Monday, March 25, 2019

Shawn Cotter Talks Boston's Wicked Queer Film Festival (AUDIO)

In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with Shawn Cotter the new Executive Director of Wicked Queer Boston's LGBT Film Festival that’s celebrating its 35th year bringing the latest in queer cinema from across the globe and runs from March 28th to April 7th. There are over 169 features and shorts participating in this year’s film festival with 7 premieres, 2 world premieres and 5 U.S. premieres. Opening night on Thursday March 28th will feature Ellen Smit's lighthearted Dutch romance “Just Friends” at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts at 7:30P followed by an opening night party at Beat Brew Hall in Harvard Square. With this being the 50th anniversary of Stonewall there will also be a special emphasis on our LGBTQ history addressing those who made it and looking forward to our future with Wicked Queer Throwbacks revisiting some of the classics of queer cinema. There will also be an abundance of lesbian and transgender feature and short films. The closing night film will be “The Heiresses” (Las Herederas) on Saturday April 6th at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA at 7P co-presented by Boston Latino International Film Festival, LatinX Pride and The Theatre Offensive with an after-party at Serafina in Downtown Boston. We talked to Shawn about the importance of the Wicked Queer Film Festival in the current political climate and his spin on our LGBT issues.

When asked how he sees our LGBTQ community moving forward in this Trump administration Cotter stated, “I feel like our history and our identities are being slowly erased and eroded. We fought so long for different rights, marriage equality, LGBT people in the military, trying to get workers rights, all of those kind of things are slowly being eroded by our government. So I feel like what is on us is to take back to the community, the local community and build support and grow and get strong because we have a fight ahead of us. You know nothing is easily won or easily gained. We still have a bit to go…”

Since coming on board to the film festival in 2011 Shawn has had many roles in the operations of Wicked Queer. He started as a location manager and then served as Operations Manager and Director of Programming before taking his most recent position as Executive Director. Cotter is also an experimental handmade filmmaker whose Super 8mm films have shown internationally. Wicked Queer runs from March 28th to April 7th with screenings at the Museum of Fine Arts, The Brattle Theatre and The Paramount Theater at Emerson College.
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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Billie Lee Talks Vanderpump Rules & LGBTQ Activism (AUDIO)

In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with Billie Lee featured on Bravo TV’s hit series “Vanderpump Rules” and the newest official face of the luxury hair care company Regenix Hair. Born and raised in Indiana Billie moved to California where she began her journey as a stylist working with many both in and outside of the entertainment industry. After finding success as a stylist Billie wanted to move on and create a place where people could find peace in their daily lives among the hectic city. She soon opened an organic cafe which she owned and operated for two years before she sold it in order to move forward in her LGBTQ activism. Since activism as we all know doesn’t pay very well she knew she needed to seek employment and it was then that she was introduced to Lisa Vanderpump who hired her as a hostess at her famed West Hollywood restaurant SUR. Billie Lee now together with Regenix has launched the “Billie Lee Bundle”, Billie's favorite damage control products and they're giving a portion of the proceeds to benefit Equality California. They'll be releasing a campaign later this year entitled "Beauty Has No Gender." We talked to Billie about her fabulous career from transgender role model to her gig on “Vanderpump Rules” and her spin on our LGBTQ issues.

When asked what she hopes to accomplish with her work Billie Lee stated, “ My work as an activist, I think it’s really important to be visible. So I think I’m doing my job by working at a restaurant on TV. At the same time personally I need to make money but as an activist I think it’s really important for trans people to be visible and also show people in America, the viewers that trans people are worthy of jobs and I feel like I’m doing that. I’m on the board of Equality California and I really try to speak for my community, be there for my community and be visible.”

