by Matthew Wexler
Randy Arnold’s roots are in the wine industry, literally. His ancestors had vineyards in northern California dating back to the late 1800s and his own experience began by planting grape vines on the estate. It was a natural progression that Randy’s journey would bring him to Barefoot Wine & Bubbly (www.barefootwine.com), where he celebrates 25 years. He currently hold the position of Barefoot Ambassador (employees are affectionately called “Barefooters”), and he reflects upon the massive changes in the wine and spirits industry, as well as Barefoot’s longstanding commitment to LGBT organizations.
Barefoot’s history began with acclaimed winemaker Davis Bynum, who created Barefoot Bynum Burgundy in 1965. The name paid homage to the tradition of stomping grapes to extract the juice. Bynum stopped producing the wine about a decade later and it wasn’t until 1986 that founders Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey resurrected the brand as Barefoot Cellars. The signature footprint label has been the brand’s calling card ever since, and a symbol of approachable wines that celebrate diversity and inclusion.
Canada has already said that they would accept over 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of Feb. 2016, and now the country said that would give priority to families, women, and LGBT people. Controversially, though, the country has said that they will not accept single young men. The exception, young gay men.
“The government is aware that gays could be persecuted, and therefore plans to include them in the selection process aimed at rescuing some of the region’s most vulnerable refugees,” the Ottawa Citizen wrote.
In a world riddled with anti-gay and anti-Muslim remarks, Daayiee Abdullah, an openly gay man and Washington D.C.–based Muslim religious leader, has bridged the two communities and created an online school for Islamic Philosophy open for all those in the LGBTQ community.
Abdullah, the first openly gay imam in the United States, started his fight for free religious access to all LGBTQ people, including those with HIV/AIDS, working to bring further inclusivity in the Muslim community since 2002.
In a recent article Abdullah said: “The idea that same-sex-oriented people cant be as faithful or pious as heterosexuals is not something that is found in the Quran.”
For years, Abdullah has been contesting the homophobic ideas and remarks flooding Muslim religion and eventually decided it was time to create the MECCA Institute.
The online school should be offering classes as early as Fall of 2016 and provide more modern take on Islamic philosophy among many other courses.
To learn more about the amazing school Abdullah has created click here.
Last week, the highly anticipated trailer for Zoolander 2 was released, and while it may have swept the Internet, some viewers weren’t so taken by it. The trailer included a scene in which Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson’s male model characters meet “All,” an androgenous model from the future played by Benedict Cumberbatch.
Owen Wilson’s character goes on to ask All if they have a “hotdog or a bun,” a comment that has spurred serious backlash from transgender-rights activists. In response, an online campaign on Care2petitions has called for a boycott of the film, and has reached 11,716 at the time of writing.
The petition reads: “If the producers and screenwriters of Zoolander wanted to provide social commentary on the presence of trans/androgyne individuals in the fashion industry, they could have approached models like Andreja Pejic to be in the film. By hiring a cis actor to play a non-binary individual in a clearly negative way, the film endorses harmful and dangerous perceptions of the queer community at large.”
Are exaggerated stereotypes being thrown in every direction, or is the film explicitly mocking androgyne/trans/non-binary models? Watch the trailer below:
If you’re not already super-psyched for The Wiz, which is set to air Dec. 3, you may get chills from the just-released stills from the rehearsals of Grease Live! Fox cast Dancing with the Stars–judge Julianne Hough in the starring role as Sandy, while Selena Gomez is is looking just like Rizzo, and Aaron Tveit as Danny.
You’ll be able to see the rest of the cast (including Carly Rae Jepsen) when the live show airs on January 31.
One more still of Hough and Tveit looking like spot-on greaser perfection after the jump…
Last evening, the State Department issued a rare worldwide travel warning ahead of one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.
Below is the message:
The State Department alerts U.S. citizens to possible risks of travel due to increased terrorist threats. Current information suggests that ISIL (aka Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions. These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, using conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests. This Travel Alert expires on February 24, 2016.
Authorities believe the likelihood of terror attacks will continue as members of ISIL/Da’esh return from Syria and Iraq. Additionally, there is a continuing threat from unaffiliated persons planning attacks inspired by major terrorist organizations but conducted on an individual basis. Extremists have targeted large sporting events, theatres, open markets, and aviation services. In the past year, there have been multiple attacks in France, Nigeria, Denmark, Turkey, and Mali. ISIL/Da’esh has claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt.
