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He has plenty to say and lots of ways to share it – acting, producing and writing. “My ‘vivid’ mouth has gotten me in lots of trouble,” he says.
“Every story begins with an idea. Then you’ve got to figure out how that idea begins and ends,” observes the gifted actor, writer, and producer Jesse Archer. “Filling in the middle is the fun part.”
Archer’s work is renowned among LGBT audiences. Two of his newer projects — Going Down in LA-LA Land and Eating Out 4: Drama Camp — were sought-after tickets at summer film festivals all over the country. At the same time, Violet Tendencies, the film he made last year, was released on DVD.
Most recently, this trailblazer co-wrote and starred in Half Share — a sitcom pilot involving a group of gay friends at a summer house on Fire Island.
“I wrote it with my buddy Sean Hanley,” he says, beaming proudly. “It also stars Alec Mapa from Ugly Betty and Jack Plotnick from Girls Will Be Girls. It’s hilarious!”
Archer, who in many ways personifies the spirit of gay pride and freedom, came from decidedly more conservative beginnings.
“Would you believe I was ‘made in Taiwan’?” Archer says. “My parents were Christian missionaries over there. So I guess from then to now, I’ve come farther than a Virginia Slim, baby!”
Raised in Beaverton, Ore., he said that once high school rolled around, it became difficult to ignore who he really was, despite his best efforts to fit in.
“I ran track and cross-country, got straight As, wrote for the school paper and took drama. My favorite was swim team, though, for obvious reasons,” he says with a wink, then takes a slightly more somber tone. “In Beaverton High School, I did everything I could to not think about how I was different — I guess that was my first performance.”
Archer took time out to travel after graduating from the University of Southern California, and his first book, You Can Run: Gay, Glam, and Gritty Travels in South America (Haworth Press, 2007), is based on some of these experiences. Among the places he has visited are Paris, Capetown, Buenos Aires, and even Kansas City.
“I had the most fun there ever one road trip,” he said.. “It was on the way to South Dakota. All I remember is green apple vodka mixed with Squirt, two guitar-playing lesbians, and a Dolly Parton drag queen — NOT in that order!”
Eventually, he found himself in New York City’s East Village, where he met another up-and-comer by the name of Casper Andreas. That was the beginning of a professional pairing that seems like an independent filmmakers’ match made in heaven. Initially though, their association ventured to be … different.
“Would you believe we went on a date?” Archer said. “He took me up to the Twin Towers, just about a week before they fell. We joke that 9/11 was analogous to our romantic life -- or at least I do. Casper would never joke about 9/11!”
For his part, Andreas calls his pal “a force of nature” and says he is “one of the first people I turn to for advice on a script, an early film cut, or life in general. As an actor he is fearless; as a writer, he’s brilliant!”
Together they wrote the gay romantic comedy Slutty Summer and its sequel of sorts, A Four Letter Word. Then in 2010, Archer produced, co-starred, and wrote the franchise’s third offering, Violet Tendencies. He played the flippant, flamboyant Luke in all three. Unashamedly libidinal and outspoken about it, Luke also seems to be having more fun than anyone else!
Going Down in LA-LA Land is expected to open theatrically in early 2012, followed shortly thereafter by its release onto DVD and VOD. It tells the story of a sexy stud (played by Matthew Ludwinski) who moves to Hollywood to become an actor and finds other “opportunities.”
“I‘m his first boss — an evil, bitchy queen who basically drives him headlong into porn,” Archer says with a laugh.
This man of many talents is likewise responsible for the column “Jesse on the Brink,” a kind of Sex and the City-esque exploration of urban gay life that appeared in the pages of OUT magazine until 2010.
“I still write the blog version though,” he clarifies, “and also have written for The Advocate online.”
Even the quickest perusal of his numerous articles shows that he does not take the easy way out — or, necessarily, the politically correct way — in the stories he tells.
“My ‘vivid’ mouth has gotten me in lots of trouble,” he acknowledges, “but I try to say what I mean and mean what I say despite the consequences or the possibility of my intention being misunderstood. My philosophy is, if you are easily shocked, you need to be shocked a whole hell of a lot more often!”
One explanation for such a viewpoint might come from his “surviving the spiritual terrorism that came with coming out,” which he counts as both the greatest challenge and the greatest triumph he’s ever experienced. Anyone who has read his column knows that the struggle has given him a strength of integrity. He’s particularly candid where it concerns gays’ and lesbians’ efforts for equality.
“The gay community is really at a crossroads these days,” he said. “There are those who want to go mainstream and those who want to remain ‘on the edge,’ so to speak.”
Archer says that being part of the LGBT community shouldn’t require one to think any one way.
“There are no behavior requirements,” he says. “The problem I see is when some of us tell the rest of us we need to behave a certain way in order to gain equality. Essentially, it’s Stockholm syndrome, when you identify so strongly with your oppressor. … This remains the biggest, most insidious threat facing us.”
His movies feature vivid and varied types of gay relationships.
“I really do like it when an audience has to read between the lines,” Archer says, adding “I also try to live this as a person – I’m a realist, totally and 100 percent.”
In fact, this outlook has inspired some of his most innovative work.
