News and Events

Now in NYC Lesbian Love Octagon – Musical Dyke Drama!

Lesbian Love Octagon

Lots of Kissing in Lesbian Love Octagon featuring Ti Grieco (Jess) on left and Lindsay Naas (Wendy).

By Angeline Acain

The night my partner and I went to see Lesbian Love Octagon (LLO) there was a torrential downpour. As we navigated our way soaked to the skin through the East Village to the Kraine Theater (New York City), I knew this performance was going to be worth the drenching – and I was right. Created by Kim Kressal and Will Larche, Lesbian Love Octagon is a musical comedy about dyke drama – that’s right, a musical, about the lesbian culture of ex lovers. So I knew this would be a fun and entertaining night. Kressal and Larche wrote the lyrics and music and it is first rate. Not that LLO can be compared to other lesbian musicals – because there isn’t any other. This is a one of a kind production, done brilliantly.

The story revolves around Sue (played by lesbian actress Caitlin Lee Reid) who is dumped by Darla (played by Kristian Espiritu) who is now with Sue’s ex who is now a trans named Jerry (played by transgender actor Jax Jackson). Other lesbians and their ex’s are involved, at least five more main characters, hence the octagon. The setting is East Village 1990s, feminist bookstore, food co-op, bar, sex shop, and bedroom and lesbian characters range from bisexual to transgender and everything in between. Kressal told AfterEllen, “Beyond this just being a lesbian love story, it’s about community and lesbian identity. I think that the late ’90s were a time when your visibility as a lesbian was very important. I mean, yes Ellen had come out, but that’s where we were. This was pre-The L Word, the height of third wave feminism. The show takes place in the Lower East Side and at that time, Babeland, Meow Mix and Bluestockings had all just opened. So this area had become the center of the (lesbian) universe… All of this is to say that I think the late ’90s is the right kindling to ignite a story about lesbian identity and uncertainty, but I think the story itself is timeless.”

Lesbian Love Octagon

Lesbian Love Octagon featuring Caitlin Lee Reid (left) as the protagonist Sue and Jax Jackson as transgender Jerry.

LLO debuted in 2010 and Horse Trade, the management company that runs the Kraine Theatre invited LLO for another run and is co-producer. Regarding lesbian visibility in musical theater Kressal told AfterEllen, “…this is missing from musical theatre. But, the deeper we have gotten into this project that has become a much bigger deal to us. We have had commercial interest in the show, but with the exception of Horse Trade, everyone has wanted us to take out some lesbians. Make it less lesbian. Can’t there be straight characters in this? Can you take lesbian out of the title? And those are the things that we are unwilling to bend on, because then what’s the point. It just becomes another musical. We are willing to not make it to Broadway or off-Broadway, because of our unwillingness to bend our belief that trans stories, lesbian stories, need to be told in musical theatre. This is our life. This is our reality.”

Included in lesbian reality is the use of vibrators and LLO audience members can purchase raffle tickets to win a Hitachi Magic Wand. So during intermission it was entertaining to watch a lucky gal win her wand. Another part of LLO fun is featuring a special guest star in each performance and TONY nominee Jan Maxwell joined the production that night. Lindsay Nass who plays Wendy, Sue’s best friend, is another out lesbian actress in this performance. Naas told AfterEllen, “Everyone should see the Lesbian Love Octagon, regardless of your sexual orientation, gender, or age. Lesbians should see it because it is a beautiful and honest representation of their community in a brilliant form of entertainment. They’ll get all the little inside jokes and will undoubtedly relate to at least one of the characters. It’s really a magical thing, realizing that a group of people that have been pretty much left out of the entertainment world get to see themselves being brought to life onstage. Straight people should see it because of those exact same reasons.”

I was told Kressal and her wife are in the process of becoming parents, this is apparent in LLO’s ending and of course it is an ending with a lot of song and dance.

Lesbian Love Octagon is playing at the Kraine Theater until June 29, 2013. See a video, hear great music, join their community and buy your tickets at www.lesbianthemusical.com.

Lesbian Love Octagon cast.

Lesbian Love Octagon cast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos by KL Thomas

“A Family Like Mine”, Film by Katherine “Tia” Kearns

Michael and Tia on the cover of the November-December 1999 issue #7 of Gay Parent magazine

Michael and Tia on the cover of the November-December 1999 issue #7 of Gay Parent magazine

 

November-December 1999 issue #7 Gay Parent magazine cover story daughter, Katherine “Tia” Kearns, now 18, created a film, “A Family Like Mine.” The film features her life with her HIV positive dad, Michael and other LGBT headed families. Select the link below to view her video.

