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Young

Trailblazers

Under-30 activists tackle status quo

Frank Talk Barney on facing election results

Better Together Businesses find strength in diversity

Edge of ’17

New year, new directions

Kathy Griffin KEYNOTE SPEAKER


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KEYNOTE SPEAKER

Kathy Griffin

Wed. April 26 Boston Marriott Copley Place $15 admission fee 6–9:00 p.m. RSVP to attend at BostonSpiritMagazine.com Join us for Boston Spirit magazine's 11th annual LGBT Executive Networking Night. The event is the largest networking event for LGBT professionals in all of New England with more than 1,000 attendees and 40+ exhibitors. We will also have some incredible sessions on personal and professional development. This year's sessions include Best Practices for Corporate Diversity & Inclusion and LGBT Employee Resource Groups and Socially Responsible Investing: An introduction into LGBT friendly investmenting

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Boston Spirit Magazine supporters

From The Publisher Happy New Year. If you are like me you like to try and enter into a new year with a sense of hope and optimism. A hope that the New Year will be happy, healthy, prosperous and safe. This year, for many of us, that task will be a bit more difficult. Recently our country elected a president who has installed one of the most anti-LGBT cabinets in recent history, including a staunchly anti-LGBT vice president. Rest assured this sentiment will not win. We will not let it win. For years I have watched our community fight for what is right and I have felt the energy building for the upcoming battle. I have heard Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey warn the incoming administration that she will fight any attempts to roll back our hard-earned rights. I have seen organizations like HRC and GLAD mobilize to stand up for our brothers and sisters and it makes me proud to be on the right side of history. In this issue of Boston Spirit we have an exclusive article written by former Congressman Barney Frank detailing his thoughts on the incoming administration … it is a must read. Informative, entertaining and very well written, Congressman Frank’s piece reminds us that it is imperative to be active and

2 | BOSTON SPIRIT

involved; we cannot sit on the sidelines to “wait and see” what happens. Also in this issue, and appropriately timed, we highlight the next generation of LGBT leaders in New England. All under 30 years old, this impressive group gives us another reason to feel good about the future. Kudos to all of them for doing such great work in such a short amount of time. I can only imagine what the next decade will bring for these great leaders. Need more good news??? How about the chance to see the hilarious Kathy Griffin up close and personal? We are so excited that Kathy will be joining Boston Spirit as our featured speaker at this year’s LGBT Executive Networking Night on April 26. This promises to be the event of the year and we can’t wait to see everyone there. Until then, welcome to 2017 and enjoy the issue! David

David Zimmerman Publisher

Barking Crab Boston IVF Boston Symphony Orchestra Broadway in Boston Circle Furniture Club Café Concord Museum Destination Salem DJ Mocha Dover Rug Eastern Bank Equinox Resort Fenway Health Fertility Solutions Foxwoods Resort Casino Gilead PrEP Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Kathy Griffin Tour Landry & Arcari Lombardo’s Lucia Lighting Marriott Copley Place Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Ocean Spray Partners Healthcare Peabody Essex Musem Point Foundation Rockland Trust Seashore Point Seasons Four South End Wealth Management Taste of the South End TD Bank Seashore Point Seasons Four Ski Haus TD Bank

COVER 36 69 48 37 31 57 61 93 COVER 3 11 30 71 29 12 39 7 9 74 65 75 52 67 18 COVER 43 46 19 73 20 5 17 13 61 57 55


Fairness & Equality.

In banking and in life.

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Contribute your opinion: editor@bostonspiritmagazine.com

As We Go To Press

The world can change overnight in completely unanticipated ways. Whether you’re part of the 20 percent of LGBT voters who declared for Trump or the 72 percent who went for Hillary, all agree that we are in the midst of a dramatic breakdown of the old world order that includes the rise of an era marked by nationalist tendencies, populism, Brexit and Putin-ism. Whether you consider this constructive—as gay Trump supporter Peter Thiel does when he lauds Trump for being able to “remake” America—or you consider it “entirely dismal”—as Barney Frank writes in his essay in this issue—we are poised for radical restructuring. You may even put it as strongly as Hillary did during the campaign: “I’m the last thing standing between you and the apocalypse.” The word “apocalypse” comes from the Greek, meaning “to uncover” or “reveal.” Think of catastrophic conflagration that reveals the forest foundation time and again. After great fires, new things grow. And while it appears that we are in the early stages of this inferno, we can look to the ground to get a sense of what might be revealed and what might blossom at the end of this all. This issue of Boston Spirit uncovers tomorrow’s leaders: LGBTs under 30, who are already revealing their vision and power. Just as this past year’s activities have defied convention, and have surprised and astounded the world, so too these young

4 | BOSTON SPIRIT

people defy convention, and surprise and astound...and they also inspire. When we put out the call for young leaders, we were pleasantly surprised with how many of them truly defy categorization. Four of the twelve identify as transgender. One, as a self-identified “genderqueer,” eschews all sex and gender categories. Two are young Republicans in Massachusetts! One aspires to be the country’s first gay president. While the country may be writhing from divisive contours, our local LGBT young people demonstrate a far more fluid approach to the world. In fifteen or twenty years—long after a Trump presidency—these will be our leaders. The apocalyptic writings of the first century reveal that great changes often take place “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” Look at the twinkling of the eyes of these twelve. See what they reveal. I see hope. I hope you do too.

James Lopata Editor

Correction

A caption in the November/ December 2016 Senior Spirit column misidentified Sam Goldfarb and Stephen (Ruby) Katz as Sam Hansen and Mike Turner. The article also misidentified Sam Johnson as Sam Hansen.


FROM BOSTON’S HOTTEST CULINARY DESTINATION

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Realistic Resolutions

Contents

Seasonal

Spotlight

Culture

Progressive Pioneers

With one foot planted firmly in the future, each of these LGBT trailblazers is exploring a universal path forward

JAN|FEB 2017 | VOLUME 13 | ISSUE 1

Hit List Realistic Resolutions  Great Danes From P’town with Love Senior Spirit Newsmakers | Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Vermont From the Blogs

Former U.S. Congressman Barney Frank on keeping hard-fought LGBT gains from completely unraveling after 2016 election

United, They Stand ...

Business coalition proves supporting transgender anti‑discrimination protections is very good business

Edge of ‘17

What’s blowin’ in the winds of change this new year?

40

Progressive Pioneers

40

60

Quest for Truth

62

Homegrown Hero

64

Peeling the Label

66

In Their Own Words

68

‘Comedy Curdling into Tragedy’

70

32

Raising his Voice

72

34

Isolation and the American Family

74

21 26

28

Terence Davies and Cynthia Nixon ignite “A Quiet Passion” about Emily Dickinson Two new documentaries with LGBT subtexts are essential viewing Documentary details Ann Maguire’s lifetime of LGBT activism “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” is queer theater, says director Scott Edmiston Gay writer Paul Lucas’ “Trans Scripts” honors the “T” in LGBT Rob Askins on his Tony-nominated “Hand to God,” heading to SpeakEasy Stage

Craig Hella Johnson’s “Considering Matthew Shepard” heads to Boston’s Symphony Hall

Northhampton, P’town writer reaches across cultural divides within American family with new collection of stories

60

Poetic cinema

Frank Talk

Scene

Poetic Cinema

8 10 15 16 18

Feature Frank Talk

28

Senior Spirit

Toys for Joys 76 LGBTQ Center Grand Opening 77 National Arts and Humanities 78 Dining Out for Life  78 Big Freedia at Berklee  79 Spirit of Justice Award Dinner 80 Celebration of Life Dinner 81 Pie in the Sky Kick-Off Party 82 Bride Pride 83 OUTMetroWest84 FLAG Flag Football Casino Night  85 2017 Men’s Event Kickoff Party 86 Retirement Planning for the LGBT Community  87 Fashion Meets Furniture  88 New England Gala Dinner 89

Calendar New England Events

90

Coda Life is a Cabaret, Old Chum Saucy “Queer as Folk” star Randy Harrison inhabits infamous gender-bending emcee

96

Coda

96


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SPOTLIGHT Trending STORY Scott Kearnan

Hit List NEWS, NOTES AND TO-DOS FOR EVERY GAY AGENDA

Lee Skunes

GIVE A BIG HUGto Lee Skunes. On November 9, the day after the presidential election, Skunes gave downtrodden Bostonians a pick-me-up by standing in Copley Square holding a “FREE HUGS” sign. “Too much fighting will get us nowhere,” said Skunes, a gay yoga instructor who hoped the unconditional show of kindness would prove inspiring. “That is what will cause a shift on this planet.” Skunes, whose story found itself on the evening news, says about 100 people took him up on his “free hugs” offer.

OFFER A HEARTY CONGRATSto Julian Cyr. The 30-year-old gay Democrat, whose resume includes years working as a legislative liaison for the Massachusetts Department of Health, was elected to represent the Cape & Islands in the State Senate in November. Cyr’s election followed a spirited campaign that pitted him against Republican Anthony Schiavi. Cyr, a Truro native and the former chair of the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth, also scored endorsements by heavy hitters like Senator Elizabeth Warren. Julian Cyr

SHOW YOUR PRIDEin True

Colors: Out Youth Theater, the nation’s longest-running queer youth theater group. True

SLIP INTO SOME NEW SHOES

True Colors Out Theater

from gay-owned company King & Stone. The new online biz functions as a subscription service for men’s footwear: For $25 per month, members get access to a seasonal selection of shoe choices curated to match their online style profile. The idea is to help members build their shoe collection even if they’re too time-strapped—or too daunted by overwhelming shoe-store selections—to keep up with fresh footwear on their own. Check out the concept at kingandstone.com.

Colors, a program of Boston’s queer arts group The Theater Offensive, recently became the very first LGBT organization to receive National Arts and SIGN UP FOR A SEATat Fool’s Humanities Youth Program Errand, the pint-sized, Award. First Lady Michelle innovative new restaurant Obama presented the award from out star chef Tiffani to the group at the White Faison. Faison, a three-time House in November. Later alum of the “Top Chef” TV that month the Theater Offensive’s annual Beyond the Stage fundraiser garnered over $100,000 for True Colors. The pioneering youth group, founded in 1994, was the subject of a 2015 documentary film, “The Year We Thought About Love” that continues to make rounds on the festival Tiffani circuit. Faison

PUBLISHER David Zimmerman EDITOR IN CHIEF James Lopata MANAGING EDITOR Robert Phelps [rob@bostonspiritmagazine.com] ART DIRECTOR Dean Burchell CONTRIBUTING LIFESTYLE EDITOR Scott Kearnan [lifestyle@bostonspiritmagazine.com] CONTRIBUTING ARTS EDITOR Loren King CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Alyssa Gillin, Natalie Nonken, Kim Harris Stowell CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Joel Benjamin COVER PHOTO Francis Hills ON THE WEB [bostonspiritmagazine.com] TALK TO US [feedback@bostonspiritmagazine.com] EDITORIAL CONTACT [editor@bostonspiritmagazine.com] PUBLISHING AND SALES CONTACT [publisher@bostonspiritmagazine.com or 781-223-8538] THE FINE PRINT Boston Spirit magazine.

JAN|FEB 2017 | VOLUME 13 | ISSUE 1

A Division of Jake Publishing, LLC Published by Jake Publishing, LLC. Copyright 2004 by Jake Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this periodical may be reproduced without the written permission of Boston Spirit magazine. Neither the publishers nor the advertisers will be held responsible for any errors found in the magazine. The publishers accept no liability for the accuracy of statements made by advertisers. Publication of the name or photograph of any person, organization or business in this magazine does not reflect upon one’s sexual orientation in any way. Boston Spirit Magazine, 398 Columbus Ave. #395, Boston, MA 02116

8 | BOSTON SPIRIT


Betty Who

show franchise, is expected to open Fool’s Errand in January in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood, on the same Boylston Street block as her barbecue restaurant Sweet Cheeks Q and Southeast Asian eatery Tiger Mama. This intimate newcomer will offer just 12 seats, available through an advance ticketing system, for highly personalized meals; after dinner service, the space transforms into a cocktail bar scene.

PICK UP A COPYof “Superficial: More Adventures from the Andy Cohen Diaries,” the latest juicy tome from the Bravo network’s “Real Housewives” producer and “Watch What Happens: Live” host. Cohen, who graduated from Boston

GET SOME “HUMAN TOUCH”

from Betty Who. The Australian native, a former student at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, has emerged as a darling synth-pop diva over the last few years, buoyed by #1 club hits that garnered heavy rotation in gay clubs, including “All of You,” “Somebody Loves You” and a cover of 1996’s jaunty “I Love You Always Forever.” Who’s latest single, “Human Touch,” is a pulsing dance track that precedes her upcoming sophomore album, due for release this year.

University, recently returned to the Hub for a release party and Q&A at high-end steakhouse The Palm. The Palm group of restaurants is co-owned by Cohen’s close friend Bruce Bozzi Jr., and the walls of the Boston location even feature an artist’s caricature of Cohen and Bozzi riding a ferry to Provincetown. [x]

RUGS AND CARPETING Boston

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Salem

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Framingham

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SPOTLIGHT Well-being STORY Scott Kearnan

Realistic Resolutions LGBT LIFE COACHES SHARE SECRET TO NEW YEAR’S VOWS WE CAN ALL KEEP Resolutions. We make them every year, even if we know our commitment will fade by the time the New Year’s Eve confetti settles. This year can be different, though. We’ve tapped LGBT experts to offer five tips on how to fulfill the most common resolutions: Getting in shape, saving money and lessening stress. Takes notes, then test your resolve.

Set and communicate clear boundaries, priorities and expectations. “Create clear agreements with your employer, colleagues, family, clients and others that relate to expectations around things like weekend meetings, email response time, work travel and more. Be clear about what you are willing to say ‘yes’ to and what you are willing to say ‘no’ to.”

Take imperfect action. “Don’t wait for the stars to be perfectly aligned before you take action to live a balanced life,” said the couple. Every baby step counts and gets you started. “It’s okay to start small and course correct along the way.”

Unplug. Achieving balance can be difficult in a fast-paced, overwhelming world. “Take the time to unplug from the constant stream of texts, emails and social media,” said the couple. “ Do something to nurture your soul. Get out in nature. Listen to music. Journal, meditate or paint. Find what works for you.”

Paul Sherman and David Garten

LESSEN STRESS Personal and professional coaches Paul Sherman and David Garten, a married couple living in Provincetown, recently released their thoughtful selfhelp book “Ask What Matters?!: A Practical Approach To Your Total Well-Being.” The tome is filled with actionable tips on how to stay centered amid the hectic pace of modern life. The couple shared six methods

for snuffing out stress in 2017. (More: askwhatmatters.com)

Stop and ask, “What matters?” “Make time every day, even if it’s just five minutes, to ask yourself three questions: What matters to me? To what extent are my choices reflecting what I say matters to me? What actions will I take to live in accordance with what matters to me?”

10 | BOSTON SPIRIT

Silviya Mihyalova

Put your own wellbeing first. No, it’s not selfish. “We all have responsibilities beyond ourselves, whether it’s a partner, children, or aging parents,” said the couple. “We can’t sustainably be there for them unless we take care of ourselves—body, mind and spirit. As the flight attendants tell us, ‘put on your own oxygen mask first.’”

GET IN BETTER SHAPE Lesbian trainer and fitness guru Silviya Mihyalova runs Swet Studio, an LGBTQ-focused fitness center in Boston’s South End. She offered a few easy-toremember resolutions to keep your health-related resolutions on track:

Commit to 28 days. If a year’s worth of lifestyle changes seems daunting, start with a smaller focus. “Make a conscious commitment that you are going to put yourself and your health as the number one priority for next 28 days,” said Mihyalova.


Use your hand. Portion control is key, and the easiest way is to measure using scoops of your hand. Download a printout of hand-based portion control to follow.

Let small changes add up. Make a conscious effort to make small choices with big impacts. Drink water instead of sugarloaded sodas, walk more by parking further away from the store entrance, or flavor salads with lemon instead of calorierich dressings.

Ignore the scale. Being a slave to the scale is a useless exercise, pun intended. Committing to your health will help you sleep better, feel better and look better—and that can’t be measured with a scale, anyway.

Have support. “Surround yourself with the right crowd,” said Mihyalova. “Put your bar friends on hold, and try to engage with friends

who are living a healthy lifestyle.”

options on membership sites like AAA, and review your credit card to see if it provides travel insurance if you use the card to book a trip.

SAVE MORE MONEY

Review your spending.

Catherine Burgess, an out financial advisor and vice president at Wells Fargo Advisors, offered some savvy savings tips to help readers fulfill their financial resolutions in the year ahead.

Pay yourself first.

Catherine Burgess Aim to save between 15 and 20% of your gross annual income, said Burgess. To stick to mail-order pharmacies, find out if you’re eligible for corporate that, set up automatic deposits from each paycheck to a savings discounts at gyms or health clubs and investigate flexible or investment account. “Start spending accounts and health with as a little as $25–$50 per month and raise it when you get savings accounts, which let you apply pre-tax dollars to pay for a raise.” certain health-related items.

Review your healthcare options.

And cut costs where you can. Consider the bulk savings of

Plan vacations in advance. The earlier you plan, the better your budgeting options. Explore

Itemize where everything goes by using a free spend-tracking or budget app on your phone. Then call providers, from cable to cell phone, and ask for discounts. You’d be surprised what initiative can earn.

Leverage the experts. Have conversations now to plan for later. “Working with a group of professionals who can direct you to maximize savings, minimize taxes and protect you and your loved ones through responsible insurance strategies will pay itself in the long run.” [x]

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What is TRUVADA for PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis)?

uYou may be more likely to get lactic acidosis or serious liver problems

TRUVADA is a prescription medicine that can be used for PrEP to help reduce the risk of getting HIV-1 infection when used together with safer sex practices. This use is only for adults who are at high risk of getting HIV-1 through sex. This includes HIV-negative men who have sex with men and who are at high risk of getting infected with HIV-1 through sex, and malefemale sex partners when one partner has HIV-1 infection and the other does not. Ask your healthcare provider if you have questions about how to prevent getting HIV-1. Always practice safer sex and use condoms to lower the chance of sexual contact with body fluids. Never reuse or share needles or other items that have body fluids on them.

Who should not take TRUVADA for PrEP?

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION What is the most important information I should know about TRUVADA for PrEP?

Before taking TRUVADA for PrEP to reduce your risk of getting HIV-1 infection: uYou must be HIV-negative. You must get tested to make sure that you do not already have HIV-1 infection. Do not take TRUVADA for PrEP to reduce the risk of getting HIV-1 unless you are confirmed to be HIV-negative. uMany HIV-1 tests can miss HIV-1 infection in a person who has recently become infected. If you have flu-like symptoms, you could have recently become infected with HIV-1. Tell your healthcare provider if you had a flu-like illness within the last month before starting TRUVADA for PrEP or at any time while taking TRUVADA for PrEP. Symptoms of new HIV-1 infection include tiredness, fever, joint or muscle aches, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, night sweats, and/or enlarged lymph nodes in the neck or groin. While taking TRUVADA for PrEP to reduce your risk of getting HIV-1 infection: uYou must continue using safer sex practices. Just taking TRUVADA for PrEP may not keep you from getting HIV-1. uYou must stay HIV-negative to keep taking TRUVADA for PrEP. uTo further help reduce your risk of getting HIV-1: • Know your HIV-1 status and the HIV-1 status of your partners. • Get tested for HIV-1 at least every 3 months or when your healthcare provider tells you. • Get tested for other sexually transmitted infections. Other infections make it easier for HIV-1 to infect you. • Get information and support to help reduce risky sexual behavior. • Have fewer sex partners. • Do not miss any doses of TRUVADA. Missing doses may increase your risk of getting HIV-1 infection. • If you think you were exposed to HIV-1, tell your healthcare provider right away. uIf you do become HIV-1 positive, you need more medicine than TRUVADA alone to treat HIV-1. TRUVADA by itself is not a complete treatment for HIV-1. If you have HIV-1 and take only TRUVADA, your HIV-1 may become harder to treat over time. TRUVADA can cause serious side effects: uToo much lactic acid in your blood (lactic acidosis), which is a serious medical emergency. Symptoms of lactic acidosis include weakness or being more tired than usual, unusual muscle pain, being short of breath or fast breathing, nausea, vomiting, stomach-area pain, cold or blue hands and feet, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, and/or fast or abnormal heartbeats. uSerious liver problems. Your liver may become large and tender, and you may develop fat in your liver. Symptoms of liver problems include your skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow, dark “tea-colored” urine, lightcolored stools, loss of appetite for several days or longer, nausea, and/or stomach-area pain.

if you are female, very overweight (obese), or have been taking TRUVADA for a long time. In some cases, these serious conditions have led to death. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any symptoms of these conditions. uWorsening of hepatitis B (HBV) infection. If you also have HBV and take TRUVADA, your hepatitis may become worse if you stop taking TRUVADA. Do not stop taking TRUVADA without first talking to your healthcare provider. If your healthcare provider tells you to stop taking TRUVADA, they will need to watch you closely for several months to monitor your health. TRUVADA is not approved for the treatment of HBV. Do not take TRUVADA for PrEP if you already have HIV-1 infection or if you do not know your HIV-1 status. If you are HIV-1 positive, you need to take other medicines with TRUVADA to treat HIV-1. TRUVADA by itself is not a complete treatment for HIV-1. If you have HIV-1 and take only TRUVADA, your HIV-1 may become harder to treat over time. Do not take TRUVADA for PrEP if you also take lamivudine (Epivir-HBV) or adefovir (HEPSERA).

What are the other possible side effects of TRUVADA for PrEP?

