Cover Art: Lady Gaga’s Evolution

By Vicky Hernandez

With the spotlight on Lady Gaga, because of her role in her current award-winning movie, “A Star is Born”, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta’s talents are being highlighted in both acting and singing. Her  career did not start just recently with the movie, but instead at the early age of 4. She began to produce albums in 2008, which lead her to create her global top charted song, “Poker Face”. She continued this huge success by creating more albums to further grow her success. Lady Gaga was always very mysterious and attention catching, not only for her personality but for her symbolic cover art in her albums. “Art pop” was one of the top cover albums that was most attention calling; which presents a nude Gaga sculpture appearing to give birth to the world in the form of a large blue orb, with other framed art works chopped up in the background. As well as in the album cover “Born This Way” she reflects on her what we call “Meat loaf period” which is when nothing is too dramatic, too gaudy and no song was to big for her. Lady Gaga expresses her views on life and life morals through art and portrays her more in depth experiences through her music.

Everything you need to know about the LGBTQ+ Community

By Tanairy Robles

Gay marriage was not legal in California until June 16th, 2008 and It was not legalized in the United States until June 26th, 2015.  On that date, all states took away their ban on gay marriage and allowing many people around the world marry whoever they want. President Barack Obama was the first president to ever state on national TV, “Same-sex marriage should be legal.”

Majority of the people in the LGBTQ+ community grow up with anxiety or depression. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “The risk of a mental health condition, like depression, anxiety disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is almost three times as high for youth and adults who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.” The reason for that is the troubles of accepting themselves in this society. Though 53% of Americans support gay-marriage, there is still another huge percentage that disapprove and spread hatred towards the LGBTQ+ community. Many believed that expressing who you are and coming out the closet lifts a huge weight off of their shoulder which could help the depression, but the idea of being judged still affects people. Nicole, who is a 43 year old lesbian transgendered woman whom stated, “We go through each day afraid that someone will hurt us because of who we are.” This society’s percentage of acceptance has increased over the years but the divide is still there. How can we bring that divide to an almost 90% rather than 74% which is the current percentage? In simplest terms, we forget our differences and remind ourselves of our similarities that make us human. 

You Earned Your College Admissions

By Nathalia Arevalo

A recent college admissions scandal involving celebrities, business moguls and other wealthy parents hit the front pages. Undeserving children of the wealthy are being admitted into ivy leagues and other top schools. A parent on one account depicted their teenage daughter as a soccer star (who had zero experience in the sport) recruit for Yale, totaling to $1.2 million in bribes. A future University of Southern California student was falsely labeled disabled in order to take his standardized test with a proctor complicit in their ruse. The face of the scandal, well-known actress Lori Loughlin, paid thousands into an account to guarantee a space for her daughter at USC using the ploy of a rowing spot in the team, in which she had no experience in.

PC: USA Today

This incident brought up a dilemma many first-generation or students of color, face during college decision season, affirmative action policies. Affirmative action policies give priority to racial minorities and members of other excluded groups in admissions. These policies are used to make black, brown, and low-income students feel as if they do not deserve to be there and to only be used to make the campus more culturally diverse. This is due to the mindset many white and wealthy students have that black, brown, & low-income students are not as smart or hardworking as them. Meanwhile, so many upper-class students have their parents buy their way into these prestigious schools.

This just goes to show that what matters is the hard work you put into your future. No matter how many colleges you get denied from: they do not represent you. Your college acceptances are well deserved and their importance cannot be lessened by anyone.

Day of Silence

By: Nikki Nuno

April 12th is a day observed by the LGBTQ+ community as the day we give tribute to those who have risked or sacrificed their lives through the expression of their sexual identity. Many individuals take this day seriously as it is a student-ran event to further push back anti-LGBT agendas and help all people feel free to love who they love. Day of Silence was originally formed by a group of college students at the University of Virginia. What was meant to be a project for non-violent protesting became an annual occurrence across the nation, having tens of thousands standing together to end the “endemic” of name calling, bullying and harassment of LGBT students. Those who partake in its observance take a vow of silence for the entire day and use cards to explain what their sacrifice is intended for.

How to get Involved?

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) became the official sponsor of the event in 2001. Search their website with the special link to register online or via text to show your support. Below the registration option is several other ways to take action in your school. You can join the Street Team to help spread the word in your community by receiving updates on new resources for April 12th. If you’re planning your silence, GSLEN gives great tips in starting up activities in your school beforehand. You can send in a sign to GSLEN telling how you plan to support at your school along with a selfie. The website also recommends printing out their speaking cards that explain your participation in the event.

