Category Archives: Lifestyle

Celebrating Female DJs who Pump Up the Dance Floor: Missing Mei

Celebrating Women’s History Month 2019

By Sebastian Fortino

As part of ProudTimes’ coverage of Women’s History Month, we are speaking to DJ’s who are serving up hot beats on the dance floor. They are all fierce, fabulous, queer women, who are changing the tracks through empowerment and progression. Today, we bring you Denver-based DJ Missing Mei

Photo credit: Rachel Puma
Missing Mei DJing at ClubFlock – Local Lounge, Portland, Oregon

ProudTimes: How long have you been DJing? When did you decide you were going to get out there and spin?

Missing Mei: I dabbled here and there between 2003-2006 doing underground shows from lounges and private events. 2006 is when I decided to focus on the craft and debut at Premier Nightclub in Sacramento, CA. At the time, Asylum was the longest running Goth-Industrial EDM Night on the West Coast. I remember being so nervous, but being hooked after that.

PT: Was this something you wanted to do, or have experimented with doing, from an early age?

MM: No, it didn’t start that way. Although, I was always a go-to when someone wanted to know what good music was out. My friends would ask for mix tapes and I would happily oblige. My first experimental DJ gig was for a fashion show in college. I remember how it was fun matching up tracks according to the designer models for the show. It was the first rush experience of an audience loving what I spun.

PT: Do you think the industry is difficult for women to break into? Is it something of a “boys club?”

MM: I think on the surface it does look like the boys club and on some level there will always be an undertone that it is. It’s what the industry started from. I recall reading an article from thumpvice.com in 2014 that the average percentage female to male DJ ratio spinning at festivals was like three percent to nine percent at the time. Prior to that, I spun with an all-female DJ crew called ‘Stiletto’ in Cali. The night prided itself as the ‘Only All Female DJ Night’ in the city, which said a lot about the lack of gender diversity. It was a great experience, but it didn’t last long due to draw. But, with that being said, I feel that there has been an increased presence of female DJ’s since then. I think part of that shift is credited to social media and the Internet. There was so much talent that was not being exposed and now that everyone has access to these platforms it helps level out the playing field. It’s optimistic to see more female DJ’s getting their music out there, tracks topping charts, and being headliners for their own shows. But, there is still a lot more progress that needs to happen and that takes time.

 

PT: What kind of music do you spin–how would you describe your DJ style?

MM: Currently, I am really into Tech House. I love the minimalism and heavy beats in the composition. But, I have a range from Goth-Industrial, EDM, Dark Wave, Nu-Disco, Electro, Top 40, to Classic remixes from the 80’s and 90’s. I even spin in Trap at times when I am playing with my band. House is my true love, but Trance music is what got me started into all of it.

 

PT: Are there any venues, events, audiences, types of shows which you really prefer to make music at over others?

MM: I recently embraced the festival scene. It really has evolved from what was the Rave scene in the early 90’s to 2000’s. I love the blends of different genres and DJ’s that make up a festival. It creates a sense of community that welcomes all. One of my favorite gigs was at The Supper Club in San Francisco. The event filled up three rooms that catered to every genre of electronic music. Every room had a different DJ, different electronic music being spun. So, you can imagine the diversity of crowd that it drew! It was fabulous.

 

PT: I know there are less and less venues specifically catering to queer women. When you get the opportunity to perform for a primarily lesbian or female audience, does that add any excitement to your approach?

MM: I’ve been noticing that as well. It has become less, but the parties have become BIGGER which I think compensates for some of that. When I have the opportunity, it is totally empowering and exciting! Those environments tend to be less abrasive and exudes a commonality that does not need to be mentioned. It’s a vibe, a feeling and an unspoken understanding. Short answer: ‘Excitement scale from one to 10?’ Definitely a 10.

 

PT: Do you have any influences, whether from DJs or musicians, that inspire your sound or attitude when you’re playing?

MM: When I first got started, influences would come from the latest artist I was in to or a style that I was drawn to. That is ever changing. But, over the years I have adjusted to playing with feeling and being conscious with connecting to the audience I am spinning for. I feel that there is an advantage to having spun different genres. Because of that, it influences the texture of my set.

 

PT: How do you best promote yourself, your events or parties while still keeping your identity intact? Meaning: to get noticed, some artists scale back in the hopes of attracting more fans. Do you find yourself trying to appease any standards?