Serious side effects of TRUVADA may also include: uKidney problems, including kidney failure. Your healthcare provider may do blood tests to check your kidneys before and during treatment with TRUVADA for PrEP. If you develop kidney problems, your healthcare provider may tell you to stop taking TRUVADA for PrEP. uBone problems, including bone pain or bones getting soft or thin, may lead to fractures. Your healthcare provider may do tests to check your bones. uChanges in body fat, which can happen in people taking TRUVADA or medicines like TRUVADA. Common side effects in people taking TRUVADA for PrEP are stomacharea (abdomen) pain, headache, and decreased weight. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effects that bother you or do not go away.

What should I tell my healthcare provider before taking TRUVADA for PrEP?

uAll your health problems. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you

have or have had any kidney, bone, or liver problems, including hepatitis virus infection. uIf you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if TRUVADA can harm your unborn baby. If you become pregnant while taking TRUVADA for PrEP, talk to your healthcare provider to decide if you should keep taking TRUVADA for PrEP. Pregnancy Registry: A pregnancy registry collects information about your health and the health of your baby. There is a pregnancy registry for women who take medicines to prevent HIV-1 during pregnancy. For more information about the registry and how it works, talk to your healthcare provider. uIf you are breastfeeding (nursing) or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed. The medicines in TRUVADA can pass to your baby in breast milk. If you become HIV-1 positive, HIV-1 can be passed to the baby in breast milk. uAll the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. TRUVADA may interact with other medicines. Keep a list of all your medicines and show it to your healthcare provider and pharmacist when you get a new medicine. uIf you take certain other medicines with TRUVADA for PrEP, your healthcare provider may need to check you more often or change your dose. These medicines include ledipasvir with sofosbuvir (HARVONI). You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.FDA.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Please see Important Facts about TRUVADA for PrEP including important warnings on the following page.


Have you heard about

TRUVADA for PrEP ? TM

The once-daily prescription medicine that can help reduce the risk of getting HIV-1 when used with safer sex practices. • TRUVADA for PrEP is only for adults who are at high risk of getting HIV through sex. • You must be HIV-negative before you start taking TRUVADA. Ask your doctor about your risk of getting HIV-1 infection and if TRUVADA for PrEP may be right for you.

visit start.truvada.com


IMPORTANT FACTS (tru-VAH-dah)

This is only a brief summary of important information about taking TRUVADA for PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to help reduce the risk of getting HIV-1 infection. This does not replace talking to your healthcare provider about your medicine.

MOST IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT TRUVADA FOR PrEP

POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS OF TRUVADA FOR PrEP

Before starting TRUVADA for PrEP to help reduce your risk of getting HIV-1 infection: • You must be HIV-1 negative. You must get tested to make sure that you do not already have HIV-1 infection. Do not take TRUVADA for PrEP to reduce the risk of getting HIV-1 unless you are confirmed to be HIV-1 negative. • Many HIV-1 tests can miss HIV-1 infection in a person who has recently become infected. Symptoms of new HIV-1 infection include flu-like symptoms, tiredness, fever, joint or muscle aches, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, night sweats, and/or enlarged lymph nodes in the neck or groin. Tell your healthcare provider if you have had a flu-like illness within the last month before starting TRUVADA for PrEP.

TRUVADA can cause serious side effects, including: • Those in the “Most Important Information About TRUVADA for PrEP" section. • New or worse kidney problems, including kidney failure. • Bone problems. • Changes in body fat.

While taking TRUVADA for PrEP to help reduce your risk of getting HIV-1 infection: • You must continue using safer sex practices. Just taking TRUVADA for PrEP may not keep you from getting HIV-1. • You must stay HIV-1 negative to keep taking TRUVADA for PrEP. • Tell your healthcare provider if you have a flu-like illness while taking TRUVADA for PrEP. • If you think you were exposed to HIV-1, tell your healthcare provider right away. • If you do become HIV-1 positive, you need more medicine than TRUVADA alone to treat HIV-1. If you have HIV-1 and take only TRUVADA, your HIV-1 may become harder to treat over time. • See the “How to Further Reduce Your Risk” section for more information. TRUVADA may cause serious side effects, including: • Buildup of lactic acid in your blood (lactic acidosis), which is a serious medical emergency that can lead to death. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these symptoms: weakness or being more tired than usual, unusual muscle pain, being short of breath or fast breathing, nausea, vomiting, stomach-area pain, cold or blue hands and feet, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, and/or fast or abnormal heartbeats. • Severe liver problems, which in some cases can lead to death. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these symptoms: your skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow, dark “tea-colored” urine, light-colored stools, loss of appetite for several days or longer, nausea, and/or stomach-area pain. • Worsening of hepatitis B (HBV) infection. If you have HBV and take TRUVADA, your hepatitis may become worse if you stop taking TRUVADA. Do not stop taking TRUVADA without first talking to your healthcare provider, as they will need to check your health regularly for several months. You may be more likely to get lactic acidosis or severe liver problems if you are female, very overweight, or have been taking TRUVADA for a long time.

ABOUT TRUVADA FOR PrEP (PRE-EXPOSURE PROPHYLAXIS) TRUVADA is a prescription medicine used with safer sex practices for PrEP to help reduce the risk of getting HIV-1 infection in adults at high risk: • HIV-1 negative men who have sex with men and who are at high risk of getting infected with HIV-1 through sex. • Male-female sex partners when one partner has HIV-1 infection and the other does not. To help determine your risk, talk openly with your doctor about your sexual health. Do NOT take TRUVADA for PrEP if you: • Already have HIV-1 infection or if you do not know your HIV-1 status. • Take lamivudine (Epivir-HBV) or adefovir (HEPSERA).

TRUVADA, the TRUVADA Logo, TRUVADA FOR PREP, GILEAD, the GILEAD Logo, and HEPSERA are trademarks of Gilead Sciences, Inc., or its related companies. All other marks referenced herein are the property of their respective owners. Version date: April 2016 © 2016 Gilead Sciences, Inc. All rights reserved. TVDC0050 09/16

Common side effects in people taking TRUVADA for PrEP include stomach-area (abdomen) pain, headache, and decreased weight. These are not all the possible side effects of TRUVADA. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any new symptoms while taking TRUVADA for PrEP. Your healthcare provider will need to do tests to monitor your health before and during treatment with TRUVADA for PrEP.

BEFORE TAKING TRUVADA FOR PrEP Tell your healthcare provider if you: • Have or have had any kidney, bone, or liver problems, including hepatitis infection. • Have any other medical conditions. • Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. • Are breastfeeding (nursing) or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you become HIV-1 positive because of the risk of passing HIV-1 to your baby. Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take: • Keep a list that includes all prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements, and show it to your healthcare provider and pharmacist. • Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist about medicines that should not be taken with TRUVADA for PrEP.

HOW TO TAKE TRUVADA FOR PrEP • Take 1 tablet once a day, every day, not just when you think you have been exposed to HIV-1. • Do not miss any doses. Missing doses may increase your risk of getting HIV-1 infection. • You must practice safer sex by using condoms and you must stay HIV-1 negative.

HOW TO FURTHER REDUCE YOUR RISK • Know your HIV-1 status and the HIV-1 status of your partners. • Get tested for HIV-1 at least every 3 months or when your healthcare provider tells you. • Get tested for other sexually transmitted infections. Other infections make it easier for HIV-1 to infect you. • Get information and support to help reduce risky sexual behavior. • Have fewer sex partners. • Do not share needles or personal items that can have blood or body fluids on them.

GET MORE INFORMATION • This is only a brief summary of important information about TRUVADA for PrEP to reduce the risk of getting HIV-1 infection. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to learn more, including how to prevent HIV-1 infection. • Go to start.truvada.com or call 1-800-GILEAD-5 • If you need help paying for your medicine, visit start.truvada.com for program information.


Streets of Copenhagen The Nyhavn canal

[AT LEFT] [BELOW]

SPOTLIGHT Travel STORY Scott Kearnan

Great Danes VACATION TRAVELOGUE: COPENHAGEN WELCOMES LGBT VISITORS WITH OPEN ARMS Copenhagen, capital of Denmark, is generally regarded as one of the most LGBTfriendly cities in Europe—and the world, for that matter. The sparkling, stylish Scandinavian city is proudly progressive: Denmark was the first country in the world to grant legal recognition to same-sex unions, instituting “registered partnerships” back in 1989. In 2014, a public square right next to Copenhagen City Hall was even named “Rainbow Square” in honor of the LGBT community. There’s also a curious connection between Copenhagen and Boston’s LGBT communities: President Obama’s U.S. ambassador to Denmark is Rufus Gifford, a gay Massachusetts native. Gifford has been a popular public figure in Denmark, and he and his husband Stephen even starred in a hit two-season Danish reality series, “I Am the Ambassador,” now available on Netflix. Their Copenhagen wedding was actually featured in an episode of the show. In other words, LGBT travelers should expect to feel welcomed to Copenhagen with wide, open arms. And it’s now a lot easier to get there from New England. Scandinavian Airlines recently launched daily direct flights between Boston and Copenhagen, putting potential visitors a six-and-a-half-hour ride away. But what to do when you arrive? Check in to Hotel d’Angleterre, an elegant five-star property built in 1755. The grand

hotel, frequently cited among the world’s best, exudes class but not stuffiness. Outside, it looks like a Danish prince’s palace. Inside, you’ll find Michelin-starred dining at Marchal, named for the property’s founders, where strapping young chef Andreas Bagh offers creative contemporary cuisine like lobster with Jerusalem artichoke, green hazelnuts and pickled currants. The hotel also houses the chic hotspot Balthazar— billed as Denmark’s first champagne bar, it boasts over 160 varieties of bubbly—and a topnotch spa where guests indulge in treatments like the Nordic Space, a body wrap with an Icelandic lava stone massage. Hotel d’Angleterre is located in the city center, making it a convenient home base whether you’re coming for summer’s Copenhagen Pride Week (August 15–20), full of parades and parties, or during the festive winter holidays. Christmas is widely celebrated in Copenhagen, and the city explodes with decorations and “Christmas markets,” pop-up fairs in city squares where vendors sell gifts, grub and steaming mugs of glogg, a spiced mulled wine. Tivoli Gardens, the world’s second-oldest amusement park (behind Bakken, located just north of Copenhagen), which baits visitors with Ferris wheels and rollercoasters in warm weather, transforms into a Disney-like winter wonderland hosting a Christmas village and live entertainment like “The Nutcracker.”

At the doorstep of d’Angleterre is Nyhavn, a 17th-century canal that finds its way onto every Copenhagen postcard. Stroll along this picturesque waterfront to discover high-end boutiques, bars like the buzzing Brønnum, an excellent new cocktail joint, and restaurants like Geist, offering artsy New Nordic cooking. You’re also close to Noma, the haute cuisine icon that is frequently ranked the best restaurant in the world; make reservations here many weeks in advance, and consider a “shared table” to increase your chances of scoring a seat. For something a bit more hip (and affordable) stroll through Copenhagen Street Food, a huge, waterfront indoor market filled with cool food trucks and stalls selling everything from trendy takes on Korean BBQ to creative tacos, gourmet hot dogs and topping-loaded British pancakes. Wear comfortable shoes when you walk Strøget, one of the longest pedestrian-only streets in Europe, a 1.1-km thoroughfare of shops that range from luxury retailers like Royal Copenhagen, a maker of fine porcelain that has become a Danish cultural touchstone, to more affordable shops. Pro tip: Bring home edible souvenirs from La Glace, Denmark’s oldest confectionary, consistently woman-owned for nearly 150 years. If you’re less inclined to foot power, Hotel d’Angleterre is parked right by a Copenhagen Metro stop, so it’s easy to flit around the city on the easy-to-navigate subway. Many of the more popular gay bars are clustered in the Latin Quarter, a neighborhood bordering downtown. There’s Cosy Bar, an energetic single-room dance club, Masken Bar, a popular boys-packed pub, Centralhjørnet, the city’s oldest gay bar and host to drag shows, Men’s Bar, which skews to the denim and leather crowd, and Jailhouse CPH, an upscale-veering prison-themed restaurant

JAN|FEB 2017 | 15


and bar where brawny bartenders are uniformed like guards. Copenhagen bar crowds tend to be mixed, given how LGBT-friendly the scene is, so expect to feel comfortable in most establishments—especially in neighborhoods like Vesterbo, a formerly working-class area of the city that is now a hipster haven filled with coffee shops, art galleries, locally owned boutiques, craft beer bars and, in its vibrant Meatpacking District, trendy nightclubs. Vesterbro is also where you’ll find Vela, the city’s only lesbian-dedicated

“Mrs. & Mrs.” plaque: If that empty wall in your summer cottage’s foyer is calling out for art, this proud plaque should fit the bill. It’s also a great housewarming gift for couples. (Womencrafts; $19.95)

SPOTLIGHT Holiday STORY Scott Kearnan

From P’town with Love GIVE YOUR SWEET A TREAT FROM THE BEACH THIS VALENTINE’S DAY Dining at Admiralgarde 26 bar. It seems like a fine place to toast to “Wonderful Copenhagen,” immortalized in the Danny Kaye song as “a friendly old girl of a town.” We’ll drink to that. Fork lifting: Need a few other restaurant recommendations? We love Michelinstarred Aamanns, a neighborhood café specializing in smørrebrøds, fancy and flavorful open-faced sandwiches; Admiralgarde 26, a hot new Nordic-Japanese restaurant with a modern-farmhouse vibe; and Kiin Kiin Bao Bao, a spectacular upscale-casual destination for pan-Asian small plates. Day tripping: If you have time to explore, hop the regional train to the seaside hamlet of Helsingør, a 40-minute ride north, where you can tour Kronberg Castle, a 16th-century stronghold immortalized as Elsinore in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. On the ride back, hop off in Humlebæk to visit the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, a sensational, world-renowned contemporary art museum with challenging installations, a concert hall and a sculpture garden. [x]

16 | BOSTON SPIRIT

Valentine’s Day is coming, and you don’t want to be caught without a gift for your most dear queer. If you’re short on shopping time and inspiration, fret not: We turned to Mike Miller and Ross Zachs, the loving husbands behind Ptownie. com, for their curated assortment of Valentine’s-apropos gifts available straight from independent boutiques in Provincetown. Miller and Zachs launched Ptownie. com as an online resource where recurring visitors and curious tourists alike could discover where to go and what to do in town. But the site has emerged as a particularly robust shopping portal that features partnerships with over 50 Provincetown retailers, allowing web surfers around the country to easily shop from their favorite gay-friendly getaway year-round. Miller also sits on Provincetown’s Economic Development Committee, underscoring his commitment to supporting local merchants. The couple shared with us their top picks for V-Day gift giving, all of them available at ptownie.com. Ready, set, shop—then smooch.

Thorn necklace: On Valentine’s Day, most couples give roses. Edgier twosomes, however, may opt for thorns. These cool necklaces, available in silver and gold, are chic accessories for lovebirds with wild sides. (Adam’s Nest; $78)

Lollipop cuff links: Does that Men’s Event tux need sprucing? Button your BF into these colorfully patterned, eyecatching cufflinks of hand-blown glass. They come from Urban Man Made, a shop owned by a gay married couple. (Urban Man Made; $65)

Ptownie coffee blends: Perfect when you’re brewing a pot for an insignificant other or a devoted spouse. These blends curated exclusively for Ptownie include “Butch Top” (“strong, fullbodied and dominant”) and “Twink” (a blend with “sparkling, easy flavor”). (PTownie; $19.95)


Provincetown wine glasses: This Valentine’s Day, uncork that celebratory bottle and pour the contents into these stemless (and thus, spill-reducing) 17-oz. glasses. They’ll bring back memories of your last romantic getaway to Land’s End. (Utilities; $24.99)

Shadow Box Series: Artist Laura Shabott created this series of charcoal figure drawings in Plexiglass construction exclusively for Ptownie. The evocative, vaguely romantic works include both male (“Male Stance”) and female (“Model Who Loves Pink”) forms. (Laura Shabott; $125) [x]

Valentine’s Day letter blocks: Spell out a suggestion to your significant other (“Kiss Me” always works) using cute letter blocks produced exclusively for Ptownie.com by Adam Peck Gallery, which opened in Provincetown’s West End in 2009. (Adam Peck Gallery; $65)

Provincetown scenic belts: These colorful D-ring belts, which feature gorgeous prints inspired by the Provincetown shoreline and other iconic scenery, make an adorable gift. Bonus points for irony if you met your Valentine at Dick Dock. (Coffey Men; $38)


SPOTLIGHT Seniors STORY Bob Linscott

Senior Spirit

A Survivor’s Story WITH PRAYERS AND LOVE, THE BLACK COMMUNITY FOUGHT THE EARLY DAYS OF AIDS VIRTUALLY ON ITS OWN In the early 1980s, Shirley Royster, an African American lesbian, knew something was wrong. She saw people in the black community dying at an alarming rate. For six years, Royster had been a drug addict and even lived on the streets for part of that time. In those circles, entire groups of friends, who all shared needles, would just disappear. There were no special names like “GRID” or “gay cancer” for what was happening in Shirley’s community. And there certainly was no treatment. AIDS did not discriminate, and eventually people started to realize that.

LGBT Senior Pride’s 2016 Silver Party Dinner.

In 1986 Royster, at the age of 39, found herself in her doctor’s office to get the results from her HIV test. Her doctor, a physician she had seen for years, told Royster that she’d tested positive for the virus. As Royster tried to let the news sink in, she asked the doctor what she needed to do now. The doctor replied that she needed to leave her office and not come back because there

was nothing more that could be done for her. Royster pleaded for advice. “Get your affairs in order,” her doctor told her and closed the door on Royster for the last time. By this time, Royster was already in recovery from her addiction. She had two young children and her own apartment. Her next chapter of life was spent desperately trying to get information about her condition and

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in the group if they would raise her two children when she died. The women agreed. Through sheer perseverance, Royster finally found an HIV/AIDS support group in Neponset. Here, she met Jim Campbell, a man who would change her life. Royster was impressed by the stories Campbell told about fighting for his rights as a gay white man living with AIDS. The two became friends and Campbell began to teach Royster about being an advocate.

a possible treatment. What little resources were available were dedicated to gay white men who could afford the new treatments that were being tested. No one knew what to do with a black HIV-positive woman.. She was turned away again and again by many of the leading hospitals and clinics in Boston. There were no treatments or even support groups available to her. Prior to her diagnosis, Royster had started a lesbian mothers group in Dorchester. With a heavy heart, she asked the women

By the early ’90s, there were more black people with the disease who started showing up at hospitals, clinics, and the AIDS Action Committee. Right off the bat, Royster recognized friction developing at the AAC because the all-white frontline staff didn’t have the experience to work with their increasingly black clientele. Campbell pushed Royster to apply for a spot on the AAC consumer advisory board so people of color could have a voice in the fight against AIDS. Shirley became that voice. What sustained Royster during those difficult years fighting HIV/AIDS not only in her own life but also in her community as well? “My partner and my faith,” Royster said with a smile.

Royster’s partner of 31 years, Catherine Joseph, has been with Royster ever since her diagnosis. Joseph had her back and pushed her to go public about who Royster was and the disease she was living with. This was a big step. At the time, you could not talk openly about living with HIV if you lived in public housing because you risked eviction. There was very little education about the disease in the black community and the stigma of the disease also tarnished children. Mothers would not let their kids play with children of an infected parent. Royster recalls black people with HIV fed on paper plates at family gatherings—if families invited them at all. Royster joined Positive Directions, a group that brought people living with AIDS into the Boston Public Schools to tell their stories and educate children. Royster still keeps a box full of letters that children from all over Boston wrote to her, thanking her for her courage to share her story. Faith also played a critical role in Royster’s fight with HIV/AIDS. From her diagnosis in 1986, she prayed that she would live to see her children finish high school—not only to enjoy a proud moment, but also to lessen any burden on her friends who had promised to raise her children. Indeed Royster saw both of her children graduate.

Meet our Homeowners

Forty-seven years later...a miracle happened Mary Decremer and Connie Tavanis tell their Seashore Point story.

OCCUPATION: Mary Decremer was a teacher, ran an ice cream store, and raised her twin sons. Connie Tavanis was a jr. high school art teacher and pursues her love of art, working in different mediums, especially clay, in her studio near Seashore Point. ORIGINS: Mary is from Upper Peninsula, Michigan; Connie is from Woburn, MA PASSIONS: Mary—being near her grandchildren; Connie—being near the ocean, being active and living in an all inclusive community.

Visit or call 508-487-0771 to learn why Seashore Point may just be the right choice for you.

www.seashorepoint.org

Mary and I knew each other in the 1960’s as Sisters of St. Joseph. While we each pursued different lives after leaving the convent, a notice about a mutual friend’s passing on Facebook brought us together again, 47 years later. We just picked up where we left off. We chose to move to The Residences at Seashore Point for many reasons, but mainly because it “frees” us and, more importantly our families from worry. This condominium community is a place where we are safe, intellectually challenged, socially active and respected. It is truly amazing that we are only two blocks from downtown with all the art openings, theater, movies, lectures, etc. We both like to give back to our community and can walk to our volunteer “jobs”. Our future here is set and if any extra care is needed it will be provided. The Residences, with its own wonderful programs, friendly staff and residents, make life what it should be for everyone —“FUN”!

It simply does not get much better than this!

100 Alden Street • Provincetown, MA 02657

Just 2 blocks from the heart of everything


and aging, he would go on to become the founder and president of The New England Association of HIV Over Fifty, an organization that brought together researchers, policymakers, doctors, and consumers to examine the complex issue. Royster was at his side as they continued to advocate and educate in Massachusetts and in Washington on behalf of older adults living with HIV.

In 1991, Royster became very sick and began to take the complex drug cocktails available at the time. She then prayed to live to 50. By then, she felt, she would have accomplished all the things she wanted to do in this life. Royster’s prayers were answered again. As her health improved with the new Protease Inhibitors, she began to think that AIDS might not be a death sentence for her after all. Still, she believed, every day was a gift and she needed to do something good with it. Her activism took on a new meaning. Instead of limiting her activism to schools and community groups, she accepted the invitation to join others at the state and national level in the fight for funding support for people living with HIV/AIDS. Royster joined the Ryan White Planning Council and started traveling to Washington, D.C. to lobby. She even traveled to South Africa to speak at the International AIDS Conference. Meanwhile, Campbell began to focus on HIV and aging. He was famous for saying, “Once we realized the pills were going to work, we knew aging was coming down the pike.” Aware of the under-examined and complex relationship between HIV

Shirley Royster and Catherine Joseph on their first date in 1985.

