LGBT

An Interview with Bright Light Bright Light

Bright Light Bright Light (real name Rod Thomas), has had a busy few years. From touring with Elton John, to collaborating with the Scissor Sisters, all the while making a name for himself in the US as the premiere gay electropop artist.

We caught up with Rod, who is currently on tour with Erasure, about his music, influences and upcoming projects.

Hello Rod! A pleasure to speak with you today!

 

You too - and from the comfort of my own bed - fabulous!

 

You perform under the name Bright Light Bright Light these days, where did the name come from?

 

It's from the film Gremlins. A lot of my work is inspired by 80s/90s film and culture, so it seemed like a fitting name to adopt given the eras that I love so much. 

 

You are currently on tour with Erasure right now, I came to see you at the Liverpool show, it's quite the spectacle! How's that going so far?

 

Oh, it's amazing. The shows are BRILLIANT fun. Honestly, when you grow up in a Welsh coal mining valley listening to Erasure on the radio, you just think "these people are untouchable, they're in another world", and now I get to call them friends and hear them play every night, listening to those incredible songs and all the thousands of people singing along at the top of their lungs. I have so much fun on stage - I don't write the songs to be listened to sat down - so getting to warm up for my heroes, and be silly, energetic and in my element on stage before they go on is really the best feeling in the world. 

 

You toured with Elton John a few years ago, quite a big gay icon, and he's all over your 'Choreography' album too. What was the experience like working with such a huge name in the business?

 

The man is in every sense a treasure. Not only has he written some of the most undeniably classic songs in recent history, he's the most warm and caring person I've ever met. He's the biggest music fan I've ever encountered: he goes on YouTube, Soundcloud, Spotify... you name it ... to discover new music and new artists all the time. He makes a point of getting in touch with people he thinks show potential and offers advice. He took me as an unsigned independent musician on a world tour with him. AND he sings on four of my songs. Why? Because he loves music and loves making music. Working with him is just fun. We laugh all the time together - I'm ridiculous and I make him laugh and he has such an infectious sense of humor. So the two sessions we did (one for 'I Wish We Were Leaving' on 'Life Is Easy' and the second for 'All In The Name', 'Symmetry Of Two Hearts' and 'Running Back To You' on 'Choreography') were a few hours together of getting the vocals recorded then laughing. So utterly brilliant. I can't BELIEVE I get to work with one of the most beloved artists in history. 

You've got quite an eclectic musical landscape, who are your biggest influences?

 

Erasure and Elton John are definitely two of my main influences. Other like Kate Bush, Björk, Grace Jones, David Bowie, Pet Shop Boys ... artists who shapeshift and genre swap, but ultimately you know it's them in a second. I'm very into the writing and production on lots of the Pointer Sisters albums, they're one of my favourite groups. I also love 80s/90s house and dance records, I'm a big disco lover, so France Joli, Diana Ross' 'The Boss' record, Donna Summer, and I spend a lot of time listening to movie scores. Like I said, film influences my work a lot, so some John Barry (Day Of The Locust), John Williams (Home Alone), Jerry Goldsmith (Chinatown / Gremlins) and Pino Donnagio (Blow Out / Dressed To Kill) scores really influence the production layering / instrumental arrangements too.

 

Have any LGBT artists shaped your music?

 

Aside from those mentioned above, I'd say RuPaul has very much influenced my music. I moved to New York in 2013 and I'd never seen Drag Race. I was a huge fan of Ru's music career ('Supermodel Of The World' os one of my favourite albums) but watching Drag Race and its overriding message of believing in yourself and being the best version of yourself that you can be flicked a switch in me. I had a few bad years in London before I moved where I really felt knocked down and deflated, and she really helped me rediscover the humor in myself, and in my own flaws. I learned to embrace the parts of me I thought would be laughed at as things to cherish and it changed my life, pretty much.

 

Being part of the LGBT community yourself, do you see yourself as a voice in the music industry for the community?