MM: I found so far that what works best is to be myself. When I first started, there was an image of what I thought a DJ should be, but really didn’t have a lot of female DJ’s to model. I had one back in the day, DJ Irene, who seemed as close to a personality I could relate to. I really couldn’t always relate to the guys off decks and only with music. I have been fortunate that the genres I spin usually embrace a type of vision where enthusiasm, best intention, optimism and unity holds a higher standard versus what I am interpreting the question is asking, ‘selling out’. It guided me to a DJ residency in the Bay Area for as long as I wanted and the opportunity to meet talented and like minded people that encourage the same integrity. Today, I can say it still remains true.

PT: What are you working on right now–in terms of events, gigs, collaborations etc.?

MM: Currently, I’ve been adjusting to a new city and scene because of a recent move and traveling for gigs in regards to collaboration for brilliant music community movements. It’s has been mainly with ClubFlock and all female queer DJ lineup. There is exciting momentum happening with this crew that we will be announcing soon! I’m also engaged in a DJ and Drum duo project with talented drummer, Joel Swift, called She DJ’s and He Drums based out of Portland. This week, my podcast Indie Rant Radio, had its first interview for season two. It’s the first of a series of interviews with all female DJ’s based out of Denver and Portland.

PT: Female DJs are getting more and more prominent in our cultural landscape–especially in the LGBTQ community–what would you tell younger DJs out there, especially young women, who are interested in getting into the industry?

MM: I think the best advice I could give is to stay true to the music. It can be easy to get caught up in what you think you should be or sound like. In some instance, even with who you should know. There is a difference between networking versus building connection. Connection supports your authenticity and will be more fulfilling in the long run. Stay connected with yourself. Stay connected to your music and surround yourself with people who will lift you up. Once you start understanding your success, it’s good to give back into the music. Whether it’s to another young woman trying to get into DJing or a music cause who can use your support. Stay in true love with what you do.

PT: We are celebrating Women’s History Month. What does this mean to you? What are you fighting for in 2019 and beyond?

MM: Celebrating Women’s History Month is a very exciting moment. It means so much in terms of gratitude and strife. It has taken a lot of women before us to make this happen and it is our responsibility to continue to carry the torch for future female generations to inherit and do the same. One can learn by example that the future can only grow and flourish from not fighting but uniting together.

Missing Mei is also part of Flock, their mission is: To create a magical experience with a unique flock of female DJs by spreading love and connecting the community through underground music. ProudTimes will bring you more about Flock in the coming moths. Currently, you can find their events through LesbiOut on Facebook.

Missing Mei‘s passion for music has always been present in her life and strong in her gene pool, from waking up to her mom singing Italian opera to her dad gigging in his band. For Missing Mei, it made sense to become a DJ before leaving her roots in Hawaii. Missing Mei has channeled DJing as a journey of expression and has found it through tech and electro house. She also fills in her time podcasting for ‘Indie Rant Radio’ highlighting artists and DJ’s on the West Coast.

If you know any DJs, musicians, or artists who you think ProudTimes should celebrate email sebastian@proudtimes.com and we’ll see what we can do! 

From PT Pages – Celebrity Photographer Mike Ruiz Presents The “Bullies and Biceps” 2019 Calendar

Benefitting New York Bully Crew Pet Rescue(Click to learn more)

Everyone loves photos of adorable pit bull pups. So what happens when you pair the cutest pooches on earth — who just happen to be in need of forever homes — with beautiful, hunky men? The year’s most buzzed-about calendar.

Photographer Mike Ruiz’s 2019 calendar, “Bullies and Biceps,” is fourteen months of perfection (2 bonus months in 2020) that will put a smile on your face every day of the new year.

Mike Ruiz is a celebrity photographer whose clients include Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj and countless others. In addition to his work in Hollywood, Ruiz is known for shooting top male fitness models. “I admire men who have sculpted their bodies into works of art,” he says. “It takes incredible skill and knowledge to form human tissue to near perfection. Photographing their work is quite gratifying to me.”

The men featured in “Bullies and Biceps” are some of the biggest male fitness models working today including Bryan Richards, Michael Dean, Nick Topel and cover-model Casey Christopher. Collectively, they have hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. They also are all passionate about animal rescue.

