Australia Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Rita Ora Headlines to 35,000 Fans

Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras looked very much like pre-pandemic times, but there were actually some precautions taken.

An estimated 35,000 people watched the annual parade at the Sydney Cricket Ground. That's a ton of folks, but way less than the 200,000 that lined Oxford Street in Mardi Gras's past.

Rita Ora headlined the event ... she got emotional, at one point telling the crowd she was fighting back tears, telling everyone how much she missed performing during the pandemic. Other performers included The Wiggles and singer G Flip.

Australia has fared way, way better than the U.S. They've had just over 29,000 COVID cases and a total of 909 deaths. From our eye, most people were not wearing masks, but the fact is ... Australia has had stringent rules and apparently it has paid off.

When you look at the pics through an American lens, it seems they've pulled out all the stops, but a number of people who attended called this year's event "muted" compared to past Mardi Gras.

In any event, it's apparent a good time was had by all.

Donald Trump at CPAC 2021 Attacks Transgender Community ... We Must Protect Women's Sports

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"PROTECTING" OUR SPORTS
Fox News

Donald Trump took direct aim at the transgender community at CPAC 2021 -- complaining women's sports were being turned upside down ... and vowing to protect it at all costs.

Trump made the inflammatory remarks Sunday during his first speech since leaving office in January, kind of out of nowhere too. He said Democratic policies were ruining women's sports ... and then he mused that a lot of new records were being shattered like never before, and he hated to break it to the ladies. He talked about weightlifting and how it wasn't even challenging for some new competitors lately.

Then came the transphobic haymaker -- Trump said girls and women are incensed that they're having to compete with individuals who were biologically born as males. He added that if this wasn't addressed, it would end women's sports as we know it.

He then said unequivocally ... "We must protect the integrity of women's sports."

Trump's administration had it out for transgender people -- remember, he banned them from joining the military early in his presidency ... something Biden undid as soon as he was sworn in.

'1000-Lb Sisters' Star Tammy Still On the Outs w/ Jerry ... But Not Over Pansexuality

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"1000-Lb. Sisters" star Tammy Slaton got left in the dust by her on-screen boyfriend, Jerry, after revealing she was pansexual -- but the guy didn't dip over that ... TMZ has learned.

Jerry Sykes tells us ... yes he did leave Tammy and end their relationship -- as depicted in Monday night's episode on TLC -- but it's not for the reason everyone may think ... namely that she revealed she's attracted to all types of people, which seemed to throw him off.

"LOVE IS LOVE"
TLC

You'll recall ... Tammy made the reveal, which was teased in a clip over the weekend. Jerry seemed especially dumbfounded Tammy said she'd date a transgender person. Once the episode aired, viewers found out he ended up breaking things off and moving out.

Not only did it upset Tammy, but viewers were left wondering about the timing -- y'know, since Tammy had just come out and been honest about her sexuality earlier in the episode. He wants to set the record straight though ... this ain't over pansexuality.

Jerry says he needed a break because he felt guilty about a previous relationship -- his marriage, no less -- and had to make amends there before he could proceed with Tammy.

As of February -- some three to four months AFTER the pansexual episode was shot -- we're told Jerry and Tammy were still not romantically involved. It's unclear if they're still communicating at this point ... but whatever he had to deal with then is still being handled.

Jerry's at-home drama lies in his estranged wife, Kia Russell-Rucker Sykes ... who tells TMZ she found out about Jerry's relationship with Tammy through TV and friends -- which came as news to her when she first learned about it, sometime during season 1 last year.

Kia says they separated, and she believes Tammy's a homewrecker. That said, she says she and Jerry still talk ... and that he helps her out financially. Seems like they're on decent enough terms -- especially since Jerry came back to deal.

Now, as for whether there's any future reconciliation with Tammy on the horizon ... it doesn't sound like there is, at least not for now. Jerry tells us his issues with Kia still make it difficult for him to be there for Tammy the way she needs.

'1,000-lb. Sisters' Tammy Slaton Comes Out as Pansexual

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"LOVE IS LOVE"
TLC

Tammy Slaton, one of the stars of "1,000-lb. Sisters" has come out as pansexual.

