Archive for the 'LGBT Leaders Interviews' Category

Author Sue Katz Talks Books & More

Monday, June 18th, 2018

Sue Katz talks about her lesbian journey in the Boston area during her lifetime, her books and how things have changed over the decades with Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™. Katz’s first political involvement was as a working-class teenager in the civil rights movement in Pittsburgh in the early 1960s. She arrived in Boston in 1965 on a full scholarship to Boston University and became deeply involved in anti-racism and anti-war work. In the late 60s and early 70s she was a pioneer in the women’s liberation movement in Boston and in the lesbian and gay movement. Katz’s fiction and non-fiction work has been published for decades in anthologies, magazines, academic journals and online. Her two most recent books are her collection of short fiction about the love lives of older people “Lillian’s Last Affair and other stories” that evolved into her novel “Lillian in Love” about the love affair between two old women in senior housing. Sue Katz will be speaking at an event entitled “From Pioneer to Elder: One Arlington Woman's Journey from the Birth of Boston's Gay Liberation to LGBTQ Elder Activism Today” at Robbins Library at 700 Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington, MA on Thursday June 28th from 7P to 8:30P. Sue will address what it was like being queer in the Boston area during her lifetime and how things have changed. We talked to Sue about the inspiration for her books and her spin on our LGBTQ issues.

When asked how she sees our LGBTQ community moving forward in the Trump administration Katz stated, “I think our only hope is building a strong coalition and looking for strength in numbers. Like our community, what’s interesting about our community is that it overlaps with all the other threatened communities. Whether it’s people of color, women, immigrants, we’re kind of in a perfect position to build something multi faceted and I think that is the only way we’re going to survive, kind of mutual aid with all the other groups under attack.”

Sue Katz’s business card identifies her as a “wordsmith and rebel.” A lifelong activist for social justice she has lived and worked on three continents: first as a martial arts master, then promoting transnational volunteering and most recently teaching fitness and dance to elders. Katz enjoys reading her work in both the usual and some unusual settings. At the oldest LGBT synagogue in the world, Temple Beth Chayim Chadashim in L.A., the Rabbi and her wife invited everyone to a “Bodacious Brunch & Book Party” to celebrate “Lillian’s Last Affair”. She has read at bookstores, private parties, university orientations for freshmen, senior centers, life-long learning institutes, social work graduate classes and arts fairs. Sue’s next speaking engagement will be at Robbins Library Community Room at 700 Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington, Massachusetts on Thursday June 28th from 7P to 8:30P. For More Info…
To Purchase Her Books: amazon.com

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LPAC “Levity & Justice For ALL” Event

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

Stephanie Sandberg the new Executive Director of LPAC which is the country’s only political action committee that is committed to empowering and engaging LGBTQ women talks with Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™. Now in its sixth year LPAC builds the political power of LGBTQ women by electing candidates who champion LGBTQ rights, women’s equality and social justice issues. LPAC achieves its mission by increasing the political power and engagement of LGBTQ women and their allies. With the 2018 Midterm elections in November it is crucial to back candidates that support our LGBTQ values and stop the Trump administration’s attempt to erase the progress our LGBTQ community has achieved. LPAC has successfully raised millions of dollars to reach these goals and on June 20th at The Town Hall in NYC they will be presenting “Levity & Justice For ALL” a comedy benefit for LPAC. For the past three years LPAC has honored a true Champion of Change who embodies the values of their organization and this year they will be honoring equality activist and tennis legend Billie Jean King. Melissa Etheridge will be the special guest presenter and their stellar entertainment line up will include comedians Chaunté Wayans, Judy Gold, A. B. Cassidy, Pat Brown, Kate Clinton, the musical group Betty and more. The event is produced by Barbara Gaines, Bruce Roberts and Urvashi Vaid. We talked to Stephanie about what she hopes to accomplish at LPAC and her spin on our LGBTQ issues.

When asked how she sees our LGBTQ community moving forward in this Trump administration Sandberg stated, “First of all we’re not moving forward in terms of rights and protections, we’re moving backwards and with this administration doing everything from trying to ban trans soldiers in the military to literally erasing the community from federal websites not to mention implicitly or explicitly supporting states’ rights to discriminate against our community. That said, it’s fired us up; I’m fired up. I was thinking this morning if it wasn’t for Trump I wouldn’t be quite so angry when I get out of bed every morning and I’m sure a lot in the community share that. So I think we really need to use this moment to channel our energies towards stemming the anti-LGBTQ agenda of this administration and of course I think that LPAC is one terrific outlet for women in particular seeking to engage in that fight and that’s the only way we’re going to move forward.”