Mike Ruiz, too, is a pit bull rescuer and this year’s calendar is in special tribute to Oliver, his beloved canine, who passed away last month. Mike and Oliver shared six wonderful years together. It was Oliver who inspired Mike to fuse his two passions — photography and pit bulls — together into a calendar that would benefit dogs in need of rescue.

The pit bulls that appear in the calendar were chosen at random and represent only a fraction of those in need. “This is a very sad time to be in rescue,” explains Carla Mohan of the New York Bully Crew. “People are giving up their dogs without remorse. Pit bull type dogs are especially vulnerable because most rescues shy away from saving them due to lack of experience, knowledge and the negative media coverage the beautiful creatures have received.”

Founded by Craig Fields in 2010, New York Bully Crew specializes in the rescue, rehabbing and rehoming of pit bull type dogs. They partner with city shelters around the country to help local animals and have also begun outreach in Puerto Rico, Honduras, Peru, and South Korea.

“Pit bulls are the most loyal and loving dogs,” Carla continues. “They are soulful creatures that can be the silliest best friend ever. I have had many different breeds of dogs in my life, but none compare to pit bulls.”

She hopes the calendar will open people’s eyes and hearts and change misconceptions about this goofy and jolly breed. While shooting the calendar, the pit bulls on set stole the hearts of the super gorgeous male models. “I wanted to take them all home with me,” laughs Casey Christopher.

Every dollar made from the sale of the “Bullies and Biceps” 2019 calendar will go directly to New York Bully Crew for various services benefitting the health and welfare of the dogs. “The calendar makes the perfect holiday gift and also brings awareness to these special animals,” says Mike Ruiz. “Every pit bull deserves a forever home.”

Well Bullies and Biceps, this is another gorgeous calendar and a great cause. Being the proud parent/guardian of 3 rescues: Chihuahua, Dachshund mix, and a live-in house rooster who thinks he is one of the dogs, my heart goes out to all dogs, cats, and other animals who are waiting to find their forever home. If this is not too emotional of a subject, could you tell us if it was Oliver who first prompted you to take on these successful and sexy calendars?

Oliver is 100% responsible for inspiring me to do as much as I possibly can for animal rescue. This calendar is one of the things that I do.

Are you able to tell us a little about Oliver’s story?

Oliver was found roaming the streets of South Central Los Angeles, skin and bones, cherry eye and cysts on his legs. He was dumped off at a high kill shelter where he had 1 day to live before being pulled by Bullies and Buddies Animal rescue. They found a foster who happened to be a good friend of mine. On one of my trips to LA, I stayed with this friend while he was fostering Oliver and it was love at first sight. Within 24 hours, the paperwork was filed and I was Oliver’s dad!

When we rescued Buddy and Lucky I knew firsthand the story and I knew I was going to make sure they had the best home I could give them. With the oddball Rodney the rooster we could not let him fall prey to the elements or predators so we did the only thing we were able to and took him in. For Oliver was it the story that finally helped you make the decision to be his forever family or was it more?

It was my immediate connection to Oliver that literally changed the course of my life. I didn’t know his story prior to meeting him nor did I know much about animal rescue. My love for him inspired me to research everything I could about pit bulls and animal rescue. When I learned how animal shelters are overrun with abandoned pitbulls, I couldn’t stand by and do nothing.

Your photography to this journalist is second to none, the way you can capture a model’s unique essence is amazing. I am not just saying this to stroke your ego, I have worked with many photographers and artists over the past 30 years and no matter how good someone is you can always see who has talent and who is gifted and you are truly gifted and your pet calendars show this gift. In your pet calendars Pecs & Puppies, Hunks & Hounds, Heart Throbs & Hounds, and the current Bullies & Biceps you have created gorgeous pairings of human with K-9. I saw in the promo video a little of how you choose the pairing, but I could see that there was more to the process, can you tell us how you decided on the models and the rescues before the photoshoot?

Animal Rescue is all about 2nd chances so I try to find models who are not only pleasing to the eye but who also have stories of overcoming adversity AND who have some connection to animal rescue. Once the models are secured, we basically have the rescue bring dogs who need homes or who make great mascots for the cause. From there, I see where love connections are made between the pups and the models. Aesthetic compatibility is also a consideration. It’s important they look good together and that they connect on some level.

For this year’s calendar Bullies and Biceps, as for the other calendars, once you commit to making it can you go through the hows of how you first start.

