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The Cats trailer is here and it’s the weirdest thing you’ll see all year

Well, it happened. The Cats trailer arrived and the world will never be the same. Tom Hooper of The King’s Speech and Les Miserables fame is bringing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 80s musical to this big screen with a star-studded cast. The musical tells the story of the Jellicles, a tribe of cats who must make the Jellicle choice in a single night. This choice decides which single cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back with a new life. The cast includes Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella, Jason Derulo as Rum Tum Tugger, Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy, Taylor Swift as Bombalurina, Ian McKellen as Gus the Theatre Cat, Idris Elba as Macavity, James Corden as Bustopher Jones, Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots, and Laurie Davidson as Mr. Mistoffelees. Newcomer Francesca Hayward is playing Victoria, a young white cat. Though in the musical Victoria is a non-singing role and one of the principal dancers, the movie seems to have made her the protagonist. A brief Cats explainer… Believe it or not, Cats did not orginate with the famed composer who also created The Phantom of the Opera and Jesus Chris Superstar. While Webber’s musical is the best-known version of the story, it’s an adaptation of T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, published in 1939. In his collection of whimsical poems, Eliot explores cat psychology and sociology. Many of the poem titles made their way to the musical in some form, such as The Song of the Jellicles and Macavity: ...

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Kevin Spacey gets criminal charges against him dropped

Massachusetts prosecutors dropped criminal charges relating to indecent assault against Kevin Spacey. This case first came about in 2017, when journalist Heather Unruh tweeted Spacey once assaulted a loved one. In due time, the loved one turned out to be her son. He claimed Spacey assaulted him in a Nantucket restaurant underneath a table. Spacey denied the allegations. The case has proved difficult for prosecutors. Their decision to drop the criminal charges comes more than a week after Unruh’s son dropped his civil lawsuit agains the actor. How did we get here? Most of the difficulties with the case center around a missing cellphone. The accuser said he lost the phone he had the night of the alleged incident. He also denied to lawyers that he deleted messages or altered any messages he provided. When he took the stand in the case, however, he pleaded the Fifth after the defense asked him if he knew that altering evidence is a crime. The Fifth Amendment grants people the right not to self-incriminate. Following his testimony, the judge demanded it be stricken from the record. The judge then asked how the prosecution wished to proceed when the accuser refused to testify. Cape and Island District Attorney Michael O’Keefe announced the prosecution was dropping the charge of indecent assault and battery on Wednesday (17 July). They made this decision ‘due to an unavailability of the complaining witness’. Unruh’s son did not receive a settlement in the civil case. Instead, she suggested her son ...

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53% of Singaporeans would react negatively if a family member came out

More than half of Singaporeans would react negatively if they found out a close family member was LGBTI, according to a recent poll. In an online survey, Yahoo Singapore asked 887 Singaporeans in June how they reacted to a number of LGBTI situations. When asked about an LGBTI family member, 53% of the respondents reacted negatively. What’s more, 14% expressed a ‘strongly negative’ response. And, 39% reported a ‘somewhat negative’ reactions. The poll also quizzed Singaporeans’ reaction to a colleague coming out. But, 46% reported a negative reaction while 53% reported a positive reaction. Yahoo Singapore revealed this week the same poll found 80% of Singaporeans agreed LGBTI people face discrimination. Section 377A of Singapore’s Penal Code punishes sex between two men with up to two years in prison. This month, the conservative city-state’s Prime Minister said the law would be in place ‘for some time’. But, he said, the city still welcomed everybody. While rarely enforced, recent polls reveal the majority of the conservative state’s resident support retaining the law. Rights activists have launched a renewed push to repeal Section 377A after India abolished its similar colonial-era law (Section 377) in September last year. Singaporeans react to Li Huanwu’s wedding The survey also revealed responses to a high-profile same-sex marriage. Li Huanwu, a member of Singapore’s influential Lee family, married his long-term partner in South Africa in May. Li is the nephew of the current prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, and the grandson of Singapore’s first prime minister and founding ...