Stephanie Sandberg brings a diverse set of business, political and organizing experience to LPAC. Most recently she was Managing Director of OUT leadership the first global business providing companies ‘Return on Equality’ by helping them optimize their strategic LGBTQ inclusion efforts. Prior to her work with Out Leadership Stephanie served in a variety of executive leadership roles in media and consulting from the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek and the New Yorker to The New Republic where she served as President and Publisher. Funds raised by “Levity & Justice for All” on June 20th at The Town Hall in NYC will be used for political education, organizing and mobilization efforts to support LPAC endorsed candidates.
For More Info & Tix: teamlpac.com

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“Jewel’s Catch One” NetFlix LGBT Film

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

Filmmaker C. Fitz and LGBTQ pioneer Jewel Thais-Williams talk about their fabulous documentary “Jewel's Catch One” that’s available on Netflix with Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™. The film tells the story of Jewel Thais-Williams and her legendary “Jewel’s Catch One” nightclub often referred to as the Studio 54 of the West. It was a hub for cutting edge fashion and music for over 42 years in LA before it closed last year. When Jewel opened her club in 1972 to all races and sexual orientations the club became a target of racism and homophobia especially during the AIDS crisis. She even turned her parking lot into a soup kitchen during that time to make sure people could get care when so many were being ostracized. Jewel became a civil rights leader and then ultimately a healer who has now saved countless lives through her Village Healthcare Foundation. The film is narrated by NCIS New Orleans’ CCH Pounder and features exclusive interviews with Sharon Stone, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Thelma Houston, Sandra Bernhard, Bonnie Pointer, Thea Austin, Jenifer Lewis and more as well as fabulous vintage footage that includes Madonna’s 2000 album release party where it was rumored that she learned to Vogue at the club. We talked to Fitz and Jewel about their inspirational must-see documentary and their spin on our LGBTQ issues.

When asked how she sees our LGBTQ community moving forward in a Trump administration Jewel stated, “United and on all fronts I feel is the key to it as well as being supportive of other groups. I think that we saw during the Civil Rights Protests and Campaign embrace every aspect of the human conditions and so we had folks joining from various and slightly different groups to support that cause and I feel if we can get that kind of support around our LGBTQ issues and we’re finding hope with millennials. We see them protesting things like Black Lives Matter and they might be Asian, Indian and Caucasian, whatever, this is the kind of support we need to face anything that is happening politically to us now. We all have to join together every facet of our Americana especially those people that are being discriminated against and of course we’re one of the main ones of that. If we all come together there’s power in numbers.”

Filmmaker C. Fitz met Jewel after volunteering to direct a 3-minute short for charity and realized there was a much greater story to tell. She has spent the last six years bringing “Jewel's Catch One” a labor of love and inspiration to fruition. Fitz is also a television and marketing veteran who through her creative agency “Dancing Pictures” has worked with many clients including HBO, Pepsi, FOX, Disney and Showtime where she has conceptualized and produced hundreds of international and domestic broadcast and social media campaigns. Early in her career Fitz was the producer behind the launch of the BRAVO series, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” where she helped introduce the ground-breaking new format as an international brand. In the late 1990’s Jewel Thais-Williams at age 56, driven by an overwhelming need to make a difference, enrolled in Samra University of Oriental Medicine and received a Master of Science degree. She went on to pass the state and national boards and is currently a Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist at her new clinic at 4077 Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, California under the same name Village Health Foundation. She opened her new clinic next door at 4077 Pico Boulevard under the same name Village Health Foundation.
For More Info: jewelscatchonedocumentary.com

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ClexaCon Panelists & Press Speak OUT

Friday, May 4th, 2018

Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ caught up with several panelists at ClexaCon in Las Vegas to talk about their work and give us their spin on our LGBTQ issues. First we chatted with Susan SurfTone who is a retro rock guitarist and vocalist with several CDs released over the years, playing mostly surf and rockabilly music with a modern edge. Susan is also a lawyer and a former Special Agent for the FBI who gave us her insight on the current Russia investigation of the Trump administration. Currently Susan addresses political issues ahead of the curve for numerous LGBTQ publications. Then we talked to Rhonda Marable the principal strategist and chief project manager at Ronnie B Consulting based in San Francisco that specializes in helping companies that range from small starting businesses to Fortune 500 companies to find and fix branding problems that stem from inefficiencies in communication. When asked how she sees our LGBTQ community moving forward in this Trump administration Rhonda stated that we need to come together and talk about becoming good citizens. Marable is also a writer and working on a screenplay that was getting a lot of buzz at ClexaCon.