 

That's quite a loaded position, but I definitely see myself as a person of the LGBT+ community doing something independently in a very heterosexual world. If people see me as a voice for the community in the music industry, I've done something right. I'm never shy about my sexuality, and I do my very best to support LGBT+ causes in everything I do, so hopefully to some I'm a positive presence for our community in an industry that's historically been problematic for gay artists.

Tell us a little bit about your current projects. Obviously the tour must take up a lot of your time, but I'm dying for another full length LP from you! Is that in the works?

 

It is yes. It won't be out this year, but there will be new material. I'm working on something very special for the next album - which is always hard as being an independent, the budget is always restricting - so I might have to tailor it a little, but there's plenty of new music in the works! 

 

Judging by your Twitter, you're a big RuPaul's Drag Race fan, what are your thoughts on All Stars 3 so far?

 

I love it! Bendelacreme and Shangela are making me SO happy. I can't wait to see what they'll do next! It's been a really fun season, and while one or two of my favourites may have underperformed, there have been so many belly laughs and some truly brilliant moments, it's been a joy. AS ALWAYS. 

 

Now, I've got some quick fire questions for you. All time favourite song?

 

- 'Hyperballad' by Björk 

 

Dream collaboration?

 

Bette Midler 

 

Favourite concert you've been to and why?

 

Depeche Mode, Madison Square Gardens 2009. I went with Del Marquis and I'd never seen them before and it was off the hook brilliant. Dave was amazing, and they played 'Home' which is my favourite of theirs. 

 

Favourite song of yours? (FYI mine is 'I Believe')

 

'In Your Care' 

 

As a 'Final thought' what's next for Bright Light Bright Light?

 

More ridiculous colour and joy.

 

Rod currently hosts a party in NYC called 'Romy & Michele's Saturday Afternoon Tes Dance' at Alan Cumming's club Club Cumming and in C'Mon Everybody in Bedstuy, so check it out if you're ever in the city! Details here

Have a listen to Bright Light Bright Light's 'Best Of' playlist here if you want to listen to some bangers.

Exclusive: Pulse Survivor Brandon Wolf on Life After Tragedy & Smiling Throughout it All

Brandon Wolf, whether he sees it this way or not, is a hero.to me and thousands of people in and out of the LGBTQ community.  He is a survivor of the horrific tragedy at Pulse nightclub, which happened nearly two years ago and took the lives of 49 people and wounded 58 others.  

Something that is truly remarkable about Brandon is that he has taken what happened that night and has turned something positive out of it, as hard as that really is to believe.  It's hard to believe, at least in my eyes, because I can't imagine going through something like that and then focus on spreading positivity in the world.  But that's Brandon, and it is CLEARLY what makes him awesome.

Brandon has a new mission now The Dru Project, dedicated to one of the victims, Christopher Andrew Leinonen (or Drew for short). Their mission is to spread love across the nation and encourage each and every high school in our country to have a GSA alliance as well as offering scholarships to students who truly exemplify Drew's spirit for inclusion and unity.  How amazing is that?

I caught up with the Oregon native earlier this week, to discuss where his life is nearly two years later, his plans for gay pride, love for Adam Rippon and Troye Sivan, and how he finds ways to smile and stay upbeat each and every day. 

This June will make it two years since the unbelievably tragic events happened at Pulse.  Can you believe this much time has gone by?

Wow, has it been two years already?  To be honest, there are days where it feels like yesterday.  And other days where it feels like a foggy memory.  But in general, it's hard to believe that so much time has already passed since Pulse.  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of my friends and joy that was robbed from this world when they left it.

Does your mind shift each and everyday when it comes to your thoughts from that night... and everything after?

Thoughts about the night of Pulse hit me at random.  A flashback is most often triggered by sounds or sights.  There are songs that immediately bring me back to that night as soon as they play.  But I think it's important to acknowledge those thoughts and memories; to not just focus on all the positive change that has come to our community, but also to be reverent to grief and loss.

So much good has come out of something that was beyond terrible.  Does a particular thought, person or memory stand out more than anything when it comes to the positives in all of this?