A Family Like Mine.

New Documentary About Songwriter and Gay Dad Desmond Child, His Partner Curtis Shaw and Their Twin Sons, Roman and Nyro

Desmond Child with partner Curtis Shaw and sons Roman and Nyro

Desmond Child (top left) with partner Curtis Shaw and sons Roman and Nyro

 

Mark your calendars for the SF premiere of TWO: THE STORY OF ROMAN AND NYRO. TWO is a touching documentary about the lives of twin sons born to acclaimed songwriter Desmond Child (worked with Ricky Martin, Jon Bon Jovi and more) and his lifelong partner Curtis Shaw. The film also features Angela Whittaker, the woman who carried their twin sons, Roman and Nyro. What’s captured is a moving story of family unity, parenthood and love from preconception through the boys’ first 10 years,

The couple with a very pregnant Angela Whittaker.

The couple with a very pregnant
Angela Whittaker.

 

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TWO: THE STORY OF ROMAN AND NYRO will have its San Francisco premiere, as part of the San Francisco Documentary Festival.

Friday June 14 – 7:00 PM            New Parkway

Sunday June 16 – 9:00 PM            Roxie Theater

Monday June 17 – 7:01 PM            Roxie Theater

Parents Desmond Child and Curtis Shaw, and their sons Roman and Nyro, will join Director Heather Winters and attend the screenings on June 16th and June 17th. All will participate in a special post-screening Q&A.

 

Ticket information http://prod3.agileticketing.net/websales/pages/info.aspx?evtinfo=56659~50c99741-ceec-4bfa-94b4-b7d919a3c410&epguid=1b0dd1dc-4f43-40db-87bc-79af44283b8b&

Photos courtesy of David Magdael & Associates, Inc.

Study of Children of Lesbians and their Relationship with Male Donors

 

Lesbian couple with their daughter at Family Week in Provincetown

Lesbian couple with their daughter at Family Week in Provincetown

May 22, 2013 press release from the Williams Institute:

New Williams Institute Study Suggests That Children Of Lesbian Parents Are Happy With Their Relationships With Male Donors And Some Seek To Manage These Relationships In Adolescence

Research suggests that children of lesbian parents are satisfied with their current level of contact with their male donors and do not think of their donors as dads, according to a new Williams Institute study by Abbie E. Goldberg, Williams Institute Visiting Scholar and Associate Professor of Psychology at Clark University, and Katherine R. Allen, Professor of Human Development at Virginia Tech. The study, entitled, Donor, Dad, or…? Young Adults with Lesbian Parents’ Experiences with Known Donors, sheds light on how children raised in lesbian, gay, and bisexual families are contributing to the redefinition and reconstruction of complex kinship arrangements.

Participants in the study perceived their relationships with their male donors in one of three ways: as strictly donors and not members of their family; as extended family members, but not as parents; and as fathers. Participants ranged in age from 19-29, and while most were satisfied with the current level of contact with their male donors, several desired more information or contact with these men, and in some of these cases, had already begun to establish a connection with them.

“This research sheds light on the largely unexplored relationships between the children of lesbian parents and their known donors,” said Goldberg. “The findings suggest that the terrain of chosen families deserves greater attention from researchers, therapists, and other practitioners.”

According to Goldberg and Allen, the tendency for some participants to voice a growing interest in seeing their donors more often than when they were younger indicates a turning point in the participants’ identity that emerges in late adolescence or young adulthood. These individuals may be experiencing greater independence from their mothers, which enables them to craft their own relationships with their donors.

Most of the participants perceived their donors as “just donors,” or as extended family members, and even those who perceived the donors as third parents conceptualized them as tertiary to their primary mothers. According to the study, these participants are drawing upon the traditional heterosexual family lexicon to develop useful and appropriate terms to describe and name their donors, which provides them with the language to clarify the nature of their relationship with their donors.

Among other findings, the study suggests that therapists should allow all family members to define their relationships to one another, and not presume the nature or meaning of terms like “mother” and “father,” especially in the context of lesbian-mother families that utilized known donors. Further, the study also suggests that therapists should be sensitive to the possibility that young adulthood may represent an important time for further identity exploration, especially in terms of relationship formation, and that young adults with lesbian mothers may express particular interest in their known donors during this period.

Click here for the full study http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/research/parenting/goldberg-allen-fp-may-2013/.

