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No disguising Mya's stardom, set to shine at SEVEN in Boystown

Jul. 29, 2015 - , Mya has gone to Taste of Chicago, the city's annual food fest held in Grant Park, and she said it was, "really awesome." She also has gone on boats rides on Lake Michigan and some street festivals.  Plus, she tells of her love of the Chicago tradition known as Garrett Popcorn, though she doesn't know if she can or will eat the sweet treat now that she's gone vegan – and Mya also tells of her plans to hit Karyn's Raw, a vegan restaurant at 1901 N. Halsted Street in Chicago.

Mya admittedly will dress down and likely also wear a baseball hat, or maybe wigs to change her hair color, when she ventures out for fun or food in Chicago ...hey, that's the life of a worldwide celebrity.

Mya hits the Windy City this weekend, with a scheduled stop at SEVEN, the new bar in part of the former Spin Nightclub in Boystown. Mya and adult superstar Topher DiMaggio will appear at SEVEN, located at 3206 N. Halsted St., at the corner of Belmont Avenue and Halsted Street. SEVEN will hold a VIP event on Friday night, July 31, hosted by DiMaggio. Then Grammy Award-winning singer Mya will appear, and perform, on Saturday, August 1.

"I'm excited," to come to Chicago, Mya said in an exclusive interview with ChicagoPride.com. "I know there's beautiful weather there in the summer, and you get all four seasons (throughout the year), and quite extreme (weather conditions).

"I'm excited about the vibe (at SEVEN), the décor, the energy and the people. And since it's (predominantly) an LGBT crowd, that's always a great crowd for me. I'm looking forward to performing some new material, and also playing some of the classics as well."

Plus she has an uncle who lives in Chicago, and plans to spend time with him, too.

SEVEN's Sean Kotwa said, "We're very excited about our grand opening and this weekend's lineup is just a small taste of what's to come.  We can't wait to restore one of Boystown's staples back to our community."

Mya – a singer, record producer, actress and of course star years back on Dancing With The Stars – was last in Chicago in June 2014, in conjunction with Pride events.

"I've experienced a lot of things in Chicago," said Mya, who has even gone in a studio to work with Chicago-native R. Kelly.  "I really want to take a day off and explore more (in Chicago).

Mya admitted that, despite her temporary new-looks to avoid being spotted in public, she often is still recognized – or just told that she looks like that singer Mya, to which she replies, "Personally, I think I look better than her."

Mya, in 2002, won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for "Lady Marmalade," for the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack. Her acting roles date back to her appearance in the 1999 film In Too Deep, and 10 years later, in 2009, she waltzed and more on season nine of Dancing With The Stars, along with Dmitry Chaplin.

"I'm always feeling like I'm just beginning (my career).  It's a very inconsistent, exciting, chaotic, functional and dysfunctional journey – and you never know in this profession who you're going to meet, what you're going to do next, what you're inspired by, and more," Mya said.  "It's been amazing, and I'm very, very fortunate and thankful."

Mya has for years performed at Pride events across the U.S. – and has memories from each. She told of special fan interactions in New York; she celebrated the Supreme Court's 2015 same-sex marriage ruling hours later at Nashville Pride; and she shared about the time at L.A. Pride when the electricity went out while she was ending her performance. Still, she finished the song and the crowd response was amazing, she said. "That was a moment I'll never forget," she added.

After all, she was performing Love Is The Answer at the time – and that's a song she specifically recorded with Cedric Gervais for the LGBT community.

"I have a lot of associates, employees, friends, choreographers, just people around me who are beautiful, intelligent, bright, fun, charismatic, giving, loving people who have different sexual orientations, preferences ...and I understand some of the obstacles that they go through," Mya said. "But to me, they're people, and I support them just as much as they support me. I know that everyone is in need of the same thing in this world, and this is, love, acceptance and connection."

Mya works with groups that support teen runaways and more. She also has stood behind the No H8 campaign.

"The (gay community) has long allowed me to feel free, be myself without judgement. In the gay community, I can truly be me. And, to be honest, I have the most fun within the LGBT community, environment and venues," she said.

Mya is well aware of the progress made, particularly in recent years, for the LGBT community – and also the issues, such as the spike in trans-related deaths.

"Progress doesn't happen from nowhere; this has been decades and decades of pain, fight, struggle, teasing, bullying, murder, suicides, or people hiding," she said. "At the end of the day, it's about humanity and love – regardless of skin color, height, weight, age, size, sex, race, etc."

The invite-only VIP event on Friday, July 31 runs from 8 – 10 p.m. Those interested in attending the VIP reception may register at www.whatisseven.com. SEVEN will then open to the public at 10 p.m. Tickets for Mya's performance on Saturday, August 1 are $20 and available at www.whatisseven.com. ChicagoPride.com members receive a $5 discount by using the code CHICAGOPRIDE. 

Boy Scouts ends ban on gay adults
Jul. 29, 2015 - , The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) on Monday ended its ban on openly gay adult leaders, employees and volunteers.

More than 79 percent of the National Executive Board members present and voting backed the change, which takes effect immediately.

The change in policy would still allow troops run by churches to "choose adult leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own," according to an internal memo.

"There are differences of opinion, and we need to be respectful of them," Michael Harrison, a leader from California, told The New York Times. "It doesn't mean the Mormons have to pick a gay scoutmaster, but please don't tell the Unitarians they can't."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) criticized the move, saying in a statement that it was "deeply troubled" and that its "century-long association with Scouting will need to be examined."

Zach Wahls, executive director of Scouts for Equality, praised the move.

"This vote marks the beginning of a new chapter for the Boy Scouts of America. Tens of thousands of people came together because they wanted to build a better future for the Boy Scouts of America, and that future starts now. ...As of this vote, the Boy Scouts of America is an organization that is looking forward, not back."

Jake Shears on his 11-year relationship with Chris Moukarbel: Keep the switch on
Jul. 21, 2015 - , In an interview with gay glossy The Advocate, Jake Shears discussed his 11-year relationship with director Chris Moukarbel.

The 36-year-old Shears is best known as the lead male singer for the group Scissor Sisters.

He currently stars as Greta in a new production of Martin Sherman's landmark 1979 play Bent, which is playing at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.

Shear said that the play, which tells the story of two gay men who fall in love in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany, is "about all those who came before us."

"And all this that we have now is because we're really standing on the shoulders of others who suffered a lot and who are not alive to see what's happened," he said.

"It's important to remember that there were many here before us and that it's been a long haul and it still is – it's still a long haul for a lot of other people around the world who don't really have as much freedom as we do."

On the longevity of his 11-year relationship with director Chris Moukarbel (Sex On), Shears said that the secret was "keeping the switch on."

"It's just like – we just get on great," he explained. "We're both creative in our own ways, and we're just really lucky to have found each other. We have an amazing rhythm to our relationship, you know? It works, and we're in it for the long haul."

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