After Billie Lee was first introduced by Tinder as their new “transgender” app feature she has been a spokesperson and model for our LGBTQ community. Currently she is on the board of Equality California and Trans Life LA, a non-profit which helps bring health and wellness to the trans community in the area. Besides appearing on “Vanderpump Rules” Billie Lee continues to work in the trans community to create content that aims to educate about trans issues and on her new campaign with Regenix Hair. 
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Monday, March 4, 2019

Caitlin Kinnunen Talks “The Prom” On Broadway & More (AUDIO)

In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with actress Caitlin Kinnunen, the lead in the current hit musical “The Prom” on Broadway. “The Prom” is about Emma (Kinnunen) a small-town girl who just wants to bring her girlfriend to the prom. When she makes national headlines news because the PTA cancels the event rather than allow this to happen four Broadway stars whose theatrical production closed on opening night decide that this could be the break they need to get a little publicity for themselves so they decide to go to the small town in Indiana to save the day. “The Prom” was written by Chad Beguelin and Bob Martin with a score by Beguelin and Matthew Sklar and features Tony winner Beth Leavel, Brooks Ashmanskas, Christopher Sieber and Angie Schworer. You may remember that Caitlin made LGBTQ history last November when she performed a scene from “The Prom” at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and she kissed her co-star during the live performance. As a fierce ally we asked Caitlin about how she got involved in this groundbreaking role and her spin on our LGBTQ issues.

When asked what she hopes to accomplish with her work Kinnunen stated, “I feel very lucky and fortunate that I’ve been part of pieces that really have a voice. I’ve gotten to do shows like “Spring Awakening” and “Next To Normal” and now this show “The Prom” and I’m really happy with that and I love being able to do theatre pieces that say something. I love being able to use my voice to open up conversations and really talk to people about their experiences. So I hope to continue to do work like that whether it is films, TV, plays, musicals, what have you. I think acting is such a great vehicle and conversation starter that people can see things that they normally wouldn’t see and can put up discussions that you normally wouldn’t have. I just hope to continue to do that.”

Caitlin Kinnunen was born and raised in Washington State. She moved to New York when she was 16 to make her Broadway debut in “Spring Awakening”. She later appeared on Broadway in “The Bridges of Madison County” and on the first national tour of “Next to Normal”. Kinnunen has also appeared in numerous film and television projects including “The Intern”, “It's Kind of a Funny Story”, “Sweet Little Lies”, “Younger”, “American Vandal”, “The Knic” and Law & Order: SVU.
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Monday, February 25, 2019

Molly Adele Brown Talks Singing For Diversity & Equality (AUDIO)

In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with singer/songwriter Molly Adele Brown about performing at the Vanderbilt LGBTQ Health Symposium that takes place in Nashville, Tennessee on March 2nd to engage providers, students and community members throughout the region on a variety of topics to better serve sexual and gender minority patients and families. Brown will perform at the beginning of the symposium that runs from 9A to 5P stating, “I’m so excited to kick off the Vanderbilt LGBTQ Health Symposium. This is such a timely and important topic. The fact that they are devoting an entire day to help better serve the LGBTQ community as it relates to health care is simply amazing.” Molly also lends her voice to numerous causes including our LGBTQ rights, the #MeToo movement and is aiming to help aid Nashville’s homeless population. We talked to Molly about the inspiration for her music and her spin on our LGBTQ issues.

When asked as an activist and musician what she hopes to accomplish with her music Brown stated, “The funny thing is that I’ve honestly gone back and forth a lot about this. What do I want to do; how do I want to do it; and what do I want my message to be? Throughout the past couple of years I’ve really noticed that there is such a need for love and community in music. So my goal is to use something that I believe I’m good at and that would be my music to help advocate for people who don’t necessarily have a voice. So I’m extremely lucky in the fact that I’m surrounded by so much support and so much love and so I want to use my music to bring up topics that people don’t want to talk about or people just forget to talk about and I want to bring this forward. I also want to be somewhat inspirational through it all. I want to make sure that giving a voice to everybody who wouldn’t necessarily have one yet staying true to myself. Honestly I’m a true believer in positivity and so I do like to have somewhat of a positive spin on some serious topics.”

Molly Adele Brown is a New York native who studied theater performance at Wagner College in New York City and relocated to Nashville, Tennessee in August of 2017. Since her arrival she has had the privilege of working with some fabulous LGBTQ artists and songwriters in Nashville including Stasney Mav and Nell Maynard, two artists who are making a splash in the Nashville community. Molly dreams and aspires to make a difference in this world through her music. For Vanderbilt LGBTQ Health Symposium Info & Tix...
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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Mariah Hanson Talks The Dinah Palm Springs 29th Year (AUDIO)