The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy advances law and public policy through rigorous, independent research and scholarship, and disseminates its work through a variety of education programs and media to judges, legislators, lawyers, other policy makers, and the public.   A national think tank at UCLA Law, the Williams Institute produces high quality research with real-world relevance.  For more information go to: http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/

Photo courtesy of Family Equality Council

Chely Wright and Lauren Blitzer Wright Parents to Twin Boys

Chely Wright with wife Lauren Blitzer at Lighthouse opening ceremonies

Chely Wright (right) and Lauren Blitzer Wright

By Angeline Acain

The following posting is from Chely Wright’s Facebook page:

Chely & Lauren Welcome Twins George Samuel and Everett Joseph

The country singer and her wife, music executive Lauren Blitzer Wright, welcomed identical twin sons on Saturday, May 18 in New York City, her rep tells PEOPLE exclusively.

Although they weren’t due until this summer, George Samuel and Everett Joseph — who are named for their great-grandfathers – are thriving, the rep says.

“We are grateful for all the amazing medical care and the love and support of family and friends,” Wright, 42, tells PEOPLE.

In 2012, Chely told Gay Parent magazine when asked about starting a family, “It’s been a dream for us and it’s one of the reasons we wanted to get married. We hope to be blessed with children and we will be working on it this year! We are thinking of becoming pregnant – one of us anyway.”

Read the complete interview with Chely Wright by ordering our May-June 2012 issue.

Photo courtesy of Parris Communications

Sean Hayes of Will & Grace Plays Single Gay Dad on NBC

Sean Hayes plays single gay dad on NBC's new comedy Sean Saves the World. Sami Isler plays his daughter Ellie.

Sean Hayes plays single gay dad on NBC’s new comedy Sean Saves the World. Sami Isler plays his daughter Ellie.

By Angeline Acain

“If you’re gay then how did you and mom have sex?” asks 14-year old Ellie. Although NBC has canceled it’s one-season-run gay dad TV show “The New Normal”. It has already produced a new gay dad comedy starring the boyish Sean Hayes from the hit show “Will & Grace”. According to 429 Magazine, Hayes’ role as Jack McFarland in “Will & Grace” is considered a milestone for LGBT media portrayals. Before “Will & Grace,” LGBT characters were rarely a part of the main cast, as many of them were given minor roles and LGBT themes were not prominent on television.

In “Sean Saves the World” Hayes plays Sean Isler, a divorced from a woman gay dad, raising a teenage daughter played by Sami Isler. Linda Lavin plays Sean’s “ready to give advice” controlling mother. “Sean Saves the World” will air Thursdays this fall.

See more: http://www.youtube.com/SeanSavesTheWorld

 

1st International Family Equality Day, May 6, 2012

By Angeline Acain

On a beautiful sunny spring day in New York City, the First International Family Equality Day was held, May 6, 2012. This day brought together LGBT families and their children from across North America and Europe for the first time to celebrate the millions of families with parents who are LGBT. Events were held in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Canada, South Africa, Finland, Germany, and Switzerland. Festivities in New York City included a group photo shoot in Times Square – participants were given pinwheels to hold – followed by a press conference, luncheon, crafts, and family dance at NYC’s LGBT Community Center. The event was organized by the Family Equality Council (FEC), R Family Cruises, and Center Families in partnership with LGBT parent support groups outside of the USA. FEC executive director, Jennifer Chrisler, led the press conference introducing speakers, George Fesser, director of Center Families, Ella Robinson, daughter of Bishop Gene Robinson, actor Denis O’Hare, and comedian Judy Gold. Kelli Carpenter, owner of R Family Cruises, O’Hare’s husband Hugo Redwood and Ron Poole-Dayan of Men Having Babies were also in attendance. For more information about the International Family Equality Day visit www.familyequality.org/get_involved/events/annual_events/international_family_equality_day/.

Here’s a short video of the photo shoot. View the photo here www.gayparentmag.com/1st-intl-family-equality-day

1st International Family Equality Day

Family waiting to participate in 1st International Family Equality Day group photo shoot in Times Square, NY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1st International Family Equality Day

Family Equality Council Executive Director, Jennifer Chrisler, R Family’s Kelli Carpenter and Ella Robinson at Times Square, NY

 

Videos links from the ceremony at the LGBT Community Center following the photo shoot:

Jennifer Chrisler introduces actor and gay dad Denis O’Hare.

http://youtu.be/lF_QEYHw5TY

Ella Robinson, co-chair of the Outspoken Generation, and daughter of Bishop Gene Robinson speaks next.

http://youtu.be/Aimk8GzGKU0

Comedian and lesbian mom Judy Gold is the final speaker.

http://youtu.be/NrIz_iwdfsQ

Gay Parent magazine publisher Angeline Acain (right), Judy Gold, and Acain's partner Susan Eisenberg

Me with my partner Susan Eisenberg and Judy Gold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright Gay Parent magazine

 

Lori Ada Jaroslow and The Baby Project

By Flavia Francesquini

Lori Ada Jarowslow creator of The Baby Project

Author/performer Lori Ada Jarowslow (right)
adopted 16 year old Sam (left).
This is their adoption day photo.

