Those Crazy Coney Island Dayze: The Sexy Mermaid Parade

Those Crazy Coney Island Dayze: The Sexy Mermaid Parade

The Mermaid Parade is an annual event that first took place at Coney Island in 1983 and has been a very popular attraction ever since. The Mermaid Parade draws a huge crowd of celebrators, who don wild and outrageous costumes, with the parade’s naughty marchers wearing sea-themed outfits that often leave little to the imagination.

This year, clad in costumes that combined seashells and glitter, scores of exuberant revelers gyrated through Coney Island on Saturday. An estimated half-million people lined the sunny streets to watch ogle Brooklyn’s version of Mardi Gras. The flamboyant marchers, many of whom wore their costumes on the subway out to Coney Island, much to the amusement of their fellow riders, walked on the boardwalk alongside colorful floats and danced to several live bands blaring out top 40 hits and old-time standards.

The Coney Island Mermaid Parade

The 2011 Coney Island Mermaid Parade

Slide Show: The Coney Island Mermaid Parade

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

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Stonewall: The Proud Moment the Closet Door Finally Opened

Stonewall: The Proud Moment the Closet Door Finally Opened

America may finally be legalizing gay marriage in 2012, but the real beginning of the modern gay rights movement began in 1969 at NYC’s Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. On June 28, 1969, police officers raided the Stonewall Inn, which immediately sparked a series of violent protests. To commemorate the event, a parade is held on the last Saturday of June every year. Relive the history of the gay rights movement:

The Stone Wall Against Oppression

The First March: The Closet Door Opens

The Stonewall Riots: A Night That Changed the World

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Gay Pride Month: Celebrating Loving Feelings for Others

Gay Pride Month: Celebrating Loving Feelings for Others

It’s the Dream Afraid of Waking,
That Never Takes a Chance

On What We Need: First Day of My Life

For all of us, there are genuine needs and wishes, deep longings for human warmth, empathic responsiveness, trust, mutual recognition and creative playfulness. These are many of the ingredients that we think of when we speak of love, or the loving feelings we have for the cherished other person.

Of such feelings about a beloved, one might quietly reflect that, “I’m so glad I didn’t die before I met you.”

Bright Eyes: First Day of My Life

The Times of Harvey Milk: A Documentary Portrait

Before there was this year’s Academy Awards celebrated Milk, there was the widely acclaimed The Times of Harvey Milk, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature Film in 1984, and was awarded The Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, among other awards. The documentary chronicles the political career of Harvey Milk, who was San Francisco’s first openly gay elected Board Supervisor. The film, at times humorous, at times nostalgic, and at other times quite tragic, tells the story of Harvey Milk’s rise to political power and emergence as a symbol of gay political achievement.

The Times of Harvey Milk documents through assembled historic film clips the tumultuous story of Milk’s grass-roots political organizing and election, through the shocking murders and their repercussions. It takes the film’s viewers along with the eloquent candle-light memorial joined by tens of thousands of San Franciscans on the evening of the assassinations, to the scenes of angry crowds who stormed San Francisco’s City Hall in the aftermath of the lenient sentence that Dan White received at his murder trial.

This Academy Award-winning documentary feature film depicts not only Harvey Milk himself, but also the political and social milieu of the era in which he lived. From this perspective, the film continues to have significant relevance for our nation today, standing as a classic portrait of communities and cultural values in severe conflict. The film was produced subsequent to Harvey Milk’s death using archival footage, so that Milk is credited posthumously as the lead actor. Other politicians, including San Francisco’s then-mayor George Moscone (who was assassinated along with Milk) and Moscone’s successor and now United States Senator Dianne Feinstein, also appear in the archival footage. Also featured in the film is then-schoolteacher Tom Ammiano, who has been a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors since 1994, and was elected to the California State Assembly. The film’s outstanding narration is provided by the acclaimed stage and screen actor Harvey Fierstein, who at that time had just achieved great success with his own Tony Award-winning Broadway play Torch Song Trilogy.

The Times of Harvey Milk: The Full Version of the Documentary

Slide Show:The Life and Times of Harvey Milk

(Please Click on Image Above to View Slide Show)

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Homophobia: Pathos and the Culture of Fear

Homophobia: Pathos and the Culture of Fear

Homophobia is an intensely dramatic short film by Austrian writer-director Gregor Schmidinger, which was released last week in support of The International Day Against Homophobia. The film deals with a theme that’s of major concern in our present-day political and social worlds: homophobia, the fear of homosexuals and of their way of life. Homophobia also deals with a perhaps even deeper issue: the fear of oneself being homosexual.

The film tells the story of an adolescent boy serving in the Austrian Military Forces, who experiences homosexual feelings towards one of his comrades. It’s their last night serving on the Austrian-Hungarian border, where they are socially isolated and armed with loaded weapons. On their final patrol, underlying tensions reach a climax, and the young boy must confront both the judgements of others and his own self-understanding.

Homophobia explores the difficulties faced by many young homosexuals, and, in a wider sense, by outsiders who have to fight against social disapproval. While the subject of fear, persecution and coming out is familiar territory in gay cinema, Homophobia takes this important topic and, by telling a compellingly intense story focused on a single main character, is successfully able to universalize it.

Thanks to Georg Csarmann at Short of the Week.