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 29th year and takes place in Palm Springs, California from April 3rd through April 7th. The Dinah is the largest and most iconic girl party music festival in the world as tens of thousands of lesbian identifying women from around the world make the annual pilgrimage to celebrate, unite, empower and live OutLoud at this infamous 5 day event. The festivities includes high profile performances by nationally renowned recording artists, massive pool parties with world famous DJs, go-go dancers, red carpet events with celebrity guests, dance parties, meet and greets with your favorite celebians and so much more. It’s been recently announced that Philadelphia-based rapper, singer, producer, engineer and multi-instrumentalist Bri Steves and genre-norm bending pop star Dorian Electra are the newest additions to the performance lineup which already includes Grammy Award winner Daya, enigmatic musician Leikeli47, hip-hop sensations Kodie Shane and Diiamon'd Royalty. Comedians Fortune Feimster and Chaunte Wayans will headline "The Dinah Comedy Night" and special celebian guests will include Big Brother winner Kaycee Clark, massively popular tattoo artist TouShai and Bad Girls Club actress Kat Florek are all set to make appearances. We talked to Mariah about her inspiration for this year’s Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend and her spin on our LGBTQ issues.

When asked what question she wished people would ask about The Dinah Hanson stated, “I love when people who have never been to The Dinah write and ask what to expect or what events to go to. Of course my answer is to go to every event but I also think it’s really such an incredible weekend and my advise is to just get there and at least go to one event because the sense of community there is so empowering you just leave feeling like you can take over the world, that anything is possible…So at least go to one if not all and come experience this incredibly empowering, inspirational, energetic weekend that leaves people feeling like they can’t wait until next year.”

Mariah Hanson has continuously utilized The Dinah as a platform to mobilize our LGBTQ community around humanitarian projects and social issues. An exemplary community leader she has single-handedly revolutionized her industry, overturned tradition and raised the bar on female achievement with an event that is entirely produced by women for women. For many, The Dinah has become an annual tradition between friends; for others it is a bucket-list goal or a pilgrimage to our very own mecca that every queer woman should make at least once in her life.
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Monday, February 4, 2019

Lee Wind Talks New Novel “Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill” (AUDIO)

In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with author Lee Wind about his novel “Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill” that centers around Wyatt a fifteen year old dealing with his sexuality in a homophobic small town of Lincolnville, Oregon where nobody knows that he’s gay, not even his best friend Mackenzie who accidentally and conveniently becomes his girlfriend. Wyatt then discovers the theory about Abraham Lincoln's close relationship with Joshua Fry Speed a Springfield, Illinois merchant who met Lincoln in 1837. At the time Lincoln was a successful attorney and member of Illinois' House of Representatives. The two men lived together for four years during which time they occupied the same bed and developed a friendship that would last until their deaths. Wyatt feels since everyone loves Abraham Lincoln that if the world knew about this relationship they would treat gay people differently and it would solve everything about his life. So Wyatt outs Lincoln online triggering a media firestorm that threatens to destroy everything he cares about and he has to pretend more than ever that he’s straight. Then he meets Martin who is openly gay and who just might be the guy Wyatt’s been hoping to find. We talked to Lee about his inspiration for writing “Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill” and his spin on our LGBTQ issues.

Lee Wind is the founding blogger and publisher of “I’m Here. I’m Queer. What The Hell Do I Read?” an award-winning website about books, culture and empowerment for LGBTQ youth and their allies. For over 11 years readers from 100-plus countries have racked up 2.6 million page views and counting. “Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill” is Lee’s debut novel and readers describe it as “a love letter for history geeks” that “perfectly captures teen angst,” “had my heart racing” and helped them feel “less alone.” Selected as the September 2018 Publishers Weekly “Indie Success Story” over 900 copies of “Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill” have been donated to LGBTQ and allied teens. It was also named a BookLife Prize semi-finalist one of Publishers Weekly’s top five independently published middle grade and young adult books of 2018. Currently Wind is Director of Marketing and Programming at the Independent Book Publishers Association and the official blogger for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Lee’s passion is writing stories to empower LGBTQ youth and their allies. He lives in Los Angeles with his husband and their teenage daughter.
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Saturday, January 26, 2019

Kyra Sedgwick Talks “Girls Weekend” At Sundance (AUDIO)

