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There's a new (old) Sam Smith album coming out, there's a ton of backlash around the casting of Matt Bomer as a transgender sex worker, there's a trailer for Evan Rachel Wood's new HBO show 'Westwood', and apparently 'Finding Prince Charming' is going to "educate" people "about what it's like to date in the LGBT community". We're back for week two of The Birdcage, your weekly roundup of all things on the queer celeb spectrum.
Stephanie Marie Anderson

3 Sep 2016 - 10:44 AM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2016 - 11:47 AM

Welcome to The Birdcage, your weekly round-up of queer celeb news, gossip and entertainment. I'm Stephanie, a certified* celebrity and pop culture guru, and I'm here to tell you the who's who and what's what of everything going on with all our favourite LGBTQIA+ celebs.

(*not an actual certification)

Celeb goss

Ellen DeGeneres has launched her own line of emojis. I've spent the past 20 minutes sitting here trying to work out under what circumstance I would ever potentially think to myself "oh you know what this text message calls for is a heart eyes emoji, but instead of an actual emoji, I want it to be the face of Ellen DeGeneres". So far, I have nothing. Can you gift apps to people? Maybe I would gift it to someone as a troll present and then every time they sent me an emoji I'd be like "no Ellen emoji?!" to make sure they could never delete it. That would be pretty funny. But also, let's be real. If Blac Chyna deserves her own line of emojis then I guess I can't argue that Ellen doesn't.

Mara Wilson, Twitter's favourite former child star, spoke to People mag this week about her "emotional decision" to come out in the wake of the Orlando tragedy, saying: “If I had known it was going to trend on Facebook, I don’t know that I would have done it just then. But the vast majority of the feedback has been positive.”

Colton Haynes received the Human Rights Campaign's Visibility Award for helping "countless LGBTQ young people across the country and around the world to live their lives as their authentic selves".

You can watch his sweet, teary acceptance speech below, but as a heads up there's about five and a half minutes of clips from Teen Wolf and Arrow to sit through before Colton starts his speech, so you can feel free to skip ahead because I know I did.

In the speech, he says that it "feels incredible" to be able to be himself and that he feels lucky to be surrounded by so many new friends and allies.

"Equality is our birthright. It's not a slogan," he says.

Olympic diver Tom Daley spoke about plans for his upcoming wedding to fiancé Dustin Lance Black, of "stop texting my fiancé, Sam Smith" fame (among other things, like his Oscar). Interviewed on BBC Radio 1, Daley said: “The date hasn’t officially been set yet but we’re thinking some time early next year, maybe spring next year," and joked that it would have a "swimwear only" dress code. Now is a great time to relive this moment, though.

Molly Shannon, my very favourite superstar, declared her love for "the gays" on the red carpet for her new film Other People in LA. She added: "The message is, of course, I relate, and I want to support the gay community in continuing to protect and tell stories about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people in any way that I can."

She also spoke about how the fight for queer visibility in Hollywood is far from done, and said that "we must continue" because "there are so many stories" to tell.

"To me, that’s just how it should be. There needs to be even more." Read more from Molly here.

And the Golden Girls' Bea Arthur is having a homeless shelter for LGBT+ youths opened in her memory in New York City. She left $300,000 to New York's Ali Forney Center in her will, and they will open the Bea Arthur residence, an 18-bed shelter, in February next year, providing beds and counselling to those in need.

Music news

Sam Smith's original 2008 debut album, entitled Sam Smith Diva Boy, is set to be released by London indie label Flipbook Music. Of the release, they say:

“It was at Flipbook Music that Sam’s dreams were nurtured, his, then undiscovered, talents uncovered and developed and it was there he learned his art. It’s also where he experienced all his ‘firsts’, including recording his first album, his first live and video performances and first interviews and, later on, his interviews as an informed person when he shares his views on life, love, sexuality and more.”

You know, one would think that if they'd really thought he was that talented, that they perhaps would've released this album before now, rather than waiting 8 years until he was the first gay man to win an Oscar famous. But hey, what do I know. Maybe this was Flipbook's plan all along: record the best debut album of all time, then wait, and wait, and wait, until he has a huge fanbase to sell it to. That's plausible, right? Anyway, here's the video for "Momentarily Mine":

Bb-blue eyes Troye Sivan performed at the MTV VMA awards pre-show with Alessia Cara, singing "Wild Things", "Wild", and "Scars To Your Beautiful".

He also performed "Wild" on Late Night With Seth Meyers, and you can click here to watch that one.

Freddie Mercury has been honoured with a blue plaque in celebration of what would've been his 70th birthday on Monday (Sept. 5). Placed outside his first London home, Freddie's sister Kashmira Cook said he “secretly would have been very proud and very pleased” with it.

