Lots of closet doors are opening like never before — and in places where most gay folks five years ago were too wary of government census takers to acknowledge being in a same-sex relationship. “The closet door is really opening. That’s especially true in the Midwest,” says Gary Gates, author of a fascinating study based on the newly released 2005 American Community Survey — a sort of mini-Census — and the National Survey of Family Growth, both conducted by the federal government. Overall, the number of same-sex couples identifying themselves to the government soared 30 percent in five short years — to 776,943. To put that in perspective, the U.S. population grew 6 percent in that period. The biggest jumps in self-reporting by gay couples were largely in America’s heartland. The survey results suggest that anti-gay marriage drives are having a wonderful unintended consequence: They’re emboldening more of us to stand up and be counted. Six of the eight states with an anti-gay marriage initiative on this year’s ballot — Arizona, Colorado, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin — saw rate jumps higher than the 30 percent national average.
Angie [Angelina Jolie] and I will consider tying the knot when everyone else in the country who wants to be married is
legally able. — Actor Brad Pitt to Esquire magazine in the October issue.
Story by John Chambrone
TAMPA—Calling from her home in Wellfleet, Massachusetts on a rare day off, a very excited Suede had some news to share. It has been five years since her last studio release, On the Day we Met, and her fans have been anxiously awaiting new material. The wait is close to being over. Promising that a new CD is “in the works,” Suede agrees it is long overdue.
The year has seen some changes for team Suede. David Pearl, her chief arranger, collaborator and pianist has moved on. The two have worked together for over twenty years, but Pearl decided to pursue some things on his own and Suede is very proud of him.
Pearl has been replace by pianist extraordinaire, Janice Friedman, and Suede says the two are planning on heading into the studio soon, with a more-than-likely spring 2007 CD release. Until then, they will continue touring, and have scheduled not one, but two upcoming Tampa Bay performances. On October 6 Suede will perform at the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival’s Gala Night at the Tampa Museum of Art. She will return to the Bay area February 23 and 24, 2007, where she will be headlining Winter Pride! Suede says she is very excited to be here for two of the area’s biggest gay events.
A day at the beach is her favorite way to spend a day off, so when she comes to town Suede plans on taking advantage of the Suncoast’s beautiful beaches. Being close to the beach is one thing she loves about living in Wellfleet, and she tries to make it out there as much as she can — when she isn’t busy in the office.
A driven individual, Suede admits to not being very good at actually taking a day off. It is that drive that has provided her with the career that she so adores. Without that drive, she says she seriously doubts she could have been doing what she loves for the past twenty-five years. “I have been fortunate enough and privileged enough to have made my entire living with my music and performance, in spite of not being able to get signed by any major record label in the industry. I jumped in and was committed to doing this.” After continual rejection by record labels, the entertainer decided that she was smart enough and determined enough to do it on her own. “It is ironic to see the number of major stars at this point who are going independent now, after years of being with the big labels, having to give up so much artistic control. I am very fortunate that I have been able to do it on my own, and have complete artistic control.” It would have been great to have the financial support of a label handing her a million dollars and being set up with folks to get the album done in six weeks. Suede called it “challenging,” but also said that she wouldn’t trade it for a minute.
Suede is famous for recording songs of other artists and making them her own. Her signature tune is one such cover, “Miss Celie’s Blues,” from The Color Purple. Another favorite is, “Remember Who You Are,” which she says is “really empowering,” with its simple, yet profound message. “We all feel that as we are moving through our lives, as wonderful as they may be, we always run into these things that cause us stress and make us forget who we are and what it is we have to c o n t r i b u t e . Even if you are able to slow down and go ‘wait a minute I am who I am and that is who I am going to be in this moment, then I will contribute my best.’” That song has been getting some attention lately. Aside from being on an HRC compilation CD, “Remember Who You Are” caught the attention of daytime television and was recently featured on an episode of The Young and The Restless. “It is a great song and I am thrilled that it is getting exposure and getting out into the world in a big way.”
Another project that is getting a lot of exposure lately is her DVD, Suede Live at Sculler’s Jazz Club. Recorded at the nationally renowned jazz club in Boston, the DVD has been shown on PBS stations across the country. The executiveproducer of the DVD also served as Suede’s manager for a while, and she went on a crusade to have the special aired on television. PBS was interested , and it has aired on a regular basis as a part of their fund drives for thirty different affiliate stations. “I am thrilled about this because it is raising money for PBS, which I am behind 100 percent. It is great because it is the individual station managers that get to choose whether they are going to air it or not so, statistically speaking, to have 30 stations so far, pick it up, we are told that is pretty phenomenal. That is particularly thrilling.”
