Laaksonen relocated to Los Angeles later in life, and the Tom of Finland Foundation in the city continues to highlight his work. It’s given the official stamp of approval to a second collaboration with Helsinki-based skateboard company Happy Hour.
Tom of Finland skateboards – limited edition – $85 each (Photo: Happy Hour)
The collaboration came about when Happy Hour Skateboards’ founder Jarkko Poropudas met Durk Dehner, President of Tom of Finland Foundation, at a Mr Leather contest in Helsinki in August 2016.
‘Tom and the boys at Happy Hour Skateboards are forward thinkers’
‘Skateboarding has an element of being radical, walking on the wild side, not holding oneself back,’ says Dehner. ‘And Tom, well, he too let it all hang out and drew what inspired him. Tom and the boys at Happy Hour Skateboards are forward thinkers, freedom seekers.’
‘Just cruising’ blue hoodie – $105 (Photo: Happy Hour)
Happy Hour says its work with the Tom of Finland Foundation aims to help promote diversity in the skateboard community. A portion of the proceeds from the merchandise will also go to the foundation that bears Tom’s name.
Tote bag ($25) and skateboard ($85) (Photo: Happy Hour)
Items include hoodies with an illustration of musclebound men floating down a river on logs and the slogan ‘Just Cruising.’
‘I guess log floating was the skateboarding of its time,’ says Happy Hours’ Poropudas.
‘Exploring your identity with the support of people around you. It can serve as an introduction to an identity and shared community. But, it often serves as validation of your sexual and romantic orientation.’
Gender Recognition Act 2004
When it comes to progressive LGBTQ legislation, 2004 was a good year and this seminal piece of legislation cannot go without mention. While it has recently come under more severe criticism (and justly so, in my view) it nonetheless provided for the first time a mechanism which allows an individual to be recognised by something other than their assigned gender at birth.
Issues include the fact it did not provide any retrospective action, it caused problems for married couples and ignored the basic tenant about the individuality of each person going through the process. But while imperfect it was game-changing and not to be underestimated.
The Equality Act 2006
This was quickly followed up by the Equality Act 2010 which added gender reassignment as a ‘protected characteristic’.
While the Act has not eradicated employment discrimination (which unfortunately my employment team still deal with on a frequent basis), in other cases it has had an impact – such the ‘Gay Cake’ case in Northern Ireland too. In this instance a bakery refused to make a “gay cake” with the slogan “support gay marriage” because of their religious views.
The court upheld this was “direct discrimination”.
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008
Although surrogacy was permitted before, the Parental Order process was not available for same-sex male couples. The Act rectified this but also introduced the ability for same-sex female couples to be both named on the birth certificate as the legal parents of a child after using a known donor. This was allowed even if they were not in a civil partnership, provided they went through a clinic and filled the correct forms.
With this Act and the change it brought, LGBTQ families have really flourished and I now meet couples applying for recognition of legal parenthood with increasing frequency. As recently as 14 February, Tom Daley and his partner Dustin Lance Black announced they’re having a family. I am sure everyone will wish them well with parenthood, but it is also clear to show that same-sex families are now in the mainstream and here for good.
That happened though because of this Act and, despite its long-winded title, it should not be underestimated.
Andrew Spearman is a leading family and LGBTQ rights lawyer, and a Director at ACityLawFirm (www.acitylawfirm.com).
But it wasn’t just the lives of the cast involved that have changed since its release, as actress Keala Settle – who plays the Bearded Lady – revealed about one young LGBTQ teen who was struggling with their sexuality.
“I got a message the other day from a man who is gay and was about to take his own life,” Keala reveals exclusively to Gay Times. “He sent me a thing saying, ‘I heard your song and I took the gun down.’ I wept.
“It’s that kind of impact that gives me goosebumps to tell you that because it makes me realise, again, not only does that young man have stuff in themselves to last a lifetime and let shine, but I do too because of what he told me I’d given him – that I didn’t even know. It’s that type of impact that’s being made.”
“We are universally in a time where things are very negative,” Keala continues when referencing the current political and social climate. “There’s a lot of anger that is going on and, not so much fighting, but that it’s getting really, really personal – attacking individually and collectively on another level.
“What the film has done – as well as the music – has given everyone a free pass to let all that go, and that pass is almost the ultimate fast pass for any ride you could ever go on. Not only does it give you that pass, but it lets you relish in the fact that what is happening to the characters in that film, and the stories that are going on in the film, are all relatable – no matter what year we are in, who you are or what you are.”
