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In 1996, a thirteen-year-old vocal talent LeAnn Rimes hit it big with her album, Blue, making her a household name, especially among country music fans. Two decades later, Rimes is still making music and inspiring her fans—2017’s Remnants was her SIXTEENTH studio album!
One of the most notable songs on Remnants is an anthem celebrating the LGBT community, “Love is Love is Love.” In an interview with Us, Rimes explained, “A Pride celebration is a living thing. It is breathing authenticity. It’s a space we hold for one another, a place to come into what our souls move us to be, it’s a place in love and only love… That’s why the LGBTQ community continues to inspire me and enliven my spirit every time I perform for them.”
LeAnn Rimes ~ Throw My Arms Around The World (Acoustic) youtu.be
Rimes’ general charitable work is extensive, but in relation to the LGBT community, she has supported the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), The Trevor Project, No H8, GLADD, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and the Los Angeles Gay Men’s Choir.
Rimes’ long relationship with her LGBT fans and her support for their community came to fruition when she was honored with an Ally for Equality Award at the HRC Nashville Equality Dinner on Saturday, March 25, 2017 for her advocacy for and outreach to the LGBT community.
“LeAnn Rimes is boldly using her influence in the music world to empower people to accept and be their true selves,” said Blake Brockway, co-chair of the HRC Nashville Equality Dinner, when the award was announced. “An outspoken advocate for LGBTQ equality, she is also making a difference in the lives of countless young people across the country by standing up for LGBTQ youth and speaking out against bullying.”
Rimes shared some insights into her history with the LGBT community, why she feels so strongly about her obligation to be an active ally, and what the future holds for her.
Where is your commitment to the LGBT community rooted?
Rimes: Well I mean my love and appreciation and support of the LGBT community has always been there, ever since I was very young. My uncle passed away from AIDS when I was 11, and, being from the south, me and my dad were the only ones who showed up at his funeral.
So I kind of saw this major discrimination and just … pain throughout the family, throughout the south in generally. Just like really, it's dehumanizing in a way. And it feels like it's a disease or something. I remember that's kind of how I felt when I was 11. He had this disease. He was gay.
It stuck with me very deeply, and I've always, I just have in my heart, I've always been a huge supporter of equality across the board. And I've had tons of LGBTQ fans ever since I was young. I have so many guys that were like, "We were obsessed with you. And our moms thought, 'Oh, we want you to be our girlfriend.'" They were like, "No, we just wanted to wear your shoes and go in your closet." I'm like, "Perfect!"
So these kids came out, used me and my music to come out, to tell their parents. I mean there's so many stories that I've heard, and it's just always been a part of my heart. And especially starting out as a country artist, that was one thing that I never shied away from—showing my support of the LGBTQ community.
What kind of stories have fans told you?
Rimes: I've had some funny ones like I said where the kids were like, "Oh, yeah, my mom thought we were totally obsessed with you, but obviously in a completely different way."
And then I've had kids who said just the connecting through my music has helped them be able to express themselves. Some of the messages in my music have given them hope when they didn't have it.
Me just even speaking out about it and being a support system has helped them realize that they aren't alone. I mean there's so much that has been told to me—like the ones where kids were really thinking of not being here anymore. And somehow, they heard one of my songs and it gave them this boost to go, "Okay, I can do this. I can be me. And I can make it through."
Those are the hardest ones for me, and the most amazing ones, too, because you don't realize, every day, how much music, your music, can be touching somebody and helping them in their life. Those are the beautiful stories for sure.
LeAnn Rimes Greatest Hits (Full album) - Best of LeAnn Rimes Songs Playlist - Country Female Singers youtu.be
You grew up in the Nashville music scene: how have you seen the Nashville music scene changing as far as its acceptance of LGBT people?
Rimes: I think it's been a slow process, obviously. I knew my friends Ty Herndon, Billy Gilman, Chely Wright… I mean I've known Ty since I was eight, and we all knew. It just, it wasn't ever talked about, even between us, because it was just, it was something that always had to be hidden. And I know from being around them and discussing it with them later on in life how painful that was. I can only imagine.
I mean we all hide ourselves in a way, parts of ourselves. But when it comes to something that is such a core part of who you are—you don't go around choosing these things, it's who you are… And not being accepted for that, I mean that comes with its own set of issues and it rips your soul out.
So to be around that and to witness it is very hard for me. And every time one of them has come out, I've been so excited. When I saw Billy came out, I was in a McDonald's. I was texting him from the bathroom because I had just seen it on my phone and I was crying, and I'm like, "People are gonna think I'm crazy!" But it makes me so happy when people can be themselves and be free.
