Out comedian Michele Balan talks about how her life and times have changed

By : Lauren Lee
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Michele Balan was the last lesbian comedian left standing on “Last Comic Standing” in 2006, and has appeared on “Where are they Now?,” “Comics Unleashed” and “The Joy Behar Show.” Life has been constant travel for the self-described “bi-comical” entertainer, as for the past seven years, she has been consistently packing, unpacking and repacking some more for comedy shows on popular cruise ships.

Balan said that every time she was about to quit comedy, something came her way. She worked temporary and bartending jobs and had to overcome many financial and cultural obstacles to get to where she is now. She says she feels lucky to be working every week and making a living doing something she has a passion for, whether that’s performing on cruise ships or for LGBTQ audiences in comedy clubs.

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‘Perfect Arrangement’ brings America’s gay witch hunt to Tampa Bay

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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America celebrated the rise of the sitcom in the early 1950s, collectively declaring “I Love Lucy.” But as the country welcomed the golden age of television, fear-mongering politicians in D.C. were only seeing red.

That’s because Sen. Joseph McCarthy had introduced the second Red Scare to the masses, claiming that communists had infiltrated the U.S. federal government. Perhaps even more dangerous, Republican leadership asserted, were the gay men and lesbians who had done the same—deemed communist sympathizers and security risks susceptible to blackmail due to their homosexuality. Their hatred gave way to the Lavender Scare, a parallel witch hunt and the mass firing of gay and lesbian federal workers in the early 1950s.

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Bradley Cooper joins Lady Gaga for a surprise performance of ‘Shallow’

By : MARIAH COOPER OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Lady Gaga surprised fans who attended her “Enigma” show at the Park Theater in Las Vegas on Saturday night with a special performance with her “A Star is Born” co-star, Bradley Cooper.

Cooper was in attendance at the show when Gaga announced she was bringing him on stage to sing her finale song.

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Lady Gaga calls Mike and Karen Pence the ‘worst representation’ of a Christian

By : MARIAH COOPER OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Lady Gaga paused her Las Vegas show “Enigma” on Saturday to give some political commentary on the government shutdown and Karen Pence’s new teaching job.

“If the fucking President of the United States could please put our government back in business,” Gaga said in the middle of performing “A Million Reasons” on the piano. “There are people who live paycheck to paycheck and need their money.”

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John Ambrosino dreams a dream in ‘Les Miserables’ revival

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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“Doing this show, I can’t even call it a bucket list item,” out actor John Ambrosino says of touring with the newest production of “Les Miserables,” direct from its celebrated Broadway revival and dreaming a dream at Tampa’s Straz Center Jan. 15-20. “It’s an honor to be able to do it.”

The Tony Award-winning musical based on the 1862 Victor Hugo novel of the same name “has changed the world of the musical in so many ways,” Ambrosino continues. “It’s iconic; a juggernaut that has kept going and aweing audiences for years. To be able to go out there every night and perform the show that I saw as a 12-year-old boy is just one of the greatest things in the world.”

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Tymisha Harris brings legendary entertainer Josephine Baker to the Central Florida stage

By : Jeremy Williams
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Tymisha Harris had a tour de force year in 2018 with her show, “JOSEPHINE, a burlesque cabaret dream play.” Harris—who co-created the one-woman show with director-producer Michael Marinaccio and playwright-musical director Tod Kimbro—debuted “JOSEPHINE” in 2016 where it won “Outstanding Solo Performance” and “Best Show” at the San Diego Fringe Festival.

The show was a hit playing here in Orlando and across North America, but Harris and crew took “JOSEPHINE” to another level with a four-week Off-Broadway run in New York last year.

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Chaz Bono meets cast backstage at ‘The Cher Show’ on Broadway

By : MARIAH COOPER OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Chaz Bono paid a visit to “The Cher Show” on Broadway on Jan. 5 and met with members of the cast who portray his real-life parents.

After the show, Bono met with Stephanie J. Block, Teal Wicks and Micaela Diamond, who all play Cher at various points in her life; Jarrod Spector, who portrays Sonny Bono, and the rest of the show’s cast.

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The LGBTQ impact on movies, music, television, sports and fashion in 2018

By : Jeremy Williams
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From groundbreaking television to record-setting events, this year in LGBTQ pop culture has been explosive. Legends were remembered, new icons were formed and history was made—one certain gay athlete even became America’s new sweetheart.

Here we have compiled just a snippet of the LGBTQ impact on movies, music, television, sports and fashion in 2018 with our annual LGBTQ Pop Culture, A-Z.

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Latrice Royale dishes on ‘All Stars,’ ‘The Naughty Tour’ and Amendment 4

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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“It means everything just to feel like a human,” Timothy Wilcots, known worldwide as “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum and “All Stars 4” competitor Latrice Royale, says about the passage of Florida’s Amendment 4. “To feel like my debt is paid. I don’t have this scarlet letter haunting and taunting my life every time an election comes around. Now I can participate!”

While the Florida resident has certainly participated in “Drag Race” – placing fourth and snagging Miss Congeniality in season four, returning for inaugural spin-offs “All Stars” and the “Holi-slay Spectacular” and sashaying through tours like “A Drag Queen Christmas” – Royale’s voting rights were stripped after serving one year in prison until 2007.

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The LGBT+ Center of Central Florida named new Orlando Fringe venue

By : Jeremy Williams
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The Orlando International Fringe Festival—the longest running Fringe Theatre Festival in the U.S.—is preparing for Winter Mini-Fest, which plays at Loch Haven Park Jan. 10-13, 2019, at the moment but that isn’t stopping information from coming out about the main festival in May.

The 14-day arts festival packs so much crazy, uncensored, experimental, amazing theatre into its schedule that Loch Haven Park cannot contain all of it so Orlando Fringe ventures out into the city and theater locations are set up throughout Orlando.

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AP 2018 Breakthrough: Hannah Gadsby may change stand-up game

By : Wire Report
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LOS ANGELES (AP) | Hannah Gadsby says she knows it’s meant as a compliment to be chosen as one of the year’s Breakthrough Entertainers by The Associated Press. But, as with many things, the Australian stand-up comic and actress sees the honor from a variety of perspectives.

“Like, what happens after ‘breakthrough’?” Gadsby asked. “Like, I could be a one-hit wonder or I go on to being a deserved star?” She notes: “I think I was doing really well before all this craziness around ‘Nanette.'”

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Actress Jane Lynch swings through Florida for Christmas, breaks the internet with Disney

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning actress Jane Lynch has brought joy to fans worldwide for years. Known for her roles in mockumentaries like “Best in Show” and animated features like “Wreck it Ralph,” she became a household name as the love-to-hate Sue Sylvester during her run on Fox’s hit musical series “Glee.”

The out comedian has most recently set her sights on singin’ her season’s greetings with “A Swingin’ Little Christmas.” She’s joined by Kate Flannery from “The Office,” jazz staples the Tony Guerrero Quintet and Tim Davis, known for his work with artists like Lady Gaga and Pentatonix.

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