In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with Emmy Winner Kyra Sedgwick about “Girls Weekend” that will be premiering this week at Sundance Film Festival in the Indie Episodic section. Sedgwick along with creator Ali Liebegott, producers Valerie Stadler and Meredith Bagby and DP Michelle Lawler will all be in attendance at Sundance from January 25th - January 31st. “Girls Weekend” tells the story about when a queer daughter (Liebegott) returns home to Las Vegas for a “girls weekend” with her estranged homophobic sister and people-pleasing mother. Her gun-toting dad lets it slip that her mother’s cancer is back with a vengeance forcing her to decide whether or not she can rejoin her family. “Girls Weekend” explores the responsibility family members have to each other. It’s set in a suburban Las Vegas neighborhood and explores themes of LGBTQ acceptance, family, health, class and sacrifice. The cast includes Ali Liebegott, Linda Lavin, Amy Landecker and Ken Jenkins. “Girls Weekend” was produced by Big Swing Productions that was created by Sedgwick, Meredith Bagby and Valerie Stadler in 2017. Big Swing Productions is committed to telling stories that amplify bold new voices including our LGBTQ community in an attempt to bring our divided country together. They believe that when stories with heart and purpose meet talent and opportunity, magic happens. We talked to Kyra about what she hopes to accomplish with “Girls Weekend”, how the “Me Too” and “Times Up” movements have impacted Hollywood, her disappointment that the upcoming Oscars neglected to include a woman in the Best Director category and her spin on our LGBTQ issues.

Director and Executive Producer Kyra Sedgwick is best known for her starring role as Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson on the TNT crime drama “The Closer”. In 2018 Sedgwick received a DGA nomination for her directorial debut with the feature “Story Of A Girl” that premiered last summer at the LA Film Festival and Edinburgh Film Festival followed by its TV premiere on Lifetime. Sedgwick is a fierce LGBTQ ally and has served on the board of GLSEN. Currently she is a director on the Netflix comedy hit “Grace and Frankie” starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as well as numerous projects with Big Swing Productions. Ali Liebegott creator and star of “Girls Weekend” is a three-time WGA Award Nominee for her work as Co-Executive Producer on “Transparent”. She currently serves as Co-Executive Producer and Actor on “The Conners” for ABC and is developing a half-hour project for Amazon with Jill Soloway and Michelle Tea. Ali is also an out queer comedian and author who has also earned two Lambda Literary Awards and her next book “The Summer of Dead Birds” is slated to be published by Feminist Press in 2019. Tickets for “Girls Weekend” are available at Sundance at Indie Episodic Program 1.
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Monday, January 14, 2019

Civil Rights Advocates Dispute Barr AG Nomination (AUDIO)

In this exclusive audio podcast Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ participated in a press conference call hosted by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights to discuss the need for the Senate Judiciary Committee to determine whether Attorney General nominee William Barr is committed to upholding the civil rights of all people. With Barr’s confirmation hearings beginning on Tuesday January 15th it is crucial that the nation’s top law enforcement officer and leader of the U.S. Department of Justice is committed to our country’s ongoing progress toward equal justice. Civil rights leaders joining the call were Kristine Lucius, Executive Vice President for Policy, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Janai Nelson, Associate Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., Michael Collins, Director of National Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance, Avideh Moussavian, Legislative Director, National Immigration Law Center and Sharon McGowan, Chief Strategy Officer and Legal Director, Lambda Legal.

First Kristine Lucius from The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights stated, “Under former Attorney General Sessions, we saw nearly unbridled disdain for the Justice Department’s vital role as the nation’s primary agency for protecting people’s rights. For nearly two years, Sessions destroyed families and communities by attacking voting rights, restarting the War on Drugs, failing to enforce constitutional policing policies, rolling back protections for LGBTQ individuals and justifying officials separating children from their parents and locking immigrant children in cages. William Barr’s record suggests more of the same. Our families and communities deserve better and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have an obligation to seek assurances from Mr. Barr that he will not be Sessions 2.0.” Then Janai Nelson, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., added, “If confirmed, William Barr will inherit the abominable legacy of Jeff Sessions, who established policies that undermined and attacked the civil rights of communities of color. The Trump Justice Department has dismantled racial diversity efforts and rescinded guidance on racial disparities in school discipline and special education, promoted voter suppression and abdicated its obligation to protect the civil rights of persons who encounter the criminal justice system. Senators must determine whether Barr will continue to weaponize the Justice Department and eviscerate civil rights protections or whether his record suggests that he can repair and restore integrity and fairness to the Justice Department and ensure that all persons are treated equally under the law.