Suede is one of those singers who you either love — or you haven’t heard yet. Tampa got a taste of her talent ten years ago when she was touring with the gay singing group, The Flirtations. The group performed at the Tampa Theatre for part of the GALA V chorus festival in 1996. Although they disbanded shortly after, Suede still keeps in touch with the guys. When she is home, she sees Jon Arterton quite often since they only live fifteen minutes apart. Arterton married his partner a year ago and they put together a musical in Provincetown called Just Married, that deals with the history of marriage and everything that is going on with it right now. “Jon is doing great stuff. Jimmy (Rutland) is down in Atlanta doing music. We are not in touch as much — the distance thing makes it difficult — but as far as I know he is also doing well; we are all good.”
For those unfamiliar with her sound, Suede’s style is difficult to categorize. “I usually end up saying I am a popular-jazz-blues singer and entertainer, absolutely entertainer. There are so many jazz singers who sort of stand up on stage and do a Miles Davis sort of a thing. It is very individual and consumed and you are having your moment with the music, but I am also absolutely an entertainer along the lines of like the classics like Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Dean Martin. Having fun with the show is a major, major piece of my craft of the work that I do.” With her new accompanist on board, Suede can’t wait to hit the road again. Calling it a “Grand Evening,” she encourages everyone to come out and support the Film Festival. She will be performing a lot of her new material that will end up on her new CD as well as songs from her DVD. “I am thrilled to be a part of the Film Festival and am really looking forward to coming back for Winter Pride.” FMI www.suedewave.com.
ST. PETERSBURG—University of Florida Professor Geoffrey Giles spoke to a standing room only crowd at the opening of the exhibit, The Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933-1945, at the Florida Holocaust museum on Aug. 31.Giles revealed the virtually untold plight of homosexuals in Nazi Germany during WWII.
The Nazi’s broad interpretation of Germany’s 1871 antisodomy law, Paragraph 175, led to the arrest of over 100,000 men, and approximately 50,000 served prison sentences as convicted homosexuals. In the 1920s Berlin had been a virtual homosexual Mecca, and a small number of activists tried to overturn the law, which was seldom enforced. During this time and even after Hitler took power in 1933 many homosexuals considered themselves safe. They were sadly mistaken.
Under Nazi rule, Paragraph 175 was expanded and strictly enforced, making even a subtle glance a criminal act. In response to Germany’s defeat in WWI, Hitler planned to create a pure Aryan race and transform it into a unified fighting force. During the Holocaust the Nazis arrested and persecuted several groups that did not fit this plan. Among them: Jews, Gypsies, the disabled and homosexuals. Mass murder was only carried out against the Jews and Gypsies, while the homosexuals were sentenced to re-education. They were also singled out for slave labor, surgical experiments and castration. Almost 2/3 of them died in the camps.
The Nazis considered including lesbians in Paragraph 175 but later decided against it because, they argued, the subordinate role of women diminished a lesbian’s corrupting influence. And in addition, women homosexuals were still capable of bearing children and therefore able to perpetuate the Aryan race.
The United States Holocaust Museum is dedicated to preserving the memory of all who suffered during the Holocaust. This exhibition is one in a series about the lesser-known victims of the Nazi era and examines the campaign that left thousands dead and shattered the lives of many more.
According to special events coordinator Gabrielle McEntee, the exhibit has been enthusiastically embraced and the turnout overwhelming. “We are grateful for everyone who walks through that door,” she said. The exhibit runs through October 18, 2006. The Florida Holocaust Museum is located at 55 – 5th St. S. in St. Petersburg. FMI 727-820-0100;
www.flholocaustmuseum.org A number of books have been written documenting the persecution of gays and lesbians in Nazi Germany. Additionally, a documentary film, Paragraph 175, and movie, Bent, have also been produced and are available on DVD.
Hidden Holocaust? Gay and Lesbian Persecution in Germany, 1933-45, Gunter Grau, Ed. (1995)
The Men with the Pink Triangle: The True Life-and-Death Story of Homosexuals in the Nazi Death Camps, Heinz Heger. (1994)
The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War against Homosexuals, Richard Plant. (1986)
Days of Masquerade: Life Stories of Lesbians during the Third Reich, Claudia Schoppmann (1996)
Social Outsiders in Nazi Germany, Robert Gellately and Nathan Stoltzfus (2001)
A Mosaic of Victims: Non-Jews Persecuted and Murdered by the Nazis, Michael Berenbaum (1990)
Paragraph 175 Documentary
Who better to describe the fear and humiliation caused by the Nazi enforcement of Paragraph 175 than those who survived it? This story is told through the personal accounts of the few remaining gay men and women who lived through the horrors of Nazi Germany.