I think that the country community is slowly but surely really, really accepting it. I don't think they can get away from it anymore. But the true acceptance of it? Hopefully this won't even be a conversation we're having several years from now. Sooner rather than later, hopefully.
How did you feel when HRC Nashville presented you with their Ally for Equality Award?
Rimes: Honestly it's probably one of my favorite things I've ever received, just because it's not about music, it's about the human and it's about a connection and being an ally for each other. As much as I've supported [the LGBT community], they have done the same for me for many, many years now and continue to.
LeAnn Rimes' new song "Throw My Arms Around the World" is out now. For more including upcoming gigs, go here.
Chicago is my kind of town…it really is. I’ve been to Chicago more times than I can count over the years, however I have never written a Pride Journeys article about the city. Well, it’s about time I did!
I planned my visit to the Windy City to coincide with Market Days, one of the city’s premier LGTBQ festivals. Since relocating to Nashville and then Indy, I had heard dozens of stories about this event from friends from around the country who would travel to Chicago specifically to attend. This year’s festival was going to be iconic since last year’s event was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Trixie Mattel, Todrick Hall and Greyson Chance were among the headliners performing this year, however I was most excited about seeing Lisa Lisa, Jody Watley and Ty Herndon.
Tyler and I arrived on the first day of the festival and it appeared to be similar to a pride event. Vendors lined the street selling everything from artwork to sunglasses as well as some other more risqué items. It didn’t take long for us to run into a few friends, some of which I hadn’t seen in many years. Market Days is what you make it. You can spend the afternoon strolling Halsted Street or you can skip the street fair and head straight to the bars, clubs, and circuit events in the evening.
Take some time the next morning to check out the hotel’s 2-story art gallery space or maybe find time for a quick workout in their fitness center before heading to Hutch American Bistro for brunch.
Hutch is located off the same red line stop as Boystown so it’s quite convenient. I ordered the smoked salmon avocado toast which came with fruit salad. It was light yet filling and the perfect way to begin the day. We went back to Hutch for happy hour of a different day and sampled a few additional items including the guacamole and queso and Chicago meatballs. The restaurant offers a daily happy hour menu consisting of half-off select appetizers as well as $3 champagne. Yes, please!
When in Chicago, you would be remiss if you didn’t visit one of the city’s numerous cultural institutions. Since the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium are in the same complex, we decided to visit both in the same morning.
Tyler and I are both huge animal lovers, so we headed straight to the beluga whale and penguin habitats. Beluga whales are one of my favorite mammals, so it was wonderful to see them up close.
The Field Museum is home to one of the largest (and best in my opinion) dinosaur exhibitions in the country. The chronological display brings guests through history and mass extinctions leading up to the birth of dinosaurs. The Field Museum is also home to Sue, the largest and most complete T-Rex skeleton ever discovered. This is a must-see for any dinosaur lover.
After a fun filled day of partying, head back to the 21c Museum Hotel located in the River North neighborhood, about a 25-minute red-line commute from Boystown. The boutique property is one of the newer hotels in the 21c family. I’ve stayed at their properties in Oklahoma City, Nashville and Kansas City and they never disappoint. The 21c Chicago was kind enough to provide me with a wonderful corner suite as well as their Love is Love package, which included a pride tank top, perfect to wear during the festivities.
We decided to walk back to our hotel after visiting the museum as the weather was perfect for a leisurely stroll along the lake – until it started raining. With nowhere to take cover, we just admired the beauty of Chicago’s architectural wonders as well as the sculptures in Millennium Park including the world-famous Bean.
Speaking of walking, the city offers free walking tours through Chicago Greeter. Local guides volunteer their time to take guests on customized walking tours of the city. We decided to focus our tour on architecture and landmarks. Our knowledgeable guide took us to some places we would have never known about if we had set out on our own. While we took a journey through the North Loop, the Greeter Tour service can take visitors through many of the 77 neighborhoods in the Chicago area.
Before heading back to Boystown, grab a quick bite at Tied House. I was thoroughly impressed by both the food and service of this establishment. Tyler and I shared a few items including the Black Bean Hummus prepared with salsa roja and lime crema as well as the Watermelon & Bigeye Tuna which came with pickled ginger and a koji vinaigrette. The Short Rib Risotto was served with roasted sweet corn Risotto, cherry tomato, summer squash. While the short rib portion was a bit fatty for my liking, I found the risotto part to be incredibly flavorful and cooked to perfection. I would order the risotto by itself next time…it was so good!
Boystown of course is the heart of Chicago’s LGBTQ community. There are dozens of shops, restaurants, businesses, and nightlife venues catering to every gay under the sun. Some of my favorites include Sidetrack, Hydrate Nightclub, Splash and Progress Bar.