But what does the voice of This Is Me think of the suggestion it has become a modern LGBTQ anthem?
“I couldn’t be more honoured and privileged,” she beams – much to our enjoyment. “It’s one of those things where this community of people are continually fighting and striving for not only equality rights but to feel like they are part of a community and have the lives they’ve always wanted to live because that is who they are!
“When the song was first released as a single at the end of 2017, my life started ringing off the hook and I didn’t know what was going on. I gave my first interview about eight hours after the song was released and they asked if I knew what type of anthem I’d created. I started to cry and said, ‘Errr… no, I don’t!’ I had no idea and didn’t realise.
“All of the fears that I had are in that song. Those fears aren’t going to go away, but what’s so comforting and continues no matter what I’m doing daily is the likeness with each individual that’s touched by the song. That’s what blows my mind and I had no idea.”
Fox / The Greatest Showman
Inspired by the ambition and imagination of P.T. Barnum, The Greatest Showman tells the story of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a mesmerising spectacle that became a worldwide sensation – championing the power of the underdog and those that feel different.
And while The Greatest Showman follows the life of an aspiring man who dreams of a better life for his family, Keala tells us she took a slightly different message from the movie.
“The moral of the story for me is that you shouldn’t keep chasing and trying to be accepted by somebody else,” notes Keala before pausing. “In the words of RuPaul, ‘If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you going to love somebody else? Can I get an amen?!’”
She adds: “It’s about not seeking permission for somebody else to tell you that you’re worth it – ever.”
“I remember when I saw my first Instagram video of a drag queen lip-syncing This Is Me,” Keala recalls with great excitement. “I was sat in the chair getting ready to go out and I cried. When you have a drag queen lip-syncing your song for their life, you have won. You’ve now won everything in life!
“When I saw that first clip, I said ‘Oh my gosh, this really is a game-changer. It really is a life-changer.’ This wasn’t just changing my life but is continuing to change the lives all around the world, so when I first saw that I bawled because of how much was coming out of her. I’ve seen others since and it’s just breathtaking, and it makes me so happy that people can find who they are in themselves absolutely perfectly.”
Fox / The Greatest Showman
Caught in great laughter when recalling how the filming of This Is Me was repeatedly stopped and started due to the cast caught singing along when they shouldn’t, Keala tells us why the song meant more to her as an individual than as an actress.
“I’m not going to lie… I’ve felt different since I knew how to feel,” she begins quietly. “That’s one of the reasons why I first didn’t want to do the song because of facing my fears.
“Even in the rehearsal space before the presentation to get the movie greenlit, I didn’t want to do it. I was petrified. That meant that I had to know that I’m good enough to stand in front and sing by myself – not hiding behind a brunch of Broadway costumes or lights. I had to do that, and I still freak out about it.”
With a movie that asks people to look beyond what society would deem as ‘different’, Keala faced a small number of remarks during the initial movie release, explaining: “I think in the beginning when I was promoting it, everybody was like ‘who is this fat chick? She has no business.’ I didn’t even think about it because I had a beard on, but thanks for throwing that into the fire.”
But her now loyal and rather great social followers soon came to her defence…
“It was interesting with the following that I now have – and am very grateful for – that they are warriors and are not only fighting for each other and themselves, but fight for me which is humbling. I’ve never really seen anything, and I’m sure it has been around all over the place, and humans will be humans – nor will I want to.”
Fox / The Greatest Showman
And a stage transfer? Keala is totally game for it happening when we inform her that co-star Hugh Jackman has revealed he’d like to see it happen.
“He said that?!” she questions with great delight. “I’d love to, but I know how hard it was to tap into it just for the film.
“For a Broadway production, which you may know is eight shows a week, it’s raw and it’s full out. It’s the film for two and a half hours, eight shows every week if that did happen.
“It’s a lot of work, but hey, he’s [Hugh Jackman] number one on the call sheet so if he wants to do it then heck… are you kidding me? I’ll have to be. He’ll send the car and be like ‘get in the car, let’s go.’ I’ll be there. I’ll do anything for that man. He’s the reason that I’m out here. He is the reason and the one. I had t-shirts made that say ‘It’s Your Fault Hugh Jackman’.”
And the casual Oscar nomination? “It’s interesting because it’s not totally mine,” Keala giggles. “It’s Benji and Justin’s and I’m really aware of that. I’m extremely happy to be participating in that and getting to say those words as it’s something I’ve always dreamed about. To actually see it come to tuition, as I never thought I would, is very fantastic.”