Next we chatted with Mona Elyafi the founder and CEO of ILDK Media, a boutique Public Relations company specializing in Entertainment and LGBTQ publicity and marketing campaigns. With over 20 years of experience in the field, Elyafi’s portfolio includes The Dinah Shore Weekend, tello films, Marlene Forte (The Fosters), Filmmakers Marina Rice Bader, Nicole Cohn, Francisco Lorite, transgender activist Michaela Mendelsohn and has been instrumental in providing dozens of her clients for OUTTAKE VOICES™. We concluded our podcast with Cuban actress and fierce LGBTQ ally Marlene Forte recently seen on Netflix’s Altered Carbon, Hulu’s Marvel’s Runaways, The Fosters, Fear The Walking Dead and Superstore. Forte loves the way ClexaCon is bringing women together and believes it’s a very important and powerful experience to have this opportunity for women to make connections and take charge.

ClexaCon was created and is run by Holly Winebarger, Ashley Arnold and Danielle Jablonski with the goal to provide a safe space and a world-wide community of LGBTQ+ women and allies who love TV, film, comics and books and to encourage more LGBTQ+ women to get involved in content creation and to embolden allies to improve representation for LGBTQ+ characters in their creative work. ClexaCon started as a simple meet-up to unite fans of LGBTQ+ pop culture and evolved into a full-blown convention with over 3500 attendees at its second conference at the Tropicana in Las Vegas. ClexaCon London, UK takes place November 3rd and November 4th 2018.
For More Info: clexacon.com

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ClexaCon Red Carpet Celebrities

Saturday, April 21st, 2018

Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with celebrities on the red carpet attending ClexaCon’s Cocktails for Change event to benefit the True Colors Fund which works to end homelessness among LGBTQ youth. First we talked to film director and author Ji Strangeway about her graphic novel Red as Blue. Ji hopes her work will reach LGBTQ youth to give them hope and inspiration. Then we chatted with Cuban actress and fierce LGBTQ ally Marlene Forte recently seen on Netflix’s Altered Carbon, Hulu’s Marvel’s Runaways, The Fosters, Fear The Walking Dead and Superstore. Forte is excited to see more women involved in all facets of the entertainment industry. Next we talked with ClexaCon creator Holly Winebarger about the origin of this fabulous media and entertainment convention that creates a safe space for LGBTQ women and allies and that brings over 3500 actresses, directors, producers, writers, comic book illustrators, visual artists, academics and fans together globally to celebrate the best of LGBTQ TV and film and discuss how to improve our representation across all media platforms. Then we chatted with veteran actress Patricia Rae best know for her role on the Oscar nominated HBO feature film Maria Full of Grace and she also starred in the Lionsgate feature film The Big Wedding. Currently Rae just completed the pilot for Chiefs on CBS. Next we talked with actress Briana Venskus who appears on The Walking Dead, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Grace and Frankie. Briana has definitely found her niche as a badass woman in super hero programing. Then we chatted with actress Erica Luttrell best know for Salvation on CBS and Lost Girl. Erica hopes her work will change people’s lives by showing that they matter and that their dreams are relevant. Next we talked with actress Haviland Stillwell best known for her work on Freelancer’s Anonymous, Magic Mike XXL, Selma, UnREAL, Living the Dream, Sexy Civics, Baywatch, Stitchers, Unicorn Plan-it and upcoming films for SyFy and Hallmark. She hopes her work inspires women to be their best self and loves connecting with fans at ClexaCon.

