September 2019

Trends

Miley Cyrus Breaks Up with Her

Rebound Girlfriend Kaitlynn Carter

By Lilli McHale

Just a few months after I poured my heart out showing my love and affection for Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus, after their spur of the moment wedding this winter, the two have split yet again claiming “this is what’s best,” to People Magazine. The two have called it splits before, once in 2013, before getting back together in 2015. Yet this time, Hemsworth seems extremely broken up about their break-up, telling Daily Mail Australia, "You don't understand what it's like, I don't want to talk about it mate." One of Miley’s reps stated, "Liam and Miley have agreed to separate at this time. Ever evolving, changing as partners and individuals, they have decided this is what's best while they both focus on themselves and careers. They still remain dedicated parents to all of their animals they share while lovingly taking this time apart. Please respect their process and privacy." 

This weekend before last, Cyrus had been seen making out with Brody Jenner’s former wife, Kaitlynn Carter at an international location. While seeing Cyrus out so quickly after the break-up with her partner of 10 years, her rebound does not seem too shocking, as she revealed to Elle in August that her former relationship was, “so complex, and modern, and new that I don’t think we’re in a place where people would get it. I mean, do people really think that I’m at home in a fucking apron cooking dinner? I’m in a hetero relationship, but I still am very sexually attracted to women.” After Hemsworth and Cyrus’ last break-up, Cyrus quickly found herself in a relationship with Stella Maxwell. Hemsworth was tied to a string of actresses during their last split, before the two made their way back to each other. Yet both eventually found their way back to each other. I hope they do again this time, as well. 

September 29th

Iconic Singer Sade Applauded By Her Son

For Her Support through His Transition

By David T. Valentin

Don’t you just hate when your favorite celebrity, who you’ve adored because they have a great charming public personality, disappoint you? Well, in the case of iconic singer Sade, she proved herself to be the amazing woman we always thought her to be. 

In a touching Instagram post to the world, Sade’s 23-year old son, Izaak Theo Adu opened up about his mother and her support of him.  After six long months completing sex reassignment surgery to transition from female to male, Alex said, “It’s been a long hard road but We did it!! We are coming home!!!! Thank you for staying by my side these past six months Mumma,” Izaak wrote. “Thank you for fighting with me to complete the man I am. Thank you for your encouragement when things are hard, for the love you give me. The purest heart. I love you so much. Queen of queens.”

Aren’t mothers just the best?

September 28th

NY’s Gov. Cuomo and Long-Time Girlfriend Sandra Lee Spit

By Lori Perkins

For the past three terms of Cuomo’s New York Governorship, TV chef and author Sandra Lee was by his side.  Though not married, she was the de facto first lady of New York, but after 14 years together, the pair announced their split earlier this week.

 

They released a joint statement on Wednesday, “Over the recent past, we have realized that our lives have gone in different directions and our romantic relationship has turned into a deep friendship. We will always be family and are fully supportive of each other and dedicated to the girls," wrote Lee and Cuomo. "Our personal lives remain personal and there will be no further comment."

The break up came on the heels of the sale of the couple’s Westchester home this summer. Since then, Cuomo has been staying in the state’s capital in Albany and Lee has been staying with her Aunt and Uncle in California. Lee moved in with her Aunt and uncle when she was breaking into television in the 80s, and has been by her uncle’s side as he battles cancer and the couple celebrates their 60th wedding anniversary.

 

Lee said of their relationship, “Andrew will always be one of the greatest loves of my life and we will continue to be family.”

September 27th

Tuxedoes, a Bride-to-Be, and a…bear?

Monstrous Photo Bomber

Disrupts Wedding Photo Shoot

By David T. Valentin

Photo shoots with a loved one in the woods are usually enchantingly romantic. Add a wedding gown and flowers and you should have fairy tale photos. That is unless your nature-loving neighbors don’t come to be included, which is exactly what one, big, furry neighbor did. 

 

Soon-to-be wed Bride Sarina Thompson and groom Cory Brewer thought that the woods would be a great spot for a wedding photo shoot, too, until they noticed a bear just hanging around behind them. Maybe he wanted to make the declaration, “You may now kiss the bride”?

 

Recalling the incident, photographer McMahan told the couple to just move away, deciding to photograph elsewhere for the time being. That was until the bear decided it was their big day and walked down the aisle, huffing and puffing in their direction. 

“At this point, I am beyond scared lol. He jacked my heart rate up to Jesus,” Said McMahan. “Anyway, it was probably the most adventurous photo session I have done.” 

 

I guess the bear just wanted a few good angles.

 

You can see the photos of the gorgeous couple and the gorgeous bear here, on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/leah.mcmahan.75/posts/2562466943800146

September 26th

Husband Surprises Pregnant Wife with Motivational Messages

During Labor

By David T. Valentin

The delivery room for pregnant women isn’t always the happiest, or the prettiest scene, despite what celebrity shots of women with hair and make-up impeccably done, and no sign of exhaustion from the ordeal of giving birth. The delivery room could get bloody, sweaty and loud. Most of all, chaotic. Despite what most movies show of husbands panicking about being new fathers, or sitting in silence, confused about what he should be doing as his wife pushes out a human being, one husband decided to make the chaotic scene in the delivery room just a tad bit less stressful for his wife. 

 

In a touching video, Kendall Caver records himself in the hospital hovering over the bed where his wife lies taking in deep breaths and rubbing her pregnant belly where she was in labor for two-days. Caver flips through a book that, in between frequently reminding her to breathe, tells the story of how they met, how much he loves her, and some of the jokes they’ve shared with each other. 

 

Caver ends his flip book with advice the couple received on their wedding day. “We are going to be tested but, there’s no test we can’t face together. And after two years of marriage, plenty of tests later and a pregnancy loss, I’d do it all over again to know the indescribable happiness I know today.”

