organizations; transgender youth are being attacked; Muslims are being attacked; African Americans are being attacked; Mexican Americans are being attacked; so I think we need to be collective and strategic going forward. I think this movement has become a movement of people, of Americans who want to protect what our democracy is based on.”

The incredibly inspiring women slated to perform at The Dinah in 2017 include world surf champion now turned cutting edge DJ Keala Kennelly who not only made a big splash playing herself in the 90s cult movie “Blue Crush” but also made history for female surfing winning the first women’s big wave contest at the Nelscott Big Wave Classic in 2010. Also performing will be Butterscotch the first female beatbox world champion and a finalist on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, singer-songwriter, rapper Tish Hyman who penned songs for top-notch artists like Alicia Keys, Diddy, Kelly Rowland and Kanye West, rising pop star and Latin hip hop artist Lady Cultura, 90s club Icons Cece Peniston and Black Box, among others. On the comedy front the always politically incorrect stand-up comedian Julie Goldman one of the most hilarious, provocative and familiar faces on Bravo’s “The People’s Couch” and the “Vanderpump Rules” will up the volume on your laughter. She’ll be joined by British comic Gina Yashere who appeared on NBC’s Last Comic Standing and the wildly hilarious Erin Foley who has been taking the comedy scene by storm across the nation. Championing the rise of women DJs behind the decks, The Dinah will also put the spotlight on some of the top female DJ tastemakers including DJ Kittens and more. Collectively these daredevils have considerably changed the game for women achieving power through their remarkable ability to build community around the personal brands they’ve created and the causes they champion.
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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

GLSEN Protecting Our LGBTQ Youth (AUDIO)

In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with Dr. Jessica Toste, co-chair of the Austin, Texas chapter of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network. GLSEN was founded in 1990 by a small dedicated group of teachers in Massachusetts who came together to improve an education system that too frequently allows its LGBTQ students to be bullied, discriminated against or fall through the cracks. Over 25 years later GLSEN has grown into the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for our LGBTQ students. GLSEN’s flagship research project the National School Climate Survey has found that 8 out of 10 LGBTQ students are still harassed at school each year because of who they are. In the past few weeks with the disturbing appointment of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, GLSEN has urged Secretary DeVos to keep in place protections for the most marginalized students including women, students with disabilities, students of color, undocumented students and LGBTQ students. Recently in Austin, Texas Senate Bill 6 was filed that would require transgender people to use bathrooms in public schools, government buildings and public universities based on “biological sex” and would pre-empt local nondiscrimination ordinances that allow transgender Texans to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. We talked to Jessica about how GLSEN is dealing with the current political climate and her spin on our LGBT civil rights.

When asked how she sees our LGBTQ community moving forward in a Trump administration Dr. Toste stated, “The Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center have reported increases in hate crimes across the country. As we watch civil rights come under fire especially LGBTQ rights that have been hard won in the very recent past I think it’s difficult for a lot of people to stay optimistic but we aren’t done. So GLSEN is continuing the work and our friends are continuing the work and I think one thing that can help us remain optimistic is that we’re experiencing a moment in history where so many groups are being directly targeted and we really can’t afford to splinter our efforts and lose focus. We need to organize and recognize that each of our liberties is bounded up in liberties of our neighbors. We need to work together and stand together and mobilize together and take this moment for the great potential of coalition building and renewing our commitment to justice and equality.”