In the 1920s, Berlin had become known as a homosexual Eden, where gays and lesbians lived relatively open lives. All of that changed when the Nazis came to power. It took many homosexuals too long to figure out that they were in any danger and when they did for some it was too late.
The accounts are raw and real. The old photographs and tear-filled stories put faces and names to those who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis. The persecution under Paragraph 175 continued until well after the end of WWII. When the Nazi concentration camps were liberated many homosexuals were rearrested re-imprisoned. Paragraph 175 was not repealed until 1969. This documentary is a sobering tale of what hate, ignorance and homophobia can do.
If documentaries are not your thing, check out Bent. The movie tells the story of a handsome, young gay man named Max who, after an encounter with a German soldier, is forced to run for his life. He is later captured and imprisoned in a concentration camp where he pretends to be a Jew, because to the Nazis even that is better than being a homosexual.
While in prison he begins a relationship with an openly gay prisoner and learns how it feels to really love another man. This film shows just how free and open Berlin was for gays in the days before the Nazis came to power and how quickly and forcefully it came to a terrible end. It is also noted that not all gays were just victims under Nazi rule and some committed terrible crimes against their own people.
by John Chambrone
ST. PETERSBURG— One of the more famous singers to emerge from the 1980s punk rock scene, Henry Rollins has been all over the place lately. The front man for the Rollins Band reunited with his bandmates recently and embarked on a month long tour. During their recent Janus Landing performance, Rollins reminded the crowd that he hasn’t played under that famous tent since 1997.
One of the cool things about Rollins is his savage stage performance. He is an entertainer who gives his all, and his stage presence alone is worth the price of admission. By the second song, the shirtless Rollins was glistening with sweat and showed no signs of slowing down.
In the early 1980s, Rollins fronted Black Flag before forming the Rollins Band in 1986. The Rollins Band got their big break when singer Perry Farrell asked them to join him Rollins Rolling Along on the inaugural Lollapalooza festival tour in the summer of 1991. Three years later they released the song and video, “Liar,” that was all over MTV. By 1997, they signed to Dream Works records, but Rollins broke up the band after their tour was over. By the end of the 90s he became restless and launched a short-lived incarnation of the Rollins Band, and later reformed it with lthe original line up.
A master of many trades, Rollins owns a publishing company that releases books, CDs and DVDs. He hosts the Independent Film Channel’s The Henry Rollins Show — a talk show featuring celebrity guests, musical acts and original field segments — on Saturdays at 10 PM, and a weekly radio show, “Harmonies In My Head,” on LA’s Indie 103.1 FM Tuesdays from 8–10 PM. (www.indie103.fm). He appeared in The Alibi, with Steve Coogan and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, and has a lead role in the Project Greenlight feature Feast.
A proud American, he regularly tours with the USO and has been all over the world. No stranger to Afghanistan, Siberia, South Korea, Iraq, Kuwait, Honduras and Qatar, this politically charged individual will go wherever it takes to entertain and meet US troops. His 2004 tour, Shock and Awe, has been recorded and put on DVD. This year he took his 25 Years of Bullshit tour to Europe after performing it around the U.S. Rollins has been busy recently filming Wrong Turn 2, the sequel to the horror flick. Rollins plays a Survivor-type game show host where cannibalistic creatures attack. Due to Rollins’ frank opinions and no holes barred nature, he is a sought-after public speaker.
That raw energy contributed to his Grammy win for best spoken word. Rollins is attractive, clean-cut, intelligent, has never been married, is well versed and speaks very candidly about how wrong the gay marriage ban is. For years folks have questioned his sexuality. Rollins can’t help but laugh about it. In a few interviews he has responded, “It’s not even annoying. It’s just so funny to me, because where that comes from, for somebody being gay is a bad thing .. to say, ‘He’s gay,’ like it’s a putdown. To me, you come out of the chute, you’re something. You’re straight, you’re gay, you’re bi, or you’re Condoleezza Rice…. To me, it’s about as interesting as talking about laundry. It’s really not an issue.”
He is an advocate for gay rights and definitely uses his voice to be heard. America is the place where you should not even have to think twice about Kevin and Sean wanting to get married. To discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation is repellent and completely despicable to me.” When asked if he ever considered being gay, he said, “Never had any interest. I find females overwhelmingly attractive.” No wonder he has so many gay fans, he ‘gets’ us. FMI www.henryrollins.com; www.21361.com.