Homophobia: Pathos and the Culture of Fear

(Best Watched in HD Full-Screen Mode)

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Another Freak-Show Big-Money Art Auction: Warhol’s “Double Elvis” Brings $37 Million

Another Freak-Show Big-Money Art Auction: Warhol’s “Double Elvis” Brings

An iconic portrait of Elvis Presley by pop artist Andy Warhol went for $37 Million when it hit the auction block tonight at Sotheby’s. The life-size 1963 silkscreen ink and spray paint piece, Double Elvis (Ferus Type), epitomizes Warhol’s obsessions with fame, stardom and the public image, according to Sotheby’s. Previously estimated to sell for $30 million to $50 million, it was included in the auction house’s May 9th sale of post-war and contemporary art. Art auctions have turned into freak-show casinos, spectacles where the uber-rich can act out as much in public as possible, trying to buy immortality, become a part of art history, make headlines and create big profits. They are despicable for what they do to art, for the bad magic of making mysteriously powerful things turn into numbers.

The silver background of Double Elvis (Ferus Type), along with the subtle variations in tone is said to give the serial imagery a sense of rhythmic variation that recalls the artist’s masterpiece, 200 One Dollar Bills, completed the previous year. That work soared to nearly $44 million or four times its estimate in 2009 and achieved the highest price of any work at the fall auctions. But it was a work from Warhol’s Death and Disaster series that set the artist’s record, which still stands. Green Car Crash (Green Car Burning), also from 1963, more than doubled its estimate and sold for $71.7 million in 2007, at the height of the art market boom.

In the Double Elvis work, Presley is dressed as a cowboy, shooting a gun. Sotheby’s describes him in the work as “a Hollywood icon of the sixties rather than the rebellious singer who shook the world of music in the sixties.” The double in the title refers to a shadowy image of Presley in the same pose that appears next to him in the work.

Bob Dylan Holding “Double Elvis” at The Factory, NYC, 1965

On an eagerly-awaited visit to The Factory in 1965 for one of Warhol’s “Screen Test” sessions, Bob Dylan and his crew, along with their host Andy Warhol, were photographed on the set. At the session, Andy gave Dylan a great double image of Elvis. Dylan departed, having tied the Elvis image to the top of his station wagon, like a deer poached out of season. Much later, Dylan said that he’d traded the “Double Elvis” (now worth millions) to his manager for a couch!

Bob Dylan’s Screen Test, The Factory, NYC, 1965

Andy Warhol’s “Double Elvis (Ferus Type)” at May 9th Sotheby’s Auction

Andy Warhol’s Pop Art: A Documentary (2000)

Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was a leading figure in the visual pop art movement. After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became a renowned and sometimes controversial artist. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture and advertisement. He worked in a range of media, including painting, printmaking, sculpture, film and music. He founded Interview Magazine and was the author of numerous books, including The Philosophy of Andy Warhol and Popism: The Warhol Sixties. Andy Warhol is also notable as a gay man who lived openly as such before the gay liberation movement. His studio in New York City, The Factory, was a famous gathering place that brought together distinguished intellectuals, drag queens, playwrights, Bohemian street people, Hollywood celebrities and wealthy patrons.

Andy Warhol’s Pop Art: A Documentary (2000)

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Obama Publicly Endorses Gay Marriage, Says Same-Sex Marriage Should Be Legal

Obama Publicly Endorses Gay Marriage, Says Same-Sex Marriage Should Be Legal

On Wednesday, President Obama ended the nearly two years of his “evolving” on the issue of same-sex marriage, publicly endorsing it in a television interview and taking a definitive stand on one of the most politically charged social issues of the day.

At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” Mr. Obama said in an interview that came after the president faced mounting pressure to clarify his position.

Public support for same-sex marriage is growing at a pace that surprises even professional pollsters, as older generations of voters who tend to be strongly opposed are supplanted by younger ones who are just as strongly in favor. Same-sex couples are featured in some of the most popular shows on television, without controversy.

Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, called the president’s statement “a watershed moment in American history” that would aid efforts to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York said, “No American president has ever supported a major expansion of civil rights that has not ultimately been adopted by the American people, and I have no doubt that this will be no exception.”

Chad Griffin, incoming President of the Human Rights Campaign, said that, “President Obama’s words today will be celebrated by generations to come. For the millions of young gay and lesbian Americans across this nation, President Obama’s words provide genuine hope that they will be the first generation to grow up with the freedom to fully pursue the American dream. Marriage, the promise of love, companionship, and family, is basic to the pursuit of that dream.”

Read more about President Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage in the New York Times here.

Obama Publicly Endorses Gay Marriage, Says Same-Sex Marriage Should Be Legal

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Toast to Freedom: A Celebration of Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary

Toast to Freedom: A Celebration of Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary

Here’s our toast to freedom,
To human rights and dignity,
Love, respect and forgiveness,
United in the dream for victory.”

Toast to Freedom is a music video dedicated to human rights activism around the world. Nearly 50 artists contributed to the video, celebrating Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary. The basic tracks for Toast to Freedom were recorded at the legendary Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, N.Y. One of the last studio recordings by the late Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Levon Helm, it was also one of the closest to his heart.

The song continues a long relationship between Amnesty International and the creative community, which has helped spread the word of its mission almost from the start in 1961. Artists contributing to Toast to Freedom included: Levon Helm, Kris Kristofferson, Carly Simon, Angelique Kidjo, Ewan McGregor, Saul Hernandez, Donald Fagen, Warren Haynes, Keb Mo, Eric Burdon, Taj Mahal, Florent Pagny, Marianne Faithfull, Jane Birkin, Jimmy Barnes, Rosanne Cash, Shawn Mullins, the Blind Boys of Alabama and Gentleman, among others.

Toast to Freedom: A Celebration of Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary

(Best Viewed in HD Full-Screen Mode)

The Making of “Toast to Freedom”

(Best Viewed in HD Full-Screen Mode)

Toast to Freedom (Long Version)

(Best Viewed in HD Full-Screen Mode)

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