Then we chatted with Natasha Negovanlis best known for playing the title role in the web series Carmilla that subsequently morphed into the feature film based on the series. Natasha loves being able to make positive difference by being a queer actress playing queer roles. Next we talked with Anna Silk who played Bo in the Showcase television series Lost Girl. She hopes she can influence her audience to be their authentic self. Then we chatted with Elizabeth Maxwell who appeared in Criminal Minds and Attack on Titan which is a Japanese breakthrough animation series that shows a lesbian relationship in a non-sexual way. Next we caught up with the team from Tello films including producer, director and award-winning performer Bridget McManus, who appears with Karman Kregloe, Cat Davis, Kristen Smith in the web series, Happy Wife, Happy Life directed by Christin Baker, President and CEO of Tello Films. Baker talked about how ClexaCon was a place for our tribe of people who love and support lesbian storylines and how critical it is to see ourselves on TV and in the media. Next we talked to Mandahla Rose best know for her Australian film All About E which has a positive storyline where her character wins the heart of the girl she loves and nobody dies. We concluded our red carpet coverage with Nicole Pacent who was at ClexaCon to appear on the panel “Anyone But Me: Ten Years Later Bisexual Representation in the Media, LGBTQ Actresses.” We talked to Nicole about her upcoming projects and how she hopes to empower women with her work.

ClexaCon started as a simple meet-up to unite fans of LGBTQ+ pop culture that evolved into a full-blown convention with over 3500 attendees at its second conference at the Tropicana in Las Vegas April 5th through April 9th and we can’t wait to attend the upcoming ClexaCon conference in London, UK November 3rd to November 4th 2018. Photos by Marilyn Rosen.
For More Info: clexacon.com

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“Raging Skillet” New LGBTQ Play

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

Chef Rossi talks about her memoir “The Raging Skillet” that has morphed into a creative and hilarious stage production “Raging Skillet” by playwright Jacques Lamarre with Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™. The play opened last summer at TheaterWorks in Hartford, Connecticut to rave reviews and sold-out performances. Recently the Jewish Play Project’s Artistic Director David Winitsky presented the New York premiere of this future off-Broadway smash hit culinary and theatrical event with Judy Gold starring as Chef Rossi, the lesbian punk rock caterer and event maestro. The showcase was directed by John Simpkins and featured Katherine Kates as Chef Rossi’s mother and the versatile Jason Veasey played all the male leads. “Raging Skillet” is one woman's story about cooking her way through some of life's biggest challenges in New York City's most unlikely kitchens. As the rebel caterer parties at the launch event for her new tell-all book her Orthodox Jewish mother shows up unannounced - twenty years after she died - and guilt trips her into a reckoning with her rebellious past, her time with a Hassidic community in Brooklyn and the real meaning of a Jewish home. We talked to Chef Rossi about her inspiration for her memoir, the future of this fabulous play and her spin on our LGBTQ issues.

When asked what she would like to accomplish with her work Chef Rossi stated, “I think I would most like to see the empowerment of women especially in the culinary field would be great. I’d like to see the empowerment of young gay adults and gay teenagers. I’d like to see the empowerment of the underdog in general. I’m kind of a runaway, throwaway, white trash little kid from New Jersey who went from literally being homeless to whatever this thing is called Chef Rossi. I just think that my story really empowers people that are down and out or the underdog or minorities and I just hope I can help.”

Chef Rossi is the catering director, owner and executive chef of The Raging Skillet catering for the past twenty-six years. She has earned a reputation as the go-to company for out-of-the-box catering and weddings. The Zagat's Guide has called Rossi "the wildest thing this side of the Mason Dixon Line" and “The Raging Skillet” has been voted one of New York's Top Five Wedding Caterers by The Knot from 2009 through 2017. Currently Chef Rossi is working on a new memoir and the screenplay for “Raging Skillet”. The play “Raging Skillet” will be performed at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater August 2nd to September 15th 2018 in Wellfleet, MA.
For More Info: theragingskillet.com

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Game Changers At ClexaCon Las Vegas

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

Robin Lowey talks about her book "Game Changers, Lesbians You Should Know About” that morphed into her panel at ClexaCon, Las Vegas on April 6th Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™. Lowey is a graphic artist who was inspired to create this book after the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful Education Act was signed into law in California in 2011. The legislation requires state curriculum to include contributions of LGBTQ people into textbooks. “Game Changers, Lesbians You Should Know About” is laid out in a whimsical fashion with colorful graphics and even a card with factoids about each woman featured. Lowey raised more than $20,000 through crowd funding to publish her book and she’s in the process of giving the book to all the public high schools and community colleges in Marin, San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland. She hopes her book will help young people learn more about our LGBTQ history. ClexaCon is the annual media and entertainment convention for LGBTQ women and allies that brings together over 3500 participants from over 40 countries and all 50 U.S. states to celebrate the best of LGBTQ+ TV and film and discuss how to improve representation across all media platforms from April 5th to 9th in Las Vegas at the Tropicana Hotel. Robin’s panel at ClexaCon is entitled “Game Changers – How These Outliers Impacted Queer Culture” and will address our community before Ellen, The L Word and Orange Is The New Black when lesbians were often at great risk in pursuit of community and culture. Many women lost their jobs, were thrown in jail and kicked out of families when their identities were revealed. Nevertheless they persisted. This is an opportunity to hear the stories of lesbians and lesbian culture that paved the way for where we are today. Lowey will be joined by journalist Kathy Belge and Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson who will share their experiences throughout the decades. We talked to Robin about her inspiration for writing this fabulous book, what she hopes to accomplish at ClexaCon and her spin on our LGBTQ issues.