 

Caver’s message to his wife is not that love conquers all, but that love takes time and effort. And I think it’s a message everyone needs to hear, especially when sometimes movies and books like to show love being so easy. There will be times where things seem rough, almost impossible to get through, but if you keep choosing to do the work it takes to love someone, then love can be one of the joyful experiences in the world. 

Of course, in this world of social media, not everyone was pleased with Caver’s messages to his wife. Some comments noted that either they, or their wives, would’ve been in absolute frenzy while in labor, as one commentator likened herself to “a wild cat with rabies.” One man tweeted, “My wife would’ve quite rightly shoved his ‘inspirational messages’ where the sun never shines.”

 

RDN Publisher Lori Perkins said, “I think it was romantic, but maybe a bit inappropriate, because giving birth is PAINFUL. Really, there is no appropriate time.” 

 

I guess you can’t please everyone, but as long he pleased his wife and made her happy then let them be happy. 

 

Congratulations to them!  

September 25th

Rise of the Zaddy

By David T. Valentin

Within society there seems to be no philosophy of grace through aging anymore. From simple coal face mask that rip your skin hairs out (not all that good for those with thick facial hair, looking at you, partners who want to do self-care nights with their boyfriends) to nine-stepped Korean facial midnight facial cleanses, the message is clear: old equals bad and ugly, and young equals good and beautiful. But what of graceful aging? What if aging had a certain beauty to it that we can appreciate, a beauty through wisdom and grace?

 

In Junya Watanabe’s fall 2019 runway show, he decided to do something a little different for his looks. Instead of presenting seniors as stunts, or radical steps to show different kinds of beauty, he decided to have senior beauty dominate his runway. While Watanabe described the classically handsome men as “silver swagger,” the internet, as usual, finds a title that’s a bit more extra. In sticking to the daddy look, the slang term “zaddy” has been used to describe the older men, who demonstrate a measured confidence with an edge of sexiness and playfulness to it. 

Unlike anti-aging products, the silver swagger these men exude, or the zaddy energy, adds a level of fullness, confidence, and experience. As writer Nick Haramis expressed in a recent New York Times fashion piece, he admired Adam Kimmel’s spring 2009 look book featuring “a ruddy, Santa-like 70-something John Baldessari that I used to have tacked to the wall above my bed…I wanted to have the knowledge and the experience that Baldessari clearly had. And I wanted to look as fully formed as he did in that picture, in black pleated pants, a matching T-shirt and an unbuttoned safari jacket, all of which Kimmel had put on an old man so that younger ones like me might pay attention.” 

The looks give a sense of poise, respect, and confidence that many older men might lack because of fears of harming their masculinity by dressing in a way that indicates you have any respect for your appearance. Let’s be honest, would you rather be a washed up, toxically masculine man with a basic John Bay Tee and khakis, or a man who wears angular Calvin Klein semi-casual wear that’s so sharp it makes heads turn? Not, that there’s anything wrong with John Bay T-shirts, unless of course you’re going for the basic middle schooler look. But in my opinion, I’d rather give off a look of precision and comfort, while John Bay just gives you, well, comfort and not much else. 

September 24th

World’s First Vagina Museum to Open in London in November

By Lori Perkins

Perhaps you’re aware that there is a Penis Museum in Iceland? (If not, then let me be the first to inform you of this important piece of information).

 

You would think that after four generations of feminists, there would be a vagina museum, but that was sadly not the case, until now!

 

The first museum entirely devoted to vaginas will open in London in November. An international crowdfunding campaign that raised £50,000 ($63,000) made the world's "first bricks and mortar museum dedicated to the gynaecological anatomy" possible. It will feature art exhibitions, plays, workshops and comedy nights centred on vaginas. 

The museum is the brainchild of millenial Florence Schechter, who has been working on this idea for more than three years ever since she read about the phallic-centric museum in Reykjavik.

 

Schechter hopes to break down misconceptions and stigmas about vaginas. “This is a party of the body that should be celebrated,” she said. “The museum is a fantastic way to spread the message that there is nothing shameful or offensive about vaginas and vulvas.”

The museum is scheduled to open on November 16 in the Camden Market area of London with an exhibition entitled “Muff Busters: Vagina Myths and How To Fight Them.”

September 23rd

The Man Who Gave Birth, Freddy McConnell,

Says ‘Trans Men having babies is a Superpower’

By David T. Valentin

When Freddy McConnell transitioned, many had said he’d be infertile. Many said he couldn’t do it. McConnell thought differently. 

 

In a new documentary Seahorse, by the BBC along with The Guardian, directed by Jeanie Finlay, McConnell’s journey of pregnancy, from trying to conceive to eventually giving birth, is documented, presenting a new insight into the lives of transmen that has rarely been explored. 

 

McConnell noted the importance of the film is to try to “help people understand more about trans folk” while “helping people like me discover that they can do this themselves–not that they have to or should do it, but just that they can, because we’re given all of this misinformation.”

 

And indeed, transmen giving birth is nothing new. Just in Australia alone, 228 transmen have given birth in the last decade. 

 

While some aspects of the pregnancy were hard for McConnell, he said the pregnancy was worth it so that he could build the family he always dreamed about. 

“I love it. I love getting to know my child, I feel like they are an autonomous human being and they were from the day they were born, with their own personality and needs and wants and interests, and I just absolutely love getting to know him.”

 

He even notes that, “People would say to me, ‘oh, you’ll be really keen to get back to work’–because I took a whole year of parent leave–and I just wasn’t.” 

 

McConell’s story is one of deconstructing and redefining centuries of toxic gender norms that both men and women are fitted into. McConnell’s story is one that proves—despite the media portrayal—that men could be nurturing, emotional and close with their children and that it’s okay in a world that puts so much emphasis on rationality, strength and emotional distance on men. 

September 22nd

Four Older Gay Men Try

Grindr for the very First Time

By David Valentin

Those of the younger gay generation are no strangers to using dating apps to make being gay just a bit easier. Whether it be a hook-up or looking for a relationship, most gays are familiar with apps like Tinder, Grindr, and even Scruff. Despite the use of these apps by gay men, you don’t often find older gay men on them. 