Shirley Royster receiving the first Jim Campbell Award.

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Your financial needs are unique. Brian K. Gerhardson, CFP® Certified Financial Planner Private Wealth Advisor South End Wealth Management 546 Tremont St Boston, MA 02116 617.426.3416 brian.k.gerhardson@ampf.com SouthEndWealthManagement.com CA Insurance #0D35502 Ameriprise Financial is proud to be recognized with another perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.

In 2015, after 30 years of dedicated service in the fight around HIV/AIDS, Campbell passed away due to complications from HIV. Today, Royster continues her advocacy and activism for people of color and older adults living with HIV. At its 2016, Silver Party Dinner, the LGBT Senior Pride Coalition posthumously honored Campbell, a founding member of the coalition, with an award in his name. This award will be given annually to an outstanding person in the community who takes on the qualities of activism, community service and Campbell’s passion for working with LGBT older adults. The first recipient of the Jim Campbell Award was Shirley Royster. [x]

Whether you want to provide for your loved ones, support the organizations that are important to you, or plan for your own comfortable retirement, I can help you plan for your goals. I’ll look at all aspects of your finances, then find solutions that are right for your unique needs. I’ll be there to adjust your plan as life unfolds. When you have the right approach, life can be brilliant.

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Investment advisory products and services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., a registered investment adviser. Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC. © 2016 Ameriprise Financial, Inc. All rights reserved. (8/16)

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SPOTLIGHT News STORY Kim Harris Stowell

Newsmakers | Rhode Island This Just in from Little Rhody DAVID CICILLINE RE-ELECTED TO THIRD TERM IN U.S. HOUSE

BROWN U & PRYSM HOST TRANS* MARCH OF RESILIENCE

Representing Rhode Island’s first congressional district, Congressman Cicilline is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Judiciary Committee. As one of only seven openly gay members of Congress, and a co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, he has been a vocal and passionate advocate in defense of equal rights, introducing the Equality Act.

The Providence Trans* March of Resilience is “a way to honor those who have lost their lives, especially trans people of color, our community, and ourselves,” say organizers from Brown University’s LGBTQ Center and the Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM). About 150 participated in the short march, arriving at PrYSM’s space to find speakers, community partner resources, self-care activities and an open mike space for storytelling and community building.

PROVIDENCE SCORES A 100 ON HRC INDEX The Municipal Equality Index (MEI), a nationwide evaluation of municipal laws, examines policies and services and rates them on the basis of their inclusiveness of LGBTQ people who live and work there. Although some who actually live there might disagree, Providence received the highest grade in “Non-Discrimination Laws, Municipality as Employer, Services, Law Enforcement, Relationship with the LGBTQ Community.” Providence Trans* March of Resilience.

The march was held in conjunction with the Trans Day of Remembrance, an annual day of observance to remember the lives that have been lost to anti-trans violence, oppressive systems, and suicide.

URI STUDENTS STAND FOR EQUALITY, INCLUSION AND UNDERSTANDING Amid reports of post-election campus violence and discrimination, hundreds of students and faculty at the University of Rhode Island gathered to address concerns.

University of Rhode Island students and faculty post-election anti-hate crime gathering. The event drew hundreds of students, and people spoke peacefully for nearly three hours. “We stand for black lives, Muslim lives, queer lives,” said a student. “We denounce bigotry and hate. We demand our university take action.” “As a member of the queer community, I am worried,” said another. URI says it “remains committed to our core values of diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice…. There is no place in our community for any form of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.”

PROVIDENCE MAYOR ANNOUNCES HATE CRIME HOTLINE INITIATIVE As members of the LGBTQ, faith and nonviolence communities stood by, an initiative to launch a phone line for reporting hate crimes was introduced by Mayor Jorge Elorza. By calling 1-877-3HCRIME, Rhode Islanders can report hate crimes and gain access to valuable resources and support networks. Elorza vowed that he would “not tolerate hate crimes of any kind.” If anyone experiences or witnesses a crime motivated by hate, he added, they should “know that support is just a call away.”

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. According to trans activist Kai LoMuscio, at least 25 transgender people have been killed in the United States this year—the highest ever reported. He expressed hope that “government, police, community groups, religious groups, schools, universities, and healthcare centers can use this data to better identify what needs to be done to mitigate violence and fear in Providence.” [x]

JAN|FEB 2017 | 21


SPOTLIGHT News STORY Alyssa Gillin

Newsmakers | New Hampshire Headlines from the Granite State

FREEDOM NEW HAMPSHIRE LAUNCHED

HASSAN DEFEATS AYOTTE BUCKLEY CONTENDER FOR DNC TOP JOB Raymond Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party and vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is a top contender to become chairman of the national party organization. Buckley is also the first out gay person to serve as the DNC’s vice chair and would be the first to serve in the top spot. He made his bid official in late November 2016. Party leaders meet in Atlanta in late February to elect their new leader. Buckley served eight terms in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. In 2009, he was elected president of the Association of State Democratic Chairs, where he was the first openly gay politician to serve in that role too. Born in Keene, Buckley is a longtime resident of Manchester, where also serves as city alderman. “Make no mistake, if I am elected chair there will be radical reform of how the DNC operates. You and every member of the DNC will be called on to fully participate in the governance of our party,” Buckley wrote in a letter he sent to DNC members pledging to take on the DNC’s top job.

22 | BOSTON SPIRIT

In a tight race not called until late the day after the election, New Hampshire’s Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan has officially won first-term Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte’s seat on the U.S. Senate. While competitor Ayotte refused to take a stance on minority equality, Hassan had already been working as governor with the Human Rights Campaign to ensure equal rights for LGBT—and all—citizens in the state. As recently as July 2016, then-Governor Hassan signed an executive order banning discrimination against transgender personnel in the state government. “Throughout our history, it has been clear time and again that we always grow stronger when we work to ensure the full inclusion of all citizens in our democracy, our economy and our communities,” she stated in a press release. “By making clear that gender identity and gender expression are protected in the State’s anti-discrimination policies, this Executive Order helps ensure that New Hampshire state government welcomes and incorporates the talents and contributions of all of our citizens.

A focus on New Hampshire is among the next efforts of Freedom for All Americans, the national organization that works for nondiscrimination protection. In September 2016, the group launched Freedom New Hampshire to promote awareness for transgender equality. The Granite State, said the groups executive director Matthew McTighe in a interview with Seacoast Online, “was one of the first in the nation to adopt a nondiscrimination law protecting lesbians, gays and bisexual people, but that was passed before there was an awareness of what it is to be transgender.” “Educating people is a big part of the puzzle,” he said. “To combat the attacks, we really push out the personal stories and humanizing stories that get legislators and voters alike to realize there’s something they can do.” While McTighe acknowledged a bill could take years to pass, he hopes one may be introduced in the first legislative session of 2017.

IN MEMORIAM Nashua New Hampshire resident Jacob Goulet, 16, a beloved member of the LGBT community went missing during a harsh rainstorm on October 23, 2016. His body was found floating in the Merrimack River. Officials say that he may have fallen 20 feet into a storm drain during the night. Goulet attended Nashua High School North, where he played in the band. A vigil was held on Main Street in Nashua, where friends and family lit candles and laid flowers in his honor. [x]


SPOTLIGHT News STORY Rob Phelps

Newsmakers | Maine News from the Pine Tree State

BARNEY FRANK HELPS MAINE JUSTICE FOUNDATION KICK OFF NEW LEGAL AID FUND Former Congressman Barney Frank, who represented Massachusetts from 1981 to 2013, delivered the keynote address at an early December 2016 event in Portland to kick off a new LGBT legal aid fund. Maine Justice Foundation is spearheading the initiative, called the LGBT Justice Fund, which, according to the Foundation, will “assist members of the LGBT community with the cost of legal services relating to issues such as finding housing, securing benefits and fighting discrimination.”

BLACK BEARS STAND AGAINST NORTH CAROLINA DISCRIMINATION BILL

University of Maine Black Bears. PHOTO courtesy of Maine Basketball

The University of Maine Black Bears basketball team took a stand ahead of its December 2 game against Duke by protesting North Carolina’s discriminatory HB2 bill. The team, playing in Durham, wore special warm-up shirts that displayed the rainbow LGBTQ flag and told the world exactly why the players were wearing them. The NCAA partners with You Can Play, which works to ensure the safety and inclusion of all in sports including LGBTQ athletes, coaches and fans. Maine’s coach Bob Walsh said the team considered pulling out of the game altogether but decided to wear the shirts as a symbol of protest instead. “We agreed that pulling out of a game at Duke when Duke is [also opposed to] the law and [Duke’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski] came out against it, really couldn’t have an impact,” Walsh said. “But what if we used it as a learning experience for our guys? I’m proud of our league and our school for the way we promote inclusion and equality. I never thought this was going to be a national headline, so I’m proud of our guys for understanding a different viewpoint they don’t hear a lot about.”

GLAD, ACLU CALL FOR SPECIALIZED INVESTIGATION INTO TRANS YOUTH SUICIDE State Department of Corrections Commissioner Joseph Fitzpatrick is working with federal experts to review policies

Maine Equality Community Center. Photo courtesy MECC

SIX LGBT ORGANIZATIONS SHARE BRAND NEW SPACE IN EQUALITY CENTER Attorney General Janet Mills. PHOTO courtesy

of Maine People’s Alliance

and procedures at the Long Creek Youth Development Center, where a 16-year-old transgender boy committed suicide in early November 2016. Charles Knowles had been placed in the South Portland facility after having set his home on fire in August last year. According to an Associated Press report, he had not received necessary mental health treatment and had been required to stay in the girls unit. GLAD and the ACLU are also urging the state’s attorney general, Janet Mills, to appoint investigators with specific knowledge of LGBT issues in her investigation. In a joint letter, the two agencies write: “Not only is it critical to understand what happened with this young person, but this death raises urgent, substantial concerns about the conditions, policies, patterns and practices at Long Creek and the health, safety and well-being of transgender, lesbian, gay and bisexual youth.”

The Equality Community Center in Portland, Maine rolled out the red carpet with a grand opening party Friday, evening, December 1. In the 3,000-square-foot facility, six LGBT organizations share the space, including EqualityMaine, Pride Portland!, SAGE Maine, PFLAG, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network of Southern Maine, and MaineTransNet. The Center “gets us all out of our silos,” said Matt Moonen, executive director of EqualityMaine and a state representative from Portland. “We’re all doing good work, whether it’s with elders or with the trans community, but now we’re all together and talking to each other and figuring out what we can do to help everybody.” And the new space is only Phase One of the Center’s plans. On the drawing board, Phase Two promises a free-standing facility with the Center occupying the first couple floors and providing several additional floors of affordable housing, notably for LGBTQ seniors. The Equality Community Center is located at 511 Congress Street in Portland, Maine. For more information, call 207-761-3732. [x]

JAN|FEB 2017 | 23


SPOTLIGHT News STORY Natalie Nonken

Newsmakers | Connecticut Articles from The Constitution State “KINKY BOOTS” COMES TO TOWN AND TEAMS UP WITH TRUE COLORS HARTFORD Broadway’s “Kinky Boots” visited Waterbury’s Palace Theater in December. As reported by the Hartford Courant’s Christopher Arnott, the theater held a cocktail party before the show on December 8. The party was to benefit True Colors Hartford, a Connecticut LGBT organization, and was hosted by WFSB’s Scott Haney, playwright Jacques Lamarre, and Maryellen Fillo. The musical “Kinky Boots,” with music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, shares messages of love and acceptance. Connecticut State Comptroller Kevin Lembo PHOTO courtesy oscct.gov

AMERICAN FAMILY ASSOCIATION UNDER INVESTIGATION BY CT OFFICIAL As reported by David Badash of The New Civil Rights Movement, Connecticut’s comptroller Kevin Lembo recently started an investigation into the American Family Association. Lembo aimed to verify that the anti-gay group is truly qualified to receive money from the Connecticut State Employee Campaign for Charitable Giving program, as he doubted they lived up to nondiscrimination requirements. The AFA responded on their website by claiming, “State official demands AFA discard its Christians beliefs.” The site also provided information for readers to contact Lembo and fight against his investigation. According to Badash, Lembo began the investigation in November when an employee made him aware that the AFA was taking part in this program. Lembo then wrote to the AFA explaining how it seemed they did not live up to program’s nondiscrimination requirements. As explained on its website, employeegiving.ct.gov, The Connecticut State Employee Campaign for Charitable Giving program “allows Connecticut State Employees to contribute to nonprofit charities at the workplace through the convenience of payroll deduction.” Lembo urged in his letter, “We have a responsibility to donors to ensure that participating organizations abide by the rules and regulations.”

24 | BOSTON SPIRIT

True Colors Hartford is a nonprofit that works with other social service agencies, schools, organizations and within communities to ensure the needs of sexual and gender minority youth are recognized and competently met. Training more than 2,400 people annually, True Colors Hartford is the largest LGBT youth conference in the country with more than 3,000 attendees and manages the state’s only LGBT mentoring program.

CT LOCALS JOIN WOMEN’S MARCH HEADING TO WASHINGTON Judy Benson of The Day reported in December that Rod Cornish, owner of New London’s Hot Rod Cafe, has planned a bus trip for customers to join the Women’s March on Washington this January. Cornish has

Rod Cornish, owner, Hot Rod Cafe PHOTO courtesy snaphappyfoodie.com planned bus trips to Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park in the past, and planned this trip to Washington as per a costumer’s request. According to Benson’s article, Cornish was at the Million Man March in 1995 and is attending the march on January 21 along with his customers. The 1995 event was a positive experience for him, and, with regard to the Women’s March, Benson quotes Cornish as saying, “I’m a strong believer that women’s rights are human rights.” Benson also quotes Mary Gorton, a Waterford woman who is signed up for the bus trip, as saying, “We have to push back against the hate and the trampling of rights that’s coming towards us.” “I have a gay daughter, and friends who are immigrants and friends of different races, and we have to watch out for them,” Gorton continues. “There’s such a threat now to our environment and women’s rights and gay rights, it’s very frightening.” [x]


SPOTLIGHT News STORY Rob Phelps

Newsmakers | Vermont Green Mountain State Update A STRONG LGBT ALLY, GOVERNOR PETER SHUMLIN STEPS DOWN Although Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin backed Democratic candidate Sue Mintor to be his successor, he greeted the Republican Governor-Elect Phil Scott “like an old friend,” according to an NBC News report days after the election. Shumlin, who took the state’s top office in 2011, chose not to run for another two-year term. During his tenure, he was a strong advocate for LGBT rights. A few big examples: He signed into law a ban on conversion therapy. He cut off state travel to North Carolina over the Tar Heel State’s legislation that prohibited non-discrimination laws protecting the LGBT community. And in 2010 as the state’s senate president, he overrode a veto by the then-governor to pass marriage equality in Vermont. The Human Rights Campaign has resounding endorsed him throughout his tenure. For his part, Governor-Elect Scott won by a nine-percentage point lead in no small part, as a November 9 Fox News report pointed out, because of his support for LGBT marriage equality and women’s right to choose. According to NBC, “Shumlin said he’ll do all he can to help Scott in the upcoming transition and beyond. ‘The beauty of this job is that you can make a real difference for Vermont. That’s why Phil ran for governor and why he got elected,’ Shumlin said. ‘My job now is to share with him as much as I can some of the wisdom and experiences I’ve had the things that have gone well and not so well.’”

‘DYKES TO WATCH OUT FOR’ FEEL POST-ELECTION BLUES The 2016 election has produced many reactions. For Vermont-native Allison Bechdel, whose graphic novel “Fun Home” became the 2015 Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, responding meant returning to the drawing board. It’s been eight years since Bechdel graced the pages with her iconic “Dykes to Watch Out For” character, but, as she told the Pride Source website, she returned to her old friends to help tackle her despair when Trump was elected President.

“I’m just so distraught over the election that the only way I could see out of it, the only way I could help myself figure it out, was to start writing a ‘Dykes to Watch Out For’ strip. I haven’t thought about these characters in eight years, but I’m right in the middle of writing an episode and kind of dragging them all out of storage,” she said. “When I wrote the comic strip, I did it in some ways just for myself to figure out what was going on in the world. I always found the world so confusing and baffling, and by using my characters and having to talk through stuff that was happening in the world, I could find my own way. I felt like,

PHOTO Nicole Higgins DeSmet/Burlington Free Press the group held up a wide range of cardboard “shields” brandished with their messages. According to the Burlington Free Press, “the students presented Tom Berry, Leahy’s staff representative, with a shield with signatures from St. Michael’s students to remind the senator they are ‘relying on his help.’ “‘The senator is a real champion for all the issues you raised,’ Berry told the group. He promised to hang he shield where Leahy would see it [the following] week.”

RAINBOW FLAG FLIES OVER

Allison Bechdel PHOTO Elena Seibert I’m so confused at what just happened to our country that I needed to sit down with these characters and figure it out, so that’s what I’m doing.” Look for Bechdel’s latest at her website: dykestowatchoutfor.com.

COLLEGE ACTIVISTS CALL FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE St. Michael’s College students from the Colchester school’s Global AIDS Campaign carried a message to Senators Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy in support of vulnerable populations throughout the state and across the country. The student activists demonstrated along Main Street in Burlington on December 2 to promote environmental justice and the rights of the LGBT community, women, racial minorities, immigrants and people with HIV/AIDS. “These issues are important issues at the national level and the local level and we must act,” one student cried through a megaphone outside Leahy’s offices, while

PHOTO courtesy of John State College SGA

JOHNSON STATE COLLEGE The Rainbow Flag is one of the first of three to be displayed on the new social justice flagpoles at Johnson State College. The emblem of LGBT pride flew alongside a Black Lives Matter banner and the POWMIA flag. According to a release from the Johnson, Vermont school’s Student Government Association: “The two new flagpoles are a real example of the college’s commitment to social awareness.” “Johnson State prides itself on being an open and accepting campus, but sometimes that can mean we ignore some injustices and hate that are happening. It’s important that we acknowledge the injustices that happen to people and begin to talk about it, ” said SGA member Brittney Malik. [x]

JAN|FEB 2017 | 25


SPOTLIGHT News COMPILED Rob Phelps

From the Blogs MAYOR SPEAKS OUT AGAINST POSTELECTION BIGOTRY “Alex, you are one of the most selfish people that I know due to your ‘gay’ lifestyle. You are going down,” began an anonymous note that was delivered to the home of openly gay Mayor Alex Morse of Holyoke, Massachusetts. No stranger to criticism both negative and positive—it comes with his job—Morse posted the note on his Facebook page “to make the message public to bring awareness to what he sees as the challenges ahead, as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to enter the White House,” reported The Boston Globe, which picked up the story the same day.

Massachusetts State Representative Jack Patrick Lewis celebrating his election victory with his husband and son.

ALL PRO-LGBT ENDORSED CANDIDATES ELECTED IN MASSACUSETTS Hours after Hillary Clinton delivered her speech conceding the White House to the GOP nominee, Deborah Shields executive director of MassEquality, offered the following words to our LGBTQ community and allies:

has increased, giving us more strong allies in the fight for full LGBTQ equality. These election results prove that Massachusetts believes in fairness and equality for all, and that LGBTQ rights are valued by voters in the Commonwealth.”

“Massachusetts voted for candidates who support equal rights for all. All 16 of MassEquality’s endorsed incumbent candidates will be returning to Beacon Hill despite the smear campaigns and hate mailings that were seen in several districts. In fact, all of the candidates who were targeted by those mailings won their seats. And four pro-LGBTQ challengers who we endorsed also won their races, including openly gay candidates Julian Cyr and Jack Lewis.

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Since he received the message, Morse said, there has been an outpouring of support from his constituency.

COMMUNITY RESPONDS TO TRANS-RIGHTS REPEAL MOVEMENT A broad coalition of supporters gathered at Boston’s King’s Chapel on October 13 to stand in solidarity against transgender

“In spite of the devastating presidential election that poses a major threat to women, people of color, and LGBTQ communities throughout the country, we can find reasons for hope in our statewide election results.

These victories send a clear message that Massachusetts voters won’t fall for negative campaigns based on lies and fear mongering. And with this election, the number of pro-LGBTQ legislators in the State House

“It’s a more threatening message than usual, and given the context of the culture that seems to have been elevated since the Trump election, I thought it was important to shine a light on this language and behavior,” Morse told the Globe.

Holyoke Mayor Alex B. Morse


finance institution that works in lowincome communities. “Cherry,” noted the Times, “has led Boston Community Capital (BCC) in becoming an industry leader on LGBTQ issues. Under her leadership, BCC was an early adopter of policies that supported equal opportunity regardless of sexual orientation and provided health insurance coverage for the partners of BCC’s LGBTQ employees— years before the law decreed it.”