Producers released a clip of an upcoming show, in which Tammy opens up to Jerry, her boyfriend of 2 years, saying, "It means love is love," adding, "I would date anybody, whether they're transgender, straight, gay."

Tammy's sister, Amy, and her husband, Michael, are seated at the restaurant along with Tammy and Jerry.

Tammy explained in another interview how she came to her realization ... "I always thought I was bisexual, and then I started talking to one of my friends and she told me she was pansexual, and I asked her kind of what it meant."

She goes on ... "It means you love everybody, not just the same sex. And I was like, 'Well, I guess I am too," because I wouldn't mind being with someone who's transgender, or whatever."

Jerry told Tammy he still loves her, and to that she says, "I'm happy because he took it pretty well," Tammy says. "Acceptance of people's sexuality is important to me."

JoJo Siwa Meet My GF!!! It's Our Anniversary Too

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JoJo Siwa and her GF are now IG official ... and just in time for their 1-month anniversary.

The YouTube star showed her GF, Kylie, on camera for the first time Monday with a series of pics and a video -- and to make it a proper introduction, she also tagged her in the post.

Now everyone can check out Kylie's Instagram, where she refers to herself as a "human golden retriever."

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In her post, JoJo said, "After being my best friend for over a year, January 8th 2021 I got to start calling this exceptional human my Girlfriend." She added she's the happiest she's ever been and threw in an anniversary shout-out -- "Happy one month to my girl! I love you more and more everyday!"

As you can see from the pics ... it definitely looks like they enjoy each other's company, which apparently included a trip to Universal Studios on Christmas Day.

OFF THE MARKET
NBC

As we reported ... JoJo was beaming after coming out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community while appearing on 'The Tonight Show.'

Ex-WWE Superstar Gabbi Tuft Announces Gender Transition ... 'This Is Me'

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9:02 AM PT -- Gabbi says she first began realizing she identified as a woman when she was a kid -- telling "Extra" she would sneak into her mom's closet and try on her clothes.

LIVING MY BEST LIFE
Extra

"And, it just felt right," Gabbi told Billy Bush in an interview that airs Friday.

During the interview, Gabbi also opens up about how her romantic life with her wife has changed since transitioning from a man to a woman ... explaining how the situation has actually brought them closer together.

A former WWE superstar is going public about her gender transformation -- announcing, "This is me. Unashamed, unabashedly me."

The wrestler is Gabbi Tuft -- who performed for years under the ring name, Tyler Reks. Reks first appeared on "Smackdown" in 2010 and went on to wrestle with some of the top names in the biz, including John Cena, CM Punk and Ryback.

Reks last wrestled for WWE in 2012.

Now, Tuft -- who previously used the name, Gabe Tuft, in her personal life -- says she's going public as a proud transgender woman.

"This is the side of me that has hidden in the shadows, afraid and fearful of what the world would think; afraid of what my family, friends, and followers would say or do," Tuft said in an emotional IG post.

"I am no longer afraid and I am no longer fearful. I can now say with confidence, that I love myself for WHO I am."

Tuft says she's been struggling over the past 8 months -- "The emotional turmoil of being transgender and having to face the world has almost ended me on multiple occasions."

But, Gabbi says she stopped caring about what other people think -- which has allowed her "authentic self to come into the light."

Gabbi has been married to her wife, Priscilla, since 2002 and they have a 9-year-old daughter together. Tuft says her family is supporting her through the transition.

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"My loving wife, family, and closest friends have accepted me for who I am. To them, I am forever grateful. Your support along the way means more than you will ever know."

Gabbi says she promises to be "transparent and truthful" with her journey -- and clearly intends to be a role model for younger transitioning people who might be struggling, too.

Originally Published -- 5:56 AM PT

JoJo Siwa I Have the Most Amazing Girlfriend ... Inspired My Coming Out

OFF THE MARKET
NBC

JoJo Siwa's beaming after coming out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and she's giving a lot of credit to her "perfect, most beautiful girlfriend in the whole world."

The YouTube star revealed her recent decision to go public was a very scary thing, and talked about it Wednesday night on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."