Laughing that she’d totally be up for ‘doing an Adele’ and splitting the Oscar with her musical co-stars like the British singer famously did with Beyonce last year, Keala does have one name she’d like to meet at the coveted awards ceremony later this year.
“I’m excited to be there and hopefully Meryl Streep will be on the front row – that’s all I care about,” she giggles. “I just had an awards ceremony I went to Stateside and Dame Helen Mirren was being honoured and I did have to do an acceptance speech in front of her and I couldn’t. I didn’t know how to talk, actually! So mid-way through the acceptance speech, because I had nothing prepared, I just sang it!
And with that, Keala cleared her throat and gave us a first-hand example of why she should probably start clearing some space on her mantlepiece for a looming Oscar…
The Greatest Showman is out in cinemas now – including special sing-a-long performances. More information can be found here.
Prior to her allegations, Tambor’s former assistant Van Barnes claimed that he had propositioned her, groped her, made inappropriate comments and threatened her not to share her story.
Jill Soloway, creator of the Emmy-winning series, released a statement praising those who spoke out about their experiences.
“I have great respect and admiration for Van Barnes and Trace Lysette, whose courage in speaking out about their experience on Transparent is an example of the leadership this moment in our culture requires,” she wrote.
“We are grateful to the many trans people who have supported our vision for Transparent since its inception and remain heartbroken about the pain and mistrust their experience has generated in our community.
“We are taking definitive action to ensure our workplace respects the safety and dignity of every individual, and are taking steps to heal as a family.”
Lysette tweeted about the news, saying it offered her “some closure” and encouraged fans to keep supporting the show following Tambor’s departure.
Finally some closure I hope. This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through. Please show your support for @transparent_tv so we can make season 5 something great. Thank you all for your love and endless support ❤️ https://t.co/g0sbXJ70xt
On Thursday, Tambor released a statement in response to Amazon’s decision, saying: “I am profoundly disappointed in Amazon’s handling of these false accusations against me.
“I am even more disappointed in Jill Soloway’s unfair characterization of me as someone who would ever cause harm to any of my fellow cast mates.
“In our four-year history of working together on this incredible show, these accusations have NEVER been revealed or discussed directly with me or anyone at Amazon. Therefore, I can only surmise that the investigation against me was deeply flawed and biased toward the toxic politicized atmosphere that afflicted our set.
“As I have consistently stated, I deeply regret if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted by anyone and I will continue to vehemently defend myself.
“I also deeply regret that this ground-breaking show, which changed so many lives, is now in jeopardy. That, to me, is the biggest heartbreak.”
Surprisingly, Trixie’s Ru-isms landed the Drag Barbie in the bottom three, along with Chi Chi and former Snatch Game winner Kennedy. Shangela and Ben’s performances earned them the win, making it Ben’s fourth consecutive win… which has never been done in Drag Race HERstory (gag #2!). At this point, it really is BenDeLaCreme’s Drag Race.
As the queens deliberate in the workroom, Shangela takes Trixie aside. Earlier in the episode, the queens had some drama-mama when Shangela found a note on Trixie’s wall from Thorgy Thor, calling Shangela a “shady bitch”. They made up, hugged it out etc, but Shangela told Trixie it was still on her mind, giving viewers the impression that the season three contestant could eliminate the fan-favourite…
Shangela and Ben hit the runway, and lip-synced the motherf**king house down to Katy Perry’s I Kissed a Girl. The queens served some Raja vs Carmen – Straight Up realness, and both queens won a cash prize tip of five thousands dollahhhz, and the power to eliminate a queen… each (gag #3!). Ben chooses Chi Chi – which comes as no surprise, considering the trash-bag queen has landed in the bottom four times in a row (she shouldn’t have been in the bottom for the Divas challenge, but whatever).
Then, Shangela alluded to having Trixie’s name in her bra, by telling the judges: “The person I have chosen, I don’t want them to feel like it is personal in any way. This person left RuPaul’s Drag Race not winning the crown, but definitely going forward as a winner, and creating a career for themselves.” Cue some shady cutaway music and a close-up of Trixie’s tears, and bam, gag #4!
However, the name in Shangela’s bra was also Chi Chi. The anticipation… oh hunny the anticipation nearly killed us.
We’ve collected some of the best Twitter reactions from the episode below…
What are your thoughts on the episode? Did Chi Chi deserve to go? Was Trixie’s performance as Mama Ru really that bad? Will Ben snatch her fifth win next week? Lord, this season has snatched us so far. Bring on the next episode… henny.
All Stars 3 currently airs Thursdays on VH1 in the United States, and Saturdays on Comedy Central in the UK.