Demi Lovato did a very strange PR stunt this week where she went "undercover" in maybe the least convincing costume ever - as in, actually just a hat and sunglasses - and pretended to be a Lyft driver. I don't know what to say about this except for the fact that Demi attempting to be ~in on the joke~ and self-drag through this video has me like:

But hey, maybe you'll enjoy it more than I did.

YouTube musicians Sam Tsui and Casey Breves released a music video called "This Promise" to accompany their wedding and it's very sweet:

Against Me! released a music video for their new song "333", starring Natasha Lyonne and Andrew Howard as a married couple living their 1960s, pastel repression of a life. There are a lot of shots of Natasha looking sad and anxious while cleaning the house with is v. relatable #content.

Lyon Heart released a music video for "Falling For You", which features two shirtless men delivering an interpretive dance about falling in love and sharing your life with someone. The song itself delivers a kind of easy-listening throwback vibe, like something you'd hear at the supermarket as a kid when you were home sick from school on the day ya mum did the grocery shopping. Maybe that's just me.


And Adore Delano released a music video for "I.C.U". She was also on Periscope the other day talking about why she quit All Stars, which you can watch here.

From the casting couch

Gina Rodriguez, of Jane The Virgin fame, will play a lesbian paramedic in the upcoming film Annihilation opposite Natalie Portman. She told Latina magazine that "it’s about five women who are going into the Shimmer, an entity that’s starting to destroy the world."

She continued: “I play Anya Thorensen, a paramedic from Chicago who happens to be a lesbian and an ex-addict.”

Gina has transformed herself into a lesbian for the role by shaving the side of her head, in order to represent the community accurately. I'm not kidding, that's literally what she said when people criticised her new look on the 'gram:

“Who I am is not my f*cking hair, and to be an actor is to transform,” she said.  “To represent a community is to commit, to give my entire all."

Nicole Kidman in The Hours, Charlize Theron in Monster, and now, Gina Rodriguez in Annihilation. Please stay tuned for my 2017 list of Oscar-winning transformations that actors undertook for roles.

The biggest news of the week, though, is that Matt Bomer is going to be playing a transgender sex worker in a new film called Anything. Bomer's character, Freda, enters the scene when a recently-widowed Mississippi man (played by John Carroll Lynch) moves to LA so that his sister can watch over him. He and Freda meet and form what Vulture calls a "complicated friendship".

Jen Richards, of Her Story and I Am Cait, had this to say on the matter:

She added that casting cis men to play trans women "denies actual trans women opportunities, jobs, resources, which hurts entire community."

She continued: "Having trans people play trans people allows for more informed, subtle, authentic performance. It makes for BETTER ART, which is the point. Eddie Redmayne, Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, etc., are great actors, but we, and those who know us, see the difference between them and us. Cis audiences reward them because they see being trans itself as a performance. Trans actors rather perform THE STORY, not our gender."

You can read more of Jen's thoughts here.

Sense8's Jamie Clayton also criticised the casting choice, only to find herself swiftly blocked by Matt Bomer:

When Mark Ruffalo, Anything's executive producer, caught wind of the backlash, he took to Twitter to respond, tweeting:

No, I don't know where Mark was when the conversations about Eddie Redmayne being cast in The Danish Girl or Jared Leto being cast in Dallas Buyers Club were going on, either. To be honest, this reeks of "oops, we didn't think the backlash would be this strong and now we're worried about Bomer's Oscar potential" to me, rather than "I genuinely did not realise that there has already been a conversation about trans-erasure in Hollywood going on for years", but Jen Richards was far more graceful about the situation than I would've been:

And at some point during the backlash, Matt unblocked Jamie, also.

On the small screen

You guys, there is just so much gay Bachelor Finding Prince Charming news this week.

First, TMZ revealed that one of the contestants is HIV-positive, reporting that it will be a "focal point" of the show after the "emotional" reveal. Lass Bass confirmed the news to People mag, saying:

“It is true…All of us know someone that is living with HIV, and I think the stigma is still really bad out there – people are just so uneducated about it. To us, obviously it doesn’t matter at all, we’ve been around it so much, but I think this is really going to educate a lot of people. I’m excited for people to watch it, especially this episode.”

And Robert Sepulveda Jr, our gay Bachie, said this:

“For me, it’s like: Is someone HIV-positive not worthy of love? That’s really the question, and it doesn’t matter to me. ‘Prince Charming’ would be accepting of anyone, and that’s how I am….Again, me being ‘Prince Charming’ – the guy that everyone’s vying for their attention – I’m not going to not date someone because they’re HIV-positive. That’s ridiculous. It’s really a stigma that we have to resolve now.”