FREE TRANS-ID LEGAL RESOURCES OFFERED THROUGHOUT NEW ENGLAND

Alyse Cherry discrimination and support for the Massachusetts law enacted October 1 that extends full equal rights to transgender people. The gathering came in response to the anti-transgender advocacy group Keep Massachusetts Safe’s collection of enough signatures to put a referendum question on the 2018 ballot asking voters to repeal the newly enacted and hard-won law. Reverend Joy K. Fallon, senior minister at King’s Chapel, kicked off the faith-centered event by speaking about her church’s commitment to equality. She also introduced Freedom Massachusetts Co-Chair Mason Dunn, who drove home the message that a small group of extremists is no match for the broad coalition that helped pass and will help defend the law. “We are here today to declare that we are committed and prepared to protect this law. It takes less than 1 percent of people to put transgender protections on the ballot. But

when presented before a majority of voters, fairness will win. Through our hard work, the people of our Commonwealth will do the right thing and wholeheartedly support equal treatment for all, including our transgender friends, neighbors, and family members in 2018,” said Dunn. [x]

ELYSE CHERRY RECOGNIZED FOR TOP EXECUTIVE AND COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP For the second year, one of New England’s best and brightest business leaders has been named to not one, but two of the most prominent executive leadership lists—The Financial Times’ 2016 OUTstanding Leading LGBT+ & Ally Executives and the Times’ LGBT+ Future Leaders—in recognition of her commitment to LGBT rights. The Financial Times bestowed its top honors to Elyse Cherry, CEO of Boston Community Capital, a community development

Teaming up with law firm Ropes & Gray, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition is offering free legal guidance and representation to transgender people throughout New England seeking accurate ID info. “For transgender people, having accurate identification not only facilitates everyday interactions, but also safeguards their right to be treated fairly in the eyes of law enforcement and authority figures, something that is of utmost importance in today’s social and political climate,” said Mason Dunn, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition and co-chair of Freedom Massachusetts. The new initiative is designed to help transgender people completing legal name changes and updating identity documentation including social security cards, U.S. passports, driver’s licenses or state identification cards and birth certificates issued in New England. To sign up, visit glad.org/ID, call GLAD Answers at 1-800-455-GLAD, or send an email to gladanswers@glad.org. [x]

JAN|FEB 2017 | 27


FEATURE Politics STORY Barney Frank

Frank Talk Former U.S. Congressman Barney Frank on keeping hard-fought LGBT gains from completely unraveling after 2016 election

There is one small ray of encouragement in the otherwise entirely dismal prospect for progress in LGBT legal equality emerging from the elections: North Carolina Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper won the governor’s race after he courageously challenged Republican incumbent Pat McCrory’s signature on a sweeping law blocking any recognition of our rights. That was the response by the Republican legislature to the city of Charlotte’s ordinance recognizing the rights of people who are transgender. While Cooper’s margin was narrow, it was the only Democratic victory in the state. In other words, Democrats in North Carolina did best in the race in which LGBT issues, and especially transgender bathroom access, was most prominent. But this moral victory will have no legal impact. With President Trump and Republican majorities in the House and Senate, not only will there be no further progress on the national level in our efforts to

achieve fairness, we face the real prospect of a partial rollback of some of what we have so far achieved. People who try to diminish the significance of the party identification of candidates ignore a fact that is central to the lives of LGBT people: the difference between the two parties on issues affecting us is enormous. In their party platform; their votes in Congress, in nearly all state capitals, and in their presidential candidates, the Republicans are almost unanimously against us while the Democrats are equally nearly united in our favor. Exhibit A is the North Carolina transgender controversy. When North Carolina acted, President Obama’s appointees ruled that a refusal by the state to allow transgenders the right to use the bathrooms according to their gender identification constitutes discrimination based on sex, and is therefore illegal under federal law. Republican officials immediately went to court to block this, choosing the federal courts in Texas where the long

28 | BOSTON SPIRIT

Former Massachusetts U.S. Congressman Barney Frank PHOTO Marilyn Humphries

“ But while the rights of same-sex couples will not be abolished, they may diminish. The current anti-LGBT strategy is two-fold: deny us any additional protections against mistreatment and empower anyone who opposes our legal equality to invoke his or her religion as a license to continue to discriminate even where our rights have been legally recognized.” Barney Frank


run of right-wing senators has resulted in a very right-wing set of judges. Predictably, the Texas judge ruled against the President, blocking the order. Had Hillary Clinton won, and gained the right to appoint a Supreme Court Justice, the chances of this verdict being overturned would have been good. But we now face a double whammy: Trump, who has denounced Obama’s use of executive orders to vindicate civil rights, is highly unlikely to keep the order in place. And even if he did, his Court appointee—which he has promised will be in the mode of Antonin Scalia, the most vehement homophobe to hold high office since Jesse Helms died—will very likely join in upholding the negative ruling. Trump’s vow to undo Obama’s executive orders almost certainly means the death of another breakthrough for LGBT rights. This is the rule that those contracting with the federal government may not discriminate in hiring people with the

federal funds they receive based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Republicans hostility to this assertion that LGBT people who pay taxes should not be barred from jobs that these funds pay for has already manifested itself in a determined effort by the House Republicans to reverse it in an appropriations bill. Its chances of surviving the coming all-Republican government are nonexistent. Finally, there is the rule promulgated by the State Department—the work of Todd Larson, a talented gay public official who performed a similar feat while employed at the United Nations—that applies the same non-discrimination requirement to those who are spending U.S. foreign aid dollars. None of these three LGBT protections are protected against abolition by Donald Trump. The Supreme Court’s capacity to harm us goes well beyond striking down pro-LGBT executive orders. The Court

has been the strongest source of protection of LGBT rights in our history. But the current slim balance in our favor is endangered. Had Hillary Clinton won, she would have appointed a justice ready to recognize fairness to us as a Constitutional principle. Instead, we have Trump’s pledge to seat another Scalia, resorting a five-to-four lineup—for now. But there is danger is in demographics. Three of the five justices who have consistently rejected discrimination will be well into their eighties by 2020. I have now gone from regretting that Justice Ginsburg did not retire to wishing her eternal life—and if there is a vacancy, we should insist that Republicans live by the principle they adopted when Scalia died. Democrats should filibuster any appointment by Trump once his last year in office begins. This does not mean that the Constitutional right to same-sex marry will be overturned. Trump himself has said he accepts the matter as settled, and while

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Democratic Roy Cooper unseated North Carolina’s Republican Governor Pat McCrory by campaigning against the incumbant’s sweeping legislation blocking LBGT rights. PHOTO courtesy Roy Cooper for North Carolina Chief Justice Roberts voted against the ruling, his tenure has been marked by a concern for the Court’s reputation that makes it highly unlikely that he would put his institution at the center of the extreme social turmoil that undoing marriage rights would cause. This does not mean that either man has become a same-sex marriage supporter in principle. The basic right

Senior LGBT Coordinator at USAID Todd Larson with Amanda R. Simpson, executive director of the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives and the first openly transgender woman appointed by a U.S. President. PHOTO Robb Hohmann/USAID

to same-sex marriage will go effectively unchallenged legally and politically because it has gone effectively unchallenged in society. Every single argument that our right to marry those we love would in any way cause any social harm has been completely repudiated by reality. But while the rights of same-sex couples will not be abolished, they may diminish.

The current anti-LGBT strategy is two-fold: deny us any additional protections against mistreatment and empower anyone who opposes our legal equality to invoke his or her religion as a license to continue to discriminate even where our rights have been legally recognized. Remember that the most prominent proponent of this position was Vice

President-Elect Mike Pence, who as Governor of Indiana only reluctantly gave way to business-community pressure to lessen his support of a law embodying this. There is strong possibility that those using their religious faith as legal justification for refusing to recognize our rights could win a Supreme Court decision on the point even now. Justice Kennedy, while our reliable

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New York U.S. Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney. PHOTO Courtesy HRC. supporter on LGBT equality per se, did provide the fifth vote to allow Hobby Lobby to invoke religion to refuse to perform the minimal task of signing a paper stating its objection to birth control for its employees. This prevented the federal government from doing so. It is very unclear where Kennedy will be when it is the right of a same-sex couple to receive service that is involved. And once again, an age-related vacancy in the near future would certainly mean at least five votes against us. This brings us to the greatest danger of all—the vigorously anti-LGBT Republican Congress, now unchecked by the threat of Presidential veto. To begin, forget any chance of legislation advancing our situation. Had Clinton won, with a Democratic Senate, a bill increasing anti-discrimination protection might well have passed the Senate, and gone to the Republican House. While it would have very likely died, there, it would have been a strong building block for future progress. Now, not only will no supportive bills even make it to the floor, there is a worrisome chance that we will be harmed. Even if by some remote chance any of Obama’s proLGBT orders survive, the Republicans have already shown their intention to kill them. In 2016 the House

adopted an amendment to a military bill canceling the President’s order banning discrimination against LGBT people by federal contractors. In fact, when a creative move by openly gay Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney led to a majority against that provision on a roll call, the Ryan-led House delayed announcing the final vote tally until they successfully pressured enough Republicans who had first voted yes to reverse themselves and defeat us. Even more frightening is the probable move to enforce the point I noted above—the right of individuals, businesses, and nonprofits to invoke religion as a legal barrier to our receiving equal treatment. With the acquiescence of the anti-LGBT Supreme Court alignment that may come, this could even override exiting state laws outlawing discrimination in employment and other areas based on sexual orientation or gender identity. As with the case of Supreme Court vacancy in the last years of Trump’s presidency, this will create not just an opportunity to a Democratic Senate filibuster, but an obligation to do so. This leaves us with two urgent tasks. First, lobbying members of Congress, especially but not only Democratic Senators, to use their power as our last bastion against discriminatory actions for the next two years. Second, renewed emphasis on the importance of voting two years from now at the Congressional and state levels. If we are ever to get off the defensive and complete the work needed for full equality, it must start here. [x]


FEATURE Business STORY Rob Phelps

United, They Stand ... Business coalition proves supporting transgender anti‑discrimination protections is very good business Like most successful business initiatives, once the goals have been met—even greatly exceeded—the story’s really just getting started. The Massachusetts Businesses for Freedom Coalition was created to give businesses a voice in the movement to secure statewide antidiscrimination protections for transgender people. A year after the coalition launched, Governor Charlie Baker signed the bill into law that would do exactly that, thanks, in a big way, to the coalition’s successful efforts. So mission accomplished? While the coalition certainly did achieve its goal, in doing so it also created an essential tool to strengthen companies, improve business communities and advance social justice throughout and well beyond the Commonwealth. So there’s plenty more for the coalition to do. Practically speaking, this means the coalition has moved beyond its initial success to defend the law against the 2018 ballot referendum aimed at repealing it; to share resources with Freedom New Hampshire so the Granite State may pass its own version of a similar law; and to continue supporting workplace policies and procedures to help make Bay State businesses work even better and serve

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as models for companies nationally and around the world. In other words, the goals have expanded.

Standing Together The Massachusetts Businesses for Freedom Coalition launched in May 2015 as one “arm” of Freedom Massachusetts, a nonprofit that brings together advocates across virtually every interest in the Bay State. Along with the business community, this includes labor unions, city mayors, law enforcement, faith leadership, educators and grassroots organizers. All work together toward a common goal: “to amplify the voices of transgender people so that people who have never met a transgender people can get to know them, understand our issues, be able to separate the facts from fiction and come to support protections for us,” says Freedom Massachusetts co-chair Kasey Suffredini. “We’re now at a point where one in four Americans knows a gay person. This is why people have come to support marriage equality,” Suffredini says. But “only one in ten knows a transgender person.” “The primary ask of any business that signs up to support Businesses for Freedom Coalition is to sign onto the

proposition that they support full protections for transgender people,” Suffredini says. The group’s business arm began with only three companies on board: HarvardPilgrim Healthcare, Eastern Bank and Google. By the time the anti-transgender discrimination bill debates on Beacon Hill got underway, more than 250 businesses, large and small, had joined the team. Aside from strong numbers—all told, upwards of 300 companies to date including those who Bay State Attorney General Maura Healey’s office brought on for the legislative fight—there’s power in their diversity, which ranges from small outfits like Bella Luna Restaurant in Jamaica Plain to international giants like Microsoft. (Check out the impressive roster at freedommassachusetts.org.) The New England Patriots, Boston Red Socks, New England Revolution, Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins and TD Garden all signed on. Speaking to the “bathroom bill” issue that naysayers typically trot out, “If the Red Sox and Patriots don’t know about bathrooms and locker rooms, I don’t know who does,” Suffredini says.

Speaking Up The second ask of coalition members is for participants to speak out. Freedom Massachusetts encourages them to publish op-eds, host educational forums inside their own companies to educate coworkers, participate in roundtables


Kasey Suffredini, co-chair of Freedom Massachusetts and chief program officer for Freedom for All Americans. Nancy Stager, executive vice president of human resources and charitable giving at Eastern Bank, at a Boston Chamber of Commerce event. [AT LEFT] The Massachusetts Businesses for Freedom Coalition is more than 250 businesses strong and growing. [ABOVE]

[ABOVE RIGHT]

with legislators, testify at hearings in support of equal rights legislation and so forth—and equally important, to explain to other business leaders why protection against anti-transgender discrimination is good business. “At first, a lot of companies don’t realize its impact,” says Nancy Stager, executive vice president of human resources and charitable giving at Eastern Bank. But protections against anti-transgender discrimination allow businesses to more easily attract and retain talent, increase productivity in the workplace and significantly enhance business-to-business and community relations, stresses Stager, one of the coalition’s founders along with Karen Young at Harvard-Pilgrim Healthcare and Amy Schwab at Google Holly Heslop of Cambridge Eats and Beats, a family-owned collection of three restaurants and two live music clubs, agrees. “Having an inclusive, welcoming workplace where our employees feel safe and supported has only benefited our business. It certainly makes a difference in our ability to attract and retain first-rate employees." First-hand experience has shown Heslop that productivity increases when employees “know they can be fully themselves at work” at her family’s restaurants Christopher’s, Cambridge Common and West Side Lounge, and clubs Toad and Lizard Lounge. “Passage of the trans bill also gives me an increased confidence that my employees will have a better chance of arriving safely at work after taking public transportation,” says Heslop. “I see its passage as a huge victory for businesses in the state. As we become established as a safe and inclusive environment for the LGBT community, we reap the benefits in areas from competitive hiring to increased tourism,

as we saw when same-sex marriage was legalized.” Since the 2018 anti-transgender rights ballot question was announced, more businesses have been stepping up to “ask how they can help,” says Suffredini. “We know these businesses will play a very big role in ensuring that Massachusetts preserves these protections because we’ve seen the devastating economic consequences that taking away protections like these can have—particularly in states like North Carolina, where the losses are up in the billions of dollars at this point.”

Sharing Success Sharing success stories often directly translates into shared success. “I personally think when a company as large as ours signs onto amicus briefs or establishes strong policies of antidiscrimination for its employees, it sets a fantastic example for other companies to follow,” says Dana Zircher, a principle software engineer at Microsoft and a transgender woman. At Microsoft, Zircher joined the board of an employee resource group (ERG) and, as co-policy director, worked with executive leadership to research the costs associated with changing benefits that would make them fully inclusive. “We assembled a package that we presented to the executive board, which at that time included Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer,” Zircher says. “We helped them recognize that this was a decision that only had an upside. The costs were actually insignificant and the benefit was long overdue. They agreed and executed it within the next calendar year.” “Ensuring people’s safety, and standards regarding safety, is a public health

concern,” says Business Coalition cofounder Karen Young, vice president and chief inclusion officer at Harvard-Pilgrim Health Care. “At Harvard-Pilgrim, we want to make sure that we have a voice in advocating for change where possible. It’s part of our business. It is our business.” Zircher adds, “During my time on Microsoft’s ERG board, we also had a corporate outreach program where we shared policies and procedures that we had developed over many years with other companies"—policies and procedures that proved big “cost-saving measures and also helped to form some consistency of language." The board created transgender-related documents to help transitioning employees, along with guidelines such as how to update one’s name and gender information for human resources and on published documents and other data. On a more personal note, “the ERG provides space for employees to talk about everything from living life as a transgender person to encountering issues in the workplace.” “One of the things I’ve observed over the last four or five years is that a culture of acceptance in a company is largely owned by the employees,” Zircher says. “Companies can have corporate policies that push down the standards and ethics, but really executing on them is completely grassroots. That’s why I find storytelling to be so powerful. Because a lot of times people have never really had the opportunity to meet and to talk with a trans person, and a lot of times when you know someone’s story and you understand the similarities with your own experience, it bonds people. People really tend to nurture people that they understand.” [x]

JAN|FEB 2017 | 33


FEATURE Trends STORY Scott Kearnan

What’s blowin’ in the winds of change this new year? Sending Discrimination Down The Drain Massachusetts’ transgender public accommodations bill, which took effect in October, isn’t out of the woods yet. Opponents to the bill—which adds protections for transgender rights in public spaces, including the right for individuals to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity—have succeeded in placing the question of repeal on the statewide ballot in 2018. But New England universities, galvanized by impassioned student activists, are making strides toward equity on their own. Most recently, the University of Massachusetts Amherst has started “changing the signage on almost all singleuser ‘women’s’ and ‘men’s’ bathrooms to just say ‘restroom,’” according to Dr. Genny Beemyn, director of the school’s Stonewall Center. As a result, there are nearly 300 gender-inclusive bathrooms across the school’s campus. Since 2014, well before the introduction of the state’s public accommodations bill, U-Mass Amherst’s restroom policy has allowed members of the campus community to use the restroom that correspond to their sex

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or gender identity. And students are showing their support for the trans community. In November, more than 130 students took part in a “Shit In,” occupying campus bathrooms to push for even more genderinclusive restrooms.

Using A World Premiere To Teach LGBT History From the devastation of the AIDS epidemic in “Angels in America” to the homophobia-fueled murder of Matthew Shepard in “The Laramie Project,” the performing arts has been an important medium in sharing LGBT history with audiences. Now Northampton’s Smith College will present the world premiere of “The Scarlet Professor,” a new opera based on Northampton author Barry Werth’s book of the same name. Presented by Five Colleges Opera, “The Scarlet Professor” tells the story of Newton Arvin, a onceesteemed Smith professor of literature, and former lover of Truman Capote. Arvin was forced into retirement in 1960 by an anti-gay witch-hunt that saw him arrested for possessing soft-core “beefcake” male pornography. Arvin’s conviction was

eventually overturned, but not before his distinguished career was left in ruins and his reputation tarnished. “The Scarlet Professor” is set at the Northampton mental hospital where Arvin retreats after he is outed, and juxtaposes his story—from his personal life to his public trial—with that of Hester Prynne, condemned protagonist of “The Scarlet Letter.” This world premiere will stage September 15–24 at Smith College. (More info: fivecolleges.edu)

Working Towards A World Without AIDS The fight to end the AIDS epidemic continues—and Massachusetts is the epicenter of an ambitious new battle plan. On December 1, World AIDS Day, the Massachusetts Getting to Zero Coalition unveiled its plan to ensure that, by the year 2020, 90 percent of those living with HIV are aware of their status; 90 percent of those diagnosed with HIV are treated with antiretroviral therapy; and 90 percent of those receiving antiretroviral treatment are virally suppressed. The coalition, which is led by AIDS Action Committee and Fenway Health, and supported by 35 additional organizations around the Bay State, modeled its plan on one created by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS that has already


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[3] [4]  [5]  [6] 

[7]

Boston Gay Men’s Chorus. photo Izzy Berdan Photography Smith College Professon Newton Arvin forced into retirement by a 1960s gay witch-hunt. Arvin is the subject of a new opera called “The Scarlet Professor.” OUT Maine is developing a unique model for working with LGBTQ youth in rural areas. Massachusetts’ transgender public accommodations bill was signed into law and now requires defending from a 2018 referrendum. Carl Sciortino, executive director of AIDS Action The Theater Offensive’s “Feeling Our Pulse,” a response to the Orlando nightclub shootings, explores the events from a Latino and Muslim perspective. photo Ernie Galan New Hampshire State Representative Ed Butler [LEFT] and his spouse Les Schoof

JAN|FEB 2017 | 35


been implemented in New York and San Francisco. To accomplish its goals, the Coalition will undertake a number of priority agenda items, from conducting social media campaigns directed at at-risk populations to advocating for legislation requiring comprehensive, age-appropriate sexuality education in schools. “Ending the HIV epidemic will require a holistic approach, including a targeted methodology to addressing racial disparities, access to culturally competent providers, and more fully using the newer tools in our arsenal, such as expanding awareness of, and access to, PrEP,” says Carl Sciortino, executive director of AIDS Action. “We are fortunate to live in a state that has already seen a significant decline in new infections and improved health outcomes, and are in a strong position to not only get to zero, but to lead the nation in achieving the goals we’ve laid out in our blueprint.”

“ We are fortunate to live in a state that has already seen a significant decline in new [HIV] infections and improved health outcomes, and are in a strong position to not only get to zero, but to lead the nation in achieving the goals we’ve laid out in our blueprint. ” Carl Sciortino Executive director, AIDS Action Committee

Reaching Out To Rural LGBTQ Youth It’s not easy out there for LGBTQ youth—but at least those that live in urban centers have easier access to organizations that can provide support, resources and advocacy. Still, New England is a

big place, and LGBTQ young people in less-populated areas are likely to feel even more alone. So kudos to OUT Maine for developing a unique model for working with LGBTQ youth in rural areas. Over the last 18 months, the organization has trained over 1,500 providers—from mental health care practitioners to clergy—on

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“ Requests are pouring in from around the state, most recently from elementary schools with new trans students who need help creating safe environments. ” Jeanne Dooley executive director, OUT Maine

how to effectively and compassionately support LGBTQ youth. The organization also works with educators to implement Gay-Straight Transgender Alliance (GSTA) programs in schools and supports parents and families to curb the epidemic of homeless LGBTQ youth, which now represent up to 40 percent of all homeless teens in Maine. OUT Maine just celebrated its 20th anniversary, but continues to push into the future on developing

models that support young people in all parts of New England, not just major cities. “Requests are pouring in from around the state, most recently from elementary schools with new trans students who need help creating safe environments,” says Jeanne Dooley, OUT Maine’s executive director.