Without a doubt, my best friend Drew is the root of every positive outcome for me.  Although we lost him that night, his spirit has endured.  He never allowed anyone in his circle to doubt themselves or question their worth.  He taught all of us that we can be anything we want...so long as we believe in ourselves.  He taught us that there is one force in the world that can overcome anything: unconditional love.  And, for me, that is the enduring message of the Pulse shooting.  That despite the fear and self-loathing the shooter wanted us to be left with, love and acceptance triumphs.  When I think of all the best things in the world, I think of Drew.  And the beautiful legacy he left behind.

Tell us more about The Dru Project and why people should get involved in such a worthy cause.

The Dru Project was created by a group of friends sitting around Drew's kitchen table.  We knew we wanted to honor him and keep the best parts of him alive.  And when we got down to it, we knew exactly what to do.  As a teenager, Drew won a humanitarian award for starting the first Gay Straight Alliance program at Seminole High School here in Florida.  What better way to do him justice than to keep that momentum going?  The Dru Project launches GSAs in public schools, gives financial grants to existing programs, advocates for inclusive school curriculum, and gifts college scholarships to future leaders in our community.  Young people are our hope for a better world, and I know that if he were here, Drew would be fighting for them right alongside us.

Are you planning on doing anything special again with gay pride rapidly approaching?

Pride season is my absolute favorite!  If I could be a traveling pride mascot, I think I'd be in heaven.  The big event for me this time around is The Dru Project's 2nd Memorial Party on June 10.  Last year, we gathered 300 of our best supporters and celebrated Drew's life while cementing his legacy.  We gave away almost $10k in college scholarships and set out our plans for year 2.  I cannot wait to share with everyone the exciting things we have planned in 2018!

Onto lighter things, are you dating anyone?  If you aren't, what's your type, if you have one (pick me, please!)

Haha no, not dating anyone.  I'm married to my mission of making the world a better place!  My type?  That's a tough question for me to answer.  I am so fascinated by all types of people.  But I can tell you that two things will get me every time: eyes and heart.  A pair of beautiful eyes attached to someone with a kind, generous heart...sign me up!

Speed round: favorite TV show?  Favorite snack? Current celebrity crush?

Fav TV Show: Tough one, but right now...Stranger Things.

Fav snack: My summer body says carrots & hummus, but my soul says frozen yogurt!

Celebrity crush: Troye Sivan, will you marry me?

Finally, what makes you smile and stay upbeat each and every single day?

What makes me smile and stay upbeat is knowing just how bright our future is as a community.  We have come so far and achieved so much.  A great recent reminder of that was Adam Rippon taking the ice at the Winter Olympics.  He reminded us that it doesn't matter who we are or where we come from; we can be anything we believe.

For more information on The Dru Project and how you can get involved, click here.

Has Wearing a Condom Been 'Always in Fashion'? New AHS Video Released for ICD

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) released its 2018 International Condom Day Anthem: "Tried & True", starring Chester Lockhart, featuring Detox, Manila Luzon, and a surprise cameo by Todrick Hall!

The ‘Always in Fashion’ song, written by Danny Fernandez and produced by Ellis Miah, titled, “Tried & True,” is a parody of Ed Sheeran’s Grammy-winning hit, “Shape of You.”

The music video of “Tried & True” hs us traveling through the past few centuries and showing that a condom has always been in fashion.  Chester Lockhart, who is currently starring in Sex Tips for Straight Women From a Gay Man at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, takes the lead, but the song also and features a rap from one of our favorite drag superstars, Detox.

 

 

Thanks Instinct friend and this music video producer and directed, Brad Hammer, for sharing this with us.

Did you also see RuPaul’s Drag Race star Manila Luzon and Todrick Hall?

International Condom Day is today, February 13th, just in time for Valentine's Day.