It was important to me to have this year’s calendar benefit a pitbull specific rescue since I wanted to honor Oliver, so I decided to benefit New York Bully Crew. Once that was decided, then I had to figure out how I wanted it to look aesthetically. From there, it’s all logistics such as scheduling, casting, getting the puppies scheduled and a million little details that are far too boring to include.

During your photoshoots of the current and past calendars have any of the models adopted their K-9 companion?

This year, Bryan Richards was inspired to adopt a pitbull. Some of the models wanted to do the calendar because they were already pitbull dads.

If a person is looking for a companion would you tell them to find a local rescue and adopt from them first or to adopt a puppy from a breeder?

I would never encourage anyone to buy from a breeder when there are 2 million dogs discarded to shelters every year, 40% of them are pitbull type breeds. People think that when they pay a bunch of money for a dog that they are getting a better quality dog. This, of course, is absurd. You can find any dog with any characteristics you might want from a rescue or Petfinder. The function of a rescue is to get a dog ready to be adopted by giving them the best medical care and training so that they are behaviorally compatible.

Do you think you are going to create another pet calendar for 2020?

I will continue doing these calendars until I can figure out an even better way to help animal rescue. Not only is my goal to raise money for dogs in need but it’s also to educate people on the great benefits of adopting vs buying.
I’m pretty sure the next calendar will be co-ed. I have several gorgeous and very high profile women who want to participate next year so it’ll be men and women.  Not sure what to call it yet, maybe “Babes and Bullies”?

This Calendar has a feel as being a memorial for Oliver and if it is I think it is a great way to share him with the world and show him that he was a loved part of your family. To critics who think Bulldogs (Pitbulls in general) should be banned and put down because they are animals that will someday turn and hurt someone, what message do you have?

Sadly the media misrepresents the true nature of bully breeds. Only since the 80’s have they been vilified in the media. Prior to that, Dobermans were feared and German Shepherds before that. For over 100 years, Bully breeds were considered to be the best family dog. So much so, they were coined “Nanny Dogs”. You are more likely to be bitten by a golden retriever or Border Collie than you are a pitbull. Education is the best way to understand something. People should take the time to do a tiniest bit of research before buying into false information. PEOPLE are responsible for animal aggression. Any dog will become aggressive if abused, neglected, beaten, and starved. So would most humans! I always encourage people to spend time with a pitbull before writing them off as vicious attack dogs. I am now dad to another sweet girl named Julia who is the sweetest, gentlest angel, just like Oliver, her brother before her.

To help New York Bully Crew and other rescues around the world as a parent who chose a rescue over adopting from a breeder, what words of advice might you offer?

The best advice I can give is to go on Petfinder. They are a great resource for both people adopting and rescues looking to place dogs. They are a wonderful conduit for making some love connections. I found my baby girl on Petfinder.

Learn more about  New York Bully Crew.

Learn more about Mike Ruiz.

Read this interview and more in the digital pages of Proud Times Magazine 

 

 

LGBT Singer Molly Adele Brown Delivers Love, Kindness & Cookies to Homeless

Molly Adele Brown (back left) and Friends Prepare Batches of Homemade Cookies

Nashville, Tenn. (December 8, 2018) – Nashville-based singer/songwriter Molly Adele Brown always tries to find the best in a person. In a world filled with so much hate, Brown wanted to do something special to give back to her local community. For the past year, she decided to bake ‘Molly’s Kindness Cookies’ and deliver them to the Nashville Rescue Mission to help feed the increasing number of homeless people living in Music City. Brown will be preparing her next batch of cookies on December 19 and will deliver them to the Mission on December 20, just in time for the Christmas holiday!

“Kindness cookies evolved from years of baking cookies and handing them out to the homeless in New York City,” states Brown. “Growing up, my mom would take my youth group on midnight runs where we would go through the city at night and hand out food and clothes to the homeless. We would interact and get to know these people and learn about their stories. Every time was so inspiring, and I knew I wanted to continue to give back. Once I moved to Nashville, I started helping out with Nashville Rescue Mission and fell in love with their organization and what they provide. Since then I have been getting a group of friends together to bake cookies each month. Being able to share something I love to do (bake) to a community that needs some extra kindness really makes my heart sing.”