“I grew up without any seeing any gay representation on film, TV or real life,” Archer said. “So I hope audiences are entertained, but I also hope there may be someone out there who’ll watch and not feel quite as alone as I did. I think making people feel less alone is the only thing at all worth doing.”
For more information about Half-Share and to watch the trailer, check out www.half-share.com. For more about Archer’s latest endeavors, check out www.jesseonthebrink.com.
Worldwide opera star Renée Fleming will perform in Kansas City on Thursday night, November 18, but the day before, she'll be part of a panel discussion for "Music and the Mind" — a conversation about how music affects the brain, cognitive development, healing and quality of life.
WHAT: Music and the Mind with Renée Fleming
WHEN: Wednesday, Nov 17, 2021
TIME: 4:00-5:30 PM
WHERE: The 1900 Building, 1900 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Mission Woods, KS, 66205
Music has a profound impact and the ability to shape 86 billion neurons in the brain for cognitive development, healing, and therapy. Science research has clearly shown that music therapy interventions can improve quality of life across nearly all neurological disorders. And there is tremendous public-interest in applying music to creative aging, childhood development, and community wellness.
But scientists want to know more.
Join soprano Renée Fleming and a distinguished panel of local Kansas City experts in neurology, music therapy, music and healing, and more for this cutting-edge discussion. Audience members will be able to participate in a Q&A following the panel discussion.
*Please note this Music and the Mind Event is not a musical performance*
As Artistic Advisor at Large to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Renée Fleming has spearheaded a collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, with the participation of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The Sound Health initiative explores and brings attention to research and practice at the intersection of music, health, and neuroscience. This collaboration has led to workshops at the NIH, and events and performances at the Kennedy Center. This initiative has also led the NIH to recently award $20 million dollars in funding for music and neuroscience research over five years.
As part of her advocacy, Fleming is also advisor to the recently launched NEA/UCSF Sound Health Network and co-chair of the Aspen Institute/Johns Hopkins NeuroArts Blueprint, both working to advance the field of arts and health.
This event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Please call the Harriman-Jewell Series at 816-415-5025 to reserve your seat.
WHAT: Renée Fleming, soprano in recital
WHEN: Thursday, Nov 18, 2021
TIME: 7:00 PM
WHERE: Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
COST: Tickets from $25.00 *discounts available for students, educators, first responders, active duty military and veterans with valid I.D.
Pair a glorious voice with a winning personality and you have a diva for the ages. Renée Fleming is a longstanding Harriman-Jewell Series favorite. With her many television and Broadway appearances, Fleming has been embraced by music lovers of all genres.
Whether singing at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, the Olympics, or Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, Renée Fleming represents opera to the world. In addition to her numerous operatic performances, Fleming often works classic show tunes and the Great American Songbook into her recitals. Fleming’s trademark rapport with audiences will give her Kansas City performance a warmth that is personal and sincere.
Rob Ainsley is pianist for the recital. His diverse career as a musician, conductor, educator, and administrator has taken him to top organizations and colleges from coast to coast. He now serves as Director of the Washington National Opera’s Cafritz Young Artists and American Opera Initiative. Ainsley performed with Renée Fleming in The Metropolitan Opera’s August 2020 “Met Stars Live in Concert” that was streamed worldwide.
ABOUT THE HARRIMAN-JEWELL SERIES
Renée Fleming's recital will mark the 977th performance since the Series was founded in 1965. From free education events that allow interaction with musicians and dancers, to our free Discovery Concerts that are open to the community, the Harriman-Jewell Series continues to offer life-enriching opportunities for its community's youth and lifelong learners.
Whether you're spreading truth, information, or love, traveling abroad for humanitarian reasons can have risks. Detained American journalist in Myanmar, Danny Fenster, is to be released from jail, and to fly home soon. But it doesn't always end well for every foreign national attempting to do good in a foreign country.
The missionaries consisting of sixteen Americans and one Canadian kidnapped by the Haitian “400 Mawozo” gang on October 16, is extremely scary. The gang has threatened to kill the humanitarian Christians if a million dollar per person ransom is not fulfilled. The group consists of men, women, children and an eight-month-old baby.
These missionaries have sacrificed their time and paid their own way to go to the poorest place in the Western hemisphere to try to spread God’s love and save some souls. In turn, the missionaries are experiencing a nightmare like they’ve never imagined. They’re imprisoned and being threatened with a bullet in the head.
Most of us will never get over seeing journalists being beheaded and tortured in Syria and Iraq by the barbaric Islamic extremist group called ISIL. Burning people alive and beheading others were too graphic and gruesome to ever be forgotten.
Years ago, I traveled to a third world country on a “missionary trip” with others thinking it would be a nice break. I’ve never worked so hard in my life.
Sadly, the 17 missionaries in Haiti are undergoing a cruel experience that may end with the cost of their very lives. What are they thinking now? What is going through the minds of the little children who traveled to a world to help others and spread God’s love?
Haiti has been the site of years of humanitarian efforts. The United States and other countries have given billions of dollars to help Haiti. Sadly, hurricanes, political unrest, underdevelopment and extreme poverty have all made for a sad scenario.