When asked what her personal commitment is to LGBTQ equality Lowey stated, “Well my biggest commitment is to be out in all things that I do and that has not always been the case. I’m the type of person that looks pretty straight and people assume I’m straight and all my life I’ve had to like say ‘no I’m gay’. So I think it’s important to be out and you know just make stuff happen like this book. You find something. For me, it was how can I bring something to the world to make a difference. So that’s my commitment. Work hard to make something happen with the talents I’ve been given.”

Robin Lowey was born into a family of artists and designers and has worked in advertising and marketing for over 30 years. Lowey is editor and creative director of Epochalips: Smart Lesbian Commentary that she founded in 2010. A Northern California native she’s a member of the LGBTQ Speakers Bureau and enjoys surfing, snowboarding, hiking and badminton. Robin is the proud mother of two beautiful young men now 21 and 27 who are both strong feminists having grown up in a two-mom household.
For More Info: lesbiangamechangerscom
LISTEN: Danielle Jablonski Talks ClexaCon Las Vegas 

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No NRA Money & The Dru Project

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Brandon Wolf, Vice President of The Dru Project and a survivor of the Pulse Nightclub Massacre talks with Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ about the recent nationwide launch of the No NRA Money Pledge campaign that has already reached over 60 million people online and has drawn more than 200 candidates and lawmakers who are publicly refusing funding and support from the National Rifle Association. Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined the pledge and urged her colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join her. Other early signers include Carlos Guillermo Smith a Florida state representative whose Orlando district includes the Pulse Nightclub where 49 people were killed in an attack that targeted a mostly young, gay and Latino crowd. There are also 16 signers from Colorado where the mass shooting at Columbine High School focused national attention on this issue in 1999. In the past weeks several key organizers of the #NeverAgain movement have amplified the #NoNRAMoney campaign focusing more attention on the NRA’s strong arm tactics for blocking progress on gun safety. Brandon talks about what he would like to accomplish with both The Dru Project and the No NRA Money Pledge and his spin on our LGBTQ issues.

When asked what his personal commitment is to LGBTQ equality Wolf stated, “I think we’ve made a ton of progress on equality. I think that we have a lot to be proud of as a community for how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time. There are a lot of movements in this country. There are a lot of disenfranchised groups that have been fighting for their rights as long as they can remember and they haven’t come nearly as close as we have. But my personal commitment is that we continue to move forward; that we continue to move towards a place where we don’t have to feel like we’re fighting for our rights every single day. A place where you can’t be fired just for being LGBTQ; a place where harassment and discrimination are not legalized; a place where I don’t have to go to a nightclub looking for the exits because I don’t fear someone is going to harm me for who I am. My personal commitment is to again empower young people, a new generation of leaders that are going to challenge the status quo and say we’ve done a hell of a lot of great work but we’re not done doing great work until everyone in this country, everyone no matter black, white, brown, blue, LGBTQ feel safe in their own skin and I’m personally committed to amplifying that message until we get it done.”

Brandon Wolf is Vice President of The Dru Project an LGBTQ+ advocacy organization whose mission is to spread love across the nation and promote gay straight alliances. The organization is named after Christopher Andrew Leinonen and his partner Juan Ramon Guerrero who were among the 49 killed at Pulse Nightclub on June 12th 2016. The Dru Project also offers scholarships to students who truly exemplify Drew's spirit for inclusion and unity.
For No NRA Money Info: nonramoney.org

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ClexaCon Convention Las Vegas April 5 to 9

