When news broke on Wednesday that Neil Patrick Harris would host the Oscars in 2015, he tweeted a video in which he crossed the gig off a lengthy bucket list. But in an interview with Z100, Harris admitted that he was initially "terrified" to take the job.
"I’ve been in the hosting world for a little while and the Oscars has been that show that I was terrified to take on, but had never been asked to do," Harris told Elvis Duran. "So when Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, the producers of the show, they just reach out to someone, and thankfully, I think with the help of 'Gone Girl' and 'A Million Ways to Die in the West,' I had a couple more feature film credits than I did before and that definitely helps with the Academy and their decision making. It’s weirdly one of those things that you don’t know when it’s happening and you don’t reach out for it and present yourself, you just sometimes get a call.”
When asked if he was excited to host, he said, "Partly, I’m that way, and partly I’m reticent because I’ve always thought and said it’s the big target and as exciting as it is it’s potentially lose-lose in various ways because it’s just such a big show."
Harris said that he first got the call last Friday, but he hasn't started planning the details of the show, which airs Feb. 22, 2015, just yet.
Hear Neil Patrick Harris' interview in its entirety over at ElvisDuran.com
Women's magazine Marie Claire announced last July the addition of a new name to its masthead: Author Janet Mock was named contributing editor. The news received wide media attention, not just because of Mock's résumé but because of her gender identity as well. Mock is a professional writer who happens to be a trans woman. In the stories about her appointment, her gender identity and her new job were talked about in the same breath.
Pro Journo talked with trans and intersex journalists about their perspectives on having a presence, voice and career in the media.
Gaming journalist and trans woman Laura Kate Dale had mixed feelings on the coverage of Mock's hiring. "It is positive that there is recognition and that we can say, 'Look, here is a good example,'" she said. Mock is a positive and encouraging role model for the trans community. She is a well-known trans advocate, writer of the best-seller Redefining Realness, and creator of the hashtag #girlslikeus, and promotes trans women's empowerment. But alongside the positive aspects of promoting good practices, Dale saw a "fixation from non-trans people to take one victory for the minority group of transgender people and holding it up, saying, 'Look, things are getting better for trans people because of one instance.'"
A popular magazine hiring one transgender woman does not mean the whole industry is there yet. "Many trans people keep telling us that they wish for more visibility, because they want people to be more accepting," said Jennie Kermode, chair of Trans Media Watch (TMW), a charity dedicated to improving coverage of trans and intersex issues by the British media.
Trans and intersex people still face challenges in their gender identity in today's media industry. For one thing, they have to deal with comments by the audience. Dale has personally experienced this.
"Being open about my gender identity has brought a lot more online abuse and harassment than if I would not have done so. At the same time, people also tell me they really appreciate what I do, as a lot of people in this industry do not talk about their gender identity," she said.
An issue in the workplace is discrimination in employment. "Trans people certainly worry that they are not getting certain jobs because they are trans," Kermode said. As an example, Kermode notes there are not many trans people working as TV reporters. "Just as sexism limits opportunities for women, other kinds of prejudice limit opportunities for other minorities, like trans people. There is a tendency for people that go ahead as part of a certain social group. It is easier to get a job if you are in the same group as people who already have jobs in that organization--i.e., if you're a cisgender, able-bodied white man."
Labeled and limited
"I think news organizations need to be bold and employ people on their merits. If you go on to a mainstream American channel, women tend to look very feminine and men masculine. Be open to people that look different to the stereotype," a trans correspondent told Student Reporter, speaking on condition of anonymity. He added, "I've covered the London Olympics, worked in Libya and reported on Turkey during the earthquakes. Those are all really big stories. Who cares what I look like if there is a natural disaster that just happened?"
This TV journalist wished to stay anonymous for many reasons. One is that he believes his journalistic work should be the story, and not himself. Coming out may result in media outlets offering him a job just to report exclusively or increasingly on trans gender issues. This is not something he wishes to pursue.
"It is kind of, 'OK, you are the transgender person, so you are the best person to talk about these things,'" he explained. "I don't like the idea that the rest of the media industry feels like they don't need to learn about [transgender issues], to discuss them, research them or report on them, because 'that's somebody else's issue,'" he said. "I think any journalist worth his or her salt should be able to report on areas that aren't their immediate field of expertise. The information is out there. It is not rocket science."
Kermode agreed with this point, adding that the speed at which news is delivered nowadays is problematic. "TMW worked with an online newsroom from a broadcasting company. Their people were allowed five minutes researching on the story and writing it down. Often journalists are not trained on transgender issues. They have to look for the facts in a short time, whereby they can easily make mistakes."