So Into found four older gay men (who were between 65 and 75 years old)—Robert Reeves, Michael Peterson, Jessay Martin, and Bill Lyons--who had never touched a dating app. 

Then they taught them how. In a hilarious seven minute video (see below)  these charming older men downloaded Grindr on their phones, uploaded their selfies, updated their profiles and entered the 21st century of online gay dating.

September 21st

Couple Takes Engagement Photos at JC Penney

With an ‘80s Flair

By David Valentin

Just like the couple who decided to have their engagement photos in Target for a sense of authenticity, another couple decided to spice up the typical JC Penney engagement photos with an ‘80s flair and a lot of awkwardness. 

 

When Madison Moxley, a comedian, and Mason Whitis, a man who does any weird thing he can to make his partner laugh, got engaged, they instantly knew their engagement photos had to be funny. 

 

“We ultimately decided on tacky ‘80s photos just because we felt it was a good representation of both of us and it was an opportunity to really shine,” Moxley told HuffPost. Moxley was right, the photoshoot is downright awkward and cringey, but, of course, still cute. And apparently social media thinks the same as their JC Penney photo shoot has gone viral on Facebook, with more than 10,000 shares. 

The couple had met on Tinder in February 2017 and had their first date at Kohl’s. I mean, after that sentence alone you can almost sense what kind of couple these two are together—awkward, funny and downright adorable. 

 

You can check out the whole photo shoot here at: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/awkward-80s-engagement-photos_l_5d7003a5e4b0110804590d0a?ncid=APPLENEWS00001

September 20th

Kate's Naughty Corner:

Inside the World of Posh Sex Clubs

By Kate Allure

I am a lifelong weekend kinkster. Well, okay, just adult lifelong. I’ve been out and about exploring this side of myself, if you get my drift, but not always to my satisfaction (pun intended). Now, my Eyes Wide Shut fantasies are being fulfilled in my upcoming London Sex Club series from Entangled Publishing. The first, Seduced, debuts October 21st.

 

Besides an erotic romance love story, inside Seduced you’ll find the sensual world I have built, both physical and social, in the form of Club Exotica, a society of like-minded, sexually-free individuals from the highest echelons of London society. Housed in two Mayfair town houses, the club offers every luxury a wealthy hedonist would expect, from a four-stared Michelin restaurant, to a full-service spa, to private romance suites and an orgy pit, and, of course, the requisite basement dungeons with every manner of kinky contraption. I’ve constructed this fantasy world in my mind and on paper and you can find the blueprints on my Pinterest board.

 

But it got me thinking… And wishing… Do such places really exist and how can I get my foot in the door?

 

They do exist. From the old school Les Chandelles in Paris, to the floating Desire Cruises, to the woman-founded and women-centric Killing Kittens, there are posh, private clubs and experiences all around the world. 

 

But first, perhaps, some basics. These clubs are not all the same. Some have permanent facilities while others are held in mansions or hotels and move about, their secret location not revealed until just before the event.

 

Even more important is understanding what the club offers. Is it for swinging, BDSM, or education. Is it gay or straight. Are voyeurs welcome or will you be expected—required—to participate. Understanding the purpose of the event is a lesson I learned the hard way, or maybe not so hard since the party lacked BDSM equipment and therefore I lacked a sore ass by evening’s end.

 

But I must digress to explain. Somehow I ended up on a mailing list for an organization called Club Exotica, and since that’s the name of my fictitious club I simply had to check it out. This event would be held in a mansion in a gated community. That sounded good. The price was not outrageous. Another plus. So we dressed to impress and off we went.

 

Upon arriving, we sat in the car wondering if we were nuts, but watching the handsome bloke in full steampunk emerge from his conveyance across the street reassured us, and in we went. Long story short…we had a blast. We socialized and drank complimentary mimosas by the pool while watching a mermaid. We danced to a fab DJ in a furniture-free parlor. We munched on treats. We explored the many nooks and crannies of this fancy, marble-floored manse. 

But we didn’t find any BDSM equipment, anywhere. It was about that point when we began to realize we might be at a different sort of party. It’s not like anyone would have minded if we’d whipped out our floggers, but that wasn’t the purpose of this play. It was for swingers, and it was ladies’ night. Dressed like cute predatory animals and, following the explanation of strict rules, the female guests hunted masculine prey. We still had a fun evening and no one required anything from us, but lesson learned. Understand what you’re getting into!

There’s something else that many vanillas don’t understand. In most clubs, there is one absolute rule. No means no. A woman can attend alone and be safe. Unlike many regular bars where women must be vigilant about their safety, most kink clubs (at least in the US) enforce a woman’s absolute right to her bodily autonomy. Everyone’s bodily autonomy. No one can be touched without consent, and if someone changes their mind at any point in the play, then the other must stop. Don’t take no for an answer and you are booted out. So strange as it may seem, I’ve felt safer in kink clubs where all manner of weird is taking place, than I usually do inside a regular place, where a stranger’s hand might find itself on my ass without my permission. 

 

Enough digressing. Let’s talk about one of the swankiest clubs out there. Just like my fictional Club Exotica—a place so secret, so wicked, so posh, a woman’s every fantasy can be fulfilled—so too is Snctm. And just like my club, the highest membership level will cost a cool million. Don’t worry. Lesser memberships are only $75,000 or $10,000. You’ve got that laying around, don’t you?

 

There are other similarities. To gain entrance, one must pass a review by a membership committee complete with photos. One must sign an agreement to both protect the privacy of other members and the sanctity of a woman’s right to say no. And just like Club Exotica, if you break the rules, you’re out. Forever. No refund.