How much money would the world have to give to Haiti to make life better for this nation? This is a question no one can answer because usually aid is a short-term solution. We spent a trillion dollars in Afghanistan and they aren’t any better off today.
Good missionary people went to Haiti with good hearts for helping others in the name of God’s love. They went to share a message they hoped would bring about change and better lives. They may now lose their lives.
Christians point to Jesus as the model for such missionary efforts. He came preaching and teaching in an effort to demonstrate and spread God’s love and it cost him plenty – his life, executed in public on a cross.
There are some Christians today who, like Jesus, are willing to risk their lives for the sake of others. Did these men and women literally go to Haiti taking their children with them truly believe they could be killed? Would they purposefully do this to their children? Who convinced these people that such a trip with small children was a good idea?
My goal here is to simply say, think about such trips to places like Haiti. Afghanistan, Iraq, Northern Nigeria and numerous others countries are not vacation spots. Foreign travel may sound exotic and adventurous but consider the possible cost.
Many missionaries and Christian workers have paid the ultimate price in order to spread the gospel of Christ. Only eternity will reveal what their selfless sacrifice has meant to those whose lives they impacted.
By chance, if you decide such an international trip is not for you, don’t feel bad. Consider helping in an American inner city, Appalachia or maybe your own neighborhood. Service at home is needed across America.
Let’s pray for the safety of these missionaries and for those negotiating their release. May God help them and all who may consider such endeavors.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Glenn Mollette is a graduate of numerous schools including Georgetown College, Southern and Lexington Seminaries in Kentucky. He is the author of 13 books including Uncommon Sense, Grandpa's Store, Minister's Guidebook: insights from a fellow minister. His column is published weekly in over 600 publications in all 50 states. Glenn Mollette has been on numerous International humanitarian and missionary group trips. Hear Glenn Mollette every weekday morning EST at 8:56 on XM radio 131. Editor-If you need to tweak or do a small edit for you paper or website that is okay. Please respond to this email if you need a picture for this column. Scroll down for additional biographical info. Buy his latest recording titled "Black Coffee" on iTunes. Learn more at www.glennmollette.com
The Black Trans Fund, incubated at Groundswell Fund, and Grantmakers for Girls of Color launched the Holding a Sister Initiative, the first-ever national fund explicitly dedicated to transgender girls and gender-expansive youth of color.
Dr. Monique W. Morris, president and CEO of Grantmakers for Girls of Color, and Bré Rivera, program director of the Black Trans Fund are together spearheading the Holding a Sister Initiative to bring attention and resources to organizations supporting trans girls of color, normalize concern and investment in their success, and create learning opportunities for cis and trans girls of color to move in deeper community with one another.
The initiative will award $1 million in grants in the first year, and will ultimately engage trans girls and gender-expansive youth of color in the decision-making process for selecting grantees on an ongoing basis.
While there has been an increase in donor attention to work led by people of color, it has yet to translate into significant gains in funding for trans and gender-expansive youth of color.
According to recent regional studies in Detroit, South Florida and New Orleans, trans women of color face higher levels of hunger, homelessness, unemployment, incarceration and discrimination. At the same time, the majority of this year's record-breaking anti-trans legislation are targeted to affect youth, including bills that prevent transgender athletes from playing in school sports and the "Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act." Research has show sharp rises in suicide attempts among trans youth during 2020 and 2021.
"The reality is transgender and gender-expansive youth of color require more attention, and resources to interrupt the staggering intersections of trauma and crises they experience," said Bré Rivera.
The initiative joins existing funding intermediaries who have been leading the work to resource trans communities and engage trans people in the direction and distribution of resources, including the Third Wave Fund, the Black Trans Travel Fund, and Fund for Trans Generations. As funding partners, the Black Trans Fund and Grantmakers for Girls of Color aim to expand and transform philanthropy's investments in trans and gender-nonconforming youth. The initiative will move resources to organizations serving and led by trans girls and young women of color. It will also amplify narratives that elevate the humanity, dignity and leadership of trans and gender-expansive youth of color, as well as the ways their experiences and contributions have been overlooked, minimized and targeted by oppositional and systemic forces, and larger social justice movements.
The Holding a Sister Initiative will be led by a manager, who will steward culture change through grantmaking, capacity building, narrative shifting and philanthropic organizing. The position is currently open for applicants.
About Grantmakers for Girls of Color
Fiscally-sponsored by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Grantmakers for Girls of Color (G4GC) works to mobilize resources and amplify transformative organizing work to dismantle systems of oppression led by girls and gender-expansive youth of color. Grantmakers for Girls of Color openly invites partners and stakeholders to co-create an inclusive space in support of girls, young women, and gender-expansive youth of color across programmatic issues and geographic areas. Learn more by visiting Grantmakers for Girls of Color.
About the Black Trans Fund
The Black Trans Fund is a groundbreaking endeavor: the first national fund in the country dedicated to uplifting and resourcing Black trans social justice leaders. BTF seeks to address the lack of funding for Black trans communities in the U.S. through direct grantmaking, capacity building support, and funder organizing to transform philanthropy. Learn more by visiting Black Trans Fund.