Click here to email your RSVP with name and number of guests including yourself (no charge admission if you RSVP — $5 suggest donation at the door without RSVP [though no one will be turned away for lack of funds]).
present a live-discussion panel engagement
Thursday, November 2
‘Queer Celebrity: Challenges, Rewards, and Responsibilities of being Out in Media’
Actor-comedian, Jason Stuart
Journalist-activist, Ashlee Marie Preston
Celebrity Interviewer, Joel Martens
PLUS a very special surprise guest you won’t want to miss!
PALM SPRINGS, California—Join veteran journalist, Thom Senzee, founder-moderator of LGBTs In The News, as he welcomes a panel of media and entertainment professionals to the LGBT Community Center of the Desert for a candid, open discussion about the challenges and rewards that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer actors, reporters, anchors, and even reality-television stars, experience—as well as the responsibilities that come with being out of the closet and authentic in the media.
”Less than a year ago, it seemed that as people of gender and sexual diversity, we had on our sides real momentum toward winning full equality with our straight peers,” said Senzee, days before the next engagement of the live-discussion panel series, which originally launched in June, 2013 as the Supreme Court was striking down laws banning same-sex marriage.
“But we’re suddenly facing an anti-equality backlash,” Senzee continued. “Transgender people are losing their rights to serve in the nation’s military. Meanwhile LGBTQ workers have been made less safe by Donald Trump’s and Jeff Sessions’ Department of Justice from being fired by employers who just don’t like our orientations or gender identities.”
He believes the topic of the upcoming panel engagement, which will include a conversation about what (if any) responsibilities famous LGBTQ people have to the wider community of gender and sexually diverse people.
“LGBTQ visibility in movies, on television and elsewhere in the media can be a powerful line of defense against the high-placed bigotry we’re seeing in Washington and in other powerful quarters these days,” he said.
The Thursday, November 2 engagement of LGBTs In The News, will be held at the LGBT Center of the Desert in Palm Springs, California. Panelists include actor-comedian Jason Stuart, recipient of the Jose Julio Sarria International Civil Rights Award.
“Ten years ago, I had a part in the film A Day Without a Mexican, about what would happen if one day all the Mexican people disappeared,” Stuart, the son of a Holocaust survivor, wrote in an article published earlier this year in The New York Jewish Week. “A few years later, I was cast in Love is Strange, about gay seniors, health care rights and gay marriage. Two years ago, I was in Tangerine, about a day in the life of two transgender working girls.”
But for Stuart, who cofounded and is co-chair of the Screen Actors Guild’s LGBT Actors Committee (LGBTs In The News’ most enduring visibility partner), the obligation of being an out, gay Hollywood celebrity is about more than accepting gay roles or appearing in films with queer characters.
“I feel that my deep-seated belief that all people — including African Americans, Latinos and the LGBT community deserve equal rights — brought me these roles,” he continued. “As a double minority — I came out as gay in 1993 and being a child of a parent of the Holocaust — I developed a special connection to other minorities’ stories, which I try to bring to these roles.”
Stuart and Senzee believe that public figures who are LGBTQ and open about their sexuality, gender identities and gender expressions, offer human faces and relatable voices that can counteract a resurgent anti-equality movement seeking to dehumanize queer people.
“But we must act mindfully, with authenticity and, for some of us, with strategic intent,” Senzee said. “Every civil rights movement is judged under a magnifying glass. Ours is no different. We must be better than the forces of hate—better, kinder, smarter and more dignified.”
Jason Stuart has appeared in more films, television, web series’ and on more stages around the country and throughout the world than would be possible to name here. Among his recent credits are roles in the thriller Diverted Eden and the short film he directed and stars in, Like Father, plus 2016’s record-breaking Sundance independent film, The Birth of a Nation, along with his multitude of other titles, including Judd Apatow’s Love, Entourage and Mentor — his streaming series on Amazon (also available on Revry).
Stuart’s fellow panelists include take-no-prisoners trans-rights activist, Ashlee Marie Preston, whose tenure as the nation’s first editor-in-chief of a national news-and-entertainment publication (Wear Your Voice magazine) who is transgender, made history.
Since then, Preston has skyrocketed to the national fore by vocally and boldly holding accountable at live events and in the media, LGBTQ celebrities, not least among them, Caitlyn Jenner, who bask in the comfort of safe spaces made that way by activists such as herself and many of her closest confidants—who then ally themselves with politicians actively engaged in trying to dismantle the equality our community has managed to achieve.
Preston is an inductee to The Root’s list of the 100 Most Influential African Americans of 2017 along with Beyoncé, Jordan Peele, Ana Duvernay, and Solange Knowles. Having been featured on NBC News, noted in the New York Times and asked to write a letter to her younger self by Logo’s NewNowNext, Preston put so much pressure on rapper Charlemagne Tha God after he joked on a radio show about assaulting trans women, that the recording star made a point of coming out strongly opposing violence against transgender people.
Rounding out the panel is serial celebrity interviewer, Joel Martens, editor-in-chief of The Rage Monthly arts and entertainment magazine. A veteran of past LGBTs In The News panel engagements, Martens has a knack for landing interviews for which competitors scramble. Whether he’s quoting Meryl Streep or chatting on deadline and in depth with Cheyenne Jackson, Martens’ interviews have been the hallmark of the Los Angeles-Orange County and San Diego editions of The Rage Monthly for many years. Martens is well known for eliciting candor and intimacy from his interviewees.
“It may not be a stretch to call Joel Martens the Barbara Walters of LGBTQ media,” said Senzee. “That’s why we’re fortunate to have him on this panel about the challenges, rewards and responsibilities of queer celebrity.”
Having reported in and about the LGBTQ community for decades, LGBTs In The News founder, Thom Senzee understands that visibility, partnerships and celebrity are commodities that can be leveraged to win greater equality for more people on many fronts. A well established yet growing power for good on some of those fronts is the panel series’ newest community partner, AIDS Services Foundation Orange County, which has been working to achieve equal access to health care since 1985.
“We share Thom Senzee’s view that more dialogue is needed in the LGBT community about important issues. Foremost to us are the topics of health equity and the impact of health care disparities on members of the LGBT community,” said Phil Yaeger, Executive Director and CEO of AIDS Services Foundation Orange County. “Bringing influential members of our community together to address these issues and policies is more vital in today’s political and media environment than ever.”
LGBTs In The News with Thom Senzee presents “Queer Celebrity: Challenges, Rewards and Responsibilities of being Out in Media” Thursday, November 2 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the LGBT Community Center of the Desert – 1301 North Palm Canyon Drive Palm Springs, CA 92262.
RSVP at lgbtsinthenews.com. Suggested $5 donation not required for admission. Proceeds benefit LGBTQ journalism scholarship funds.