Get to Know Senator Doug Jones' Hottie Gay Son Carson

The more we learn about newly elected Doug Jones’ gay son, Carson, the more we like! Just last week, when Jones was elected to Senate representing the state of Alabama. It was a close race between Jones and homophobic and alleged sexual predator Roy Moore. But with Jones’ victory came an flood of celebration—especially from the queer community which seems may finally have an ally in their corner. Jones’ son Carson Jones, who is openly gay, has since become a topic of conversation—getting possibly more press than his dad.

Carson’s Instagram seems to be on fire lately, with comments deeming him a ZADDY and countless marriage proposals for the hopeful zoo keeper. He’s a bearded cutie who loves the outdoors who is SINGLE and has gained over 15,000 followers on Instagram in the last week alone.

 

 

A post shared by Carson Jones (@thedapperzookeeper) on

Hornet talked with Carson about his father’s win, the gay dating scene, and gave us a little bit of perspective of the guy who’s making us even giddier that Doug Jones took the Senate seat.

With regard to his new following, Carson shared with Hornet:

It was honestly kind of overwhelming as the followers started to climb really quickly. But I have had so many really nice people reach out with words of encouragement and support. So many people have just simply said “Thank you” and all of that really means a lot. Moving forward, I probably will get a bit more vocal about issues. But honestly who knows what the future holds at this point.

And again, boys—I’ll mention that Carson is SINGLE and apparently ready to mingle. But he’s looking for someone who is authentic, well-rounded but who still likes to hang out and just be low key.

I’m very much single.

Just getting started dipping my toe in the dating pool which has been exciting but also terrifying. I mean, I’m looking for what I think most people are: someone handsome and charming but also someone genuine and real. Someone that is engaged with the world around them and supportive when I binge eat Chinese food at 3:00 a.m. after a night out on the town.

In 2018, Carson will be finishing graduate school in hopes of nabbing a job at a zoo. Yes—he LOVES animals and is devoting his life to them. But seems like Carson loves napping just as much—could he be looking for a napping buddy?

Finishing grad school is the top priority. I’ll be done in May and then I’ll see where that takes me. Hopefully a really amazing zoo wants to hire me on full-time and I can really get going with my career. But I also just want to take some time and travel and relax. It has been a crazy year to say the least, so if more naps could be in my future in 2018 … that would be perfect.

So by now you may be wondering where to submit your boyfriend applications. You’ll have to follow him and see, but don’t be thirsty.

First Openly Gay Indian Prince Will Open LGBT Center in India

In 2006, Indian Crown Prince of Rajpipla Manvendra Singh Gohil came out publicly, shattering global news as the world's first out prince. This news caused his family to disown him because of the humiliation they felt from his public display of self-affirmation. Since then, Manvendra has used his removal from his family as a means to create change for not only the people of India, but for the LGBTQ community that is so under represented.

Despite his family's disapproval of his personal life and public agenda, the prince made an announcement recently at the opening of the Delhi International Queer Theatre and Film Festival. He will be opening a support center for LGBTQA people on the royal grounds of his country, India--located in his state of Gujarat. The center will provide economic and social empowerment to sexual minorities and offer skill-based training in preparation for them to get jobs and advance professionally--and ultimately make enough money to survive. The center will cater to all LGBTQA people, focusing on many issues affecting the community, including psychological, spiritual, legal and health issues.

According to No Straight News, Prince Manvendra shared this about the importance of the LGBTQA center to the people of India:

Gradually the gay community is trying not to succumb to the pressure to get married, but once people reveal their sexuality at home, their family members fail to understand and shun them. And since people in India are dependent on parents for financial and emotional needs until late youth, it leaves them with two options – either agree with the parents or be left without resources. I want the community to be independent.

It is important for the LGBT community to go to a place where they can experience the freedom to be who they are even if it’s for a moment. This center will give them the independence to do all those things which they are unable to do living a double life in the society.

California Approves LGBT History Books For Grades K-8

On November 9th, California became the first state to approve the adoption of 10 LGBT inclusive history books for grades K-8. Two additional texts were denied because they exclude LGBT history, a violation of the CA 2011 Fair Education Act. California will now require for history and social studies curriculum to include the achievements of LGBT leaders as well as people with disabilities.