 

There are differences as well. Snctm doesn’t have permanent facilities, but leases entire floors of posh hotels or borrows a swanky Beverly Hills mansion. Snctm offers “erotic theater,” while in my club, the “entertainment” is provided by members just doing what they like to do as well as employees offering their bodies for a public display of chastisement (a flogging, in less flowery parlance). It’s always their choice, but since my club has employee profit sharing, if one makes a mistake that lowers the take, one must offer restitution, whether financial or corporal. To my knowledge, no such compensatory activities take place at Snctm, but if you want a peek inside check out this HBO short.

 

And anyone can enjoy being a voyeur in my fantasy London Sex Club. However, getting ones foot inside the door of these real life luxury erotic havens, that’s a tad harder. I haven’t given up. 

 

Meanwhile, check back in October when I share some less stratospheric but still sinfully wicked options for the kinkster in you. Places the average Joe and Josephine can enter to explore human sensuality and sexuality. And some are utterly private too.

 

By Kate Allure

  • author of Seduced, a London Sex Club novel


 

Want to know more? Check out:

Metro: From Berlin to Bangkok: the best sex parties around the world

Second Life Destination Guides: Adult Clubs & Entertainment

Men’s Health: Inside the Exclusive Sex Parties That Cost Thousands of Dollars to Attend

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September 19th

How About that LGBTQ HEA Surprise Ending of Bachelor in Paradise?

By Lilli McHale

The sixth season of Bachelor in Paradise ended last night with a three-hour long wrap-up episode alongside a reunion. 

This season finally included a LGBTQ+ love story, the first dating reality show to do so. In this season, one of the contestants Demi, was allowed to have her girlfriend come on set of the Bachelor in Paradise to try to salvage her relationship with her girlfriend back at home, Kristian Haggarty. This is super unusual as those in a relationship are usually booted from the show early, and the significant other is never invited onto the show unless they had already been in on the Bachelor nation. This allowed this LGBTQ+ love story to really take seed, as it was a previously well-established relationship with history outside of the reality show. While this meant they did not have nearly as much camera time as the other couples, two others got engaged last night and some are merely still dating, this pair was able to combine their hometown chemistry and the rush of being on a dating show into a very happy ending. The finale shows Demi proposing to Kristian, who later proposes to Demi so they both can wear rings. A ton of other couples ran over to the two to celebrate. 

Meanwhile, some other couples are still together, enjoying their post Bachlelor Nation glow. 

Chris and Katie get engaged, FINALLY, as Chris has been about six different seasons of the show. Yet, the reunion showed a ringless Katie. She’s hoping Chris will work on his communication and they’ll rekindle. 

Hannah G. and Dylan are engaged and she’s moving near him in Cali to be close. 

Tayshai and John Paul Jones are dating, so are Caelynn and Dean, who are living in his van together, and Connor and Whitney are taking their time in their new relationship. 

The New York City Chapter of Romance Writers of American held their annual Golden Apple awards for service to the romance community as industry professionals to a standing-room only crowd in midtown Manhattan.

 

Rachel Brooks of the BookEnds Agency received the Golden Apple as outstanding literary agent, followed by Cat Cline of Sourcebooks, who received the award for her work as a romance editor and reminded us all “romance is feminist as fuck!”  

Sourcebooks was also the recipient of the Golden Apple Award as Publisher of the Year. Alyssa Cole was awarded the Golden Apple as Author of the Year, which was received by her editor Esi Sogah, and NY Times best-selling author Brenda Jackson received the award this year for Lifetime Achievement (having just completed her 100th romance novel) but was unable to receive the Golden Apple in person because she was on a cruise to the Mediterranean. The Brooklyn-based Word Bookstore received the prestigious award for their role as a mecca for romance readers in the metropolitan area.

September 18th

NYC’s RWA Chapter Holds

Their Annual Golden Apple Awards

By Lori Perkins

September 17th

Just a Light Midnight Snack: 

Woman Swallows Her Engagement Ring While Sleepwalking

By David T. Valentin

When someone gets proposed to with a fancy engagement ring the first thought that might pop up in their head, even if they might not admit it, is that “I better not lose this damn thing.” The second reaction is probably the tears, the hugs, and the kisses—you know, all that romantic stuff. And you might ask yourself, where does one lose an engagement ring? Well, it might slip off your finger, sink down a drain, fall off on the side of the road while getting out of your car, but no one expects to find the missing ring in their stomach?

 

Jenna Evans, in a dream filled with heroes and villains, was told, by her fiancé Bobby Howell, that the only way to protect the engagement ring from the big bad guys coming to get them on a high-speed cargo train, was to swallow it. 

 

In a Facebook post, Evans said, “So I popped that sucker off, put it in my mouth and swallowed it with a glass of water.” Absolutely bonkers. Couldn’t be real, right? Unfortunately for Evans, no. When she woke up, she thought the same thing—totally bonkers—fell back to sleep and didn’t give it a second thought. That was until Evans woke up the next morning and saw that her engagement ring was missing. 

At 8:00 a.m., Evans and her fiancé rushed to the emergency room, struggling to come up with words as to why they were there in the first place. 

 

When she finally got into the E.R. and all the X-rays were done, Evans found out what she already knew from her dreams: She had swallowed the damn ring. 

 

“Every girl, I think, wants as big a ring as she can get – until you swallow it and are trying to figure out what to do next,” Evans told NBC 7. 

 

Unfortunately for Evans, just letting the ring flush through the ol’pipes was not going to be enough to get the ring out. So, she was taken to gastroenterologists where they plucked the ring out from her stomach. 

 

Now, when Evans sleeps, she takes her ring off, and will be seeing a sleep specialist about her sleepwalking habits. Not the midnight snack you’d expect to hear about. 

 

You can read the entire story in Evans own words, pictures and all, here at this link on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jenna.evans.121/posts/10214281316816234

September 16th

New York City Braces for Rudolph Giuliani’s

Next Divorce

By Lori Perkins

Last time this happened, Rudi was Mayor of New York and he informed his then-wife, Donna Hanover, that he was getting a divorce from her at a press conference on television. This was news to his wife, who subsequently had his mistress (now his new soon-to-be ex-wife) publicly barred from the mayor’s mansion.  It was NOT a pretty picture.