What many tourists don’t know is that Chicago has a gay beach. While it may not have the waves of Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood Beach attracts some of the most beautiful people in the Midwest and is only about a 10-minute Uber ride from Boystown. With only a few months of beach weather per year, locals flock to Hollywood Beach every opportunity possible to soak up the sun.
There is way too much to see in Chicago to fit everything into a weekend. Especially when you include a festival as well. I am going to make an effort to visit more frequently, especially since it’s so close to my home in Indianapolis.
To book your next Chicago gaycation, visit Orbitz Pride
With commercial airline brands seeing an uptick in passenger defiance, at least one company is getting behind its flight crews to empower them at 30,000 feet.
United Airlines is relaxing some of its traditional uniform rules according to Forbes online. Starting on September 1, 2021, the popular airline will allow its employees to express themselves with a less restrictive dress code which includes hair, nails, tattoos, and makeup.
United's Kate Gebo is the executive vice president of HR and labor relations and she says the changes are being implemented because when employees look and feel their best they can provide customers with a better experience.
“We’ve spent the last several years listening to the feedback we’ve received from our employees and our Business Resource Groups to develop these revised standards," said Gebo. "We’re confident that these modernized and more gender-inclusive appearance standards will provide a more authentic representation of the people and cultures that make United the company it is today.”
Although precise details about the changes are yet to be officially released, Jay Singh at Simple Flying explains some of the particulars regarding the new uniform guidelines.
First, tattoos are now allowed to be visible if they are no larger than a nametag and they don't contain obscenities or expletives in either script or image. A crew member can have only one per arm and facial, neck, or hand ink is not allowed.
Any employee will be allowed to wear their hair down, but only at shoulder length or neatly tied in a bun.
The new policy will also allow male-identifying workers to wear nail polish. This rule was only permitted for female staff in the past. The stipulation is that colors and style should be tasteful and professional-looking.
The final change is that male crewmembers can finally wear makeup. Men can start using cosmetics as long as it's applied in a natural-looking, professional way.
United might be the first mid-priced airline to extend a hand to its diverse crewmembers. Whether passengers will notice the changes remains to be seen, but for employees, it seems this little boost in support might make it easier to come to work in such a high-pressure environment.
Published: July 1, 2021 by: Timothy Rawles Last Modified: July 1, 2021 This site generates income via ads.
As you can imagine, there is a lot to do in Chicago; the third most populous city in America. So it's fitting that the Gaycation Travel Show should wrap up its first season there just in time for summer.
Host Ravi Roth visited the Windy City and found out there is a thriving LGBTQ+ community far and wide. With entertainment, arts, future husbands and wives everywhere, our spirited guide took a deep dive into one of the country's most compelling LGBTQ+ destinations.
Gaycation Magazine: What is one misconception about Chicago that most people might have?
Ravi: Queer life exists everywhere, it is not just in the Boystown/Nortalsted area. Venture out to other neighborhoods like Andersonville to get a different perspective on Queer culture.
How does the LGBTQ Chicago experience differ from other places you have visited in your series?
It is EVERYWHERE. The entire Boystown/Northalsted area was vibrant and filled with diversity. A lot of this season we went to smaller towns. Chicago has something for everyone no matter where you fit in the LGBTQIA+ umbrella. Make sure to work with Choose Chicago as they can provide valuable information on the ‘windy city’.
What kind of food can people expect?
Deep dish pizza is a must-have! However, there are so many food options that one can eat out every day for years and always find a new restaurant. The vegan scene in Chicago is fabulous and I would highly recommend the Chicago Diner. It is all vegan and INCREDIBLE.
How should you dress in summer?
It was hot AF when I visited in April so I would suggest a tank top and shorts. However, be weary of the wind at night. Make sure you bring a light jacket and sneakers as it is a super walkable city.
What is the best time of year to visit?
Spring or Fall so you aren't freezing or scalding hot however, the majority of the Queer events such as Pride, International Mister Leather, and Market Days happen in the Summer.
Would this be a good city to get married? Where?
YAS! First, find your next ex-husband in the Boystown/Northalsted area, then visit the Immersive Van Gogh and propose there. Get married at Hollywood Queer Beach. Who doesn’t love a sensible beach wedding?
What was the strangest thing you did?
Watched a magician swallow a 5-foot-long balloon at Trickery Chicago.
Is Boystown packed at night?
YAS! The city is back alive and THRIVING
What’s next for Ravi Roth? And where can people follow you?
I am starting a new series called Ravi’s Road to Pride on my YouTube channel where I am covering Prides around the globe. We launch on July 13.
For more great travel stories go HERE.