Gay Activist Pioneers you should Know

  1. James Baldwin. Known as an author, activist, and playwright, Baldwin was one of the first individuals to venture into the correlation between race, class and sexuality (intersectionality). He was a highly active participant during the Civil Rights Movement; he attended numerous marches and helped stabilize the motivation of Africans Americans to fight for their human rights in the South. As for his reputation in gay rights activism, in one of his most renowned literary works, Giovanni’s Room,gave clarityto the dynamics of same sex marriages. This was a crucial breakthrough in early gay rights activism, giving answers to numerous stereotypes while making sexual identity a less taboo topic and leaving more room for conversation.
  2. Barbara Smith. As a black feminist, lesbian, activist and elected official, it seems as if the fight for gender/sexual equality was bound to be part of her future. In 1974, she became co-founder of the Combahee River Collective, which is known for its developments in the field of intersectionality. It also helped highlight that the “white” feminist movement helped only specific groups of women and excluded African American women. Through this organization, Smith gained some experience under her belt, and with the motivation of her friends, later founded the Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press. This was a national advancement not only for women, but the most oppressed group amongst us, colored women. The Kitchen Table was the world’s first publishing company to be operated exclusively by colored women. Once she received her chair in Albany, New York’s councilmen, she would serve two terms directed in addressing systemic imbalances in the city.
  3. Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes. Now retired, Senior Pastor Brent Hawkes has worked at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto for 35 years. He realized he was “different” at a young age and decided to keep his sexuality to himself. One day, he saw an ad for the Metropolitan Community Church and knew from there on he’d finally found a place where he could show all that he is and be accepted for it. He is the forefront of ministry for the Gay and Lesbian community of Toronto. He relishes his reputation with several human rights initiatives, especially benefitting those with unbound sexual identities. In 1994, he received the highest civilian award in Toronto, Award of Merit. In 2007, he was appointed the Order of Canada for his strong stance on social justice and human rights for LGBTQ+ members. This is currently the highest honor a country has given to a gay activist.

Why Is Everyone Talking About Michael Jackson and ‘Leaving Neverland’?

By: Elizabeth Padilla

Michael Jackson can be considered the most famous entertainer of the 20th century. When he died in June 2009, it was a tragedy for many and national conversations around the multiple allegations of child molestation against him died along with him. The focus instead shifted to his planned ‘This Is It’ comeback concerts, his unreleased songs, and a musical legacy that includes hundreds of millions of albums sold.

But on January 25, the Sundance Film Festival debuted the four-hour documentary “Leaving Neverland,” which includes detailed accusations of abuse, reopening the discussion on one of the most notorious scandals in music history. The accusations revolve around Jacksons known private home and amusement park, Neverland Ranch.

The documentary focuses on two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who claim, in separate accounts, that Jackson sexually abused them for years, from boyhood into adolescence. Wade Robson, a choreographer who has worked with Britney Spears, was “discovered” by Jackson at the age of 7 where the boy had been performing with a kids dance troupe. James Safechuck, a computer programmer, was in Los Angeles on the set of the beloved Pepsi commercial exploring Jackson’s backstage dressing room at the age of 9. Robson and Safechuck (who appeared alongside Jackson in a memorable 1987 Pepsi commercial) described many sexual allegations throughout the documentary. Robson, who says Jackson nicknamed him “Little One,” describes one of the singer’s methods from keeping him from speaking out was the constant reminder from Jackson that if they were caught there would be consequences for the both of them. Safechuck talks about a secret “wedding” he had with Jackson, and the ring he still has in his possession, saying Jackson gave him jewelry in exchange for sexual favors.

Robson’s mother, Joy, tells how that first encounter with Jackson felt supernatural and wonderful—something that could positively transform her son’s life. Joy describes the second linkup as a brush with “the impossible. You don’t just come to America and start calling some numbers and get in contact with Michael Jackson somehow, and then you’re going to see him again. That was just not a normal scenario.” Says Joy, “It was surreal for all of us. Hollywood and this whole entertainment business was on another planet from where we were.” So when Jackson invited Robson and his older sister, Chantal, to sleep in his quarters, Joy says she didn’t think much of it, or of when Jackson offered to let Robson stay with him for a week while the Robson family visited the Grand Canyon. To say no would mean bringing real-world logic into a dream that had come true, thus ending the dream. Robson says that the “trippy part” was that even though Jackson was a stranger, “it felt like we knew him: He’d been in my living room every day,” via TV, posters, and music. For a child to want a slumber party with him was like wanting a slumber party with Mickey Mouse. But, when the first allegations of child molestation broke Joy immediately confronted her son. Robson insisted then that Jackson had never inappropriately touched him.