 

Before that, Rudi was able to wangle an “annulment” from the diocese of New York for his 16-year marriage to his second cousin.

 

We are now in the very public battle for Rudi’s financial soul as his current soon-to-be ex-wife has opted to take him to divorce court in public where we can see just how much he claimed to have made over the past few years as the president’s advisor and how he is trying to hide his money so he can pare down his spousal support.

Thankfully, Rudi is 75 years old, and a prostate cancer survivor, so we can only hope that this is the last of his 15-year public divorce cycles, but you never know.  He does look like the undead already.

 

And, just because God don’t like ugly, I am happy to report that Donna Hanover re-met the man of her dreams (an old high school and college boyfriend) and remarried and is living her best life ever! And you can read all about it here, https://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/03/style/weddings-celebrations-donna-hanover-edwin-oster.html

September 15th

DNA Proves Famous

Viking Warrior Was a Woman

By Lori Perkins

This latest archeological discovery just might change the plot of some of our Viking romance novels.

National Geographic has reported that the famous “Birka warrior” gravesite in Sweden which houses the tomb of an esteemed Viking warrior surrounded by swords, arrowheads and two dead steads actually belongs to a woman, as evidenced by contemporary DNA testing.

 

“It was held up before as kind of the ‘ideal’ Viking male warrior grave,” says Baylor University archaeologist David Zori. “[The new study] goes to the heart of archaeological interpretation: that we’ve always mapped on our idea of what gender roles were.”

Most archeologists has considered the folktales about female Vikings as wishful thinking that pandered to today’s need for gender equality even though one early 10-century Irish text tells of Inghen Ruaidh (“Red Girl”), a female warrior who led a Viking fleet to Ireland. 

National Geographic Magazine reported in its March 2017 cover story on Vikings, that Stockholm University bioarchaeologist Anna Kjellström closely examined the warrior’s pelvic bones and mandible for the first time. Their dimensions appeared to match those typical of a woman. Some scientists hypothesized that perhaps other bones had been mixed with the imagined male warrior, so a second set of DNA tests were just completed by a team led by Uppsala University archaeologist Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson, which confirmed that the warrior’s remains were female.

 

So, are we ready for some hot female-led Viking romance? 

September 14th

A Unique Wedding that Included

Lederhosen and a Disco Ball

By Lili McHale

This is the charming, bizarre story of love when a Bavarian girl meets an English lad in New York City.

 

Millie Allsopp and Constantin Nagel met through friends when they both recently moved to NYC. They told Vogue they, “coincidentally happened to be living on the same block in downtown New York.”

 

The two dated for five years before Nagel got down on one knee in Ibiza in front of Allsopp. She was shocked. She remembers, “He asked at sunset, sitting on a hillside facing the sea and looking onto Es Vedra, the magnetic rock on the south side of the island.”

When the wedding rolled around, they became an Instagram trend with their hashtag, #Schatzis4life. Schatzi comes from German and has an endearing sentiment tied to its meaning. The couple has a range of interests as Constantin is an entrepreneur and Allsopp was a fashion buyer before starting her own clothing and accessories company, Usisi. It was only fitting the two wanted to craft a wedding experience for the guests that combine the best of both of them. 

The pair has differing backgrounds, Bavarian and English, and tried to highlight both. Friday night started with a Bavarian night, with the bride-to-be in a blue and white houndstooth fraulein frock while the groom rocked lederhosen. They used wood tables and had an authentic Bavarian band for the night with imported beer.  Millie reflects that “Constantin even flew in Bavarian beer…And we had a German buffet consisting of schnitzel, sauerkraut, sausages—and, of course, lots of schnapps!”

The reception had drinks in a tent before switching tents for dinner. The dinner tent was situated next to a dance dome that connected with a secret tunnel. The final destination was decked out in disco balls and led lights for the attendees to dance until the sun came out. 

 

The story originally appeared here, https://www.vogue.com/slideshow/an-english-country-wedding-complete-with-a-secret-disco-dome-for-dancing

September 13th

Brazilian Mayor Thwarted in Attempt to Censor LGBT+ content

By David T. Valentin

It was sometime in 2012 when I was drifting to sleep, scrolling through Tumblr with three fingers on the side of my phone and one thumb under. I stumbled upon a fan art of Hulking, or Teddy Altman, and Wiccan, or Billy Kaplan, two superheroes of Marvel’s Young Avengers. Teddy’s wide, muscular back craned over Billy’s thin frame and embracing him with a kiss and a hug. I didn’t think there were gay superheroes, let alone gay characters in entertainment and literature. After a few days of research and swooning at their relationship, in a single month I collected nearly every single comic featuring the Younger Avengers.

 

Recently in Brazil, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Marcelo Crivella has attempted to ban all books with LGBT+ themes at the Rio international Book Biennial, one of which being The Younger Avengers comics. Crivella  has claimed the comic book is “unsuitable for minors.”

 

In response, one of Brazil’s largest Newspapers Folha De Sao Paulo, published a large reproduction of Billy and Teddy’s kiss from the comic book The Children’s Crusade where the couple had their first ever kiss on page.

 

On September 7th, Folha De Sao Paulo dedicated its cover to the Saturday edition of the news under the headline: “Crivella tries to censor comic with gay kiss but is barred.”

 

Crivella’s attempts to censor books with LGBT+ themes have largely failed. A Brazillian judge has blocked Crivella from seizing any more books. However, his attempts don’t matter much considering all copies of the comic and every other LGBT+ book at the festival have already sold out.

Crivella’s actions have caught the attention of comic book artist of The Young Avengers: Children’s Crusade, Jim Chueng.

 

Chueng says, “As an artist, my passion is to tell stories; stories of great heroism, compassion and love, with as authentic and diverse characters as possible. Characters that depict every walk of life and colour, whether they be black or white, brown, yellow or green.”