Next we heard from Michael Collins, Drug Policy Alliance, who added, “Trump is appointing someone who has long been a cheerleader for mass incarceration and the war on drugs. It shows the Administration’s true colors and undermines any recent criminal justice reforms. During this nomination process, I hope that Senators from both parties take Barr to task for his retrograde views on drug policy and criminal justice, instead of giving him an easy ride like they did with Jeff Sessions.” Then Avideh Moussavian, National Immigration Law Center stated, “William Barr’s own track record and his unmitigated support for former Attorney General Sessions is cause for serious alarm. In his own right, Barr has supported border militarization, criminalization of migrants, and subjecting vulnerable populations of HIV+ Haitian asylum seekers to indefinite detention. His open praise for Sessions -- from explicitly supporting the first and most egregious version of Trump's Muslim ban to implicitly supporting policies to turn immigration judges into mass deportation agents and forcibly cage thousands of children in order to coerce their parents to abandon their legal right to claim asylum -- shows he will continue to weaponize the role of the DOJ and Attorney General to devastate the rights of those who most need its protection.” Then we heard from Sharon McGowan, Lambda Legal and former senior official in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice who concluded, “Jeff Sessions transformed the Department of Justice from a guardian of civil rights into a weapon of discrimination and bigotry and William Barr has made clear that he is eager to pick up where Sessions left off. As Attorney General under George H.W. Bush, Barr defended what CBS News described as ‘the world’s first and only detention camp for refugees with HIV’ and only just a few weeks ago, William Barr ‘saluted’ Jeff Sessions for his efforts to nullify legal protections for LGBT people. The Department of Justice needs new leadership to get it back in the business of defending civil rights and equal justice under law for all people. William Barr, through his own words and actions, has proven himself unworthy for this important role.”

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. (Graphic by Richard Emmanuel)


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Evangeline Weiss Talks Motown Creating Change Conference (AUDIO)

In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with Evangeline Weiss, Leadership Programs Director at the National LGBTQ Task Force about the 31st Creating Change Conference that takes place from Wednesday January 23rd through Sunday January 27th at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan. The Creating Change Conference is the foremost political leadership and skills-building conference for the LGBTQ social justice movement. Since 1988 Creating Change has created networking opportunities and inspiration for thousands of committed people to develop and hone their activist skills. This will be the first Creating Change Conference managed by Andy Garcia who succeeded Sue Hyde last spring as conference director. Garcia stated, “I think it is important to lift up the voices of the queer and trans activists of Detroit who are working to fight for social justice, end police violence and call out racism. Creating Change is a place for the queer left to come together to learn and connect with each other and strives to ensure a welcoming space for queer and trans people of color.” Over 4,000 people from all over the country will attend this five-day program that features over 300 workshops, training sessions, meetings and events. We talked to Evangeline about some of the highlights of this year’s Creating Change Conference and her spin on our LGBTQ issues.

The primary goal of the Creating Change Conference is to build the LGBTQ movement’s political power from the ground up to achieve our goal of full freedom, justice and equality for our LGBTQ community in the United States. Some of this year’s workshops include “Not My President, Organizing For Change” that will be centered around what the LGBTQ community can do to stop this administration from doing everything they can to destroy the rights our people have fought for; “Hack the Law: The Advocate’s Toolbox” that will explore the strategies the LGBTQ community can employ from legislation and litigation to policy and organizing to advance our goals; “The Hate Groups That Want To Take Your Rights Away” that will look at anti-LGBTQ hate groups including Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council and what the LGBTQ community can do to stop them. Other workshops include “Roadmap for Inclusive Sex Education”, “Moving the Equality Act Forward”, “OUT Millennial Elected Officials: Driving Equality Across America” and “Art For Social Change -- Using Creativity and Performance to relay a message and change society with Yuval David from the CBS TV show Madam Secretary.

Evangeline Weiss is part of the Creating Change Conference team. In her current role she builds relationships and organizes Queering Racial Justice in the conference host city, reviews proposals for the conference and facilitates for the Racial Justice Institute during Creating Change. Evangeline believes the conference is a place where the LGBTQ movement can experience its own power and potential as well as be held accountable for the ways in which we have more to learn. The National LGBTQ Task Force was founded in 1973 and works to build the grassroots political power of the LGBTQ community to win complete equality.
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