Both men supported Jackson during a 2005 trial for molestation and denied he had abused them. However, Robson and Safechuck both sued Jackson’s estate after the star’s death. Robson said Jackson molested him for seven years, and Safechuck said he and Jackson engaged in sexual acts “hundreds” of times. Both cases were dismissed and are under appeal.

Following the four-hour documentary “Leaving Neverland,” Robson and Safechuck were interviewed by Oprah Winfrey where Robson admitted only when he had a son that he felt free of his need to protect Jackson. “I loved him, and I wanted to protect him. In my mind, up until whatever it was, six years ago or so, I was going to take what truly happened to my grave,” he said, “No question that was the way it was.” Robson said that if his son hadn’t been born, there was a “really good chance” he would still “be living in silence.”

To Jackson and his family, Neverland Ranch was not only a home it was an amusement park to them. The Jackson family responded by releasing a statement that called the documentary a “public lynching.” “We are furious that the media, who without a shred of proof or single piece of physical evidence, chose to believe the word of two admitted liars over the word of hundreds of families and friends around the world who spent time with Michael, many at Neverland, and experienced his legendary kindness and global generosity,” the statement reads. “The creators of this film were not interested in the truth. They never interviewed a single solitary soul who knew Michael except the two perjurers and their families.”

Jackson faced accusations similar to these in 1993, the family of a 13-year-old boy filed a $30 million lawsuit saying Jackson sexually abused their son, which included kissing, fondling and other sexual acts. The suit was settled out of court in 1994 for around $23 million. Another accusation surfaced of a cancer survivor who appeared by Jackson’s side in the Martin Bashir television documentary “Living With Michael Jackson” at the age of 14 when authorities formally charged Jackson with molesting him. During the 14-week criminal trial in 2005, the boy’s younger brother said that Jackson showed them pornography, served them alcohol and molested his brother on two occasions. Jackson was found not guilty.

The documentary has lead Michael Jackson’s estates to sue HBO for more than $100 million over the accusations of Jackson abusing the two men when they were children. In the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, the singer’s estate argues that the film violates a 1992 contract to broadcast a Jackson concert which included an agreement to not disparage the singer at any future point in time. “It is hard to imagine a more direct violation of the non-disparagement clause,” says the suit, which asks the court to order arbitration and says damages could exceed $100 million.

At the end of the day the only people with knowledge surrounding what took place in the Neverland rooms are the host and his guests. More than one of them now claims to have been groomed, abused, manipulated, and coached by Jackson. That matters as much as the moonwalk. That might make “Heal the World” a lie and the “Man in the Mirror” a monster. One had to overlook numerous accusations and testimonies to continue to maintain an idolized belief in the image of purity and wholesomeness Jackson presented us in his career. As the tenth anniversary of Jackson’s death approaches, it’s okay to revisit the memory of Jackson as we thought he was, but let’s also speak of all the aspects of his life we categorically refused to believe, and pledge to never again choose the love of fame over the well-being of a child.

Jackson and Wade Robson in a still from “Leaving Neverland.” Robson grew up to become a choreographer for Britney Spears and Cirque du Soleil.

Michael Jackson, left, and James Safechuck on a plane in 1988. In the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland,” Safechuck accuses Jackson of sexually abusing him when he was a child.