 

For me, Chueng’s story of Billy and Teddy was a monumental step in experiencing my sexuality at a time where I was alone and afraid. Turning that last page and seeing such a tender kiss, a kiss I had never seen countless times between a man and a woman but never two men, normalized my sexuality. It taught me that I could be loved by a group of loving friends and be a super hero in different ways in my life. It taught me that love takes time, and that LGBT+ people do deserve a happy ending filled with love and acceptance.

 

Now, when are we going to get our Young Avengers movie, marvel?

 

Original article featured here: https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2019/09/08/brazil-newspaper-prints-gay-avengers-kiss-front-page-censorship-attempts/

September 12

LGBTQ Editor Talks at Gay Senior Center in NYC

By Lori Perkins

120 Days/Riverdale Avenue Books editor Maitland McDonagh visited  NYC’s SAGE (Services & Advocacy for LGBT Elders) center last week to talk about vintage gay adult novels and their role in depicting a queer-positive world in which gay men and lesbians could see themselves reflected in pop-culture fiction—westerns, science-fiction, historical romances, gothic novels and other genre novels. 

 

Her presentation was followed by a Q&A during which older gay men and women shared their recollections of buying queer genre novels and actually working in the gay-adult paperback industry at a time when positive gay and lesbian pop-culture figures were thin on the ground and adult novels provided entertaining, empowering images that counteracted a generally negative cultural depiction of queer men and women. 

Maitland McDonagh started the 120 Days imprint at Riverdale Avenue Books in 2017 to reprint classic gay pulp fiction from the 1960s and 70s such as Vampire’s Kiss, A Gay Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Night of the Sadist.

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September 11th

KFC Launches Colonel Sanders Anime Dating Simulator

By Lori Perkins

Last Mother’s Day, KFC released a bizarre romance with Colonel Sanders campaign.

Now there’s an anime dating simulator featuring a younger, hotter Colonel Sanders which will be available to play on Steam on September 24th. Who asked for this?

 

The premise of the simulated dating game is that you want to become the business partner of the hunky Colonel and win his heart (as well as some delicious thighs). There’s an “ I Love You Colonel Sanders” logo and everything. 


According to the website, I Love You, Colonel Sanders! A Finger Lickin’ Good Dating Simulator follows you, a promising culinary student, as you try to date your classmate, Colonel Sanders. Throughout your journey, you’ll be faced with life-changing decisions that will affect your chances of friendship and love. But be careful! Your choices have real consequences with real animated characters’ feelings at stake. 

Do you have what it takes to survive culinary school? Will Colonel Sanders choose you to be his business partner? Or maybe even so much more? Find out in the most finger lickin’ good dating simulator ever created—a game that KFC actually made.

The game features nine payable characters which the website describes as offering multiple hours of play-through with “Dateable Colonel Sanders,” plus “a secret ending! Shh!” Also promised are “Secret recipes! Double Shh!,” cooking battles and the opportunity to earn a degree from a fictional culinary school while working with 11 herbs and spices.
 

And if that doesn’t adequately seduce you, here’s the video: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1121910/I_Love_You_Colonel_Sanders_A_Finger_Lickin_Good_Dating_Simulator/

September 10th

Todd Palin Files for Divorce from Former VP Nominee Sarah

By Lori Perkins

TMZ and other gossip magazines have run stories about the former Republican Vice Presidential candidate and her husband being on the verge of divorce for over a decade, but this time it appears true.  After 31 years of marriage, and five children, Todd Palin appears to have filed for divorce in Alaska Superior Court on Friday, September 6th.

Todd Palin, nicknamed “the first dude” during the presidential campaign of 2008 when Palin ran as John McCain’s V.P. running mate, tried to file for divorce under the radar by using only initials in his filing. According to the Associated Press, the initials, birthdates and wedding date of the divorce filing match the Palins, as does the initials given for their only minor child still living at home with them. The documents list the minor as T.P.V.P., born April 18, 2008, the same date Sarah Palin gave birth to Trig Paxon Van Palin, the youngest of the couple’s five children, who has Downs Syndrome. 

The Palins have four other children, two of which have made the gossip news fairly constantly in the past decade. Bristol Palin was an unwed mother when Palin was nominated by McCain as his V.P. and has since appeared on Dancing with the Stars and in an MTV single mom program.  Track Palin was recently in the news for his arrest for domestic violence.

The Palins met in high school and married in 1988 when Sarah was a local Alaska newscaster and Todd was a commercial fisherman. Sarah Palin became the youngest Alaskan Governor in 2006, a term she only completed three of the four years she was elected to.

 

In the divorce filing Todd Palin is seeking joint custody of the child living at home. He also requested an “equitable division” of marital debts and assets. Published reports list Sarah Palin’s net worth at two million dollars. 

 

 “There is an incompatibility of temperament between the parties such that they find it impossible to continue to live together as man and wife,” the divorce filing read. Divorce attorneys said that this wording is akin to the more common “irreconcilable differences” that most American divorces use as grounds for divorce today.

September 9th

“Friends” Pop Up Opens in NYC

By Lori Perkins

It’s been 25 years since Friends (and Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel haircut) dominated popular TV.  And to celebrate a “Friends” Pop-Up installation opened on September 8th in New York City in SoHo.  Even though the Pop Up will be open through October 6th, all entrees to the space at 79 Mercer Street have already been “sold” out (it’s free).

The Pop Up features set recreations, photo opps, props, costumes, and more. You can play foosball in Chandler and Joey’s apartment, look through the peephole on Monica and Rachel’s purple door, “pivot” a couch on Ross’ narrow staircase and pose in the fountain from the show’s opening credits. And, of course, you can visit Central Perk, too. 

“It’s been nearly 25 years since ‘Friends’ premiered, but the fascination and universal appeal of the hit TV series lives on with fans of all ages,” Peter van Roden, Warner Bros. consumer products’ senior VP, global themed entertainment, said in a p.r. statement. “As we celebrate the show’s milestone anniversary, we are excited to bring the ‘Friends’ experience to life for our fans in a way that pays homage to the remarkable cast of characters, iconic sets and instantly quotable moments.”