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

Danielle Jablonski one of the executive directors of the second annual ClexaCon Convention that takes place in Las Vegas April 5th through April 9th at the Tropicana Hotel talks with Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™. ClexaCon is a media and entertainment convention for LGBTQ women and allies that brings together actresses, directors, producers, writers, comic book illustrators, visual artists, academics and fans from over 40 countries and all 50 U.S. states to celebrate the best of LGBTQ+ TV and film and discuss how to improve representation across all media platforms. It also hosts a series of panels on a multitude of topics, workshops, charity events, parties as well as a three-day film festival and a loud message of gender equality, female empowerment, diversity and inclusion. Nothing is more crucial and urgently important today than diversity and inclusion and not just in Hollywood but in all business models and fields. This is where ClexaCon comes in as a leader in an industry-wide conversation to effectively rally together the decision makers and influencers of our community to formulate and put forth real change to counter the lack of representation for LGBTQ+ women in front and behind the camera. With that in mind ClexaCon aims to foster dialogue around various aspects of diversity including gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity and age among others. We talked to Danielle about what she hopes to accomplish at ClexaCon Las Vegas and her spin on our LGBTQ issues.

When asked what her personal commitment is to LGBTQ equality Jablonski stated, “I believe that we all need to stand up and take action in whatever way that we’re able to in our own personal lives. For me LGBTQ equality is something that I’ve always been passionate about. I actually started a nonprofit LGBTQ sports organization years ago which I ran for five years and it’s still going strong. So when the opportunity came up to get involved in something that combines issues around LGBTQ equality and media which is something I’m passionate about it was just a no brainer for me to jump in and do everything I can to talk about this issue, educate around it and on what we can do to make it better.”

ClexaCon was created and is run by Holly Winebarger, Ashley Arnold and Danielle Jablonski with the goal to provide a safe space and a world-wide community of LGBTQ+ women and allies who love TV, film, comics and books and to encourage more LGBTQ+ women to get involved in content creation and to embolden allies to improve representation for LGBTQ+ characters in their creative work. ClexaCon started as a simple meet-up to unite fans of LGBTQ+ pop culture and evolved into a full-blown convention with over 2,000 attendees last year and is expected to welcome over 3,000 attendees in Las Vegas April 5th through April 9th as well as ClexaCon in London, UK from November 2nd to November 4th 2018.
For More Info & Tix: clexacon.com

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Fort Lauderdale The LGBTQ Destination

Monday, March 5th, 2018

Richard Gray, Vice President of LGBT+ Marketing for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau talks about their enormously successful marketing efforts that have made Fort Lauderdale such a desirable LGBTQ destination with Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™. Since 1995 Gray’s pioneering efforts have brought 1.5 million LGBTQ travelers to Fort Lauderdale every year boosting their local economy to the tune of 1.5 billion dollars. Five years ago Greater Fort Lauderdale became the only convention and visitors bureau tourist board in the world to have a designated department whose sole responsibility is to develop and grow LGBTQ tourism. Now with their new groundbreaking global marketing and advertising video “LGBTQI Warm Welcome - Where We're All Greater Together” Fort Lauderdale has added the world’s first campaign where transgender models appear mainstream showcasing the destination’s image as an authentic, diverse and inclusive city where everyone is welcomed. We talked to Richard about what he would like to accomplish with his work and his spin on our LGBTQ issues.

When asked how he sees our LGBTQ community moving forward in this Trump administration Gray stated, “Well it’s challenging. What we’re doing and how we’re addressing it as a destination is we are sharpening our marketing tools even more. We want to tell everybody around the world that Greater Fort Lauderdale is a destination that welcomes everybody. As I said before, irrespective of the color of your skin, irrespective of your religion, irrespective of who you love we welcome you with open arms and that is what we’re doing currently. We’re pushing the envelope, we’re making our marketing tools more cosmopolitan, more edgy and we’re making ourselves stand out in this conservative state that we live in.”

Richard Gray was born in London, England and moved to New York in 1982 as an investment banker. In 1991 he made Fort Lauderdale his home when he created the acclaimed Royal Palms Resort. In 1995 he developed the Greater Fort Lauderdale’s highly successful LGBTQ marketing initiative. An inductee in the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Associations Hall of Fame, a Fort Lauderdale Home Town Hero and a recipient of the LGBTQ Award for Achievement from MTV/Logo, Richard is passionate about all aspects of travel. Richard is a Board Member of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association and sits on the Advisory Board of the LGBT Meeting Planners Association. Richard was recently named as one of the most influential people in the meetings industry and Q. Digital gave Richard an honorary award for his commitment to Transgender tourism.
For More Info: sunny.org

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