Gone, but Never Forgotten

By Elizabeth Mendoza

On March 4th, 2019, actor Luke Perry, known from his 1990s television series 90210,Perry, winning a Bravo Otto Award for Best Male TV Star in 1993, as well as 1994,  and CW series Riverdale, passed away due to a massive stroke in his home in Sherman Oaks. The actor was quickly hospitalized but did not show signs of getting better. Due to respect for his family, not much has been said about the actor besides the cause of death. A publicist by the name of Arnold Robinson told CNN “The family appreciates the outpouring of support and prayers that have been extended to Luke from around the world, and respectfully request privacy in this time of great mourning”. Perry’s death broke the hearts of many fans who are sending their love towards the actor’s family through social media. Riverdale co-stars also took to social media to honor the actor and share how much he will be missed. Actress Lili Reinhart, Perry’s Riverdale co-star, posted on her Instagram story saying, “I can barely find the words. I am devastated. We all are.” Actor Kj Apa, who plays Perry’s son in Riverdale, also shared a photo of the actor with the caption “Rest in Love bro”. Various friends and co-stars shared their feelings on the passing of Perry. May his family heal from the loss and may Perry rest peacefully.

iCarly Star Jennette McCurdy Opens Up About Eating Disorder

By: Melody Aviles

Former Nickelodeon Star, Jennette McCurdy, who played “Sam” in the show “iCarly”, has recently opened up about her 13-year struggle battling anorexia, bulimia, and disordered eating. In a personal essay, McCurdy explains in detail how she battled these disorders for 13 years and has been in recovery for the past two, revealing that her eating disorder began when she was only 11 years old. McCurdy states that her mother was also a prominent figure of her struggle as she encouraged her anorexia and eating disorders even more. In her essay, she recalls, “As a child actress working in Hollywood, I quickly learned that remaining physically small for my age meant I had a better chance of booking more roles. Unfortunately, I had a trusty and dedicated companion ready to help me with my burgeoning anorexia: my mom!” McCurdy explains that although her mom encouraged it, she doesn’t hold it against her. She also shares how her mom would compare her body to those of other girls, portion out her meals, and count her calories. McCurdy points out that growing up she always believed her mom was “looking out” for her, but she didn’t realize she was only “aiding my disordered eating”. The iCarly star revealed that her mother was hospitalized for anorexia on several occasions when she was a teenager and still isn’t convinced she ever fully overcame it. After she booked iCarly, McCurdy became more obsessed with her appearance and would monitor every bite, exercise obsessively, and measure her thighs with measuring tape every night. The actor then turned to binge eating when her mother was diagnosed with cancer for a second time and, by the age of 21, turned to bulimia. All of these disorders were unintentionally fueled by those on set as they told her how great she looked. It wasn’t until her sister-in-law confronted her about her disorders and suggested that she get help. McCurdy explains that “recovery was brutal” but it has now been two years and she is doing well and moving forward. However, she admits that she still gets eating disorder urges, compulsions, and fantasies, but now she can fight and ignore it. Jennette McCurdy’s journey with eating disorders was tough as she explains, but she pushed herself and was able to get through it.

The Jonas Brothers are Finally Back

By Jennifer De La Torre

The pop-rock band of brothers named Nick, Joe and Kevin Jonas started their career in 2005 after recording the song, “Please Be Mine.” Then Columbia Records president Steve Greenberg heard the song and decided to sign the band.

From there, Colombia Records opened for a multitude of artists that included Jump5, Kelly Clarkson, Jesse McCartney, and the Backstreet Boys. Their debut album, “It’s About Time,” was released on Aug. 8, 2006, and featured the hit, “Year 3000.” Most fans would be interested to learn, “Year 3000,” is not a song written by the Jonas Brothers and is originally by the English band Busted.  The band was dropped by Columbia Records in early 2007, but the story doesn’t end there.

The plethora of hits we all know started in 2007 after the band signed with Hollywood Records, a music label connected to the Disney Music Group. These songs include: “Hold On,” “S.O.S,” “When You Look Me In The Eyes,” “Burnin’ Up,” “Lovebug,” “Paranoid” and “Tonight.” Their discography speaks for itself, they’ve been in the music game for a long time.

Music wasn’t the only thing the brothers dabbled in as they are also recognizable from Disney Channel original programming. They graced television screens in the films “Camp Rock” and “Camp Rock: The Final Jam,” and in the “JONAS L.A.” television series which had them portraying the Lucas brothers who were all members of the band Jonas. No surprise here: they delivered hit songs like “Play My Music” and “Keep It Real,” even while acting on screen.

The point here is simple: The Jonas Brothers have painted quite a legacy for themselves and it was about time they came back to give us more. Their reunion comes at the perfect time in our current culture because nostalgia is thriving. If you’re the friend who starts playing the Jonas Brothers, ‘NSYNC or One Direction, your friends will love you.