As previously mentioned, tickets are already sold out, but the website hints that more may be released and there may be “surprises” such as giveaways if you sign up. You can sign up for email updates here, https://www.friends25popup.com/.

 

And if you can’t get into the Pop Up, you can always buy The Pottery Barn Friend’s-themed collection (https://www.potterybarn.com/shop/new/friends-tv-pottery-barn/) or gather a group of your own friends to just binge the show on Netflix, where it is threatening to leave in 2020. 

 

Or maybe “reboot” the concept with some friends who are not all white and het.  Now that would make me ask “COULD WE BE ANY MORE EXCITED?”

September 8th

Supergirl Star Melissa Benoist Marries Co-Star

By Lori Perkins

Last weekend, Melissa Benoist, who plays Supergirl in the CW TV show, married co-star Chris Wood, who played her love interest in the show as prince Daxam Mon-El. Guests attending the celebrity wedding included other Supergirl actors from the show such as Kevin Smith, Odette Annable and Paul Wesley.

 

The wedding ceremony took place on a private estate in Ojai, California. "It was a beautiful setting for a wedding very peaceful and quiet," a source tells E! News, noting the ceremony took place beside a pool. "The vows were brief and lasted about 15 minutes. There was lots of cheering and applause as it ended."

 

According to E! News, the reception that followed was held in an adjacent grove of trees, where long tables were set up for all the guests. "There were lots of glowing candles and lights strung above," adds the insider. "The food was served family style and everyone passed the dishes back and forth."

"It looked like an elegant outdoor dinner party," continues the source. "There was a lot of laughter and happiness."

The couple met on the show and got engaged after dating six months, which, even though the relationship was “shipped by fans of the show, was controversial because Benoist was in the middle of a divorce from her first marriage to Glee star Blake Jenner, who she wed in the spring of 2015. They divorced less than a year later, and the divorce was finalized in 2017.  Woods and Benoist weren't actually confirmed to be a "couple" until they were caught kissing on the beach in Mexico in 2017 — just days after her divorce was finalized.

September 7th

Gay British Tory MP comes out at 40

By David T. Valentin

In media, many stories focus on the positive response to the younger and newer generation of LGBTQ+ people coming out. In stories about the coming out of the older generation of LGBTQ+, there was often an unhappy ending. 

 

That’s why the coming out story of Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski is so heartening. Kawczynski has spoken of his fear about coming out in his 40s and being “scared to tell” his local Conservative Association about who he was. Prior to a Westminister debate, Kawczynski published his coming out account in The House detailing his LGBTQ+ acceptance titled, “No Young Person Should Have to Fear Coming Out the Way I Did.” 

 

After he had come out to his colleagues, one man sitting in the front row stood up and said, “I think that’s marvelous news, well done.” 

His hope is to create, “[A] Britain where telling someone you are LGBT is no more of a surprise than telling them you are left-handed.” 

 

Even with the current rise of anti-LGBT sentiment all over the world, specifically trans individuals, it is a hopeful and important message to hear that there are politicians, and people of power in general, representing queer individuals and continuing the fight for equal rights. 

 

You can read his account first hand here, https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/social-affairs/house/house-magazine/106172/daniel-kawczynski-no-young-person-should-have

Trends

RWA Elects Damon Suede President: 

Organization’s First Out Gay Leader

By Lori Perkins

The 9,000 member Romance Writers of America announced the election of Damon Suede as their president on September 3. Suede has previously served on the organization’s national board of directors.

 

Suede’s election comes at a time of change for the organization which has been taken to task for lacking diversity in both its awards and membership for the past two years. 

 

Said Suede of his election,  “I think all RWA members know that the organization has work to do. As our industry mutates and evolves, I think outreach, education, and genre advocacy in the larger entertainment industry are critical tasks for RWA. Romance should be a lighthouse on a dark shore, and at its best RWA keeps the beacon blazing even in the stormiest weather.

 

Suede, who is the author of seven M/M romances, added, “I also represent a different slice of the membership than is often seated in ‘the room where it happens,’ and speak directly to issues of inclusion and diversity, indie publishing, transmedia access, and audience development in a way that broadens RWA’s strength, stability, and access to new markets.”

Suede was quick to inform me that he wasn’t the first man to head the romance writers organization.  Harold Lowry, who found romance through his wife’s Georgette Heyer novels and wrote under the pen name Leigh Greenwold, was president of the organization from 2000-2002. “So in terms of firsts, it looks like I’m the “first out, gay president-elect” Suede added.

 

Suede added, “I always say that Romance is the literature of hope, and by serving on the executive committee, I can help, nurture, and guard the talented folks who create that hope. We create levity because we defy gravity.”

September 4th

Happy 24th Anniversary to Maryanne and Tommy 

By Lilli McHale

Maryanne and Tommy Pilling, pictured happily above, were the very first couple with Down’s Syndrome to get married in the United Kingdom. The marriage occurred only two decades ago, and despite the length of time it took a Down’s Syndrome couple to get married legally in the UK, this couple has proven any skeptics wrong as many people voiced their concerns for the pair’s ability to effectively take care of themselves. Many onlookers told the couple they would not make it in the long run, yet the couple proved everyone wrong as they are now celebrating their 24th anniversary. The couple live alone with Maryanne’s sister as their neighbor. 

The couple met at a day center in 1991 before dating for 18 months. Tommy asked Maryanne to marry him shortly after. To celebrate their 22nd anniversary, the pair enjoyed re-enacting their first dance, which was from Dirty Dancing.  

 

“My wedding was the best day of my life. I was shocked when Tommy proposed but I didn’t have to think twice about saying yes,” Maryanne revealed to Independant.co.uk when she talked about their big day. “Tommy and I never argue. I love my husband very much. He is my best friend,” she continued. 