Besides the importance of accurate reporting, "getting things right from the start is also a safety issue," Kermode explained. "Information coming from television programs or news articles can encourage verbal and sometimes even physical abuse towards trans and intersex people." TMW encourages all journalists to write about trans issues, providing training and a terminology guide to support those who wish to do so.
Good example tends to be followed
Intentionally or unintentionally, journalists educate and form public perceptions on gender identity. This can affect the way trans and intersex people are perceived. Dale believes that journalism should stimulate positive coverage of trans subjects and "continue to get high-profile people to raise the voice of transgender people."
According to Kermode, media companies should take the initiative in employing onscreen trans and intersex journalists. "Once viewers get used to it, they are completely fine with it," Kermode said. "I'd like one's gender identity not to be an issue in the future. And I think we are starting to get there, actually."
Out actor Neil Patrick Harris says coming out gay has “worked out great” for him.
The 41-year-old, recently wed Harris appeared Monday on Today to promote his new autobiography, Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography.
The book is written in the second person and allows readers to decide the book's format.
“If you wanna learn how to open a Tony Awards show, you can go to page 107. If you wanna shag a circus trapeze performer in Berlin, go to page 85,” Harris recently told David Letterman.
On Today, host Matt Lauer asked what advice Harris would give a celebrity considering coming out.
“I think that that process of coming out publicly is a super individual one. So I don't think that there's any one way to do it or any one person to tell you when to do it. It's little baby steps of acceptance, but I do feel like once that happened I met [husband David Burtka]. He's a super great guy and it seemed like being together wherever we went as opposed to being only together in certain places seemed like it needed to happen. And for me the timing happened sort of in weird circumstances, which I talk about a bit in the book, but worked out great. I've been working more than ever and no complaints.”
After a gay couple's wedding ceremony was interrupted by homophobic jeers, the local community rallied around the couple and decided to conquer hate with a celebration of love.
Arizona residents Oscar De Las Salas and Gary Jackson married on the evening of Aug. 17 at Centennial Park on Coronado Island, near San Diego, California. The wedding was an intimate one, with just 27 family and friends in attendance. All was going well, until they heard hateful slurs, like "homos" and "fags," coming from a man on the balcony of a nearby condominium complex.
"That day was filled with well-wishers -- even the ferry boat captain was wishing us well -- everyone was so positive ... We didn't expect anything like this," Jackson told The Huffington Post. "I looked at Oscar and I could see he was getting angry. I just made the decision that we were going to continue with this. This was our day. We weren't going to let the person take the power from us."
De Las Salas penned an article about the incident for Gay San Diego. The story went viral, and the two received more than 3,700 emails and Facebook messages from around the world. That is how they came in contact with Coronado resident Alisa Kerr. Kerr wanted to make up for what happened to the newlyweds by throwing them a second wedding party.
On Saturday, the couple headed to the Loews Coronado Bay Resort, where they were greeted by supporters -- most of whom they had never met -- to join together for a "celebration of love." The mayor of Coronado, Casey Tanaka, officiated a vow renewal ceremony at sunset, and a reception followed.
"It was humbling and emotional for us to get the meet so many of the people of Coronado, and hear their individual stories of how this incident in the park on that first wedding day and the response from the community had touched them on a personal level," Jackson said. "We had no idea the impact that this had on so many people across their community - and we were sincerely touched."
Kerr's intention was to show De Las Salas and Jackson the true character of the Coronado community.
"The residents are one of the things that make Coronado such a beautiful place and we are so happy we had the opportunity to share that with Oscar, Gary and everyone else who has shown such an interest in this story," she told HuffPost. "Oscar and Gary's memories of this community will now be counted among some of the happiest in their love story. The mayor gave them the keys to our city and we have given them a place in our hearts."
De Las Salas and Jackson hope that in sharing their story, other same-sex couples might not have to face hatred in the future. They said the celebration of love spoke to the promise of a better tomorrow.
"With all that has happened this past couple of weeks with the progression of same-sex marriage bans being struck down across the nation, it was poignant that this event brought out so many people who believe passionately in equal rights and fairness, and allowed them to be more vocal about equality in love," Jackson said. "We hope that the positive outcome of this whole incident brings more of the tolerance and belief in equal rights to the vocal majority and relegates the haters and bigots to what they are: irrelevant noise."
Even after 16 years the name and story of Matthew Shepard, whose murder, carved into American history, represented a watershed moment that forever changed the conversation about the LGBT experience, not only still resonate but continue to have an impact.
When Matt died in 1998, I was an advocate working for GLAAD. My story and my connection to his death are well documented, most recently in a TEDx talk at Claremont College. The memories and lessons of all I have ever done in relation to Matt's death, and of all subsequent work I've done with regard to hate crimes and so many other issues, inform, inspire and motivate me every day. Legacy.