In 2019, Brown hopes to grow what they are doing here in Nashville and expand to other communities as well. She lives by the quote: In a world where you can be anything, be kind“This may be one small act of kindness but if we work together, I believe it can grow into so much more.”

To date, Brown has prepared over 80 batches of cookies which helped feed approximately 1,000 homeless people around Nashville.

For more information, visit www.MollysKindness.com 

Country Artist Curtis Braly Celebrates 13 Year Anniversary with Husband/Manager

Nashville, TN (November 19, 2018) – Last Friday, country music star Curtis Braly celebrated his 13-year anniversary with husband/manager Jeff Riley. The “Song You Can Drink a Beer To” singer met Riley in 2002 at a mutual friend’s dinner party and the two have been inseparable ever since. Braly and Riley took their private plane to a special anniversary dinner in Texas.

About Curtis Braly:
Country music powerhouse and Humble,Texas native Curtis Braly is a jack of all trades. With experience in theatre, choir, radio, criminal justice, emergency medical services and aviation, he found his true calling as an entertainer & true showman. His single “Song You Can Drink A Beer To (REMIX)” released worldwide July 6th along with a thirst- quenching summertime music video . Performing and touring with fellow country artists such as Dolly Parton, Tanya Tucker, Daryl Singletary and Johnny Rodriguez, Curtis draws from these performers’ abilities to capture an audience—to bring music to life as a must-hear storyteller. With his explosive stage presence, Braly “delivers” an intimate connection with believable emotion and a charging energy allowing his story to unfold right before your ears. While Curtis is devoted to his music career, it is also his mission to give back. Braly takes pride in volunteering his piloting skills and personal aircraft to organizations like Pilots N Paws and Angel Flight. Curtis also volunteers, each year, to Christmas 4 Kids and recently announced the exciting launch of his non-profit “The Ruby Foundation,” an organization committed to inspiring, empowering & improving the lives of young adults by providing an annual uplifting & motivational youth camp to combat stress, depression & lack of self-esteem caused by bullying. Curtis’ music and sincere philanthropy caters to the seasoned music lover as well as the new generation of fans and listeners who have a hankering for pop, jazz, and rock influences.

Keep up with Curtis at www.CurtisBraly.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

Bullies and Biceps 2019 Calendar

CELEBRITY PHOTOGRAPHER MIKE RUIZ PRESENTS THE ‘BULLIES AND BICEPS’ 2019 CALENDAR

Honoring The Memory of His Own Beloved Pit Bull, Oliver

Benefiting New York Bully Crew Pet Rescue

Everyone loves photos of adorable pit bull pups.  So what happens when you pair the cutest pooches on earth  — who just happen to be in need of forever homes — with beautiful, hunky men?  The year’s most buzzed-about calendar.

Photographer Mike Ruiz’s 2019 calendar, “Bullies and Biceps,” is fourteen months of perfection (2 bonus months in 2020) that will put a smile on your face every day of the new year.

Mike Ruiz is a celebrity photographer whose clients include Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj and countless others.  In addition to his work in Hollywood, Ruiz is known for shooting top male fitness models.  “I admire men who have sculpted their bodies into works of art,” he says. “It takes incredible skill and knowledge to form human tissue to near perfection.  Photographing their work is quite gratifying to me.”

The men featured in “Bullies and Biceps” are some of the biggest male fitness models working today including Bryan Richards, Michael Dean, Nick Topel and cover-model Casey Christopher.  Collectively, they have hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. They also are all passionate about animal rescue.

Mike Ruiz, too, is a pit bull rescuer and this year’s calendar is in special tribute to Oliver, his beloved canine, who passed away last month.  Mike and Oliver shared six wonderful years together.  It was Oliver who inspired  Mike to fuse his two passions — photography and pit bulls — together into a calendar that would benefit dogs in need of rescue.

The pit bulls that appear in the calendar were chosen at random and represent only a fraction of those in need.  “This is a very sad time to be in rescue,” explains Carla Mohan of the New York Bully Crew.  “People are giving up their dogs without remorse.  Pit bull type dogs are especially vulnerable because most rescues shy away from saving them due to lack of experience, knowledge and the negative media coverage the beautiful creatures have received.”

Founded by Craig Fields in 2010, New York Bully Crew specializes in the rescue, rehabbing and rehoming of pit bull type dogs.  They partner with city shelters around the country to help local animals and have also begun outreach in Puerto Rico, Honduras, Peru,  and South Korea.