Dr. Jessica Toste is an assistant professor in the Department of Special Education at The University of Texas at Austin and a fellow of the Reading Institute within The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk. She received her PhD in educational psychology from McGill University in Montreal, Canada in 2011. Her research interests are related to students with learning disabilities and effective reading interventions with a particular focus on psychosocial processes and classroom climate as determinants of school success. She has published articles and book chapters on resilience factors related to achievement and psychosocial functioning of youth at-risk. Jessica also shares GLSEN’s mission to create safe and affirming schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
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Monday, February 6, 2017

Abe Rybeck Making Change With The Theater Offensive

In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with Abe Rybeck Founder and Executive Artistic Director of The Theater Offensive one of the nation's oldest LGBTQ theater groups based in Boston, Massachusetts. The Theater Offensive grassroots movement has been a voice for the LGBTQ community in Boston and beyond raising awareness, fighting bigotry and hate through performing arts and providing LGBTQ performers with a safe space outlet. The Theater Offensive’s mission is to present the diversity of our LGBTQ lives in art so bold it breaks through personal isolation, challenges the status quo and builds thriving communities. Last November First Lady Michelle Obama presented their youth group True Colors with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award which is the nation's highest youth humanities award. This was the first LGBTQ organization to receive this prestigious honor. We talked to Abe about the significance of his work in the current political climate and his spin on our LGBT issues.

When asked how he sees our LGBTQ community moving forward in a Trump administration Rybeck stated, “It’s so important before we say anything about that answer to remember the massive diversity of our community. Why this is so important is that in the last weeks I’ve seen a lot of rumors flying around about ‘Oh there’s going to be an anti-LGBTQ order coming out from the White House. Get ready we’re next’. We are not next, we are already under attack. Think about who we are: women, trans folks, people of color, people who want to drink clean water. That’s all of us. We are already under attack. The Theater Offensive has had Muslim employees and Muslim board members. It’s really important that we remember that these members of our community, if we’re not standing together like this, how are we calling ourselves a community? We are already under attack and The Theater Offensive the way I see it, we need to be already in action. So we’re mobilizing as part of the resistance to this. I think culture plays a vital role in resistance. Culture is part of the problem that created the situation that we’re in and it’s part of the solution. I heard a joke on Saturday Night Live which I think considers itself you know kind of progressive. There was a joke in the news segment about trans women of color or in other words the reason Trump won the election as if the reason Trump won the election was because of identity politics of LGBTQ folks. I think the opposite is true. The reason Trump won is because white supremacists grabbed on to an identity movement and went with that. And anti-gay forces grabbed on to their identity and went with it and though a minority of people in the country, a minority of voters even identified that way or support that, they organized politically in a way that they could win. I think it’s really important for us as a community to make sure we’re standing up to that and standing together against that.”

Abe Rybeck’s main work is uniting artists, neighbors, community groups and local businesses to collaborate on OUT performance work in the Boston neighborhoods. Collaborating across cultures and generations to create performance work is his favorite part of his job. Abe won the 2007 Jonathan Larson Award for musical theater for his collaboration on the book of True Colors alumna Melissa Li’s Surviving the Nian. Abe was declared one of the “Heeb 100” progressive Jewish world cultural leaders. He is proud to have received several awards from his peers in the community.
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Monday, January 30, 2017

Grammy Winner Janis Ian Speaks Out & Goes Viral

In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with two-time Grammy winning singer songwriter Janis Ian about her Facebook posting that went viral with over 12 million views, 50K comments and over 93K shares addressing the Trump Administration. Legendary singer, writer and feminist icon Ian was only 14 when she wrote "Society's Child" observing the racial bigotry and atrocities during the 1960’s. Her civil rights stand brought her controversy and even death threats, however the importance of the song was recognized when it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Janis remains society's child, although an older and wiser one with her commentary on current American history and our new president's positions. We talked to Janis about what inspired her to write this must-read post (see link below) and her spin on our LGBT civil rights.

When asked how she sees our LGBTQ community moving forward in a Trump administration Ian stated, “Well, I think the question for anyone in the LGBT community is can we move forward in this administration? This is an administration that is on record saying that we are crazy, that we’re mentally disturbed, that we need therapy to become ‘normal’. This is an administration that seeks to normalize hatred and bigotry and ignorance. My gosh if they’re normalizing anything it’s ignorance. They have the arrogance of their ignorance. So I don’t know that we can move forward. I hope we can but I think we’ll be doing very well if we can just manage to maintain at this point and I would say that goes across the board, not just for gay people but for the disabled, for anyone that dissents on either side and for anyone that is not white male and wealthy. I think the coalminers are going to get hit too. You know we’re not alone in this, it’s just that a lot of people don’t realize it yet.”