JoJo says working on a TikTok at the "Pride House" got her thinking about outing herself, and she decided to just go for it ... with some extra encouragement from her girlfriend.

She says she was FaceTiming with her GF when she posted that photo -- the one where she's wearing the "Best. Gay. Cousin. Ever." t-shirt -- and then went right back talking to her like it was no big deal.

JoJo says she realizes now that it was a risky move, but ultimately ... it was the only move to make for her happiness. And, like she says ... for every million people who don't accept her for who she is, there are 100 million who do.

T.J. Osborne Comes Out as Gay

T.J. Osborne is coming out as gay, and it's a milestone for country music ... he's the first and only openly gay man signed to a major country music label.

The Brothers Osborne frontman came out in an interview with Time Magazine, becoming one of the only country music stars to share their truth in their prime.

While T.J. is making history here, he says coming out isn't too big a deal for him even though he had a few reservations about industry reaction ... telling Time, "I'm very comfortable being gay."

The Brothers Osborne signed to EMI Records Nashville back in 2012, and they've since released 3 studio albums with 7 singles in the country music Top 40 ... despite the success, T.J. says he's curious how he'll be received the next time he performs in a rural town at a county fair.

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T.J. says he knew he was gay at young age, and found being closeted isolating and lonely, so he started pouring his emotions into his music. He says he's been out to his friends and family for years, and coronavirus lockdown made him decide it was finally time to come out publicly.

Fans and other country music artists are already showing their support ... and T.J. says he's proud to come out, and believes it will help his relationship with fans, family and himself.

United Nations to Indonesia Flogging of Gay Men Violates Human Rights ... Release Everyone Detained for Being LGBTQ!!!

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The United Nations is calling out Indonesia following the public flogging of 2 men accused of having gay sex ... and demanding the release of everyone detained on the basis of their sexual orientation.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric tells TMZ ... "We are concerned by the detention, public humiliation and ill-treatment of men perceived to be gay in Indonesia."

Dujarric says there are troubling reports of violent attacks against LGBTQ+ people in the country, perpetuated by the media and some religious groups ... and the caning of the 2 men this week by Sharia police in the country's conservative Aceh province is just the latest example.

The UN says international law is clear -- "all people, without exception, are entitled to protection of their human rights – and that includes LGBT individuals."

Dujarric says the public punishment for the men "violates multiple human rights standards including those on liberty, fair trial, integrity, privacy, dignity, equality before the law, non-discrimination and the absolute prohibition on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment."

Therefore, the UN is calling for Indonesian authorities to "release all individuals detained on the basis of their sexual orientation, provide those subjected to abuses with effective remedy and review legislation that contravenes Indonesia’s legal obligations, including local criminal legislation in Aceh."

As we reported ... the 2 men who were publicly caned -- 77 times each -- were arrested in November after reportedly being turned in by locals for having sex. They also served 3 months in prison.

Gay sex is illegal in the Aceh province in Indonesia, and public flogging is a common punishment there ... something the UN hopes to end.

WNBA's Layshia Clarendon Undergoes Breast Removal Surgery Hopes to Inspire Trans Athletes

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WNBA star Layshia Clarendon has undergone successful surgery to have her breasts removed -- and is now going public about it in hopes of inspiring other trans athletes.

Clarendon -- who identifies as non-binary -- uses all pronouns (she/her/they/them/he/him).

In other words ... by society's standards, Layshia is comfortable being referred to as a woman ... but personally, doesn't identify solely with one specific gender.

Sources close to Layshia tell us the 29-year-old NY Liberty star underwent breast removal surgery (also known as "top surgery") in early January and is recovering well.

"I’m feeling free & euphoric in my body & want Trans people to know and see that we’ve always existed & no one can erase us," Layshia said in a statement.

You may be wondering ... are there any issues with the WNBA, which has the "W" for "Women" right there in the name of the league?

The short answer is no.

We're told Layshia has been in contact with the league and there are ZERO issues with her status as a player.

As one source close to Layshia explained to us, "Layshia does not identify as a man. They're not journeying to a destination. Gender is actually a spectrum."