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Pennsylvania mayor cancels Pride flag ceremony at the last minute

A mayor in Pennsylvania canceled a ceremony raising a Pride flag above city hall minutes before it began. There were plans to raise a rainbow flag over city hall for the first time in the eastern city of Reading on Monday (15 July). Right before the ceremony took place, however, Democratic Mayor Wally Scott, canceled it. Scott told local news station 69 News he has nothing against the LGBTI community. Instead, he canceled the ceremony because he views raising the flag as a ‘political movement’ and does not believe flags above city hall should represent that. Council president Jeffrey Waltman Sr. reportedly only found out about the decision when he arrived. He added that he tried — unsuccessfully — to change Scott’s mind. Challenges to Mayor Scott’s decision Activists and other politicians have criticized Scott’s move. Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman tweeted on Tuesday (16 July) asking Scott to ‘reconsider’. Calling on Mayor Scott to reconsider. Looking forward to attending @ReadingPride to affirm our administration’s strong support for LGBTQIA+ community in PA.https://t.co/CDADC9OgNt — John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) July 16, 2019 He added he is ‘looking forward to attending Reading Pride to affirm our administration’s strong support for LGBTQIA+ community in PA’. The city is planning to hold its Pride event on Sunday (21 July). Further, the LGBT Center of Greater Reading also slammed Scott’s decision. They announced on Tuesday a plan to file a discrimination complaint against the mayor’s office. In a statement, the group said Scott turned ‘what was supposed ...

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80% of Singaporeans agree LGBTI people face discrimination

Four out of five Singaporeans agree that the city-state’s LGBTI residents still face discrimination, a Yahoo Singapore poll found. Singapore’s penal code criminalizes gay sex with up to years in prison. While rarely enforced, recent polls reveal the majority of the conservative state’s resident support retaining the law. Activists are increasingly pushing to repeal the colonial-era law, especially after India dismantled similar legislation last year. Singaporean families often do not accept LGBTI members. LGBTI residents face discrimination at work and in housing. The city has no anti-discrimination laws to protect them. What did Singaporeans say? In an online poll, Yahoo Singapore asked 887 Singaporeans in June: ‘Although there are changing local attitudes towards those in the LGBTQ community, some say that those in the LGBTQ community are still discriminated against in Singapore. Do you agree or disagree that anti-LGBTQ discrimination still takes place?’ Four out of five respondents strongly or somewhat agreed that such discrimination exists. Yahoo also asked Singaporeans how they felt about Pink Dot Singapore, the city’s largest LGBTI event. This year, Pink Dot chose to renew its call to repeal Section 377A. Days before, the country’s Prime Minister said the law would exist ‘for some time’. Interestingly, 55 per cent of respondents also said that they strongly or somewhat support Pink Dot Singapore. But, the remaining 45 per cent opposed it. A Pink Dot spokesperson told Yahoo the survey ‘what [Pink Dot] have always known’. ‘The fact that some Singaporeans continue to hold a negative perception of ...

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Man charged in the killing of 17-year-old Bianca Devins

The Utica Police Department in New York charged Brandon Clark with the murder of Bianca Devins. Devins, 17, identified as biromantic and asexual. Gay Star News first reported on her death Monday (15 July) morning, reporting exclusive information about her. Authorities charged Devins’ boyfriend, Brandon Clark, 21, with New York State Penal Law 125.25 and second-degree murder. This charge is a Class A-I felony, with Class A being the highest of felonies. Utica police released further details about Devins and her death later on Monday. Through their investigation, they determined Clark was Devins’ boyfriend, after the pair met on Instagram two months ago. A tragic and brutal death In the press release of its investigation, the Utica Police Department said officers arrived at Poe Street near Culver Avenue in Utica, where police found Devins’ body and an injured Clark, after Oneida County Dispatch received numerous calls about the incident. After officers tried to engage with Clark, he began stabbing himself in the neck with a knife. He then went to a green tarp which covered Devins’ body. Clark indicated to the police it was Devins and he started taking photos of himself by the tarp. Earlier, he had shared a video of Devins’ death to Discord, a social media website for primarily for gamers, as reported by GSN. Officers apprehended him and took him into custody. He underwent emergency surgery for ‘severe injuries’ at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. Family remembers Bianca Devins as a ‘princess’ with a bright smile ‘She is ...

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Gay USWNT player hits back at former potential teammate, says homophobia kept her off the team

Ashlyn Harris, an openly gay goalkeeper and player on the United States Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) who won the Women’s World Cup this month, is hitting back at a former potential teammate, Jaelene Hinkle. Hinkle famously turned down a spot on the USWNT because ‘God didn’t want her to wear a Pride jersey’. The USWNT has numerous LGBTI players and a significant LGBTI fanbase. They’ve played in jerseys with rainbow numbers and names several times before. Hinkle, who currently plays as a defender for the North Carolina Courage, chose to forfeit her spot on the time because of his. In a recent tweet, Harris denied Hinkle wasn’t accepted on the team because of her religion, but rather because of her homophobia. ‘Hinkle, our team is about inclusion,’ Harris wrote Monday (15 July) morning. ‘Your religion was never the problem. ‘The problem is your intolerance and you are homophobic. You don’t belong in a sport that aims to unite and bring people together. You would never fit into our pack or what this team stands for.’ Harris tweets about Hinkle, calling her homophobic | Photo: Twitter @Ashlyn_Harris Harris was responding to a viral tweet featuring a 2018 video of Hinkle speaking to the Christian Broadcasting Network. In the video, Hinkle explains her decision and finding ‘peace’ with it. ‘Don’t you dare say our team is “not a welcoming place for Christians,”‘ Harris said in a follow-up tweet. ‘You weren’t around long enough to know what this team stood for. This ...