Closing The Gaps On NonDiscrimination Laws New England has generally led the way when it comes to advancing legal protections for LGBTQ people in America, but lest we rest on our laurels — our region still has plenty of progress to make. Right now, New Hampshire is the only state in New England that does not include gender identity in its state non-discrimination law, leaving transgender individuals vulnerable in areas of employment, housing and public accommodations. 2017 could be the year that changes. In November, Representative Ed Butler filed legislation that would update the law to include gender identity, and the measure will be taken up when the legislative session resumes in January. The last time the law was updated was in 1998, when protections on the basis of sexual orientation were included. Granite State LGBTQ activists, including leaders at Freedom New Hampshire, a bipartisan coalition advocating for transgender rights, are putting all their energies toward making

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Last Call, a New Orleans queer artist group that’s partnering with Boston’s Theater Offensive to commission a piece called “Alleged Lesbian Activies.”

sure the legislation is adopted. If it is, New Hampshire will be the 19th state in the country to provide such transgenderinclusive non-discrimination protections, and will close the final gap on such legislation in the New England region.

Sharing The LGBT Experience In Song The Boston Gay Men’s Chorus is more than just another arts organization. The group has long used its platform to champion LGBTQ equality, from distributing recordings of “Marry Us” to Beacon Hill legislators during the fight for equal marriage in Massachusetts to 2015’s groundbreaking performances in the Middle East, when the BGMC became the first gay choral group to mount a tour of the region.

The organization’s commitment to good works will continue in the year ahead. BGMC will maintain its support of local New England organizations: Proceeds from a performance of its male divasthemed March concert, “Let Hear It For the Boys,” will support Bay State LGBT youth organizations. And the chorus is finalizing plans for its next globe-trotting trek, a 2018 tour in South Africa that will raise funds and awareness for people living with HIV, as well as support for LGBT refugees from neighboring countries.

Reflecting The Diversity Of The LGBTQ Experience In The Arts Boston-based organization the Theater Offensive (TO) has consistently been on the cutting edge of using the performing arts as a vehicle to share the full spectrum of the LGBTQ experience—and advocate for social justice in the process. Its program True Colors: Out Youth Theater is a cornerstone of that work. But looking

ahead to 2017, TO is spotlighting the LGBTQ community in many different ways. In January the organization will launch an LGBTQ performing arts residency, the first of its kind in the Boston area, which is “designed to ensure that a variety of cultures and identities is represented in the Boston arts scene,” according to a spokesperson. Also in January, TO is working with Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción, a South End community-building nonprofit, to bring Boston its very first Fiestas San Sebastián, a Puerto Rican festival celebrating a saint whose martyrdom has contributed to an enduring legacy as a gay icon. Also in 2017, TO will present “Feeling Our Pulse,” a response to the Orlando nightclub shootings that explores the events from a Latino and Muslim point-of-view, and the organization will partner with Last Call, a New Orleans queer artist group, to commission a piece called “Alleged Lesbian Activies,” which explores the history of lesbian bars, increasingly endangered spaces, and their racial and regional differences. Finally, TO


is partnering on a tour with ArtsEmerson that will bring a dynamic new show, and the group’s unique LGBTQ sensibility, to many more new audiences. The curtain is officially up on an exciting year ahead.

Bringing Resources And Support To Trans And Genderfluid Kids LGBTQ young people are continuing to come out at younger age—or at the very least, parents and other adults are beginning to better recognize and respect, gender-creativity kids who may not necessarily subscribe to the gendered expectations of their assigned sex. Naturally, LGBTQ organizations are dong their part to tailor programs and services toward these younger ages—and the adults who care for them. This year, Greater Boston PFLAG will be immersed in a “big push” to get LGBTQ-inclusive curriculums and GSA organizations into more K-8 schools, says executive director Val Frias. Greater Boston PFLAG, which also provides trainings and workshops for educators, has a goal to work with 7,500 middle school

“ We’re doing a lot more work with youth younger than 13, and we’re considering changing our mission statement to reflect that. ” Melissa Murray executive director, Outright Vermont

students in 2017, says Frias. “Especially when it comes to anti-bullying, our goal is to engage at as early an age as we can,” says Frias. Meanwhile, up in the Green Mountain State, youth LGBTQ organization Outright Vermont is doing important work “supporting gender creative kids as young as three,” says Outright executive director Melissa Murray. In the past, the organization has worked primarily with young people ages 13 and up. But with increasing calls for support for younger ages from families, elementary schools

and pre-schools, Outright has recently expanded its reach to work with youth from ages 3–12 too. These young people are offered opportunities to engage with older transgender youth who can serve as role models, while their parents and caretakers receive the resources and guidance they need to give their kids appropriate support. “We’re doing a lot more work with youth younger than 13, and we’re considering changing our mission statement to reflect that,” says Murray. [x]

Wherever, whenever LGBT leaders of industry are being celebrated ...

Count us in. Harvard Pilgrim is a proud supporter of Boston Spirit Magazine.


SEASONAL Leadership STORY Scott Kearnan ART DIRECTIO N AND PHOTOGRAPHY Joel Benjamin

Progressive Pioneers With one foot planted firmly in the future, each of these LGBT trailblazers is exploring a universal path forward “Hey, I’d love to be the first gay president!” says one of these under-thirty-something LGBT power players of New England. “But I’m not going to say that’s my goal. I just want to know that my work makes a difference.” Making a difference is one thing all these millenial movers and shakers have in common. In fact, across an impressive spectrum of personal achievements, they all put community first. And when they speak of community, they’re talking inclusivity, intersectionality; in other words, greater understanding of differences and equality for all. This is what leadership is all about. Taking on the status quo, these progressive young role models are showing us a future we can believe in.

40 | BOSTON SPIRIT


KADEN

MOHAMED

24

Younger generations continue to blaze trails, especially within the transgender community. Witness Mohamed: Originally from New York City, Mohamed was assigned female at birth and transitioned to male while studying women’s and gender studies at Wellesley College. He says he received “pushback,” and his story was included in a “New York Times Magazine” feature on trans men at women’s colleges, giving voice to students in similar situations across the country. “I had issues with the institution’s narrow ideas of what a women’s college was,” says Mohamed. “The trans experience was erased.” Mohamed, whose documentation reflecting his transition and legal name change was complete by his 2014 graduation, wound up one of the very few men to receive a degree from the school. Wellesley is also where Mohamed forayed into social justice work, co-managing the Café Hoop Collaborative, a student-run organization behind events like queer open mic nights. Today, he brings those skills to his role on the steering committee of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, where he is committed to defending Massachusetts’ landmark Transgender AntiDiscrimination Law; opponents of the law have put its repeal on the 2018 statewide ballot. Mohamed made an impassioned speech about the law’s value during an October press conference held by Freedom Massachusetts. Even as he opens others’ eyes to the transgender experience, Mohamed explores his own ideas of intersectional queer identity— and offers important support in inclusive communities-building [MORE ON 42] JAN|FEB 2017 | 41


[FROM 41]

work—as executive assistant at Keshet, a Jamaica Plainbased national nonprofit advocating for LGBT equality in Jewish life. “Previously, most of my experience with religion was seeing people use it to discriminate,” says Mohamed. “It’s been an awesome experience to see how so many of my LGBT and Jewish coworkers occupy two identities.” Building bridges will be an important skill for the next generation of LGBT activists, says Mohamed. “We need to be thoughtful about how we approach people with opposing views,” he says of one challenge facing his peers. “We don’t want opponents to shut up and disappear. We want to open up dialogues. We need to engage them to get to a better place across divides.”

42 | BOSTON SPIRIT


getting the ACLU involved,’” said Ryan.

JACQUELYN

RYAN

21

Ryan turned personal experience with prejudice into an opportunity to pioneer. When the Sturbridge, Massachusetts, native was in high school, where she was president of the Gay-Straight Alliance, she was pulled into the principal’s office and told her women’s clothing was a “distraction,” said Ryan, who was assigned male at birth. The school eventually outed Ryan as trans to her devoutly religious parents, with whom she is no longer on speaking terms. Angry at her treatment, she sent school administrators a copy of Massachusetts law H3810, An Act Relative to Gender Identity, which protects transgender students against discrimination in public schools. “I said, ‘If this continues, I’m

“That’s what really set me down the path of politics,” said Ryan, who later wound up running for, and winning, a seat on her regional school committee—making her the first openly transgender elected official in the Bay State. Since then, Ryan has worn many hats while supporting her LGBT community—from working with elected officials to pass the Transgender Public Accommodations Bill to sitting on the board of directors for AIDS Project Worcester. She is also the LGBTQ Caucus Chair at the Young Elected Officials Network, a program of the People for the American Way Foundation that cultivates next-generation progressive leaders. She is diversity director for the Young Democrats of America LGBTQ Caucus, and

also holds a designated female bisexual seat on the Democratic State Committee, where she is working to galvanize support for four additional seats that would be filled by intersex and gendernonconforming representatives. In all these roles, she ensures transgender voices are heard in the political process. Many of her passions, though, go back to school. “I believe that education is the great equalizer of our society,” said Ryan, who is planning a run for town council in her new home of Southbridge, where she also helped develop a support group for LGBTQ youth at Harrington Hospital. “I want to make sure that every student is able to live up to his or her Godgiven potential.” She’s certainly leading by example.


JORDAN

EVANS

25

If we’ve learned anything from this election season, it’s that many Americans—on both sides of the aisle—aren’t listening to voices from outside their existing comfort zone. “Many people live in an echo chamber,” said Evans. Not she. Evans is a transgender woman and a young Republican who wants to build bridges between her LGBT community and a party that struggles to embrace queer issues. According to recent statistics from GLAAD, only 16 percent of Americans personally know someone who is transgender— and Evans believes that visibility is key to progress. “The best way to change hearts and minds is getting to know hearts and minds.” She has seen evidence of that in action. Evans lives in Charlton, Massachusetts, one of the state’s more “conservative” towns, she says. Yet she has emerged as a popular public servant wearing many hats. She is recording secretary for the Charlton Republican Town Committee, the Republican member of the Registrar of Voters, town constable and vice-chairwoman of the Charlton Public Library’s board of trustees. “As Tip O’Neill said, all politics is local,” said Evans. To that end, Evans helped make the library’s bathroom gender-neutral even before Massachusetts passed its transgender public accommodations bill. Evans advocated strongly for that bill, working with organizations like Freedom Massachusetts to lobby lawmakers. “I was able to meet with Republican legislators and talk [MORE ON 46]

44 | BOSTON SPIRIT


JOE

DI MAURO

22

Di Mauro is the reigning Mr. Gay Rhode Island. But if you think this pageant winner’s passions only run skin deep—think again. “At first, I think people thought I was just a pretty face,” says Di Mauro. “But winning the pageant gave me a very public platform to talk about issues that I really care about—and not in a pretty way. I’ve been very open and raw.” Mental illness is among the issues that Di Mauro wants to address. When he’s not fulfilling his more fun-filled duties as Mr. Gay Rhode Island—say, throwing out the first pitch at a PawSox game—he’s working on Project Fearless, his newly launched nonprofit dedicated to reducing barriers to mental health care. It’s a very personal project for Di Mauro, who has spoken publicly about his past battles with eating disorders, an issue prevalent in the LGBT community. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 42 percent of men who have eating disorders identify as gay, a startlingly disproportionate amount. Project Fearless subsidizes copays for those who can’t afford mental health treatment. Di Mauro also supports his community through sales from his new clothing and accessories line, Para Dylan. Each month, 75 percent of Para Dylan sales is also diverted to a different local nonprofit addressing other important issues, from childhood cancer to domestic violence. [MORE ON 46]

JAN|FEB 2017 | 45


[FROM 44]

[FROM 45]

to people who wouldn’t normally listen to some of my democratic colleagues,” says Evans.

Being a poster boy for positivity suits Di Mauro, who came out as gay during his senior year of high school, while serving as class president, to “overwhelming support.” (Growing up, he says, he received more negative remarks for being Latino than for being gay.) At just 18, he became regional field director for the Raise Up Massachusetts campaign, which successfully raised the state’s minimum wage and guaranteed earned sick time for workers. He interned at Rhode Islanders United for Marriage, helping to bring equal marriage to the Ocean State, and he’s now a grassroots coordinator at the Fall Riverbased Coalition for Social Justice. Looking ahead, he’s considering a future run for Providence city council. Our prediction: Prepare the crown.

Her savvy ability to seek common ground was captured in an impassioned open letter to Governor Charlie Baker about the trans rights bill, published in “Commonwealth” magazine. “Gov. Baker, I leave you with this,” wrote Evans. “You’ve shown you have a willingness to self-educate and evolve on this very important issue, which is why I hope you consider my words.” Going forward, Evans hopes to puncture many more previously soundproof echo chambers. “I want to influence the Republican discourse on LGBT issues on a grander scale,” said Evans. “I’d like to be in the position where I’m knocking on office doors saying, ‘We’re in the same party, and we need to talk.’”


AARON

WOLFSON 24 Since the election, many progressive activists have wondered audibly about how to handle the potential threats to civil liberties posed by President Trump’s extremist administration. Wolfson has an idea. “I’m going to fight like hell for the next four years,” says Wolfson, who brings heavy artillery to the arena. Wolfson is media relations specialist for the ACLU of Massachusetts, managing press communications for the state affiliate of the major national organization safeguarding Americans’ constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. He helps tell stories that can shape public opinion and apply political pressure, protecting individual rights and defending against discrimination based on gender identity, sexuality, race, religion and other markers. For instance, the ACLU recently filed a lawsuit challenging Massachusetts’ 20-day voter registration cutoff law, which the organization says arbitrarily disenfranchises thousands of voters, particularly students, the elderly and those from poorer communities. “I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in social justice issues,” says Wolfson, who was raised in Newton, Massachusetts and attended Simmons College, a women-focused

school. During undergrad, Wolfson, assigned female at birth, came out as a transgender man and worked with administrators to develop trans-inclusive admission policies that the college formally adopted in 2014. He lobbied Beacon Hill legislators by serving on the policy committee of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition and as policy and legislative liaison for the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth. He was an administrative coordinator for the Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Youth (BAGLY) and public education manager for Freedom Massachusetts, bolstering statewide efforts that successfully passed the transgender public accommodations bill. At the ACLU, Wolfson continues to stand up for rights—and for what’s right—in the LGBTQ community and beyond. Most recently, the ACLU of Massachusetts called on the Supreme Judicial Court to dismiss 24,000 convictions tied to drug chemist Annie Dookhan, who admitted she tampered with evidence at the state-run lab where she worked. The organization is also bracing to fight efforts to repeal the transgender public accommodations bill, which will be put to voters on the 2018 statewide ballot. Wolfson’s work makes headlines. His story, though, is just beginning.

JAN|FEB 2017 | 47


Use Your Vacation Home as Both a Getaway and an Investment Property We are in prime season for deciding

rental options, a new world of both

friends, buying a second home could

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possibilities and pitfalls has emerged.

be the right option for you. If you regularly spend more than a month

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are willing to book at the last moment,

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Buying also gives you the option to

location (for instance, away from the

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suit our needs, we would contact real estate brokers in the area we wanted to stay in, or ask around to friends who had vacationed there before. Those are still good routes to follow. However, with the growth in popularity of online real estate services and

But if you spend a lot of time in the same vacation area with family and

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This communication provides general information and does not constitute legal advice. Attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Š 2016 Burns & Levinson LLP. All rights reserved.


This communication provides general information and does not constitute legal advice. Attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Š 2016 Burns & Levinson LLP. All rights reserved.


EV

EVNEN

29

What trumps fear? Facts. “The use of data has to be part of a broader strategy that gets people to realize that marginalized people deserve justice,” says Evnen, partner and self-professed “senior data nerd” at MaeBright Group, a Bostonbased research and consulting firm that works with state agencies, nonprofits and other entities to evaluate and improve services to LGBTQ people. Emotional storytelling is an important tool for moving hearts, says Evnen—but sometimes it takes hard data to open minds. “Research lets you look at things from a logical perspective,” says Evnen. Fear is a major motivating force behind many prejudices, from racism to Islamophobia to transphobia, says Evnen. “But if you can use data to get people to realize that their argument is rooted in fear, it’s an important first step in encouraging them to consider other perspectives.” Growing up in Nebraska, Evnen, who identifies as genderqueer (and prefers the pronoun “they”) always had complementary passions for social justice and science. Though nearly dissuaded from pursuing the latter by a homophobic Science Olympiad coach in high school, they found a more supportive academic environment in New England, where they graduated from Wesleyan University and Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management. “I’m very happy in spreadsheets,” says Evnen. “I know that we need to use every tool available to create social justice.” [MORE ON 52] 50 | BOSTON SPIRIT


TANGELA

ROBERTS

28

Even with the reams of research conducted on the LGBT community, bisexual issues specifically tend to be overlooked by academics. Roberts is changing that. As a PhD candidate in counseling psychology at UMass-Boston, the Birmingham, Alabama native’s research covers wide ground: She has published academic papers about food and housing stability for urban college students, authored manuscripts on issues like HIV prevention and co-wrote the book “Girls of Color, Sexuality and Sex Education.” But a “big line of my work has to do with bisexual communities,” says Roberts, who wants to fill the gaping voids of understanding about bi people with scholarly investigation—like her recently published paper “Between a gay and a straight place: Bisexual individuals’ experiences with monosexism,” which examines the discrimination bisexuals face from both straight and gay communities. Roberts identifies important, often overlooked questions—for instance, why do bisexual women have lower rates of cervical cancer screenings?—and dives deep to answer them. “I’m a black bisexual female, and all three of those things are really important to who I am,” says Roberts, whose intersectionalityoriented work bridges identities: For instance, she’s active in the Black Lives Matter movement and she is working on a dissertation that discusses discrimination against black LGBT people involved in racial justice movements and its effect on psychological well-being. [MORE ON 52] JAN|FEB 2017 | 51


[FROM 50]

[FROM 51]

As a research fellow at GLSEN, the national organization advocating for LGBTQ issues in education, Evnen conducted research that compared the positive outcomes of athletic participation for LGBT and non-LGBT students. Now at MaeBright, Evnen works with a range of clients— from nonprofit summer camps to state agencies like the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services. They assess services and outcomes in ways that can have lasting impacts on policy: whether informing decisions on gender-segregated spaces, developing LGBTQ cultural competency, or routing limited resources to maximize impact. For instance, MaeBright’s work with the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health informed the State Commission on LGBTQ Youth’s 2017 policy recommendations.

Roberts pours herself into her community, gaining clinical counseling experience at the Sidney Borum Jr. Health Center, an LGBTQ adolescent-focused program of Fenway Health, and at Simmons College’s counseling center, where she developed a support group for LGBTQ students of color. She sits on an interdisciplinary LGBT research team at UMass-Boston, and has presented at many workshops and symposiums dealing with LGBTQ and racial justice issues.

“Our clients are good people who want do to the right thing,” says Evnen. Sometimes it just takes a nerd to show them how.

National leaders on these issues are taking notice of Roberts’ work. In June, Roberts met with President Obama as an invitee to the White House LGBT Pride Month Reception; she returned to D.C. in September as one of the leaders invited to the White House Bisexual Community Briefing. This academic star’s accomplishments are nothing less than A-plus.

Plan to take care of each other Michele B. O’Connor

Executive Director Portfolio Management Director Financial Advisor 53 State Street, 39th Floor Boston, MA 02109 617-589-3297 www.morganstanleyfa.com/micheleoconnor michele.b.oconnor@morganstanley.com

A wealth plan that is thoughtfully constructed can help you provide for those you love. True wealth is not only about money. It’s about the relationships, interests and goals that bring you joy ... and what should be at the heart of your wealth plan. As a Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor with significant experience working with same sex couples and the larger LGBT community, I know every client’s circumstances and resources are unique. By understanding your total life picture, we will work together to build a solid financial plan so you can be more at ease enjoying those things that matter most. Building confidence in your future is my goal. Call me and let’s arrange a meeting.

The appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (“Morgan Stanley”), its affiliates and Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors do not provide tax or legal advice. Individuals should consult their tax advisor for matters involving taxation and tax planning and their attorney for matters involving trust and estate planning and other legal matters. © 2016 Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. Member SIPC. CRC1574588 8674698 LGBT008 08/16


JOSHUA

CROKE

26

We don’t like to brag, but the LGBT community has a way of sprucing up cities. You know the formula: Gays move to town, cool stuff follows, and soon everyone is scrambling for an apartment in the newest hot neighborhood. (Sorry about those real estate prices, though.) So maybe it’s no surprise that gay entrepreneur Joshua Croke is one of the young hotshots behind the ongoing revitalization of Worcester, New England’s second largest city, where ambitious efforts are rejuvenating economic and cultural developments at a robust rate. Croke, who grew up in nearby Sturbridge, is executive director of the two-year-old organization Action! Worcester, which brings together community stakeholders, particularly those in the lifestyle and innovation sectors, to make the city more vibrant, exciting and inclusive: whether that means promoting enhancements to public transportation, developing an intercollegiate GayStraight Alliance consortium among Worcester schools or finding ways to make the city more attractive to promising start-ups. One of Croke’s most recent successes was

POW! WOW! Worcester, a weeklong international art festival that saw 14 massive murals from established contemporary artists sprout up all over Worcester, drawing thousands of visitors to the city. The arts are particularly important to Croke, a former American Musical and Dramatic Academy student and choral music director. He is also founding member of Worcester’s new Theatre District Alliance, a group dedicated to enlivening the downtown arts scene. Helping to building a new face for Worcester is a perfect fit for Croke’s skills. After all, branding is his forte. Croke has his own marketing strategy and creative consulting business, Origin Consulting. He was lured to Worcester, rather than New York or Boston, by the lower cost of entry for startups. Worcester, he says, is poised to inherit some of the similarly innovative young blood being priced out of other cities—and if he can help capture it, all of the city’s communities, including its LGBT one, will benefit from a more dynamic and inclusive civic and creative culture. “I fell in love with the whole urban revitalization process,” says Croke. “I fell in love with the whole civic notion of building inclusive, sustainable communities.”