 

The first lesbian movie I ever watched was Claire of the Moon. While in 1992 it was still exciting to see lesbians on the big screen, I hated the movie. I was young and just coming out then and although I wanted to see hot women making out, I didn’t want their sexuality to be the plot. I wanted the fact that they were lesbians to be something we understood and even appreciated, but not a big enough deal to become the actual reason for the movie. I longed for the day that our community would be portrayed in the main stream as we really are, people with hopes, talents, problems, dreams and everything else that puts us in the same category as anyone else, humans. Yes, we have come a long way!

Lori Ada Jaroslow subscribes to a similar concept. Her musical, The Baby Project, started out as a one-woman play and it has slowly grown into a wildly creative musical. The small ensemble of five incredibly talented actors take on several roles during the time that it takes us to get to know Dana Jacobson and her unique journey. Dana is a single, 40-something Jewish woman from New York who decides that Los Angeles would be a good place to settle down and start a family. As she starts on the winding road of medically-assisted fertility we are all taken along for the ride and the real question becomes what exactly constitutes family.

Jaroslow’s own life can be told as an adventure. She is one of those people that come to mind when we hear the words extremely talented. She sings, writes, acts, directs and teaches. Add to that list everything associated with raising a teenager and you start to get the picture. Originally from New Jersey, Jaroslow spent most of her life smack in the middle of the theatre district of New York City. About fourteen years ago she, like her character Dana, headed west with all her spunk, hopes and dreams.

While she perfected her skills by taking writing classes at UCLA and working her way into the LA theatre community, becoming a mother was always on her mind. She recalls, “I had tried insemination in NY and then again after I moved but it just didn’t work out. I started thinking about others ways I could become a mom. Adoption seemed like a good way to go.” As she started looking into adoption, life took a different turn and she postponed her plans for the next few years. However, a desire as strong as that of being a mom never really goes away and she found herself thinking that “if I don’t do this now I’ll be 90 by the time I have a kid!” This is when she got seriously involved with The Children’s Bureau in Los Angeles, which has been dedicated to helping children in need for over a century.

The process of becoming a legible foster parent can be grueling. Jaroslow compares that to her initial approach to becoming pregnant, “The agency is very thorough when making decisions and so are doctors… first there were people checking my hormone levels and then it was my annual income. Either way it can be a very humbling experience.”
The life of an artist can sometimes translate into periods of unstable income and that was one of the hurdles Jaroslow had to overcome, “I was very determined at this point so I got a steady job as a music teacher.”
Although she was originally looking for a kid between the ages of 5 and 11, she was presented with the records of 16 year old Samantha. Teens come with their own set of challenges, especially those who have bounced around in the system for a while, but the more she read Sam’s file the more convinced she became that this would become her child. Jaroslow was a substitute teacher then and it gave her a new perspective, “I was in touch with so many kids who needed help. There were kids having babies, kids on the streets… it impacted me!”

Samantha went to live with Jaroslow in August of 2011 and her adoption became finalized last July. As it turns out, this is a great match! Jaroslow loves being able to juggle her life at home with her life as an artist and things are happily moving forward.

Sam and her mother, Lori

 

In The Baby Project we can expect to hear – and feel – the impact of Jaroslow’s personal journey into parenthood. It is currently scheduled to open by the end of January 2013 but Jaroslow is still looking for funding. The Road Theatre (Jaroslow’s production company) received a National Endowment for the Arts grant for $20,000. “This is a huge honor,” says Jaroslow, “but the theatre is required to match the grant.” They need to raise $20,000 by December 20, 2012. All donations are tax deductible and no donation is too small.

Whether you are in the LA area or not, you can make sure this baby goes from crawling to walking. We need art and we need to be represented in all art forms. Dana Jacobson is the character I had been waiting for all these years! Her bisexuality is not what moves the story along, it is not the reason for the plot, it’s not even that big a deal. But her story is one that reflects the journey many of us have taken, whether we are straight or not, and that ends up being the point. Our community is still teaching the world what constitutes family. We need all the examples we can find to show that love is the main ingredient, not legally assigned roles. When we support this project, we support the concept that we are all out there in the big scary world looking for the same thing, acceptance.