Agile is an approach to traditional project management that overturns the apple cart in many ways. For example, if your HR team wants to reimagine the onboarding experience—as Paycor did recently—you might kick the project off and return months later with an onboarding product that falls far short of expectations. But imagine if, instead of just “going off and doing,” your HR team partnered with cross-functional teams—say, IT, marketing, and perhaps a few key user groups.
Every day, members of the core team would meet, share progress, talk through obstacles, and incorporate feedback along the way. By the end of your journey together, your team would arrive at the same destination—the launch of your new onboarding experience—but the journey itself would be fundamentally different—more iterative and collaborative. That’s the essence of the agile mindset. From Paycor’s experience, it can be a very effective way to approach HR initiatives.
Here are five reasons your HR team might want to consider an agile approach to your next project:
1. You’ll Learn to Communicate More Effectively.
A core component of the agile mindset is a collaborative work process called the “Daily Standup.” It consists of three questions: “What did you complete?,” “What do you plan to complete?” and “What is getting in your way?” This short conversation (standups should never last more than 15 or 20 minutes) affords a whole new level of transparency.
Team members get insights into what others are working on, and they help each think differently and solve problems. This simple approach to meetings, in and of itself, was beneficial to Paycor’s team in that it gradually broke down siloes and led to the kind of epiphanies you seldom experience when teams don’t share out their progress in an ongoing, formal way.
2. You’ll Find That Small Problems Don’t Get a Chance to Become Big Problems.
In retrospect, this was another benefit of a much more open and collaborative approach. By sharing progress, or surfacing obstacles, every day, nothing had a chance to stagnate or linger or become a big issue.
By addressing small issues or snags along the way, Paycor found that its teams were able to avoid some of the bigger problems they had encountered in the past when they were less formally collaborative. (I’m calling Paycor’s collaboration “formal” not because we were always buttoned up, but rather, we met every day, even when we didn’t have all that much to share. Success at the agile approach calls for a certain respect for ritual.)
3. You’ll Get Further, Faster.
Engineers and coders call it “rapid iteration,” but Paycor just calls it “getting stuff done.” There’s a certain HR personality that tends to be perfectionist. But the old adage—that perfect is the enemy of the good—is true.
An agile mindset allows for quick wins. It’s not about completing the project today. It’s about making progress, one step at a time, and sharing results to get feedback from a variety of people representing different disciplines and interests. You’ll find that when you set aside perfection and instead aim to complete just one piece of the puzzle in time for your next standup, your team will move faster to completion than if you wait to unveil the perfect solution.
4. You’ll Learn to Listen and Incorporate Feedback.
Revamping the onboarding experience for new employees was one of our agile projects. The HR and IT teams collaborated, and along the way, we received feedback from other internal departments.
Receiving feedback on a draft sketch or just one piece of a larger project is much easier, both logistically and psychologically, than asking for feedback on a finished piece. It’s easier to hear and react to negative feedback when you know the project is ongoing and there will be time to make improvements.
5. You’ll Learn How to Make It Better Next Time.
Postmortems are not a new concept, but how many HR teams actually take time to sit down after a project is over and ask: “What worked?,” “What didn’t work?,” and “What would we do differently next time?”
As I said earlier, there’s a certain amount of formality and ritual to the agile method, and the postmortem sit-down is an example of that. It forced Paycor’s team to have conversations they might not have had otherwise, and gave them a rare opportunity to be introspective as a team.
Finally, if you’re interested in learning more about agile, there are a ton of resources and online tools out there to help. But really, you don’t need an advanced degree in agile project management to get started. Pick a project, pick a team, and try it out. In addition to being a far more effective way to run a big project, it can also be a lot of fun. Best of luck!
Over the last 7 years, Karen Crone has helped human capital management company Paycor grow from 400 to 1,500 associates, and now, as it is fast-approaching a quarter billion in revenue, Crone is focused on developing future leaders. Before Paycor, Crone sharpened her executive leadership skills at American Modern Insurance Group, Kendle International, and Convergys. She’s a graduate of Miami University and the University of Cincinnati.
Crone serves on Advisory Boards of the Freestore Foodbank, Centennial, Inc., and the University of Cincinnati’s MHR program. She is an executive sponsor for Paycor’s Community Partner’s program and volunteers for the Freestore, the Flying Pig Marathon, and a host of Associate-driven events. Crone was recognized as a 2017 HRO Today Superstar, LEAD Magazine Champion of Human Capital, and a 2017 Finalist for HRO Today CHRO of the Year.