“Pit bulls are the most loyal and loving dogs,” Carla continues.  “They are soulful creatures that can be the silliest best friend ever. I have had many different breeds of dogs in my life, but none compare to pit bulls.”

She hopes the calendar will open people’s eyes and hearts and change misconceptions about this goofy and jolly breed.   While shooting the calendar, the pit bulls on set stole the hearts of the super gorgeous male models.  “I wanted to take them all home with me,” laughs Casey Christopher.

Every dollar made from the sale of the “Bullies and Biceps” 2019 calendar will go directly to New York Bully Crew for various services benefitting the health and welfare of the dogs.  “The calendar makes the perfect holiday gift and also brings awareness to these special animals,” says Mike Ruiz. “Every pit bull deserves a forever home.”

Mike Ruiz’s 2019 calendar, “Bullies and Biceps” is available for only $24.99 at www.nybullycrew.org

CALUM SCOTT: A COMING OUT STORY

In honor of National Coming Out Day, breakout U.K. artist, singer, and songwriter, Calum Scott premieres “A Coming Out Story” today on Vevo. The poignant profile is an incredibly personal look at how Calum found the courage to be honest about himself through music and discusses his emotional journey from childhood into adulthood to find his authentic self.

“I know that there are people young and old struggling with the same questions, and living with that relentless fear and heartbreak,” says Calum. “I make the music I do because I want to inspire the right kind of conversations. If one less kid can grow up without hiding who they are along the way or having to believe that who they love is something that will make them lonely, then everything I went through will be worth it.”

Calum showcases his soaring falsetto on his debut album Only Human out now on Capitol Records. Only Human hit #1 on iTunes in over 20 countries, sold over 1 million in adjusted album sales, and has amassed over 1 billion combined streams. Billboard said, “Scott’s stunningly pure voice is affecting enough in itself, but his lyrics on every one of the (album’s) tracks are vulnerable and raw.” His hit single, “You Are The Reason” featuring three- time Grammy nominee and vocal powerhouse Leona Lewis, is already certified Gold and has over 750 million streams worldwide. Calum’s new track, “What I Miss Most” out now, unfolds as a triumphant homage to his hometown of Kingston upon Hull, located in Northern England. He will release his new single, “No Matter What” on October 19th.

Calum was nominated for a Brit Award for Best Single, for his version of Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own,” which became a global sensation with over 1 billion streams worldwide, and is now Platinum in five countries.

Calum Scott website – http://www.calumscott.com/

Mo’Nique Talks Homosexuality: Blackbird

Mo’Nique Clears Rumors From Lee Daniels & Brings Empire Emails + Talks Homosexuality

There have been rumors floating around about Mo’Nique in regards to the FOX hit show, Empire — and she swings by Sway in the Morning to set the record straight.

Allegedly, Lee Daniels the director of the popular TV show, Empire, claims Mo’Nique was never considered for the role of Cookie, but Mo humbly brought proof that she indeed was — a printed email chain between her and Daniel’s team.

She explains to us that she merely wants the truth to be associated with her name and character. And as far as the rumors go about her being “difficult” or a “diva?” She clears that up too.

“Pay me according to my resume,” Mo’Nique says. “Sometimes ‘no’ can mean you’re difficult. When you’re not used to hearing someone say no, that can appear as if you’re difficult… If we keep accepting those low offers, where does it leave our babies that are coming up? We have to think about those babies who are not here yet.”

Transitioning into her current project, Blackbird, she brings fellow actor Julian Walker to talk about the new film, how it feels to be homosexual as a minority and the importance of unconditional love.

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Blackbird is out this Friday.

Channing Tatum to Present Award to Roland Emmerich

Roland Emmerich to be honored at 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles

GLAAD, the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy organization, today announced it will honor writer, producer, director, and philanthropist Roland Emmerich at the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hilton on March 21, 2015.

Channing Tatum will present the Stephen F. Kolzak Award to Emmerich. Tatum starred in the Emmerich film White House Down and will next be seen starring in Magic Mike XXL, The Hateful Eight and Hail, Cesar.

The 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards are presented by Delta Air Lines, Hilton, Ketel One Vodka, and Wells Fargo; and Official Presenting Partners Amazon and Bud Light. The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community and the issues that affect their lives. The GLAAD Media Awards also fund GLAAD’s work to amplify stories from the LGBT community and issues that build support for equality.