It's no shock that California is the first state to adopt this type of legislation, with many gay cultural hubs scattered throughout the Golden State like San Francisco, West Hollywood, Palm Springs, and San Diego among many others.

The legislation was written be Senator Mark Leno, a champion of LGBT organizations and causes.

According to Advocate, the Executive Director of Equality California, Rick Zbur, has praised the state for their decision to be more inclusive in the classroom.

This long fought victory is the next step for California students to learn about the contributions and history of LGBTQ people. Approval of these textbooks means that California schools will now have access to approved materials that accurately represent LGBTQ people, and Equality California applauds the State Board of Education for this historic decision.

Adoption of the textbooks into California classrooms will grant LGBTQIA students the opportunity to see themselves represented. Additionally, others will be able to learn about the contributions queer people have made, which will hopefully bring us strides closer to tolerance, acceptance, and inclusivity for all.

I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way. Bravo, Cali! 

 

LGBTQ Seniors Need to Share Their Stories

The sacredness and personal experience that IS coming out our even, living in the closet, is the one plight that is shared with the entire LGBTQIA community. Regardless of the journey we have each taken, we our bound together as an extended family because of the fears and dangers that we live through leading up to and even after we have spoken our truth as LGBTQIA community.

Today's youth is growing up in a time when coming out or leading a gay life is much more common than the generations before us who have essentially lived closeted lives and who have sacrificed much more than anyone could comprehend. Yes it's true that today's LGBTQIA youth battles bullying and we have a lot of work to do to uplift these individuals so that we put an end to this ridicule that is poisoning our rainbow. But it is because of our predecessors that we can now live in 2017 with less risks and much less sacrifice just to live the lives we were meant to be.

We must remember those who came before us who paved the way and many times suffered in silence so that today's community could have pride festivals, openly see drag in mainstream media, and witness marriage equality. Theirs are the stories we must never forget, so that history does not repeat itself. We need to celebrate their narratives for their courage and to finally be able to speak their truth.

In media, we see characters that come out later in life as a portrayal of these individuals who never had a voice. Stories of older folks coming out like Grace and Frankie, Transparent, Transamerica and stories that depict LGBT principal characters like Will and Grace, Queer As Folk, Looking, The L Word and now the popularity of drag culture that comes from RuPaul's Drag Race have created a upward shift. Thanks to these stories, we can now create a foundation for future generations to learn from and take control of our experiences.

The Los Angeles LGBT Center released an oral history video depicting a group of gay and lesbian seniors who share their stories of struggle growing up in very sheltered times, with conservative and fearful families. And although the video does not show much diversity in its participants, their stories are heartwarming. They recount stories of coming out, first loves, discovering what it means to be a 'homosexual' in a world where everyone felt being gay was a disease. These seniors, many who are well into their 80s, educate on experiences that we will never read in the history books.

Here's the video that will make you want to learn about your elders and that will make you see the value in sharing our stories as the LGBTQIA community.

 

 

Gays For Trump Will March With 'Deplorable Pride'

Earlier this year, Charlotte-based Republican LGBT group Deplorable Pride, were denied a spot in the city’s annual Charlotte Pride parade. The group was denied participation in the city's largest parade because of their planned 27-foot-long float that would depict a drag version of Melania Trump with others wearing long blue evening gowns that read "Make America Great Again" reports the Charlotte Observer. Now, the Gays for Trump group is planning to protest 30-minutes prior to the parade.

A statement on the group's website reads:

Come and show your support for your fellow Trump supporters who are LGBT and are being persecuted by their own gay community. Please help us show that intolerance is not acceptable.

A spokesperson for Charlotte Pride has commented about the organization's right to not include those who exclude others from American society.

The statement by Charlotte Pride reads:

In the past, we have made similar decisions to decline participation from other organizations espousing anti-LGBTQ religious or public policy stances. Charlotte Pride envisions a world in which LGBTQ people are affirmed, respected, and included in the full social and civic life of their local communities, free from fear of any discrimination, rejection, and prejudice.