Their new hit single “Sucker,” which is reminiscent of the 2008 track “Lovebug” which tells of the attraction one has to someone and how they’ve got it bad. The Jonas Brothers are iconically known for their love songs but the similarity between these two tracks are striking. It’s a good sign to diehard fans that things won’t change much with more new music on the way.

During the height of their popularity, the Jonas Brothers were well known for wearing purity rings. The rings are largely associated with a vow by those who wear them to remain abstinent until marriage. The rings created a wholesome look for the band but flashforward six years later and things have changed.

Kevin married long-time love Danielle Deleasa in 2009, and the couple have two daughters named Alena and Valentina. Nick married Indian actress Priyanka Chopra on December in a lavish Indian-Western fusion wedding that lasted several days and Joe is engaged to English actress Sophie Turner with plans to wed this summer. Their leading ladies were heavily featured in the “Sucker” music video which appeared like a more mature and colorful version of the video for their single “Burnin’ Up.”

It may only be March but it’s a good sign that a favorite has returned to delight our ears with new music.

The Space Shuttle that Left America Mourning

On January 28, 1986, the NASA space shuttle Challenger exploded in midair during its launch site at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Millions of people experienced the horror as it was being broadcasted live on television and radio. On board of the shuttle was teacher Christa McAuliffe, the first American civilian selected to go into space, one payload specialist, and five NASA astronauts. The entire nation was left in shock because it was the first time ever the United States had lost a space vehicle with crew onboard. Christa’s death added to the shock her students, parents and family experienced while the incident unfolded, leaving them with irreparable damage. 

Six hours following the explosion, president Ronald Reagan delivered a comforting speech to the mourning nation. Many people wanted an explanation for what happened, but an investigation would take weeks. Instead, the president delivered a massage from heart. Reagan knew that children were watching and wanted to deliver a speech that they would understand.  Reagan spoke, “And I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle’s takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It’s all part of the process of exploration and discovery… I want to add that I wish I could talk to every man and woman who works for NASA or who worked on this mission and tell them: “Your dedication and professionalism have moved and impressed us for decades. And we know of your anguish. We share it.’” People watching the speech found comfort and hope for future missions.

Later it was discovered that the cold weather from that morning and a misfunction from the seals of one of the solid rocket boosters caused the explosion. It took NASA three years to finally send out another shuttle into space. NASA learned from this experience and redesigned solid rocket boosters, pressurized suits, in-flight crew escape devices, and the establishment of several oversight committees.

Jussie Smollett

Since Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ presidential campaign first began in 2015, there has been an increasing tension regarding racial issues. So, when Jussie Smollett reported being the victim of a hate-crime, the Fox Network’s Empire star received a massive influx of support.

            Allegedly, on January 29th, Smollett was walking home in the early hours of the morning, when he heard a man calling out to him. According to Smollett, the man yelled raciest and homophobic slurs before he attacked him. The two exchanged blows until a second assailant appeared and the two overpowered Smollett, choking him, hanging a noose from his throat and pouring “an unknown chemical substance” on him. As both a bi-racial and openly gay actor, Smollett has long advocated for justice and tolerance increasing the sensitivity of the crime.

            However, the arrest of the two brothers who were accused of committing the crime brought new information to the case. The brothers, who have known and worked around Smollett, claim that the actor paid them to stage the crime. They told Chicago police they received a $3,500 compensation and presented the signed check as evidence. Two other unnamed sources have corroborated the story and Chicago Police Department’s Superintendent Eddie Johnson expressed his outrage during a press conference held February 21,2019.

“We just don’t have any room for hatred in this city and for somebody to use it for a personal gain is just shameful because what that does is take away the resources we could be using in other crimes,” Superintendent Johnson stated. Johnson also spoke of the repercussion cases like Smollett’s can have on similarly reported cases. “My concern is that hate crimes will now publicly be met with a level of skepticism that previously didn’t happen.”

Jussie Smollett was taken into custody and charged with felony disorderly conduct. He remains firm that his statement was not falsified. Influencers who initially responded with love and support are still holding out that this is so. Tyler Perry, best known for his character Madea, hopes for the case to end in Smollett’s favor. Ellen Page, starring in Netflix’s new Umbrella Academy, identifies as a lesbian and endorsed the Smollett case as an example of the hate still faced by members of the LGBTQ+ community. Since the Chicago PD press conference, Page wrote for the Hollywood Reporter stating, “I ask you not to question our pain, not to draw in question our trauma, but to maintain wholeheartedly, that hate violence exists.”