Emmerich will receive GLAAD’s Stephen F. Kolzak Award, which is presented to an openly LGBT media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality. The award is named after a successful casting director, who devoted the last part of his life to raising awareness in the entertainment industry about the discrimination faced by LGBT and HIV-positive people. Previous Stephen F. Kolzak honorees include Laverne Cox, Wanda Sykes, Rufus Wainwright, Melissa Etheridge, Bill Condon, Todd Haynes, Alan Ball, Ellen DeGeneres, and Sir Ian McKellen.

Roland Emmerich is one of the world’s most talented and sought-after directors. His films include the blockbusters 2012, Day After Tomorrow, Stargate, Independence Day, The Patriot, and White House Down. Emmerich has recently completed filming Stonewall, a drama about the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City, a major turning point in the struggle for LGBT equality.

In addition to his work in film and television, Emmerich has significantly contributed to several non-profit organizations, including but not limited to, Outfest’s Legacy Project, dedicated to preserving LGBT film history; The Los Angeles LGBT Center; Freedom to Marry; and the Cambodian Children’s Fund.

“As one of Hollywood’s most sought-after film directors, Roland Emmerich has entertained audiences across the globe. His generosity has touched the lives of countless LGBT people, bringing shelter to homeless youth and preserving culture-changing stories that help close the gap to full acceptance,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Now, with the upcoming release of ‘Stonewall,’ millions of moviegoers all across the world will see the harms of anti-LGBT discrimination and learn about the historic riots that forever changed equality in America.”

Additional special guests and honorees for the Los Angeles will be announced.

In January, GLAAD announced 104 nominees in 21 English-language categories, and 40 Spanish-language nominees in 10 categories. Nominees for the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards can be found here: www.glaad.org/mediaawards/nominees.

To receive the latest updates on the GLAAD Media Awards, follow @glaad on Twitter and use the hashtag #glaadawards. The New York GLAAD Media Awards ceremony will take place on May 9 at the Waldorf Astoria New York.

The 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards is presented by Delta Air Lines, Hilton, Ketel One Vodka, and Wells Fargo; and Official Presenting Partners Amazon and Bud Light. GLAAD also thanks this year’s corporate partners, which include: Titanium Partners- ABC-Disney Television Group and Southwest Airlines; Platinum Partners- Allstate Insurance Company, AT&T, Comcast/NBC Universal, HBO, NBA, WNBA, PwC, Time Warner, and Viacom; Gold Partners- CBS/Showtime, Nielsen, Univision, Westfield, and WWE; and Silver Partners- Citi, Discovery Life, MLB, NFL and Omnicom. For a full list of corporate partners and information on how to become a corporate partner, purchase tickets, and place a tribute in the tribute book, please visit www.glaad.org/mediaawards.

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GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBT equality. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.

South Dakota Court Rules in Favor of Same-Sex Couples

South Dakota Federal Court Rules in Favor of Freedom to Marry for Same-Sex Couples

A federal court ruled in favor of six same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry in South Dakota. The court stayed its order pending appeal by South Dakota officials.

In a 28-page decision, U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier ruled that “Plaintiffs have a fundamental right to marry. South Dakota law deprives them of that right solely because they are same-sex couples and without sufficient justification.”

The six plaintiff families are from across the state and include veterans, nurses, a stay-at-home mom, a truck driver, a couple who have been together 30 years, and couples with children and grandchildren. They are represented by Joshua Newville of the Minneapolis firm Madia Law LLC, Debra Voigt of Burd and Voigt Law Offices in Sioux Falls, SD, and Shannon Minter and Christopher F. Stoll of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

Statement by NCLR Senior Staff Attorney Christopher F. Stoll:

“We are thrilled for our clients and for all same-sex couples in South Dakota, who have watched and waited as progress has been made in so many other states, and who can now see light at the end of the tunnel in their own state. We are also grateful to Judge Shreier for writing such a detailed and powerful analysis and for affirming in such strong terms that same-sex couples have the same fundamental freedom to marry as others. We hope this decision will hasten the day when the Supreme Court decides this issue for the country and ensures that all families are treated fairly and equally under the law.”

Read the order and learn more about the case.

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The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. www.NCLRights.org