One of the main reasons Layshia is going public with her story ... we're told Layshia wants to initiate a "very real, inclusive, sensitive conversation about how to INCLUDE trans people in sports, instead of how to exclude them."

"Trans youth want to participate in sports ... let's have the conversation."

Layshia was a 1st-round pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft -- and was an All-Star in 2017.

Men Accused of Gay Sex Publicly Flogged 77 Times in Indonesia

Two men accused of having gay sex in Indonesia were savagely beaten with canes after neighbors reported them to police, and the punishment -- under Islamic law -- is tough to see.

The men, both in their 20s, were flogged 77 times each by Sharia police in the country's conservative Aceh province, where a huge crowd gathered to watch the lashing ... carried out by officers wearing robes and masks.

Pleas for mercy and cries of pain could not save the men ... and the lashes continued even after one officer's cane shattered on impact with one man's back. Sharia police only paused the punishment to allow the men a drink of water ... then the caning resumed.

Both men were arrested back in November, when police say officers, tipped off by locals, broke into a rented room and found the pair having sex. They served 3 months in prison, so their original 80-lash sentence was reduced by 3.

The Aceh province is the only part of Indonesia where gay sex is illegal ... and public flogging is a common punishment in the province, which started using Sharia law back in 2001.

The mother of one of the men was present for the punishment, and fainted as her son was being caned.

Joe Exotic Still Pushing for a Pardon from Biden ... Help a Fellow Joe Out!!!

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After feeling spurned by Donald Trump, Joe Exotic's officially moving on to the next POTUS ... and keeping the faith that President Biden will grant his freedom.

TMZ's obtained emails Joe's sent out to his team from prison, in which he expresses hopefulness that the new administration will come through with a pardon ... after failing to make Trump's last-minute list.

Exotic says he has more confidence in Biden regarding criminal justice and prison reform, and claims he watched a TV special on VP Kamala Harris ... leading him to believe she can "help clean up the corruption in the DOJ and other agencies."

As for his feelings about Trump ... Exotic says he always looked up to him for being a straight-shooter and never backing down, but that all changed after January 6.

Exotic feels disdain for Trump, he says partly because 45 ended up just hiding out in the White House after the riot ... never saying a word about the people who died.

Long story short ... it seems Joe is all pro-Joe now, and even claims in his emails to have new evidence in his case that he hopes the Biden administration will consider.

As we reported ... Exotic claims he was "too gay" to ever receive a pardon from Trump in the first place. Biden, on the other hand, issued a sweeping executive order on his first day in office to protect LGBTQ+ people from being discriminated against.

JoJo Siwa Comes Out ... Confirms She's in LGBTQ+ community

this is me

Child star JoJo Siwa just confirmed she's part of the LGBTQ+ community -- but isn't quite ready to label herself with a letter just yet.

The former 'Dance Moms' star published a lengthy video Saturday, which pretty much hit the point home that she had, in fact, come out after much speculation these past few days. She says she's gotten tons of support, and has never been happier in her life to be her true self.

At one point, one of JoJo's fans asks how she identifies in terms of sexual orientation ... and she says she doesn't know yet. That's interesting to note, because everyone assumed she'd come out as gay ... mostly due to her own wardrobe, which literally had the word printed on.

JoJo showed off a shirt she received the other day, which reads ... BEST. GAY. COUSIN. EVER. Many took that as signaling, not to mention her lip-syncing to Gaga's "Born This Way."

It's a big deal, BTW. JoJo -- who's 17 years old -- has a massive audience with kids, so this is gonna reach them in some shape or form. Many think it'll help children be more comfortable with owning their sexuality, since one of their on-screen heroes now has.

Congrats!!!

Joe Exotic Guess I'm 'Too Gay' to Get a Pardon!!! Rips Trump for the Snub

Joe Exotic's lack of being guilty and abundance of being gay is why he didn't get a pardon from Trump ... according to the 'Tiger King' star himself.

The disgraced former zoo owner's not taking his presidential pardon snub very well, and says ... "I was too innocent and too GAY to deserve a Pardon from Trump."