 

While many people didn’t support them, Maryanne’s mother was extremely supportive and said it was their decision to make,  “Maryanne had dreamed about a big white wedding since she was a little girl and that’s exactly what she had. It was a beautiful day.”

Maryanne’s sister also reflected on their relationship saying “When they walk down the street holding hands they make a statement but in a good way. Some people stare, they assume people with Down’s Syndrome and learning difficulties can’t get married. But we also get so many lovely messages from people who are inspired by their story.”

“People worried about their own children or grandchildren with Down’s Syndrome get hope from Maryanne and Tommy’s story, hope that their children can also fall in love and live happily ever after,” Maryanne’s sister furthered.

A Facebook page dedicated to the couple is managed by Maryanne’s sister. The Facebook page chronicles the life of the couple full of lovely photos showing how they spent quality time together. One of the photos showed the couple visiting an Elvis Presley museum and visiting an aquarium in another.

 

A lot of people are sending them messages congratulating them and wishing them well.

Watch the touching love story of Tommy and Maryanne and believe, once again, that love conquers all.

September 3rd

J.K. Rowling, Serena Williams and Malala Have New Constellations

By Lori Perkins

In an effort to get more young people, specifically young women, interested in astronomy and the stars, British astronomers have named new constellations after three international women the world knows and respects.

 

Constellations were named after Greek and Roman mythological figures in the past, but today both the names and the stars remain unfamiliar to many children.

 

According to a The Big Bang Fair, the University of Birmingham’s educational event for astronomers and youth, a third of people alive today cannot see the Milky Way due to light pollution. A study commissioned by the group found  that 72% of people between the ages of 7 and 19 had never looked for constellations in the sky.

 

The group has proposal seven new constellations which are part of the Big Bang Fair’s “Look Up to the Stars” initiative and feature constellations representing inspiring athletes, entertainers, scientists and activists.

Nobel Laureate, activist and best-selling author Malala Yousafzai is to be represented by a book, tennis champion Serena Williams by her racket, and JK Rowling by Harry Potter’s iconic glasses.

 

Other new constellations suggested by the group include Sir David Attenborough (a blue whale) ands Tim Peake (a space craft). Sir Mo Farah is to be immortalized in the form of an ‘M’ shape constellation after his renowned ‘Mobot’ celebration. Olympic runner and champion Usain Bolt is to be remembered with a pattern of stars that resembles his own celebratory lightning-bolt stance.

 

Photo credits to: The Big Bang Fair

All summer long shippers have been charting the relationship course between pop stars Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes as they have been performing their hit single “Senorita” and their equally sexy video for the song, plus a lot of PDA on the road.  But neither singer had confirmed the relationship until last night when Mendes answered a fan question about being in love after performing at The Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.

 

The fan asked, “You’ve said you’ve never been in love. Has that changed recently?”

And Mendes answered, “Honestly, I wanna say I wanna talk to you guys about this stuff, but it’s not just me in the relationship...There’s another person involved and I can’t say things that I feel. It’s not just me deciding, you know?”

Meanwhile, Camila released a cryptic announcement about new “romance” coming on September 5th, which many interpreted to mean possible new music, which they now assume to be inspired by her (now official) boyfriend. Yesterday, Camila released three video clips to her Instagram account, musing about love. 

 

“I know when you fall in love, you feel like you're the first and only two people in the world,” she said. “Every kiss, every touch, every caress is like something you feel nobody has ever felt before. And you think, has everybody that’s ever fallen in love before just walked around this nonchalantly the whole time?”

 

See the clips and images here: https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop/8528880/camila-cabello-romance-previe

September 2nd

Camila Cabello Promises Us “Romance” While Shawn Mendes Spills the Beans on their “Relationship”

By Lori Perkins

September 1st

Out of The Closet, On to The Field: An NFL Veteran Opens Up About His Sexuality

By David T. Valentin

It’s easy to put people in boxes, categorized by race, sexuality, gender, etc. along with all the stereotypes. It’s easy because it’s simple. The flamboyant gay kid is into theatre. Nerds can’t play sports. Jocks are dumb. The popular cheerleader is shallow. The quiet girl is angsty and hates the world. But what happens when the lines are blurred? What happens when the jock likes to participate in school theatre? What happens when the gay kid can play sports? What happens when the quiet girl is popular? 

 

The problem with putting people into single boxes, or into a single story, is that it loses the complexity of human emotions. It denies that certain people, or tropes so to speak, can feel certain emotions. If the gay kid doesn’t want to play sports, then it’s not a problem. But what if the gay kid wants to play sports, but because they’re used to being categorized as “flamboyant” or “gentle,” they might be discouraged because they’re not supposed to play sports. 

 

There are many stories of LGBTQ+ high school and college athletes coming out. But never has that extended to pro-athletics like the NBA, NHL and NFL. At least, not until recently. In a touching and poetic essay, three-year NFL veteran Ryan Russell has become the first NFL player ever to come out as a bisexual man. 

For Russell, it felt as though he was being torn apart into two separate worlds—his competitive, aggressive, masculine football world and the artsy, flamboyant and emotional gay world. 

Russell said, “Growing up, I always felt as though my existence slipped between the cracks of two worlds. I wasn’t flamboyant, tidy or any other stereotypes kids are forced to construct their world around. I wasn’t straight, hyper-masculine or aggressive; I cried quite a bit, and, as a young black man, I didn’t fit the bill. I played football—so I put that in the straight column. I wrote poetry and romance stories—so I put that in the gay column. Over time, I came to build two worlds.”

 

Russell’s story of dealing with different personalities of belonging to different worlds, or intersectionality, is one that many people deal with in this day and age. With LGBTQ+ people being more vocal about the importance of labels to define experiences, we have grown to understand better the complexities of sexuality as a spectrum. The biggest take away, however, is that these labels do not come with a prepackaged personality. In other words, you can be a football player, write poetry and love whomever the hell you want. 

 

You can read the full letter written by Russell here, at ESPN: https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/27484719/no-distractions-nfl-veteran-opens-sexuality