Charlotte police is prepared for the protest and what it could mean for spectators and visitors to the highly popular pride event.

Are Gays Better Parents Overall Than Heterosexuals?

When it comes to gays versus heterosexuals, who makes for a better parent both in the short term or the long term?  A new article that was just released challenges this in favor of gay parenting for reasons that are quite interesting to dissect.

The article suggests that, in quote, "Gay parents tend to be more motivated, more committed than heterosexual parents on average, because they chose to be parents. Due to biological and social constraints, gay men as a category face the most obstacles in their quest for parenting."

It also states that, "Being gay parents teach about caring for children in a different and deeper way than that of their professions. They learn how children fit in to a family, how they grow into distinct young people with strong opinions and powerful voices, and how to love children."

It's a very bold statement that is made by whomever wrote this piece, as there are thousands of straight people who go through similar struggles in order to have a baby.  Whether they have to adopt or in vitro fertilization to have a baby of their own, we all come from different backgrounds with the goal of raising a family.  I do understand the writer's point of view, however, as the struggle to be gay and adopt in parts of the world (and even this country) can be a huge hassle for two people who simply want to start their own family. 

What are your thoughts on this? 

 

First-Ever Black LGBT Family Is The Face Of Fashion

Do you remember that photo from 2014 of gay dads Kordale Lewis and Kaleb Anthony doing their daughters’ hair in the morning? It went viral because of the heartwarming display by the sexy couple and their cute AF kids!

As their family has grown to now include a total of four kids, so has their fan base. Kordale and Kaleb have gained a following for their modern-day family on social media that tells daily stories of their life as gay dads who are surrounded by loving friends and family.

Now life is about to get a whole lot more interesting for the family of six as Acne Studios has profiled the Kordale N Kaleb family as the face of the high-end fashion brand for its Fall/Winter 2017 campaign.

Photographed on the brand’s website, the family is seen sporting matching outfits and posing in all their glory as the first-ever black LGBT family to represent a fashion campaign.

Each of their four children is also photographed up close and we learn a bit about each child.

Acne Studios founder, Jonny Johansson shared on the website his inspiration and the concept behind the campaign.

I have been thinking of the family concept for a long time. I’m very fond of it since I feel that at Acne Studios, we began as a collective and we saw each other as family back then. A modern family. I love those images of families dressing in the same outfit, and this new collection dedicated to the face motif also has a similar feeling of staple goods. It is also a way of highlighting that while every family is different, we all have the same love and want the best for our children. There is no ‘normal’ family — all families are normal.

In an interview with Acne Studios, Kordale stated the following about the possibility of backlash or negative comments on social media:

If you have kids, you don’t have time to think about who likes you, who’s talking about you. It’s just so much more stress on your plate, and I don’t believe in stress. The picture definitely did cause a lot of unwanted attention—we’ve always posted candid pictures of our kids, but with that picture, people somehow thought it was okay to create all this controversy. If we had the chance, we would do it again.

Later he says:

I don’t even think that’s worth my time. We’re in 2017, surely people can know there are gay people with kids, and they’re trying to achieve the same things as any heterosexual couple? It’s the straight parents who are making gay kids anyway. I don’t have to fight anymore. I feel like my voice is more powerful if there’s a legislation that comes up and I can inform my fan base to go out and vote or go to a town hall meeting. Most of the time, if you try to argue or explain to a heterosexual person that I’m gay and I have kids, they already have a preconceived notion of you anyways. Nine times out of 10, you can’t change people’s mindsets through talking. You have to show it through actions. I don’t try to force my opinions on anybody.

And finally?

You shouldn’t have to tell people how we should be treated in the age we are living in now. I’m over all of that. I don’t make it a point to express that I’m a gay parent—I’m a parent. I love my kids as much as you love yours. I want the same great things for my kids as you do for yours. What I do in my bed is none of your business.

To see the whole campaign and interview, visit Acne Studios

Pages