JAN|FEB 2017 | 53


TYLER

CARLTON

23

Carlton used to study theater. But it’s on the political stage where this star is being born. “Every politician is a really good actor anyway,” laughs Carlton, who spent his childhood in the Los Angeles suburbs and teenage years in Texas, where he was struck by the homophobic culture shock. He remembers telling a high school teacher he planned to major in theater in college. The response: “Good. That’s one of the only things gays can be successful in.” Such experiences galvanized Carlton’s social justice instincts, as did leading volunteers during the Obama campaign. He became precinct chair for his Texas county’s Democratic Party, organizing rallies around Supreme Court cases on same-sex marriage and a march to demand the city council pass a resolution in support of marriage equality. Carlton transferred to Salem State University in true-blue Massachusetts as a political science major, founded the College Democrats, and earned school’s New Student of the Year award. He expanded his stage, working on congressional campaigns and even running for a Salem city council seat. But Carlton assumed his largest roles within the LGBTQ community: He’s the former communications director and LGBT caucus co-chair for the Young Democrats of Massachusetts, and currently co-chairs the LGBT subcommittee of the Massachusetts Democratic Party’s executive committee. He’s constantly informing conversations about advancing LGBT issues in the state party—and maintaining vigilance around existing protections. “Just because we make progress doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way,” cautions Carlton, who points to current efforts to repeal the transgender [MORE ON 57] 54 | BOSTON SPIRIT


GIL

PONTES III

21

“My generation, a lot of the younger Republicans—they’re not your father’s Republican,” says Pontes. Pontes is a young, gay Republican in Massachusetts—a combination that, statistically speaking, is fairly unusual. But Pontes says the Republican Party is changing. A socially liberal new guard is coming up behind the current crop, and he’s already working hard to position himself as a young leader who can contribute an important LGBT voice to an evolving party. “We can’t ignore the fact that some members do hold conservative views on matters of LGBT issues,” says Pontes. “The key is to work with them, educate them, be an open ear for discussion and debate.” Pontes is inspired by the aisle-crossing reputation of moderate Republican and former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld. “He is a pioneer of what I see as the future of the Republican Party.” When that future comes, it will be in the LGBT community’s best interest to have a robust presence, says Pontes, who believes the party’s attitudes on social issues will best advance with help from the inside. Pontes was always a political junkie growing up in Berkley, Massachusetts. He’s been active in local politics since the moment he could vote, and worked on Republican campaigns for state committee and senate seats. Soon he dove in, joining the board of the Republican town committee and then winning his first campaign for selectman. In that role, he’s focused on supporting small businesses, improving schools and battling the ongoing opioid epidemic in the suburbs. [MORE ON 57]

JAN|FEB 2017 | 55


JONATHAN

PETERS

18

“Locker room talk” was a buzzphrase dominating much of the election cycle, a reference to the casual misogyny and chauvinism that can fester in the world of sports. Though strides are being made toward inclusivity of LGBT athletes, it takes young leaders to keep pushing the industry along— and change the direction of conversations, both in and outside the locker room. “I’ve heard a lot of homophobic slurs,” says Peters, a senior at Sturgis Charter Public School in Hyannis, Massachusetts, where he’s coach of the junior varsity basketball team. The longtime student athlete came out at age 15 to a supportive family, and he’s the co-president of his school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, where he works on campaigns that promote inclusive messages, like body positivity for LGBT people. But he knows firsthand the sting of casual homophobia in athletics, and he believes that in the current cultural climate, every effort matters fighting back. “Just look at the post-election reports of hate crimes,” says Peters. “Bullying is not a ten-years-ago issue.” So Peters launched the Youth OUTreach Program, an initiative cultivating safe environments for LGBTQ young people. In October he made a big splash by organizing a conference at Hyannis’ Resort and Conference Center about antibullying and diversity in sports. The event brought together about 160 attendees—student athletes, coaches and organizational leaders from around the region. The keynote speakers were Cyd Zeigler, Cape Cod native and founder of OutSports.com, and Braeden Lange, a 13-year old gay lacrosse player


from Pennsylvania whose story was featured in “The Courage Game,” a documentary that aired on ESPN.

[FROM 54]

Only 23 percent of LGBT students play sports in school, according to research from GLSEN, with many reporting harassment and assault. Leaders like Peters are building an arena where athletes can be celebrated for their skills and successes—not denigrated for their sexuality or gender identity.

public accommodations bill. Besides, it’s important to build room for more representation at the table. Last year, Carlton’s subcommittee lobbied the state party to increase its goal numbers when electing LGBT delegates to attend the Democratic National Convention. He also works to increase representation of other underrepresented groups, successfully increasing the number of “Disability” seats on the state committee; he’s now working to triple the number of seats for veterans.

“I’ve always been a human rights activist,” says Peters, who is also a board member of Thrive, a Cape nonprofit for LGBTQ youth. He’s planning to study sociology in college, with an eye toward future work in schools. “I want to bring change that makes this world a more inclusive, accepting place.”

What’s his dream role? “Hey, I’d love to be the first gay president!” says Carlton, now pursuing a dual master’s degree in political science and public administration at Suffolk University. “But I’m not going to say that’s my goal. I just want to know that my work makes a difference.”

Walden: Four Views

[FROM 55]

But he’s already thinking ahead, and now running for his district’s seat in the state senate. “I think we need a new generation of leadership on Beacon Hill,” says Pontes. “We don’t need a rubber stamp for the Republicans or the Democrats. I believe in dropping partisan labels and working for the people.” That includes pushing the party’s platforms on LGBT issues in a progressive direction. Luckily, Pontes is proving himself a nutsand-bolts leader with player potential in that field. “I’m a 40 year old in a 21 year old body,” laughs Pontes, a nose-to-thegrindstone policy wonk. “I’m not a club rat.” He’s a worker bee.

Abelardo Morell

on exhibit February 10 through August 20, 2017 at the Concord Museum in historic Concord, MA www.concordmuseum.org • 978.369.9763 Walden: Woods and Pond, 2016, photograph by Abelardo Morell

celebrating the bicentennial of Henry David Thoreau’s birth


SAVANNAH

GREEN

17

Gardiner, Maine is a tiny, 5,800-person town by the banks of the Kennebec River, a quaint little enclave tucked in the rural space between the state’s touristy seacoast and inland capital city. It isn’t the type of town you’d expect to make national headlines. But then again, Savannah Green isn’t a typical high school student. In October, GLSEN, the leading national organization championing LGBTQ issues in education, announced the winners of its annual Respect Awards. Green, then 16 years old and a high school junior, was one of only four young people around the country to be placed on GLSEN’s Student Advocate of the Year Honor Roll, which honors those who are building “a safe and affirming learning environment” at their school. Among her accomplishments, Green rekindled her school’s inactive Gay-Straight Alliance, worked with administrators to develop LGBT-inclusive curriculums (she’s working on similar goals at the state level), and participated in the New Leaders Project, a leadership-building initiative from EqualityMaine, the state’s oldest and largest LGBT political advocacy organization. National recognition is nice, but Green is especially moved by the reception her work has garnered from peers. “It brings me pride when I hear that my friends kind of look up to me,” said Green. “Since I’ve been doing this work, I’ve had people tell me really sentimental things.” Green is bisexual, and also hopes that she can educate people about her identity. “A lot of people in my generation are still being told that it’s a phase, because we’re millennials and we don’t know what we really feel,” said Green, whose generation is increasingly comfortable with the more fluid elements of sexual and gender identity. LGBT issues will always be central to her work, said Green, who is helping to organize this year’s Youth August Pride, a first-of-its-kind LGBT pride event for Maine’s capital. After high school, she’s considering attending Towson University, the first college in Maryland to establish an official LGBT studies program; Green thinks she would minor in LGBT studies and major in communications, with an eye toward TV and radio work. Clearly her biggest, brightest headline-making days are still ahead. 58 | BOSTON SPIRIT


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CULTURE Film STORY Loren King

Poetic Cinema Terence Davies and Cynthia Nixon ignite “A Quiet Passion” about Emily Dickinson From his short films of the 1980s to his autobiographical masterpieces “Distant Voices, Still Lives” (1988) and “The Long Day Closes” (1992), gay British director Terence Davies has brought a uniquely poetic voice to international cinema. His unabashed ambivalence about his sexuality is rooted in his hardscrabble childhood in 1950s Liverpool where he was physically and emotionally abused by his father. “I had my self-esteem battered out of me as a child and you never regain it,” says Davies in a rapid-fire, erudite, witty conversation at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The occasion was the North American premiere of his latest film, “A Quiet Passion,”

60 | BOSTON SPIRIT

about 19th-century American poet Emily Dickinson, played by Cynthia Nixon. It’s the latest in a string of films that includes “The Neon Bible” (1995); “The House of Mirth” (2000); “The Deep Blue Sea” (2011); and “Sunset Song” (2015) about unconventional women who defy social mores. This can easily be read as stand-ins for queer ostracism. “Like most gay men, I am drawn to the company of women, especially British women, because they are funny,” says Davies. “They used to come around on Friday nights and I was allowed to go for their makeup. I could smell Friday nights. I always felt very at ease with women and very ill at ease with men. But when I was growing up, the big hits of the fifties

A Quiet Passion were all about women—”All That Heaven Allows”; “Love is a Many Splendored Thing”; “Magnificent Obsession.” I grew up on that. And Doris day; I love Doris Day.” His identification with Emily Dickinson includes her devotion to her art even as conventional success eluded her. Only seven of the poet’s 1,800 verses were in print at the time of her painful death from kidney failure at the age of 55. “Why wasn’t she at the head of the queue, just once? Why couldn’t she have won first prize just once? She deserved it,” he says. He also connected to Dickinson’s contempt for the social niceties of the day that tried her patience and bored her fierce intellect. A scene in the film of Emily offering sharp rejoinders during a tea party with a minister and his wife grew from the times in his youth, Davies says, when he was forced to suffer through watching football games with friends. “It was agony, absolute agony,” he says. “Women are funny. And they don’t like sports.”


“A Quiet Passion,” which is set to open in the early part of 2017, is the latest of many projects that allows Nixon, a Tonywinning stage actress who shot to fame as Miranda on HBO’s landmark “Sex and the City,” to showcase her considerable acting chops. Last year, she played a woman dying of cancer in the heartbreaking indie “James White” and also starred as Nancy Reagan in the National Geographic Channel’s “Killing Reagan.” “I think that there are some things like women and their—for lack of better term—‘artistic sensibility’ that Terence identifies with quite a lot. But there are so many things that a film about Emily Dickinson could be about…her struggles as an artist [to find her] individual voice; her struggles with religion; with intimacy; with coming from such an intense, closeknit family. She didn’t know if she wanted a family of her own; was that a betrayal of her first family? Those are all themes Terence feels in his own life,” says Nixon, who also attended TIFF. “But one of the amazing things about Emily Dickinson is she wrote so specifically from her vantage point and she didn’t

Terence Davies PHOTO Loren King compromise anything. I always think of something that Quentin Crisp said: even if society views you as a pariah, an outcast, a freak, wallflower, whatever, if you stand your ground and remain true to yourself, society will come to see, in time, what you were talking about. That certainly has happened to Emily Dickinson.” This is the first time Davies has worked with an out actor, but Nixon says that

didn’t create common ground between them. “We are totally different. Our sensibilities are totally different. I’m an extremely emotional person, too, but not in public. In a way, Terence’s emotionality was something he probably had to fight for, as a man. I feel the opposite is true for me. I have to fight to be taken seriously,” she says. Davies’s tortured childhood and adolescence, which the director blames for his painful relationship to his homosexuality, is also unlike Nixon’s balanced life. “That’s far from my experience and it’s not just generational. The people I came from, they don’t care,” says Nixon, who in 2012 married Christine Marinoni, her partner since 2004. Nixon has been a passionate LGBT rights advocate ever since then. Shot largely in Belgium, with some location shooting in Dickinson’s hometown of Amherst, Massachusetts, Nixon says she was moved to see Dickinson’s house when she arrived in Amherst for a few days of shooting. “I was struck with how lovely her house is and touched that her father would have

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CULTURE Cinema/TV STORY Loren King

Quest for Truth Cynthia Nixon PHOTO Loren King created such a nice room for her, rather than a back bedroom for an unmarried daughter. That spoke volumes about the way he viewed his daughters, that no matter what the life choice was, she’d have a really nice room with enormous, beautiful windows.” Nixon, who recites many of Dickinson’s poems in the film, said Davies offered the role to her and “reportedly wrote it with me in mind. I have identified with Emily Dickinson since I was a kid,” she says. “She and I have a lot in common: we’re both so much about connection; we’re kind of anti-presentational, both of us. We have a love-hate relationship with attention. We can be emotionally volatile. She is so strong; I don’t think I’m as disciplined to live the kind of life she lived. “She’s not graceful. I’m not graceful and I don’t have much interest in being graceful. It just seems disingenuous to me. I am interested in conveying what I think, not looking lovely while I do it.” Nixon says she was influenced as a child by Julie Harris as Dickinson in a television version of “The Belle of Amherst.” “My mother was a big fan of both Emily Dickinson and Julie Harris,” she says. “We had a record of Julie Harris reading some of the poems and most famous letters so it really got in my head very early. I inadvertently memorized

sections of it. That’s the think about Emily Dickinson: when she reaches you, you really feel like she’s speaking to you directly. Her vocabulary is large and her poems are dense and subjects very weighty but they’re so spare that children can get the gist of many of them.” Similarly, Davies discovered Dickinson early on. “When I was 18 and a lowly bookkeeper, the local radio station did a 15-minute documentary on her and it was Claire Bloom reading her poetry. I ran out and bought [a book], never thinking I would go into the arts much less make a film about her.” Davies acknowledges that “A Quiet Passion” manages the daunting task of creating drama from a woman’s interior life. “It doesn’t matter in the slightest if you never go anywhere if you have that inner life. But there was also inner conflict,” he says, noting that Dickinson wrestled with her religious beliefs until, finally, she concluded, rather painfully, that there was no afterlife. “That was very hard,” he says, “because then there was no comfort. I was brought up Catholic and I was devout but I [also] think there’s nothing. In fact, my manager said, ‘This is your most autobiographical film.’ And he’s right. A posthumous reputation—what good is that?” [x]

62 | BOSTON SPIRIT

Two new documentaries with LGBT subtexts are essential viewing Flamboyant nobleman, poet and unabashed bisexual Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford and among the first to compose love poetry at the Elizabethan court, is believed by some scholars and historians to be the “real” William Shakespeare. Local filmmaker Cheryl Eagan-Donovan, founder and president of the aptly named Controversy Films, has herself entered the controversy with her second feature documentary “Nothing is Truer Than the Truth.” It profiles De Vere and gives voice to those who champion him—a movement that’s been around since the 1920s—as the true author of many of the plays and sonnets which he wrote under a pseudonym and which were subsequently attributed to Shakespeare. “It’s risky; only a few [experts] publicly support” the theory, says Eagan-Donovan. One of the subjects in her film who is on record as a De Vere proponent is out actor Sir Derek Jacobi, a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, whom Eagan-Donovan met through his partner, Richard Clifford. She also interviewed Oscar- and Tony-winner Mark Rylance (who is on the fence about De Vere); artistic director of the American Repertory Theater Diane Paulus; and Tina Packer, the

founding artistic director of Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Massachusetts, both of whom are also intrigued but not convinced. Eagan-Donovan, who received a grant from the Shakespeare Fellowship Foundation, optioned the book “Shakespeare By Another Name: The Life of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, The Man Who Was Shakespeare” by Mark Anderson who devoted more than a decade to researching the life of Edward de Vere. Her film focuses on the 18-month period when De Vere escaped the confines of life at Elizabeth’s Court and traveled throughout Italy and Europe from his home base in Venice. In London, De Vere associated with a circle of poets, many of them gay, notes Eagan-Donovan, adding that although married, De Vere had mistresses and when he returned from Italy, it was in the company of a young male singer. “I consider him a male version of Dorothy Parker,” she says. “He had a wicked wit; he was known to exaggerate and spin tales. He was quite a character.” Those in the De Vere camp believe the plays could have been written only by someone with a high level of education, knowledge of the aristocracy and the arts, and who likely traveled extensively through Europe where many of the plays are set. All of this is true of De Vere but not the man assumed to be Shakespeare, who was born in


Edward De Vere Stratford-Upon-Avon to a family of unremarkable status. “Nothing is Truer Than the Truth” screened at the Boston Public Library in November as part of ongoing exhibits and events to mark the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. EaganDonovan is now in the process of applying to film festivals and editing a broadcast cut for possible airing on the BBC. A screening of the film is set for Jan. 10 and 11 at Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Mass. Eagan-Donovan, who also teaches screenwriting and film at Lesley University and Northeastern University and will screen the film at both sites this winter, sees her documentary as an education tool. “It’s controversial but to focus it on schools and to include discussion is a great way to talk about sexuality and bullying, since many kids are bullied because of anxiety over sex and gender roles,” she says. Eagan-Donovan was first introduced to De Vere in the late ‘90s by professor Don Ostrowski while taking a history course at Harvard (she’ll

Bill Genovese in the documentary “The Witness” be screening her film for one of his classes). Production began in 2010 and the following year Egan-Donovan traveled to locations in Italy, including Verona, Padua and Venice. Last year, she shot in London including footage at Westminster Abbey.

‘Witness’ on PBS If there’s a sadder story than the infamous murder of Kitty Genovese in Queens, New York, in 1964, it might be that of Mary Ann Zielonko, Kitty’s lover and the woman who identified Kitty’s body that March night. In the 2016 documentary “The Witness,” which had a theatrical run and will air on PBS, Kitty Genovese’s brother Bill, who was 16 at the time of her death, tries to make sense of his sister’s murder by revisiting the crime and talking to people who knew her. In his off-camera interview with Zielonko, she describes how she and Kitty met in Greenwich Village; their life together in the Kew Gardens neighborhood of Queens; and the night the police awoke her

Kitty Genovese with news that Kitty was dead and then proceeded to harshly question her. Zielonko reveals that her own life fell apart after Kitty was killed and how, at Kitty’s funeral, the Genovese family shunned her, even later taking the dog that belonged to the couple. It’s a heartbreaking, little-known sidebar to a story that’s captured headlines for more than 50 years. The story provoked international outrage after the New York Times claimed 38 witnesses did nothing as Kitty was being repeatedly stabbed on the deserted street as she returned home from her job as a bartender. The “38 witnesses” story has since been debunked (there were far less

and some did try to help). Bill Genovese himself talks with a now-elderly woman who was Kitty’s friend in the building and who came to Kitty’s aid as she lay bleeding to death in the hallway. The compelling film is directed by James Soloman but this is Bill Genovese’s story: he is the witness of the title, a man whose own life was forever changed and who, rather than being a passive bystander, remained a loving brother and a vigilant investigator determined to understand his sister and honor her memory. [x]

“The Witness” airs Monday, January 23, at 10 on WGBH Boston.

JAN|FEB 2017 | 63


CULTURE Film STORY Loren King

Homegrown Hero Documentary details Ann Maguire’s lifetime of LGBT activism Despite her quiet voice and calm demeanor, Ann Maguire has never been one to sit on the sidelines when issues of social justice were front and center. Maguire’s five decades of activism in the LGBT community include serving as campaign manager for Elaine Noble, who won a seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1974 becoming the first openly gay person elected to a statewide office; running the legendary Boston women’s bar Somewhere in the ‘80s; and playing important roles in the administration of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, after running his first mayoral campaign. Maguire also worked for the city of Boston as a liaison to the gay and lesbian community and as head of hunger and homelessness programs. Most of these achievements are detailed in “Ann Maguire: The Story of an American Hero,” a one-hour documentary by Marguerite “Maggie” Rizzi, who first met Maguire in 1975 when Maguire was running the Provincetown women’s bar

Sisters. They remained friends ever since. Rizzi, a former music teacher and now superintendent of schools in Stoughton, says she always knew Maguire would make a great documentary subject. “Ann is a doer, not a self-promoter,” says Rizzi. “When the gay marriage decision came down, I remember thinking, ‘this is the culmination of so much work that millennials need to know about.’” Encouraged by her partner, Brenda Mottram (“She was instrumental in getting this to happen,” notes Rizzi), Rizzi set out to show the world who Maguire is and what she’s accomplished. She did extensive interviews with Maguire, who lives in Boston and Provincetown, as well as Maguire’s wife, Harriet Gordon, and their four grandchildren. Gordon recounts how she met Maguire in 1985 when Gordon was running Rosie’s Place, a Boston homeless shelter for women, and Maguire was one of its most dedicated volunteers. Also appearing in the film are former U.S. Congressman Barney Frank who first

[ABOVE] The late Massachusetts U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy and Ann Maguire. PHOTO from the collection

of A. Maguire and M. Rizzi, all rights reserved. [TOP] Ann Maguire. PHOTO from the collection of A. Maguire and M. Rizzi, all rights reserved.

met Maguire in 1972; Angela Menino, wife of the late Boston mayor; and Maguire’s longtime friends Leslie McGrath, Wendy Sobel, and more. The film had its world premiere in Provincetown during the most recent Women’s Week, selling out eight screenings, says Rizzi. Now Boston audiences will get reacquainted with Maguire when the film screens at the Boston Public Library on January 23 at 6 p.m. Rizzi says there are additional plans to screen the film in Provincetown in July at a birthday celebration for Maguire who will turn 74. The film traces Maguire’s roots in Worcester and her rise as a political


The late Boston Mayor Tom Menino and Ann Maguire. PHOTO from the collection of A.