Janis Ian won her first Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1976 for “At Seventeen” and her second Grammy Award in 2013 at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony for Best Spoken Word Album for her audio book "Society's Child”. She had stiff competition in 2013 including President Bill Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama, Rachel Maddow and Ellen DeGeneres. When she won she sincerely considered it to be a “stunning upset.” With her inimitable sense of humor, she went on to say "There must be a joke in here somewhere. An ex-president, a First Lady and three lesbians go into a bar..." In addition to the Grammy the audio version also received an Audie Award, the audio book industry’s version of the Grammys. As a multitalented artist Janis has been expressing her life experience through her music, songs and her literary projects. Ian’s songs have been recorded by singers as diverse as Cher, John Mellencamp, Celine Dion, Nana Mouskouri, Charlie Daniels and Roberta Flack and she has performed with Tom Paxton, Lou Gossett Jr., Judy Collins, Phil Ochs and a host of other singer-songwriters. Read Viral Facebook Post...
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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Loni Anderson Returns In New Sitcom “My Sister Is So Gay”

In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with actress and fierce LGBTQ ally Loni Anderson about her new sitcom “My Sister Is So Gay” that premiered January 22nd on tello films. Anderson stars as Frances the boozy and inappropriately sexy mother of two middle age children in this new LGBT themed series. “My Sister Is So Gay” also stars Terry Ray as Frances’ gay son Seth who is invaded by his uptight, homophobic sister, Amanda played by Wendy Michaels after she catches her husband with her best friend Katherine. It just seems she’s way more upset about Katherine cheating on her than her husband and it’s not adding up for Seth especially when Amanda acts all loopy around his lesbian co-worker Becca played by Debra Wilson. The series focuses on whether Seth’s right-winger, homophobic sister is gay as Amanda tries to figure out why Seth’s way younger and very handsome boyfriend played by Tilky Jones is interested in Seth and questions why he seems to have too many secrets or perhaps he’s married. Season one of "My Sister Is So Gay” is a laugh out loud web series featuring six episodes written and created by Terry Ray and Wendy Michaels. We talked to Loni about what attracted her to “My Sister Is So Gay” and her spin on our LGBT issues.

When asked how she sees our LGBTQ community moving forward in a Trump administration Anderson stated, “Needless to say I’ve had my hysterical moments over the election and I have a granddaughter who’s a junior at UCLA and we have had many spirited discussions about our feelings. I think after you get over being hysterical, but I don’t know if you do, that you try and move forward the best you can and hope that we do not slip backwards. I was a 60’s girl; I went to high school and college in the 60’s. So I marched and I always said my political party is I’m a card-carrying member of the civil rights party. So I didn’t think as a grandmother I would be facing this. Somehow when I was a college student I didn’t think this would come up when I got to be a grandmother. I naively I guess thought it would be all taken care of but as I said to my granddaughter, if need be I’m still ready to march.”

Loni Anderson will always be remembered for her iconic role as Jennifer Marlowe from the hit sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati”. Anderson became a sex symbol almost overnight and a pinup photo of the actress in a bikini was one of the best-selling posters of the 1970s. Yet far from a dumb blonde, Anderson insisted that she be able to play her character as a bright, sensitive woman before signing for the part. Her vision paid off and Anderson earned two Emmy nominations and three Golden Globe nominations for her performance. Loni was a regular in 5 more series and has guest starred in numerous other shows and TV movies like the title role in “The Jayne Mansfield Story” opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger. Her films include “A Night At The Roxy” and “Stroker Ace” with Burt Reynolds. Her high profile marriage to Reynolds made them the Brad & Angelina of the 1980s. In 1997 she published her autobiography “My Life in High Heels”. She is now happily married to Bob Flick from the folk music group The Brothers Four. 
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Friday, January 13, 2017