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Scarlett Johannson: I was ‘edited for click bait’

Actress Scarlett Johannson has said comments she made about ‘authentic casting’ were ‘widely taken out of context’. The actress faced a backlash this weekend. She said actors can play any person. ‘That is my job and the requirement of my job’ she said in an interview with As If magazine. But, in a statement on Sunday to Vanity Fair, Johannson said the interview had ‘been edited for click bait and is widely taken out of context’. What did Johannson say? She claimed her comments to As If were in response to a question between art and political correctness. ‘I personally feel that, in an ideal world, any actor should be able to play anybody and Art, in all forms, should be immune to political correctness’ she said. ‘The question I was answering in my conversation with the contemporary artist, David Salle, was about the confrontation between political correctness and art’ she explained. However, she went on to say: ‘I recognize that in reality, there is a wide spread discrepancy amongst my industry that favors Caucasian, cis gendered actors. ‘Not every actor has been given the same opportunities that I have been privileged to’ she said. ‘I continue to support, and always have, diversity in every industry and will continue to fight for projects where everyone is included.’ Johansson and her controversial casting The actor, known for playing Black Widow in the MCU movies, has made several faux pas in the past. Last but not least, she took on a role ...

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Police investigating homophobic assault in London

Police are investigating a homophobic hate crime in Southeast London that left a man with head injuries. The Metropolitan Police is calling for witnesses after officers on Sunday (14 July) attended a suspected assault at Denmark Hill, Camberwell, just after 3am on Sunday. A 29-year-old man was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening head injuries, the police statement said. Police arrested a 19-year-old at the scene on suspicion of grievous bodily harm. They later released him pending an investigation. ‘The incident is being investigated as a homophobic assault following comments made prior to the assault’ police said. Police urged anyone with information or footage to call 101 quoting CAD 1376/14Jul. Or, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Transphobic and homophobic hate crimes are on the rise Both homophobic and transphobic hate crimes have drastically increased in England and Wales over the past five years. An anaylsis by The Guardian revealed the alarming statistics last month. From 2013-14 to 2017-18, LGBT hate crimes per capita rose 144%. Police reported 11,600 known crimes of this nature in 2018. This is more than double the 4,600 reported in 2013-14. Anti-gay and lesbian, as well as transphobic attacks, have doubled and tripled, respectively. West Yorkshire saw the highest spike in anti-LGBT hate crimes. They experience a 376% increase from 2013-14 to 2017-18. Recently, a group of teen males assaulted same-sex couple on a London bus. The assault left them bloodied, scared, and angry. It made headlines and renewed calls for action against anti-LGBT hate ...

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Israeli LGBTI rights groups to protest minister’s conversion therapy comments

LGBTI rights groups in Israel have announced they are planning protests over pro-conversion therapy comments made by the education minister. The groups have said that they are planning protests to take place on Sunday evening (14 July). Education Minister and Orthodox Rabbi Rafi Peretz has faced widespread condemnation after saying he believed conversion therapy could be effective. He also said that he had used conversion therapy. I think it’s possible,’ Peretz told Israeli TV station, Channel 12, adding that he had a ‘very deep familiarity with the issue’. Conversion therapy attempts to change people’s sexual orientation through psychological, spiritual, and sometimes physical means. The method is highly controversial, with its opponents claiming it is akin to brainwashing. ‘I think that it is possible to convert [a person’s sexual orientation]’ Peretz made the comments on Saturday (13 July), BBC News reports. ‘I think that it is possible to convert [a person’s sexual orientation],’ he said. I can tell you that I have deep familiarity on the issue of education, and I have also done this.’ He described how he had acted when a gay person told him about his sexual inclinations. ‘First of all, I embraced him. I said very warm things to him. I told him, “Let’s think. Let’s study. And let’s contemplate.” ‘The objective is first of all for him to know himself well… and then he will decide,’ Mr Peretz added. He has since been widely condemned by numerous politicians in Israel. This includes prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, ...

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