My experience changed me forever and carries with it a deep responsibility to continue to tell the stories of LGBT people. October is forever bittersweet for me: I celebrate National Coming Out Day with both pride and painful memories of being in Laramie and mourning Matt's death with his friends and fellow students and community advocates, not only bearing witness to moments that were shared around the world though the media but knowing that, in the best way we could, we tried to ensure that the media coverage was as fair and accurate as possible. Legacy.
As Dennis Shepard said at Russell Henderson's plea bargain hearing (Henderson is one of Matt's killers, now spending the remainder of his life in prison), "good is coming from evil." And after 16 years that good continues. Yes, his murder sparked a national conversation not only about hate crimes but about LGBT lives in general. Yes, it began a process where our experience as LGBT people suddenly had more context in the broader culture. (It followed the coming out of Ellen DeGeneres in 1997, making the late '90s a very influential time for the cultural visibility of LGBT people.) In October 2009 I stood feet away from President Obama at a reception following the signing of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Legacy.
And in 2014 we have only seen Matt's legacy expand in scope and grow in influence. The Matthew Shepard Foundation's work has gone international, with Matt's parents, Dennis and Judy, traveling the world to "erase hate" and promote human rights for all. The foundation's work with young people is some of the most sophisticated youth-focused LGBT work being done. Moisés Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater Project's 2000 play The Laramie Project (which was followed by an epilogue, The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, in 2009) continues to be one of the most performed plays in America and has sparked an amazing online community. And the recent release of the documentary Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine gives us an entirely new way to see and know Matt: beyond the headlines, in the voices of Matt's friends and family. Seeing video footage of Matt in this intimate chronicle of his life prior to 1998, and hearing the voice of this young man who changed my life without ever knowing me, struck me to my core.
Another thing Dennis Shepard said directly to Russell Henderson at that hearing in 1999, with most of us in tears as we watched a father bare his soul with compassion and anger, was this:
I would like nothing better than to see you die, Mr. McKinney. However, this is the time to begin the healing process, to show mercy to someone who refused to show any mercy. ... Mr. McKinney, I'm going to grant you life, as hard as that is for me to do, because of Matthew. Every time you celebrate Christmas, a birthday, or the Fourth of July, remember that Matt isn't. Every time that you wake up in that prison cell, remember that you had the opportunity and the ability to stop your actions that night. ... Mr. McKinney, I give you life in the memory of one who no longer lives. May you have a long life, and may you thank Matthew every day for it.
I am not sure about Henderson, but I know I thank Matt -- and his family -- every day, for very different reasons. We all should. That is his legacy, and it is one that will continue forever.
The University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's College will extend benefits to legally married same-sex spouses of employees, the schools has announced. The decisions came in the wake of the Supreme Court's rejection of appeals to strike down same-sex marriage in several states, including Indiana.
On Wednesday Notre Dame notified employees of the change by email, saying:
"Notre Dame is a Catholic university and endorses a Catholic view of marriage. However, it will follow the relevant civil law and begin to implement this change immediately."
A spokesperson for Saint Mary's, a Catholic women's school, told South Bend Tribune that the college would also immediately comply with the law and extend benefits to all married spouses of employees.
"Being an out staff member, I feel a lot more confident that my concerns are being heard and responded to," Aaron Nichols, an openly gay staff member at Notre Dame, told South Bend Tribune. "The university is no longer acting in a vacuum. That makes me proud to be ND."
On Monday the Supreme Court declined to interfere with rulings that allow same-sex marriage in Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana and Wisconsin, which many saw as a precedent that could pave the way for further acceptance of gay marriage around the country.
Despite the announcements from Notre Dame and Saint Mary's, many private religious schools and institutions still refuse to comply with federal rulings on same-sex marriage and employee non-discrimination. Holy Cross College, Ancilla College, Bethel College and Goshen College -- all religious schools in Indiana -- currently do not offer benefits to same-sex spouses.
In Massachusetts, where gay marriage is also legal, a private Christian school Gordon College signed onto a letter of faith-based organizations in July petitioning the Obama administration for exemption from employee non-discrimination regulations on the basis of religious objection to same-sex relationships.
The debate has also come to bear in cases where employees are fired after coming out as LGBT. In July, Olivia Reichert and Christina Gambaro were asked to resign from Cor Jesu Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school, when the institution learned of the couple's marriage.
Missouri, where Cor Jesu is located, does not allow same-sex marriages but does recognize those performed in other states. Reichert and Gambaro got married in New York over the summer, but felt they had no legal grounds on which to appeal their firing.
"The law is not on our side, nor is the church," Gambaro wrote on Facebook, "so we have no ground to stand on.”