“Be The Change” A Family Affair Against Hate (AUDIO)

In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with Joerg Kohring, Jess Niven-Kohring and Barbara Niven about their extremely relevant “Be The Change” music video and social media campaign that premieres globally January 16th on Martin Luther King Day. “Be The Change” was written by Joerg Kohring and Jess Niven-Kohring and recorded by pop rock band Orbit Monkey. Joerg and Jess are acclaimed singer-songwriters, parents of two children living in Los Angeles, California and have created an inspiring music video to give hope and motivation to millions of Americans who are drowning in fear of the unknown since the election. The video itself is confronting. Images of gun violence and hate crimes fold into the visuals of innocent children as they watch TV. Viewers witness the parallel between segregation in the 50s and violence and intolerance in this country today. The video also focuses on the continuing struggle for our LGBT civil rights intensified by the fear of the unknown in 2017. “Be The Change” is a passionate family project with Jess’s mother, actress and Human Rights advocate Barbara Niven (‘A Perfect Ending’,‘Chesapeake Shores’ & ‘Nesting Doll’), contributing to the video as Co-Editor and Producer. We talked to Joerg, Jess and Barbara about the importance of “Be The Change”, what they hope to accomplish with this significant global campaign and their spin on our LGBT issues.

When asked how they see our LGBTQ community moving forward in a Trump administration Jess Niven-Kohring stated, “This is the thing that we have been talking about. Joerg and I were actually talking about this last night and trying to figure out you know what role we can play in trying to help move this forward. I think because there is so much fear, I think it’s really going to be up to everyone coming together and the allies really speaking out and using the privilege that I didn’t even realize I had for so long and using that to really make our voices heard and allow everyone else’s voices to be heard too and really standing up as a society. It’s not one community verses another; we are all part of the same community and the same beautiful cultures and it’s us moving forward together. So I think it’s really going to be up to everyone to recognize the privilege they have and really use it to give voices to those that may not have a voice under the incoming administration.”

The “Be The Change” video campaign will have its world premiere on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day January 16th to honor King and all the other American heroes who have fought for equal rights. Audio from his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech has been incorporated into the video to help spread his message to a new generation. Martin Luther King, Jr. also said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” His words ring true now more than ever. To get involved starting on January 16th you can post, share & tweet this video on social media using #BeTheChange. Send it to your friends, family, news sources and influencers. Get involved and hold your politicians accountable or run for office yourself. Be aware, be a safe place, stand up to bullies, speak up for equality, climate change, listen and learn from each other and teach your children to be kind. Most importantly, never give up.
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Saturday, January 7, 2017

“Deep Run” Transgender Documentary On World Channel

In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with Chris Hastings, Executive Producer of the World Channel and Hillevi Loven, Director of the documentary DEEP RUN that premieres on the second season of REEL SOUTH January 15th on the World Channel. DEEP RUN chronicles an eight-year portrait of LGBTQ teen 17 year-old Jasmine who is exiled by family, rejected by an ex and then finds a new love and the courage to become Cole, a strong-willed transgender man in rural North Carolina. Loven captures Cole’s intimate transition process with candid humor and sensitivity as he deals with emotional dilemmas brought on by his Christian beliefs and the bigotry he experiences on a daily basis. Executive produced by Susan Sarandon, DEEP RUN is a must-see documentary and a true love story in these turbulent times. We talked to Chris about the importance of telling this story on the World Channel and Hillevi’s inspiration and commitment to DEEP RUN as well as their spin on our LGBTQ issues.