Joe adds that he thinks he only got some pardon attention initially from Don Jr. because Trump's son "needed to make a comment about me to boost his social media post."

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He also threw some extra shade at the former Prez, saying ... "Boy were we all stupid to believe he actually stood for Equal Justice? His corrupt friends all come first."

4/8/20
EXOTIC PARDON
C-SPAN

As we've told you ... Joe's legal team was confident all the hard work they put in would lead to a pardon. They even had a stretch limo waiting for Exotic to go pick him up from prison once they got word Trump had freed him.

Unfortunately for Joe ... it never happened. Trump pardoned 73 people and commuted the sentences of 70 others, but not him. Team Tiger told us they were very disappointed, but added that they "will never leave Joe’s side and will continue to work until his freedom is gained."

We spoke to Joe's nemesis, Carole Baskin, who came out as bisexual in October ... she says Joe's latest statements are, "Just further evidence that he has no remorse for all the harm he's caused to exotic cats and the people in his life."

Better start working on a pitch to President Biden.

Golf Star Justin Thomas Entering Training Program After Using Anti-Gay Slur On Course

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Justin Thomas -- one of the biggest stars in golf -- says he intends to enroll in a "training program" to help him be a better person after he used an anti-gay slur on a course earlier this month.

Thomas was on the 4th green during the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii on Jan. 9 ... when he missed a 5-foot par putt and muttered, "f*****."

FRUSTRATING PUTT
NBC / PGA Tour

Thomas immediately apologized after the round ... saying in a post-play interview, "There’s just no excuse. I’m an adult, I’m a grown man. There’s absolutely no reason for me to say anything like that."

Thomas, though, has faced huge backlash despite the mea culpa ... and on Wednesday, he said he intends to enter a training program to help him learn from it all.

"It’s not a word I use,” Thomas said, “but for some reason it was in there and that’s what I’m trying to figure out -- why it was in there."

“And like I said, it’s going to be part of this process and training program, whatever I need to do, not only to prove to myself but to prove to my sponsors and prove to the people who don’t know who I am that that is indeed not the person I am.”

The 27-year-old golfer declined to elaborate on what the program will entail ... saying only, "Obviously people are going to be a part of that process."

"But what I’m doing I’d like to keep internally and just go through the appropriate steps to get where I need to be and want to be, so people understand that’s not the person I am, the character I like to portray."

Thomas has lost sponsors over the incident ... with Ralph Lauren dropping the golfer last week after having a longstanding relationship with him.

Thomas said he was "upset" over losing the clothing company ... saying he wished they had stuck with him while he worked to fix his issues.

"I spoke with them, along with all my sponsors, and although I apologized, just like it was then it’s an opportunity for me to grow and I felt like it was something we could have done together and gone through that process," Thomas said.

"They just felt like they needed to move on so that’s exactly what I’m doing as well."

Thomas' first pro event since using the slur in Hawaii will begin on Thursday at the Abu Dhabi Championship.

Thom Brennaman Gets New Announcing Job ... 4 Months After Using Gay Slur On-Air

Breaking News

Thom Brennaman will be back in a baseball broadcasting booth ... just 4 months after he resigned from his last gig for using a gay slur on-air.

MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported Tuesday the Roberto Clemente League -- which kicks off its season Tuesday -- has hired the former Reds play-by-play man to announce its games in 2020-21.

Of course, it's a huge deal for 57-year-old Thom ... just seconds after a hot mic picked up his homophobic comment during his broadcast of the Reds-Royals game on Aug. 19, he said he wasn't sure if he'd ever get another job in the industry again.

CAPTURED ON MIC
Courtesy of MLB

"I don't know if I'm gonna be putting on this headset again," Brennaman said at the time.

While the Roberto Clemente League isn't exactly the MLB ... it's still a respected gig in sports media.

The league -- which consists of 5 teams in Puerto Rico -- has current and former MLB players scattered throughout its rosters.

For his part, Brennaman has apologized vehemently since using the slur ... and back in September, he said, "If I get another chance, someone will be hiring a better person than the person who walked out the door that night on Aug. 19."

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