Maguire and M. Rizzi, all rights reserved.

strategist. One of the most moving aspects of the film are her descriptions of life in the closet in the ‘50s and ‘60s; her first girlfriend struggled with depression and later drowned herself in Jamaica Pond. “That pushed me to try and make a difference for other people in the community,” Maguire says with characteristic modesty. Living in Boston, she found a role in the nascent gay and lesbian rights movement, working with the Homophile Community Health Center and with Dignity, an organization of gay Catholics. She hosted

a call-in radio program, “Gay Way,” on WBUR from 1973 to 1980, which was how she met Noble, who asked Maguire to run her first statewide campaign. Frank describes how Nobel introduced him to Maguire in 1972 at the start of his political career. He remained impressed by Maguire’s uncommon ability to blend passion and pragmatism in her decades of political organizing and strategizing. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1988, Maguire helped create the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition and served as its

first president. Her activism continued with the launching of the Silent Spring Institute, now the national leader in breast cancer prevention research. Recognizing and honoring Maguire’s brand of tenacious, committed, commonsense activism is needed now more than ever, says Rizzi, in light of the 2016 presidential election and the danger it poses to the gains made by progressives. “There is going to be a desperate hunger to organize around issues of social justice,” she says. “It’s comforting to know how to proceed, and important to have a road map to understand how individuals and groups organized.” A fundraising reception will take place at the Lenox Hotel immediately following the BPL screening. Maguire and Rizzi will be in attendance. Tickets for the reception are $75 and proceeds will benefit the Provincetown Film Society and Helping Our Women, the Provincetown health organization for which Maguire is a board member. [x]

www.provincetownfilmsociety.org

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CULTURE Theater STORY Loren King

Peeling the Label

“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” is queer theater, says director Scott Edmiston Scott Edmiston, one of the region’s best stage directors, recalls his first memory of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” “I was six or seven. We were driving past a theater with the title on the marquee and my mother said, ‘Oh, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” is playing.’ It sounded to me like ‘Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf’ so I said, ‘I want to see it.’ And my mother answered, “Honey, you can’t see it. That’s a dirty movie!’ So I always had this association of it as something forbidden and dangerous, which isn’t entirely wrong,” says Edmiston. Although his directing resume includes plays by Noel Coward, Tennessee Williams

and Eugene O’Neill, Edmiston has not previously directed an Edward Albee play. His first is the late playwright’s masterpiece, which Edmiston directs for the Lyric Stage. Running Jan. 13 through Feb. 12, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” stars Paula Plum and Steven Barkhimer as sparring middle-aged couple George and Martha who invite naïve younger counterparts Honey and Nick (Erica Spyres and Dan Whelton) into their home on a bucolic college campus for what turns into a bitter psychological cage match. The play will mark Edmiston’s 11th show in just over a decade with Plum, arguably Boston’s premiere actress of both classic and contemporary

66 | BOSTON SPIRIT

roles. “Paula is an actress who has all the colors Martha requires. [Paula] is actually a very gentle person but as an actress she is fearless,” says Edmiston who directed Plum in “Private Lives” and “Miss Witherspoon,” among others. “Some actors you have to cultivate and encourage and give permission to go to bold places. That’s not the case with Paula; she jumps in, fearlessly and gladly. She brings that intensity from the first rehearsal on.” Actors, of course, long to play Albee’s characters. Not only are the lines lacerating and trenchant and bitterly funny but the play requires a stamina on the order of King Lear. “For directors and actors, it’s on their bucket list and it’s not produced that frequently. So when it comes your way, you have to grab it,” says Edmiston.

An enduring gay urban legend is that the gay Albee originally wrote “Virginia Woolf” for two men. Edmiston, who has taught the play for 20 years, says that isn’t true; Albee was adamant that George and Martha were a heterosexual couple. “It isn’t a gay play but it is a queer play,” he says.”The characters are not gay but there’s a queer sensibility to Albee’s writing that we can recognize now. The first line is ‘What a dump!’ with Martha quoting Bette Davis, so there’s a certain camp sensibility. One could say that Martha has a largerthan-life drag queen menace to her. But when I think queer theater, what it means to me is theater that depicts something outside of heteronormative behavior. This play is an attack on and an expose of a heteronormative marriage. It peels the label on the concept of the


[AT RIGHT] Steven Barkhimer and Paula Plum as the iconic George and Martha in the Lyric Stage’s production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginai Woolf?” [OPPOSITE] Scott Edmiston, director, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” at Lyric Stage.

all-American marriage. That’s why it has resonated with the queer community over the years. They are not gay characters; that undermines its true queerness.” Many of us, of course, know “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” best as the 1966 Mike Nichols film starring Elizabeth Taylor in her Oscar-winning role opposite husband Richard Burton. Edmiston says that besides the language and “adult themes,” the film and the play, which Albee wrote in 1962, were groundbreaking for their unnerving depiction of a domineering woman. “In the era of Jackie Kennedy and Laura Petrie,

the portrayal of Martha was revolutionary. She’s brash and vulgar and violent and sexual and demanding. That kind of intensity was very shocking, I think, to audiences of the early 1960s,” he says. Nichols “opened up” the play for brief scenes but the stage

version famously takes place in a single setting. Edmiston says he’s looking forward to using the intimacy of the Lyric to enhance the production. “It’s an ideal place because you want the feeling of being trapped. I directed [O’Neill’s] ‘Long Day’s Journey into

Night’ and some call this play ‘Long Night’s Journey into Day’ [because] it’s very long.” “There are reasons why this play is not produced that often,” he says. “One, you need extraordinary actors. The Albee estate has high standards and will only grant the rights after the actors and the director get approval. They understand it requires a unique skill set. Also, it’s not a play for the escapist, casual theatergoer. You need an audience that’s willing to surrender three hours to an electrifying emotional and psychological slugfest.” Edmiston is grateful that Boston audiences are “smart and discerning and adventurous,” he says. “They know this play and they are willing to take that long night’s journey into day.” [x]

www.lyricstage.com


CULTURE Theater STORY Loren King

In Their Own Words Gay writer Paul Lucas’ “Trans Scripts” honors the “T” in LGBT Paul Lucas, a successful, gay New Yorkbased stage producer, knew there were thousands of untold stories from within trans communities all over the world. He set out to find some of them. Doing extensive interviews with selfidentified trans people, Lucas unearthed far more material than even he expected; the trans experience is as varied as the human condition itself. So, for his first original play, “Trans Scripts,” Lucas kept the focus to the real-life stories of seven trans women, ranging in age from 28 to 73, from different walks of life. Lucas culled these seven personal narratives from the more than 75 interviews he conducted with transgender people in the United States, the UK, India, Australia, Cuba and Germany. “To me, it is essential that people be allowed to tell their own stories,” says Lucas, a New York City native who grew up in New Jersey. “I facilitated and crafted the interviews into a narrative and I interwove it in such a way as to highlight a journey and to draw parallels and contrasts between various characters. But it was essential that I, as a non-trans person, was not stepping in and telling their stories for them.

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“When I started the project, I intended to include many more trans communities— ladyboys in Thailand, for instance—but I realized, as I dove deeper, that I could not even cover men and women in the same piece without giving short shrift to one over the other,” he says. The seven real-life characters of “Trans Scripts”—played by a mix of cis and transgender actors—will have their voices heard in a way that’s never before been done on stage. “Trans Scripts” owes a debt to the work of Anna Deveare Smith and Moises Kaufman, who are known for “verbatim” plays, but it shares the most in common with Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues,” the groundbreaking work in which actors present the first-person narrations of actual individuals about deeply personal, political, sometimes humorous aspects of their lives. Ensler, in fact, was an early champion of the show, says Lucas, and was instrumental in bringing it to the attention of the American Repertory Theater (ART), which hosts the U.S. premiere of “Trans Scripts, Part I: The Women” January 17 through February 5 under the direction of Jo Bonney (Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3).

The ART presented a staged reading of the play last year, and the event sold out in two hours. Ensler, Lucas says, suggested that ART producer Diane Borger see “Trans Scripts” at the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Fringe where the play earned a prestigious Fringe First Award for new writing. Lucas says the show grew out of a personal experience that for him highlighted trans invisibility. Lucas was visiting a friend, an HIV-positive gay man who’d been paralyzed by illness and was wheelchair-bound. “He’s very left-leaning, very interested in equality,” says Lucas. “I mentioned that I was working with [trans performer] Our Lady J, who’s now a writer on ‘Transparent,’ but she was then primarily a singer.” Lucas says his friend surprised him by responding, “‘I don’t believe in that transgender thing. I can say I’m a unicorn; that doesn’t make me a unicorn.’ That was the moment I decided to do this show,” says Lucas. “He doesn’t even believe they exist. That’s an issue.” Lucas says “Trans Scripts” is about seven individual lives and is not meant to represent all trans women. “There are issues of age at transition, race, socio-economic status, education level, geographic location—all these factors fit into and intersect with the journey. I have one African-American character and one that’s [of mixed race]. The rest are caucasian but from different backgrounds. I didn’t happen to come across an Asian woman, but I tried to deal with different cultures.”


[AT FAR LEFT] Bianca Leigh as Tatiana PHOTO Colin Hattersley [AT LEFT] Rebecca Root as Eden  PHOTO Colin Hattersley

Knowing he’s barely scratched the surface of what it means to be trans, Lucas has already began doing interviews for a future play based on the stories of trans men. As a producer, Lucas had brought other plays to the Edinburgh (Scotland) Festival Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival,

which in 2015 spanned 25 days and featured more than 3,000 shows in 313 venues. This time, he was not attending with someone else’s work, but his own. “It’s a big risk. I had produced one dozen shows [for the festival] over the years and had won some big awards but it is an incredibly competitive environment. With more than 3,000 shows, it’s hard to get noticed and the stakes are high and it’s not cheap. I’d only go with a show that is envelope-pushing and has the potential to win the Fringe First. I did win and ‘Trans Scripts’ got 24 four- and five-star reviews. Many shows get none so I could not have asked for a better Edinburgh,” he says. In conducting 75 interviews for the project, Lucas says it may have helped that his mother was a therapist. He may have inherited not just her empathy and the ability to listen but also her lack of judgement. “I tend to be a trusting and trustworthy person. I told [the interview subjects] why I was doing this project and I also told

th e s e as o n r e s um e s ja n ua ry 5 617-266-1200 • bso.org

them, ‘Only you know where your story begins. Tell me the moment you knew there was a disconnect.’ That was a great starting point. Then I just let them talk. I found their experiences were far more similar to mine than dissimilar.” In conjunction with with its production of “Trans Scripts,” ART also presents “I.D. Festival,” a celebration of the diverse experiences of the trans community, at Oberon. These include country music singer Alison Young and the Swinging Steaks on Jan. 22; trans activist and New York theater performer Becca Blackwell’s solo piece “They, Themselves and Schmerm” on Jan. 23; indie singer Rae Spoon’s documentary musical “My Prairie Home” on Jan. 27; and Our Lady J in “Gospel for the Godless,” a celebration of wellknown pop songs reimagined through the gospel lens on Jan. 28. [x]

americanrepertorytheater.org


CULTURE Theater STORY Loren King

‘Comedy Curdling into Tragedy’

Rob Askins on his Tony-nominated “Hand to God,” heading to SpeakEasy Stage As a budding playwright at Baylor University in his native Texas, Rob Askins was a self-described hot mess. “I had some incredibly brilliant and loving professors but also some who were the strong arm of the Baptist right…I was not a favored son of [either] the administration or the theater department,” says Askins, who now lives in Brooklyn. “I ran the campus comedy paper; [headed] a secret society that pulled pranks; I wrote angry, fuck-you-Baptist one acts.” The repressive campus environment that mandated plays not have curse words, coupled not just with Askins’ rebellion but with his razor-sharp, offbeat wit, paved the way for “Hand to God.” Askins’ dark comedy is about a young man, Jason, who finds an outlet for his anxiety at the Christian Puppet Ministry at his local church in a devoutly religious small town in Texas. Things are thrown into upheaval when when Jason’s puppet, Tyrone, takes

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on a shocking and dangerously irreverent personality all its own. “Hand to God” opened on Broadway in 2015 following two acclaimed runs at Ensemble Studio Theatre and MCC Theater. It was nominated for five Tony Awards including Best Play. Boston’s SpeakEasy Stage Company will present “Hand to God” Jan. 6–Feb. 4 in a production directed by David R. Gammons and featuring Marianna Bassham (who won an Elliot Norton Award for her performance in the Gammons-directed “Blackbird”); Josephine Elwood (“The Whale”); and Eliott Purcell. Fighting conformity and censorship at Baylor, Askins says, prepared him for the big time when he arrived in Manhattan in 2005 as a scrappy, ambitious playwright. “The big revelation was that I could use the scream to get a laugh, to get [the audience] to come close before you say a disturbing thing.”

He developed “Hand to God” in collaboration with a few actors he met through Youngblood, Ensemble Studio Theatre’s OBIE-winning collective of emerging professional playwrights under the age of 30. The play’s success didn’t surprise him; “Hand to God” is beloved but not by everyone. “Most of its audience skews younger. That’s why I like when it’s done in punk rock-y, small neighborhood houses because that’s the audience that wants to see it,” he says. “If you want a roadshow of ‘She Loves Me,’ then go see it. If you want blood and puppet sex, well, then …” Besides stoking his rebellion, Askins, 36, credits the “in-built surreality” of Texas with “liberating” him from conventional theater tropes. “It’s surreal without meaning to be. There are puppet ministries and that’s not an unusual thing. Chicken fried steak is not chicken. There are peculiarities—the higher the hair, the closer to God; things that look good in Texas that look good no where else,” he says. A raving puppet not only functions as the “id,” says Askins, it allows the playwright, and the audience, to have some fun while revealing darker truths. When I interviewed Askins, Donald Trump had not


Hand to God playwright Rob Askins Actor Eliott Purcell with Tyrone in a scene from the SpeakEasy Stage Company production of “Hand To God” PHOTO Glenn Perry Photography [ABOVE]

[OPPOSITE]

yet won the 2016 presidential election. A reality television host addicted to Twitter assuming the leadership of the free world makes “Hand to God” and its uncontrollable devil puppet seem prescient. “The tone of this play, the comedy curdling into tragedy, this is the conversation I want to be having because this is

the conversation we need to be having in America. A lot of the innocuous, comical choices we’ve made are curdling into something very dark. A lot of our best intentions are coming back to bite us in the ass,” he says. “We thought we solved some things in the ‘80s and ‘90s. American political

discourse had reached a certain point and then, roaring back from the id, [comes] all our racism and sexism. Every generation has to defeat tyrants. There is an understanding of evil in the horror genre which is that the devil is never destroyed; the killer is never dead. We must be eternally vigilant.” “Hand to God” presents an opportunity for a tour-de-force for the actors, particularly in the role of Jason. That’s intentional, says Askins, whose numerous projects in the works include a half-hour comedy series “Brotherhood,” based on “Hand to God,” for HBO. “I love the poetry of the text but I also deeply love the poetry of the body and face; the choreography; the design,” he says. “Very often in theater we forget to use all the different elements of the stage. Aristotle gives us quite a few in his [work of dramatic theory] ‘Poetics.’ There should be song, dance, spectacle. We shortchange ourselves when the only thing we focus on is text. I love Shakespeare as much as anyone else but it ain’t all about pentameters.” [x]

www.speakeasystage.com

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CULTURE Music STORY Loren King Conspirare vocal ensemble.

Raising his Voice Craig Hella Johnson’s “Considering Matthew Shepard” heads to Boston’s Symphony Hall Musician and conductor Craig Hella Johnson, like many LGBTs, was profoundly shaken by the hate crime murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998. On Oct. 7, 21-year-old University of Wyoming student Shepard was lured from a gay bar in Laramie by two men, who drove him to a remote field where they savagely beat Shepard and left him tied to a fence. Discovered 18 hours later by a passing biker, Shepard died of his injuries after five days, never regaining consciousness. In response to calls for action, Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James

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Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. Eighteen years after Shepard’s brutal murder, Johnson, a Minnesota native who lives in Austin, realized his dream to honor Shepard’s memory and to craft an artistic response through music, the sole means with enough emotional power to do so. Johnson composed “Considering Matthew Shepard,” a three-part fusion oratorio that weaves various musical styles such as folk songs to spirituals with spoken word into a seamless tapestry, all sung by Conspirare, the acclaimed, 30-member Austin-based vocal ensemble

that Johnson founded. Conspirare won the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance for its album “The Sacred Spirit of Russia.” The choral group’s singers hail from all over the country and include soprano Sonja DuToit Tengblad of Boston as well as a chamber group of eight instrumentalists. Conspirare, with Johnson on piano and conducting, will perform “Considering Matthew Shepard” on Feb. 5 at 3 p.m. at Boston’s Symphony Hall as part of a series produced by Berklee College of Music. Tickets are available at www.bso.org. Johnson, a graduate of Yale University, had written short compositions but never anything on a scale of “Considering Matthew Shepard.” It was while working as artistic director for the renowned male classical vocal ensemble Chanticleer that news broke about Shepard’s murder. Johnson recalled that one of Chanticleer’s singers, whose name happened to be Matt, approached Johnson and, through tears, could only utter the words, “His name was Matt.” “It pierced our hearts. I felt from then that I wanted to respond,” Johnson says. He finally found the right musical expression when Johnson hit upon the idea of a passion, inspired by Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and St. John Passion oratorios. Johnson first workshopped the piece in Austin in 2014. “It was a rich experience,” he says, but he knew it wasn’t finished. “Matt was missing for me,” Johnson says. The “musical mediation around his legacy” that he envisioned came together when Johnson met Michele Josue, director of the powerful, award-winning documentary “Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine.” Josue introduced Johnson to Matt’s parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, who oversee the Matthew Shepard Foundation. They gave Johnson permission to


include passages from Matt’s journals in the libretto. Johnson wove Shepard’s own words with newspaper reports, poetic texts from historic figures such as Hildegard von Bingen and Rumi, and selections by contemporary writers Michael Dennis Browne and popular local writer Leslea Newman, author of the 2012 book “October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard.” “Considering Matthew Shepard” had its world premiere performances in 2016 in Austin and Los Angeles. In September 2016, Conspiare released a two-CD recording of “Considering Matthew Shepard” on the Harmonia Mundi label. It debuted at No. 4 on Billboard’s Traditional Classical Chart. The Washington Post’s praised the work in a review of the CD that read, “Like Bach’s large-scale choral works, this spellbinding piece draws on many styles masterfully juxtaposed… resulting in an impact that is “immediate, profound and, at times, overwhelming.” But there’s nothing like hearing the large-scale work performed live, says its composer. The Symphony Hall concert evolved after Johnson previewed his

Composer Craig Hella Johnson composition at Harvard last April, capping off his week-long residency with the Harvard University Holden Choruses with a Considering Matthew Shepard performance in Sanders Theatre. With the success of the live performances and the CD, Johnson says that a

national tour is now in the planning stages for the 2017–’18 season, which marks the 20th anniversary of Shepard’s murder. Although many LGBT people still recall how the event moved them and galvanized them to action, there is a new generation now without a clear memory of it. So that Shepard and his legacy are never forgotten, Johnson hopes that, following the Conspirare national tour, “Considering Matthew Shepard” will be performed by choirs, in schools, and at LGBT and performing arts centers. Composing and releasing “Considering Matthew Shepard” into the world, says Johnson, “felt like another coming out. So Matt was an inspiration in that sense. To be in a room for 107 minutes with these singers and this music [offers] implications for our own personal journeys. I invite people to come in. “The way Matt’s life ended is the story of what happens when we allow our culture to develop in this hateful rhetoric,” he says. “Matt paid the largest price but what matters is that his story is still bringing light into dark places.” [x]

www.bso.org

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CULTURE Books STORY Rob Phelps

Isolation and the American Family Northhampton, P’town writer reaches across cultural divides within America with new collection of stories The characters in MB Caschetta’s collection of short stories, “Pretend I’m Your Friend” (Engine Books, 2016), says their author, were inspired by the Caschetta’s experience growing up “the oddball in a traditional American family.” “My brothers all voted for Trump and used ugly words over the last eight years to describe the President I have loved and admired,” says the writer, who splits her time between the homes she shares in Provincetown and Northampton with her spouse and fellow writer Meryl Cohen and their standard poodle Violette Leduc. Caschetta grew up in upstate New York, “where hunting and racism were common,” she says. “My father would have loved this election had he still been alive. He would have worn that ridiculous ‘Make America Great’ hat for months no doubt, probably even in his sleep, just to bug me.” While these stories by no means focus on the current state of U.S. political affairs, let’s just say ... they resonate. “I have always been the ‘strange one’ in my family—a lesbian, feminist, writer, a former radical activist in the AIDS and gay movements,

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Author MB Caschetta and a progressive—and I have also always wondered about their points of view,” she says. “Do they think I’m a freak? Do they wonder how I landed in the mix with them? Many of my stories are about exploring the values and habits of people who end up together but do


not necessarily belong to one another.” She says she believes this is the main thing the stories in “Pretend I’m Your Friend have in common. While some of the stories are set on Caschetta’s childhood home turf, others are as farflung as Florence, New York City, Spain, Cuba and all over American suburbs. These are people we know or are familiar as passersby along on our own streets, workplaces, vacations abroad, hospices and schools. They’re gay, straight and fluid. They’re also people who aren’t always kind to each other and often don’t seem to have a clue what makes the others tick. Sometimes they annoy the crap out of each other. Then they about-face and do something wonderful. All the while, the author treats them with a kind of amused respect—even where the reader may suspect a characters’ bad behavior troubles the writer too. Cashetta says of her family, “I’ve always had to do a lot of reaching across the divide to maintain any connection.” As a consequence perhaps, this is a skill she’s learned to deploy on her characters as well. It’s a skill closely aligned with love, which the reader senses in every sentence of Cashetta’s crisp, wry prose. Cashetta says she’s lived with this particular crew of characters for a long time. “Someone once told me that to write a novel you need to land on characters you can live with for a decade or so. This turned out to be prophetic.” The stories in “Pretend I’m Your Friend” evolved over many years. At first they were simple standalone narratives, she says, but over the years they began to grow and multiply. Before she knew it, she had several story cycles about the same sets of characters.