He also talked about the possibility of the suitors ditching him and hooking up with one another, saying:

“It was a thought, but if the guys fell in love with each other, then more power to them! But I appreciate the guys staying true to the fact that they were here for me and they were here finding love, and I think they did a really good job.”

There were also rumours flying about Robert's past as an escort, which he confirmed in an interview with HuffPo, saying: “The past is the past. I was young and it helped through college."

He continued: “What I want people to focus on is who I am today as an entrepreneur, as an activist. I started a non-profit and, you know, focusing on the show. That’s really what I want people to focus on.”

He also credited the show with allowing him to “close a lot of chapters in [his] life that [he] felt a lot of guilt around," saying that he previously "thought [he] couldn’t share and express” his feelings about them. You can watch the interview here.

What he doesn't address in the interview, however, are the rumours that while he was an escort, he was known for refusing people of colour as clients.

And finally, Lassie also told EW that Finding Prince Charming is going to be "more realistic" than The Bachelor because “You won’t see Prince Charming getting on his knee and proposing at the end of this show. I think it’s just a little more real that you find someone you want to exclusively date and see where it goes.”

On the same this-show-is-realistic tangent, Lassie also said: "I think when you watch the show, you’ll be educated about what it’s like to date in the LGBT community."

You know, those classic and relatable moments when you're dating 13 guys who happen to all live together in a mansion with cameras rolling all the time? Same. And then you, I don't know, pick a name out of a hat and take one of them on a wildly romantic, incredibly expensive date, while the others sit at home gushing over how much they love you? Again, same. And then you return your Ken-doll to his mansion with his pals after a passionate-but-family-friendly kiss, and you return to the hotel you're living in? Same, same, same. Can't wait for the straights to see what life in the LGBT+ lane is like, amirite?

Hot on the heels of Finding Prince Charming, we have the trailer for another gay dating show called The Ex, hosted by Tiffany "New York" Pollard. If that's not messy enough, this is the concept: two exes competing against one another to date the same guys. It's already my new favourite show. Here's the trailer:

If you're unfamiliar with New York, she is reality TV royalty and this clip should tell you everything and nothing about how truly iconic she is:

We also have the trailer for HBO's new show Westworld, starring my bisexual queen Evan Rachel Wood, as well as IRL Disney prince James Marsden, Anthony Hopkins, Thandie Newton, Ed Harris, and Tessa Thompson, as well as Jimmi Simpson, whose name I had to look up because I only knew him as Liam McPoyle from It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Anyway, it's based on the 1973 film of the same name, and the trailer looks completely mental and like HBO will be gunning for it to be "THE NEXT GAME OF THRONES!" 

Actress Evan Rachel Wood talks bi-erasure, myths, and mental health in new video for Pride month
"Being bisexual's not a big deal, but the journey to get there should not be discredited," says Evan Rachel Wood.

Webseries Where The Bears Are is back for its fifth season, and you can watch the first episode below:

And we also have the trailer for Christopher Guest's new Netflix mockumentary Mascots. Dropping October 13, the film follows the lives of sports mascots as they compete for the ~grand prize~ of the Gold Fluffy. 

As with Best In Show and A Mighty Wind, Mascots has a huge cast that includes Parker Posey. But aside from the queen of indie films, Mascots also stars Jane Lynch, Fred Willard, Ed Begley Jr., Christopher Moynihan, Don Lake, Brad Williams, Zach Woods, Chris O’Dowd, Susan Yeagley, Sarah Baker, Tom Bennett, Kerry Godliman, Bob Balaban, Jennifer Coolidge, Michael Hitchcock, Maria Blasucci, John Michael Higgins, and Jim Piddock.

On the big screen

This week, we have the trailer for Seed Money, a documentary about the birth of the gay porn industry.

We also have the trailer for gay rugby doco Scrum. Following three gay rugby players from the Sydney Convicts as they travel to the Bingham Cup in the U.S, we're promised “a story of determination, acceptance, and brotherhood”. You can watch the full film here.

Your weekly watch on SBS On Demand

In celebration of The Ripper, a biopic following the friendship between Alexander McQueen and Isabella Blow, this week we're going to watch Valentino: The Last Emperor. The chic doco follows the 45 year career of designer Valentino Garavani up to his 2008 retirement, and looks at the larger issues at play in the fashion game today.

The Birdcage - Your weekly queer celebrity round-up
Frank Ocean's album (finally) dropped! Bella Thorne came out! The 'Gay Bachelor' has revealed its cast! Sarah Paulson is still a flawless queen! Welcome to the inaugural edition of The Birdcage, your weekly roundup of all things on the queer celeb spectrum.