U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation. Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowded places. Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events. U.S. citizens should monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities. Persons with specific safety concerns should contact local law enforcement authorities who are responsible for the safety and security of all visitors to their host country. U.S. citizens should:
- Follow the instructions of local authorities. Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
- Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.
- Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.
- Register in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
Foreign governments have taken action to guard against terrorist attacks, and some have made official declarations regarding heightened threat conditions. Authorities continue to conduct raids and disrupt terror plots. We continue to work closely with our allies on the threat from international terrorism. Information is routinely shared between the United States and our key partners in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats.
Remember, before your travel outside of the United States, register your travel plans in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), so the US government knows your whereabouts in case in the unlikely event something were to happen.
Survivor-contestant-turned-The View–host-turned-news-anchor Elisabeth Hasselbeck has announced that she will be leaving Fox and Friends to spend more time with her family. The blonde-haired conservative will end her two-year run right before Christmas. Hasselback became the center of Internet fodder for her uninformed and often-extreme conservative opinions that included victim blaming Sandra Bland, demanding a test before voting, and her mumble-jumble understanding of the Middle East.
It wasn’t all bad, though. Hasselbeck famously backed same-sex marriage while she was still on The View. One of the few openly conservative TV personalities to say that believing in gay and lesbian marriage doesn’t run contradictory to her Republican values.
The HRC has filed a formal complaint with the IRS against the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) for violating federal law by refusing to disclose their 2014 Form 990s. Following their November 16 deadline, NOM is required by law to provide a copy of the organization’s Form 990s for the previous fiscal year on the same day any in-person request is made. For the third year in a row, HRC has made such a request at NOM offices and the organization has failed to comply, prompting HRC to file a complaint with the IRS in order to compel the disclosure of the documents.
According to analysis of the organization’s 2013 tax filings done by HRC, NOM raised $5.1 million in 2013, dropping by over 50% since 2012. Just 2 donors accounted for more than half of the organization’s funding – further evidence that everyday Americans have little interest in furthering NOM’s extremist agenda. In addition, the NOM Education Fund also showed a decrease of nearly $3.5 million in funding—a drop of almost 70% since the previous year. NOM ended the year more than $2.5 million in debt.
Last year, the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices voted unanimously to impose record civil penalties against NOM totaling $50,250. The Commission also directed NOM to file disclosure reports after a four-year investigation exposed “a significant violation of law” by the national anti-LGBT organization. The penalties were the largest ever imposed for a campaign finance violation in Maine history.
It has been a revealing week for Modern Family actor Reid Ewing, who plays Sarah Hyland’s boyfriend Dylan. The star wrote a piece in The Huffington Post describing a little-known problem called Body Dysmorphic Disorder. In the article he revealed that he went under the knife obsessively to change the way he looked. “My history with eating disorders and the cases of obsessive compulsive disorder in my family never came up. None of the doctors suggested I consult a psychologist for what was clearly a psychological issue…or warn me about the potential for addiction…The secrecy that surrounds cosmetic surgery keeps the unethical work practiced by many of these doctors from ever coming to light,” he wrote. “I think people often choose cosmetic surgery in order to be accepted, but it usually leaves them feeling even more like an outsider. We don’t hear enough stories about cosmetic surgery from this perspective,” he added.
In response to the article, Eugene Bata shared his similar struggles with BDD on ABC. In response Ewing took to social media.
Since 2006, Brussels-based Dinner in the Sky (www.dinnerinthesky.be) has redefined “haute cuisine” by hoisting guests around the globe sky-high by crane for gourmet meals prepared by Michelin-starred chefs. With daytime and nighttime cityscapes providing the dizzying décor for giddy gastronomy, this singular adventure illustrates how reinterpreting the culinary environment can add storylines and a narrative all its own. High-altitude, high-adrenaline dining that requires a harness and a waiver may not be for everyone, but uniquely inventive restaurant and bar design is a language that comes in many forms. From the Old World to the otherworldly, here are some diverse destinations for gourmandizing travelers with a taste for discovering what’s “out there.”