When asked as allies what their personal commitments to LGBT civil rights is Hastings stated, “My commitment is I want always to remind people that when we think about civil rights it’s not about white and black anymore. Diversity is such a broad idea and this idea of being inclusive is what we need to remind people that we need to be inclusive and that also means LGBT and so we have to continue to remind people that just as we fight for civil rights in the sixties and fight for civil rights in 2016 we have to make the LGBT community a part of that equation. When you look at some of the different stories that have come out of the past week we have to remind people that inclusion isn’t just about race anymore, it isn’t about gender, specifically women. It’s about how people are living today and for me it’s important to continue to tell those stories to remind people these are our equals, these are part of the broader community. They are the broader community and these are important stories we have to keep putting out there until people understand that they are just like you or I, they are me or you and they are our brothers and sisters and they have to be part of the greater good of sharing story.” Loven added, “I would say on a more personal note I as a straight, white girl growing up in Chelsea in the West Village born and bred New Yorker, Chelsea in the West Village were my, those are my homes and I always felt like I was part of the LGBT community and an ally and the LGBTQ community also just provided incredible inspiration and support personally for me and then also throughout the years of making and finishing this film. So I have a commitment to stand up for those around me basically.”

 Hillevi Loven is a filmmaker, producer and still photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. She is making her feature-film directing debut with DEEP RUN. As a Sundance Documentary Fellow, she took part in the Sundance labs while completing DEEP RUN. DEEP RUN is the culmination of years of Hillevi’s own social justice work which began with teaching media arts to LGBT youth at the Hetrick Martin Institute in NYC.
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Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Thousand U.K. Students To Rally In NYC Against Hate

 In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with Professor Dominic Shellard, one of the only openly gay Vice Chancellor’s of a major university in the United Kingdom. A groundbreaking event is going to take place when 1,082 De Montfort University students travel from Leicester in the United Kingdom to New York City from Tuesday January 3rd to Sunday January 8th to boost their global outlook with a mixture of academic, cultural and networking opportunities in the Big Apple. One of the highlights of the trip will occur when they demonstrate against intolerance on January 6th braving the cold for a picnic in Central Park holding banners that state “Citizens of the World.” Vice Chancellor Shellard is an outspoken critic of anti-immigration rhetoric following the Brexit vote and wants to send the message that universities should be producing students who think globally. Shellard who is a recipient of the Mahatma Gandhi Seva Medal is working with citizens and university staff to counter hate crimes that are on the rise in his community just like they are here in this country since the presidential election of Donald Trump. We talked to Dominic about what he hoped to accomplish with this important peaceful rally event on January 6th and his spin on our LGBTQ issues.

When asked what his personal commitment is to LGBT civil rights Shellard stated, “First of all I’ve introduced at the university De Montfort University Pride because unfortunately the actual pride festival that we have in our city in Leicester takes place when our students aren’t here. It takes place end of August and I always felt our students missed out in engaging with Leicester Pride. So we have our own pride festival which is a series of cultural events, celebrations and talks in February. We always try to invite people who might not be as fortunate as us to enjoy some of the tolerance we’re very lucky to have in the U.K. We obviously had our Parliament vote very recently to permit gay marriage and that was a great big moment I think for the U.K. as a country. So last pride we invited 10 members from the LGBT community of Russia who are suffering terrible persecution at the moment. There is tremendous intolerance in Russia as you know for members of our community and our students raised funds to pay for 10, generally people under 25, to come over to Leicester and I think they were here for upward of 2 weeks and they forged strong links with them going forward and I think that is a very important thing. Secondly I’m the honorary president of our local LGBTQ center in Leicester. There are only 5 centers left in the U.K. now which is in itself I think a rather horrifying figure actually. So I’m very pleased to be able to have it be all quite a cursory role but I do what I can to raise the profile at our center.”

Professor Dominic Shellard joined De Montfort University (DMU) in June 2010 as vice-chancellor and chief executive. During his tenure DMU has embarked upon a focused journey of improvement. Dominic has led the expansion of the international agenda, most notably with the launch of #DMUglobal in 2013, giving thousands of students an opportunity to travel and study overseas as part of their course.
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