As for her real-life community these days, along with spouse and pooch, Caschetta surrounds herself with other literary minded artists. She has worked on these stories in writers groups in Provincetown and Northampton. She shares a writers’ studio in Provincetown and works in a shared-office space in Northampton with other writers. “Being around writers and LGBTQ people is essential for me, especially people who are committed to the arts. It’s why I reside in only the queerest of Massachusetts’s zip codes. I’m proud to live in the uncommon Commonwealth. I’m pleased to have gotten married on the very first day it was possible in the country, May 17, 2004, in Provincetown. Judge Welsh, whose father and grandfather were judges in Barnstable County, and now his daughter is a justice there, held our hands together and said, ‘What a great day for civil rights— your day!’” Since “Pretend I’m Your Friend” was released in autumn 2016, MB Cashetta has read in New England bookstores from Cambridge to Northampton. Although she has no current dates at the time this article went to press, she’s hoping to read this winter or spring at Harvard Book Store, where she read from her novel ‘Miracle Girls’ in 2014.” Meanwhile, she’s working on a nonfiction book “about being disinherited,” she says, from the aforementioned family; this next book is based on an essay that she published in The New York Times. Trying to stay positive in trying times,“It’s hard to turn back progress and take away rights,” she says of the current political upheaval in Washington, D.C. But, she adds, “I still have my ACT UP stomping-around boots; miraculously, they still fit.” [x]

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SCENE Gift Gala PHOTOS Piper Jo Nevins

Toys for Joys Revere Hotel | Boston | December 9, 2016

One of Boston’s best and brightest holiday traditions, revelers, full of the spirit of the season and loaded with presents for kids in need, once again packed Space 57 at the Revere for the eighth annual Toys for Joys toy drive and gift gala. Thousands of donated toys were piled high under a holiday tree, while guests and volunteers enjoyed holiday-passed hors d’oeuvres, signature seasonal spirits and dancing to Boston’s own DJ Adilson under a state-of-the-art light show. This year’s shindig directly benefitted kids served by the Boston Housing Authority, Crittenton Women’s Union, IBA-Three Kings, Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Boston, Multicultural AIDS Coalition, Teddy Bear Foundation for Foster Children and United South End Settlements

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SCENE Grand Opening PHOTOS Courtesy Equality Community Center

LGBTQ Center Grand Opening Equality Community Center | Portland, Maine | December 2, 2016

Officially opened for business back in August, the Equality Community Center in Portland, Maine, rolled out the red carpet for the city’s First Friday Artwalk. Festivities featured a performance by the Maine Gay Men’s Chorus, a video art installation, a tour, plenty of treats to eat, and an “equality photo booth.” The new 3,000-square-foot facility houses six LGBT organizations: including

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SCENE Category PHOTOS Steven E. Purcell

National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award The White House | Washington, D.C. | November 15, 2016

Boston’s True Colors: Out Youth Theater, a program of The Theater Offensive and the country’s largest and longestrunning LGBTQ youth theater program, garnered the 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from First Lady Michelle Obama. Represented by participant Traeshayona “Trae” Weekes, 18, and Evelyn Francis, TO’s director of programs, True Colors was recognized for its effectiveness in promoting learning and life skills in young people through the arts by engaging them in creative youth development programming. The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award is the nation’s highest honor for youth arts programs, and True Colors, which was established in 1994, is the first LGBTQ organization in history to receive this award.

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SCENE Category PHOTOS Courtesy CRI

Dining Out for Life Various venues | Boston | November 2, 2016

Fall 2016 saw Community Research Initiative bring Dining Out for Life back to Boston. Across the United States, the event raises over $4 million per year for local AIDS service organizations when more than 3,000 restaurants donate a portion of their proceeds from a festive meal. In Boston, 14 restaurant participated, including The Buttery, Club Café, Deauxave, Liquid Art House, and Post 390 in the Back Bay; Bar Mezzana and Boston Chops in the South End; dbar and The Ashmont Grill in Dorchester; The Friendly Toast and Hops Test Kitchen and Raw Bar in Cambridge; Liquid Art House Side Bar in Downtown Crossing; Orinoco in [OPPOSITE] The the South End; and Tasca in Brighton. Friendly Toast


SCENE Booksigning PHOTOS Dave Green

Big Freedia at Berklee Berklee Bookstore | Boston | October 26, 2016

Queen of the hip-hop genre called bounce and TV star Big Freedia took center stage at Berklee College of Music, leading a clinic on her role as an out, African-American artist in the music industry. The clinic was open to all Berklee students. The next day, she held a free event at the college’s bookstore, signing copies of her book, “God Save the Queen Diva!” and autographing a selection of her CDs.

Club Café

Club Café manager Jim Morgrage

Bar Mezzana JAN|FEB 2017 | 79


SCENE Awards Benefit PHOTOS Infinity Portrait Design

Spirit of Justice Award Dinner Marriott Copley Place | Boston | October 28, 2016

For his tireless activism, GLAD is honoring Phil Wilson at its 17th annual Spirit of Justice Awards Dinner. With remarks by GLAD’s Executive Director Janson Wu and AIDS Law Project Director Ben Klein, the evening recognized Wilson, founding president and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute. And since 1999 the institute he started continues to mobilize black leaders, institution and individuals to stop AIDS in the black community. The shindig, which also celebrated the vital work of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, raised nearly $700,000 for GLAD’s advocacy efforts for GLBTQ people and people with HIV.

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SCENE Thanksgiving PHOTOS Steve Lord, Kristen Roger Halloran and Nat Taylor

Celebration of Life Dinner Hynes Convention Center | Boston | November 22, 2016

Victory Programs’ 22nd annual Celebration of Life Dinner once again brought together more than 600 guests, community members living with HIV/AIDS, friends and family. This year’s theme? “Positive, Proud and Living” to represent the positive strides made by the HIV/AIDS community in improved health care and outcomes, education, outreach and stigma reduction. The event is always free for guests, but it’s also Victory Programs biggest fundraiser. This year, it raised more than $35,000 from volunteer Tips Servers, who served up the traditional Thanksgiving meal, and nearly $70,000 from corporate sponsors.

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SCENE Benefit PHOTOS Amanda Marsden

Pie in the Sky Kick-Off Party Bin Ends | Braintree | November 5, 2016

Community Servings kicked off its 23rd annual Pie in the Sky bake sale with a kick-off party at Bins End, where attendees enoyed pie tasting with wine parings and learned which wines go best with each slice. More than 100 Pie Sellers attended the event, where Community Servings reminded everyone what Pie in the Sky is all about—coming together as a community to ensure that our most vulnerable neighbors are cared for. Pie in the Sky started 24 years ago as a grassroots bake sale and it has grown into Community Servings’ most successful fundraiser. Last year it raised $763,000 to provide medically tailored meals for homebound and critically ill individuals and families. Each $30 apple, pecan, pumpkin and sweet potato pie puts a week’s worth of nutritious meals on the table for someone who is homebound and too sick to cook for themselves.

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SCENE Nuptials PHOTOS Dan McKeon and Tim McCarthy

Bride Pride

Roux Bed and Breakfast | Provincetown | October 15, 2016

In what may be the largest recorded lesbian wedding, 106 women (53 couples) from across 15 of the United States and Canda married or renewed their vowes at the Pride Bride 2016 Provincetown Women’s Week event. All told, 25 couples married and 28 renewed. “What was most moving and most beautiful to us was witnessing the reaction of women from states where it might be legal to marry, but not necessarily comfortable. They were blown away by the reception they received in Provincetown. The town opened its heart and soul to these women,” read a statement by married couple Alli Baldwin and Ilene Mitnick, owners of Roux and the event’s creators and organizers. Baldwin and Mitnick hoped Bride Pride would make the Guiness Book of World Records, but although there’s no such record in the book yet, Guiness set the bar at 100 couples. Given the success of the inagural 2016 event, it’s likely they’ll hit it this year, when Roux is hosting Bride Pride 2017 on July 22 during Provincetown’s Girl Splash Week.

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SCENE Gala PHOTOS Studio B

OUTMetroWest Come Out & Celebrate Hilton | Dedham | September 24, 2016

More than 200 OUT MetroWest supporters gathered to celebrate LGBTQ youth and to honor GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) executive director Janson Wu. The annual Come Out & Celebrate event was held at the Hilton Dedham, and guests were treated to remarks from Wu, as well as from five remarkable youth participants. Guests also enjoyed a video tribute from Attorney General Maura Healey and capped off the evening with dancing. Thanks to generous individual and corporate donors, Come Out & Celebrate raised more than $140,000 to support OUT MetroWest’s programs for LGBTQ youth.

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SCENE Fundraiser PHOTOS Patrick Lentz

FLAG Flag Football Casino Night Club Café | Boston | November 10, 2016

FLAG Flag Football—the area’s LGBT & Allies flag football league—held its second annual Casino Night, at Club Café. Thanks to all who attended, more than $6,500 was raised. And when added to the $7,500 raised via an online auction in October, the league brought in more than $14,000, exceeding its fundraising goals. The funds are used to support the ongoing league happenings, including recreational football contests, LGBTQ youth scholarships, volunteerism and outreach. So many more lives will be impacted because of the record-breaking fundraising total achieved this year. The league gives a big shout out to photographer Patrick Lentz, Bingo Queen Mizery, the Boston Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Jim Morgrage and everyone at Club Café, and all of the volunteers and prize donors. For more about the leage, check out www.flagflagfootball.com.

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SCENE Soirée PHOTOS Boston Spirit magazine

2017 Men’s Event Kickoff Party Circle Furniture | Boston | November 17, 2016

Circle Furniture partnered with Fenway Health to host the kickoff party for the upcoming Men’s Event fundraising soirée for Fenway. In its comfy showroom, guests connected with Fenway supporters to find out why Table Captains are the most popular guys at a party, taste gourmet appetizers, sip fabulous concoctions, win amazing prizes and even take part in an amazing game called “the Mannequin Challenge.” The upcoming Men’s Event takes place on Saturday, March 11, 2017. For details, go to mensevent.org.

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SCENE Seminar PHOTOS Boston Spirit magazine

Retirement Planning for the LGBT Community Club Café | Boston | December 7, 2016

Boston Spirit magazine partnered with Eastern Bank, Michele O’Connor at Morgan Stanley, and Burns and Levinson for this very special seminar, which included an expert panel discussing ways to help make our retirement years golden. Topics included estate plan preparation, spousal rights and risks, preventing elder financial exploitation, building personal wealth and creating a lifesustaining plan.

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SCENE Benefit PHOTOS Russ Mezikofsky

Fashion Meets Furniture Mitchell Gold + Bob WIlliams | Boston | October 14, 2016

Over 300 guests attended the Fashion Meets Furniture benefit for Youth Design. In partnership with Mr. Sid Fine Men’s Clothing and Boston Common Magazine, the latest in fashion and furniture was on display with looks from Italian clothing brand Eleventy showcased with Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams’ furniture. Guests were treated to delicious drinks and hors d’oeuvres and a rum tasting by Rumson’s Rum. The evening was a benefit for Youth Design, a non-profit that empowers urban youth to seek higher education and careers in design.

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SCENE Gala PHOTOS Piper Jo Nevins

New England Gala Dinner Westin Waterfront | Boston | October 8, 20016

Over 600 people came together as a community to show their support for the Human Rights Campaign at the HRC’s 35th annual New England Gala Dinner and Auction. Special guests included acclaimed actor Denis O’Hare (“Dallas Buyers Club,” “Milk,” “The Good Wife,” “American Horror Story”) and Congressman Joe Kennedy III.

JAN|FEB 2017 | 89


º

CALENDAR “Considering Matthew Shepard”

It has been nearly 20 years since the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming, a tragedy that dragged the issue of anti-LGBT violence into the public eye in a particularly powerful way. Shepard’s story is still as affecting as ever, especially when presented in “Considering Matthew Shepard,” a three-part contemporary oratoria performed by Conspirare, a Grammywinning vocal ensemble invited to the Hub by Berklee College of Music. The 30-singer ensemble, accompanied by an eightinstrument chamber group, will perform a composition by choral composer Craig Hella Johnson that interweaves passages from Shepard’s personal journal with news reports, interviews and poetic texts. Consider us enthralled. WHEN

WHERE

HOW

Sunday, Feb. 5

Symphony Hall, Boston

bso.org

Composer Craig Hella Johnson

Casual Fridays It’s the end of the 9–5 work week, so once you’ve punched your timecard, loosen up that stiff, white collar—or better yet, slipped into something more comfortable—punch your dancing card at The Alley. The venerable (and recently renovated) gay bar is now host to a new Friday party from DJ Begbick (aka Nathanael Bluhm). Casual Fridays is a pretense-free, genre-mashing soiree that mixes current pop hits with throwback house, a dash of hip-hop and much more. Whether you’re moving it to Madonna, grinding to Gaga or just sipping on suds while you scope the scene, it’s a laidback, unpretentious vibe that serves casual sexiness. WHEN

10 PM-2 AM, Fridays (except second of the month)

WHERE

HOW

The Alley, Boston thealleybar.com

“Savage Love Life” Admittedly, “Savage Love Live” sort of sounds like a kinky show you’d catch in the window of an Amsterdam sex shop. In this case, though, it’s a live appearance by gay author and media pundit Dan Savage, whose so-named sex-advice column has been a syndicated staple in newspapers since 1991. Savage, who is also known for launching the It Gets Better Project to help prevent suicide among LGBT youth, will bring his trademark wit and savvy observations on all things sexual to the stage—answering audience questions with only the most savage honesty, of course. WHEN

WHERE

HOW

Wednesday, Jan. 25

The Wilbur Theatre, Boston

thewilbur.com

DJ Begbick


White Out Weekend Need an excuse to get out of the city and into the fresh New England air for a long weekend? Grab your poles and chill out with other LGBT skiers at White Out Weekend (WOW), an annual gay ski outing that’ll burn up the snowy slopes of Maine with downhill fun, plus plenty of off-trail activities too: theme parties, fireworks, après ski socials and more. The event is presented in association with OutRyders, New England’s largest LGBT ski and snowboard club, and it’s the perfect opportunity to meet up with some likeminded snow bunnies for a wowing time. WHEN

WHERE

Sunday River in Feb. 3–5 Newry, ME

HOW

sundayriver.com or outryders.org

Glowberon: Johnny Blazes and Brian King If you’ve ever dated a younger (or older) queer, you’ve probably been exposed to the Great Gay Age Gap that permeates everything from political perspectives to pop cultural references. This installment of Glowberon, a fringe-focused cabaret series created by Harvard Square’s Oberon and Provincetown’s Afterglow Festival (founded by John Cameron Mitchell and Quinn Cox), brings together two gender-screwing artists, Blazes and King, who were born exactly 10 years apart. These “twin queens of song and glitter,” will unite for a night of story and song that explores the difference between their generationally cultivated queer visions. WHEN

WHERE

HOW

Friday, Jan. 13

Oberon, Cambridge

americanrepertorytheater.org

Winter Rendezvous Every year, hundreds of LGBT skiers and snowboarders meet up for Winter Rendezvous, a decades-spanning series that turns picturesque Stowe, Vermont into New England’s epicenter of merry, gay fun in the winter outdoors. Of course, the centerpiece of the event is superb Green Mountain State at Stowe Mountain Resort, home to the state’s highest peak. But there’s also nightly entertainment at various venues: from a “3D Glow Party” to a pool party and wine-fueled bonfire soiree. This year will also see a standup show from out comedian (and Boston native) Julie Goldman. WHEN

WHERE

HOW

Jan. 18–22

Stowe, VT

winterrendezvous.com


º

First Event It’s nice to be number one. The First Event should know: it’s one of the largest and longest running transgender conferences in the world. And it’s back for another year of workshops, professional training programs, fashion shows, speakers and evening dance parties that will bring together participants from across the country. First Event is presented by the Tiffany Club of New England, one of the region’s major social support organizations for the transgender community. WHEN

WHERE

HOW

Jan. 25–29

Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel; Marlboro, MA

firstevent.org

“Rocky Horror Picture Show” If the recent Fox remake left you cold, revive those latent passions for the ultimate midnight movie. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” the Goth-glam classic that introduced us to the gender-effing icon of Dr. Frank-NFurter, is performed tonight by the RKO Army: a troupe that specializes in “shadowcasting,” a midnight movie tradition that sees actors pantomime alongside the screen. Pack your rice and bring your sense of humor. WHEN

WHERE

HOW

Friday, Jan. 20

Stadium Theatre Performing Arts Center; Woonsocket, RI

stadiumtheatre.com

Boston Gay Men’s Chorus: “Cabaret” Paula Poundstone The self-avowed asexual has long been popular in gay comedy clubs: maybe for her conservative-spearing standup, maybe for an assortment of pantsuits that is second only to Ellen’s. Poundstone grew up in Sudbury, Massachusetts and cut her teeth at Boston comedy clubs. Now a regular voice on NPR’s “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me,” she returns to her native New England to bring glib observations about her politics and personal life with a quartet of shows. WHEN

WHERE

Friday, Feb. 3 (Foxwoods); Saturday, Feb. 4 (Wilbur)

Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, CT; The Wilbur Theatre, Boston

HOW

paulapoundstone.com

It’s quite a month for cabarets. The national tour of Kander and Ebb’s classic musical is playing at the Boston Opera House; check out our interview with Randy Harrison, the gay New Hampshire native and “Queer as Folk” alum who plays the Emcee, on page 96. But on a more intimate scale, the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus will host its “Cabaret” show, a “fun-filled” evening of song that gets a bit more up-close-and-personal than those BGMC concerts held in larger theaters. The group’s finest will deliver solo performances in a casual setting. So come to the cabaret! WHEN

WHERE

HOW

Feb. 24–26

Club Café, Boston

bgmc.org


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94 | BOSTON SPIRIT

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JAN|FEB 2017 | 95


CODA Stage STORY Scott Kearnan [SPIRIT] What is it like to be performing “Cabaret” right now, when so many of its themes feel relevant to our actual political landscape?

Randy Harrison in “Cabaret.”

Saucy “Queer as Folk” star Randy Harrison inhabits infamous gender-bending emcee

Life is a Cabaret, Old Chum Set in Germany as the Nazis rise to power, the liberal decadence embodied by the high-spirited Kit Kat Club is eclipsed by dark forces of anti-Semitism and xenophobia in Kander and Ebb’s classic musical “Cabaret.” Such themes seem especially timely and important in our new Trump era as the national touring company from the Broadway production comes to the Boston Opera House from January 31 through February 12. Out actor and Nashua, New Hampshire native Randy Harrison stars as the infamously gender-bending emcee. Harrison is best known to LGBT audiences for playing blond, fresh-faced artist Justin on Showtime’s drama “Queer as Folk.” Most recently, he had a recurring role on the Golden Globe-winning USA Network hit “Mr. Robot,” and he recently shot a web series he’s shopping around. Before “Cabaret” comes to town, we caught up with the Granite State golden boy about his latest stage work and its parallels to American politics.

[SPIRIT] Between Joel Grey in the film and Alan Cumming on stage, the Emcee has become an iconic character. How would you describe your interpretation of the role? [RANDY HARRISON] It’s in the same vein

as Alan’s, who created the role in this production—so on one hand the role is very specific. But in some ways the role is also a vessel that any actor can fill with themselves. This character always has a strong personal opinion on what’s happening on stage. The emcee is a performer and a comedian, and through him a lot of anger and fear is transformed into satire and commentary. In doing that, you inevitably bring a huge amount of yourself to the role: your own humor, opinions and sexuality.

[SPIRIT] We talk a lot about what actors bring to their roles. Are there ways in which this role has brought something to who you are in real life? [RH] I’m actually kind of shy, and this character has a tremendous amount of confidence that in many ways I had to manufacture. But now I’m aware of that aspect of myself: the ability to step up and own the space and be unapologetic. Playing this role has definitely given me a lot more confidence to play with gender and sexuality.

[RH] It’s been a gift. It feels important to get on stage and be talking about things that are directly happening right now. The day after Election Day, the entire staff was like zombies. It was terrifying. Nobody wanted to get on stage and work. But I found myself feeling so fortunate that I had this immediate vessel to channel this rage and all these complicated emotions in a beautiful way. It’s been scary. In researching the role I read the Isherwood novels that inspired “Cabaret.” The way we had been talking about the Trump campaign was similar to the way people were talking about the Nazi party in those books—at the time, no one was taking them seriously. They were a joke. Then they realized: this is fucking serious. It’s been really horrifying, watching what’s happened in this country and being enmeshed in this parallel political story. [SPIRIT] What did you think of the “Hamilton” cast addressing Mike Pence from the stage? [RH] I was glad it happened. In one sense it was manufactured news, to draw attention away from the fact that at the same time Trump paid off the people suing him for fraud. But at the same time, one of the reasons I became a performer is that I feel like it’s innately political. I did a master class with Tony Kushner at NYU, a summer program, right when “Angels in America” came out. And I remember he said, “Making theater is making art, and art will always be political. Whatever you do has political repercussions.” I feel like an important part of theater and making art is to tell stories in a way where we communicate our political thoughts and, in our way, change hearts and minds. [SPIRIT] “Queer as Folk” was a groundbreaking LGBT show. What do you think of the current representation of LGBT people in the current television landscape? [RH] I think there’s been a lot of progress. I feel like LGBT characters have become very integrated into mainstream television shows. It used to be that so many representations of LGBT characters were borderline offensive. But now so many shows have gay storylines and characters that are smart, well rounded and interesting. [x]

boston.broadway.com


THE PEABODY ESSEX MUSEUM PRESENTS

ON VIEW THROUGH MARCH 12, 2017

It’s not just an exhibition. It’s an obsession.

Carolyn and Peter S. Lynch and The Lynch Foundation provided generous support. The East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum also provided support. MEDIA PARTNERS

161 Essex St. | Salem, MA | pem.org

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PROMOTIONAL PARTNER

Christian Louboutin, Pigalle, 2015. Leather. Image courtesy of Christian Louboutin.

Exhibition organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Profile for Boston Spirit magazine

Boston Spirit Jan | Feb 2017  

Jan | Feb 2017 issue of Boston Spirit magazine

Boston Spirit Jan | Feb 2017  

Jan | Feb 2017 issue of Boston Spirit magazine

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