For more performance information on The Baby Project (sample some of the show’s great music!) and how you can help (watch a video of Lori and Sam), go to: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1724395194/the-baby-project and http://projectbabymusical.com

Photos courtesy of Lori Ada Jaroslow

Smart is the New Norm

By Flavia Francesquini

For as long as we have lived in society we have tried to little avail to define Normal. What is and is not considered “the norm” varies immensely depending on who you ask. I went to school with a girl named Daisy. Her younger sister was also named Daisy and neither answered by a nickname because they thought that two siblings having the same name was normal. The family who lived next door to my first home ate dinner sitting on beach chairs that they neatly lined up on their front lawn. For them, watching the street as they chowed on steaks was normal. There are couples on reality TV shows giving birth to their twentieth child, a fact they all seem to consider normal. When I decided to become a lesbian mom with the help of a friendly donor, folks didn’t measure words to let me know that my arrangement was not normal.

It seems that as long as we are all doing, feeling, saying and thinking the exact same thing we are alright. The problem with that starts with the fact that we can barely get our own friends to agree on what to order for dinner or what movie to watch after it. How can we possibly come up with a reasonable consensus of normalcy that appeases the masses? I’ll give you a second to ponder about this.   Yep. It’s hard. But here’s a noble idea, how about we try to accept the theory that people who don’t live, look, think or act like us are also normal?

The concept of normalcy and its ripple impact in society, but also in individual lives,  has been brought to light by the brilliant Ryan Murphy. If you are familiar with his work you know that pushing the envelope is what he does best. Murphy has brought us Glee, Nip/Tuck and the awesome American Horror Story. This award winning film and television screenwriter, director, and producer has made no secrets about his own sexuality and in fact, his recent wedding to long time partner David Miller has some people speculating if his newest project is loosely based on personal experiences. To those waiting to see what else Murphy would bring to our living rooms, don’t miss the premiere of The New Normal.

The New Normal premieres on NBC Tuesday, September 11th and its cast is impressive. Hunky Justin Bartha (who almost didn’t get married in The Hangover), and the adorable Andrew Rannells (who has awed Broadway audiences in The Book of Mormon), are a loving couple with one desire, to start a family. In comes Georgia King (the thoughtful Rosamond of Jane Eyre), a young mom from a Midwestern town trying her luck in Los Angeles. Georgia agrees to become their surrogate but her own mother, the legendary Ellen Barkin has her own views of right, wrong, and most importantly, normal. As their lives become irreversibly intertwined, they deal with the ups, downs and simply funny ways in which a group of people can become a family.

To help bring these characters to life Murphy has enlisted Ali Adler as one of the writers and executive producers for the show. Adler, who has two children with actress Sara Gilbert, can certainly draw from her own experience as a lesbian mom, and I hope she will. The show will not go on air without a certain amount of controversy. Since we still have a long road before we all arrive at my proposed philosophy of life – you know, where we all accept each other as normal – some folks are up in arms over the concept of two loving adults raising a child.

First an NBC Utah affiliate has refused to air the show due to its contents! The station, KSL, is surprisingly owned by the Latter-day Saints church, and I do hope you catch the sarcasm here.  Then One Million Moms decided to boycott it, claiming it was “harmful to our society.” It’s too bad they won’t be able to see one of their very own represented on the show. Ellen Barkin’s hilariously bigoted character is a member of the Million Moms. If for nothing else, watch it to see Barkin’s performance!

Perhaps a little controversy is the added bonus to this very funny show. Perhaps talking about surrogacy, adoption, and the impact of bigotry and homophobia on our families will help demystify some of the fears and misconceptions surrounding LGBTQ families.

The roads we take to form a family are diverse, and sometimes complicated, but they should all lead to the same destination, a loving home. The New Normal is a refreshing and very funny way of taking a close look at what happens when love takes the lead and ignorance ends up left in the dust.

Flavia Francesquini is a regular contributor and Assistant Editor for Gay Parent magazine.

Rufus Wainwright Singing “Montauk”

Rufus Wainwright wrote a song, “Montauk,” for his daughter Viva. According to an interview with Wainwright, Montauk, “could be the first big major song about having two dads on a mainstream level.” Read the full interview with Wainwright in our September-October 2012 issue #84. Below is Wainwright performing “Montauk” for Studio Q  from his latest album “Out of the Game”. – Angeline Acain

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